Don't sabotage your diet with these 'healthy foods'

You could be under the impression that you are eating healthfully, and you very well could be, but the truth is if you are overdoing it on even the most nutritious of foods you could still wind up not hitting your particular weight goals. Now, I'm a believer that if you are a regularly active person you can get away with eating certain things sans guilt (I'm not going to lie...I've been know to down my fair share of Ben & Jerry's Phish Foods pints!) and when you are putting in some serious miles you have to in order to just maintain your weight; but even then it's smart to stick to an overall healthy diet to fuel your body properly. Yet many people are looking to lose weight, or at least maintain, and there are some foods that could end up packing in loads more calories than you may think. They have merited a reputation as being diet staples but upon closer examination many people would be shocked at their nutritional stats.

1) Assuming a just because the word salad is there it is the healthiest choice. Did you know it is not uncommon for many of the salads comprising a restaurant's menu are over 1,000 calories? Think of some of the choices at Outback or The Cheesecake Factory; and even at McDonald's if you were to order some of the salad options you could wind up eating more fat and calories than if you had ordered a regular hamburger. The truth is, yes lettuce and vegetables are naturally low in calories but when you take into account the extras and salad dressing that is where you get these astronomical figures. Things like cheese, croutons, almonds, and even bacon is where a salad turns into a dieter's disaster. Just be aware of what is on your order; opt for extra veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots and get leaner protein sources like grilled chicken or eggs, and then ask for your dressing on the side so that you can control just how much gets put on.

2) Think twice before chugging that smoothie. Yes, fruit is very healthy for us and we should look for ways to sneak it into our diets; but when they are blended up into a drink they are going to usually pack in a lot more calories and sugar that you may think. A regular Orange Dream Machine at Jamba Juice is going to come in at 520 calories and if you were to go with the regular Peanut Butter Moo'd you'd get 840 calories! Another thing with drinking your calories is that your stomach doesn't register liquids the same way it does actual food so you won't be as full after drinking these and will generally wind up eating the same amount later at your meals as you would regardless of if you had drunk that smoothie. Now smoothies do have their place, and if you are in a hurry and need an on the go breakfast you can make them healthier on your own. Pick some of your favorite fruits, add some low fat yogurt, and you can even pack in some ice to 'bulk' it up.

3) Guiltlessly downing that dried fruit. Now here we again come to what seems like an excellent way to pack in some fruits for the day; but the problem here is that one great thing about fruits is that they contain both water and fiber that fills us up. When you dehydrate them the water is lost and the sugar that they contain then is more concentrated; so while dried fruit does still offer some key nutrients you will wind up eating more calories for a smaller serving size. Now, just for comparison if you were to eat one cup of grapes that would come in at around 60 calories; but should you instead eat a cup of raisins you would then be eating just over 490 calories...that's a big difference. You will feel much fuller and then naturally eat less when you go for real fruit.

4) Think again about granola.
How many of us think of granola as an all around healthy food? Many people do, and it is delicious and it does offer its own benefits like vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber; but that is when it is made a certain way. Today it usually will come coated in extra sugar and that makes it quite calorie dense. A typical serving of granola is only 1/2 a cup (and if you are like me that is a pretty paltry amount!) and the more basic varieties will be about 200 calories for that serving. If you then add in dried fruit, nuts, and even chocolate goodies you are going to get higher stats. Granola is delicious and it can be good in moderation if you seek out a brand that doesn't go overboard with all the processed oils and sugars...just look at the nutritional stats and the ingredients list.

5) Going nuts on nuts. Yes, nuts are actually considered a 'healthy' fat; the majority of their fat content comes from heart healthy fats that promote good cholesterol levels and are of the unsaturated variety. Still, that doesn't take away from the fact that they are high in calories and it is then your portion size that you need to be conscious of. Just one ounce of almonds, which works out to be about 24 of the little guys, is 170 calories and that can add up fast. So just make sure you don't go nut wild and you can get the benefits of a healthy heart without negating that with an expanded waist line.

It's possible to incorporate all of your favorite foods into a healthy diet and the key is just balance and moderation. If you are informed of what you're putting into your mouth you can make the best decision based on your own fitness and health goals. There are so many food myths and crazy misconceptions that it's a shame many people feel utterly asea about what may or may not be good for them. Be sure to check out some of the best foods to keep you energized and come back later for more food related news. Until then I hope your workouts are going great, you're refueling right, and if you're busting that sweat don't feel bad if you do indulge in a treat or two! :)

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Injured? Sore and achy? Your shoes may be to blame.

A common mistake people make when they are working out is wearing the incorrect kind of footwear. Whether it be that they are just unaware of it, figure it doesn't make that much of a difference, or (and I have been guilt of this in the past!) they are looking to cut back on expenses and don't want to invest in a new pair of running shoes. But the truth is, if you aren't wearing the right kind of shoes you are drastically increasing your chances for getting injured; and even if you don't wind up injured enough to warrant taking time of you could be left with nagging sorenesses, tightnesses, and aching joints. What's also interesting is that many common ailments aren't necessarily directly around the foot or ankle; because of different running gaits and the other movements you undertake during your particular activities of choice it can be surprising to learn that a strained hip flexor or even serious back problems are tied to the shoes on your feet.

That being said, the first thing you need to know when you are getting the proper shoes for working out is your foot type. Once you've determined whether you are an overpronator, supinator, or neutral foot type you then can shop accordingly. Now once you've found the perfect pair of running shoes the next thing you have to do is put a life term on those kicks; an average shoe should last about 500 miles. That can work out to being two months or up to six depending on how many miles you run a week, so take a trip back to elementary school and do a little mathematics. :) That is just a rough estimate and again everyone is different; some people land particularly hard on their heels or forefoot so if you notice that the treads are wearing thin (usually running shoes have a black or darker colored bottom, if you start to see the lighter shades under that top layer it's time to lay those shoes to rest) then you may have to get a new pair even sooner.

Making sure to get a new pair of shoes can be something that slips peoples' minds, so if you keep a training log it can be helpful to write in the date you purchased a new pair as a reminder. It is surprising how you can sometimes 'feel' that you need a new pair of shoes; you may notice a tight Achilles, your knees are sore, or you could start having a flare up of shin splints. When these things start to occur people sometimes look to other forms of treatment (which is always smart to do in addition) when in fact they could have solved the problem with a simple shoe change.

Finally, another tip is to actually buy two pairs of running shoes and then alternate between the two. This actually will prolong the life of each shoe; both a cost effective and smart way to stave off an injury. I know that some people take to their workouts or go running in the wrong pair of shoes just because they don't know any better...but I cringe when I see someone running in a pair of converse (and I've seen others sporting jeans!) and think it must be something akin to what your dentist would think if he knew you were brushing with your finger. ;)

So be smart, diagnose your foot type, get the right pair of shoes, then keep tabs on those shoes and be ready to send them to the grave when it's time. You can actually be eco-friendly and recycle them; Nike stores usually have a bin for you to toss your old running shoes into in one of their Reuse-a-Shoe bins which is a neat program that will grind down the shoes and then reuse them to build tracks, playground equipment, and other neat things.

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The no gym membership required workout

The state of the economy is tough on everyone. We are all copiously scouring our expenses looking for ways to cut back and save money. Unfortunately, one of the first things to go are the gym memberships and personal training sessions. But that doesn’t mean you have to toss your exercise routine out the window too. There are plenty of moves you can do with little or no gym equipment that will still give you all the benefits your costly membership once did!

This workout will combine quick bursts of cardio to get your heart rate up in the right target zone and then incorporate strength moves to get you lean and toned. The best part is you can do this routine virtually anywhere, even while catching up on your favorite TV shows!

* Jog in place for 5 minutes—it’s always best to warm-up into any routine
* 15 push-ups—drop on the floor and pump these out without a break
* 15 chair dips—keeping the momentum, place your hands on a stationary chair or chair step and extend your feet in front of you; lower yourself until your arms are bent at the elbow at 90 degrees and parallel to the floor, and then raise yourself back up until your arms are straight
* Jump rope for 5 minutes—if you don’t have a rope, just jump in place keeping your heart pumping
* 30 lunges—hands on hips and feet together, extend your right leg and drop into a deep lunge until your left knee is almost touching the floor and then push yourself back to the starting position and repeat with your left leg in front. Do 15 on each leg for a total of 30 lunges
* 15 bicep curls—grabbing either 5 or 10 pound weights, or you can get creative and use filled water bottles or even canned goods; as long as you feel the burn my the last few
* Stair stepping for 5 minutes—finding either a step or raised surface alternate stepping your feet one at a time up onto the stair and then down; you will stay in the same place, but with one foot on the stair and the other under you as you quickly switch the positions of your feet
* 15 squats—squat down low and work to keep your weight balanced on your heels
* 15 upright rows—grabbing your weights or water bottles stand with your feet shoulder width apart and arms hanging in front of your hips; pull your arms upward in front of your torso until your upper arms are at shoulder height and bent at the elbow. Lower your arms and repeat.
* Scissor step for 5 minutes—place your hands and feet on the floor and bend at the waist so that your bottom is toward the ceiling. Alternate hopping your right foot forward and then switch positions so that your left leg jumps forward as your right goes back
* 30 second plank—placing yourself in the push-up position, hold yourself up concentrating on pulling your abs in and keeping your back straight
* 30 crunches
* 5 minutes sideways hops—facing forward with your feet together jump first to the right and then the left; keep yourself working and sweating!
* 15 side arm raises—with a weight in each hand and your arms at your side, keep your arms straight and lift them until they are shoulder height and parallel with the ground. Lower your arms and repeat.
* 30 front punches—with the same weights alternate punching one arm in front of you and then the other for a total of 15 punches on each side.
* 5 minutes running in place—gradually work yourself into a cool-down

You’ve just done a perfect total body workout while getting your pulse moving and lungs working. The strength moves will help build muscle and the combined cardio will help you torch calories, and the best part is you didn’t have to spend a penny!

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Stop making 'workout' a bad is supposed to be fun!
it is sad that it seems like the majority of people are unsatisfied with their bodies and this is showing up in an ever earlier age. little girls with pigtails shouldn't be worried about a belly pouch for goodness sake! but that's the truth and it sticks with these girls, and boys too for that matter, until they are adults who are concerned not only with the belly but the gut, thighs, jiggly arms and more. at a time when so many people are in fact overweight or obese there does need to be action to get them to slim down but at the same time it is a delicate situation to bring up. this is especially true for youngsters growing up as you don't want to touch on an already hypersensitive subject.

it is a fact that being involved in sports and being active naturally bolsters children's self-esteem and promotes a more healthy body image regardless of the person's actual size. there is a degree of confidence in achieving various fitness goals and that parlays into other areas of one's life; this is true whether you are one or one hundred and thus adults can take this to heart as's never too late to become fitness fan. sadly today so many kids are lacking in this area; whether it be there aren't any organized teams, the school programs are cut, or parents are too busy, today's children are missing out on a chance to get active and it is doing more than making them plumper it is also setting them up for lower self-esteem and poor body image.

you will naturally lose weight and feel better through exercise and getting kids involved and moving around is the perfect way to get fit (and doing it as a family is even better!) but you don't necessarily ever need to broach the topic directly. when i was growing up my parents encouraged me to be in sports throughout the year and they came out and cheered (but not in the overly pushy manner) and i loved being with my friends. i didn't consciously know i was 'working out' but instead just having a good time...and that's what exercise should be. having the family go out on a walk together after dinner was the perfect guise my parents had if they noticed we had all overindulged the last week on vacation hitting the buffets in Las Vegas, but they never said that outright. growing up my parents didn't talk of diets, having to lose X number of pounds, and i didn't even know what a calorie was until i was in 8th grade. i think what is hard today is that exercise is viewed as a loathsome task and only a means to lose weight when instead it should be something you want to do and take pleasure in.

putting the fun back in working out and being physical is something instrumental in helping us fight the battle of the bulge. don't focus so much on doing it to fit into that bikini but instead to be healthy both mentally and physically, a chance to find a sport your enjoy, and then passing that on to the younger generations. get those kids involved and if there aren't sports team in your area take the whole family out to the park for a game of soccer, go out for a bike, or sign up for an upcoming local race. this will spur a little competitive spirit as well and works as excellent motivation to stick with it. with summer just around the corner getting outside and enjoying the beautiful day while breaking a sweat is an excellent way to kick off a new appreciate of fitness.

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Workout and lose weight even with bad knees, hips, and achy joints
Q: What kind of cardio can I do to lose weight without hurting my joints? I have bad knee's and hips, and want to lose weight, but I'm kind of scared to do anything because I'm afraid to hurt my knees.

A: Ahh, yes, it is tough when we are plagued with bodily ailments that may hinder our exercise routines and activities of choice. Being a runner myself this is something you are always sort of riding a fine line along; you have to do enough training to increase fitness but at the same time you don't want to do too much and wind up hurt. Running in particular is very hard on the body and for every footstep the amount of pressure put on your joints is multiple times that of your body weight (don't quote me but I've heard studies say it is upwards of four times your weight) so that is quite a toll on the old knees, shins, ankles, etc. Still, that by no means dictates that you still can't get in an effective workout even if you are predisposed to achy knees or joints who put up a fight; you just need to reduce the amount impact of your fitness fix of choice.

Swimming is perhaps the lowest impact activity around due to the near lack of gravity;
this is why swimming or aqua aerobics is often the go to of choice for people as they age, are just starting on a fitness routine, and even those who have an injury that disables them from land activities but they still want to retain fitness. Don't think that traditional swimming strokes are your only pool options either as more and more places are offering various aqua aerobics classes which can incorporated different apparatuses such as ankle weights, kick boards, paddles, etc. With weights you can add more resistance to strengthen your muscles and make the exercises more difficult. Runners will often take to the pool if they are injured, or for cross training, for what it known as aqua-jogging and there are specific aqua-jogging vests and belts for just that. Running in the water will then eliminate the majority of the impact and you just cycle through the same motions you would outside but in the pool; you try to keep your upperbody tall (the vest helps with this) and aim to get a full stride motion with your legs.

If you aren't a fan of the pool there are other low impact cardio activities such as biking, the rowing machine, as well as the elliptical machine. Biking is generally fairly easy on the joints...perhaps not your bum though! Impact sports are not necessarily bad; in fact to a certain degree they do in fact attribute to building strong bone health but at the same time there is a point of too much of a good thing. For that, you should vary your activities not only to stave off injuries but also because different stressors on your muscles and cardiovascular system will progress your fitness level. If you were to continually do the same thing, over time your body actually adapts so that it isn't working as hard and you will get stuck in a fitness rut.

So for those with knees, ankles, hips, and other points of your body who start to scream when you walk, run, or are out on the court you can still get fit with cardio activities that reduce the stress and the impact on these regions. You can then apply the same interval training methods there and blast calories and get yourself in great shape.

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Don't have 60 minutes to sweat? Don't fret! It's all about the effort.
There has been a lot of talk lately about a new study that was done and documented in the Journal of the American Medical Association's March issue that alerted women that in order to simply maintain their weight as they age they need to engage in at least an hour of exercise each and every day. Now for me that seems like no problem but that's just because I thoroughly enjoy busting a sweat; however for perhaps the majority of the populous that amount of time not only seems unappealing but also impracticable due to busy schedules. What I feel is worth pointing out is that what these so called studies usually include for 'exercise' includes household chores (think vacuuming, heavy cleaning, etc.) and even the walks you may take to and from the parking lot. If you were to add all of that up I'm sure you could find the necessary hour's quota.

Now I'm not saying it isn't worth opting for the stairs over the elevator for the sake of sneaking in a little extra, however ,if you want to be a more fit individual those kinds of moderate activities aren't going to do the trick. No amount of folding laundry will grant you a six pack! So then if you are pressed for time but still want to get in a training session you don't necessarily have to carve out a full hour but you can instead up the intensity. If you workout at a higher level you can in fact not only burn more calories than the person who say vacuumed or walked up a few stairs did but you will reap more rewards in terms of your own cardiovascular and muscular fitness as well. So how can you do this?

The answer is simple but it will include a little more discomfort; you just have to bite the bullet and push yourself a little harder but for a shorter amount of time. You don't have to go out there and kill yourself but for the harder efforts you should be breathing hard and on a scale of one to ten you should be at around an eight. It has been proven time and time again that interval training, which I have done multiple posts on before, (and here is one for those just starting out and want to ease into it!) is perhaps the best possible way to cram in a shorter workout but maximize your benefits. What this would entail is bouts of harder exertions followed by those of an active recovery where you are giving yourself a chance to regroup before the next interval.

I've done this training lately on the Krankcycle; I'm not able to workout as long on this machine compared to what I was able to run (my arms are pathetically weak compared to my legs! Now, they are gaining strength and I've increased my time but I still have a ways to go!) so what I do is I make the most of the minutes I am on it. There are a plethora of variations you can take on interval training by mixing up how long you go and the length of recovery. You can also do a sort of 'tempo' effort which is where you go at the same harder effort you would in an interval but you sustain it in one effort for longer (say 15 minutes) without rest; this would be done after warm-up period.

The basics of interval training can be as easy and doing one minute of a hard effort followed by one minute of an active recovery (if you're running this would be a slow jog; you just want to keep moving so the blood's flowing) and then you repeat. Intervals can be done an any kind of cardio machine or activity so long as you get your heart rate up for the hard parts. You can then get in a far better workout in the span of 30 minutes (warm-up and cool-down included!) than others who may have kept up a moderate pace for an hour. What's better is you'll be off and about the rest of your day sooner!

Sample Interval Session:

5 minutes warm-up (on a scale of one to ten of exertion you should feel about a 6-7)

1 minute hard interval (should be done at a level of an 8; you should be breathing hard!)
1 minutes active recovery (keep moving just enough to stay active but allow yourself to recover; it should feel very easy)

You then repeat the previous two minutes ten times for a total of 20 minutes

5 minutes cool-down
(this can be relaxed and the purpose is to flush out the lactic acid that built up; ideally if you have a few extra minutes to workout you'd add some time to your warm-up and cool-down.)

The great thing about intervals is it all hinges on your own abilities and perceived effort; you are only 'competing' against yourself. As you gain fitness you will then be able to go faster or cover more distance (or achieve more RPMs) but the intensity will feel the same; the improvements will motivate you to keep coming back for more and what's better is you will be infinitely more fit than any vacuumer! ;)

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Picture crossing that finish line to keep pushing when you feel you have nothing left to give
the power of visualization and picturing yourself achieving your goals is something that i believe is quite remarkable at keeping you motivated to continuing on the path to reaching your dreams when things get tough or tedious. this is something i've not only heard plenty of successful individuals preach about but have experienced first hand as well. growing up i was always one with an active imagination (yes i had an imaginary friend 'hockey' who must have been quite a klutz being that he broke so many things!) and at a point when my daydreams turned from purely fantasy to perhaps things i envisioned myself achieving i continued on picturing me in the 'future' accomplishing what i set out to do or drawing encouragement from what i envisioned others having done and wanting to follow suit.

when i started competing in track and other running races i found this is something very common and in fact an integral part of training is in mental; you do have to come to the line with a certain degree of confidence in your own training and abilities or you take yourself out of the race before you even start. another aspect is that racing hurts...there is no two ways about it and when that burn does set in one of the best ways to keep pushing onward is to think about how great you will feel at the end should you achieve what you set out to do. this is true in nearly any other parallel; when things start to pile up and you are at the point of breaking what separates those who keep going from those who give up or at least give in and settle? yes, a part of it comes down to natural ability and even luck but a major factor is how much you believe in yourself and that will bring with it a certain amount of fortitude to keep working, keep digging deeper to bring that dream, that vision, to reality.

yes, it doesn't always happen; plenty of people line up in the same race and they all want to win, they all believe they have a shot but of course only one person will cross the line first. yet even though plenty more people may fail at winning that particular race if they continue to have faith in their cause, to still feel the hunger, the desire to pursue their own victories they will put their nose back to the grinding stone and have the courage to come back next time with an equal, or even greater, amount of belief and try again. and even if they didn't win perhaps that wasn't their goal; maybe it was a certain time they had set out to beat and they very well could have done that.

we all have races in our lives and some of them we can choose to enter in, the ones that mean the most to us, or instead dissuade ourselves from doing so because we don't believe it could ever happen. yet people who imagine themselves conquering those goals and picturing what 'could be,' have in my opinion a far greater shot in at least making it to the starting line of the race instead of passing up on it for the fact that it may seem too daunting and the chance of failure too great. and to keep on running and outlast the competition you must have an equal amount of imagination because continuing on in pursuit is even harder than just beginning. there will be obstacles and daily training and tasks will no doubt become tiring and tedious, sometimes even mundane; set backs will tempt you to give up but if you hold tight to the picture of the future you envision you will find the strength, the courage to look forward and put one foot in front of the other.

failure is also something that you will no doubt be met with, no one achieves their goals without having first failed at something; so do not think of it as a deterrent to continue on but perhaps just another barrier to cross or a veer in the course that you will overcome, adapt if necessary, and continue the race to the finish line.

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Only driving with one foot and not sure which exit to take
as of late i feel like i'm being torn in a million different directions! i will liken it to a sort of tug-of-cait if u will. :) i've been sort of forced to take a break from lots of things and one of those things was work. i know i probably could be taking on more writing assignments at the moment but i had been spreading myself a bit thin up until his whole debacle and i think that while i'm physically having to take things easier i decided to not stress so much about the work front either. my main priority actually right now is to heal my leg and i want to do all i can to ensure my best odds for as full of a recovery as possible; that means this blasted right leg demands my focus for now. yes, bills and all that fun still are piling up, but even if this may sound very irresponsible i'm going to just try to push those worries to the back of my mind and think only of today.

at the same time i DO want to find something that i can still work on between PT and all so that so i feel like this down time has been productive in some way. i've then been mulling around various projects i'd like to channel my efforts. i have actually finished my second novel but am in the process of polishing that 'perfect' query letter to hopefully get a literary agent...but that is a lofty goal and who knows if that will ever work out. secondly i've been trying to do more cartoon endeavors and have been kicking around various ways to put that to use. between all of this i still feel directionless and unsure of what steps to take next. (haha...albeit steps with crutches!)

i still battle the niggling voice saying, "you're not doing anything, you're not moving towards a concrete goal" and that is both true and daunting. but i hope that in time a more definite aim will materialize and sometimes things have a surprising way of working out. so i will still keep putting my gimpy leg first, dabble in my various interests, and hold onto hope that things will be 'okay.'

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You know guys rule the house when...the toilet seat is perpetually left up

Because i promised to color this in now i can say i've delivered! :) So i hope you have a little chuckle and you can see that i've turned it into a Mother's Day card at Pigspigot if you want to check that out. Sorry to keep this short but i'm off and i hope you all are having a good one!

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Laughter is in fact the best here's to toilet seats!

as we go through life i think it's funny to think about the people who have remained in our lives for the long haul, as i like to put it. the people who you have stayed in touch with you through the various stages of your life and as you've moved on to different places. what is also funny to think about is that sometimes the easiest relationships to hold onto are the ones in which it is okay to have long lapses of contact but the second you do reconnect it is like no time has passed and also there is no love lost, or hard feelings. i'm notoriously horrible at getting back to people in a timely manner, and then at a certain point i start to feel so guilty at my flakiness that i then avoid the call back or reply message simply because i'm embarrassed. this only perpetuates the cycle and by the time i do finally talk to the person there is that awkward..."so, yea, sorry about not getting back to you sooner..."

still some of my favorite people, and the ones who i feel like i've been through so much with, whether it is hilarious inside jokes, shared war stories, and the people i can vent to without being afraid of sounding like a whiner or complainer are the same people who i have played infinite rounds of phone tag with (in essence we may both be a bit flaky!). still it is refreshing when we finally do connect because we are inevitably always picking up again without missing a beat, are still able to relate the same way we did years ago, and without having to always say it we know the other person cares a great deal about us.

what's also interesting is that the friendships that do end up lasting throughout our lives can be from surprising places. it may not be your best friend since grammar school (or it could be!) but instead a coworker who at the time you were friendly with but didn't envision growing that close too. and yet when things do get tough and we find ourselves in need of a person to help us through it, it is these people who step up. it then becomes clear who your real friends are and for that we need to be thankful and remember that when the time comes that they in turn may need a little help that they can rely on you.

i bring this up because recently i've been seeing the people that have continually been there for me and even if we haven't spoken for some time (or even remained in constant communication) it's nice to know they are there. and it's even better when we can just laugh at times past; there may be no greater thing than reminiscing about the most inane topics and of course when we ourselves were the ones making a fool of ourselves! it's laughter that really has helped me through really any hardship i've faced; i figure i'd rather laugh at myself than let the full wave of depression set in when things look bleak. and today i was blessed with perhaps one of the best surprises i've had in a while.

i don't know about you but i'm a total sucker for getting anything in the mail that isn't bills; cards, postcards, even a couple one liners...but the end all is of course the actual package! the feeling is sometimes something akin to christmas morning in ripping off that brown paper wrapping and digging through packing peanuts! :) and i got a package that really made me laugh; i mean i real good one. it was in fact from one of my best friends' moms (who is also someone i'd count as a close and dear fact i luv their whole flipping family! haha) and she was documenting to me the crazy and ridiculous things she sees and faces each and every day living with a family of not only guys, but runner guys, and also runner guys who are obsessed with junk food and video games. so she made me a little scrap book (pix included people!) of the most ridiculous things she deals with on a daily basis. what she probably would just laugh off or discredit herself with as not being that big of a deal was in fact that this was a HUGE deal to me; she took so much time, thought, and care in making this...and the best thing was it was freaking hilarious.

okay, so in all of this rambling there is another point i'm getting to here...the theme of the scrapbook is "10 signs a mom knows guys have taken over the house" and for each of her tenets i'm going to depict a fun little cartoon. we will make it a series; now i have the first couple inked out but have yet to color them in...but being that i want to kick this off with something i've posted the sketch for now and the finished version will be coming soon. so we can think of this as a preview of this little series. Today is: "The Toilet Seat is Always Left Up!" i hope you have a little laugh and more importantly i hope you acknowledge the people in your life that have proven to always be there for you...and i hope they are also the ones to make you laugh when you feel like you may be on the brink of letting that dark wave crash over and envelope you! haha

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Recognize and cherish life's positive relationships...let go of the rest
we can't change people. heck, it's tough enough to even change things we don't like about ourselves but that is at least possible. no, no matter how much we may hope, wish, and remiss over the fact that others will be apt to do their own things, make their own choices, and act as they may (that is in fact a good thing in that we all have free will!) and even though it may be painful to whom those actions affect that is just something we have to deal with. yes, we may wish that others will try to keep in mind our own feelings to a certain degree, but when it comes right down to it we can't make someone feel a certain way, act like we'd like, or even care.

that is easier said than done but it is i believe easier to at least accept when the person is not someone you care a great deal about. yes, if you were walking down the street and some stranger decided to pour their hot coffee in your face or tell you that you were ugly and they would like you to remove yourself from their sight that would probably cause some strong feelings (anger, irritation, etc.) but you'd move on, eventually forget about it (or at least recount it to friends and laugh it off) and you'd be not much worse for wear. it is instead when the actions, or inactions, of others cause us hurt and pain that last longer; they stay with you and they eat at you.

when there are people in your life that you've always expected they would be there for you, for who you made it clear you cared infinitely about, for whom you've shared so many good times with, and if they were struggling you were always there for them; at some level you come to then assume that the feelings were reciprocated. it is then disheartening to learn that is not always the case. still, while you can cognitively come to the realization that you cannot rely on them, that they don't necessarily care for you the same way you do them, it still doesn't erase the hurt or the pain. i know we all have 'those people' in our lives and it is tough for anyone to deal with (be a family member, sibling, close friend, lover, etc.); still for our own sake we must recognize it for what it is when it is happening and yes, allow ourselves time to remorse the end of that relationship as it had been, but not take that pain and swallow it. instead we must look to those positive and fulfilling relationships and use the strength present there to pick ourselves up from the feelings of loss. i am grateful that there are those of the latter relationships in my life, as i believe we all have them no matter how great or few. in the end we must take care of ourselves, nurture the uplifting and steadfast relationships, and let go of the others...we cannot change the actions of others and we most definitely cannot change how they feel.

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I'd rather keep moving forward after failures than stand still
to be quite honest i'm not really one to stay up on current TV shows; yes, of course i've probably upped my viewing hours trifold (if not more!) the last month or so but even then i usually stick to repeats of my favorites. this would be copious amounts of Seinfeld, some Yes, Dear, King of Queens and the like; throw in some nick at nite and i've gotten my daily recommended values of fart jokes, inane observations, corny puns, and maybe even a sappy moral or two thrown in for good measure. but in terms of shows that are actively running i'm not quite up to speed; i missed the boat on Lost entirely, dropped out of 24 after the first season, and many of the shows i haven't even heard of. but one that is new that i'm enjoying in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution; in fact it's on right now.

what i really admire is not only jamie's vivacity and willingness to take on the glaring problem, one that is seeming to only get worse despite many great efforts of others, of obesity and how we eat but that he is not daunted by statistics, nay sayers, and even failure. he didn't pick a place to do a food overhaul on that was known for being fit or unhealthy but not completely atrocious; no, he picked a place where there are kids who don't even know how to use a knife and fork, some who don't even know what a vegetable is, and to schools where french fries count as vegetables. he dived right in and set the bar high; high enough that he risked failure and he knew it.

this same attitude i think is what is missing in a lot of places; a person wants to achieve something but they don't think they are capable of it or the road ahead looks too hard and they either abandon the goal altogether or set their sights lower. now, they still may be satisfied when they do get to that lower bar but had they tried to aim higher they may have made that mark; who's to say. and even if they failed they still might have wound up right where they did end up but have come out with something more. they may even have be inspired to continue working until they eventually hit the stars. okay, this does sound a bit too overly rosy, but sometimes i think that because we only live once we might as well find what makes us happy and do all that we can to get there. sure we may fail, we may also find out that what we once thought was our dream has shifted, and that's okay too. but if you are going to go after something do it with gusto and all you have.

i like that jamie doesn't see those people who want him to fail or tear him down as reasons to quit but instead as fuel to his fire. he puts himself out there; states insanely high goals and even if he doesn't believe 100% that he can do it he does his best. i'm taking heed to that and it helps me stay positive. ultimately we never know what that future holds but we can at least do our best to sway it in our direction; and who says we have to ever stop working towards our goals. right up until the end we can be moving forward and i think that is far better than standing still.

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Pumping yourself up to get in that workout - It's all how you look at it
fitness and being active has always been something that i grew up around; my earliest memories are no joke cheering my mom on at one race or another (my brother and i only gathered around to watch the finish and before that we were more interested in playing on whatever was nearby that we could turn into a sort of playground) and until i started having slumber parties at my friends' houses i thought everyone's parents got up early and went for a run or worked out. still, even though i grew up around running i had no real desire to pursue it myself; i actually thought it was kind of pointless and would rather play an actual 'game' like soccer. in fact when my mom first suggested i try cross country (after having not been able to make any other team...coordination i do not have!)i thought it was a group of people that traveled. but i was an active kid and i did like getting outside and doing something whether it was a pick-up game of sorts or exploring trails. even though i grew up in the early beginnings of the TV and video game mayhem that has swept the current youth, i think even if given the option to stay indoors 24/7 i would have rather been out playing.

i'm still the same way, if not more so now. i love the feeling after getting in a good sweat; i feel like i've accomplished something. with my injury getting in a workout was at first impossible but now i can do so albeit with limitations. in getting the Krankcycle i am not able to get in some cardio activity but that has really lifted my spirits too. there are plenty of studies showing that exercise is not only good for the body, in fact necessary, but for the mind too. whenever i was hurt before i can attest to getting more glum and moody; i just feel off. fitness has become so much a part of my life that when people ask how i can possible want to run everyday, i tell them it's like brushing my teeth; i just feel dirty or uncomfortable without doing it. this is not the same kind of outlook many people have regarding exercise, and i can admit that my own motivation can wane. this is especially true if i'm doing something that may not be an activity i am used to or particularly enjoy all that much. this has been the case with the Krankcycle; yes i do it because i like being active and doing cadio activity but do i wake up jazzed and excited to do, not really. i do it though because i know i will feel better afterwards (and actually i start feeling better after the first few minutes) and that it is good for me too and is helping with my rehab. i've already seen improvements in my strength and that is encouraging; in fact seeing those gains keeps me motivated to keep at it.

when i do get back running, and i have to believe i will, i want to have come out of this with at least some of my cardio fitness retained and i think i will. i have been able to adapt certain workouts that i've done running to the Krankcycle; interval training can be done on nearly any machine and also tempo like efforts. i will gladly post more details about what i'm doing later if there is interest, but the bottom line is that sometimes motivating oneself to get in a workout can be a bit of an effort at first...but i guarantee that when you stick with it it will become easier and as you improve that feeling is often enough to spur you to actually wanting to get to it! but everyone has those days when getting started may be harder than usual but what helps for me is to picture how good i will feel when i'm done. i also have stocked up my iPod with a nice little pump-up playlist of fast paced songs; that helps me when i'm on the Krank and starting to tire and feel that burn because the music helps take my mind off of that and it usually can make me go faster.

for anyone who may not particularly like exercise or have fallen off the wagon per se, i encourage you to start back up. i'm having to pick a new activity that may not be my first choice but i'm making the best of it, and *gasp* i am in fact staring to maybe, just a bit like it...yes, it's really my only option for now but i'm making the best of it and i feel that i can make it fun by mixing up my workouts that i do on there. and that can apply to you too; of course pick something you enjoy but know that nearly anything can be tweaked to be made more fun and interesting. so let's all get our sweat on and know you'll feel insurmountably much better not only physically but mentally too.

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Is wanting others to pay for their wrongs worth the energy or are we better off letting go?
i sit here thinking about how i feel about the man, chris, who hit me. i haven't really paid him much thought, except when people ask or i recount the story, but my feeling is that i would rather spend my energy in the direction of my own recovery. whether he is sentenced to jail time or not because of the court situation whatever happens won't affect my own condition, medical bills and all, and so it doesn't have much of a bearing on how i go about my own healing. i haven't even really thought about what kind of life he leads, if he has a family, or even what kind of a person he is; i feel that any respectful person with a conscious would have stopped. he didn't, and so i feel that i have my answer and i don't necessarily care about learning the details of his own life. i'm sure he's had hardships, we all have, but we can use those as excuses to not take accountability or we can rise to the occasion and let the outcome be what may. he not only fled the scene but stripped his plates so he took measured steps to avoid being identified.

so i have not thought much about him, but today i received a call from the court (of course i got the call one of the few points in the day when i am not an arm's reach from the cell phone! getting around is so slow for me that by the time i hobble back to the phone it has always flipped over to voice mail already.) stating that chris has asked for the judge to reduce his bail amount so that he can get out of jail until his trial. the message informed me that the hearing for this plea will be tomorrow afternoon; chris' current bail stands at $30,000 which means he needs to front $3,000 to be released, a sum he has been unable to gather. so he is then appearing before the judge in the hopes that he can be free of his own prison.

i feel torn; a part of me is admittedly vindictive, "gosh i wish i could give up $3,000 and then be given by normal leg back. i could return back to my old life and go about things that made me happy." if only it was that easy i could shirk not only more surgeries and the grueling and prolonged rehabilitation and be running again but i'd also avoid even more medical bills too. i wish i also could be free of my own sort of prison; while i am thankful for what i still have that does not take away the pain of dealing with what i have lost and may never fully get back. that angry little voice in my head rants, "of course he wants to get out of jail, get back to his life; not having the life you have envisioned or became accustomed too really sucks and having to see freedom and the lives other people lead go on like nothing happened right outside the window, or fence, makes it all the harder. but i have to deal with the same sort of feeling, so why should he get off the hook?"

i feel a bit malevolent wishing misery on another person but i can't pretend that little voice isn't there at all. but another part of me thinks that focusing on chris, and trying to make certain he 'pays his dues' is only wasted energy and effort that could be better placed elsewhere. i've tried to live my life being less judgmental and critical of others or holding onto grudges; i've found that in letting go comes peace of mind on my end and that wishing ill to others isn't a path that leads to any real satisfaction. so i feel torn; yes i do believe what chris did was wrong, i could never imagine abandoning someone like that, but should i just let it go, allow whatever will happen to transpire on its own accord, and continue to leave him a mystery in my own mind? a mystery that i have no intention of investigating because i'd rather put that time and focus into something productive to my own healing and rebuilding my own life.

i left a message back with the court; but have not received a return call and they are closed now. i have no way to go to the hearing, and even if i did i don't have a real urge to go; i really have no desire to see chris again. i saw him as he drove away from me and that was enough. if the court gets in touch with me before his hearing, which is doubtful (i know they have lots to do and i don't think i need to reiterate to all just how slow things can move in governmental you remember your last trip to the DMV?!!?), but i find myself questioning first whether i even really want them to call back and then what i would say. do i foster that niggling angry voice or do i try to let go and move on. i believe in time chris will have to fulfill a sentence, it will most likely end up being reduced, and that should be enough; after all he did not commit a heinous crime like murder or the like so i sometimes feel as if it may be better to have him do community service and at least give back in a way to benefit more people. our prisons are costly and there is only so much room so wouldn't it help a greater amount if he was sentenced to improve the area? i don't know, but at this point i don't think i really care...what happens will happen and all i can do is focus on my own situation. but if i could i would make a plea for a hearing to get my own bail reduced; if i could give any amount of material possessions or money to get back to the life i led i would; but i can't so there is no point in being resentful that i can't and instead be grateful of what i have and take the incremental improvements as they come.

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Younger siblings are not always a bane...sometimes they offer you hope
i hope everyone had a great weekend; if you do celebrate Easter than a belated Happy Easter to you, but if not how about a belated Happy Sunday?! ;) i had a pretty good weekend; but then again most everyday seems sort of like the others and they blend together so that i'm not always totally sure exactly which day of the week it is! i'm not a person who usually gets too sappy, sentimental or necessarily lonely during any kind of holiday, i live a decent distance from most of my family that going home all the time just isn't feasible so i've made due with phone calls and going back home for of course the major ones, namely Christmas, but being laid up and amid a silent apartment was a bit tougher than usual. my family at home usually gets together for an Easter brunch and really the only big tradition is that my po-po (for all of you furrowing your brows at that one that means grandma in chinese; oh and for future reference gung-gung means grandpa) makes her special coffee cake. this cake only makes an appearance, albeit a short one before the plates are licked cleaned, for Easter and Christmas. it's a standing joke that if po-po was to come without the coffee cake she wouldn't be let in the dad says that as a joke but there is enough of a serious undertone when he says it that po-po gets the message...hehe.

i of course sent out my little Easter cards and made the phone call rounds but a part of me wished i could be back home and yes, even dorkily hiding plastic eggs around the house. (outside the weather in CA has been about as bad as it has been in OR) i pictured my little bro and sis who now are not so little; my mind thought back to the days in which my little sister needed my help to scout out the eggs and forever i will have that image of the chubby legged cutie in a frilly dress wobbling around with her little basket. the same can be said for my littlest bro who had such wild and crazy hair even as a baby he looked better when it was bicked! but today they are getting so big; my sis is in high school (has way more of a social life than i do even now!) and my bro has gotten bigger and found a way to tame that hair. so i know that the Easter in reality was not played out in the same way as the one in my mind; yes everyone no doubt exchanged hugs, well wishes, and the 'easter bunny' dumped off some few nicely loaded gift baskets but there was no egg dying this year and no egg hunt. of course breakfast included the coffee cake but afterwards i'm sure the little ones were off texting their friends and the adults set to chatting it up.

every year that passes everyone gets a bit older and less excited about the 'childish' traditions; but i still think i'm a little kid inside a big person's body...a body that is a little worse for wear now! because of the big age gap between my two youngest siblings (i was nine when my little sis was born) i spent a great deal of time babysitting and sort of feel like i added a little parental hand to their raising; but now i live far away and each time i go back they've grown so much not only in height but also as people. i'm so very proud of the people they have become and are still evolving into but i am remiss that i have missed the later stages. i think that is why i still picture them as tots and always find myself shocked when i get to see them in person. a lot of people are not lucky enough to really enjoy the company of their siblings (yes we all love them, but sometimes it's tough to like them! haha) but even if we have our spats i not only find myself continually being amazed by them but inspired as well.

as i sit here, i do often think about them and the rest of my family going about their day and sometimes i look at the clock and think, "oh, i bet they're just getting out of school." and i take heart that they love me and care for me, they did send me Easter cards and a treat too!, and they'd love me for just being me. sometimes when things get dark and yes even depressing it's reassuring to know that there are people out there who would take you for who you are, flawed and all (i've certainly got enough of those!), and sometimes care more about you than you do yourself. i hold on to that in hard times, remember that if i question the whole 'why me' or 'why do i even have to be here and be going through this' and it gives me hope and a sense of peace. no matter what happens i'll have those who care and they will give me the energy and strength to make it to tomorrow. we all have those people, even if we aren't actually able to see it at the time; so no matter what goes on and how lost you may feel think about those who care so much about you and try to see yourself through their eyes and in turn love yourself as they would, treat yourself kindly, and don't lose sight of the hope that tomorrow will bring a brighter day.

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What happens when you have to feel EVERYTHING that goes into moving one blasted toe?
so from what i gather in watching the news our lovely city or Portland, and the other nearby areas, are getting blasted with some wicked weather. it's really odd feeling sort of disconnected from everything that actually goes on right outside my door, because i'm just not, well, going outside! it feels like i'm sort of at a distance; sure i hear the rain and wind but i'm not out there braving it. not that i'm all too keen on winds that could blow a person over or getting pelted with hail, but i'm not necessarily one to be a house recluse either! however it's a bit easier to stay indoors knowing that outside the weather is crappy...misery loves company right so if i have to suffer at least the rest of the urbanites have to also! i know that come summer and mr. sunshine cracks his face, albeit for a short time, i'll be itching to be out there.

well, my leg will be itching regardless...haha. yes i don't think i've ever been quite so aware of just how many tendons and ligaments comprise that lower extremity, but now that each and every one of them has decided to take on a life of their own and are awakening from their car induced hibernation i'm pretty sure if i had to draw a diagram of just where all these tendons were and how they ran in alignment i'd be dead on! as i do my rehab and wiggle my toes, bend my knee, stretch, and the like i can also feel a myriad of rollings, flexings, contractings, and all that other good stuff; but it really makes my stomach turn. i can actually see some of them too, there are odd bulges and twitches that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. my leg is still swollen so i'm not ever sure if there are bulges in odd places because of the swelling or because a tendon is misaligned or not put in the 'right place' and then i start to worry that something is wrong. yes, always the extremist; i fear that these tinglings, itchings, and inexplicable sensations are going to be with my the rest of my life. i look back on the days in which everything under the skin functioned like it should and i was happily, ignorantly unaware of all these flexings and such and it was bliss. now i have to intrinsically feel all that goes into moving your toes...and let me tell you it feels weird and unpleasant. i get all these mental pictures of one of those anatomical diagrams and it just doesn't sit well!

but, i am still just trying to think that these sensations, just like the tinglings, are signs that my leg is 'awakening' and healing and that it's a good thing. so i'll keep doing what i'm doing and tell myself that one day, in a far off galaxy and in the far future, my leg will return to being the 'quiet' and pleasant friend i used to know and love and go about its business leaving me none the wiser to its inner workings. :)

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