You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2010.

Photo By Jerry Cooke

I was so looking forward to spring break. The Tuesday before break I remember feeling exhausted. I actually blew off my run for a nap… and then had another quick nap before the bus dropped off the kids in the afternoon. Usually one nap in a day is unheard of for me! The next day I ran 13 miles in preparation for the 1/2 marathon that was this past Sunday.

That Sunday the tickle began. I was able to teach my classes without a problem, but by the evening the tickle became incessant and the coughing soon followed. Feeling responsible for my kids “fun” over break, I found myself mountain biking Monday morning followed by a nap. Then a walk to the park was called for followed by some rest. This on and off activity lasted most of the break… as did my cough. Here it is 9 days from the start of the cough and I am feeling only marginally better.

I have tried many things to stop this cough and I thought I’d share my experiences. I have been desperate for relief and have tried many traditional and some less traditional remedies:

1) Vics vapor rub slathered on my feet covered by socks. This remedy I found online. Many people swear by it. It did nothing for me.

2) An over the counter cough suppressant/expectorant. These meds have been getting a bad rap but I still find that they sometimes take the edge off a cough to allow me to sleep. No luck. I also found that taking these did make my chest feel tight afterward.

3) Honey with lemon and water. This was soothing on my now sore throat but did not suppress the cough. I did not make the concoction as the link describes and will try boiling the whole lemon tonight!

4) Yogi tea “Breathe Deep”. This also was soothing and did seem to open my sinuses up but my cough was persistent.

5) Naturopatch of Vermont Eucalyptus Cough and Cold Relief didn’t seem to do anything except make me smell like an old coat covered in camphor.

6) Pear juice did help suppress my cough and made me feel better for a little while. My brother, a Chinese medicine doctor, mentioned it to me as it nourishes the lungs. I liked the consistency of the juice.

7) Cayenne pepper mixed with ginger, apple cider vinegar, honey and water. My husband found this remedy online after feeling sorry for my pathetic state. This actually helped stop this cough. This remedy is not tasty but it did work… for a bit.

8) A restful yoga pose that helps a cough is Reclining Bound Angle pose which encourages the chest to open by placing a bolster vertically along the spine while resting in Bound Angle with the feet touching and knees spread.

9) Using a neti pot is not my favorite activity, however, it helped tremendously to cut down on the tickle. My husband has been surrounded by this cough which started with one child, then the other and now me. He is holding strong and uses a saline spray daily. I can only think that the daily rinse has helped him stay healthy.

As with all viruses, they must run their course. Rest and fluids is on top of the list of needs when one falls ill. Try some of these remedies next time you find yourself under the weather and let me know how they work for you or leave a post of other remedies that you find effective. I’m off to drink my new favorite pear elixir and them I’m headed to bed. Good night my friends.

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Photo by Harald Walker

I believe a salad is the perfect meal. The combination of carbs, proteins and fats make it a regular lunch or dinner choice for my family.

I noticed a new restaurant being worked on called Halfmoon Creative Salads. I have been keeping my eye on it—eagerly awaiting its opening. Over break if finally opened and I have been there twice in two days!!

The thing about salads is that you never need to have the same type twice. Between the veggie and fruit options, the choices of cheese and meat and the variety of dressings, the variations are endless.

What I love about Halfmoon is that you can either “make your own” salad using a base of 4 choices for a fixed price with the option to add ingredients for 50 cents a piece or you can order from a menu of pre-decided ingredients. The first time I went I decided on the Halfmoon created “Harvest” salad. This salad combines bibb lettuce with apples, dried cherries, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, bacon and goat cheese. I choose a balsamic dressing to accompany.

After selecting your salad ingredients, the person behind the counter then takes your choices and chops everything up using a mezzaluna which is a ‘half moon’ shaped blade with a handle at each end—thus the name of the restaurant. This makes everything a perfect bite sized piece.

Today I had a creation of my own making. I started with romaine lettuce, added beets, carrots, asparagus, sunflower seeds and goat cheese. I used the balsamic dressing again. Yum!

If I could, I’d eat there everyday. The food is great. My only pet peeve is the atmosphere. The space is very “Euro sparse” and cafeteria-like using a bright orange and white color palette. I would have loved a more “green” feel to the place using natural woods and other earthy materials, as well as, earth friendly disposable bowls or even reusable dishes instead of the plastic take away bowls.

I am excited to have a healthy “fast food” option in town. Welcome Halfmoon!

Spring break has sprung here with the end of school on Friday. The fun of “movie and popcorn day” was accompanied by the anticipation of a week of freedom. Shouts of “I’m going to the Cayman Islands, Disney and Hawaii” floated around my son’s classroom. My son jubilantly joined in by shouting out [well maybe it was more of an embarrassed whisper] his hometown. Yes. We are having a stay-cation. This idea was met with much disappointment. I did mention at the beginning of the year the idea of driving to DC with the kids for break, but the 7 hour drive alone and the fact that we visited DC this fall for a family event, made the idea much less appealing now and I did not follow through.

The kids’ displeasure with the idea of staying home struck a chord with me. How quickly the memories fade. Did we not just go away for a ski trip February break? Is it a sign of being over privileged, over indulged… or the dreaded word… spoiled?

I think that it means that we have lost touch with being grateful.

We used to spend time during our family dinners going around the table sharing things that we were grateful for or something good that happened during the day. With the craziness of after school activities, our dinners are more hurried and harried and this conscious act of remembering to be grateful went out the door with us following at break neck speed to get to the next event.

I have really been looking forward to this change in routine. We all need some time to slow down. The kids and I will find time to ride bikes, swim and connect during this luxurious week off and I will make sure to reinstate some daily gratefulness.

As fate would have it, I happened upon a fabulous website this week called Thankful For. What I love about it is that you can program the site to remind you to post something that you are grateful for daily. This personal online journal stores your daily gratitudes and will share them with the public if one desires. It creates a community of people spreading positivity through daily postings of the good things in life. Check it out!

Interestingly, I also found this video on the Happiness Project blog that talks about the small awesome things in life that add to our happiness.

Break or no break. Take some time this week to be grateful for the little things in life. Stop to smell the flowers with some deep yoga breaths and appreciate the moment.

When thinking of positive affirmations, does your mind rewind to the Saturday Night Live skit with Stuart Smalley and his famous line ” I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!” The idea of saying something to oneself may seem foolish and silly but the power of positive affirmations is real.

In class, I introduce the idea of saying positive things to oneself by encouraging shouts of “I’m strong!” and  “I’m focused!” in warrior poses. During savasana, I take the class on a relaxation journey using my favorite book, Ready… Set… RELAX. These texts always include positive affirmations along with guided breathing techniques. The kids repeat to themselves positive sayings for example “I feel good about who I am”,  “I can let go and relax” and “I can breathe out tension”.

Children with anxiety can use positive affirmations with breathing techniques to help when feeling stress. A little girl in my daughter’s class was having a tough time in gym. For whatever reason, gym class made her anxious and she often made excuses to go to the nurse. Equipped with the affirmations, “I am OK. This is a feeling and feelings change” she is now happily participating in gym class.

I have also seen the success first hand with my own daughter who started waking up at night and having a hard time settling herself back down. I told her to try to inhale— filling her belly with air— while thinking “I am relaxed” and then exhale while thinking “I can sleep”. It worked like a charm and she is now able to get up in the night and help herself fall back to sleep without my guidance. Affirmations are about self-empowerment.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize teaches what he calls “Breath with Healing Thought”. These different variations of affirmations and breath are actually the key to meditation. Try these simple meditations and notice your happiness and peace grow.

1) As you inhale, repeat to yourself “In”. As you exhale, repeat “Out”. This may seem too easy and simple, but you may be surprised to notice how quickly your mind tries to run away to the past or future! Meditation is about being calmly and joyfully present to what is happening now.

2) As you inhale, repeat in your mind “I am calm”. As you exhale, repeat “I am relaxed”. Then continue only with the words “Calm” and “Relax”. The power of the words will instantly reduce your stress and worry.

3) Breathing in, repeat to yourself “I am joy”. Breathing out, smile, and think, “I smile.” Continue calmly breathing, while you repeat “Joy” and “Smile”. Smiles relax hundreds of muscles in the face, neck, and shoulders and the act of smiling can create feelings of well-being.

Affirmations are a great means to help children become self-empowered which ultimately increases their self-esteem. Thoughts combined with breath are a powerful tool to improving feelings of well being.

How?

1) Check out my latest blog post.

2) Subscribe to my blog using the “Subscribe to feed” button on the upper left hand side of the page.

3) Or click on the email subscription button just bellow the feed button.

4) Write a comment about healthy snacks.

What?

A random winner will be chosen and sent a package of Matisse and Jack’s Chocolate Chip Power Snacks.

Who?

The lucky person will be disclosed next week.

Photo by Sharon D. Pruitt

I am always trying to find healthy snack options for my kids. I love to eat nuts for my between meal munchies. A small handful or an almond or peanut bar really helps to stop the hunger because of the protein and good fat. But my son is allergic to nuts and doesn’t have this healthy option. I don’t keep a lot of packaged foods in the pantry. We have microwaved popcorn, light fruit cups, a variety of crackers for dipping in humus. I have bought Kashi bars but find that the kids devour them at a pace that cannot be healthy so now only purchase them occasionally. I know… I am the meanest mom in the world.

When the kids get home, my stomach clenches as the shouts for food enter the door before I even see their smiling faces. What will I offer them today? Ugh. Actually, it is not very different as to how I feel when I pack them their lunches every morning. It is hard to be healthy and original.

Snack ideas:

Fruit Options: I always have a bowl of fruit on the table. It is amazing how many oranges we go through when they are just sitting there. Some other fruit ideas are cheese and grapes, smoothies or parfaits packed with yogurt and fruit and toppings, cut up fruit to make kebabs with yogurt dip and cereal toppings and cut up fruit to make fruit faces or mosaics using graham crackers (great recipe here) as the platform.

Veggies: My kids often will not go for veggies right after school, but when the before dinner hunger strikes I set out cut veggies and dip and let them nosh. It is always surprising how quickly they disappear. I feel great knowing that they are getting their 5 a day in before we even sit down for dinner.

Nachos: I know. Doesn’t sound right does it… Pre-cut wheat tortillas into triangles and toast them up with some olive oil and salt. Bake. Add some cheese, beans, tomatoes, avocado and corn. You have a very satisfying snack. This one is great before a practice or game supplying carbs, protein and fat. A snack with staying power.

Pita Pizza: Add some low-fat cheese, tomato sauce and veggies to whole wheat pitas, english muffins or mini-bagels and heat until melted.

Matisse and Jack’s Bake-at-Home Snacks: Now I admit to only trying the Chocolate Chip Power Snacks (and truthfully, my son can’t eat them as they are processed using the same equipment as nuts). But the idea is great and there must be some homemade nut allergy safe options out there. The bars are packed with whole grains including oats, oat flour, flax seeds and soy. There are chocolate chips, soy protein and wheat gluten added. All you need to do is add applesauce, two tablespoons of oil and some water. The packaging has add-on options such as yogurt, buttermilk or peanut butter.

These treats are chock full of health—protein, omega-3s, calcium, iron and fiber. A small square really packs in the flavor and nutritional qualities of an energy bar. I would serve these for breakfast with a glass of milk.

These bars do not have the consistency of a typical power bar but they are real food with real nutrition. I thought that they tasted great and my daughter (and surprisingly husband) loved them even though I could detect the flax seeds in a bite or two.

I will let you know how the other varieties (granola bites, cocoa squares and cranberry power snacks) are after trying them.

Contest!

Subscribe to my blog and enter a comment about your own snack ideas to win a box of Matisse and Jack’s Chocolate Chip Power Snacks. The winner will be announced next week.

Lately I have been making mistakes.

I eagerly arrived at school for a meeting only to see everyone leaving having written the time down wrong on my calendar. I use a calendar on my computer upstairs and then we have the family calendar downstairs. It gets confusing!!

After getting the reminder call, I showed up at 8:45am for my eye appointment… a day early.

Grabbing the first appointment available after waiting for almost a month to see my son’s allergist, I remember the evening before that the appointment was scheduled smack in the middle of when I teach a class.

Do I need a Smart phone? (Well that might help… hint, hint, honey…Mother’s Day is coming up soon!)  Maybe a personal assistant would do the trick. (I would love for someone to bring me a cup of coffee once in a while… hint, hint, anyone…).

The solution might be simpler (though not nearly as fun). Maybe it is all about cutting out the clutter. It is spring. It is time for some cleaning—inside and out.

It happens so quietly. One call and you commit to coming into school to help with one thing. A flier arrives and you sign your child up for an activity. An afternoon looks free so you allow a play date after school. You squeeze in the grocery shopping (but, of course, forget the list at home and the recyclable bags in the car). This is your first clue, but you forge on.

Little things get added until one day you realize that you are going from swim, to dance with dinner rushed in the middle that looks more like one of those crazy food eating contests because you have no time to chew before running back out for drum lessons and then back home to homework and bedtime and then some quality time with your husband where you sit comatose on the couch because your brain has been fried from the heat of the rocket paced day. Huh!

How does one de-clutter from the inside out?

First, find the time (and it may be early in the morning before everyone wakes up) to settle your mind. Don’t start the day jumping out of bed into the fray. Sit and meditate. It’s easier than you think. Yoga Journal has great meditation articles. Here is a simple one.

Or, as Julia Cameron recommends in her book the Artist’s Way, wake up and empty your head by writing three pages of stream of consciousness (that means don’t think about what you are writing, don’t evaluate its content, grammar or spelling but write freely without judgment). This gets the garbage out and helps air your mind of those random thoughts that clog the brain (of appointment times and other more valuable information).

Next, clean that junk drawer or the envelope in which you store coupons (that you inevitably forget to bring with you) or that closet… you know the one. Get rid of one area of physical clutter that you ignore… you know it’s there and that knowledge just takes up space.

Now the hardest part is to start saying no. Lighten the load a little. Allow yourself and your kids some free time. That means time with no agenda or purpose. It is time to get curious. It is time to be self-directed. It is time in which you have control. Everyone needs these moments. Without them, anxiety develops and a feeling of being lost and without focus occurs. Without moments of calm, time to recharge and a break from schedules, life leads you down its own path instead of you choosing the way and creating the life you really desire.

So open some windows, breath in the fresh spring air and commit to removing the clutter that has built up during the winter. Rewind. Renew. Recharge… and remember what is truly important.

Current Classes:

MIDTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB

Mondays:
6-7:15am Power Vinyasa (H)

Thursdays:
6-7am Power Vinyasa

Story Time Yoga
1-1:45pm

Sundays:
5-7 year olds
9:45-10:30am
8-11 year olds
10:45-11:30am

STUDIO MOVE!

Wednesdays:
10:30-11:30 Power Vinyasa

Fridays:
Yoga for Athletes
9-10am

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