Blasted birthday

The Toxic Cleansing NutriBlast - before

The Toxic Cleansing NutriBlast – before

Last week, I mourned celebrated my 34th birthday with friends and my husband, B, who completely spoiled me. Among my birthday bounty was a NutriBullet. B had noticed me dragging out the blender every morning to mix up my smoothies and thought this smaller blender would be easier to use and clean.

As I read up on this amazing contraption, I quickly realized it’s much more than a blender. This mighty little mixer breaks down nuts, fruits and veggies, extracting vital nutrients. The NutriBullet folks recommend replacing one meal with a NutriBlast (what NutriBullet calls its concoctions), then having another later in the day. That’s a lot of fruit and veggies, so I decided to start with one per day and go from there.

I took it for its first spin (pun intended) this weekend, starting with the Toxic Cleansing NutriBlast. I loaded the six servings of fruit and veggies – a mix of spinach, pear, apple, pineapple, banana and water – into the cup NutriBullet provides, attached the blade top, flipped it upside down set it into the power base, watching as it turned the fruit chunks and leaves into a thick, green frothy smoothie.

Doing its thing

Doing its thing

One it was done doing its magic, I took a closer look at bright green blend, which smelled faintly of spinach. Not exactly my usual delicious almond milk, coconut yogurt, banana smoothie. But I took a sip and tasted pears, apples and a bit of pineapple.

What I like
After finishing the two-cup mixture, I was surprisingly full. In fact, I had to take a break halfway through to let it settle in my stomach before continuing on.

Five hours and a 30-minute power walk later, I started feeling a little hungry. Not bad! My typical smoothies hold me over for three, four hours tops.

Today, I whipped up the Energy Elixir Smoothie, which consists of mixed greens, pear, red grapes, walnuts, apple and banana. While I didn’t experience a noticeable jolt, I spent the rest of the afternoon doing a Pure Barre workout, putting away laundry, dusting the blinds, crafting and blogging. So it seems it gave me steady, sustained pep.

The finished NutriBlast

The finished NutriBlast

What I don’t like
My only issue with the NutriBullet? All those organic fruits and veggies add up at the grocery store checkout. Buying enough for five to six NutriBlasts set me back about $70. Next week, I’m going to check out some local farm stands, where produce tends to be cheaper, to see what I can find.

In the meantime, if you’ve used the NutriBullet, let me know what you think. Which are your favorite recipes?

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My holiday sanity toolbox

toolboxHappy holiday season, all! What a few weeks it’s been. I’m in the midst of transitioning from my current job to a new one, studying for a big financial licensing test that I must pass in order to keep said new job and taking a writing class while blogging, working out, holiday shopping and trying to get in quality time with my husband and dogs. Add in recovering from an emergency gallbladder surgery.

I’m exhausted just writing it all.

Thankfully, I have compiled what I call a sanity toolbox, items that help me stay on track mentally, physically and spiritually. Take a look – I hope you’ll discover something new that helps you navigate this wonderful, but crazy, season.

Weekly planner printable
While I depend on my iPad and iPhone for daily scheduling, I love using this free printable (thanks, Defrump Me for sharing it) on Sundays to visually lay out my week. There are spots for calendar items, your weekly goals, notes, even meal planning. I pin it on my fridge Sunday night and am ready to go.

Weekly Planner

Pure Barre
This low-impact workout is huge right now – for good reason. In just 55 minutes, you get a full-body toning workout (the Jello-y limbs and major muscle aches after your first few workouts are proof) that puts your arms, legs, butt and entire core to the test. I’m a new devotee. It’s fun, challenging and yields major results with a minor time investment.

Mini notebooks
I have a slight (okay, huge) obsession with pretty notebooks, and when I saw these at Target, I snatched them right up. They’re super cute, with great quotes and some sparkle, and their small size makes them perfect for tossing into my purse, nightstand, glove box… everywhere. And you can’t beat the $3.99 price tag for three. I jot notes in them, ideas for blog posts or stories, my food logs and basically anything else that’s floating around in my head. Then I can go back to them later, when I have time, and quickly find information.

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Fitbit
There are a lot of wearable technology options out there that track health data, but the Fitbit Flex is just right for me. I wear the waterproof armband around the clock, tracking my steps, activity levels and even sleep patterns. On the online dashboard, I can add notes and track my weight and calorie intake. At the end of each week, Fitbit emails me a progress report summarizing my data. Having this information at my fingertips encourages me to take more steps throughout the day and allows me to keep an eye on my overall health so that I can nip those out-of-whack habits – known to rear their ugly heads when I’m stressed – in the bud.

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Q&A A Day Five Year Journal
I love to journal, but don’t have the time to devote to it most days. I don’t have this journal yet, but am hoping, ahem, Santa sees this and slips it under the tree. It seems like a fantastic alternative, posing one fun question each day that you can answer in just a couple sentences. It’s a great way to record your thoughts, opinions and priorities without taking the time to write long journal entries.

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Evernote
I’m a huge lists person, which makes Evernote invaluable. It allows me to create, access, edit and/or share to-do lists, lists of books I want to read or songs I want to download, notes to myself, recipes, training plans and interesting articles I’ve found, as well as record voice reminders – and it can all be tagged and searched so I can find it quickly when I’m on the go.

What are your go-to tools? Share below!

(Image via)

My love-hate relationship

This is not how I look on the treadmill. I'm the one you can't see, in the corner, red-faced and scowling.

This is not how I look on the treadmill. I’m the one you can’t see, in the corner, red-faced and scowling. Photo: 10k-running.com

One of my favorite bloggers, Ali of Ali on the Run, wrote a great post yesterday about the runner’s euphoria she recently experienced, attributing it to her bare, sans-tracking-device wrists. As someone currently in training for a seven-mile race – and a total type A who pushes myself to improve with every run – I can relate.

It’s been cold here in Connecticut, so I’ve been resigned to the treadmill, watching my intervals sloooooowly tick by as I huff and puff in the humid, over-heated gym. I’ve tried everything – magazines, audio books, music, watching TV (and combinations of these) – in an attempt to make it more enjoyable. But those harsh green numbers stare back at me, judging me, telling me I’m going too slow or my pace still hasn’t improved or that I’m clearly off today because I feel like I’ve run for an hour and it’s only been 10 minutes.

And don’t get me started on my neighboring treadmill runners, who jump on, kick the pace up to eight miles an hour (or more!) and sprint out an hour-long run without breaking a sweat. It’s a good thing they are focused, or else they’d see my red, sweaty face giving them the evil eye.

I completely admit that most days, I hate running – unless I’m outside. Those outdoor runs are what fuel the dreadful indoor ones.

Forecasters are claiming the weather will be a balmy 50 degrees this weekend. I so hope they’re right, because my Saturday and Sunday morning plans consist of outdoor runs around the nearby lake. I love these runs. I feel like a kid again, running without a care in the world as I take in the water, the friendly walkers and fellow runners, their cute dogs and the random duck or two (can spring ducklings be any cuter?). Sure, I wear my stopwatch/pedometer, but it’s not staring me in the face. In fact, I don’t look at it until after my run, just to benchmark my progress.

Those days, when I can clear my head and just observe my surroundings, I love running.

Which do you prefer – treadmills or the open road? And if you are a treadmill runner, any advice for making them less mentally anguishing is greatly appreciated!

Finding peace, 45 minutes at a time

Photo: reiki-energy.info

It was serendipity when a Groupon for a Reiki treatment landed in my inbox late this summer. Emotionally and physically exhausted by recent life events, I snapped up the deal and scheduled my appointment immediately. I didn’t know if it would do anything for me (it was my first treatment), but I was desperate to relax and feel peace again.

I walked into the center and was greeted by a sweet, soft-spoken woman, who led me to a table to lie down. She began by holding a pendulum over each of my seven chakras to see which – if any – were blocked. Given my stress level, I expected them all to be, but surprisingly, just my throat chakra was.

“Have you been having trouble with your throat?” she asked. “A sore throat, coughing, or maybe feeling like you can’t say what you want? Anything with your jaw or ears?”

I thought for a second. “Nope.”

“Hmm. It’s really blocked. Let’s see what we can do.”

She then began the session, placing her hands on or hovering over my head, then working her way down to my neck, shoulders, arms, abdomen, knees and feet. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, relishing the quiet, serene environment. Occasionally, I’d feel vibrations in the areas she was working on and – one time – a jolt of energy. But mostly, I felt just her hands.

Forty-five short minutes later, the session was over.  The practitioner held the pendulum over my chakras again. “You’re unblocked,” she announced.

I didn’t feel any noticeable difference, though a general sense of peacefulness had spread throughout my body. That was enough for me.

I booked another session.

A few days later, I realized that the annoying feeling I had been getting in my ears – almost as though they needed to pop – was gone. And it hasn’t returned.

During my second session a couple weeks ago, I mentioned to the practitioner that my “stuffy ears feeling” had disappeared following the first session. She nodded knowingly. “It makes sense. Your throat chakra was pretty blocked up.”

This time around, my third eye chakra was blocked. “Have you had headaches lately?”

“No.”

“A blocked third eye chakra could also mean you’re doubting or distrusting yourself. Do you feel like you’re having trouble seeing whole situations clearly?”

I thought about how burnt out I felt at work. And how I’d begun to wonder if I just wasn’t cut out to manage a team. “Wow. Yeah.”

“Let’s work on that,” she said smiling.

After the session, I felt peaceful again, and my chakras were all open. The self-doubt is still a little there, but I’ve felt a stronger sense of clarity at the office, an ability to see more of the big picture. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’m looking forward to my third session. The peacefulness I get during the sessions is enough to keep me going back.

Have you tried Reiki? I’d love to hear how it’s impacted you! 

The L-word no woman wants to hear

Here's to hoping I don't have to see another of these until my annual exam next year!

The past month has been emotionally and mentally draining. In addition to an insanely full workload at the office, packed weekends and a bout of food poisoning (just say no to crab at airport restaurants – even if the restaurant supposedly serves the best in the state), I’ve had my health on the back of my mind big time.

I went to my doctor for a routine annual exam, and she detected a lump in both breasts. My appointment took place right before my period, so she instructed me to come back for a follow-up exam when I was mid-cycle, as hormones can create changes in breast tissue right around period time.

Being the type-A worrier I am, I immediately went home and did a Google search for “chances of breast cancer for women in their 30s.” My chances are 1 in 233. Not bad, I thought. I pushed it to the back of my mind.

I went back two weeks ago, and she felt nothing in my right breast. “False alarm!” I thought. Then she felt my left breast.

“I still feel a lump here,” she said. “Here,” she guided my hand. “Can you feel it?”

I could. And it was sore.

“It could be a cyst, which is common in women who use birth control, or a benign tumor. It doesn’t feel hard – more squishy, like tissue. It could even be abnormal breast tissue,” she explained. “I’m going to send you for an ultrasound so we can get a closer look at it. If it’s a lump, it’ll have to come out and be tested.”

So that was it. In a few sentences, I had my future – and it could turn out a number of ways.

I have my ultrasound this Thursday, and I’m scared. This is the first time I’ve admitted that. Everyone’s been telling me it’s probably nothing and I shouldn’t worry until I know more. I understand their reasons for saying this, but it’s so much easier said than done.

Every pain I feel in my breast brings about another bout of worry. Every time I put on or take off my bra, I think about the lump. I wonder how long it’s been there – if my gynecologist missed it last fall during my annual exam, just as I missed it during numerous self-checks.

There are a million articles out there about how to conduct a self-exam, but few tell you what you’ll actually feel if there’s a lump. My gynecologist had told me a lump feels hard, like a pea or marble. This lump doesn’t feel that way. It feels like a mass deep in my breast. Knowing I have dense breast tissue, I assumed that’s what it was – an area of very dense tissue.

I believe everything happens for a reason. And if it’s the worst-case scenario – cancer – my family and I will deal accordingly. If it’s not, I still need to make changes that put myself and my health first. Too often, they are put on the backburner for work, and it will eventually catch up with me.

I’m writing this for a few reasons: to remind you to do self-exams at home and get an annual exam by a doctor, and to urge you to make the same commitment to yourself and your health (if you haven’t already). Our health, though often pushed aside, must truly be #1 – no compromises.