Time Out

Do you ever find yourself making the excuse that you can’t do something because you just don’t have enough time?

As in, “Well, I would go to the gym/call my mom/volunteer at school/clean out my closet if only I had the time.”

Recently I heard a talk where the speaker asked the audience that question but then pointed out that each of us has all the time in the world.

Time is finite. There’s only so much. And we all have the same 1,440 minutes per day. No more, no less.

So really, it’s not a question about having enough time, rather it’s about time management.

Huh. I never thought about it that way.

Since then, I’ve consciously tried to be a better time manager, spending my free time on things that matter and not being afraid to say no to things that really don’t.

[If you find this hard to do, try a simple, “Sorry, that won’t work for me.” But here’s the key: Then stop talking and don’t make any excuses as to why you can’t do X, Y or Z.]

How do want to spend your 1,440 today?

Striped Dresses

How cute are these two striped dresses?

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They scream casual, effortless summer style to me.

The first one is from MiH jeans (Breton dress) and retails for $240.

The second is a steal from LL Bean for only $49.95.

Don’t dig dresses? You’re in luck! They both also come as shirts, too.

And here’s the perfect tote bag to carry with them:

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It’s on sale at J. Crew Factory right now for only $39.50.

One More Thing, #15

Since lately I’ve been drinking more water and smoothies/juices made in my new Vitamix, I’ve developed an increased need for insulated, no-spill bottles to tote around during my day.

I picked up one of these good looking bottles a few weeks ago at a local store:

S'well Water Bottles

S’well Water Bottles

S’well bottles are made of double-layer stainless steel and purport to keep beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. They come in various sizes, but I liked the generous 25 oz one. Plus, the company gives back to clean water charities with every purchase, something I can get behind. But where they really had me was their description of the bottles as being virtually indestructible. That’s a huge plus for someone who routinely leaves a bottle or mug on the car roof and remembers a few miles down the road.

Lean and Mean for 2014

Hmm, what should I eat?

On Sunday night, I got home late from a weekend trip to run in this race (more below), and I found myself staring into the refrigerator and silently asking that exact question.

But notice: “What should I eat?” is very different from “What do I want to eat?”

Want: M&Ms. Tortilla chips. Pizza delivered to my doorstep.

Should: Well, really just about anything else than what’s listed above.

I know this. I do. But like most people, I wax and wane on how stringent I am in applying this template.

I really admire my friend Amy, who is a dietitian and fitness/wellness coach. She is very inspirational and always walks the talk. When it comes to clean eating and healthy living for her whole family, she’s got it going on. Thankfully she includes me in a wellness group and often sends poignant quotes, ideas or recipes (even for feeble me!) my way. Thanks, Amy! I really strive to apply her 80/20 principle, which is to eat well 80% of the time and leave 20% for (responsible) indulgences. The main problem is that if I am honest with myself, I’ve spent more time in 20/80 mode than 80/20.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve also been able to catch up on some magazine reading during my two cross country flights. A few blurbs got my attention. One was from the back page of this month’s Self (or was it Fitness? Sorry). I’m paraphrasing here, but the gist was that a friend of a celebrity asked said celebrity – known for her famously fit body – how she did it. Answer? She exercised for health and well-being, but what really made a difference is that when it came to diet, she didn’t cheat. Ever. Celebrity: “You know how you are doing really well and then you go on vacation or to a special restaurant and you go all out? I don’t. Ever.”

A second essay that spoke to me basically said this: Yeah, we all know it and don’t want to admit it, but 90% of how you look is what you eat. My good friend D. and I were talking about this point last week. D. recently completed a fitness evaluation and was – on the eve of a milestone birthday – deemed supremely fit for his age and was significantly leaner than when he previously did the eval five years ago. His numbers were enviable. How did he do it? Exercise was a key component, but he also changed the way he eats, particularly portion size and not stuffing himself to the point of discomfort. (Me: Guilty, Your Honor).

So where does this leave me? As I mentioned above, I ran the Tinkerbell half marathon at Disneyland (part of a series of races sponsored by Disney, which I will extensively post about in the near future) on January 19th. Conditions were perfect, the race went well, I felt strong and the miles quickly flew by. I was #1055 out of 11,490 runners.

But – I was six minutes slower than last year. Granted, last year I was slightly younger and in better shape, but I also weighed about 10 pounds less. Reportedly, every pound lost can yield 2 seconds faster per mile, so 10 lbs x 2 seconds x 13.1 miles = Nearly the whole time deficit. Ugh. To top it off, every pound lost also results in 4 pounds less stress on the knees, and mine have recently started complaining after more than 25 years of running. Double ugh.

So it’s time to do something about it. Here’s my plan:

  • Weigh myself every day. Numbers don’t lie!
  • Drink at least 64 oz of water every day (if you recall, one of my New Year’s Resolutions).
  • Almost entirely avoid alcohol (I already started doing this back in November for other reasons, and I feel great. I used to love a big ol’ glass of wine at night, and at first, I missed it – a lot – but now, not at all. And I sleep a lot better).
  • Continue to run, add new types of exercise, including stretching and some basic body weight exercises (think lunges and push ups) every day.
  • Here’s the hardest one for me: Be accountable for portions. Document calories. Budget them. Spend and save where appropriate.

Not really sexy, but it’s sensible. Now please excuse me while I fill up my water bottle.

Strengths

Recently I went to a talk where the speaker asked the audience, “What are your strengths?”

Hmm, off the top of my head, I would say that I have mad skills in a few areas:

  • Unscrambling words. I can kill it in word puzzles. And Boggle.
  • Guessing the weight of surgical specimens. This is obviously a very specific skill, but I can often guess the weight of, say, a fibroid that I’ve removed to the exact gram. And that is a challenge when you have something that weighs 842 grams.
  • Unlocking padlocks. I can feel the mechanism starting to give as I dial. Perhaps I was a safecracker in another life?
  • Navigation, by gut. Ever Patient Spouse would totally disagree on this one, but I think I’ve got an intuitive sense of direction.
  • Finding pieces of beach glass in the sand or locating money on the ground. These are similar but probably link to the word unscrambling above, meaning I can recognize pattern or lack thereof.

But weird little quirks like these weren’t what the speaker was talking about. He was referring to the Gallup StrengthsFinder, which assesses 34 different skill areas, including Focus, Learner, Arranger, Developer and Harmony.

(You can take the test for free here).

Turns out, I am a Maximizer.

The thing that got my attention, though, was when he said that most people take the test and very quickly go to the bottom of the list, checking to see what they’re essentially bad at doing, and then use those areas as a catalyst for improvement.

He suggested to instead do the opposite: Play to your strengths.

This makes sense to me. I could practice singing until I’m half-dead and I’d still sound like a warbling donkey.

But being a contestant on a game show or a carnival barker who guesses peoples’ weight? Sign me up!

One More Thing, #14

Ugh. This No Online Shopping in 2014 Resolution is (figuratively) killing me. 

Last week I fell in love with the most perfect leather tote bag from Stanley and Sons, a smallish brand made in New York.

Here it is:

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The size is generous and the riveted construction is superb. It’s not flashy at all. Truly, it’s perfect.

The bag’s style also has a similar vibe as the world’s best flip-flops, which come from the cool Abejas boutique in Houston.

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I wish I had them in every color!

Golden Girls Luxe

Last week I traveled to Palm Beach, FL, for a work trip and stayed here for six nights.

Besides torrential rains for the first three days and almost being run down by a woman driving a convertible Rolls Royce when I went out for a run, it was a pretty good trip.

The hotel was decorated in what I dubbed “Golden Girls Luxe” style. Think lots and lots of wicker sofas with overstuffed pillows and tchotchkes everywhere. Oh, the tchotchkes! 

At first the style made me recoil, but as the week went on I found myself wistfully longing for beachy decor like this:

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And the hotel came through like a champ in the amenity department. The bathroom was generously stocked with organic red flower products in the awesome “Ocean” scent. A few came home with me.

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This is a DIY spin on beach decor:

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Even I could probably handle this. Sigh. Summer, come quickly!