Category Archives: General post

It’s wedding season!

We started June with a relaxing weekend in Maine, and ended it with a fun wedding weekend in DC!

The festivities kicked off with the Sangeet on Friday night, we spent Saturday catching up with friends before going to the wedding, and spent Sunday sightseeing and traveling back home. The wedding was gorgeous – we had such a blast celebrating with Anuj, one of my college friends, and his new wife, Tanya. Every part of the wedding was seriously stunning. After going through the experience of planning our wedding last year, I have a new appreciation for all the effort that goes into weddings now and there were so many fun details at this wedding. I can only imagine the time that went into all of the events – even the welcome bags were meticulously planned! The decorations and details were gorgeous but most importantly, Tanya and Anuj were grinning from ear-to-ear the entire time – their energy and happiness were totally contagious and w had so much fun celebrating and being a part of the day!

Photo op with the bride & groom!

Before our train left on Sunday we did some sightseeing around Union Station. We strolled by the Capitol and the Supreme Court, but not before going to the Postal Museum – that’s right, the mail museum – housed in the old post office building. It was right next door to the train station, and being a Smithsonian, it was free – win, win! Since I love communications, I found the whole thing fascinating. I felt like I was getting a sneak peek into people’s lives, reading love letters sent back and forth through the mail. To me, it seems so romantic to wait for a letter from your significant other in the mail but to be honest, I also felt selfish for taking the speed of our daily communications – like phone calls, texts, and emails – for granted.

Turns out, it was no coincidence that the former post office was directly adjacent to the train station – at the museum, I learned that post offices were historically situated near train stations to accommodate for the rail mail, which revolutionized communications. It was neat to see the parallels between mail delivery and industrial development in the U.S. – as the rail system expanded across the country, so did the mail. I totally nerded out, and enjoyed learning how “mail-on-the-fly” worked – someone would hang the mail bag on a post next to the tracks, and the mail rail workers would raise a catcher arm to grab the bag as the train sped by. I asked my grandfather, a long-time train conductor in the Northeast, if he had any experience with the mail rail and not surprisingly, he did. He said one of his duties was to hang the mail bag up for the trains to catch going by – an important part of the entire system – but if they missed or broke the bag while going by, it wasn’t his job to clean it up! Smithsonian put up quite a bit of information on their website – check it out to learn more about mail by rail.

After a busy month, it was nice to come home and settle back into some semblance of a routine, even if we were completely exhausted. Coop’s face says it all – time to take a rest before we jump into the second half of the year with four more weddings and a couple more trips!

Doggie!

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A delicious dish for summer fun – black bean and corn salad!

Summer is always full of fun activities – this year we started off the season with a relaxing weekend on Lake Cobboseecontee in Maine. It’s such a calm and refreshing lake – with only a few boats going by here and there, it reminded me what quiet sounds like:

Ahh… peace and quiet!

Aside from spending time playing around the lake with family, I got in a nice long run on Saturday morning and started reading Catch-22, a book I feel a bit guilty about never having read as an English major. I didn’t bring a laptop and had very little cell service, so I wasn’t tempted to check in on work or obsessively play Words with Friends. Note to self: unplug more often!

No weekend away is complete without good food. One of the many (delicious) dishes we had during our stay was a very simple black bean and corn salad, put together by White Flour Catering out of Augusta. It was just the perfect light, citrus-y dish for a summer evening. I knew I needed to have the recipe, so I asked for the basics and then made a few adjustments of my own once I started putting it all together.

This didn’t take long to prepare and chances are, you have most of the ingredients at home already. I know cilantro is one of those ingredients that people either really love or really hate, so feel free to leave it out if it’s not your cup of tea.   

Black bean and corn salad, with just the right amount of cilantro!

Ingredients

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans corn, drained
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Chill until ready to serve.

See… I told you it was easy! You can have it made and ready to go in just about 20 minutes, making this the perfect dish to take on summertime beach or boat adventures.

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Remember what is important to you…

A couple of weeks back, we got some bad news: an extended family member and family friend had both passed away (from unrelated causes). I’ve been feeling a mix of emotions – sadness in their passing, sympathy for my family and friends, and a sense of relief that they were no longer suffering. Then, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, this past Monday I visited some dear friends in the maternity ward where they were celebrating the birth of their baby girl. There is nothing quite like juxtaposing birth and death, each celebrations of life in their own ways, to put everything else into perspective.

And there has been a lot of “everything else.” Work has been going really well, but then my boss and mentor announced that she was leaving the company to pursue a great opportunity elsewhere. While I know this is an awesome step for her, I am a bit nervous about what the impending changes might mean for, well, everyone. I’ve tried to approach this news with a renewed sense of what really matters, given the previous week’s events, plus the thoughts I’ve been giving to the TED talk about work/life balance. As I’ve said before, change is more than good, and I am trying to keep that in the front of my mind.

Aside from work, we have had a crazy schedule with lots of moving parts – and barbeques which unfortunately means that my diet has taken a major hit. It’s like everywhere I turn there are cookies, and I have been eating like crap. I’m not sure what happened to my self-control, but I am making every effort to rein it back in. The scale hasn’t moved, thankfully, but I know it will if I keep this up. More than the number on the scale, I haven’t been feeling my best and most energetic because I’m not eating well, which is almost worse than gaining weight.

With all that, I am taking this weekend as an opportunity to start over and tackle this summer with a vengeance. My renewed energy nicely coincides with a fitness challenge at work where our CEO charges us with meeting goals as a team regarding health, nutrition, and exercise. I certainly don’t want my team disappointed in me (and the competitive side of me wants to beat everyone else) so it’s win-win. I’m getting back on track with more intense workouts and have done some serious meal planning: on the docket to cook this weekend is a baked zucchini dish and healthy chicken parm.

With all the ups and downs of late, one constant has remained: a necklace I’ve found myself wearing a lot. One side has some straightforward advice: remember what is important to you; the other has a very simple tree of life. It seems to sum up all of the things about which I’ve been reflecting lately – life, birth, death, renewal, seasons, phases, priorities. It’s been a helpful reminder, especially when I know it’s hanging around my neck. I, for one, am looking forward to a great and healthy weekend.

 

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Work-life Balance

Work/life balance is a sneaky term that is meant to trick people into thinking that there is such a thing. A term that is meant to indicate that what happens at work is work, what happens outside of work is life, and there is a clear division between the two. Wrong! In casual conversations with my peers, the one thing I’ve heard on repeat is that companies eliminated jobs with the downturn in the economy, and then they never replaced the positions. This means that those who are left are expected to do “more with less” and for departments to churn out more results with half as many staff…. which in turn means that it’s even harder to find a happy medium between your at-work-life and your outside-of-work-life. 

Nigel Marsh, an accomplished businessman and author, quite succinctly summed up my feelings about work/life balance in his ten-minute TED talk from 2010 that really hit home. The part that stuck with me the most was when he said:

It’s up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility for the type of lives that we want to lead. If you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you, and you may just not like their idea of balance. – Nigel Marsh

Nigel’s right! If one thing is for sure as a working adult, it’s that balance is not one-size-fits-all. It’s more important than ever to set boundaries with employers and colleagues – identifying when/how you will be available and more importantly than that, identifying when you won’t be available. And, if in doing so you realize that your employer is not on the same page as you, then it might be time to start looking for a new job. If work’s not working out for you, the only person that can change that is you.

Listen to Nigel’s TED talk: How to make work-life balance work and let me know whatyou think!

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One (not so) extreme coupon

I had an extra-long day planned the other day and in typical me fashion, I had only scheduled an hour of downtime between getting out of work and an evening commitment. I was determined to fit all of my errands into that hour and things started out well enough when I stopped by the drugstore to pick up a few a ton of necessities. It was good timing to run out of everything in the house – from toothpaste to toilet paper and more – because I had a 30 percent off coupon burning a hole in my pocket. After hitting up practically every aisle, I made my way to the registers and when I got there, my heart sank. SELF CHECKOUT ONLY.

Going through a self checkout for me is a guarantee that something will go wrong. I was never a good cashier in my past life when I worked at a cafe, and I’m still not. Inevitably, the machine will break. It will yell at me for putting items in the wrong place (how does it know where they are?). It won’t take my money. It will delete my order and make me start over. Or, in the worst possible scenario that happened the other day… IT REFUSED TO HONOR MY COUPON.

Now, I am not one of those extreme couponers – I just know the value of a 30% off coupon when I see one. I am my mother’s daughter after all – she is a sale shopping force to be reckoned with and has taught me well, dammit!

I alerted the “clerk” (who really is just someone who stands by the old registers and diverts people to the self checkers) and waited patiently while the manager came to the front. Things started out alright but they quickly went downhill. Ahem:

Me: My coupon isn’t working, can you help me?
Manager: Well if it’s not working, it’s not working.

HOLD ON A MINUTE. That’s the solution you go to right away – that you have no solution? Great. So we went on:

Me: You’re telling me there is nothing you can do for me?
Manager: Nothing.
Me: Not even like, an override? You can’t print one out and let me use it?
Manager: I could override it but then you would get TWO coupons – the one I print, and the one on your account.
Me: But the one on my account isn’t working.
Manager: Doesn’t matter, you’d get two.
Me: Well, one clearly isn’t working so I would only have one. In fact, I do only have one. Plus, I don’t really see how it’s my fault that the system isn’t working.
Manager: How would you feel about getting two?

Umm… I’m sorry, did he just ask me how I would feel about getting two? Was he trying to make me feel bad? I don’t know about you, but I would feel fucking fabulous about getting two 30 percent off coupons. I channeled my mom – she would not stand for this if she was here, and neither would I! Instead of debating my coupon morals with the manager, I tried to play it cool:

Me: I don’t really care about getting two, I’ll throw the other one out.
Manager: You don’t get it.

Holy shit. Did he just really say, “you don’t get it?” I may not be a mathematician, but I’m pretty sure I can add one coupon plus one coupon.

Me: (scoff) I don’t get it?

My disbelief at what he just said was lost on my new friend who then replied:

Manager: No, you don’t understand.

For the record: telling someone who actually does “get it” that they “don’t get it” in a different way will not solve any problems. It will only make them worse. If I had to pinpoint the moment when I morphed into a complete crazy person… this was it:

Me: Oh no! I understand! You’re telling me I’ll get TWO COUPONS if you DO help me, which you WON’T. I understand that JUST FINE. I GET IT.

Annnnd people were staring when the manager said: 

Manager: Well… (dead air)

It was clear that we had reached an impasse.

Me: Well… if you’re telling me there is nothing you can do for me, I don’t want any of these items.
Manager: But you already scanned them.

And, in a moment of sweet poetic justice, I still had my debit card in my hand because I was, after all, at the self checkout. As I waved said debit card in his face, I made sure to enunciate each and every word:

Me: BUT I DIDN’T PAY FOR THEM YET, DID I?

I left everything on the self checker machine and knew immediately that I could never go back to that store. They probably have a still frame from the security tape of me losing my mind marked, “AVOID THIS WOMAN AT ALL COSTS.”

In all seriousness, I let something pretty inconsequential get the best of me and I knew rushing through the rest of my errands would be a recipe for disaster so I threw in the towel, momentarily. I went for a walk, grabbed a bite for dinner, and headed off to the next event for the evening with a clearer mind.

Since the TP situation at the house was getting dire, I stopped into a different drugstore later that night to finish my shopping where, for the record, they did honor my coupon.

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Better Balanced Diet – Kicking the Diet Soda Habit

I’ve been hard at work over the last year and a half kicking bad eating habits out of my life. I’m proud of how far I’ve come – aside from cutting out a lot of junk and nutrition-less foods, I’ve even managed to curb my sweet tooth and now only have a couple small pieces of chocolate a day (as opposed to bingeing on sweets because I felt like it). But, one bad habit has been hanging around that I haven’t been able to completely kick: diet soda.

I’ve gone through phases with soda where I won’t drink much of it, and think I’m close to quitting, but then get pulled back in because diet soda just “goes” so well with a particular meal. It also “goes” against all the other healthy habits I strive for in my life: to eat natural, whole foods that have nutritional benefits and not to eat “just because.” I’m at the point where even the dog is eating a wholesome diet complete with natural dog food and raw veggies!

So, I did something today that I have been avoiding at all costs: I looked up and really gave some thought to the ingredients in diet soda. After reading for about 20 seconds, I got up, dumped the diet soda I was drinking down the drain, and vowed to quit cold turkey. I didn’t learn anything new, per se, but I did approach the information I was reading from a new perspective of wanting to kick this habit. As silly as it sounds, I thought to myself, “I would never in a million years let the dog drink diet soda, so why am I allowing myself to?” (I say this with some hesitation, because Cooper also eats a lot of things that I never would like sticks, bones, and the green fuzzy stuff on tennis balls… but you know what I mean.)  

Now that I’m ready to admit that I’ve been in denial about how worthless diet soda is,  I thought I would share some of the things that truly did scare me straight. This is only the tip of the iceberg, there is a lot of information out there (and much of it is sensational, to be honest, so read with a keen eye to the source!) but I thought these tid-bits were helpful:

  • “Caramel coloring” is tricky marketing wordplay
  • Aspartame is so far from acceptable in a clean diet
  • Potassium benzoate is used in FIREWORKS
  • The acidic nature of soda can ruin your teeth

I tried to pinpoint when exactly I became “hooked,” because soda wasn’t something I grew up drinking. It was an occasional treat. It wasn’t until college that I began to drink diet soda regularly – aside from an endless supply available on campus (and at all-you-can-eat dining halls where there were also piles of unhealthy food choices), I thought I would be doing myself a favor in saving some calories in the mixed drink department when we went to parties if I used diet instead of regular. Soon it crept into my every day life, and I began thinking that while some people drank coffee for a caffeine jolt, I preferred diet soda. It was my version of “coffee.”

Well, coffee substitute no longer – I’m making a conscious decision to cut it out of my diet once and for all. Wish me luck!

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Chicken Rolls with Asparagus and Mozzarella

The other day I walked into Fairway and right in front of me were these petite asparagus spears – they looked perfect for the chicken rolls that were dancing around in my head and with that, an impromptu recipe was born.  After picking up some thin chicken cutlets, I was ready to cook – I had everything else at home, making this an easy weeknight recipe that takes little thought, effort, or preparation.

CHICKEN ROLLS WITH ASPARAGUS AND MOZZARELLA

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken cutlets, pounded thin and evenly
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • salt and pepper, for seasoning meat
  • whole wheat bread crumbs

    Chicken rolls w/ asparagus and mozzarella!

Directions

  1. Sautee asparagus in olive oil until bright green. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Pat chicken dry and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  5. Lay out chicken breast, arrange asparagus on top, and sprinkle with mozzarella.
  6. Roll chicken around asparagus and cheese; place seam down in baking dish.
  7. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
  8. Sprinkle whole wheat bread crumbs on top of chicken.
  9. Cook for approximately 25-30 mins* or until chicken registers 160/165 degrees with a meat thermometer.

That’s it – veggies plus protein in one fell swoop and a nice way to switch up chicken and vegetables! I suggest serving this with brown rice or cous-cous as a side to round out a nicely balanced meal that makes for a yummy, crowd-pleasing dinner and great leftovers.

This is also a solid base recipe – you could switch out asparagus for mushrooms or another veggie, use a different type of cheese, or even make mini flank steak roll-ups using the same concepts. Happy eating!

*October 31, 2012 update: It might take a little longer than 10 minutes to cook your chicken depending on the strength of your oven, size of cutlets, etc. Never consume raw or undercooked meat – always rely on a good meat thermometer to let you know when food is done!

*November 11, 2013 update: OK, OK, I have heard you all loud and clear – I changed the cooking time from 10 mins – I must have a magical oven or be totally inept at keeping time. Originally, I only cooked these for about 10 mins but the cutlets I used were really, really, really thin. So don’t eat raw meat, cook it long enough, and plan ahead accordingly.

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Charles Wheelan’s “10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You”

I can honestly say that this is the first year in my entire life that I have not felt like I measured the year against a school calendar – May is here and it hadn’t crossed my mind once that students all over the world are wrapping up finals and getting ready to graduate. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon this Charles Wheelan article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You” that I realized it’s graduation season.

I am so grateful that Wheelan put this together because I felt cheated out of a good commencement speech back in 2007. I’m pretty sure our speaker, a relatively famous politician, put “college graduation speech” into Google and picked the first thing he found. None of his words resonated or stayed with me that day, but I know Wheelan’s will ring true for me for many years to come.  Two of my favorites are below, and it’s not surprising that they focus on balance. You can enjoy the full list by clicking here.

3. Don’t make the world worse. I know that I’m supposed to tell you to aspire to great things. But I’m going to lower the bar here: Just don’t use your prodigious talents to mess things up. Too many smart people are doing that already. And if you really want to cause social mayhem, it helps to have an Ivy League degree. You are smart and motivated and creative. Everyone will tell you that you can change the world. They are right, but remember that “changing the world” also can include things like skirting financial regulations and selling unhealthy foods to increasingly obese children. I am not asking you to cure cancer. I am just asking you not to spread it.

Yes, yes, yes! There is such a stress on finding a job even before you graduate from college and I don’t think that anyone ever told me, “Do what you believe in.” I heard plenty of advice like, “Do what you love!” but it’s unrealistic to expect that someone is going to pay me to travel the world for fun, go to the the beach, watch movies, and take naps every day. I know I’ll be a career-gal for a long while; the more time I spend working, the more I know that my job must line up with my morals and I am not afraid to sacrifice a higher salary for a more personally fulfilling job.

I’ll leave you with my absolute favorite – something I know I need to do a better job of keeping in mind since, as cliché as it sounds, time flies and life is short:

8. Don’t model your life after a circus animal. Performing animals do tricks because their trainers throw them peanuts or small fish for doing so. You should aspire to do better. You will be a friend, a parent, a coach, an employee—and so on. But only in your job will you be explicitly evaluated and rewarded for your performance. Don’t let your life decisions be distorted by the fact that your boss is the only one tossing you peanuts. If you leave a work task undone in order to meet a friend for dinner, then you are “shirking” your work. But it’s also true that if you cancel dinner to finish your work, then you are shirking your friendship. That’s just not how we usually think of it.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did – and on that note, good luck to the class of 2012!

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You are so totally what you eat

A recent RADIOLAB podcast called GUTS really got me thinking about food (as if I didn’t think about food enough already throughout the day…) but it helped me get beyond meal planning and really dig into what happens when you eat. I’m not a biology whiz, but I understand on very basic levels how the human body processes food. I know the types of foods I should embrace to reach my fitness goals, and the types of foods I should avoid. But, that’s about it. This podcast helped me take things to a higher level.

First, the RADIOLAB folks explored what goes on when your stomach digests food. Digestion is pretty basic, right? Your stomach uses what it needs from the food you eat and sends it around to different parts of the body – maybe muscles need to recover, bones need to mend, etc. But, the podcast got me thinking that in a very strange way that any given meal essentially morphs into the being who ate it. It becomes an inseparable part of the body – fueling cells and bodily functions – rather than just being the input and output of a system. This gives a new perspective on the old adage that you are what you eat.

Perhaps the most interesting terrifying part of the podcast was when a researcher, John Cryan, spoke about the thousands of species of bacteria that are alive and well in your body. You’re never alone. There is a whole world of little creatures hanging out in your gut at any given moment, and you better hope they are in balance otherwise you might experience the stomach virus from hell. But, I digress…

Cryan also spoke about some interesting experiments on mice that look at how the presence of different types of lactobacillus bacteria (same stuff in yogurt, cheese, and more) in their guts impacted their personalities and how they react to stress. Turns out, the mice have a direct link – the largest nerve in their body – between the stomach and brain. When the nerve is intact, and the lactobacillus is present, it seems that a message goes from the gut to the brain for the mice to remain calm. Sever that nerve, and the mice react with panic. Then, Jonah Lehrer, a frequent RADIOLAB contributor, came on to say that a similar experiment was done with humans: participants who ingested high levels of probiotics exhibited biological reactions similar to taking anti-anxiety meds. 

From my (non-scientific) everyday observations, it’s pretty clear to me that when I eat well, I feel good. When I don’t, not only does my body feel terrible, but I also feel an emotional impact as well. I’m sure part of it is psychological – that immediate guilt of eating something unhealthy, how it wouldn’t be so hard to have eaten a piece of fruit instead of a cookie – but it makes sense that biological reactions to the ingredients in food could compound these emotions. That’s even more reason for me to steer clear of the bad stuff – and I certainly don’t want to upset the crazy microorganisms that keep my body in balance.

There is no way that this summary has done the podcast justice so click here to listen to the GUTS episode and let me know what you think!

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Lessons I’ve Learned from Training the Dog (so far)

It was only hours after we returned from our honeymoon that Cooper officially moved in with us – and it was quickly apparent that the honeymoon was over and we had a major new responsibility at home. Despite being a self-proclaimed “cat person,” I was feeling optimistic about training Cooper – I did, after all, read Dog Training for Dummies on the plane ride to and from St. Kitt’s. How hard could it be if there was a Dummies book about it?

Turns out, it was harder than I thought. About a week into “home schooling” Cooper, I put the book away and decided we needed help. Professional help. We signed up for a weekly training class with Ken Berenson who runs sessions at the Round Hill Community Center in Greenwich for both beginner and novice level dogs. On the first night of school, Ken used his miniature poodle named Bear to demonstrate what we’d be learning during our time in what I took to calling “first grade.” My jaw dropped to the ground as Bear listened and responded to everything Ken said – he stopped on a dime, he sat, he stood, he ran, he retrieved – it was magical. At the same time, I was practically sitting on top of Cooper, a gangly mess of legs, fur, and paws, to keep him in one place. Bear was prim, proper, and well-behaved. In other words, the complete opposite of Cooper. (I suppose that only helped to illustrate Ken’s points about the value of a well-trained dog.)

Over the next few weeks, I was pleasantly surprised that Cooper started to show improvement. On the last night of first grade, we walked in for the test. This was it – Cooper either graduated and moved on to 2nd grade, or he was held back. Not wanting to have spent the last six weeks of training in vain, I tried to reason with Coop and explained that failing was simply not an option. He must have understood me, because we moved through each section of the test rather successfully. I insisted that Cooper give me a high-five, one of his favorite only “tricks,” after he received each passing mark. Ken handed us Cooper’s certificate and I did what any proud dog parent would do: I mailed away to the American Kennel Club for Cooper’s “Puppy Good Citizen” medal. It was $10 well spent on the medal because I honestly believe Cooper enjoys wearing it:

It was a proud day for us.

To date we’re about halfway through the 2nd grade with Cooper, and while he’s still a little pretty crazy, he is a better listener and I no longer have to sit on him to get him to stay still.

All this time that we’ve spent training Cooper got me to thinking that we’re on parallel tracks, really. Cooper’s training wouldn’t be going well if we didn’t put in the effort – which is how I feel about the time I spend at the gym. The more disciplined and committed you are to training, whether at the gym or puppy school, the better the results. It’s helped me realize a few things like:

1. There will be good days, and there will be bad days.

Right after I took the picture of Cooper wearing his medal, we went to our regularly scheduled training class and Cooper was the “bad puppy” in school. I felt like he wasn’t listening and by the time we left, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I had to wonder – did the photo shoot with his new medal go right to his head? Did he think just because he got to wear it, that he could stop paying attention to me? But, after all, I have bad days, too.  Whether I’m preoccupied or just not giving it 110%, not every workout is fantastic. So I cut him some slack – we embraced the bad training session and moved on.

2. There will come a distraction that is too tempting to resist – but there are always consequences.

We installed an electric fence around the property, and Cooper quickly learned about what happens when he gets too close to it. Even knowing this, every once in a while the temptation on the other side is too strong and he hears a fateful warning beep before a little zap. That’s how I feel when I fall off the clean eating wagon. I am completely aware of what I’m doing and I know I’m going to feel bad about it later, but in the moment those [chocolatey deserts/greasy buffalo wings/cheesy nachos] look way too good to pass up. Luckily, those moments are less frequent for both of us. I am learning to train myself to think beyond the immediate satisfaction and have my own warning beep – instead of focusing on how good something tastes in the moment, I think ahead to how I’m going to feel afterwards, both mentally and physically, and it’s easier to say no. 

3. Rewards go a long way.

Cooper cooperates better when there is a reward at stake – usually it’s a tasty treat or his favorite toy. Rewards seem to work the same way for me, but I tend to reward myself with new Lululemon gear rather than food. The more I work out, the better reason I have to replace my sneakers, buy new (smaller!) workout pants or get a fun new workout top.

4. Proper equipment (and form) makes a big difference.

One of my favorite games to play with the Coop is a simple game of chase – I take off running and he chases me. If I get far enough ahead of him, I hide and wait for him to find me. Then we do it all over again.

We were playing the other night and while he was hot on my tail, I took off running, went to make a hard right up the stairs, and completely wiped out on the hardwood floor… because I was wearing socks. I collapsed into a heap, simultaneously crying and laughing, and Cooper came over and started piling his toys on top of me. It was a painful, yet hilarious, reminder not only is playing chase with a 70 pound dog inside the house a terrible idea, but I really should have been wearing sneakers.

To boot, it was bad form of me to try to outrun the dog who has more legs and a lower center of gravity. But, it’s a good reminder to always use good form and the proper equipment, especially at the gym.

5. It’s OK to rest.

Working like a dog.

Everyone needs a little break at some point – and all too often, I find myself pushing through a busy schedule to tick off to-do list items, stay up late to get things done, or cramming way too much into one day. Sometimes the best thing to do is take the lead from Cooper: kick back and take a nap!

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