Off The Grid

It’s been 5+ years since I took an entire week’s vacation. I mean a true vacation, not thinking about or doing any work the entire time. I’m doing something a little unconventional (but if you know me, you shouldn’t be that surprised).

Started with 2 Things

Two things that I haven’t done in a   l o n g   t i m e:

  • stopped at a McDonald’s
  • went through the drive thru

I almost forgot how those things worked. Both of them.

I wanted a coffee for my drive to Wintergreen. I wanted it fast so I could get on with my vacation. McDonalds happened to be right there (seems like they’re everywhere, doesn’t it?!).

As much as I despise McDonalds for — well, almost everything, really — I’m actually glad I chose this one. Before your head flies off in sheer amazement, let me explain.

Continue reading “Off The Grid”

CrossFit: Afraid to go back?

This is probably NOT about what you think. It has nothing to do with first-timers, being intimidated, looming doubts after your first class…

It has everything to do with missing a few days, and being afraid to get your @$$ handed to you the next time you walk in that door.

I’m not injured. I didn’t go on vacation. It simply started with the need for a day or two off. A bag of potato chips here… half a pack of Oreos there… less-than-necessary sleep… all combined with general laziness… has made for an interesting 3 days. And by “interesting,” I really mean completely boring & demotivating. Ugh.

Continue reading “CrossFit: Afraid to go back?”

My Drug Is My Love

Ke$ha almost had it right.

—–

Shannon asked me tonight, “What did you eat before you came in tonight?”

A seemingly normal question under most circumstances. However, she asked me this because I was bouncing, jumping, bobbing and weaving all over the place during our warm-up. This is a fairly regular occurrence for me, especially when I’m doing some kind of physical activity, but we’ll come back to that in a minute.

Shannon is not the first to notice my not-so-random bouts of… well, randomness. It also comes in the form of, “What are you on (as in drugs)?” It’s a question I’ve been asked many times over the past 15 years… and today, I answer it.

L.O.V.E.

Baseball

I remember when my club baseball teammates in college asked me this, while I was running all over the outfield collecting batting practice balls. NO ONE enjoys retrieving BP during practice. No one. Except me.

So what was I “on” that made me enjoy that so much? I was high on my love for baseball.

Running

How about when I’m caught violently lip syncing The Spice Girls while running the Vita Course at Byrd Park? Truth be told, I used to have a crush on Sporty Spice, but that’s not why I’m jammin’ out. I LOVE to run, and the sound of “Wannabe” just gets me in the mood.

Sorry I’m not sorry. But who are we kidding? I saw you laughing. You liked it.

CrossFit

So, tonight at CrossFit, once again, I got caught dancing and frolicking around like a tweenage girl who just met One Direction. Guilty as charged. I LOVE CrossFit. Especially when I’ve been semi-injured this past week, and haven’t done a full workout in a while.

My energy, excitement, goofiness, dance moves, lip syncing and pure happiness have nothing to do with the food I eat, the supplements I DON’T take or the drugs I’ve never done. It’s about passion.

When I genuinely love what I’m doing, I’m truly happy. It just so happens, my happiness manifests itself in unique ways.

PS. Happiness does not automatically make you a good dancer. I cannot be held liable for lost dance battles or embarrassing karaoke performances.

But you should totally sing “Wannabe” next time they fire up the jukebox.

PPS. I love a whole lot more than just baseball, running & CrossFit. The list is too big to include here, but we all have things that we love, and none of us get to do them 100% of the time. So… when you do have the opportunity to do them… smile, and embrace the moment 🙂

I’m getting fat & I like it

[sung to the tune of Katy Perry’s 2008 hit single “I Kissed A Girl”]

I had a doctor’s appointment today, and the nurse asked if I knew how much I weighed, or should she put me the scale.

I thought I weighed between 165-170, because I’ve floated in that range for the past 12 years. And I have no reason to believe it would’ve changed… except for CrossFit. And lots and lots of FOOD.

I took everything out of my pockets to get an accurate weigh-in, and shizam. A buck 75.

The nurse couldn’t see the smile on my face, but believe me, my huge grin was no joke. Excited, I blurted out, “That’s 5 pounds more than I thought it’d be.”

Her immediate response was, “Uh oh.”

Oh, but on the contrary my friend. That 5 pounds was a long time coming. It was a hard-earned five. Five pounds of solid muscle, sweat & consistency. Five pounds of squats, cleans and, well, LOTS OF SQUATS (Thanks Trey).

While I’m very proud of the weight I’ve put on, I think there’s a much larger problem with the nurse’s reaction. Her, like many, would automatically assume that adding weight is a bad thing. But that’s such an ignorant assumption.

While 1/3 of our population is now considered overweight, how much a person weighs is completely relative. Weight itself doesn’t even begin to paint a real picture of health.

Many of us would be healthier if we packed on some pounds. And the molecular makeup of those pounds means a great deal. Where we carry those pounds, how quickly/slowly we add them, etc. – all these things are far more important in determining our health than the actual number of how much a person weighs.

All pounds are not created equal.

Even when you’re trying to lose weight – which for some people, is what will help them become more healthy, and is a great first step – even for them, they should not be focusing so much on how much they weigh, and how many pounds they’re losing each week/month.

Creating & maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong journey, and how much you weigh should not be the focus of your story.

So what should you be focusing on?

Body fat, cardiovascular strength, great vitals like resting heart rate & blood pressure, a varied diet filled with vitamins & minerals (regardless of how much fat or calories they contain), lowering stress levels, positive energy, a feeling of community, flexibility & mobility, proprioception (a good sense of where your body is in regards to the world around you), smiling, stimulating conversation, laughter…

Here’s to a few more hard-earned pounds to come.

2014: The Year of the ISTJ

Last year for New Year’s, I wrote an article about how I’ve been Negative Nancy towards the whole idea of New Year’s. I completely forgot about it until I sat down to write something tonight. I’m glad I re-visited it. It’s well worth the read. Check it out first, then come on back for this year’s reflection.

This year, I’ve decided to compile a list. It’s equal parts:

  • things that inspired me in 2013
  • things that you should do some time soon

I named my blog “An Alternate Route” because of the somewhat unique way I approach life. When I finally sat down to reflect on this past year, I realized I did some pretty cool stuff.

I’ve created an intro video. Warning: It’s late at night. I’m tired. I have a tendency to ramble. But hey, video adds emotion to the words on paper, and I’d like to actually say these things, not just write them.

I’m going to talk you through the list below, but if you’d rather read them, feel free to stop the video & just read on. There are links to previous posts I’ve written from this year, as well as shout outs to many friends (and some strangers) who’ve inspired me in 2013.

(Ugh. Photo Booth on Mac screws up the audio. Sorry.)

  1. Try a new hairstyle (inspired by Jo & JenJen)
  2. Say “I don’t know”… about a topic that people expect you to know about.
  3. Do a headstand. Better yet, a handstand. (inspired by CrossFit)
  4. Try a pole dancing class (inspired by Nia, Erin & StudioX)
  5. Say hi to a homeless person. Better yet, put yourself in his/her shoes. (inspired by Hilary & One White Face)
  6. Learn about a food allergy or diet that you’re unfamiliar with (inspired by all the people I’ve taught what it really means to be vegan :-))
  7. Replace one food item for a healthier option (inspired by my sister, Kim)
  8. Add something to your diet with 2 or fewer ingredients
  9. Go to a local farmer’s market. Outside. With actual farmers. And preferably live music. Ellwood Thompson’s & Tom Leonard’s don’t count. (inspired by Molly)
  10. Run a race, triathlon, mud run or obstacle course with a friend. Train with her, too. (inspired by MTT)
  11. Treat yourself to a massage. (inspired by Wil Johnson)
  12. Donate blood (inspired by Virginia Blood Services)
  13. Ride a bike. Somewhere. Anywhere. At least once, just use 2 wheels instead of 4. (inspired by Michelle Higby & friends)
  14. Dress up in costume… for an event where you’ll be the only one in costume. More points the more ridiculous you look. (inspired by Nick, Amy, E$, Bmass, Pugh, Summer & friends)
  15. Go talk to a life coach (inspired by Alix Miller)
  16. Go out on a date with someone you wouldn’t typically go out with. And if you’re already hitched, play matchmaker, and hook up your two “least compatible” friends.
  17. Do something you used to do when you were in middle/high school, but haven’t done since then.
  18. Become a “dog person.” Or “cat person.” Whatever you prefer, just play with some friendly animals. (inspired by Chloe, Parker, Baby Grr, Libbie, Sydney, Otis, Toby & Murphy and so many others)
  19. Take a cold shower, just because. Or take one every day for 30 days. (inspired by Stephen Lackey)
  20. Call a relative that you haven’t spoken to in a while. (inspired by my Grandparents)
  21. Write someone a hand-written note… just because. (inspired by Leah Dieterich)
  22. Let out your inner Zack Brown Band (or Katy Perry or Pitbull). And broadcast it to the world. (inspired by Hilary & One White Face) — You really don’t have to sit through the entire thing. It DOESN’T get any better.
  23. Tell someone the truth… even when you know it’s going to hurt.
  24. Guys: Give one of your guy friends a hug instead of a handshake. Not one of those bro-shakes where you lean in with one shoulder & do the manly back pat with the opposite hand. I’m talking a legit hug. Both hands. Full contact. For at least 3 Mississippis. (inspired by Michael Bumbry)
  25. Ladies: On your next first date, pay for his drink. Don’t take no for an answer. (inspired by my dwindling bank account and pursuit to find a girlfriend)
  26. Summit a mountain at least 3,000 ft above sea level (inspired by Janice Smith)
  27. Start writing. About anything. Just write. (inspired by WordPress & Seth Godin)
  28. Get to know your neighbors. You never know when you’ll get your car stuck in the mud, need a dog-sitter, or when the smile on their face on your way out the door will be just what you need to turn your day around. (inspired by my awesome neighbors)
  29. Cook/bake something… WITHOUT A RECIPE. (inspired by Veganism)
  30. Go after something (or someone) that you really want. And go after it (or her) hard.
  31. Write a haiku. (inspired by Colleen Clark)
  32. Stop cursing so dang much. (inspired by Mariah Carey)
  33. Speak with conviction. (inspired by Taylor Mali)
  34. Reach out to a famous role model/celebrity.
  35. Quit something. And be proud of it. (inspired by my parents, who ironically, also taught me to never give up)
  36. Go to church, regardless of your faith (or lack thereof). (Inspired by James & Jennifer)
  37. Take a personality assessment (Myers Briggs or StrengthsFinder)… and talk to a professional about how your results apply to you.
  38. Create a set of rules to live your life by… and then break one of them.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Or via email, Twitter, Facebook, however you prefer. Please share your stories with me if you should partake in any of these challenges.

GMOs in Larabar, Kashi & Silk?

A good friend of mine—who loves food, especially the healthy variety—attended a nutrition seminar recently. She was told that 3 of my favorites brands (Larabar, Kashi & Silk) oppose the labeling of GMOs in California (aka: Proposition 37).

Since I care about GMOs (and would rather not see them in my food), and those 3 brands comprise a large chunk of my diet… I decided to do some research. Here’s what I found.

  • All Larabar’s have always been Non-GMO
  • All Silk products are Non-GMO
  • 11 of Kashi’s cereals have been verified Non-GMO, but not all of their products are

The Non-GMO Project has a list of brands here that they have verified to have no GMOs. They are not the end-all-be-all of GMO regulation, but they appear to be the largest, most organized group with pretty strict guidelines (in the US).

In terms of Proposition 37, here’s a list of who’s donated money supporting/opposing the California Prop 37 for mandatory labeling of GMOs.

Silk & Larabar each have their own sections on their websites dedicated to Non-GMO ingredients.

Larabar is owned by Small Planet Foods, which is a branch of General Mills (GM), and GM has donated money opposing GMO labeling (12th most of all companies, in terms of total dollars). But all Larabar products are still Non-GMO.

General Mills has a great explanation on their website about GMOs. While I don’t agree with all of it, I do like how they talk about it. And their responsibility page makes me feel pretty good about them as a company. But you should read those pages & make your own judgements.

Silk used to be owned by Dean Foods (who donated money opposing Prop 37), but they are NOT owned by Dean Foods any longer. They are owned by White Wave Foods, who has not donated any money either supporting or opposing labeling. But they definitely support labeling (according to their website), and all their Silk products are Non-GMO.

White Wave Foods used to be a subsidiary of Dean Foods, but in 2012, White Wave Foods went public, and is now operated independently from Dean Foods.

Kashi does appear to be owned by Kellogg Company, however, they do not list Kashi in their brand portfolio on their website. And I could not find any info on GMOs on Kellogg’s website.

“Organic” vs. “Natural”

As a general note, any product that uses the word “Organic” on its packaging, it has to be Non-GMO. However, products can be “Natural” and still contain GMOs. That’s regulated by the FDA. Here’s a good starting point on the FDA’s website that addresses the regulation of “organic” vs. “natural”.

 

If you have any further information to add to this, please include it in the comments below. There are probably a lot more resources out there that I don’t know about, but I’d love to see them.

I’m in a Funk

It’s not a running funk. Or an eating funk. Not an age funk (otherwise often inaccurately labeled a “midlife crisis”). Not even a career funk, otherwise known as the dreaded “What am I doing with my life?” self-doubt questions that happen to all of us at one point or another.

Just a life funk.

Truth be told, today felt like the beginning of the end. But to be honest, I’m not trying to rush through it.

I debated over whether or not to publish this to the world.

“My funk is none of your funking business!”

However, not unlike everything else that I say/do/experience… I thought about my funk. A lot. And while no two funks are the same, I felt the urge to share my experience with you, in hopes that you might take something away from it.

If you’re looking for all the funky details, sorry, but you won’t find them here. I’m not talking about the specifics of my funk.

And if you’re worried about me, please don’t be. I’m fine. Really. But I do love hugs & smiley face emojis, so feel free to send either (or both) my way 🙂

Now that all that’s outta the way…

Funks Happen

Too often, we try to avoid any feelings of negativity, discomfort, fear, sadness, etc. (We’ll refer to these feelings as “a funk” from here on out). It makes sense because it sucks to be down in the dumps. Who wouldn’t rather be happy?

But I think these funks could be useful, and perhaps, even a natural part of life. We can only learn from them if we embrace them. Allow them to happen. Not rush through them. And reflect on the experience as it’s happening.

My Funk

Without going into specifics, I believe my recent funk was caused by a number of different things, all converging on me at the same time. I’ll never know the true cause(s), so I didn’t spend much time thinking about that. Instead, I thought about…

How do you get out of your funk?

I have no idea. Depends on you, and the type of funk you’re in. And sometimes you might just want to let it play out on its own.

One important thing that my funk got me to do…

Break your routine.

Your funk could be caused by any number of different things, or some crazy combination of many things. You might never know exactly what caused it. This makes it difficult to predict what will help you break out of it. Soooo… just try something different.

Take a cold shower. Pick up a basketball & shoot some free throws. Look through your high school yearbook. Call your Grandma. Sign up for a new class. Take a day off from work. Go climb a mountain. Write a recap of your day before you go to bed. Try a new food. … you get the idea.

Maybe your funk is telling you it’s time to change it up.

Get something off your chest.

I’m pretty sure my funk had something to do with some feelings that I kept playing over and over again in my head. I wasn’t talking about them with anyone else. There were no changes or new developments with those feelings, so I kept playing out scenarios in my head. Not healthy.

Tell someone about it. And if there’s another person involved (a close friend, a family member, a romantic interest), tell them. If you can’t talk to them or see them (or perhaps just don’t want to), write it out.

Sometimes you want someone to know how you feel so badly that it can start eating away at you inside. You gotta let it out, man. Worry about the consequences later. And have confidence that the immediate consequence you’ll experience is, “Ahhhh. I’m so glad I got that off my chest.”

Maybe it’s natural to feel what you’re feeling.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) associates 5 elements with different seasons throughout the year. It also uses the Yin/Yang relationship as a guide to explaining inward & outward energy in the world.

Check out the chart below. And before you jump to any conclusions, read on to hear me out.

5 Elements of Nature
5 Elements of Nature. Image courtesy of Chiball.com

Late Summer is associated with worry. It is also associated with transformation & ripening.

Autumn is associated with grief, as well as crying, harvest & collection.

(this chart lists out all the associations)

I reference these two seasons because my funk spanned across both of them. And sure enough, I was filled with worry & grief.

Even more specifically, the grief just hit two days ago. I’ve felt worried over the past few weeks, but just starting this weekend, I was sad all day Saturday & Sunday. When did Autumn officially start? Sunday.

Transformation. Hey, that sounds a lot like change. Yup. Remember that “Break your routine” thing we just talked about?

So what does all this Yin/Yang stuff mean?

That, you’ll have to figure out for yourself. But here’s what it could mean for me.

Late Summer is preparing me for Autumn. I’m going through some changes now, in preparation for some harvest & collection in the Fall. Do I have 3 months of grief coming my way? Perhaps some sad things will occur in-and-around my life, but I can still choose how I respond. Sad things might happen, but because of my recent transformation & ripening, I’ll be better prepared to deal with them.

But this I know for sure, and I mean this with 100% of my being:

It’s OK to worry. There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad. And sometimes crying is the best funk[ing] medicine on the planet.

Maturity comes with experience… and reflection

I think we can all agree that the people whom we feel have a high level of maturity, they also possess a breadth of life experience. It’s a common misconception that the older we get, the more mature we become. Sometimes this is true… and then you meet the 35-year-old who still acts like he’s 17.

No doubt that you have the opportunity to become more mature with the more life experience that you obtain. But what turns this opportunity into reality?

Reflection.

You can possess 50 years of life experience, traveling the world, working many jobs, dating different people, trying new things & exploring different cities… and still be relatively immature. So it’s not the experience alone that creates maturity.

It’s the experience along with the reflection.

It’s not just about the places you’ve traveled. Why did you choose those places? What people or things were there that enticed you to visit? What did you want to achieve while you were there? Who did you meet? What did you talk about? What/Who did you miss when you returned?

It’s not just about the jobs you’ve worked. Why did you apply for the job? What’d you learn while you were there? How can you apply your new skills to other areas of life? Did the job cater to your strengths? Why did you quit? Why were you fired? How did the job affect your mood? Your relationships? Your social life?

It’s not just about the people you’ve dated. What attracted you to them? How did you feel when you were with them? Did you miss them when they were gone? Why/why not? How did they feel about you? How did you handle the uncomfortable situations? Did you communicate well? Often enough? In the same way, or different ways? Why’d you break it off? How did this relationship affect your next one? And was it in a healthy or unhealthy way?

It’s not just about the things you’ve tried. Why were you drawn to that activity? How did it make you feel when you were doing it? Did you do it alone or with a group? Did you do it more than once? 10 times? 100 times? Why/why not? Do you want to turn it into a career? Did you try to get others to do it too? Was it dangerous? Rewarding? Exhilarating? Emotional?

It’s not just about the cities you’ve lived in. How long were you there? What brought you there in the first place? A person? The nightlife? Mountains? Why’d you leave? Why’d you stay? Does the city align with your beliefs & interests? What type of people have you met? Do you find yourself wanting to go back (after you’ve left)? Can you raise a family there? Do you feel at home?

Sense of Urgency

Your reflection needs to happen around the same time you have the experience. The longer you wait, the less valuable the reflection becomes. And if you wait too long, it loses all its value.

You can even reflect during the experience. In fact, I encourage you to reflect before, during AND after. Perhaps the questions you ask yourself before you go aren’t called “reflection,” but they’re still good things to consider. And they’ll help you reflect when you’re in the moment (as opposed to getting so caught up in the moment that you forget why you’re there).

Conclusion

You can live in a place for years and never mature more than a few days worth.

You can date a person for months, and if you’re not honest with yourself, end up coming away less mature than when you started.

Experience + Reflection = Maturity