I am the liberal elite.

Well. These last 24 hours have been a real shitshow, huh?

I’ve had a lot of discussions today and inevitably I end up making the same confession: I am the liberal elite. I’m exactly what Trump has railed against. I’m the person who disgusts the Republican party (well… I’m one of the many people who disgust them, let’s be real here).

My undergraduate degree is from one of the most liberal colleges in America. At one point while I was a student, Fox News went through a period of referring to us as “The University of Havana North.” (Sidebar: Oh my god, YouTube, I’m so glad you exist and that you’ve retained this clip for a decade. Thank you, interwebs. My grandmother called me after this aired, shrieking “Do you know what Bill says is happening at your school?!” Sure do, Gram. We’re loving it. We had t-shirts made and everything.) In my initial draft of this post, I claimed that we were the MOST liberal, but according to this Washington Post piece, we’re merely in the top ten, with 30 registered Democrat professors to every 1 Republican; Brown is kicking our ass at 60:1. Slipped a bit in the ten years since I graduated, I guess.

In 2004, when George W. Bush was reelected, I was safely on campus. I was surrounded by peers, by like-minded individuals who were all equally distressed over the results of the election. For context, Columbia has always scheduled fall break to coincide with election weekend, and many people used that break to travel by bus to New Hampshire or Pennsylvania to campaign in swing states. It was in the early days of social media – we still called it “The Facebook” and the newsfeed was over a year away from its first primitive rollout – so we relied on cable news and T9 texting as we huddled around TVs in dorm lounges. I remember that I had a show opening the following week and valiantly tried to motivate my cast to rehearse through the early poll closures, but that quickly got abandoned. I have crystal clear memories of sitting with my cast that night in John Jay lounge. People cried. Some got angry. We all tried to process it however we could, but we did so from the safe cocoon of our campus in Morningside Heights, where everyone was feeling the same disappointment and frustration. We were just a bunch of sad lions in a sea of blue.

For the past 24 hours, I have found myself liking, commenting, and reacting to posts from college peers, many of whom I have not seen or spoken to in years. I feel a kinship with them because of our common history. In many ways, my Facebook newsfeed has felt like a return to that safe space on 116th Street. I have heard others talking about the hatred and vitriol they’re seeing, but here in my universe, I’m seeing intelligent, thoughtful, insightful reflections on what we’re all going through. People are scared, yes. They’re angry. They’re hurt. People have been expressing their feelings so eloquently, but I’m not seeing hatred. I’m not seeing ignorance. I’m not seeing retribution. Here in our virtual bubble, we are trying to shine a light on what’s happening in America today, and we’re trying to make sense of it and figure out how we proceed from here.

People want to pick up and move forward, but not in a spirit of resignation. They’re embracing the belief that every single one of us can make a stand in any number of ways. We have to live with the results of the election, but we don’t have to go quietly. These friends know that money speaks, so they’re sharing well-vetted organizations who would benefit from donations and who will carry forward our ideals in the face of a conservative onslaught. HRC the candidate may have lost, but HRC the organization – the Human Rights Coalition – could use your support. Women may not have control of the White House, but for now we still have control of our bodies and our wallets, so let’s support Planned Parenthood while it’s still available to us. My fellow members of the Liberal Elite have suggested ways to volunteer and get involved, to donate our time and to make an impact. They’re looking ahead to 2018, to strategy for the midterms, and bringing peers together to mobilize.

So yes, I feel especially proud today to declare myself part of the liberal elite. I recognize my privilege. I am a straight, white, middle class woman with degrees from two Ivy League universities who is gainfully employed with job security and full benefits. I’m going to weather the storm. And if I were the type of person who could look around and say, “Well, I’m good. Carry on,” then we’d be done here.

But I’m not that person. I never have been. I wasn’t raised that way. I was raised to value human life, to show compassion for every person I encounter. Believe it or not, most of my values come from my Christian parents (Catholic dad, Episcopal mom). I come from a family with very strong roots in faith, and while I don’t currently retain any ties to a religious organization, those values don’t go away. That’s right, Trump supporters! You can be liberal AND have faith! I’ve even read the Bible – and I still keep a copy of on my bookshelf! But here’s the thing that sets us apart: my values don’t really look like the conservative Christian values I hear so much about. My values tell me that we are all equal, and that we are all deserving of respect. I was raised to believe that if I have the ability to help someone, then I should help them, whatever form that takes.

And so, through this dumpster fire of an election, this member of the liberal elite is going to use her privilege to speak the fuck up. I will not sit idly by and let people spew hatred and vitriol. I will have the hard conversations. I will call out racism, bigotry, intolerance and hatred when I see it. I will do everything in my power to make this world a safer place for the people who do not share my privilege. Who’s with me?

Jagged Little Pill

Remember that weight management clinic I mentioned in the last post? I had the mandatory orientation meeting tonight. I was sorely tempted to bail on the whole thing – the WOD tonight at crossfit looked great (rowing! deadlifts! my favorite things!) and I would have much rather been there, but I felt like I had to give the whole thing a fair shot.

WELL.

I walked in and the coordinator handed me a piece of paper. It was a flyer listing all of the possible pharmaceutical treatments to aid weight loss. I took a seat at the table; each place had an array of flyers on it, including weight loss surgery options and a brochure for a medical shakes/prepared food program that restricted calories to 800-1000 calories a day (medically sanctioned Jenny Craig, basically). I immediately felt uncomfortable and knew this was not going to be the place for me.

The program offers two options – 1:1 meetings with a physician (but be ready to wait 2 months for an appointment) or a group meeting (you can get in by next week!). The coordinator went into the group meetings in detail, and it sounded basically like the doctor reviewed your record ahead of time, then went around the room and handed out prescriptions based on your background. What? How is this safe or appropriate?

We then went over the medications in great detail, which entailed the coordinator trying to downplay various side effects while also talking through all the ways to afford the medications if your insurance wouldn’t cover them. I think my favorite part was when she described the black box warning on one drug by saying “It caused thyroid cancer in rats when they gave the rats 10-12 times the normal dose, but there hasn’t been any instances of cancer in humans yet, so it’s probably fine.” Great. Thanks. Where do I sign up?

I felt dirty leaving that room. I made an appointment – for October, mind you – to meet with the physician one on one, but I think I’m going to end up canceling it. If I do follow through, it would be just to get a referral to have my resting metabolic rate assessed, more out of curiosity than anything else. I definitely don’t want anything to do with the pills or the surgery – that’s not for me.

I left that appointment and directed my car to Soul Cycle. I hopped into a 7:30pm ride with a new-to-me instructor (picked solely because he was the most physically appealing option out of the available 7:30 instructors – so what if I like a little eye candy with my workouts?!). Johnny turned out to be amazing and exactly what I needed tonight. The playlist felt like it was pulled straight from my brain – opening with Holidae In set the tone for the ride for sure, but it was right around the Linkin Park “In The End” remix that I finally got my brain to shut down and gave in to the ride. Add in the new Chainsmokers feat. Halsey song, Closer, and my current favorite mashup to come down off of arms – seriously, just give it a listen – and basically I was LIVING for those full 45 minutes.

Also? Don’t take Soul Cycle the day after Crossfit decided to work your abs. Just trust me on this.

Anyway, I have a new favorite SC instructor (on this coast, at least) and I left that studio feeling wrung out and cleansed. Walking back to my car, I couldn’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, I’m being too hard on myself. Bodies are weird, frustrating, stupid things at times – but they’re also pretty goddamn amazing. My body let me push it right up to the edge of my abilities on that bike tonight (standing runs, we’ll get there. Jumps, I SEE YOU, and I’m getting there. Wait for it.) It let me push it through 90 wall balls… and 90 sit ups… and 90 burpees… and 800m of running… all in less than 30 minutes last night (26:29, to be exact, but who’s counting?) and every time I pick up a barbell I feel a little more confident about grabbing a heavier set of plates.

I need to stop being so hard on myself and remember to take these moments to reflect on where I am today versus where I was a year ago, and to be appreciative for all that I’m able to do each and every day. The physical change will come with time, and in the meantime, the mental growth will be enough.

(Over)thinking things through

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my head recently.

On Sunday, I took a charity yoga class to benefit the Dear Jack Foundation. DJF was founded by Andrew McMahon, aka my favorite musician, to help young adult cancer patients and survivors with support and community outreach. Adolescent and young adult cancer rates have not improved over the past 10-20 years — while survivor rates have improved in every other age range, the 15-39 group has shown no change. There’s a lot of reasons for that. This is the age range where individuals are least likely to be proactive about their health, avoid or discredit any symptoms, and skip their annual physicals, often due to lack of health insurance or the financial means to cover their healthcare. Considering that my $1500 FSA was 80% depleted after the first of four annual Dana Farber dermatology appointments required due to my own history of melanoma and basal cell carcinoma, leaving me wondering how the hell I’m going to pay for my remaining appointments, biopsies, and treatments for the rest of the year, I gotta say, I sympathize. But DJF is also committed to addressing the isolation and feeling of “otherness” that comes from being a young adult cancer patient – that feeling of “I’m too young for this” or “This shouldn’t be happening.” There’s a serious dearth of programs, organizations, and opportunities for YA cancer patients and survivors to seek out support, and DJF strives to address that.

I wasn’t exactly in prime shape going into Sunday’s class. It’s been a rough week for me in a lot of ways, and I was mentally and physically wiped out when I set my mat down in the studio. As the instructor led us through a heart-opening flow, I found myself reflecting back over the past few years. Last Friday marked four years since I received my melanoma diagnosis, and a lot has changed since then. That whole experience was a wake up call that I needed to start being more proactive about my health. It’s what inspired me to join Studio Poise in 2013, and it remains the driving force behind the choices I make when it comes to nutrition and fitness. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about my skin – I use SPF religiously, but there’s no changing genetics, and I know that my future is going to be marked off by one biopsy after another, hoping that I catch any future instances of melanoma early enough to avoid metastasis. Realizing this, I’ve been a lot more proactive about the areas of my health that are within my control. I’m far more mindful about my diet, and I have made exercise not just a habit or something I do because I feel like I need to, but something that is actively contributing to my mental health and sanity. Working out helps me to manage my stress, helps me to sleep better, and also gets me closer to the overall physical health I’m striving for.

That’s why I’m in such a shitty place right now – because nutrition and fitness is something I can control, and so when my body isn’t responding to those efforts, I panic. So much of my health is completely outside of my control, and to feel like now I also can’t control my weight is just more than I can take. I scheduled an appointment with my PCP yesterday to get her thoughts on this, and it was equal parts validating and frustrating. I’m really lucky to have a PCP who trusts me, so when I outlined for her all the steps I’ve taken over the past 8 months with minimal change to my weight, she never once questioned whether I was telling the truth. She affirmed that I’m doing everything right, and seemed just as stumped and frustrated as I am. She did do a blood test to check my thyroid, but it came back completely normal. She basically said that she can think of no medical reason that my body isn’t responding to the work I’m doing, and she thinks maybe I need to try a medication to help the weight along. I’m going to an informational session with the weight management clinic next week, but I’m not wild about the idea of adding a medication into the mix. I feel like these types of drugs have so many risks attached to them, and I’m skeptical of what will happen when I go off them. They’re usually appetite suppressants, and that’s not my issue – I’m doing okay sticking with my nutrition plan from Janie and I very rarely feel like I’m so hungry that I have to go off-plan to eat something. I don’t want to take a pill that will suppress my hunger and end up eating less – that feels like a recipe for long-term metabolic disaster, and short-term shitty performance in the gym.

Basically, everything that’s happening with my health is forcing me to confront my desire to have control wherever I can. So much of the universe is outside of our control, and I get that. I understand that striving to control things that are impossible to change will only drive me crazy in the long run. But the thing is – I should be able to control this. I control what I eat and I control how I workout, and the work I’m putting in should translate to a change on the scale, and it’s not, and that’s really screwing with me right now. So I’m dumping my thoughts here to try to stop them from swirling around in my brain, and I’m hoping that a change will come, sooner rather than later.

Reset. Again.

Oh hey there, blog. You still exist.

I think it’s time to get back to this little blog, but this time I’m doing it for me. 2016 HAS BEEN A YEAR so far, and while there are a lot of great things happening, there are also a lot of not-so-great things that are pulling my focus away from my goals. I’m working really hard to stay on track working toward my targets, and I have some great people in my corner helping me out, but one thing is missing, and that’s a way for me to check in with myself.

Sure, I log my workouts and I track my daily meals. I check in with my amazing coach every week and get feedback from her. But I also need a less structured place to really reflect on where I am and where I want to be. When I was blogging consistently, I could look back over my posts and see where things were going off course, and readjust appropriately. I don’t really have that tool right now, and I need it.

A colleague, someone I respect and trust, told me last week that I need to learn to care a little bit less. I need to know when to say no. I need to realize that my idea of a job well done is usually so far beyond what other people would consider necessary, and sometimes it’s okay not to go that extra mile. That’s really hard for me. It’s in my nature to want to be there for the people in my life, to want to see things through to the end, to give 100% of my effort when I commit to things. The problem with that is that I end up with an empty tank and I forget to reserve the energy, time, and resources to take care of myself. He wasn’t exactly treading new ground here – I’ve known this about myself for years, ever since my very first therapist pointed it out to me in high school. I hated that therapist, for the record. I wasn’t ready to admit that he was right. I’m still not thrilled at the prospect of change.

I have a huge fear of letting people down. I worry that my friendships are based on how much I give to them, and if I start to back off, I could lose those relationships. Logically I know that if that were to happen, then the relationship really wasn’t one I should be trying to preserve in the first place — but I still don’t want to risk that. (This is where I should also interject to say that the people who know me best in the world, the “single name in the cell phone contact list” friends who have been around for more than a decade, have also said this to me, many times, and have been trying to get me to be more selfish for years. This usually ends with me in tears trying to avoid the topic. It’s a long process, okay?)

I’m working on it. The mantra that I’ve been repeating to myself throughout 2016 has been “Self care is not selfish.” If I don’t take care of myself, then I can’t be there for the other people in my life. It’s not selfish to spend time at the gym every day, or to take time out of my weekend to lay in a hammock and reflect on my week. I need to do the things that keep me strong, healthy, and centered if I also want to be able to be a good employee, friend, and daughter.

So what has that looked like lately? Well, I joined Crossfit in May, and that’s been a game changer. It is simultaneously the scariest and most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. I go into practically every workout with the voice in my head saying “um, you can’t do that…” and by the end of it, I’m giddy over what I’ve accomplished. Yes, I’m modifying. A lot. And I’m not as fast or as strong as some of the other people in class. But I’m also completely obsessed with how I feel when I walk out of the gym, and I’m loving the community of people I’ve met there. The coaches are supportive and encouraging, and really take the time to make sure I’m getting things right. Every athlete congratulates every other person after every workout, whether you were the first or the last to finish. No one cares what you look like or what your stats are – you’re all there on an equal playing field and you’re all working toward the same goals.

I also ditched Planet Fitness for a REAL gym, one that has all the equipment I need to continue to push myself in my training. I’m still working with Janie and I’m really excited by the progress I’m making. The number on the scale isn’t my favorite, although I am down 25 pounds since January, but my clothes are fitting better and I’m happy with the changes I see when I look in the mirror. I’m trying to figure things out for a longer term solution and that’s going to take longer than the weight loss efforts I’ve gone through in the past. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes dedication and experimentation. It takes trying things and evaluating how my body responds. It means stumbling and failing a few times along the way, but learning from those failures. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m getting there, and for now, that’s good enough.

On the road again

February is a killer month. I’m away three of the four weekends in this month, and I’m realizing just how hard it is to stick to my plan when I’m on the road. It’s becoming a lot easier to stay on track most of the time – I’ve gotten better at planning my grocery trips, meal planning and I are on good terms, and I’m not feeling as many cravings as I was back when this all began. But once I’m away from the convenience and comfort of my kitchen, things get …. tricky.

I’m in Hoboken Weds-Friday this week for work, then I’m heading to Brooklyn for a few nights with friends. I recognize that it’s going to be tough to stay totally on point, but I tried to plan ahead in a few key areas so that I don’t go totally off the rails.

File Feb 10, 8 24 38 PMFOOD. I looked like a crazy bag lady this morning on Acela. My suitcase was stuffed to the gills (work clothes, play clothes, gym clothes… I don’t travel light), I had my laptop bag, and the key addition: a new cooler tote. I spent some time yesterday prepping protein pancakes for every morning I’m away, and froze them overnight. I portioned out peanut butter to have with them, and I can get some scrambled egg whites at my office’s cafeteria to round out breakfast. I also portioned out green beans and sugar snap peas into 4oz baggies, so I would have something to munch on during the full-day meetings I’m attending this week. I brought a shaker bottle and protein powder (peanut butter marshmallow whey, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN MY WHOLE LIFE?!), and I packed a salad and some grilled steak to eat on the train. Tonight I hit up the grocery store next to my hotel for a few more additions – nonfat yogurt, hard boiled eggs, organic roasted turkey breast – and a few emergency Quest bars. Basically? I’m doing everything I can to stay on track while I’m living out of a hotel this week.

File Feb 10, 8 25 15 PMWORKOUTS. I have been coming to Hoboken for meetings about once per quarter for three or four years now………. and until tonight I never stepped foot inside the hotel fitness center. I have worked out on these trips before – I took a Flywheel class taught by a friend on one visit, and when I still had Classpass, I tried a spin class at a studio about a mile from the hotel, but I never bothered checking out the hotel gym. As it turns out, THIS WAS DUMB. I stay at the Hoboken W whenever I’m in town, and it is a super nice hotel. I definitely should have expected an equally nice fitness center! Plenty of cardio options, a full set of dumbbells, a decent selection of weight machines, PLUS an area for yoga/foam rolling, AND a boxing set up (speed and heavy bag options). Throw in all the bonus bliss products in the locker rooms and the ridiculously flattering mirrors, and I was one happy chica… right up until I started the actual workouts. Leg day isn’t my friend at the moment (my knee is being bratty lately) but I powered through the workout plus some bonus cardio, and all in all felt great. After spending all morning on the Acela and all afternoon in meetings, it felt great to get my heart rate up and get my sweat on.

So I feel like I’ve set myself up pretty well for the time in Hoboken. Friday after work, I’m heading to Brooklyn to stay with friends, and that will be the bigger test. When I’m with my college friends, it’s real tempting to open a bottle of wine or to crack a few beers while we catch up. I’m going to try my hardest to stay on plan and on track, but I also know that I don’t get to see these friends nearly as often as I would like, so I’m not going to let my meal plan completely rule our time together. I do get a cheat meal this weekend, so I just need to use it strategically!

It’s a lot harder to keep my goals in sight when I’m outside of my comfort zone. It’s easier to feel balanced and on track when I’m at home and can plan my days out. I know that this isn’t forever. My trainer pointed out that I’m still a long way from my goals, and I can either keep working toward them and make some sacrifices, or I can give in to temptation while recognizing that it may end up pushing me back from my finish line. I know that as I progress, I’ll be able to make more exceptions, but right now, I need to stay focused on recovering some of the good work that I let slip away over the past year.

It’s a process and I’m feeling my way through it, one day at a time.

New directions.

Well. Been a while, huh?

When I last checked in, I was doing my first Advocate 24-day challenge. It went well, but I didn’t keep up the habits after it ended. Fall was rough – work continues to be brutal, I resigned from my role as president of a nonprofit board of directors (which was 100% the right move, but still a really hard decision to make, one surrounded by stress and self-doubt), and some personal challenges all combined to draw my focus away from my goals. And I ended 2015 in a really bad place, at least as far as my physical health was concerned. When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t see the girl who lost all the weight and dropped all those inches. Instead, I saw the girl who first stepped into Studio Poise three years earlier. It was like nothing had changed.

I know that wasn’t entirely true. I’m stronger than I was back in 2013, and my cardiovascular health and overall stamina are worlds better than when I first embarked on this journey. But the numbers on the scale? And the way my jeans fit? They told a different story.

I needed a wake up call. I needed someone to hold me accountable for my health choices. I needed to start 2016 with a plan. So I hired a trainer/nutritionist and committed to twelve weeks with her. Today marked the start of our fifth week together.

The verdict? This was exactly what I needed to get me to focus back in on my goals. The fitness side is great – I’m doing strength workouts 4 days a week (I pick things up and put them down! Leg day is a thing I do now!) and I supplement those with classes at Studio Poise and Soulcycle to get in my cardio, yoga, and pilates cravings. I’m really enjoying the strength side. I’m learning more about the different equipment at my gym and I’m getting out of my comfort zone. I’m realizing the areas that I’m already pretty strong, and I’m learning the things I need to pay more attention to improving. I feel like I finally get it.

The nutrition, though… that ish is HARD. We added another Advocare challenge on top of our plan together, so I haven’t had a cheat meal in three weeks. And I’m actually doing okay! I also haven’t touched alcohol since this plan started. I’m trying to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day, with a protein source at every meal. Cut way back on carbs and fats, and trying to eat as clean as possible. I’m not saying it’s been easy – it definitely hasn’t – but I’ve found it valuable to hold myself to a strict meal plan. I’m finding ways to keep my meals diverse and exciting even within the plan rules, so I don’t really feel like I’m limiting myself. Have I had cravings? 100% yes, but I’m trying to work through them.

My biggest realization? I was doing a TON of stress eating, especially over the past six months. I spent most of my day at work reaching for snacks and not even realizing what I was putting into my mouth. I was also drinking a lot – not to say that I had a drinking problem, but I was reaching for a glass of wine every night to sip while continuing my workday from my couch instead of my cubicle. The nutrition element of this program is forcing me to actually confront the sources of stress instead of masking them behind snacks, and I think it’s helping me to create a better work/life balance.

It’s not easy. It’s not going to be easy. Some days I feel great; some days I feel tired or run down, or in really extreme cases, like I would cut a bitch for some pizza (that was just the one day, but man, that day sucked). I think it’s going to get harder as I get further into this, too – as the novelty wears off and I come to terms with the fact that all of this only works if I treat it as adopting a permanent new lifestyle, and not as something that I’m doing with a finish line in sight, and no real plan for after.

So I’m going to head back to this blog, but this time, I’m doing it for me. If you’ve stuck around since the last time I posted, welcome back, and you’re welcome to follow along. But I’m not going to be sharing this link all over social media, and I’m not going to be writing with the voice in my head nudging me to think about who might be reading this, or how I might grow this blog to a broader audience. I gotta get back to me and push myself toward my goals, and sometimes I need to be able to write just for the sake of writing.

Four weeks down. A lifetime to go.

Blizzard-ready fitness

In case you haven’t heard, or aren’t fortunate enough to live in New England, we got walloped with one heck of a winter storm yesterday. Over two feet of snow fell according to the official totals, but I was wading through snow that came up to mid-hip yesterday, so I’m convinced the actual total was closer to three feet. Either way, the storm led to some serious cabin fever.

Winter storms make me long for hot cocoa, rich and hearty stews, and curling up with some whiskey and a good book. Unfortunately, none of those things are helping me to reach my wellness goals! I will admit that I indulged in a mug of cocoa spiked with some Bailey’s after my shoveling adventures yesterday, but otherwise I’ve tried really hard to keep up with my fitness goals during the past 48 hours of being stuck at home. I figured I’d share some of my strategies to help myself succeed through this storm!

Stock up on healthy groceries. Yes, like everyone else in New England, I rushed to the grocery store on Monday to make sure I had enough food to last through the storm. I had to have options on hand that didn’t require cooking in case we lost power, and I needed to make sure I had some basics ready to go. I picked up some Special K cereal (I love the Vanilla Almond flavor) and a few extra containers of coconut milk for a healthy breakfast option, and I got some whole grain bread, low sodium turkey, and part-skim cheese for sandwich fixins. I knew that I’d want something to snack on, so I turned to the chip aisle with a critical eye, and was super excited to find this Vanilla Caramel Popcorn. I love popcorn and usually air pop it myself, but this was a good backup in case we lost power – and it’s pretty low in sugar, so it didn’t have that overly sweet kettle corn taste that I try to avoid. Definitely recommend!

Don’t skip your workout. It’s really tempting to stay curled up in sweats under a blanket, but I know that I always feel better when I get in my workout for the day. I had to cancel my planned yoga class on Monday in order to get home before the storm, but I was still feeling pretty achy after this past weekend’s ski outing, so I came home and did 45 minutes of yoga on my own. I’m still not a master yogi by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have enough experience at this point that I feel like I can put together a series of sun salutations and basic poses without needing to follow a DVD. Once the storm actually hit, shoveling turned out to be quite enough of a workout for me! Clearing out the driveway, the walkway, and our stairs took several hours. We do have a snowblower, but I did the walkways by hand, and also had to dig out our cars. Be careful when shoveling, and always remember not to overdo it! Be careful not to overload your shovel when lifting snow, and always keep your knees bent. Also, don’t jump right into shoveling – warm up beforehand with some light stretching and easy cardio, like a walk around the block, to warm up your muscles and help prevent injury.

It’s okay to indulge – but be smart about it! I love to bake, and whenever I’m stuck at home during a storm, the urge to have something delicious in the oven becomes too strong to ignore. This week, I had some bananas that were at the “bake me or toss me” point of ripeness, so I made banana bread. I used whole wheat flour, added some low-sugar dried cranberries and toasted pecans to the batter, and topped it all with a steel cut oatmeal crumble for some added crunch and an extra source of whole grains. The treat came out great, and I felt like I was indulging, but because I had made smart swaps for some of the ingredients, I felt less guilty about my treat.

Sometimes being a kid is the best way to feel great! I admit, when the neighborhood kids were passing by me carrying their sleds, while I was stuck shoveling out my cars, I felt some serious jealousy. I wanted nothing more than to toss aside the shovel and join them! Unfortunately, I don’t own a sled anymore, otherwise I can’t say that I wouldn’t have tagged along. I couldn’t resist the desire to get out and romp in the snow, though, so I took my dog out yesterday afternoon for some winter playtime. Unfortunately he’s not the biggest fan of this weather… all those videos you see online of dogs leaping playfully through the snow banks? Yeah, not so much with my dog. He wanted the whole thing to be over before it had even really begun. But I had a blast out there, diving into snow drifts, making snow angels, climbing over the piles of snow that were taller than I am – and it definitely counts as cardio! The mood lift also counts toward my overall wellness goal, trust me.

I know a lot of New Englanders are grumbling and complaining about this storm, but honestly, I’m loving it. I love living in the Boston area, winters and all! I’m also hoping that this storm is a sign of more to come, because I’d really like to use my Stratton season pass to ski straight through April!

What tips do you swear by to survive winter storms?