Posted in Encouragement, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Women

My First Day of School

back to schoolAm I really doing this? I thought on the 5 minute drive from my job to the campus of Wayne State University. While I know students of all ages attend the multi- cultural institution located in the heart of Detroit, all I could see were the people who looked young enough to be my children.

Here I am, weeks away from my 42nd birthday, attending my first upper level undergraduate English course. But it’s been a long time in the making. Approximately 10 years.

For the last several years I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Wayne State University and Oakland University’s graduate English programs. And, if I’m honest, their Journalism and Communication programs, too. Indecisiveness played a big part as to why it’s taken me so long to make this move. But fear was the biggest obstacle.

Why do I want to do this? What benefit will I gain? Will my life improve? What am I going to do with it? Do I have time for this?

These questions and more had me like a mouse stuck on the spinning wheel. Like that piece of cheese the mouse is chasing, this desire has remained dangling in front of my eyes, within arms reach. It was just a matter of reaching for it and grabbing it.

At this stage of the game I’m not sure if I’m going to pursue another graduate degree. I already have one of those…an MBA. According to my aunt, Dr. Wilson, “In education, you keep moving forward.” I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a simmering desire to earn such a distinguished level of education.

Before I can seriously entertain a doctorate in English, I need to get some upper level English courses on my record and recommendations from recent academic sources, hence, my Intro to Rhetoric & Writing class this fall semester.

I can’t tell you how excited I am. An item crossed off my 2017 goals. We’re only on the second week of class and I’ve already plotted out classes for 2018.

When I was introduced to the character of Jalessa, the oldest student–a recently divorced, mother ( I think)–on campus from A Different World, it never crossed my mind that that could be me. In retrospect, that was clearly a major  purpose of her character, to show that although life circumstances can knock us of course, we can always make our way back.

Not a do over, I like to say, but a do now. There’s no time like today to pursue a dream.

What dream are you chasing? Share in the comments below. If you can read this post, there’s no time like now to take that first step.

Til Next Time,

L.A.

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Posted in Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Religion

Spiritually Speaking–Not My Will

On the first Sunday at my church, we partake of communion, do baptism, and have a time for God-glorifying testimony. Today, I was supposed to be sharing my own testimony of how God delivered on His promise of meeting my need and desire for my new house. But things didn’t work out quite how I thought. We didn’t close last week, as scheduled. Nothing on my end, but the sellers. I was pretty distraught to say the least. Spent most of the week, trudging through the days that I was supposed to be excited about closing eating junk food.

“What’s up with this Lord?”, I asked my God. “I did everything You asked. I prayed.  I sought guidance. I walked in faith, even writing the date of September 1st as the date we’d be moving from our apartment on a vision board of sorts in my bedroom. Closing was set for August, 30th. How could it NOT happen?

Over those days that I held back tears while eating sugar and salty foods, I felt like a fool. Wishing I had never mentioned the move to anyone. Wishing I’d never gotten my hopes up.

Then I thought about the story of Job. The story of satan and God talking about that good, God-fearing man Job, who God knew to be faithful. That man who satan told God would break, turn against God if he could just have his way with him. God allowed satan to do everything to destroy Job except kill him. All to test Job’s faith.

I figure that’s what’s happening with me. This is a test of my faith. Am I going to doubt what God has for me because it didn’t happen when I wanted it to. Who am I to tell God when this deal is supposed to happen, when my family is going to move.

It’s not about my will, but His. My role is to trust that it will be at the appointed time and to walk in faith, which is of the thing hoped for and not seen. So guess what? We’re still packing and preparing for the move to come!

Til Next Time,

L.A.

Posted in Uncategorized

Wellness Wednesday–Pumping Iron

weight trainingI don’t know what took me so long. For years I’ve been doing pretty much the same routine at the gym–cardio. The treadmill has been my machine of choice. On occasion I switched it up and tried out the elliptical but I always fell back to the treadmill. However, something was missing from my program. Weight lifting.

I wasn’t avoiding weights for fear of bulking up as some women fear will happen. Knowing that the benefit of weight lifting is experienced from consistency and steadily increasing weight or repetitions, I figured it would be a waste of time, knowing my consistency in the gym was my biggest issue.

Now at 40, if I expect to fight slowing metabolism and maintain the trimmest body that I can, I can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.  Earlier in the month I signed up for a Design Your Own Program class at Planet Fitness. I expected it to be a one-on-one type of thing in which I’d explain my goals and the trainer would suggest the exercise to me, test out my weight abilities, and demonstrate how to use certain machines. It didn’t quite work out that way. I won’t go into all of that but I did leave the session with a plan to do weight lifting 2-3 days per week.

I started the program the next week and have been steady ever since. I don’t always get the full 3 days in but when I get there, I make sure I’m hitting those weights. On my last visit I started tracking my exercises and the amount of weights used on MyFitnessPal.com.

In the short time that I’ve been at this, I’ve already realized some benefits.

  1. I feel more accomplished getting through those 2-3 sets of exercises than I do finishing the usual 30-45 minutes of cardio I’ve been used to doing on the treadmill. It’s a new challenge.
  2. I’m not getting on the scale as much. For one, I know that the numbers may not go down immediately because I’m gaining muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Second, I don’t need to see a lower number on the scale to validate my efforts. I’m validated each time I walk away from the treadmill and go forward with my weight training plan.
  3. Since I’ve started back to doing abdominal work–don’t ask me why I stopped doing that in the first place but my belly already looks an inch or so smaller in the fitted top I put on the other day.
  4. Having this new challenge of maintaining the weight training, I am more motivated to go to the gym because I’m not doing the same ‘ole thing.

I know I’m only a month but this has been a long time coming. I’m finally on the road to the being the fit and tone woman I’ve always wanted to be. Fit, Fine, & Fifty…I’m on my way!

If you’ve been weight training for awhile, please share some tips and tricks for success. If you’re like me, just starting out, stay tuned for more encouragement as I stay the course of my journey.

Til Next Time,

L.A.

Posted in Lifestyle, writing

Nervous Anxiety–What To Do With It

Nervous anxiety. We all encounter it at various points in our lives, some more often than others. Just depends on the individual. Common instances where a person is likely to experience this anxiety are at monumental times of life such as a guy preparing to propose to his girlfriend, a college student preparing to walk across the stage in front of a thousand pair of eyes, or a woman the morning  of or night before her wedding.

Over the last few days I’ve been experiencing some nervous anxiety. I actually have two important moments occurring in the same week. Within a few days, I’ll be unveiling my second work of fiction to the watching world–or whoever tunes in over a FB live broadcast. At least, that’s the plan. Just the anticipation of doing it gives me the jitters. But this option was the next best thing to investing money in a venue, paying a food vendor, and any other expense for an on-site party while I’m also in the mist of purchasing a house.

Oh yeah…that’s the other thing at the root of my recent anxiety. I’m buying a house! For the second time in my life and the first time with my husband of five years. We’ve been living in an apartment for the last five years and been looking for a house for the last 2 1/2. It’s been quite a journey but we made it to the end.

No one can tell that I’m nervous. It doesn’t show on the outside. These pesky little jitters reveal themselves in the form of awakening me hours before schedule. Three nights ago, I awoke at 3 am. The next day 4, and the next 6. Of course, I was still sleepy but wasn’t able to go back to sleep without a threat of oversleeping for work.  So instead of the laying in the bed allowing my mind to focus on either of these things, I redirected the nervous energy to more productive activity. One day I used the time to finish writing a story I’m submitting for publication. The other two days I went to the gym. Today when I woke up around the same time, I opted to relax and stay in bed. Enjoyed an early morning up cup of coffee.

What do you do when nervous anxiety awakes you in the wee hours of the morning or keep you up late into the night. Share in the comments below.

Til Next Time,

LA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That brings me tfood to feed guests Plus there was no time to do all of that Another morning of waking up hours before my alarm rang. Three nights ago it was 3 am, the next 4 am, and the next 6 am. I made the most of them all. One morning I spent the time finishing a story I needed to get to my editor so I can submit for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. The other two I hit the gym. I couldn’t think of any better ways to expend this nervous anxiety I’m experiencing.

Why am I nervous? What am I so anxious about?

Hmm…let’s see. I’m officially releasing my second novel this week. In conjunction with the book release, I’m unveiling my newly designed website.

Posted in Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Wellness Wednesday–Habits of Successfully Fit People

While compiling interesting articles for a monthly health and wellness newsletter I manage at work, I came across these 10 habits of successfully fit people. I immediately nodded my head in agreement upon reading number one because I knew this to be true. Year ago a friend from work was married to a fitness buff and I remember her rehashing his boring weekday meals–baked chicken, brown rice, and green beans. He splurged on the weekends but was faithful to his weekday meal. Ironically, another friend dating a similarly fit guy spoke of the same thing. Led me to quickly wonder why do I make this thing so hard.

Anyway, I’m glad to say that out of this list of 10, I’m good for more than 1/2! Read through it and let me know where you stand in the comments.

check list

 

1. They Tend to Stick to the Same “Daily Menu”

The majority of fit people say they eat virtually the same meals every day, mostly the same breakfast, same lunch, same dinner, and when it comes to snacks and beverages . . . well, you guessed it, very predictable food. To clarify, they did not suggest that they eat exactly the same entree for every meal, but they often chose from three, maybe four things that they like for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There are three possible reasons behind this shared habit among fitness professionals, individuals who have succeeded at taking off 100-plus pounds and keeping it off for years, and those who have been trim all their lives.

First, it allows “careful” eaters to predict their daily calorie allotment without much effort. Second, perhaps the most fit among us are entrenched in habit, including the habit of taste. Third, effortlessly fit folks are in tune with the energy and calorie needs of their bodies. When they find foods that deliver what they need and that they enjoy, why look further? Keep in mind, there’s a fine line between careful eating and disordered eating. The careful eater’s diet is a habit and not a matter of control or obsession.

2. They Eat Breakfast (My favorite meal of the day)

This one common characteristic is nearly universal in statistical studies of people who have achieved and maintained a large weight loss. Eighty percent of those who have been able to maintain a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for at least a year report that they always eat breakfast. Research has consistently shown that the people who successfully lose weight are the ones that wake up and eat! Furthermore, people who eat breakfast regularly have better vitamin and mineral status and eat fewer calories from fat. Experts agree that the majority of people who struggle with overeating are those who undereat during the first part of the day, specifically those who skip breakfast. So it seems that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!

Why does eating breakfast help people lose and ultimately maintain a healthier weight? One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast reduces hunger throughout the rest of the day, therefore decreasing the likelihood of overeating and making poor food choices at lunch.

3. They Drink Water (All day at work, Needs improvement outside of that)

Not soda. Not iced tea. Just plain old water. This is the biggie. Drinking enough water is a vital part of any conditioning program because it keeps your body functioning in homeostasis and aids every aspect of bodily function. Highly successful fit people drink at least six to eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day, plus more as needed during exercise. Note: It’s possible to drink too much water, which dilutes the body’s electrolytes (potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium). Don’t drink more than a gallon a day unless you’re also replenishing your electrolytes.

4. They Eat Small—And Often (Sort of, definitely not an over-eater, though)

Most people know that small, frequent meals are absolutely the only way to go. Why? Because when we go longer than 3 hours without eating, our levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise. And high cortisol levels signal the body to store fat in the abdominal region. Keep in mind too that people who skip meals have the highest cortisol levels of all!Eating small meals more often reduces cortisol levels, research suggests. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, people who ate six small meals a day for 2 weeks, as opposed to three large meals containing the same total number of calories, reduced their cortisol levels by more than 17 percent! They lost belly fat, too.

When you eat small, frequent meals long term, the body becomes efficient at keeping cortisol levels low, which helps both men and women reduce belly fat.

Eating throughout the day also makes you less tempted by the monster-size buckets ofpopcorn and supersize fries and drink containers that include triple and quadruple servings. Guided by their nutritional needs and deeply rooted habit to eat small meals throughout the day, the superfit stand steadfast, even in the face of a delicious, jumbo chocolate-chip muffin.

5. They Eat Whole Foods First

Successful fit people tend to eat mainly whole, unprocessed foods, including fruits, veggies, and whole grains (and products made from whole grains). Certainly they enjoy the occasional treat, but 80 percent of the time or more, their preference leads to whole foods.Whole, natural foods—apples, steel-cut oatmeal, broccoli, salads, brown rice—are what food researchers call low-density foods. That is, they take up a lot of room in your stomach because they contain lots of fiber, which satisfies hunger with few calories. High-density foods are the opposite; they are things like butter, oils, candy, or ice cream. Think about how much frosting you could pack into your stomach if you really tried. (Okay, don’t think about it—it’s too gross.) Eating mostly low-density foods is the easiest way to keep your weight in check without feeling hungry or like you’re depriving yourself.

6. They Know Their Foods (Maybe not exactly, but I am knowledgeable  of caloric content & serving size)

This characteristic is truly universal among fit people: They know, generally speaking, every food’s calories and approximate protein, carbohydrate, and fat content. It’s not a case of being idiot savants but rather of having an understanding, a knowledge of food that allows them to make an educated guess. Their assumptions are almost always spot-on. This gift affords them the skill of making better food choices on a moment’s notice.Just as important: They know what one serving of said food really looks like. You can show an effortlessly fit person a whole grain cracker, and even without looking at the label, he or she can accurately predict how many crackers count as one serving. It’s not a gift, actually. It’s a skill, and all habits are skills you can master.

This skill is easier to acquire than it sounds. A couple of weeks of label reading is all it takes. There are even apps for your phone and Web sites that provide this information quickly and for free.

7. They Eat Their Favorite Foods—Carefully (I eat my goodies infrequently)

Despite knowing everything about their foods and tending to stick to the same foods day in and day out, fit people rarely report eliminating foods. If it’s something they crave, they enjoy a little taste. They know that simply eliminating foods they absolutely love will only set them up to fail when the temptation is too great. Instead, successfully fit people know that it’s okay to indulge every once in a while. They savor those moments instead of sucking down the food as if they’re afraid it’s the only time they’ll ever see it again.

8. They Don’t Keep Red Zone Food in the House (The best change I made to my kitchen)

If you look in a successfully fit person’s fridge, pantry, or cupboards, you won’t typically find cookies, crackers, chips, chocolate, full-fat ice cream, or soda. Why? Because they don’t crave these things. They also know you can’t eat ’em if you don’t have ’em. Smart, right?

What’s interesting about these trim types is that they don’t have the same inner battle of healthy versus junkie foods that the average person who struggles with weight might have. They can walk past the aisle with chips and sodas and think nothing of it. Either they never developed the junk food habit or they kicked it.

9. They Close the Kitchen after Dinner

Unlike most Americans, successfully fit people eat their final meal at a reasonable hour, as opposed to eating dinner followed by a lavish 10:00 p.m. snack and another dessert. Most often they go to sleep, not hungry, but on an empty stomach. This allows them to wake up feeling thin, rested, and hungry for breakfast. It may take a little effort, but going to bed earlier and going to sleep without food awaiting digestion in your stomach keeps your body’s metabolism in a fat-burning state. Instead of digesting, which causes restless sleep, your body can focus on other things—like repairing cells!

10. They’re Resourceful and Politely Picky at Restaurants (Been doing this more often)

Successfully fit people find healthful alternatives to selections on any menu, from a five-star restaurant’s to Wendy’s. They know that it’s the food choices, not necessarily the restaurant choices, that help them to stay slim and healthy.They generally steer clear of fried meat, poultry, and fish. Instead, they order their protein broiled, steamed, stir-fried, or poached. They also speak up in restaurants, politely making special requests like asking that their dish be prepared with little or no butter or sauces and with dressings on the side.

 

Source: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/healthy-eating-habits

 

Posted in Family, Inspiration, People

LA’s Summer Recap

Wow! Where has the summer gone? Mine, at least. Most of you have a few weeks left. Since my son started school a few days ago, I consider mine as good as over. What was supposed to be an easy, relatively stress free summer has been anything but.  I decided against a summer-long day program for my son. Not only is he 13 years old but the summer would have felt the same as the school year with dropping him off and arranging for someone else to pick him up thanks to the working -parent unfriendly hours.  The only one lucky enough to go on a vacation for a week–Boy Scout camp–was my son. I was so jealous.

My summer was supposed to be a break from writing–as if?–and taking a 10 week Project Management certification prep course, study on the days I didn’t have class, and enjoy some days on our local beach with my husband. I bought a new swimsuit and everything!

As it happened, I was busy with so much more than class and didn’t make it to a beach–not one time.  Searching for a house, doctor appointments with my husband, and unexpectedly, yet gladly, making some necessary moves for my writing business. Namely, doing a photoshoot (preview on my FB page) investing in having my website professionally designed, and a couple of girls’ night out events.

Before I knew it the whole month of July had passed and it was time to get my son ready for school. If I didn’t make a move quick, I was going to lose the short window I had left to enjoy some summer sun. So I combined a few vacation days with the weekend for the most consecutive days I’ve had off all summer. It was only then that I finally got to wear my new swimsuit and sit under the sun. Not at the beach but at the waterpark that I promised my  son to take him to before he went back to school. I made it with a few days to spare! Don’t want to be that parent that breaks promises. Kids remember those things.

Vacation or no vacation. Stress or stress-less. This has turned into a great summer. Not only did I successfully complete the PMP prep course, find a house (closing at the end of the month), I’m all set to officially release my new novel on schedule! Can’t ask for much more than that.

How was your summer? Did you do all you set out to do or more? Tell me all about.

Posted in Family, Lifestyle

Hello August

I haven’t been this excited to flip a page on my calendar as I was today. Yes! August has arrived. Nope, it’s not my birthday month. Nor I am that ready for my son to go back to school–yes, poor baby starts before September. Lord knows the school year will bring about even more activities that I’ll have to participate in. But this past month of July had me on what felt like a runaway train.

train.png

My summer was supposed to be easy breezy. A few months back I pushed a project management certification course from the February class to the June class because the school year was in full swing and I wouldn’t have the time to focus on the material. With my son out of school in early June, I was confident that summer would be the best time for me. The time for class was working out fine. Mondays and Wednesdays, 6-8pm. An our with a mentor during the work day one day a week. I was managing everything fine, even  carving out some time for studying a few days outside of class time. And then July came.

Though I’d been looking for house off and on over the last 2 years, I didn’t know just how stressful that could be until I started getting closer to what I wanted and more anxious about moving. It didn’t help that summer is peak time for home buyers. Before I knew it Mondays and Wednesdays I was rushing home to get to my computer to join the class session and on Tuesdays and Thursdays rushing to meet my real estate agent at a house of interest.

Then came the offers. After the accepted offers came the home inspections. When one home didn’t work out, I was back on the merry-go-round with another house. I did this with three homes before God led me to the right one. Glad to say that I’m in the closing process now and hope to be moving in September.

In the midst of class and home buying shenanigans, there were three doctor appointments for my husband, an hour drive after work to and from family night at my son’s summer camp, a girls’ night out bus trip to see the movie Girl’s Trip and another girl’s night out to enjoy a summer concert on the Detroit Riverfront. Add a little business to the mix, I met with my web designer one Saturday afternoon and did a long-overdo photo shoot for my website on another Saturday.

All in all, the busyness of July was not in vain. It was fun hanging with the girls and satisfying moving towards a couple of my business goals but, nonetheless, busy and overwhelming. By  the end of the month, I was mixing days up, thinking that the fourth Sunday was the third and the fifth Sunday was the first. Mix-ups like those are a clear indication that I was overloaded

Whelp…today, August 1st, a fresh start. Of course, there are already a few things on my calendar–family photo shoot, my own doctor appointment, my son’s school orientation, family camp for my son’s boy scout troop. Oh shoot, school shopping time, too. Okay…seems like a lot, already, huh? Still, it’s gonna be less hectic than last month…I hope 🙂

How’s your summer progressing? Have you been running yourself half crazy like me?