Super Bowl 2013

Super Bowl Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year.

Now, I’m not even going to pretend for a minute that I’m a die-hard football fan – I’m definitely not. The only players I know from most teams are the quarterbacks, and I would not be able to rattle off any statistics from this past year. Or any year for that matter. In fact, the only reason I know Ray Lewis leads the NFL in post-season tackles is because I saw it this morning on ESPN at the gym – a stat I will undoubtedly forget by tomorrow. When I say that I like football, most people guys either roll their eyes or start quizzing me on random football facts. Listen, fellas – I can like a sport without knowing who played in the 1976 Super Bowl, or which player has rushed for the most yards of all time. I’m never going to coach a team, and I probably won’t ever be on some sort of football trivia game show, so the details aren’t important to me. I just love watching the game. It’s exciting, and I love how into it everyone gets. Which is why I love the Super Bowl so much. All of that excitement reaches a peak for the final game of football season. Throw in spending time with family and friends, good food and drinks and (mostly) funny commercials, and the Super Bowl can’t get much better.

As has been the case for far too long, my beloved Cleveland Browns are not playing in the Super Bowl. This has left me with the choice of either being neutral, or picking a team to become a temporary fan of. If the Steelers are playing, the choice is easy: I’m cheering for whichever team they are playing. But this year, since Pittsburgh didn’t make it to the Super Bowl (ha!), the choice becomes a little harder. Should I root for the San Franciso 49er’s, or cheer for the Baltimore Ravens?

My knee-jerk reaction is to hope the Ravens lose. This all stems from the decision made by the former Cleveland Browns’ owner, Art Modell, to move the team to Baltimore in 1995. Cleveland fans were crushed – and the stewing rage inside of us never really did go away. Not even when Art Modell passed away last fall did people in Cleveland stop hating the man (see here for an example of a Cleveland’s fan “tribute” to Art Modell. For the record, I think the awful things said about him after he passed away were terrible and wrong – and I hope none of my readers would ever say things like that.).

Anyway, whether the new team in Baltimore deserved it or not, Browns fans have since disliked the Ravens. I’ll admit, “I hope the Ravens lose” has come out of my mouth many times. But does Baltimore’s football team and its players deserve our ill-wishes, or are they just the scapegoats for the anguish Cleveland Browns felt over losing their team almost 20 years ago? I guess it’s finally time for this fan to admit that I really have nothing against Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco or any of the other Ravens players (look at that – I can name at least 2 Baltimore Ravens). They had nothing to do with Art Modell’s decision. And with Ray Lewis retiring this year, I know a lot of people (my husband included) want to see him win a Super Bowl. I’ll admit – that would be kind of cool…but I just can’t keep from associating him with all that stuff that happened in early 2000

And then there are the 49er’s. I do try to support my family and friends’ favorite sports teams, which is why I cheer for the Colts, the Packers and the Cowboys – as long as they are not playing the Browns. The one (slightly obvious) exemption to this is the Steelers. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to cheer for them, even though my father and most of his family are Steelers fans. It breaks my heart and makes me wonder where they went wrong…

But I digress. Since my sister-in-law’s favorite team is the 49er’s, I’m naturally inclined to cheer for them. Plus, I really like their team colors. Roll your eyes if you must, but the cool team colors / interesting mascot approach seems to work for me with March Madness picks, so I have faith that it won’t steer me wrong for the Super Bowl. However, it could be a problem that I do not know the  name of the 49er’s quarterback (and after a quick Google search…got it: Colin Kaepernick. Wait… Colin who?).

So, will I get over my deep dislike of the Baltimore Ravens, or will I stick with the family-and-friends approach and cheer for the San Francisco 49er’s? I won’t know for sure until kick-off, but one thing is certain: I can’t wait to put on my Browns jersey, get a plate of food I know is bad for me and watch the Super Bowl. I hope that one day I won’t have to make the “Who will I cheer for?” decision because one day (soon!) the Cleveland Browns will make it to a Super Bowl. Maybe our recently renamed First Energy Stadium will put some spark and electricity into our game?  Ha…ha. Ok, ok, horrible joke – but seriously, I hope it does. Go Browns!

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My Word of the Year

In my recent travels throughout the blogosphere, I’ve come across a concept that’s intrigued me: instead of making New Year’s resolutions, choose a word of the year. The idea is that focusing on just one word for a year can help you reach your goals, while allowing for unexpected detours along the way.

I really like this example from a running blogger: if you set a goal for 2013 to run a marathon, what happens if you break your leg?  That unexpected event is going to make it very hard to reach your marathon goal – however, if you instead choose to live by the word DETERMINATION for the year 2013, you’ll be inspired to stick with being active, even if you can’t get the marathon in during the year.

The more I thought about this idea, the more I wanted to do it. Mainly because I am my own worst critic. I like making lists, and one of the lists I always make every Sunday is what I want to get accomplished for the week. Ten items turn into 15, which turn into 25…before I know it I’m pretty much setting myself up for failure, because who possibly can accomplish all of that, on top of work and sleep? Not me, for sure.

But this is a way I can focus on living my life a certain way – under the influence of one word. For me, I still think settling specific goals is crucial but maybe this will take the “failure” out of the process. For example, in order to reach my goal of reading 36 books this year, I will need to read a book about every 10 days. It’s the 29th day of  January, so that means I should be pretty close to finishing my third book.

Am I?

No.

I just finished my second book last night. My internal critic has been very aware of this, and I actually feel bad about myself because I’m behind. But should I feel that way? Of course not! But setting (and failing) that specific goal puts unrealistic pressure on me – which I don’t think any of us want or deserve.

I’ve thought a lot about this, and I’ve decided my word for 2013 will be COMMITMENT.

I chose this word for several reasons. First, “commitment” means a promise. It means that when I say I’ll do something, I’ll do it. I’ve committed to a healthier lifestyle  in the past few weeks, and I plan to keep that pledge. By doing so, I will have more energy and feel better in general. I heard a quote on The Biggest Loser a few weeks ago that I’ve decided is my new mantra: Being healthy is not a chore – it’s a gift. That is so, so true – and I’ve committed to living healthy for as long as that gift is given to me.

Second, “commitment” requires dedication. I’ve committed to running the Nashville Half Marathon in April – which will take serious dedication to running. Setting a commitment means I’ll have stay on track and focused. But if something was to happen that would prevent me from running in that race, I will still have had the satisfaction of putting in the hard work needed for that commitment.

Third, I am able to choose who and what I will have a “commitment” to. I’m well aware of my tendency to put unimportant things (work) in front of the things that really matter (family, friends, my passions). Because I know my family and friends will love and support me no matter what, it can be too easy to put them aside to deal with all the other stressors in life. And they don’t deserve that. By committing to the people and things who matter, I will be able to put  more energy into these relationships.

Finally, “commitment” will hold me accountable for things, but if for some reason I fall short, I will not have failed. If I only read 30 book this year, as long as I can honestly say that I put my full effort into this commitment, I can still count it as a success. Life happens – so I will measure success by how I kept commitments, not by numbers.

I made a collage of sorts to hang in our bedroom to remind myself daily of COMMITMENT:

Commitment

If you’d like to make your own, here is the editable Word document: Commitment.

I’ve also started a Pinterest board dedicated to commitment: things I’ve committed to, as well as inspiration to keep me motivated. I plan on adding to this all year – so stayed tuned!

I’ve noticed from observing people in my life that we often put too much pressure on ourselves. We expect to get 100 hours worth of things done in just one day – and then feel like we failed when we don’t get it all done. Instead of setting resolutions or making lists and lists of goals this year, consider living your life around one word that means something to you. I think you can (and should) set goals for yourself, but by focusing on one word to live by, you can make some pretty great changes in your life.

What is your word going to be?

Friday Funday – Awkward Pregnancy Pics

I discovered a ridiculous website from my friend Katie’s blog – so I had to share for a Friday afternoon treat.

Just to clarify – I think pregnant women are adorable. And I don’t have anything against prego bellies; I loved on my sister’s plenty when she was pregnant with my nephew.   I know some people have issues with pregnancy photo shoots (*cough* Katie *cough*), but most of the ones I see on Pinterest are so stinking cute. Since I’ve never been pregnant, I can’t honestly say how I feel about them, but I think no matter what side of the fence you’re on, we can all agree that these people have taken things way, way too far.

Get read to laugh, shudder and shake your head. Enjoy.

Cool App: Get Paid to Work Out – Seriously!

About a year ago, I heard rumblings about an app for iPhones that would pay you to work out.

Whaaaaaat?! Seriously?

Yes, seriously.  But as amazing as that sounded, I didn’t join. Why? Well, at the time, I was not a regular gym-goer and didn’t think I would be anytime soon. My reasons excuses were limited time and lack of motivation. And, I’m not alone: these reasons show up in many, many articles as two of the top reasons why 70% of Americans do not exercise regularly (see here, here, here and here).

However, because of my crazy resolution for 2013, running has become a part of my almost-daily life. Solving the limited time issue has involved waking up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am and getting to the gym by 5:00 am. I’m exercised and back home around the time I’d usually wake up – so I have no chance to make excuses why I can’t go to the gym later in the day.

Now, the motivation issue…that’s the tough one for me. While the half-marathon has surely given me motivation to run now, I do think about what will happen after the race is over. In an effort to mitigate that risk before it rears its ugly head, I signed up for the above-mentioned app, called GymPact.

In a nutshell, GymPact is an app for iPhones and Androids that rewards users for exercising – and does quite the opposite when a workout is missed.

What are the rewards and punishments? Cold, hard cash.

That’s right: you can earn money for working out.

Here’s how it works: first, download the GymPact app and sign up. The app will ask you three questions when you create an account:

1. How many times a week will you commit to working out? A workout must be done either at a gym, or through the Runkeeper app, and must last at least 30 minutes. The more you commit, the more you can earn. Since I’m just getting into the rhythm of the gym, I committed to three workouts per week, which pays on average $2.10 per week. Four workouts typically pay $2.80 per week, while five can pay about $3.50 per week. It’s not enough that I’ll be able to quit my job (wouldn’t that be grand??), but it’s something. And if you stay with this for a year, that’s over $100 you’ve earned for getting exercise. The money is deposited into a Paypal account, so you’ll need to sign up for one if you don’t have one yet. Once you hit $10, you can withdraw the funds from your Paypal account.

2. How much would you like to “wager” for a missed workout? Here is where you set what your monetary punishment will be if you miss a workout (or two or three). You can wager up to $100 per workout, but I went for the lowest amount, $5 (I may be motivated but I’m not crazy). This is a per missed-workout penalty, so if you committed to three workouts and miss two of them, at $5 a workout, you’re looking at a $10 charge to your credit card (see next step). You have until Sunday at midnight to log a workout.

3. This is the scary step – you have to enter a credit card. The deposits in Step 1 are made to a Paypal account, however, the withdrawls from Step 2 are made to a credit card. Before signing up for GymPact, I read some posts by bloggers who were hesitant about this app, because of this step. However, GymPact has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, the Boston Globe, CNN, abc News and many more. This provided me comfort that it’s a legit app and that there would be a resolution if anything were to happen.

What I think so far…

I’ve used GymPact for two full weeks now, and I’ve hit my commitment of at least 3 workouts per week for both weeks. At $0.87, the first week’s reward was smaller than I thought, but I figure it’s because a lot of folks are still keeping New Year’s resolutions. Last week’s was slightly better: I pulled in $0.96. Still not huge, but honestly, the rewards haven’t been my motivator. I thought for sure that earning money for working out would be my main motivation for going to the gym, but surprisingly, the thought of LOSING money has kept me on schedule much more than getting a dollar or two. That’s money I work hard for – there’s no way I’m letting it go that easy.

If you need some motivation to get to the gym, or if you already regularly go to the gym and just want to make a little money, I think GymPact is worth checking out. It’s really helped me plan my workouts for the week – and kept honest and motivated about going to the gym.

Has anyone else tried this app? I’d love to hear about your experiences! And if anyone wants to sign up – I’m here to answer any questions that I can!

Kindness Counts: Be the Match!

Happy Friday! For some people, the end of this week is extra exciting, since there is a federal holiday on Monday: Martin Lurther King, Jr. Day.

Most people know that the third Monday of January is reserved as MLK Day, in honor of the man who believed in freedom and justice for all people, but perhaps something you didn’t know is that almost 20 years ago, in 1994, MLK Day was designated a national day of service.

[On a side note – 1994 was almost TWENTY years ago?! Unreal.]

Anyway, hopefully all you lucky guys and gals who have the day off will choose to volunteer your time to contribute to the greater good!

For those of you who will be at work (like me – ugh), there’s still a way you can be a part of the cause: join the Be the Match! bone marrow registry.

I know, I know: bone marrow donation is a big deal. A big, scary deal. Or at least that’s what I always thought before my sister, Kendall, asked me to join the registry a few years ago. I thought there were huge needles and bone-drilling procedures involved – but apparently that is not how things are done anymore. Kendall, an RN at the Cleveland Clinic’s bone marrow ward, explained that the process is actually similar to giving blood, and while there is some prep-work involved on the donor’s end, it’s a [very, very, very, very, very] small sacrifice for a living-saving gift.

So often I hear from my sister how much bone marrow is needed – and that’s just in little Cleveland, Ohio. I can’t imagine how big the need is around the nation. Joining the registry is one of the most selfless – and easy – things you can do.

Can you think of  any greater service to our nation than to volunteer to save someone’s life?

Yes: bone marrow donation IS a big deal. Especially to someone in need of a life-saving transplant.

Take full advantage of MLK Day’s national day of service – join Be the Match! – and challenge someone else to do that same.

Killer Intervals – Plus Chia Pudding

In spite of the 60 degree weather, my extended family got together for our Christmas celebration over the weekend (I know, I know: Christmas is over. But when you have a bunch of people as busy as my family, you have to get creative!). While chatting with a few of my cousins, I mentioned the great workout I had at the gym, which prompted one of them to ask “Are you going to put this on your blog?”. Well, yes! I sure am 🙂

I recently stumbled upon the Tone It Up! blog, and it was love at first sight. The site if full of great fitness and nutrition advice from two BFFs/personal trainers Karena and Katrina, whose ripped abs and toned arms make me hate them a little. Their amazing beach hair doesn’t help their likability much either.

But all that aside – their workouts looked legit. They are in the middle of a “Love your body” series that will run until Valentine’s Day. I decided one of the workouts, “Cupid’s Cardio”, would be fun to try for my workout Saturday morning.

Yeah, real fun.

There’s no way that chubby little cherub should be associated with a workout like this. I know I’m not in tip-top shape just yet, but this wasn’t my first day at the gym, either. It’s been awhile since I pushed myself that hard, and now I remember why people quite literally get addicted to working out. What a rush. Plus, in the 33 minutes Cupid’s Cardio takes, I ran 3.3 miles – the farthest I’ve gone since I started running again on January 1!

If anyone is in the mood for a GOOD workout, see below (or go to the Tone It Up! post here); I did it on a treadmill, but it can be done on any cardio machine. Interval workouts are great because you can increase or decrease the intensity without having to drastically change the workout. The mph I did are in brackets – I’m hoping to have this beat in after a few more weeks of running.

Warm up for 3 minutes at a jog [6.0]

Run fast for 1 minute [7.5]

Jog for 2 minutes [6.0]

Repeat this 5 times

Sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds [8.0 – 8.3]

Jog or walk for 1  minute [5.8 – 6.0]

Repeat this 10 times

And you’re done! As hard as it was (and sweat-soaked as I was after), I felt great. So great that I did their Bikini Strap workout before calling it a day. All that hard work let me enjoy the yummy food my family made for our party with no guilt. Thanks, Cupid!

On a side note, for breakfast this morning I tried some chia seed pudding, again, from Tone It Up! (I might be slightly obsessed with this website). Despite my initial dismay that chia seeds are edible, I have to admit: it was really tasty! And it kept me full until lunch time. I can see how the texture of the seeds might bother some people, but I was ok with it. I’m really, really glad I liked the recipe, not only for the nutritional value, but because I’d be stuck with a big bag of chia seeds if I didn’t!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and a great start to the week!

Ch-ch-ch-chia!

Alright, children of the ’80s and ’90s, be honest: who didn’t have one of those awesome little Chia Pets back in the day? I can instantly recall that catchy jingle, however, if you need a refresher, check out this commercial. Adorable! I had the kitten, and to this day I believe it is the only plant I have not successfully killed.

Are you ready for the interesting fact of the day? Those little seeds have more than entertainment value. That’s right: apparently, they are edible. I know this because I got an email from Bethenny.com today raving about the nutritional value of chia seeds, even going as far to call them the “new superfood”. 

What?! Is this real life? People are eating ch-ch-ch-chia?! 

Obviously, I was a tad skeptical, so I did a little Googling and found (to my surprise) that chia seeds are THE new thing in nutrition. The NY Times raved about them last November, and Dr. Oz is a fan. Alright, so maybe this isn’t the craziest idea ever…

Mr. Bowers and I have been talking about a major overhaul in what we eat (more on that in a future post – coming soon!), so I know I have to expand my horizons and try things outside of my comfort zone. And little seeds I used to spread on terra-cotta animals is definitely outside of that zone. But the recipes on Bethenny’s site and the ones I found online don’t seem too bad…so maybe a food date with some chia is in the near future!

Has anyone tried chia seeds before? If so, I’d love some tips and recipe ideas. And I’d also love it if the Ch-ch-ch-chia! jingle was stuck in everyone’s head for the night. You’re welcome 🙂