Meditation Challenge – half way point…

I’m a little over half way through my meditation challenge and so far I feel like this was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time.  Here is a picture of the things I gather when I’m off to go meditate.

Prayer beads

The Book of Awakening

The prayer beads give me something to focus with my fingers because I get fidgety if I sit for too long.  I use each bead as a deep breath until I reach the very end.  There are exactly 108-beads on this prayer necklace that I received from my ‘secret yogi’ Terren when I was going through my yoga teacher training.  I use each chapter of my book to instill a positive thought for the day and its usually something that I try to bring into my personal life.  Not all of the chapters relate to me and my personal life but I still enjoy reading them.

I have been trying to do this practice in the morning before everyone wakes up but if not, I do it when everyone goes to sleep and the house is quiet and still.  I find it difficult to meditate when there are noises or distractions around, but it would be great if I could get past that challenge and be able to meditate even with distractions.   Unfortunately, I got off track a bit and missed a few days here and there, primarily due to a mini vacation I took with my husband but I plan to go a few days into December to make up for the lost days, and hopefully I will continue even longer than that…

Have you attempted to take on this challenge?  If so, I’d love to hear how it has been going for you!

~Namaste~

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Team in Training

This is going to be a short posting because I just wanted to let you all know that I am training for another half marathon but this time around its through Team in Training… I will be raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and would apprectiate your support, any amount helps!

Thank you!
xoxox
Nicole

GO TEAM!

(please click on the link above to donate and follow my running blog)

Santa Clarita Half Marathon – November 6, 2011

Finisher Medal (Bad Picture - taken from my iphone and I happened to be shaking from being wet and cold)

13.1 miles later I finished my half marathon! I ran the Santa Clarita half marathon on Sunday, November 6th. My official time was – 2 hours and 31 minutes. Not too bad for my first race post-baby! It was a cold and rainy Sunday morning in November but I was prepared after months of training. I had all my gear on and I was ready to hit the streets of Santa Clarita. It was a relatively flat course and most of the race took place on paseos which are trails (not streets) in the community. I actually ended up racing with my Mom who didn’t train with me but she is a natural athlete who does primarily triathlons these days so she was able to catch up in her miles and race it with me. I took a few pictures before and after the race with my gear. It was actually a very emotional moment for me to cross the finish line because I remember just a few years ago I wasn’t able to run without awful pain in my hips and knees.  I finished strong but hope to beat my time on my next race.  For those of you who have ran distance, you know that there is nothing like a ‘runners high’.  I felt amazing that whole day in spirit but by the end of the night I was feeling it in my legs and I could barely walk up and down the stairs in my house.  I will take the next few days to do some walking and recover before I begin running again next week.

Start line at SCV half/full marathon approximately 46 degrees and raining

 

Mile 5... and still raining!

 

Mile 10... And we have sun!

 

Mile 12... 1.1 to go!

Here is the training program that I did which started back mid-July…

Week 1: 2 ½ miles

Week 2: 3 ½ miles

Week 3: 4 ½ miles

Week 4: 6 miles

Week 5: 6 miles

Week 6: 7 miles

Week 7: 8 miles

Week 8: 5 miles

Week 9: 9 miles

Week 10: 5 ½ miles

Week 11: 10 miles

Week 12: 5 ½ miles

Week 13: 11 miles

Week 14: 12 miles

Week 15: 3 miles

Week 15: 7 miles

Week 16: ½ Marathon – 13.1 miles

Mid-week I would do 1-2 training runs that varied between 2 and 3 miles each.

Next week I already start my training for the Tinkerbell ½ marathon at Disneyland which takes place on Sunday January 29, 2012. This is a race that I am participating in through Team in Training… (more to come about TNT in future postings) Please visit my fundraising page if you haven’t done so already and donate to the cause… http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/tinkerb12/nhankk

Dressing your plate

Please take these tips as a starter and build off of them…  Additionally I have included some pictures at the end with ideas on how to best plate your meals to make them asthetically pleasing for your family and friends… 

Use the ideas in this list to create balance in your diet, including tips on which foods to eat more often, and which ones to eat less often.

  1. Balance calories:  The first step is to find out how many daily calories you need for a day. The easisest way to do that is to take your current body weight (in pounds), and multiply it by 14-16. For example, a 150lb person would do 150 x 14-16 and get an estimated daily calorie maintenance level of between 2100-2400 calories a day. 
  2. Enjoy your food, but eat less:  Take the time to fully enjoy your food as you eat it. Eating too fast or when your attention is elsewhere may lead to eating too many calories. Sit at your dining table and avoid watching television during mealtimes.  Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues before, during, and after meals.
  3. Avoid oversized portions: Use a smaller plate, bowl, and glass. Portion out foods before you eat.
  4. Foods to eat more often: Eat more vegetables and fruits.  Choose red, orange and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert.  Create  your meals around these foods.  Remember the more color on your plate the better!
  5. Make your grains – whole grains: To eat more whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product—such as eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice.
  6. Foods to eat less often: Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars (including sugar-substitutes), and salt. They include cakes, cookies, ice cream, candies, sweetened drinks, pizza, and fatty meats like ribs, sausages, bacon, and hot dogs. Use these foods as occasional treats, not every day foods.
  7. Drink water instead of sugary drinks: Cut calories by drinking water. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar, and calories, in American diets.  Make sure you drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to help with digestion.  This simple substitution can really make a difference if you are looking to lose weight.

(This list was adapted from the USDA website)

Please find the examples below of some ‘Good’ plated meals:

This meal has lots of bright color and variety!

Over 50% of the plate is vegetables and check out all that color! Beautifully plated meal with lots of color and nutrients 🙂

And here are some examples below of ‘Bad’ plated meals:

Where is the color? And the portion sizes are out of control...No Variety and no color on this plate...

We all know that fried foods are not good for us but this particular meal also doesn't have any color...

Light the Night 2011

As you may already know this, my #1 charity that I work with is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  My brother fought Leukemia at a young age and I remember growing up going to the doctor’s office and battling it as a family.  I’m very fortunate to have him here today but so many others have not had our luck.  So therefore I participate in events like Light the Night and Team in Training to help raise money for research and patient support.  This year I was the corporate team captain for Light the Night at my place of work.  I was in charge of recruiting and motivating people to raise their minimum funds.  For this event the minimums are pretty low ($100.00) but for someone who has never raised money before this can be a challenge.  But the important thing I like to remind people is that the worse thing that can happen if you ask is that they reply with ‘No’.  But also to never give up because while you may ask someone 5 times to donate, on that 5th time they might actually have the money to be able to donate.  These are hard times but we all still need to give back when and where we can…

I wanted to explain what its like to be at a Light the Night event… My mom and I have been going to these over the past few years (last year we missed it due to the birth of my son).  In our local community, people gather at a centrally located park where there are booths with information, items for purchase to help continue the fundraising efforts, a stage with music and entertainment, local vendors, food trucks, and the most memorable part are the balloons.  These are not just any balloons, these balloons have lights in them and they glow in the sky.  It’s a thrilling site to see families, patients, friends, co-workers all walking for the same cause.  The walk itself is only about 2 miles so its great for people of all ages!  I have included some pictures of this years event so you can see just what I tried to describe.

Bode's First Red Balloon

Family Picture at Light the Night

Do you have a particular charity that you like to work with? or maybe a cause that you fight for?  If not, maybe you should think about giving back to others in a way that best fits your personality and life style.  This was my son’s first Light the Night event and I’m proud to include him in these types of charity events.  Maybe one day he’ll encourage me to participate in his favorite charity…

~Namaste~

November Challenge Revealed…

I thought long and hard about this month’s challenge because I wanted it to reflect my lifestyle but incorporate something to help me be a better person.  So I analyzed each of the different challenges and I think I came up with the best challenge for me this month. 

  • 30 days as a vegan – One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving, not only because I get to spend the day with my family but because I get to enjoy my mom’s home cooked meal.  So I knew it would be impossible for me to give up this tradition.  However I will consider this challenge in the spring when there are more fresh produce options and less holidays to interfere with my commitment.
  • 30 days of 100 squats/day – This is a great way to get bikini body ready but I’ll also be in the midst of training for another half marathon and I don’t’ want my sore legs to interfere with my training. 
  • 30 days of 8 or more servings of fruits/vegetables daily – I love this idea especially because it would be fun to get creative with my fruits and vegetables.  Ideas:  Smoothies, fruit and Veggie snacks, salads, Veggie soups, etc…  But I was thinking this challenge is too close to the salad challenge that I just completed in July and I didn’t think the idea was that creative in comparison to some of the other options.
  • 30 days of no bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes – WOW, this would be hard during the holidays… Can you imagine no mashed potatoes or bread on thanksgiving?  I love this idea but I’m not ready to give up these staples for the holidays.  I’ll definitely keep them all in moderation but I can’t deprive myself during the best time of  year!
  • 30 days of no eating out – I love this idea!  My husband and I eat out too much and I’ll bet we  would save a lot of money too if we cooked at home.  Whether my husband likes this or not, I will be attempting this challenge sometime in the spring. 

And the winner is – 30 days of 15 minutes of meditation daily!  I’m really looking forward to this because it’s something that I have always wanted to pursue because the times that I do meditate I feel so much more calm and relaxed and what better time to do it than the holidays?  During the week I will get up an additional 20 minutes before I usually get up to read a chapter from my  book (The Book of Awakening), and then follow it with a 10 minute meditation session.  I have completed both an exercise and a food challenge so this time I have decided to improve on my mind.  If you are interested in participating too, take some time out of your day to get away from your cell phone, desk, television, or any other distraction and reflect on your life.  Use breathing techniques to relax your body and set a timer for 15 minutes.  Close your eyes and meditate for 15 minutes every day in the month of November.

~Namaste~