Be Well Challenge: Day 1 & 2

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I thought about the plans I had laid out for the next 31 days.  It was a strict plan, but by no means impossible.  I also thought about how I’m tired of being overweight and tired of feeling like I didn’t apply myself to lessening my impact on the planet.  With those thoughts upon awakening, I started my day.  Here is my recap of Day 1.

*Workouts:  I may have gone a tad overboard with this one on Saturday.  I went to my morning circuit TRX class in the morning, then ran 3.34 miles.  I also decided to get in 1 more workout and went to another circuit TRX class in the afternoon.  Normally, I don’t do this much a day.  But I think my enthusiasm for this challenge may have made me do it.

*Food:  An unspoken thing about this challenge is that its not just about not eating fast food.  It about eating healthy in general.

  • Breakfast:  Cottage Cheese w/ fruit
  • Lunch:  Grilled Cheese Sandwich w/ tomatoes
  • Dinner:  Sushi (my friend took me to dinner for a belated birthday dinner)
  • Snack:  Energy bar before my run

All in all, my food intake wasn’t terrible, so I can’t be too mad about it.

*Waste:  Rest assured, I didn’t let any sushi I ordered go to waste.  In all seriousness, I would say that this would be my biggest victory for Day 1.  The only trash I produced was the wrapper from the energy bar and the disposable chopsticks (w/ accompanying wrapper) from dinner.

I would say that Day 1 was a successful day.  I felt good about the day when I was going to sleep, and was looking forward to Day 2.

Day 2 started like every Sunday starts; with Yoga!  Yoga was something that stumbled onto in an effort to get over an ex-boyfriend.  And for whatever reason, I was hooked from the beginning.  I love it, and it has become a part of my life.  It is for sure a workout, but its also something that you can always improve at.  You learn about yourself along the way, and that is sometimes the better benefit.  Here is my recap of Day 2.

*Workouts:  As previously stated, I went to my normal yoga class.  My Sunday class is usually challenging.  Although I may not always be able to do everything, I try to do what is right for me at the time.  Coming off a day in which I overtaxed myself in the workout department, my body just didn’t want to do what I wanted it to.  But rest is ok.

*Food:  Sundays are usually the day in which I am a bit freer in my eating.  But I still try to stick to some kind of boundary.

  • Breakfast:  Banana (pre yoga), Latte & Bagel Bites (post yoga)
  • Lunch:  Prosciutto wrapped shishito peppers
  • Dinner:  Spaghetti w/ sauce and cheese, bread w/ butter
  • Snack:  frozen yogurt after dinner

*Waste:  The only waste created was the wrapper from the bagel bites (which I’m going throw in the recycling bin), the wrapper from the prosciutto, and some paper towels from prepping the produce from the farmers market.

*Farmer’s Market:  I love the Farmer’s Market.  Like, if I could get EVERYTHING there, I would.  But like the rest of America, I also have to be budget conscious.  Summer makes it a lot easier to shop at the Farmer’s Market.  Let’s face it, summer produce is just more appealing.  I got tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, peaches, and dandelion greens (my new item for the week).  Now, I just want to say that NOTHING compares to good tomatoes.  To be dramatic, I feel like I have been living in tomato purgatory for the last 2 seasons.  I appreciate the fact that stores carry organic tomatoes.  But they are just not the same.  My favorite farm, Ellwood Canyon Farms, has the best tomatoes.  This is also my strawberry supplier.  I eat more strawberries and tomatoes than any other produce in the summer.  Enough about that, the important thing is that I used all my reusable bags and refused the plastic bags.  On to the new item, dandelion greens.  I’ve never eaten them, nor do I know how to cook them.  As I was putting them in my bag, I said, I’ll have to google how to cook/eat them.  The farmer then said, good luck, they taste terrible.  I googled how to cook them, and let’s just say ummm…just wish me luck.  I shall update on this in a future post!

And there it is…Day 1 and Day 2 of the Be Well Challenge.  All in all, I would say that the last 2 days were a great start to the month.  I can’t wait for the rest of the month!

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30 Day Be Well Challenge

As mentioned in some of my previous posts, I have tried to live a more sustainable lifestyle.  As I have learned, this can be more difficult than I originally thought.  2 years after I set out on this journey, I find myself regressing into a wasteful and not so sustainable way of living.  So, what is missing?  I need accountability and consistency.

And thus, the 30 Day Be Well Challenge was born.  For the month of July, I will be adhering to the below “rules”.  My goal at the end of the month is to reduce my waste and to be healthier.

Here are the “rules”:

  • No extraneous packaging
    • My goal with this one is to reduce my use of plastic, and to refuse styrofoam.
  • Use reusable cups only if going to Starbucks
    • I normally go to Starbucks for an iced tea during the day at work.  5 cups a week for 4 weeks adds up to a total of 20 cups not going into a landfill.
  • No fast food or soda
  • Buy most produce at the Farmers Market every week
    • Supporting local, organic farms is something that I have always felt very strong about.  Relying on large-scale factory farms is not good for the environment, and supporting local farms helps the local economy.
  • Buy only humanely raised animal products
    • Ideally, I would be vegan.  I like the cleanness of a vegan diet, but I can never get the nutrition right when I try to eat a vegan diet.  Every day, I try to eat a little less meat and more plant based products.  Someday, I will get there.
  • Bring my own lunch and coffee to work every day.
    • Bringing your own lunch and coffee helps to save money, and helps you eat healthier.  Frozen dinners are off limits!
  • Complete all scheduled workouts
    • This is a tough one.  I consider myself to be an active person, but I can be incredibly lazy when it comes to working out.  Regular physical activity can only help.

I’m so looking forward to this journey.  Sticking with something starts with being consistent.  In addition to me doing this, I am doing this challenge along with a couple friends.  We all have the same basic rules, and we have all added bonus rules we have added according to other life needs we may have.  Let the fun begin!

Why You Should Listen to Power Ballads

Power Ballads.  Those essential songs of the 80s and early 90s that put a lot of rock bands on the map.  They were there before things got too grungy and after things got punky.  They marked a time in musical history when many songs were about having a good time.  They also served a greater purpose in terms of marketability.  If someone got hooked on the ballad, maybe they would buy the whole record.  Enough about the boring stuff.

You should listen to power ballads because they put you in a good mood.  Whether you like to admit it or not, when Faithfully by Journey comes on the radio, it probably makes you feel happy.  They are also fun to sing to.  Living in today’s world, we are inundated with so many negativity.  A good helping of non-political songs you can sing along to at the top of your lungs could make even the worst day better.  This is of course my opinion, but I challenge anyone to sing Something to Believe In by Poison at full volume in your car and not feel better.

Now, I realize that not everyone has a stockpile of power ballads at their disposal.  So, here is my list of what I think are the Top 10 Power Ballads everyone needs in their playlist.

  •  Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison
    • One of the most identifiable Poison songs.  Usually, people can name this song, even if they cannot name any other Poison songs.  Although this may not be my favorite song from them, its up there.
  • Love Song by Tesla
    • Tesla.  A gravely underrated rock and roll band.  This song put them on the map.  Regardless of its categorization as a ballad, this song is still one of the greatest songs to come out of this time in music.
  • Faithfully by Journey
    • Steve Perry is arguably one of the best vocalists, period.  This song is one of the best in the Journey catalog, and no one can do it like Perry.  A song about being away from your significant other while on the road can pretty much write itself.  Its his voice that makes it.
  • Close My Eyes Forever by Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne
    • The only duet to make the list.  The pairing of Osbourne and Ford always made me wanting more.  I wish they had done another song together, but at least we have this masterpiece.
  • November Rain by Guns N’ Roses
    • Oh where do I begin.  Allegedly, November Rain and this album was technically a pain in the butt to make.  It could also be suggested that the making of Use Your Illusion took a major toll on the band, contributing to the breakup of one of the greatest bands in the history of rock music.  However, this song is their opus.  It has the best guitar solo, some of the best lyrics, and even an orchestral section.
  • Home Sweet Home by Mötley Crüe
    • Now, there are 2 versions of this song.  One is the original on Theatre of Pain.  The other as a reboot (if you will) in 1991.  The difference being that the ’91 version has the intro using an actual piano, instead of a keyboard.  Although the difference is slight, it makes it just better.  With that being said, either version is one of my favorite songs of all time.  This album was this band at its greatest.  This includes Vince Neil at his finest.  All of the goodness of this time period in Crüe history is reflected in Home Sweet Home.
  • More than Words by Extreme
    • Simple and beautiful, this song was their biggest hit.  It is so simplistic that the lyrics just speak for themselves.
  • Don’t You Ever Leave Me by Hanoi Rocks
    • With Hanoi Rocks, it is hard to not think about the tragic death of Razzle, and how the band’s magic was lost with him.  This song is one of my favorite Hanoi Rocks songs and it is a reminder of when the glam metal era was coming of age.  Michael Monroe may not be on many people’s radar, but he is one of the greatest frontmen of all time.  The whole album is also worth a listen.  Period.
  • Heartbreak Station by Cinderella
    • After seeing Tom Keifer last year, I heard the story behind this song.  Keifer met his now wife Savannah years before they got married.  He wrote this song about their first meeting.  Years later, they reconnected and are living happily now.  Although this song is incredibly heart wrenching, knowing that story, it just makes me think that you should never think that happiness is unattainable.
  • High Enough by Damn Yankees
    • This song.  This song will surely make people roll their eyes.  I love this song.  Its fun to sing along to, and evokes that feeling you want from listening to a power ballad.  For myself, it is also my favorite Ted Nugent thing, even more than Cat Scratch Fever.

So, there it is, my Top 10 Power Ballads.  Enjoy!

Bouncing Back

As I’ve shared before, prior to the cancer diagnosis, I had started training for a half marathon.  After the all clear in July 2016, I was determined to get my body back in the shape it was in previously.  I had lost all core strength and all my stamina.  But that is what happens when you are in bed for the better part of 4 months.

Not even before my picc line was out, I had resumed yoga.  Although it was a drag to practice with the hinderance of a picc line, doing SOMETHING felt fabulous.  And luckily, I had the guidance of teachers that understood and cared.  After the picc line was out, I was able to go full throttle.  I, of course, expected to be at the same place quickly, but it took me longer.  After a few months, I started to get the same strength back.  Triumphs are triumphs, no matter how small.  Prior to getting sick, I was almost able to get my feet off the ground in Crow Pose, and I had started working on inversions.  The first time post treatment that I was able to get both feet off the ground in Crow Pose was so exciting that I fell out.  But that is ok, it gave me the signal that I was getting stronger.  I’m still struggling with inversions, but I’ll get there someday.

I also started running.  Running is not something that I necessarily care for, but it is good exercise.  I also had a goal in mind; completing a half marathon.  Now, of course, 4 months outside of a half marathon, having just completed cancer treatment, there is just not enough time to train for something like that.  With that being said, I was still committed to supporting my squad in their race.  After discussing the trip, my friend said that I could still do the 5K if I wanted to.  And they were right.  3.1 miles is certainly different than 13.1.  And thus, I set out to train for a 5K in November.

November came, and soon, it was race day.  I had never done an official race before.  It was exciting and I was nervous.  But, the race started and off I was.  I completed the race in 43 minutes.  Upon immediate completion, I decided this was terrible and was never doing it again.  By the time we got to the taxi stand, I was saying that I wanted to do another one.  Unfortunately, this is what running does to you.  It makes you want more.  I am a self proclaimed hater of running, but I love doing races.  It is also a massive accomplishment.  It may not be to someone who is top physical condition, but for someone who was semi-fresh out of cancer treatment, it was everything.  My body was coming back to me.  I started to own it again.

Since November, I’ve completed 7 races.  Within that 7, I’ve completed a Spartan Sprint and most recently, the iconic Bay to Breakers in SF.  I cherish every medal and I will always cherish the medals from the first year I started doing races.  This is an important year and I have something to prove, not to everyone else, but to the cancer.  That it doesn’t own me, and never will.

Fitness has become a staple in my every day.  I think to feel your body getting stronger is psychologically healing as well.  As I approach the year anniversary of me not having cancer anymore, I still can’t believe that its only been a year.  My life has been full and awesome and full of sweat.  I am eternally grateful that I have a body healthy enough to run 6 miles.  And in November of 2017, I will be running 13.1 in Las Vegas with my beautiful squad.

Here are some of my medals. =)

5 Things I’ve Learned from Surviving Cancer.

In my post on April 4th, I shared that I was diagnosed with cancer.  On July 26, 2016, I was given the all clear from doctor.  There was no cancer detected in my PET scan, and the chemo was officially over.  The previous 4-5 months seemed like a really bad dream, and I was finally waking up.  As I write this, I am only a few months away from the anniversary of my diagnosis.  I can’t believe almost a full year has passed since this life changing experience.  So what have I learned from this experience?

  1.  Take nothing for granted.  While in treatment, I could not eat very many foods that were raw.  This included sushi and salad.  I never knew I like salad so much.
  2. It is never too late to do what you want.  There is no benefit to putting off working for you want in life.  Whether it is as small as trying a new food or changing careers, the time is now.
  3. Nothing is like your inner circle.  Friends and Family.  These two words go together in our modern vernacular.  And they are usually cited on lists of things we are grateful for.  However, something like this makes you really aware of who is in that inner circle.  The people who stick by you and are willing to see the hard to see are those who matter.  These are the people who you already know will be there for the bad, so they will definitely be there for the good.
  4. Always listen to your body.  I think that in this day and age, people don’t want to go to the doctor for a variety of reasons; fear of seeming like a hypochondriac, not wanting to pay the copay, lack of time or it may not seem important enough to go.  But the truth is, is that you should never ignore either a chronic pain/sickness or persistent illness.  It could literally save your life.
  5. The small things are the best things.  In a world full of turmoil, one can take comfort in the small things that happen every day.  There is something about taking pleasure in the new drink at Starbucks or just having a casual dinner with family.  While I was laying in bed, sick from the chemo, I would not think about how to solve world hunger.  I would think about how nice it would be to go to Starbucks and order a latte or to go back to yoga.  These things are what cause “normalcy” in our lives.  They may seem unimportant compared to bigger, more global issues.  But I assure you, in that state, they become very, very important.  And to this day, they are still very important.  I acknowledge every time how lucky I am to be able to enjoy the small things.

I wish I didn’t have to get cancer to realize these things.  If I have found any silver lining in this really bad cloud, it is the realization that I wasn’t paying attention.  My life is beautiful and I didn’t realize how beautiful.  But I do now.

Beautiful California

For as long as I can remember, I’ve preferred the bright lights of the big city.  However, with my recent illness, I’ve learned to appreciate more.  In May, I had the pleasure of taking a brief trip up the coast of California.  We drove from Los Angeles to Monterey.  And of course, we stopped along the way to take in the sites.  Perhaps one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen is the Pacific Coastline.  Also, since getting sick, I was not able to get out and shoot like I used to.  This trip was a perfect opportunity to pull out my trusty Nikon and document.  Here are some of the sites from Ventura, Morro Bay, and Big Sur.

It is an absolutely breathtaking trip to take if you ever get the chance.

Ventura…

Morro Bay…

Big Sur…

Must Listen: Nomads by Love & a .38

nomads-coverart

While so many were flocking to Coachella this weekend, I was home.  And I finally got to dig into the newest album from one of my favorite L.A. bands; Love and a .38.  First, a little love.  I first discovered this band about 3 years ago by accident.  I was at a show for the now defunct Purple Melon.  Love and a .38 was the band before them.  They are rock and roll in all the best ways, and I was hooked.  Now, finally, we have a full length album full of all new songs.  

Every song is fantastic.  And it was worth the wait.  They are Independent by choice, which just adds to what they produce for themselves, and of course, the fans.  They are easy to love for many reasons.  But mostly because the love their fans so much, and they sound amazing.

Nomads could easily rival any rock album in your collection.  Some of my favorite songs are Oh My God (the first single), Abre Las Ojos and Holy War.  But how can you pick just one, when every single one will rock your face off?

Check out the video for Oh My God below.

Oh My God from Love and a .38

 

Gonna Get a Little Personal

Hello Everyone…

When originally set up, this blog was supposed to be a light and fun take on what I encounter on trips or music that I love.  But it’s gonna get personal.

Normally, we go through our lives without much to worry about. I know I did. My biggest concern was when I was going to Vegas next or the next time Tom Keifer would be in town (huge Cinderella fan). My life was like this: yoga and TRX regularly, clean eating, busy at work, and I had just started training for a half marathon in November. Then, in an instant, everything changed.

It all started with a stomach ache. I was feeling tired lately, but I attributed it to the 2 month Tarantino retrospective that was every Friday at midnight. Then, came the fever, so I thought it was just a stomach flu. Then, before I knew it, I was running a temperature and had the severe stomach ache for 10 days. So, to the ER I went. Because of the temperature, I was admitted and pumped full of antibiotics. After 3 days, I felt better so they discharged me. After an awesome trip to Vegas, the pain came back, along with some other fun stuff. After 5 days of pain and no food and very little fluids, back to the hospital I went. I was still seeing 2 specialists from my first visit so they started more testing. This time I was not going anywhere without a diagnosis. And I got one.

I was diagnosed with lymphoma. In an instant it felt like nothing would be the same. And of course, I was in pure denial. This can’t be. I was healthy. I exercised. I ate right. Healthy people don’t just get sick. Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t care about all that. So there it is…I have cancer.

I have already had my first chemo treatment. And I am currently grappling with my hair falling out. But alas, there is a silver lining. I am very lucky. The kind I have is very treatable and there is an excellent prognosis. I’m not going anywhere yet. I will finish treatment in late summer and I am definitely counting down. I’m grateful for my great doctors and the immense support of my family and friends. I realize not everyone has that. Gratitude keeps the anger and sadness of my illness at bay. And when this is all over, I’ll begin training again for the half marathon.  This is just a detour.

I’m sorry to put it all out there, but I had to get it out there. Thanks for reading all the way to the end. This blog has transformed into something about life in general. I will still post about the usual food, music, etc…just with some real life in between possibly.  Something like this tends to offer a different perspective on the world.

 

Los Angeles Hike:  Trail to Jim Morrison’s cave

Los Angeles is famous for lots of things. And one of those things is the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 60s and 70s.  One of the most legendary products of this was Jim Morrison. He was known for his talent and his eccentricities. One of his escapes was a cave high above Malibu. For a long time, it was kind of a secret. But a secret no longer, with the prominence of social media.  If you want to know where it is, you need to figure it out. That’s half the fun 😉

As a music fan, it was an incredible experience. Although this cave is far from Laurel Canyon, you can still feel that Laurel Canyon spirit. I highly recommend doing this.  It’s an easy hike to a cool end point.  

    
   

It’s Been Too Long

As I logged in to this site this morning, I noticed it had been almost 2 months since my last post. So a brief check in…

Since my last post, I’ve started a regular yoga practice.  I have also continued on my journey of a healthier lifestyle. Being more mindful of the world around me and of myself has proved to be the best thing I’ve ever done. 

I’ve learned the value of taking care of myself. When you take care of yourself, you naturally start to take care of your bubble in the world. 

Things that I have been doing, mindfully, to take better care run the spectrum of little to big. Put together, it’s a lot. In the past 2 months, I’ve made an even lie serious effort in using less plastic. Sometimes, convenience gets the best of me.  But being more mindful of the plastic I use contributes to using less.  Also, starting a regular yoga practice has caused me to become more mindful of what goes into my body. This leads to a healthier, happier and more serene me.  

Whatever one decides to do in the positive direction is a step in the right direction. Everyone deserves happiness.