It’s the first of the month!

HebrewDawn: 10 Minute Total Body Workout
Wake up, wake up, wake up, it’s the first of the month! (So cash your checks and come up!) This just happens to be one of my favorite Bone Thugs-N-Harmony songs; it’s also a great reminder that today is a new day, a new month, and a clean fresh start! The first of the month is like hitting a big reset button. Whatever happened last month is done now, and we have to let it go. We have a brand new month before us with new goals, expectations, challenges. It’s really a good thing. It donned on me this morning that we get exactly 12 “reset” days per year, 12 chances to start over, learn, make changes. We really should make the most of them, right? Instead of just having a regular old Wednesday, let’s kick it up a notch and kick off the first of the month by setting an intention, working hard, and appreciating our awesome selves!

This morning in class, my amazing yoga teacher read a passage about being thankful for your life at all times.

“Every night before you lay down to sleep, take time to be thankful. Even if your day is terrible, be thankful for it. When you rise each morning, be thankful for all that you have and for this day because it will best day of your life. Through this unwavering gratitude, you will create the life you want. ” 

The idea of gratitude not just when things are good, but also appreciating the moments that are not as good is very powerful. Even when something isn’t successful we can still take something away from our experience and use it later. That is something to be thankful for indeed.

Setting an intention is just like gratitude: it’s something to which we can return. We can check in with our thoughts and make sure they align with our intention. My intention for this month is to appreciate something different each day. It’s easy to get distracted when something disrupts the flow of our lives, but returning to our intention can help us refocus and live in the present. I often get bogged down by previous events and I struggle to move forward. Could be something I missed, forgot, or didn’t turn out like I wanted; whatever it is stays with me for hours, days, even weeks sometimes. When I worry about the past, I’m not living in the present. I’m missing out on all sorts of amazing things that are happening RIGHT NOW! Reminding myself to be thankful for something each day will help bring me back. No one’s life is perfect, but it’s ever-changing, beautiful, and important. Let your intention for the month reflect something positive and hopeful, this is the filter through which all thoughts will flow.

Now that we can set our focus for the month, let’s work hard and put that intention to good use! It’s June and tank top / maxi dress / short shorts / flowy skirt/ socks and sandals season is on our doorstep! Some people say that last weekend was the unofficial start of summer, I say we still have 19 more days to go. I mean, you are ALREADY READY for summer because you look amazing and beautiful right now in this moment! All you really need to do is put on your sun hat and go catch some rays. BUT if you enjoy breaking a sweat as I have come to, check out this awesome 10-minute total body workout that’s sure to boost your confidence.

Boom-here ya go! I’ve included some guidelines for modifying and intensifying below.

HebrewDawn: 10 Minute Total Body Workout

Minute Exercise Minute Exercise
0:00 – 1:00 EASY Cardio! 5:00 – 6:00 HARD CARDIO!!!
1:00 – 2:00 Squat Jump (25reps) 6:00 – 7:00 Toe Rise to Squat
2:00 – 3:00 MED Cardio!! 7:00 – 8:00 MED Cardio!!
3:00 – 4:00 Oblique crunches right (20) 8:00 – 9:00 Static Plank Pose
4:00 – 5:00 Oblique crunches left (20) 9:00 – 10:00 EASY Cardio!

Cardio – These cardio minutes should increase your heart rate. Easy, Med, and Hard refer to your level of effort so pick an activity where you can vary the intensity. The impact can be high or low, as long as it gives your heart pumping; jumping rope, jumping jacks or running in place. Playing outside? You could do short track sprints. If you want something low impact, try air squats, or marching with high knees.

Squat Jump – start with legs about shoulder width apart and toes turned out slightly. Bend the knees, keeping your chest up, and drop your booty as low as you can without lifting the heels, on the way back up squeeze your glutes and push through the toes to give a little jump. Doesn’t need to be a giant leap, just shoot to get your feet off the floor. You can also work the same muscles without the jump, by squeezing the glutes and lifting your heels off the floor.

Oblique Crunches – Lie down on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms overhead. Using your breath, exhale and curl your torso upward while reaching hands to one side of your knees. Repeat for 1 minute before switching sides.The key  is keeping your knees squeezed together and not moving throughout the exercise. If the full crunch isn’t happening, try  going halfway or pulse it out while keeping your shoulders on the floor. If this is super easy, try to complete this exercise while hovering your heels off the ground.

Toe Rise to Squat- Start on the tips of your toes with legs together. Jump feet out wider than hips and sink your booty down low. Once you reach the lowest point, push through your the floor and return to a standing position on your toes. Make sure to keep your chest up the whole time. If the jump is too much, step out to the squat and back in to standing. If this is not challenging for you, intensify this move by adding another squat at the bottom. Still not enough? Jump from your wide squat onto one leg-just make sure you alternate legs 🙂

Let’s make this first day of June one to remember as we clean the slate and welcome the summer with a purpose. You have an awesome new workout to challenge your body, and a thoughtful intention to challenge your mind. When things start to get out of whack, worry not! You can always recenter, refocus, and get back to your intention. You my friend, are an ADORABLE BADASS, and you totally got this!

HebrewDawn: 10 Minute Total Body Workout

work your body, calm your mind

HebrewDawn: work your body, calm your mind
Phew-it’s WEDNESDAY! We are officially halfway through the week y’all! I never used to get excited about humpday, but I’ve created a little midweek routine and it’s really changing the game. For so many of us, our energy levels trend downward as the week progresses. In the beginning, we start fresh as a daisy; bright, strong and ready to take on the world. I don’t know about you, but usually by Thursday night, my daisy is flaccid and wilty and generally over it. I find myself stressed about what I have left to do, worried about what I didn’t do yet, and desperately trying to make it all come together. It doesn’t have to be this way though. If you are looking for more energy and a “less sucky” end of the week, I’ve got the plan for you.  Working your body can actually calm your mind-using the energy you have inside will release stress, bring stillness, and create even more positive energy for the rest of the week.

The first part is an easy sell. It’s not uncommon for people to exercise as a way to relieve stress. While physical activity is a great way to take your mind off the things that are giving you grief, it can be just a brief distraction. Exercise becomes an outlet when you combine it with intention. If you have ever heard someone say they are going to “leave it all on the table,” you can assume he or she is delivering their very best and walking away knowing they couldn’t have given more. This is a powerful concept-entering a situation when you’re prepared, confident, and ready for a challenge is inspiring. When you “leave it all on the table,” the outcome doesn’t matter. The growth is in the journey, you’ve done the work and proved something to yourself. You can let go of the pressure and fear of judgment and appreciate your efforts.

The second part probably seems counter-intuitive. Using energy to create energy? It’s true that if I have $5 and then spend $5, I no longer have $5. Strangely your physical energy stores work the opposite way. Believe it or not, going for a brisk walk can refresh you the same as would a power nap. Next time you feel that I-ate-too-much-lunch heavy eyelid feeling, give it a try! Hop up and take a brisk 5 minute walk, you will feel better and more alert…Kinda cool, no?

So that’s the theory; using exercise to let go of stress and create energy. Why and how exactly do we need to apply it?

Let’s suppose we missed a whole week of work/life/etc. due to a vacation, illness, business travel, or some other reason. Upon return we usually scavenge for the critical points we missed and the rest is history. In a situation like this, it’s so much easier to let go of the past. We understand that the world kept turning while we were away and it would be fruitless to rehash every detail of our absence. It’s not like someone told us not to give a fig , but for some odd reason we are able to give ourselves a break and let it go.

Why can’t we extend this same forgiving attitude to our weekly to-do list? The stress we feel on Thursday about the stuff we didn’t get to on Tuesday seems justified and most of us keep trying to add a little extra here or there to stay on track. Maybe we don’t get enough sleep one night, skip a workout, or cancel something we were really looking forward to; either way we end up paying for it later on. We trudge onward losing steam all the while, and by the week’s end we are completely pooped. Raise your hand if you habitually make and then cancel post-work plans on Friday night because you literally can’t even!

We forget that robbing Peter to pay Paul still leaves somebody broke; trying to make up for lost time is the exact same flawed logic. The key to avoiding the end-of-the-week slump lies in cleaning the slate. Celebrating all you’ve accomplished so far and forgiving the things you haven’t can help you look forward with a sense or purpose instead of dread or defeat.

METHOD:

Step 1 – divide your week into two parts, the BEGINNING and the END. I work Monday through Friday so Wednesday is the middle for me. My friend Cait is a security guard and she works Wednesday through Sunday so Friday is midweek for her, you get the idea. Set your intentions on getting to the midpoint and get excited about tapping into your “happy.” Don’t worry about getting through the whole week, you’re journey is to the middle.

Step 2 – get “happy” with a fun activity. This should be something you look forward to, but something that’s also challenging. The key is to choose something that makes you feel good about YOU! This is a great time to leave it all out there as we discussed earlier, but it can be anything. Time, intensity, variety are all up to you. Some examples are squats for the duration of your favorite song, holding a plank, taking a bike ride with a friend, a pilates class. Not feeling physical? Try meditating, coloring, or preparing a new recipe. We are taking time to be present in our activity and celebrate our awesomeness, so feel free to give your body whatever it needs.

Think of  each week as a road trip with the “middle” as your destination. This approach gives you two chances to get it right. You have the way there AND the way back with a checkpoint in the middle; a chance to learn, evaluate and make adjustments along the way. Reaching your halfway point destination is a big deal. You’ve done it! Your midweek “happy” time should celebrate you. A little time to say “thank you, me, for being so good to me,” to recharge before you start again. Once you get where you’re going, reflect on where you’ve been, you might need to change things up. The beauty of the road trip is that the way there can be completely different than the way back; the best part is that you have the freedom to decide what you need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOOD! Glorious food…

HebrewDawn: FOOD! Glorious food...
I love the Spring! Down here in the south the weather is warm but not too warm, people start heading outdoors again, the coats come off, the shades go on, and everything is so wonderfully green! My favorite part of spring, apart from not having to wear two layers when I go for a run, is definitely the produce! From asparagus and bok choy to radishes and strawberries, spring is a time for food; GLORIOUS food!
One of my foodie friends said something last week that totally describes my outlook on food and cooking. We were discussing the inherent conflict between enjoying delicious things and healthy eating;

“What’s an epicurean adventurer to do? Food is an endless culinary odyssey!”

Her words cracked me up, but I heard where she was coming from. It’s fun to cook and eat and share, but it seems that the foods we get excited about aren’t always the best for us. What’s more, there is a stigma that “healthy” foods will leave us unsatisfied. With all the food shaming, deprivation diets, and misinformation peddled around the interwebs, I’m not surprised this is the case. I mean I love kale, like really L-O-V-E the stuff, BUT if you told me that I had to eat it every day for lunch and dinner, I’d grow tired of it…quickly!

If variety is the spice of life, why is there such a great divide between food that taste good and food that is good for us? Should we feel bad for wanting to create recipes that nourish our hearts and minds as well as our bellies? Can delicious things really be healthy too?

Why, yes indeed! Healthy eating behavior should not be synonymous with deprivation. In fact, thoughtful choices can enlighten and expand the most discriminating palates. It’s a three part process: choosing foods that will taste their very best, investigating why we crave certain flavors and textures, and developing recipes that emulate those things. This will keep you satisfied without the dreaded Fear Of Missing Out.

I believe seasonal produce is the holy grail, if you will. Everyone can recall a time they encountered a piece of produce that was not in season; likely overpriced and under-ripe, it left your taste buds feeling a little sad. On the other hand, we can all remember a time when a simple strawberry or blueberry was the most delicious one we’ve ever tasted! Why? Probably because it came from a local farm, was harvested at the peak of freshness, and handled very minimally before reaching our plate. It basically boils down to two things; without farms there would be no food, and the closer the farm, the better the food.

ENTER: Trendy hipster locavore and her soapbox


Buying local seasonal fruits and veggies sets off a chain of positive reactions that benefits the individual and the community at large. At this moment (here in North Carolina at least) foods like leeks, new potatoes, and scallions are in abundance! You can find these on the grocery store shelves or at the farmer’s market at rock bottom prices. They are grown and harvested closer to you, the customer, so the supply chain is much shorter. Foods can be picked a little later, won’t require preservatives or chemicals to withstand long transit times, and will last longer on your counter top or in your crisper saving you even more money! Let’s not forget the yum factor.

The positive outcomes don’t end there; relying on your neighborhood farmer supports your community by invigorating the local economy, sustainable practices, and even job creation. We aren’t just talking fruits and veggies either. Local farms can provide a variety of meats, eggs, dairy products, grains and breads. Here in Raleigh, at the NC State Farmer’s Market we have our very own “Goat Cheese Lady” and let me tell you, it’s a beautiful thing!

Take advantage of the goodness that is right in your own backyard, or your neighbors yard, or maybe the farmers market. Here are some ideas to embrace the Spring harvest and tackle cravings.

HebrewDawn: Sweet/Sour - Strawberry Salsa Sweet/Sour – Strawberry Salsa
Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups of strawberries
  • 1-2 lemons or limes
  • mint leaves

Method – Dice strawberries and place into a small mixing bowl, add the juice of lemon/lime plus zest, add freshly chopped mint, and refrigerate until serving. This recipe comes together in just minutes and is quite versatile. Try as a topping for yogurt or blended into a smoothie. Place in ice cube trays and freeze to add a sweet surprise to your iced tea. Feeling adventurous? Swap the mint for cilantro and add some red onion and jalapeno for a delicious topping for grilled chicken or fish.

HebrewDawn: Salty/Creamy- Fancy Roasted Veggies with Herbed Greek Yogurt
Salty/Creamy- Fancy Roasted Veggies with Herbed Greek Yogurt

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb new potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 c greek yogurt
  • fresh herbs
  • olive oil

Method – scrub potatoes, cut into quarters, place on a baking sheet. Peel and slice carrots and place on baking sheet with potatoes. Just use the white and light green parts of the leek for this recipe. Inset a strainer within a large mixing bowl and add leeks. Thoroughly rinse, making sure to leave behind all sediment. (I like to swish the leeks around in the water with my hands and then lift the colander out-that usually does the trick) Pat dry and place on baking sheet with the potatoes and carrots. Toss everything with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes; tossing halfway through to brown evenly. Meanwhile combine your fresh herbs with the greek yogurt.This is where it gets fun-let’s say you want a french take, add some tarragon or thyme. Feeling more Italian? Add fresh basil and parsely.  Maybe you’re in a Mediterranean mood? Go with mint. If you have some lemon juice handy you can add it to amp up the flavor even more. To serve, simply top a scoop of roasted veggies with a dollop of the herbed yogurt. Try combining the leftovers of each for a picnic ready potato salad with an extra punch of protein!

HebrewDawn: Crunchy/Cool-A Pretty Crunchy Salad

Crunchy/Cool-A Pretty Crunchy Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bulb fennel
  • 1 bunch red radishes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • olive oil

Method-Remove fennel stalks and fronds from the bulb. You can store for a future application if you like. Slice radishes and fennel bulb thinly (you can use a mandolin, if you have one.) Place slices in an ice bath for 10-20 minutes. While the veggies are taking a dip, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Drain the veggies, pat dry, and toss with the lemon dressing. Voila! A colorful crisp and refreshing dish you can eat by itself or use to enhance other recipes. Add a scoop atop a bed of spinach or mix with some leftover quinoa. The vinegar and lemon in the dressing will pickle the vegetables and help keep them crisp. The flavor will intensify as the dish sits in the fridge, so this is a great make-ahead recipe.

Enjoy sharing these recipes with your family and friends. Bon Apetit!


five minutes MAY change your mind

HebrewDawn: five minute challenge
Time is everything; it’s money, it’s irreplaceable, it’s of the essence. It’s free, but priceless. You can make it, spend it, but you can’t own it. Time is one resource that is rarely in abundance, so we have to manage it wisely.Many people tell me that they don’t work out because they don’t have time. Well, I’m here this month to dispel that myth. We do have time, I promise! We just might have to get creative in our quest to find it. For the month of May, I invite you to try something new with me. I believe that 5 minutes each day MAY just change your mind about exercise and results. 

Take five little minutes each day to focus on you, to give back to yourself, to start progressing towards your healthy and happy future. No fancy equipment required, no gym memberships needed, no running, no burpees. It’s simple: five exercises, 1 minute each, once a day for a month. Ready join me?

Let’s do this! Here are the exercises:

Roll Ups – lay down on your back with your legs out straight and arms extended overhead. Take a deep breath in. As you breath out use your abdominal muscles to roll yourself off the floor into a seated position. Try to lift one vertebrae off the floor at a time without arching your low back. If you dont get all the way up, stop where you get stuck. Roll back down and repeat for 1 minute

Goddess Squat – standing with your feet apart. Make sure they are just outside shoulder width distance and your toes are pointed forward. Bend your knees as far as you can without lifting your heels up. Return to standing while squeezing your quads and booty on the way up. Repeat for 1 minute.

Arm circles – start standing with feet slightly apart. Raise your straight arms up to the sides so your hands are even with your shoulders. Keeping your arms straight, make circles forward and backward. Size doesn’t matter, make them big or small, make them big and small, just keep moving those straight arms for 1 minute.

Crossover toe touch – start standing with feet wide (slightly wider than goddess squat) and arms out to the sides like in the arm circles. Keeping legs and arms straight, reach your right arm towards your left leg by bending slightly at the waist and twisting your torso. If you can make contact with your knee, shin, or ankle  GREAT! If not, just reach as far as you can. Return to standing and repeat on the other side, again taking care to keep legs and arms extended straight. Repeat on each side as many times as you can for  1 minute.

Plank – start laying on the ground. Place your hands (with fingers pointed forward) directly underneath your shoulders and flex your feet so the balls of your feet are in contact with the floor. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, lift your body off the floor by pushing into the floor with hands and feet and straightening your arms. Maintain the body alignment by squeezing your thighs, booty, and core.Hold as long as you can, lower carefully back down with control. If you can’t straighten your arms and come all the way up, that’s okay! Try to push yourself up while keeping your knees on the ground. Again, make sure to squeeze your legs, booty, and core to keep the back nice and straight. You don’t have to hold plank for a full minute, just hold as long as you can and repeat as many times as you can in that 1 minute.

That’s it! While this will not transform you into a body builder in a single month, these are total body exercises that will challenge you. As you work through the month you should find that it gets easier to complete these moves. You should see an increase in the number of reps you can complete in each 1-minute round. All of this is progress – a sweet affirmation that your effort and time are well spent.

Now that you have the moves, the plan is totally up to you. You can do these moves pretty much anywhere and adapt the schedule to fit your lifestyle. Let’s say that you have a hectic day and forget your workout one day. Fear not, just double up the next day. Maybe you’re going out of town for the weekend and know you won’t have the time. Feel free to work ahead! Let’s say you’re like me and you sit at a desk all day, why not use the 1-minute rounds to take a break from being seated? Just so you know, I’ve been caught doing squats or planks in an empty conference room many times…If they ask, I just tell people I was getting tired and needed to wake up – they buy it EVERY time!

There will be good days and bad days, but they are all important. There will be days that we don’t get our workout in, despite our best efforts. Keep at it anyway. It will be hard – that’s why it’s called a challenge! Starting small, dedicating roughly 5 minutes a day, we can develop great habits that will stay with us in the long run. This challenge will prove that dedication and consistency, even in small doses, can bring us closer to our goals.

Will you join me this May in the 5-minute challenge? I sure hope so. Think of all the positive feelings you will enjoy after completing it. If you can make progress with 5 minutes a day, imagine what you can do by giving just a little more.

Best of luck to you my fierce fabulous femmes! 

 

  

HebrewDawn: 5 Minute May Challenge  

 

Getting Over the Hump

 

After a rocky start to the week, let me begin by saying congratulations for making it this far. Wednesday is always a big moment in the week for me; it’s my benchmark to evaluate what boxes I’ve checked off the to-do list and which ones still remain. Sometimes there is a shuffling of priorities, sometimes there is deep sigh of relief. This week it’s neither of these. It’s more of a shift into overdrive.

I had a conversation with my mortgage planner Sally yesterday that really lit a fire under my (sculpted) ass. She and I were talking about saving money. I was frustrated and said I should just give up on buying a house until I made more money. Sally said, “If you choose that path, you will probably never buy a home. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to. But if you do, you need to try harder. It seems that you have the tools, but you lack discipline and unfortunately sweetie, that’s on you.”

To say I was frustrated when we hung up the phone would be an understatement. The truth is that Sally was right-she had called me out.

It’s easy to put effort into the things we enjoy. Ask anyone, I will gladly wake up at 5am for yoga class or plan a 2-3 hour run on a weekend morning. It wasn’t always this way though. I remember, not so long ago, I couldn’t be bothered to rise before noon on the weekends. The only cardio I got was dancing the night away after downing a truckload of cocktails. How on earth did I get where I am now? The answer: lots of hard work over the span of several years. I ran my first 5k in 2012; while I wouldn’t run my first marathon until years later, I had to start somewhere. It made me a little proud to reflect on the lifestyle changes I’ve made so far, but it also led me to an epiphany of sorts. 

Since roughly December I’ve been in a stalemate; weight is not budging, running times aren’t improving. Nothing seems to be progressing despite what I perceive as boatloads of hard work. Perusing my training logs confirms that I am indeed putting forth tremendous effort. But it’s all on the same activities, the same routines I’ve done for years now. I’ve been grinding away in my little run/dance/yoga comfort zone. While my workouts keep me happy, I can’t ignore the lack of progress.

When I reflect on my diet I see another cycle. A few days of “clean eating” (there’s that hard work again) followed by a couple of, what I like to call, bottomless pit days. It’s like clockwork; the first part of the week I’m determined to get on the right path and inevitably it falls apart days later. I try to keep healthy foods on hand and I enjoy making meals from fresh local ingredients, so I’ve never logged calories. Why bother if I’m making good choices?

I’m left with one major question-why is my hard work not working? Are my goals unrealistic? Possibly. Am I just plain lazy? Surely not. I’m capable of hard work, I’ve proven it to myself before.  As I reflected, I thought back to my conversation with Sally. “You can’t just want something really bad, snap your fingers, and make it happen. If we could do that, we wouldn’t appreciate anything at all..”

I realized the reason I’m stuck in my fitness rut is the same reason I was scared to death about saving money for a down payment. It was uncharted territory, and it was going to be hard-really hard. Was that a reason to give up? Hell no! I pride myself on doing things people think are impossible. It’s fun to test oneself and even more fun to be surprised by what you can accomplish with great effort. Why on earth was I not looking at my homebuying and fitness goals with the same optimism? Fear-of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of disappointment. I’ve been justifying fear with excuses instead of tackling it head on.

Having that said, I’m going to try new things as I focus on saving money for my first home. I’ve started tracking my calories in an app as opposed to just journaling. My hope is that over the long term, I will gain insight into what’s causing my yo-yo patterns and develop more balanced eating behaviors. I also want to take ownership of how I fuel my body. In the short term, this activity will give me accountability-if I don’t log my intake, the app will send me a message to remind me to login.

I’m also going to focus on my running from a strength perspective instead of just logging miles and analyzing the average pace. I began running to enjoy the outdoors and try something new. I’ve stuck with it as much for enjoyment as for my sanity. Instead of getting so caught up in the races and finish times, I’m ready to dedicate time to the journey. Building a stronger foundation i.e. body will help keep me running for years to come. Again this is going to be uncomfortable; speed workouts, hill repeats, lifting heavy things…sweating it out in the gym is NOT what I do; but, if it will strengthen my ability to do something I really love, it’s worth a shot, right?

I’ve realized now that I’ve been trying to make difficult things easy. Choosing the path of least resistance and resting on my accomplishments. In doing so, I’m robbing myself of personal growth. I’m nervous and excited to take this new approach and be a little more honest with myself. I may struggle and have to face some harsh realities but maybe that’s what I need right now?  It took a financial professional to point it out, but I’m ready to get over the hump and get growing 🙂

What’s something that inspires, but also scares the beejeezus out of you? Does it seem impossible, implausible, or unrealistic? Whatever it is, take a moment; embrace all the optimism you can and try to visualize success in that venture. What would it look like? What would it mean to you? Would that feeling of success make all the hard work worth it? Sometimes it’s all a matter of perspective. Building the city of Rome was extremely arduous, but after all it wasn’t done in a day.

I will leave you with a quote from the great Henry Ford  

HebrewDawn: Getting Over the Hump 

Happy humpday dolls!

E