Staying On A Cardio Regimen

The beginning week of January is always crammed in the gym.  Resolutions are made to get in shape and be healthy so you run to the gym to sign up for their special membership prices. You might even get that free t-shirt that ends up becoming a cleaning rag.  You leave feeling accomplished!  You did it!  You took the first step!  Hats off to you, my friend.  However, there is a sequence of steps that come after that very first important one that need to be maintained or your dream of looking like the hot chic in apartment 8 will be squashed.

You need an action plan.  If you walk through those doors to the upbeat music and clanking of weights without a plan, you’re going to be all over the place.

So where do you start?

Get out your fave fitness mag or hop on the computer and find a plan that fits you.  Although you are anxious to look like Jessica Simpson a few years back or the brand new Britney, the reality is that they didn’t get their rocking bods overnight and neither will you.

You want to make sure you do not overdo it in the beginning.

The experts say that you need to maintain at least twenty minutes at a certain level to burn fat, but for the moment you need to build endurance.  Start off doing fifteen minutes of light cardio.  You can start this at about 3 times a week.

If you’re at the gym, pick the treadmill and try to do a pace of 2.5 to 3.5 mph.   If you aren’t a big fan of the tread, then hop on the elliptical and go at a steady pace.  The elliptical works your legs a little more so you may want to start off a little lighter.

For some of us the gym can seem like a monotonous display of testosterone and skimpy outfits.  If this isn’t really your thing then getting your cardio routine down at home is a great alternative.

The time of day is not really an issue since calories burn the same at 6 am as they do at 6 pm.  If you are not a morning person, trying to commit to waking at 5:30 a.m. is going to frustrate you and give you reasons to make excuses to bail out.  Start at a brisk walk for 10 – 15 minutes whatever time of day you choose.  Again, you are trying to build endurance.

Where to walk is not an issue either.  Do a search for parks in your area if you like the ambience of trees and babbling brooks.  If being alone amongst nature gives you the creeps, then stick to your neighborhood.  There are sites on-line that you can find a way to map a route in your area.

Please make sure to check with your health care professional before starting any fitness routine.

Example:

Week 1:  15 minutes light cardio 3 x a week

Week 2:  15 minutes light cardio 4 x a week

Week 3:  20 minutes cardio 3 x a week

Week 4: 20 minutes cardio 4 x a week

Week 5: 25 minutes of cardio 3 x a week

Week 6: 25 minutes of cardio 4 x a week

After you’ve built up your endurance after five to six weeks then your body at this point should have adjusted to your new workout.  You can now gradually turn up the speed and the length of your cardio.  If it feels like it is too much, knock it down a notch for a week and then come back up.

Remember to keep hydrated!

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You Have What It Takes To Meditate

We as women stress out over the tiniest things because it is in our genetic make-up to take care of everyone and everything.  Kids, work, mates, money, exercise and the list goes on of all the things in our lives that stress us out.  And let’s add one more thing… ourselves!  Meditation can help us through these trying times of overreaction.

If you can sit quietly for ten minutes then you have what it takes to meditate.

There really is no big secret to meditating.  Breathing and having a peaceful focal point, which often times is your breathing, are really the only two things that are essential to meditating successfully.

The first and foremost step to meditation is breathing.  Once you learn how to focus on your breath you are well on your way to meditating.  So you’re thinking, ‘ well I already know how to breathe’. Well, yes, but this is a more focused breathing.  Try to imagine your breath as a physical entity.  You inhale the fresh air through your nose while you suck in your abdomen and then you push the bad air out of your mouth as you slowly relax your muscles.

You can meditate in your home.

Meditating at home is one of the easiest places to meditate.  Just knowing you are in a  familiar place can be relaxing.  Try to give yourself a good amount of time.  For some ten minutes works; others might need up to an hour.  If you can’t make a meditation room (and really – how many of us can?) then just find the most relaxing place in your home.  Sit in a relaxed position.  Close your eyes and inhale through your nose (good in!) and then exhale through your mouth (bad out!).  If your mind starts to wander take it back to the breath.  You cannot think about more than one thing simultaneously.  So if you are concentrating on your breathing there is nothing going on in that already over loaded brain of yours.

You can meditate outside.

Meditating outside in a park or even on your front porch or stoop in the quiet time of the day is another great place to meditate.  The noises of nature; chirping birds, the wind rustling the trees and perhaps even a close by trickling of water, are great accents to go along with your breathing.  If sitting on the grass makes you uncomfortable then go for a walk.  Still, be sure to focus on your breath while your senses take in the sights and sounds of the outdoors.  Feeling the wind brush your skin is an added bonus.

You can meditate in your car.

This is a tricky one.  However, focusing on your breathing and finding a happy space in your head while stuck in traffic is a good way to get through your commute without wanting to repeatedly bang your head on the steering wheel!   Instead of turning on the talk radio or cranking the tunes (which I am guilty of often) try being in the quiet with your breathing for .. yep!  Ten minutes!  Then put your radio on.

You can even meditate at work.

It’s true!  This is probably one of the top places we all need to learn to meditate.  When deadlines are crashing in on you and your boss won’t stop hitting the intercom button it is great to know how to focus on your breathing and getting to that happy place.  If you have to step away from your desk so be it.  You’ll collect yourself and be more productive when you get back to that intercom.

So remember.  As long as you can find yourself a happy place in the midst of the insanity of your day-to-day, and you can focus on your breathing then you have what it takes to meditate.

Nervous Motorcycle Riding

I met this guy who had a Suzuki GSXR 750 one night and we hit it off well.  A few days passed and he asked me to ride with him on the back.  About 8 or 9 months went by and he decided I should learn to ride for myself.  So out came the Gixxer from the garage and he told me to get on.  I went down the back drive and around the bend out to the bigger part of the parking lot.

The bike and I were apparently on different frequencies because I wanted to go right but the bike went straight and I dropped it.  I was mortified.  I cracked the mirror and scratched the right front fairing.

He told me that maybe I should take the Rider Safety Course provided by PENNDOT.

“I think that’s a great idea,” I chirped.

I got the motorcycle rider manual from the driver center in Bensalem and read until I felt like my eyes were going to bleed ink.  I went and took my permit test.

I failed.

I was distraught.  I had never failed a test in my life!  Back home and I read some more.  This time I handed the book to my BF and told him to ask me questions.  A couple weeks went by and I went up to take the written test again.

I passed!

So I went onto the website and I found a class up at Brian’s Harley Davidson in Langhorne, PA for a rider course.  Basically, 2 weeks, 6 classes.  2 in the class room, 4 on the bike.  The last 2 would be test classes.

I passed the written with flying colors.  The bike I chose for the riding part of the class was a Honda Rebel 400.  The guy looked at me kinda funny  He was apparently surprised that I had not chosen a smaller bike like a 250.  But I’m tall and the Rebel fit me.  Isn’t that one of the most important parts of riding?

I felt like I won the lottery after I got my license.  Now we could ride together like real riders.  He told me I could ride the Suzuki 750 GS which I really came to dislike.  It was air cooled and so as long as I was moving the temp was good.  However, when stopped at red lights it would heat up rather quickly and it would stall out.  Plus it had one of those engine protectors on it so it felt a lot bigger that it actually was.  Still, I rode the GS for about 3 months or so.

Andy took me to Bromley’s in Trevose, PA one late afternoon to look at bikes.  I didn’t have to look too long because my eyes caught a Ninja 500 sitting to the right and I swore if it the air had been silent I would have heard it calling my name.  I looked at a few other bikes to appease Andy, but I knew what I wanted.  I wanted that bright green Kawasaki Ninja.

I had my license for about 2 months and was really liking the winding roads of Bucks County.  We would ride up through New Hope and into Lawrenceville, NJ.  I was still gun shy and would just about do the speed limit.   Andy would pull over up ahead and remind me of how I had to keep up with him.  I would roll my eyes and keep up for a little bit but then I would let off of the throttle and go back down to just about the speed limit.

It was the first week of August and Andy decided we would go up to Bloomsburg, PA via the PA Turnpike.  I felt my stomach churn.  The turnpike?

It was hot that day and my riding jacket was secured under my cargo net on the back seat.  I had on my helmet, a pair of jeans, my sneakers and a white ribbed tank top.

We got on the turnpike at the Bensalem entrance.   I was white knuckling the whole way doing sixty-five.   I wanted to tell him we needed to stop but my foolish pride kept me going.

We merged onto 476 North which has only two lanes.  We passed the Lansdale exit and I felt like I might be okay.  I was really going to make it to Bloomsburg.  As I cruised along, now doing about 75 trying to keep up with Andy, I started to see signs for construction and my stomach twinged a little.  I was watching Andy up ahead and then all of a sudden the cars in front of me had brake lights lit and I was gaining on them quickly.

I’d like to say that what I learned in my rider safety course took over but instead I panicked and instinctively grabbed the front brake.  I heard this awful screech, the bike shimmied and suddenly I was down on my right side sliding down the highway.

I didn’t feel anything as I slid across the asphalt and all I could remember was hoping that whoever was behind me didn’t run me over as I was pretty sure that would have made things a lot worse.

Suddenly, there was this really nice woman who was kneeling beside me telling me not to move.  I kept reaching for my chin strap.  All I wanted was to take my helmet off.     Andy was there talking to me and I was pretty calm.  My adrenalin was in overdrive because I still felt no pain.

The ambulance arrived and I remember the one EMT was funny and he made me felt at ease.  My adrenalin started to wear off and the pain of the road rash on my right shoulder and arm, my broken ankle (my shoe had been torn off of my right foot), and my bruised knee really started to scream.   The EMT asked me if I wanted some morphine and I felt like that might be a good idea.

While I was doped up in the ER of Lehigh Valley Hospital Andy got in touch with our friend Chris who was nice enough to ride up there with his trailer and get my beat up bike back home.  The left mirror was shot and the whole left side of the fairing was scratched and cracked.

I was discharged from the hospital that same day and when I got home the first thing I did was run in the bathroom to throw up from all of the morphine I had been shot up with.  I felt awful about ruining our trip to Bloomsburg, but Andy assured me we could go another time.

I missed work for the rest of August.  I was a car parts delivery girl at the time and due to my injuries could not effectively carry an alternator or even press my foot on the gas and brake pedals.

This year we rode to Port Jervis, NY.  We took back roads and it was one of the most amazing rides of my life.   I did wear my jacket for the trip.

Creative Writing Prompts

Having a hard time figuring out what exactly you want to write about?  Below is a list of writing prompts to spark your imagination.

– You find an old box in your basement that does not belong to you.  Do you open it?  What is in it?

– You are jogging through the park and as you come around the bend you notice a woman sitting on the edge of the path.  Is she happy or sad?  Do you stop to talk to her?  Why or why not?

– You have been given the gift of flight.  How do you view the world?  What do you notice from above that you never noticed while on the ground?

– You see a rainbow in the sky and decide to follow it.  After what seems hours of walking you get to the end of the rainbow.  What is there?

– You sit down next to yourself on a park bench.  What do you say to yourself about what’s going on in your life?

– Sitting on the beach you see something floating toward you.  You walk over to the object.  It is…

– You notice an old couple holding hands at the park.  They are in a deep conversation.  What are they talking about?  What are their facial expressions?

– You find yourself in a new land.  What is around you?  Are there people?  What do they look like?  Can you understand these people when they speak?  Are they friendly?

– You can only choose three books to take with you on a year-long journey.  What three books do you choose?  Why?

– You decide to move out-of-state.  What state do you move to?  Where do you go to meet new friends?

Ten Tips to Success in the Office

We are all guilty of violating the following ten rules of being a great office assistant at one time or another.  You live you learn, right?  How about: you live and you don’t get the promotion or the raise?  Quite a hard lesson!

1- Be pleasant.

Always be pleasant.  You may be having a really bad day.  You may have been stuck in traffic, recently broke up with your mate or maybe you are even PMSing.  This is of no matter to anyone you work with or any of the clients you come in contact with throughout your day.  Your job is to make the jobs of those you work with easier.  If you have an understanding boss, perhaps you could call, text or email him or her and just say, “Hey, I am going to be about 15 minutes late.”  You want to be in the best frame of mind possible when dealing with clients and your coworkers.  So does your boss.

2- Pay attention!

Not paying attention or trying to juggle our personal lives with work always shines through in one way or another in our completed tasks.  It is so crucial in these days of texts, tweeting and status updates that we keep up on the minute details of our projects.  Getting lost in the abyss of personal goings on in our lives can keep us from remaining focused. I once was in tears one day (un-work related) while working on an important project and my boss called me in his office and asked me what the hell was going on.  Clearly my boss could see that I was not focused.  Your boss can see the same!

3- Ask so you don’t look incompetent.

We’ve all been there.  Not quite knowing the gist of a report or project and due to embarrassment or pride decided to wing it instead of asking for more clarification.  This is not a good idea!  If your boss is super busy (which most are or they would not need us) the last thing he or she wants is a shotty letter, report or spreadsheet that they have to go over and splash with red ink because you didn’t get clear directions.  Repeat back to them what they have asked you to do in your own words.

4- Be punctual!

It seems to me as the weeks turn to months and the months turn to years there is more and more traffic on the road!  More cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles along with all of the work vehicles on the road can lead to a bumper to bumper fiasco in the hours of the morning (or afternoon).  Be sure to give yourself some extra time in the morning so that you don’t feel rushed.  Hollering at neighboring traffic gets your blood pressure up and now you’ve started your day on the wrong foot before even putting it in the office.

5- Dress for the office, not for the nightclub.

We all want to look good.  It is one of our basic instincts as women to look attractive.  There is, however a wallop of a difference between looking hot for the office and looking like you are trying to score in a nightclub.  Wearing too tight clothes, short skirts and shirts that are cut so low that one of your girls could pop out and say “Hey there!” at any given moment is a recipe for disaster (not to mention now being labeled “that girl”).  We are definitely judged by our appearance and we all know we can look mega hot and professional at the same time!  If you are constantly adjusting your clothes, you may need to adjust your work wardrobe!

6- Own It

To err is human, to fess up, divine.  Don’t push the blame.  Your co-workers will still be there the next day with the icy glare.  You’ll feel better if you own up to your mistakes not to mention being respected by those with whom you share the office.  Most likely, your boss will trust you now that he sees you admit your mistakes.

7- Eating

Isn’t it always the way; you just put that granola bite in your mouth and the phone rings!  We know how we are supposed to be snacking healthy.  It seems all of those healthy snacks sans yogurt are loud!  If you can, try to take time out for your crunchy snacks with the down time of the phone or take smaller bites.

8- Turn down… the radio!

Although you might be dishing on the latest by Lady Gaga or jamming some classic rock the entire office may feel differently about what they might want to listen to.  Try to keep the tunes or talk radio to a dull murmur.  If your work roomies can hear clearly from 10-12 feet away, chances are you’re rocking out a little too hard!

9- Don’t Be The Only One Laughing

Ahh… the electric chain letter.  Scroll down, make a wish, cross your eyes and oh yeah, send this to one hundred people in thirty seconds or your life will suck.  We all get them and are guilty of sending them as well.  While some chain e-mails are funny, the truth is they can be inappropriate for the office.

10- GO TO LUNCH

Take a break already!  It is so important that you give yourself some recharge time.  Try to eat lunch away from your desk.  Go for a walk if you are fortunate enough to be able to get out of the office.  If not, be sure to get away from your desk for at least 15 – 20 minutes at some point in the day.