Opting Out

This year, REI stores will be closed on Black Friday, as they’ve decided to #optoutside. We LOVE this. Not because we have any issue with Black Friday shopping, but companies encouraging folks to get outside and get active is awesome. And a couple of us here decided to join them. So, here are our outdoor plans for the day.


I was an avid participant in Black Friday for years. The local outlet mall opened at midnight (Massachusetts has pretty strict blue laws about who can be open on Thanksgiving, and when). So, we’d head out around 9:00 PM, coffee in hand, sit in traffic, stand in some lines, freeze our butts off, then head to stores that opened later. I’d usually roll into my house around 6:00 AM, and have breakfast.

Breakfast, anyone?

This was breakfast. It’s pie. 


And then I would laze on the couch all day, because I was exhausted. Obviously.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast. There was always tons of laughter, some hysterical, but it was what really kicked off the holidays for me. But, the last few years, I just havent’ wanted to do it. My kids are older, and the things they ask for aren’t usually the things you get great deals on. Plus, my husband does a lot of the holiday shopping in advance.

Last year, I didn’t go out at night, but got up early and hit Target. This year, I’m opting out entirely, and making this my view for at least part of my day, when I head out for a nice walk.


Red Friday?

Red Friday?


If you’re out shopping, I hope you get great deals! If you need me, I’ll be walking off some pie.


While I have never been one for consumerism in general, I do love a good sale. However, I won’t be shopping today. Oh no. But in all honestly, I probably won’t be spending much time in the great outdoors either.

Which pains me to say. I’d much rather be outside than doing what we are doing…

Bathroom remodeling projects.


It has consumed my life (and my house, including my dining room table, living room, basement – ON MY TREADMILL! – and all other flat surfaces) since the beginning of November. Our downstairs full bathroom is nearly complete but since all my dad-in-law’s tools are here, we have decided to tackle the upstairs half bath as well. We even installed a new toilet that we got from toiletable.com.

However I did recently commit to the Real World Run Streak (#RWRUNSTREAK) so I’ll definitely be outside for at least one mile. And my hope is to cajole my boys into raking leaves with me for more outside fun. Fingers crossed!

Leaves, leaves, leaves!

Leaves, leaves, leaves!


However you spend your day, we hope it’s a joyous one! We’re super thankful for all of you. And leftovers.

How are you spending Black Friday? Are you out shopping? Tell us about your deals! And if not, tell us about your day! 

Kid Tested, Mother Approved

There was a time in my life, not so very long ago, when I would have given anything to just have a “normal” body.  I never dreamed of the oh so coveted thigh gap or the pronounced cheek bones; I had sense enough to embrace my size 9 feet and my big bones.  I just didn’t want to be Extra Large.  Why couldn’t I just have one of those metabolisms that lets me eat what I want and maintain a healthy BMI? Judging myself by an index devised in the 1800’s is completely logical, right?  I abused my body and destroyed my self-esteem and it was a tremendous climb back to positive mental health.  When I became a parent, I made it my mission to make sure my children never travel this path.  I don’t ever want them to doubt their worth, not even for one second, because of some stupid standard society has dictated as beautiful or smart or acceptable.

My darling gems.

My darling gems.

My childhood was filled with running and climbing and hiding and seeking.  We built things out of wood and got splinters.  We played catch and picked stickers out of our socks.  We made mud pies and drank from the hose.  We ate carrots straight from the soil and apricots right off the tree. During all this time, I never once thought to worry about my metabolism or my BMI.    I was normal.  

Oh, how the times have changed. Chicken nuggets, computer games, cell phones, youtube, Minecraft…this is the new normal.  It’s normal for an 8 year old to have a cell phone.  It’s normal for kids to have McDonald’s for breakfast.  Normal has been redefined.  This new normal, combined with my daughter’s severe asthma, my son’s hyperactivity, and my history of ADD and depression, makes family exercise not only a priority, but an absolute necessity.

My poor girl after her latest asthma attack.

My poor girl after her latest asthma attack.

Getting my kids to turn off the tablet is no easy task, but explaining all my reasons to a five and eight year old would only cause confusion and/or possible scarring for life. We’ve tried many activities. Some result in constant whining and misery for all involved.  Others they beg to revisit week after week.  So, as dictated by my children, Sophia and Alex, here are our Top 5 Ways to Exercise.


#5 – Organized Sports

The gang was a bit divided on this one.  Sophie’s a big fan of cheerleading and gymnastics but we still haven’t found Alex’s sport yet.  I wasn’t keen on the idea of my daughter getting into cheer initially.  I’ll admit it, I’ve always thought cheerleading to be a bit vapid.  I just don’t understand why sports teams need young girls in short skirts smiling and shouting in unison whilst flashing their undies to everyone.  But Sophie likes it and the instructor promotes strength training and flexibility, making them do push-ups and yoga poses during their warm-up and cool-down.  I’m still coming to terms with it, but I’m trying to be open-minded.  It teaches commitment and responsibility to a team, which, unless Sophie plans on going underground, are great skills for the future.  It’s a little bit expensive, but I consider it an investment in developing essential life skills.

Organized Sports.jpg

#4 – Video Games

Yep, video games can be good for you!  Sophie loves the Wii Fit.  She likes the running and yoga the best.  Occasionally, we’ll bowl together or play tennis.  Alex enjoys to Xbox Kinect because he gets to pretend to use a lightsaber.  For the record, his actual response was “lightsaber fights”.  Also, you can pretend box.  This is great for relieving family tension.  My personal favorite is the dance game.  I don’t know what it’s called, but I’m perfect on the easy setting.  Video games give the illusion of gaming but it’s really good exercise.  Like when you blend carrots in with your spaghetti sauce.

2013-10-17 22.05.17

#3 – Hiking

My kids love nature and every couple weeks, we try to go on an adventure.  Sometimes it’s the local trail, Sycamore Canyon, where we scan for foxes and coyotes.  Or if we’re feeling more social, we head over to Mt. Rubidoux to climb our way to the cross at the very top.  We’ll venture over to University of Riverside’s Botanical Gardens or we might just walk to the park down the street.  Taking the time to enjoy the bits of nature in our concrete suburbia always turns into a learning experience.


#2 – Swimming

Living in Southern California is definitely a factor when it comes to this activity.  We can swim pretty much 9 months out of the year and when my  grandma belongs to the golf club down the street and can get us into the heated pool, the likelihood of us using said pool skyrockets.  I have two little fish.  They’ll swim anywhere, anytime: the beach, the pool, the front yard sprinklers, the fountain at Starbucks…if it’s even the least bit warm out, my kids are in their suits.  We spent this summer at a local water park and pool.  It was the best $120 I’ve ever spent.  Not only were they occupied all day during summer break, but they were exhausted when they got home.  Which means they slept well.  Which means I slept well.


#1 – Trampolines

By far, the activity that they beg and beg for is to go to Sky Zone.  Located in a warehouse, Sky Zone is a big room filled with trampolines.  You purchase time on the tramps and you just jump.  The first time we went, we purchased an hour and by the end of our time, we were pooped out.  There are different sizes and shapes, and some fully enclosed for dodge ball tournaments.  They have a pit of foam blocks that people can dive into, which my kids like the best.  I did it once but trying to climb out of the pit zapped my energy like no other.  They even offer a fitness class.  It’s stunning that something so easy as jumping on a trampoline can work your body so hard.  Trampolines are no joke.  


There you have it, Sophie and Alex’s Top 5 Ways to Exercise.  My children are fairly adamant that these activities will be loved by all your families and that you all try them.  (That was verbatim, btw).  Reject those unrealistic standards and normalize being unique.  Make family fitness the new normal.

Kids Will Be Kids: Inspiring and Motivating

Pooks is at the stage in his running career when as soon as a race ends, he immediately asks “When is my next race?” Which is awesome because that enthusiasm is beautiful at age 8… and at age 36.


After this past Sunday’s 5k with Jay, he’s ready for the next race and wants to know what we have on the agenda. He’s actually signed up the runDisney Kids Run next month during Wine and Dine. (We’re surprising the kids with this trip so shhhh, don’t tell!)

Now, I’ll also say this. While he’s runs with gusto, he’s not extremely fast.  He’s not winning any age group awards.


He’s racing because he enjoys spending time with his parents.

He’s racing because he has that enthusiasm for running that doesn’t come with the love of winning, but with the pure love of moving.

Pooks is one of those kids in constant motion and has been since he was a baby. He might not be the best, he might not be winning any tangible prizes or medals, but he’s doing his best. The Cub Scouts motto is “Do your best” and it’s one that we try to foster within our household. Note that doesn’t say “Be the best”… it says do your best. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes better.

I’ve said to before but for the people who are new to this blog (or don’t keep track of my every move), I didn’t start running until two years ago. I run for myself but the fact that my kids are watching me certainly motivates me to keep going. These little people that we created are watching our every move. They look to us for guidance in every aspect of their lives at this point and that is priceless.

I want to do right by them.

And while I’m sidelined by my own injury, I still want to encourage their love for motion. I want them to have fun while exercising and it needs to have some glimmer of fun for me, too. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. And they probably wouldn’t either.

What is absolutely fantastic is that when Pooks gets home from a race, Little immediately wants to have a race of his own. Complete with a bib.

This "race" was four laps around the yard. The finish line was my husband and myself holding a ribbon for him to run through.

This “race” was four laps around the yard. The finish line was my husband and myself holding a ribbon for him to run through.

A few months ago, bamagirlruns posted videos on Instagram of her husband doing workouts with her children and what looked like all the kids of their neighborhood as well. Inspired by this, my kids and I took our yard for our own workouts.

Getting planky with it. Notice that Little makes the downward dog modification to his.

Getting planky with it. Notice that Little makes the downward dog modification.

We have stations in the corners of the yard, some at my suggestion and some at theirs and we run from corner to corner. My Little has Autism and is very selective on what foods he will eat (white and orange foods). While I have very little control over that, he’s always down for a good frolic in the yard!

Right now the boys have gym class once a week in school. New Jersey requires physical education throughout all years of schooling but the short amount of time they have at school for active play isn’t enough. So we supplement at home and thankfully my boys are willing participants.

I’m not concerned so much with their form at this point, that will come with time. Right now, they’re out there, they’re having fun, and they’re moving!

Bear crawls and crab walks are among their favorites.

Bear crawls and crab walks are among their favorites.

Fall is always our “busy” season. Actually, so are winter, spring and summer. But fall is when things really seem to get crazy. We’ve got school, homework, after school activities, Cub Scouts, piano lessons, etc etc etc. Setting aside 10-20 minutes a day to getting moving with my boys is something I look forward to because it’s ours and because I love seeing them turn to me with expectant looks on their faces, asking, What’s next?

What are some family activities you do together? How did you find the love of running (or swimming, or cycling)? Any ideas for fun “stations” for the kids? (I saw a friend used a game spinner the other day during her workout and I’m definitely thinking that’s something I’ll have to incorporate.)


I am an anxious person. The question “what’s the worst that could happen?” is not a rhetorical one for me. It is a challenge. What’s the worst that could happen, you ask? Let me tell you, because my insane brain has already formulated about forty different scenarios that could go down.

Also, you just jinxed us.

Anxiety has been my near-constant companion and worst enemy for most of my life. Without getting long-winded about it – this is a health and fitness blog, not my personal diary, I get it – I have tried it all: therapy, medication, wringing my hands, rocking in a corner. And while all of these things worked, some much better than others (don’t really recommend the last two), there’s one thing that always nips my anxiety in the bud.

It’s a little thing called yoga, my friends. Yes, while I’m harnessing my chi I’m also wrangling my anxiety. I can’t hear you over all of my deep breathing and namaste-ing, scary thoughts!

There’s a long list of studies that back up my anecdotal evidence, too. Just Google “anxiety and exercise” and pages upon pages of articles will pop up citing the short- and long-term benefits of exercise in those of us that are prone to it.

While running calms me (woo, endorphins!), there’s something special about yoga that gets to the root of my anxiety, those little tendrils of worry that burrow into every-day life, and digs them out.

Maybe it’s the purpose with which you have to practice the poses, how everything is slowed down. Maybe it’s that yoga gently forces you to go inward instead of looking out at the world, which can be admittedly pretty scary and weird, especially in San Francisco. Maybe it’s all of those gorgeous words that describe the different poses, the mantras like the previously mentioned namaste, like shanti and om, a chant that is said to be the sound of the universe.

Cool, right? How could I not be completely chill after an hour and a half of all that?

Yoga was the one fitness routine I did religiously while I was pregnant. Not only was it the one form of exercise that didn’t send my heart rate skyrocketing into the atmosphere, it also made me feel more positively connected to my body and mind, which in turn made me feel more connected to the little person growing inside of me. As hokey as it sounds, it made me realize what a freaking rock star my body was, to be doing all of that work.

For all the anxiety I put myself through during my pregnancy and for those moments now when fear rears its ugly head, a calming reality check is just a short walk away to my neighborhood yoga studio.

So hey, while I’m sitting here thinking of the worst that could happen, I might as well do it in the lotus pose.

Do you practice yoga? Or is there another exercise that helps you get mellow? Tell me in the comments!