Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

A few miles at a time reaches a goal April 9, 2017

bikeshoesGarminbottleSometimes our good intentions go….a little unplanned. For instance, I had plans to get up with the sun today, after a rainy, dreary week, to be on the bike trails so I could ride some good miles. However, those good intentions didn’t go as planned because I wrenched my back yesterday and could hardly move by the time I went to bed.

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So I woke up, iced my still hurting back, drank a cup of coffee and watched the beautiful sun rise in the clear, blue sky. And took some Motrin, rub a cream on my lower back and put on my biking clothes. I thought I could ‘just try it.’ If my back hurt too much on the bike, I promised myself I would stop. And instead of the planned 20-30 miles, I set a goal of five. Instead of the bike trail, I stayed closer to home in case it got too uncomfortable.

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You know what? My back felt great! I cruised through a new neighborhood I recently discovered, enjoying the early morning hour that kept the streets fairly quiet. My body felt so good that my Garmin registered 10 miles before I knew it. I decided not to push my luck and headed home. Off the bike, I was pretty sore so I showered, iced my back again, stretched, ran errands, ate lunch….and decided to head back out on the bike because my back was feeling a little better and had felt fine on the bike.

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So I rode another 10 miles. This time was a bit more difficult as the wind had kicked up Rubybikeso it took more energy and effort to get the miles done. But I did it. I got home, stretched my legs and back, iced my back. I relaxed, read some of my current book, talked with friends….and got back on my bike. This time I did stick with five miles! And admittedly, the five miles might have pushed my back a little too much. I’m pretty tight and sore tonight.

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But I’m proud that I was still able to hit my mileage goal. It was a good lesson of breaking down a larger goal into smaller, manageable goals. It was also a good reminder that we need to listen to our body as to what we’re able to do, be happy with what we can accomplish, and not beat ourselves up if we don’t quite hit the original goal.

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I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and accomplished whatever goal you set!

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Fundraiser benefits cancer survivors February 12, 2017

benefitingls_2cIf you’re in metro Detroit and without plans next Saturday, Feb. 18, please join me for a fun event supporting people touched by cancer!

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I’m hosting a “Rock Your Ride” fundraiser to benefit LIVESTRONG’s programs and services that support people with cancer, caregivers, family and friends. The event is at Cyclebar Troy, a new activity that I recently tried and liked (read my blog).

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Not an avid cyclist? Not an avid fitness seeker? Not a problem! Some of my family and friends were a little hesitant to register since they’ve never participated in a cycling/spin class and don’t regularly exercise. That’s okay! The class is for all fitness levels. You ride at your own pace, so if the instructor says to bump up the resistance or pedal faster, you can do that….or not. It’s all within your comfort zone. As long as you’re pedaling, you’re getting a workout! The music is fast and fun, the instructor is high-energy, the lights are low (kind of my favorite part so people can’t really see me!), and you feel awesome afterward. And the best part of this class? You’re helping support programs and services that provide help to cancer survivors, caregivers and others.

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Your $25 cycling/spin class at Cyclebar Troy includes:

  • 50-minute fun, calorie burning cycling/spin class (with great music and people!)
  • LIVESTRONG yellow wristband
  • Cyclebar water bottle
  • Post-class snacks
  • Happy emotions of helping people touched by cancer

Cycling shoes, towel, lockers, hair bands and changing rooms are also available (no additional fee). Feel free to wear yellow and/or black clothing in support of LIVESTRONG!

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The event begins at 11:45am at Cyclebar in Troy. Everyone MUST REGISTER online to guarantee a spot: http://bit.ly/2gTMqzE

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hh_cyclebarNeed some reasons to join me?

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The event benefit LIVESTRONG’s programs and services for people with cancer. The nonprofit offers a wide range of free/low-cost programs and services, including navigation services, fertility assistance, clinical trial matches, public policy advocacy and more. You can read about some of my favorite programs here.

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You’ll get a great workout. Whether you ride hard the entire time, do interval training or stick to your own rhythm, it will be a great workout. The trick with any workout is to always be moving. I admit that I’m usually muscle-burning tired after any Cyclebar class, but it’s a ‘good tired’ feeling, knowing that I burned some mega calories while having fun.

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You’ll hang out with fun people. I mean besides me (ha ha). Several of my family and friends are attending, many who haven’t been to a spin class but are excited to try it out. These people make me smile and laugh on a regular basis so I can’t imagine what laughs will occur during this class. And if you hear someone singing really loud to the great music, um, just ignore that. It’s probably me singing to distract myself from the workout (wink).

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There are some spots left and I’d love to see you there. Don’t forget that advance registration is required – click here to register.

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Hope to see you there and thanks for supporting people touched by cancer!

 

5 ways to motivate yourself to be active January 25, 2017

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I kicked off the new year with a new fitness routine that includes cardio and strength training to get my butt ready for the list of outdoor activities that I want to participate in once the mild weather arrives in Michigan. As much as I like to be active and exercise, even I at times need some motivation. So I like to mix up my routine and activities when I can. Good thing there are so many fun activities to keep me busy!

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While going to the gym provides great exercise for both cardio and weight training, I get bored if I go too much. Plus, I frankly enjoy too many other forms of activities to be a gym rat. If you need a variety of activities to get you moving, consider some that I enjoy:

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Riding indoors!

Indoor bike trainer: I’m anxious to be outdoors riding my bike again, but the weather hasn’t been on my side the past few weeks so I just want to ride my bike. When I mentioned that to my friend, he offered to let me borrow his bike trainer (so nice!). It’s not the same as riding outside but it lets me stay comfortable on my bike, remind my bottom what it feels like to sit on the seat (!), and keep up the cardio. I set it up in my living room near the television so it’s a good excuse to catch up on some shows (hey, whatever works).

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Zumba: I love Zumba! I love the music and dancing. I love seeing the lovely ladies who are also regulars in my class. This class is for any fitness level as you dance to your comfort zone. You don’t need to be super coordinated or a great dancer. You can modify moves as needed (I do at times due to the titanium rod in my leg). I love my Zumba class because the instructors often play music that I can sing along with and the dancing keeps me focused so I forget I’m working out!

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Cyclebar: This fun version of a spin class offers good music, low lights and energetic instructors. While you can get a fairly intense workout, you really ride at your own fitness level and pace. So if the instructor says to ride an entire song out of the seat and you don’t feel like it, then don’t. There are some days that my leg is achy so I might not pedal as fast/hard as others. I’m cool with that since riding at my own pace is still keeping me moving. That’s truly the important part of any physical activity – keep moving!

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Working out with my trainer is fun!

Group workouts: I like working out with others but can’t always find someone to exercise when I can, who will commit to a regular schedule, etc. A local studio gym offers small group fitness classes with a dedicated personal trainer so I decided to participate (good accountability when you register/pay for a class). We meet twice a week to focus on strength training using weights, balls, bands, various exercises, and more. I really like my group’s trainer (she spunky, sweet and shakes up the exercises so it stays fun!), and the other women are motivating and inspiring. We laugh a lot throughout our class. If you don’t have this option of a ‘formal’ group workout, find a few friends who are willing to commit to getting together with you. I suggest agreeing on the number of days per week and the specific days/times you all want to commit to so everyone knows the expectations up front.

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Indoor walking: With the unpredictable winter weather in Michigan, I haven’t been able to walk or bike outside very much (it’s either snowing, sleeting, raining or bitter cold). But I like to walk so decided to check out the local indoor mall. I had no idea so many people walked at the mall! Window shopping is a great distraction (one suggestion: go before the mall opens so you save money!).

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I often have people comment that “it’s nice I have so much time to work out and they wish that they had the time too.” Guess what? I’m just as busy as the next person with work, volunteering, family, social life, and other commitments. But staying healthy is important enough to me that I make being active part of my lifestyle. That’s the trick – once it’s part of your lifestyle, you find the time. My friend gets on her treadmill at 9pm three times a week after her kids are in bed (she also bought a small TV that’s perched in front of the treadmill so she can catch up on shows. Good distraction.). My sister participates in a 5am class twice a week because it’s when she has ‘free time’ (God bless her because there is no way I could get up this early to work out!). I add my Zumba class and now fitness class to my calendar so it blocks off my time and sends me reminders. It’s really easy to make excuses to put off being active and healthy. So stop.

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What activities do you enjoy that keep you moving?

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If want to kick off your exercise routine while helping support people with cancer, join me on Saturday, Feb. 18 for a fundraiser to benefit LIVESTRONG – we’ll be having some fun at Cyclebar in Troy! This cycling/spin class is for all fitness levels (ride at your own pace). Riders receive a LIVESTRONG bracelet, Cyclebar water bottle and snacks. Register today!

 

Back to basics in the new year (5 goals for 2017) December 30, 2016

A few months back a friend talked me into going to see a tarot card reader to find out what’s in store for my future. I had never been to one and admit I had bit of trepidation. What might she tell me?

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Cheers to a new year!

The woman was very welcoming and sweet. She asked what I might want to focus on learning. I really didn’t have a specific focus; mostly wondering if, after making some major life changes in the early year, I was on the right path and what might come in the future, if she could tell. I didn’t admit that I wasn’t sure I really believed these cards could tell about my life…but I was willing to give it a try. At this point in my life, I feel so open to new experiences (one of my new mottos is “bring it on, life.”)! I shuffled the deck and then she started laying out cards on the table. I waited with bated breath while she studied the cards. Then she smiled and said, “Wow you’ve been through a lot, but there so much positive energy and love in your future.” Well how about that? I could have walked out with that bit of refreshing news, but she had more to share. As we talked about the cards’ various meanings, it admittedly was a bit eerie when she commented on things that had happened in my life (health challenges, relationship ending, etc.) that I didn’t tell her (and she had no way of knowing). Then she mentioned things that I’ve been pondering professionally (according to her will be successful!) and house hunting struggles (soon to end!). And the cards indicate my love life will be very full of love, happiness and…… well I’ll keep some of that to myself so I can see how it plays out.

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I know that I am still the person in charge of my present and future, however, it’s nice to have someone say that I’m on the right path. The overall message was to be open and ready for the many positive things that will happen in the new year. I walked out feeling hopeful and excited about my future.

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Whether or not you ‘believe’ in tarot cards and all that, the point is that I liked the message of being open and ready. I am an admitted planner, so often like to plan things. I make lists, schedule things in advance and probably overthink too much. I worry about other people’s feelings, which often time slips into my plans and sometimes even alters what I do in my life (I’ve realized there is a threshold of being too nice). I’ve been learning that I can still focus on my life while being kind, helpful and supportive to others.

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What I’ve really learned in my 40+ years on earth is that not every year, not every moment, will be perfect joy. Not every situation ends in joy. And that’s okay (although it doesn’t always feel okay). We sometimes need those less than stellar moments to guide us into a new version of life and our self. Remember that you’ll make it. Despite sadness, confusion and frustration, there is always hope. That’s at least what I hold onto. There are new chapters to write, new adventures to experience, new people to meet and new moments to heal and fill the heart.

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So that’s what I am bringing into the new year. I’m walking into it with my arms open, ready to live life with laughter, smiles, an open heart and…hope. Lots and lots of hope.

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I usually like to set specific goals for myself each year (shocking from the planner!). This year I want to focus on more simple, yet motivating goals for myself.

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Find what fills your heart with happiness.

Happiness. The quote below from the Dalai Lama is so true. You can’t rely on others to create happiness for you. I believe that life is what you make of it. I don’t always like what happens in life – I didn’t like getting cancer, didn’t like my dad being diagnosed and dying from cancer, didn’t like having a failed marriage, didn’t like the sadness and challenges affecting my family and friends. But through each of these, we all had to pick ourselves up, dust off and move forward. Hopefully with support from others, yet mostly it’s your own decision on how you move forward. With your head high and hope in your heart? I admit that earlier in the year, I was ready to accept that this year would be blah and slow moving as I transitioned. But it really wasn’t. There have been so many times that my heart felt so full of love and happiness that I thought it might burst. Or I’d start crying tears of joy and relief (yes, that happened once or twice). When I recently commented to a friend that I’m touched at the love and joy in my life, she said she wouldn’t expect it any other way because I’m so open to being happy and sharing love that it’s natural those type of people would gravitate to me too. It’s an interesting thought and one I’ll accept because I love and appreciate all of you who bring your own sense of love and joy. Part of creating your own happiness is keeping the ‘right’ people in your life, the ones who reciprocate the time and energy needed to keep a relationship/friendship moving forward, the ones who bring their own joy and happiness so they don’t suck yours away. Simply put, I love being happy and am going to focus on bringing so much more of that to my life, and others, in the new year.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama

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Love. I admit it, I’m a romantic. Not ‘I need a bunch of gifts’ romantic type, but ‘kindness, affection, sweet gestures, remembering things I shared, exploring and creating new memories together’ romantic. Real true love is unselfish, kind and joyous. It makes you feel vulnerable, yet won’t hurt you. It makes you smile at the simplest gestures and words because you know it’s genuine. It’s crazy fun, and simple, relaxing moments together. It’s long talks about life, and quiet compatibility. I have not given up on love. I’ve definitely learned some lessons and my mind is aware. Yet, my heart is open. And while I am opening my heart and arms to romantic love, I’m also wrapping my arms around love in general. Love of family and friends, love of simple things and actions, love of life. As my tarot cards suggested, I’m open and ready to accept love in all forms.

“Love is when he gives you a piece of your soul that you never knew was missing.” ~ Torquato Tasso

“As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

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So many places to explore!

Adventures. I feel like 2017 is a new adventure waiting for me to explore. So I want to be more spontaneous and open to new opportunities. I love traveling. I love to not just travel but explore new places, meet local people and learn new things about locations, cultures and more. Having adventures isn’t just about traveling to new locales, it’s about being open to people, activities, foods, drinks, opportunities and more! But no worries if you haven’t been bitten by the travel bug, adventures are also about stepping out of your comfort zone. Join a social group (check out meetup.com for tons of options in your area), try an activity, learn a language. There’s so much to do and see in the world around us. I don’t plan to sit on my couch while time moves by me. Do you?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ~ Helen Keller

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Health. I’m always slightly obsessed with my health. I guess cancer does that. This is different though. I want to be even healthier and more focused. I want to feel energized and simply feel good as many moments as I can. So what does that mean? I want my body to feel as strong and confident as it did before bone cancer. Okay, I realize that I was 21 when I was diagnosed so feeling 21 in my 40s is probably wishful thinking….my point is that I felt confident and completely sure of myself. I trusted my body. Cancer raised a distrust and then a dip in confidence from the titanium rod in my femur/tibia. I hesitate to try activities because I’m worried I might hurt myself. I don’t plan to throw all caution to the wind in the new year, because I sure as heck won’t jeopardize my leg, but I want to feel confidence when I try new activities or push myself in a current. For instance, I want to bike a few hundred miles on my new road bike and feel confident that I can do it. So I’ll be setting some goals to get healthier and stronger (and maybe reward myself with a cute new outfit).

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“If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?” ~ Steve Jobs

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Hello, you!

Me. It’s always a little odd for me to say I’m going to focus on…me. It kind of feels a little self-centered or selfish, yet what I realized this year is that you sometimes need to be selfish in your ‘me’ time. And it’s not truly being selfish. If you’re not happy and well, then you can’t truly help others. This past year was the first in a long time that I truly stood up for myself, making difficult decisions, having honest conversations and focusing on what I needed. It was at times unnerving and challenging; it was also liberating and stress-relieving. In the end, these were actions that I needed to take so I can live the life that I want and should. I learned how to be an advocate for myself, recognizing that if I can’t stand up for myself, how can I truly help others? I had a very real moment this past spring when I was in my Washington, DC hotel room after cancer advocacy training, networking, and dinner and drinks with new friends – as I mentally reviewed the previous two days of fun, accomplishment and laughter, I suddenly fell back onto the bed, smiling ear to ear and thought, “welcome back, my friend.” Because in that moment, I realized my heart felt so very full and light, laughter bubbled out and I remembered what it felt like to be me. And I had missed just being me. So going forward I’m going to just be me. Because, honestly, who else should I be?

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“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~ Walt Disney

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A dear person in my life told me to make 2017 the best year ever. It is some solid advice that I can grab onto and run with. Ready to join me?

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“The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

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May the sun set on this year and rise high in the new year!

 

Rockin’ my ride at Cyclebar December 26, 2016

hh_cyclebarI love physical activity. I love to push my body so it feels strong and healthy. As a bone cancer survivor, this has been an important lifestyle for me, but I was focused on healthy living long before cancer. I’m always open to trying new activities, especially ones that bring a varying routine to my exercise lineup. While I have to be careful with the rod in my leg, I still find ways to modify and have fun.

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My latest effort is a fun spin/cycling class at the newest Cyclebar location near me. I had never tried a spin class and since I love to bike, I thought this might be a good activity to do while Michigan’s winter is keeping me from biking outdoors. Cyclebar classes offer an energetic opportunity to ride a stationary bike in a cool studio, both cool temp (which soon doesn’t feel that cool once you start the workout!) and cool vibe with colored lights and great music. During one of the songs, you use a lightweight (4- or 6-pounds) bar for some upper body toning. Some locations have big screens to show individual stats or ‘compete’ as a team during a song or two.

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Classes are for any fitness level, and I’m not just saying that (because I know when people say that for some activities, then you try it and are like, “uh, no this is not for a beginner.”). If you can ride a bike, you can participate in the class. Sure, the music is high energy and you will sweat as your thighs burn (isn’t that the point of working out?!), but every instructor points out that you ride at your own pace. And you really should and can. Since I have a titanium rod in my femur and top of the tibia, I can’t power along the entire class as most people do. So I’ve learned to find my own output level that still pushes me but won’t cause stress or pain in my leg. For instance, if the instructor wants you to ride out of the seat (simulating a hill climb on the bike) for the duration of the song, I might do that for 30 seconds, sit on the seat for a few seconds, then back up, rest, etc. As long as I’m pedaling, I’m working out.

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I’ve only been to a few classes but enjoyed every one. I definitely leave feeling happily tired after a great workout. While Melissa or Shawn were my instructors, there are several other instructors who I’ve heard positive feedback. My instructors have been encouraging, funny, energetic and friendly. They provide good tips and suggestions, especially for new people (which end up being good reminders for regulars). As with any activity, you need to find the instructor who you click with and who can support you in giving your best effort (I, for instance, don’t do well with trainers who yell or get in my face. Jillian Michaels and I will never train well together. But everyone reacts differently to behavior and attitude).

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I don’t know that all Cyclebar locations offer these items, but the one that I attend classes at provides:

  • Cycling shoes to wear during class (or you can bring your own cycling shoes to clip in)
  • Water bottle (a red refillable bottle that you can take home!)
  • Towel to use in class
  • Apples and bananas for snacking after class (I love since I always seem to be hungry post-class!)
  • Lockers (with locks)
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Instructor’s bike is easy to see so you can follow along!

I also discovered they have a stash of extra hair ties if you forget yours. There’s also a locker room to change, plus some small toiletries and wet clothing bags.

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The staff is great….my first class was the free intro class so the staff helped us get familiar with the bike and computer (to track your RPM, power output, etc.), adjust seat and handlebars and answer any questions. I’ve since discovered that they’re always willing to help you get set up, chat, whatever you need.

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As with any workout for me, the music matters. I like the high energy, popular songs that I  can sing along to (I do this in Zumba too – great distraction from the achy muscles!). Melissa was helpful in pointing out the beat in many songs so as I pedaled to the beat, it didn’t seem so hard! The location near me offers fun themed classes, including special music (holiday songs, billboard hits, artist specific, etc.), brunch, happy hour and more. It makes for a new, motivating class.

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I find the classes to be a great workout. It’s a fun opportunity to build up your cardio level, burn calories, sweat out tension or any other negative emotion, listen to good music, and…did I mention have fun? Find a Cyclebar near you to get started with a great workout!

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Stay tuned….I’m partnering with Cyclebar in Troy, Mich. to host a fundraiser benefiting LIVESTRONG on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 11:45am. I’ll be posting more details soon but online registration is open if you want to reserve your spot now!

 

Gratitude Project – week 2 February 14, 2016

Week 2  of my Gratitude Project ended yesterday. I’ve discovered a fun part of doing this project is that I have a lot to be grateful for – from my health to my family, friends, coworkers and kind strangers to my education and so much more. I already knew I was fortunate for so much in my life, but this has been a good reminder to enjoy each day and not become a bystander in your own life.

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What are you grateful for today?

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7 tips to kick those winter blues February 4, 2016

Filed under: Life Lessons — Heather @ 4:30 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

If you’re like me, February is about the time of year that I start to get stir crazy in the house and dream of warm, crisp Michigan spring weather when I can start hiking, biking and hanging out on the deck. Although Michigan residents have been VERY fortunate that Mother Nature has looked kindly on us this winter. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to go on walks in January without worrying about the snow/ice. So nice! But it’s still dark outside and often dreary without sunshine.

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So if you’re feeling a little restless as we wait for spring, here are some ideas to beat the winter blues.

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Stock up on good reading material. Whether you like books, magazines, brochures or newsletters, it’s a perfect time make some tea (coffee, beer, wine?) and relax on the couch with some reading material. Winter is my favorite time of year to read books (okay, in truth, ANY time of year is a favorite to read but I do love curling up with a good book and cup of tea in the winter!) because it’s often cold, wet and blah outside – what better time to escape to another world in a good fiction book?

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puzzle HHPut together a puzzle. I used to put together puzzle after puzzle when I was younger and especially during chemo when I had way too much time on my hands feeling icky and blah. I like the challenge of matching pieces to create a cool image. It’s been so long since I put together a puzzle (other than small ones with my nieces and nephew!) that I decided to do just that this winter (see image). I forgot how relaxing it can be to work on one!

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Exercise. You all know I’m a fan of exercise and staying healthy. I find exercising so helpful for me to kick any stress, anxiety or blue moods. Zumba is my favorite cardio but I’ve also recently been regularly practicing yoga, which helps me focus on calmness as well my balance and strength. If the weather is a little too yuck to get outside, I love to dance to my Wii Dance Party and Zumba Fitness video games. You really can sweat and burn calories to these games!

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Make crafts. I love being creative so have been trying my hand at some craft projects (stay tuned for some upcoming blog posts on these!), including making soy candles, dryer balls and more. If being too crafty intimidates you, consider something less intense but just as creative and relaxing. Did you like to color as a child? Me too! And I love to color still as an adult! ‘Adult’ coloring books are popular right now (um, no, adult coloring books aren’t R-rated books but more detailed in the designs). However, I still enjoy good ‘ol fashion children’s coloring books, especially when sitting down with my nieces and nephew. I mean, who doesn’t love a My Little Pony coloring book?

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Hang out with friends and family. Being alone all the time while stuck indoors can be boring and depressing for anyone (I’m a fan of quiet, alone time once in a while but we all need people around us at times). Call up the friends and family who make you happy and can share laughs and good times together.

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Get outside! If you’ve read even a few previous entries on this blog, you know I’m a lover of the outdoors and nature. Fresh air, the sounds of nature, sunshine (don’t forget sunscreen!), and being active are fabulous things to beat the moody blues.

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Check out local indoor adventures. Winter is a perfect time to explore local indoor attractions! Visit your local museum, nature center, aquarium and library. Many of these places also have special exhibits, classes and programs for all ages.

 

 
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