Learn to receive

I went on a podcast subscribing spree over the weekend. Lately my podcast habits have heavily skewed toward political content, but the closer we get to the elections, the less I want to listen to media interpretations of the absolute shitstorm that is the country right now. (For the record, I’m With Her.) (If you needed me to tell you that, you haven’t been paying attention.)

I poked around a bit trying to find some podcasts on health and wellness, skewing more toward mental health and wellbeing. I haven’t had much time to settle in with the stack of books sitting on my nightstand, so in the meantime, podcasts on my commute will have to be enough to help me along.

I stumbled across one this morning that felt like it was targeted right at me. The podcast is titled Women Wanting More, and I admittedly haven’t listened to enough to judge whether it will be a permanent addition to my list, but today’s felt perfect. Episode #183 is titled “I Receive This (and Why YOU Should, Too)” and it’s all about how many women struggle to accept, to receive.

When others pay us compliments, we brush them off or respond with a self-deprecating comment. When colleagues ask us if we need help at work, we decline – we’ve got this, even in reality we’re drowning. Friends tell us to reach out if we need anything and we nod, knowing that things would have to be dire indeed before we take them up on the offer, because we will have things under control even if it kills us.

In the podcast, the host, Karen Osburn, encourages us to learn to receive. Have you ever tried to just receive when others want to give? Whether it’s a compliment, an offer of help, a kind word, a gift – what if you just received it and allowed yourself time to enjoy how it feels not to be the one giving?

I’m working on it, and this podcast was a good reminder to be more intentional in how I react when I’m given the opportunity to receive. Give it a listen.

Cardio survival strategies

Over the past year I’ve made some major shifts in my approach to working out. Incorporating a weight lifting routine into my workouts has been eye opening – turns out I love barbells. Who knew?! I’m also seeing major changes in my body composition, which is super exciting.

But here’s what I’ve figured out: no matter how great the weights are treating me, I still need to keep cardio in my routine if I want to see the scale move in the right direction. And I hate cardio. So much. I love SoulCycle classes, but I’m already investing a hefty chunk of cash in my gym and Crossfit memberships, so it’s really hard to also swing SC on the regular. I try to save it for a treat class when I really feel like I need that particular brand of cardio catharsis.

So instead, I end up spending a LOT of time on stationary bikes and treadmills at my gym. Which is kind of the worst, to be honest. I have a very no-frills gym these days and there aren’t TVs at every machine, but I’m not really much of a TV person in the first place, so I wouldn’t use them even if they were there. I also can’t manage to flip pages on a magazine, no matter how many tempting copies of People and Us stare at me from the communal magazine rack. Instead, I’ve been trying to find some alternate ways to pass the time, and I figured I’d share the wealth with all three of you who regularly read this ole blog (thanks, guys. sorry I’m so boring.)

I wasn’t kidding about the magazine thing… flipping pages while on the treadmill inevitably ends up with me tripping over my own feet because I am just not coordinated enough to walk and move my arms at the same time. Texture solves that problem for me. This subscription service comes with a TON of magazines that you can download to your tablet to read, and flipping the page is as easy as tapping the screen (aka about all I can handle most days). The magazine selection is amazing and includes a lot of great content that I’m way too cheap to actually subscribe to (looking at you, New Yorker). I also love that it’s super easy to screen shot pages — I do this a lot when I’m reading food or cooking magazines, so that I have a quick reference to recipes for future kitchen experimentation. That link above will take you to a 14 day free trial, and from there it’s either $10 or $15 per month, depending on which level you choose (the more expensive level includes more magazine options). Honestly, this is my second most treasured monthly subscription service, after Spotify – I get a ton of use out of it and definitely feel like I’m getting a great value.

I also like to use my cardio time to indulge my love of trashy romance novels. Secret shame time – I will DEVOUR these horribly embarrassing books like it ain’t no thang. Thank you, Kindle, for making it possible to do this without any judgment from the people around me – for all they know I’m reading about Dickens instead of, well, dicks. (I’m not even sorry about that last one, I couldn’t help myself.) I never pay for these books – I rely on Bookbub to help me find free Kindle downloads so I can comfort myself in the knowledge that at least I didn’t spend any money on the trashy novels. Through Bookbub, you choose your favorite genre(s) for reading material and your preferred e-reader platform, and they send you a daily digest of free or deeply discounted books (think $3 or less). I mostly use it to stock up on free romance or detective novels, but I’ve also scored some bestsellers or less popular works by popular novelists for awesome prices.

There are definitely still days where reading on a treadmill is just more than I can handle, and on those days I turn to either audiobooks or podcasts. For Audiobooks, I use Audible; my favorites are memoirs that are read by the author, because it really just feels like they’re telling you a story. Rob Lowe’s first memoir is shockingly good, and it’s great to hear him tell stories about making The Outsiders or his time in the Brat Pack. I also downloaded Holly Madison’s autobiography and marathoned it during one recent drive to New York, though, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt – I will devour any and all pop culture.

Lately, though, I’ve been listening to podcasts nonstop, both during my cardio sessions and when I’m driving. I’m getting all of my election updates through podcasts because I can carefully filter out the crazy. Keepin’ it 1600, the political podcast produced by the Ringer network, is hosted by former Obama staffers and is my current favorite option, but I also highly recommend the FiveThirtyEight Elections Podcast for information on polling and generally intelligent, higher-level info on the current state of politics. Intelligent commentary shouldn’t be that hard to find, but, well, it’s 2016 and Donald Trump is running for president, so that’s our new reality.

My two other favorite podcasts fly directly in the face of what kicked off this post in the first place – namely, that I can’t just zone out to TV while I’m cranking out the cardio. I’m completely obsessed with The West Wing Weekly and Buffering the Vampire Slayer, two podcasts that delve deep into two of my favorite TV shows, episode by episode. I’m terrible at keeping current with what’s on TV now, but if you want to have an in depth discussion about an episode of TV that first aired in 2002 and is now on Netflix for your binging pleasure, WELL, I am your girl. I am LOVING revisiting two of my favorite shows through the podcast lens, and these totally distract me from how much the stationary bike makes me want to die.

So that’s what’s getting me through the cardio grind lately – what are your survival strategies? Any podcasts I should be listening to? Hidden gem trashy romance novels that I should add to my reading list? I love suggestions 🙂