Thursday, July 26, 2012

Top 10: A Love Letter to Tony Horton

(Note: Please check out my NEW website at Charlene Ignites, LLC.)

Dear Tony,

You recently mentioned that you like Top 10 lists.  Since I strive to bring joy to others whenever possible, I thought I would take this opportunity to share 10 reasons why I love you think you totally rock.

Before you add another restraining order to the "star-crossed lovers" pile, let me assure you that this is strictly fitness inspired.  Nothing creepy.    (Look, I even used a picture of you with your shirt on.  That wasn't easy to find.)


#10) You're not perfect. You fall over.  You go left when you should go right. You put your ears between your, um, yeah.  My entire life has been spent accepting that it's about progress, not perfection. Validation of this is always a good thing.

#9) You are always there for me. All I have to do is push play to see you smiling back at me. You don't judge. You don't laugh when my workout shorts are too tight (again). You never ask, "Where the hell have YOU been??"  I can (literally) just start right back where we left off. 

#8) You were 44 years old once.  I know this because when I did Power90 for the first time in 2003, you told me so.  I only bring it up because I am now 44 and I've been hearing your voice in my head saying, "I'm 44... bring it on, on, on, on, on, on!"  I could do the math to figure out how old you are now but I don't even care.  "I got your aging right here!"  (After-note: I recently did the DVD again and he was 42.  Whatever.)

#7) Your goofy humor makes me happy. I don't care what anyone else says; I truly enjoy all your little witticisms.   I am also known for telling painfully bad awesome jokes, using random funny accents, and sounding like I have Tourettes sharing hilarious quips.  My husband only wishes he had a DVD of my comedy so he wouldn't have to wait for the odd cocktail party to see me in action.

#6) You share my weird eating habits.  Most people are just so darned "judgy" when it comes to food choices.  It is beyond gratifying to meet incredibly fit vegetarians / flexitarians.  I am also thrilled that you started the TH Kitchen.  Not only do I wish you the very best of success but I also love having a link to send people to when they ask (insert goofy accent), "So alls ya eat is vegee-tables?"

#5) You've inspired so many other love affairs. Don't be jealous but I also have fitness crushes Teigh and Gillian. (Goddesses!!)  And Debbie. And Leandro. Oh - I'm not currently speaking to Shaun T.  The pain is still too fresh.

#4) You accept me no matter what. I've never been too fat or too fit to spend time with you. You encourage me to do what I can, as I can. There was a time when I couldn't even get through all the jumping jacks on the very first Power90 video.  Now, sometimes I try to outdo Tony 2 on P90X.  It's all good.

#3) We're actually in a love triangle: Me, You, H2O.   Thanks to you I've discovered the error of my old ways and have become a hydration evangelist.  I even created a chart that includes a place to keep track of fluid intake. "Drink your water people!"  I also love that you want more people to have access to clean drinking water.  I do too.
#2) We've had two children together.  Okay, so you're not the actual father. (Again, not being creepy.)  But, you were totally there to help me lose the 50+ lbs each time.   You motivated me to get healthy at the times in my life when I needed it most.  When everyone else (who secretly wanted me to stay fat) told me, "It's okay, you just had a baby," you told me to "Bring it!"   It was tough love at times but the more I pushed play, the better I felt.

#1) We both love soup. It may seem like a weird thing to prioritize in a relationship, but that's how much I love soup. I love makin' it and I love eatin' it. I just know you do too.

Yours truly,
PS: Since you asked, I'm stirrin' up a pot o' your circa 2008 sweet potato soup!

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Meditation Monday: Let it GO.

WARNING:  Thinking about things at 2:30am makes things feel larger than they really are.

Are you a ruminator? An over-thinker? Have you ever had a hard time falling asleep or focusing on the task at hand because you can't get something else out of your mind?

Yeah, me too.

When this happens to me, it helps me to picture a hand picking up the person or situation (as if a scene in a shoebox) which might be inconveniently occupying my mind. Then, I watch the hand carry it far away.

For example... when a co-worker at a previous job was constantly acting like a jerk creating unnecessary drama, I would lay in bed at night and picture a giant hand with pinched fingers holding him by the back of his pants and carrying him through empty space outside my mind while he kicked and screamed. I know it sounds mean but it helps me to point and laugh.
Instant stress relief. Ahhhhh.

There's also the quantum theory: "What you resist persists."

This says that the more you focus on something, the more of that thing you attract to into your life. Therefore, the worst part about obsessing over stressful thoughts isn't lack of sleep. Those mind treadmills are actually making the negative energy stronger and more prolific. Crazy, I know. But true.

Since then, I've been given two more similar visualizations that I use all the time. 

My friend June says she visualizes sweeping the persistent thought out the door.  She pictures herself opening the door, sweeping her worries away, closing the door and watching it get blown away by the outside wind.

If you're convinced you need to address the situation later but just need a mental break to focus on something else or get some sleep, you can always sweep it into a special room (or padded cell or whatever; it's your head) and lock the door. You can always let it out later.

Life can be stressful. Sometimes we have to be creative in order to get those brain synapses to stop firing in repetitive, non-productive ways.

The other visualization, which may sound gross but also works really well, is to picture flushing especially negative thoughts down the toilet.

Buh-bye crappy thoughts! *pun intended*


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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Healthy, Easy Breakfast (with Pictures!)

We all have that one skinny friend who says really annoying things like, "Sometimes I just completely forget to eat!"

At my age, I forget a lot of things.  Eating is not one of them. 

That said, there are days when I do get food attention deficit disorder (FADD).   Breakfast creates the most common of the FADD occurances.  It's not that I don't think about being hungry or the many hours it will be until my next possible eating opportunity.  It's just that each time I walk into the kitchen to make something, I realise that Spidey has "yellow and purple day" at camp or that Miss M. needs her teeth and/or hair brushed "better than that."  Mornings are just crazy.

Luckily, I stumbled across a quick breakfast that is way healthier than anything I could order via the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru.  Even if I only end up with a few minutes by the time I get to make my own meal, I can do this. 

Here it is:

Start with a ramekin or other small bowl coated with non-stick spray or reasonable alternative.  Cut a pepper into round slices about two inches thick.

Put the pepper into the bowl. 

Crack one whole egg into the center of the pepper plus just the white of a second egg. 

Add additional veggies as desired.  In this picture I've done a few baby tomatoes cut in half but you can use whatever you want. 
Sometimes I dice up the very top of the pepper near the stem and stick that in there.   If I'm really on top of things, I have some pre-prepped veggies in a small zip lock in the fridge all ready to go.

Place the bowl in the microwave with a paper towel underneath and some plastic wrap loosely covering the top.  (I like Press-n-Seal best.)

Cook for 30-seconds.  Stop.  Cook for another 20 to 30 seconds.  Stop.

Continue in 10 to 15 second increments until the egg looks fully cooked.  My microwave is super nuclear-powered or something so I usually only start and stop for another 30 seconds. (In any case, it's less than two minutes total in cooking time.)

If you hear ANY tiny popping noise, STOP.  Let the egg "settle down" before starting again.  Otherwise, you'll be cleaning exploaded egg and veggies out of the far crevices of your microwave as I have done more than once!

Note that there will probably be some bubbling liquid from the pepper even after the egg is fully cooked. 

Also note that the bowl will be VERY hot.  Thus, the paper towel underneath to take the hot bowl out of the microwave; it will also soak up any overspill.

Use a fork to slide the micro-omelet out of the bowl onto a plate.  Season as desired.  In this example, I used salt-free herb seasoning.

Here's what it looks like inside.  I'm still experimenting with cooking times to get a runny yolk.

Here is another one I did with broccoli and a lemon herb seasoning. 

If you have kids who eat eggs, they will love it too!   (My kids will eat the veggies, but not the eggs. They like to torture me.)

This quick, easy breakfast tastes yummy and provides lots of protein and other great nutrition to start the day. 

Broccoli is a great source of calcium and fiber!  Tomatoes and red peppers will give you the antioxidant lycopene!  Both red and yellow peppers have other antioxidants as well and they provide three times as much vitamin C as you would get eating an orange!   

I get way too excited about this stuff.  

The point is to have fun, try different combinations, and enjoy  a healthy, yummy, quick meal!
Bon app├ętit!

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