That Time Of Year

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This is the time of year, more specifically the week of the year, that everyone dreads, day light savings time.  Pumpkin Season, aka Fall, is one of my favorite seasons aside from Christmas Season, aka early winter.  This week in particular is difficult.  God decided to put the lights of summer on a dimmer switch.  When you go to sleep, darkness.  When you wake up, darkness.  The days are getting shorter and shorter and the nights longer and colder.  It gets confusing!  Last night I curled up with a cup of cocoa before bed and realized it was only 5:30 PM!  I was ready for bed at 5:30!!

This weekend we will have a little reprieve with daylight savings time bringing more sunlight to the morning but the nightime will only get darker earlier.  Most of us, myself included, have a rough time with the darkness.  Call it ‘seasonal affected disorder”(aka SAD…that’s serious it’s named SAD) or just a case of the fall blues, everyone goes through a funk this time of year so I decided to do some research to see if I could help.

Tip #1: Go to the Bahamas until March.

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Only kidding, unless someone else is buying the tickets.  In that case I’ll meet you at the airport.

According to the Mayo clinic SAD is caused by a disruption in the circadian rhythm, seratonin levels and melatonin levels.  Your circadian rhythm is your internal clock and it regulates your body’s sleep schedule.  When you wake up thinking its 3:00am but it’s really 6:15am, your circadian rhythm gets confused.  Seratonin is a neurotransmitter that is attributed to feelings of happiness and wellness and is directly related to sunlight.  Melatonin is a chemical in the body that regulates sleep patterns and rhythm.  Sleep is integral to fighting off seasonal depression.

So what can we do? Well, that’s up to you.  There are Doctors, supplements, meditations etc but here’s what I would do:

1. Turn the lights on, open the shades. Lights are a big part of my mood and in the winter my happiness takes precedent over my electric bill.

2. Go outside for a walk or find a way to stand near a window.  Don’t be a creeper in a window but maybe on your lunch break you can step outside for some Vitamin D.

3. Take a trip.  Even if it’s not to the bahamas sometimes you just need to get out of your everyday routine.

4.  Focus on the positives.  Someone once told me to spend 3 minutes at night writing down 10 positive things in my life or what I’m grateful for that day.  Sounds small but it helps put a funk in persepctive.

5.  Be social.  Friends are a great way to boost your mood and if they bring you down ditch them and go out and find new friends.

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Obviously there are multiple ways to get through the season but hopefully these tips help a little. 

Go enjoy your Pumpkin Spiced Latte with a side of pumpkin scone topped with pumpkin caramel.

Tis the season,

~E

Writers Block Remix

I know I know, I’ve been a little MIA this week.  Unfortunately it’s been a combination of things.  First, I stumbled into a little writers block.  Second, I’ve been feeling a little sickly.

For those of you who have never experienced writers block, it is no fun.  After my post on Tuesday it felt like someone just evaporated all my creative juices.  There were a few blips of inspiration but nothing materialized.  On Wednesday, after two days of two-a-day workouts I managed to gain 5 lbs overnight.  My only thought was to talk about water weight and it’s ghost like phenomena but as you could imagine there are only so many ways you could possibly make water weight sound intetesting.  Every single idea I had got thrown out by the second sentence.  Writing is difficult when there is either too much or too little occupying your thoughts.  Creativity flows the best when there is some secret combination of the two.  This week I just couldn’t find that secret recipie. 

To top it all off, the seasons have changed and I’m feeling a bit under the weather.  Yesterday morning immediately after breakfast my stomach started doing summersaults and back flips.  I thought everything would calm down so I went off to work two hours away…bad idea.  Not only was my stomach aching but it started feeling like someone was stabbing my upper back with an annoying knife for 4 straight hours.  I was hoping that it was some weird mysterious 24 hour bug but as everyone with a mysterious ailment does, I checked WebMD.  Big Mistake.  I’m dying.  It was lovely knowing you all.  I have 50 horrible diseases and only have 2 weeks to 40 years to live.  I will miss you.

Also, as a public service announcement, for the first time I questioned my decision not to get the flu shot and looked up symptoms of stomach flu.  For Your Information apparently the flu shot does NOT cover the stomach flu.  I feel like they should have done some better advertising on that.  This topic definitely needs furthur investigation but I digress.

Luckily for all of us, I got some gatorade, took a long nap and made a miraculous recovery.  It is my sincere hope that next week will be full of hilarity and inspiration.  Enjoy a Packer-less Sunday.  Not sure what to do with myself but I’ll figure something out.  Creative minds don’t stay at rest too long.

~E

Days of Halloween Past

There are two types of people in this world, those who love Halloween and those who do not.  My boyfriend is the former, I am the later.  My dislike of Halloween can be pinpointed to one specific moment, The Haunted High School.

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At the age of about 7 my aunt and uncle decided to babysit for the night and thought that at 4 and 7 my sister and I would be able to handle a haunted house.  They were wrong.  Just yesterday my aunt and I reminisced about the incident, laughing about the ridiculousness of it all.  She said that fateful Haunted High School night should be blamed on a time before they had a child and “just didn’t know!”

All I can remember is being scared before I got to the barn door and then once I walked in I tried to be brave.  That lasted all of 30 seconds before I started crying.  My sister didn’t make it that far, she was wailing before the doors could close behind us and my uncle took her to the car shortly after.  We continued for a little while until I hit a certain point and yelled at scarecrow “That is enough, I’ve had enough!” That was the end of that.  Good thing we can look back on it and laugh now because I think I required a lot of make up ice cream at the time.

This past weekend we went to the goosebumps movie (I recommend it) and my favorite part was the 4 year old in the booster seat next to us.  He was clearly excited to go and handled himself well until the first semi-spooky scene came on.

“Woahhh Dad, I don’t know I feel about this.  Nope, I don’t like this.”

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He was talking like a 40 year old man and was very clear about his scared opinion, much like myself in the Haunted High School.  Kids are pretty funny in scary situations and I think you will either eternally love Halloween or you will start praying for Thanksgiving to come faster.  The good news is that eventually I made it back to a haunted house and even voluntarily went this year.  It’s possible I’ll learn to like scary movies some day but I doubt that. 

In the spirit of Halloween, I want to hear your best ‘Scared Straight’ or ‘Trick-or-Treat’ moments!

I’ll share the best ones!

~E

Creative Kitchen

A few months ago I decided to give a low carb diet a try as part of my journey to get fit and healtier.  Also I’m very sugar sensitive and low carb eating helps to regulate the highs and lows.

In general I very much enjoy eating cheese and meat and for the most part don’t miss the added sugar.  However here are the problems: I LOVE bread, fruit and any type of candy.  Candy is amazing and pizza is my favorite but I digress.  A more low carb lifestyle is a learning curve.  It took me years to form my eating habits, why would I expect to master a new diet in a few weeks, it’s impossible. 

After awhile I decided to attempt to make my favorite dishes in a low carb version.  My first attempt was No Mac Shrimp and Cheese.  Someone made some Kraft Blue Box mac and cheese in my vacinity and I got the blue box blues.  The craving was insatiable.  I stood in front of the easy mac for 10 minutes at the grocery store talking myself out of it and thankfully didnt pull the trigger.  When I came home I looked up a few recipes for homemade cheese sauce, mixed my favorite parts together and decided to substitute shrimp for noodles.  The result: AMAZING.  Recipie is up on the Erin Loves That page.

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A few weeks later, I decided that I desparatley needed something sweet.  I purchased berries at the supermarket and started looking at recipes for low carb desserts.  Once again I mixed a bunch together and created Low Carb Blackberry Cobbler…woohoo done and delicious!  (Recipie is also on the Erin Loves That)  Note: making low carb dessert isn’t cheap but almond or coconut flour will last you awhile.

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www.erinannewrites.com/erin-loves-that/

I was definitely figuring this low carb lifestyle out when I went to England and all bets were off.  If someone can figure out how to evaporate the carbs from beer while not changing the flavor whatsoever, please let me know!!  The bread, the sausage rolls, the scones and the beer are my favorites:-)  Needless to say it took me awhile to lose what I gained on vacation but I’m on a good track now and going to do it!  One of these days it will happen.  I’ve been saying that for three years but you have to keep pushing yourself because the alternative isn’t really an option. 

Today I decided to try to recreate a low carbon version of an English Sausage Roll.  It was my first epic fail.  The ‘dough’ was a disaster so I ended up making mini sausage muffins. 

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My NEW Sausage Cheese muffins are delightful!  If anyone actually wants the recipie let me know.

Keep pushing yourself and feel free to share recipes of your own.

~E

The Netflix Curse

Has anyone tested the productivity of Americans since the advent of streaming Netflix?  If not, somebody really should.  Netflix binge watching has become a real problem in the life of this procrastinator.  Netflix has elevated my procrastination to an entirely new level and I’m beginning to think it might not be healthy.  I call it The Netflix Curse.

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Back in the olden days, known as the 00’s, there was a caveman version of binge watching called movie marathons.  Movie marathons where hosted by 1 of the 20 channels on TV and they would play a movie or TV show for 12 to 24 hours.  This didn’t happen that often so sometimes you couldn’t be home to watch it all, The Madness!!  Other than marathons you were forced to wait a week or month for the next episode of your favorite show.  OH THE HORROR!  Believe me it was agonizing!  Those dark days when George Clooney left ER and we didn’t know if Anthony Edwards was going to survive brain cancer were torturous. A week was an eternity.

I blame the beginning of the binge watching phenomena on whoever’s bright idea it was to put entire seasons of a TV show on DVD!  That kicked it off.  The summer after I graduated High School I was 18 and the ‘Sex and the City’ finale had just aired.  My best friend Michelle and I decided that we wanted to know what all the fuss was about so we had a ‘Sex and the City’ watch-a-thon every Tuesday.  We would make popcorn and drive to blockbuster to rent the partial season on DVD.  You might be amazed but I think there were only three episodes per DVD.  Can you imagine?  How archaic!  Its like we played kick the can or something.

sex_and_the_citySoon Netflix came into the picture and knocked blockbuster to the curb.  With Netflix you could get all of your favorite shows mailed to your door and your binging required less work!  With the improvement of the internet (you no longer had to wait for your mom to get off the phone) streaming television became the norm and The Netflix Curse fell upon us all…dun dun dun.

How am I expected to be productive when I can watch the entire third season of my favorite Australian show “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” in a day??  That’s another thing Netflix does, they suggest shows you might get hooked on and become even less productive!  Such an effective scheme if I do say so myself.

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What is there to do?  How do we break the curse?  Well unless you’re Marty McFly, you can’t go back in time so you’re going to have to deal with it.  Just this morning I actually stopped an episode halfway through and went to the gym.  Yesterday I tasked myself with cleaning and laundry and informed myself that Netflix would remain off until all my chores were done.  Drastic times call for drastic measures.  I don’t have all the answers but I’ve resorted to trying to get all my stuff done prior to starting Netflix.  Its a small strategy but you never know what the secret is to breaking the curse.

Good luck to you all.  I’m off to finish Series 3.

~E

Tabata the Terrible

Tabata the Terrible. Most of you, I’d imagine, are asking, “Erin, what is Tabata?” Good question, let’s get that information out of the way first.

According to active.com Tabata is defined as “a High-Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) workout that lasts four minutes.” By now you’re probably saying, “Erin, a four minute workout doesn’t sound so hard” Wrong, you would be wrong.

Over the years I have done small sessions of Tabata and liked it quite well. You can do Tabata during spin class or weight training. Tabata works like this: You choose the type of exercise and repeat it at a quick pace for 20 seconds followed by a 10 second rest. This sequence is then repeated 8 times for a 4 minute interval workout. Doing one or two Tabata sessions durning an hour workout is actually quite fun and challenging. After all, to have an effective workout you have to push yourself.

Yesterday I had an idea to challenge myself with an entire class full of Tabata. An entire 45 minutes. This is what I learned: I am not in as good of shape as I thought. At one point during the mountain climbers I became astutely aware of the waterfall of sweat pouring down my face and shoulders. The thought occurred to me that if this is how I die, I hope they at least give me a shower and fix my hair.

To give you a little more info on the science behind Tabata I stole this from active.com:

“You may not have heard of Tabata yet, but chances are you will soon: Turns out, it can burn a whopping 13.5 calories a minute—and double a person’s metabolic rate for 30 minute afterward…It would take five times the amount of typical cardio exercise, like a 20-minute brisk walk, to shed the same number of calories that result from a 4-minute Tabata,” she says…The cool thing abut Tabata is you can do it with any type of cardio. Olson likes using squat jumps, which are great for the back, abs and hips, she says, but you can also use non-impact moves like sprints on the Spin bike or even in the pool. (Or you can try our 8-minute Tabata-style CrossFit workout, guaranteed to torch calories.) “Just be sure to put out an effort that’s your best, all-out effort,” she says. “That’s the key to this method.”

So why am I writing this post? To scare you away from Tabata? Absolutely not! Everyone I know is on a mission to improve their health in one way or another. Some of you have very little time to fit in exercise. As previously stated, four minutes of Tabata is 13 minutes walking! Less time, more workout. Others are looking for a new challenge or to try something different. That is what this workout series is all about, learning how to live a healthier life.

If you’re new to exercise or on an extended break I would recommend working up to the 45 minutes but Tabata is worth the results as well as the challenge. I can feel my butt shrinking already!! The lake of sweat I created from that waterfall was totally worth it!!

Sweat away,

~E

Certainly Uncertain

Times of uncertainty and change are difficult for all of us and without fail when they arrive they wreak havoc on our lives.  The second uncertainty hits my stress level goes from 10 to 100 almost instantaneously and the stress manifests itself into my upper back and shoulders making everyday life a little less bearable.

I’ve always been the type of person who has a plan.  Even before I wake up in the morning I like to have an idea of what I will be doing.  Naturally my days never go exactly according to plan but there is something comforting about having an idea of where I am headed.  If I plan on being lazy and staying in my pajamas all day, I like to know that ahead of time.  Alas, life is life and there are so many things that we cannot plan for.  All of these things in one way or another create uncertainty in our lives and usually come along when we least expect it.

Sometimes in times of uncertainty I like to check my horoscope.   I like to test it, I’m not sure why.

Taurus Oct 6, 2015-

“Awareness rather than denial clears the most direct path toward a peaceful resolution.  Maintain your integrity at all costs and everyone will see who is telling the truth.”

A little general in the advice category but I value high integrity so I will take this as positive. As the bull sign of the zodiac I am supposedly stubborn…truth.  Stubbornness certainly doesn’t help times of uncertainty.  According to Wikipedia I am also “a strong willed character with great perseverance and determination.”  That part I like.

So after you put your horoscope to the test, what do you do?  How do you cope with uncertainty?  How should we cope?

First, be strong and believe in yourself.  I believe that things happen for a reason.  Eventually you come to understand why you were put in certain situations and you figure out how to grow from it but uncertainty is never fun, regardless of how you look at it.

Another thing to do is seek guidance.  Guidance comes in many forms.  You can lean on family or friends, a pastor, minister, church or a professional counselor.  Some people also feel that exercise or music, for example, can be a great outlet for uncertainty.

For me one of the first things I do is call my parents.  Interestingly enough they seem to have a knack for being out of the country and available only via email when things happen.  Without a doubt, every time they left for a winter vacation Wisconsin had the worst snow storm of the yearl!  All kidding aside, I am lucky to have two of the best parents in the world and am incredibly thankful to have them to lean on, even via email.

Good friends are also an amazing pillar to lean on in uncertain times.  It is important to value your friendships and have an equal give and take.  Be a pillar for your friends and they will be strong for you.

Whomever or whatever you choose to lean on, take comfort that some day that uncertainty will become just a little more certain.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.  For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“I wanted a perfect ending.  Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories dont have a clear beginning, middle and end.  Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing whats going to happen next.” Gilda Radner

Risk means ‘shit happens’ or ‘good luck” -Toba Beta

“When in doubt, be ridiculous”- Sherwood Smith

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Buddha

Cheers to a peaceful mind everyone,

~E

Rainy Sundays

Sunday is known as a day of rest and after this week I need it.  Sunday is a day to center yourself and enjoy the little things.  Some of us go to church, and some of us don’t, but I think we can all agree there is something special about Sunday.

In many ways Sunday makes you want to be a better person.  It’s a day to recuperate and rejuvenate but sometimes you don’t know how.  On this rainy Sunday, here are some ideas from me to you.

1.Stretching Yoga Meditation

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Simple Morning Flow

Click on the link for a quick 10 minute video.  This is really simple yoga.  Really simple, honest!  It allows you to quiet everything for a bit and stretches out your sitting muscles.  Let’s face it, we all sit too much and need a little stretching.

Option #2: Read a book.  Rainy days are perfect for some learning or for getting lost in a world far far away.

Option #3:  Relax with a little coffee and a snuggly blanket.  Sometimes there’s nothing better.  Best friends must think alike because I stole this from my besties Facebook page.

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Even brand new mom’s can enjoy coffee and a snuggle on a Sunday morning! Personally I enjoy a laugh with my coffee too.

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Option #4: Football.  Hopefully your team wins and you remain destressed.  If not, watch the yoga video again and enjoy the picture.

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Option #5:
Nap, nap and more naps.  But no work.  Just naps.

Simple solutions to a perfect Sunday.  Enjoy this blissful Sunday!

~E