Mindful Monday: Sparkpeople


Given last week’s setback, I want to focus my posts this week around what I’m doing to hit the ground running and let this change of plans become a challenge to help me prove to myself that I’m stronger than I ever imagined vs a defeat that I have no control over.

 I’ve mentioned both lap band surgery and running in previous as tools that have helped me loose and maintain my weight. Another tool that has helped me is SparkPeople. When I initially got my lap band SparkPeople was a place I’d turn to almost daily. In the past couple of years, it has been more of a resource that I occasionally visit for a reminder. Last week I got back in the habit of using it daily.

SparkPeople is a website and app that allows you to track calories, fitness goals, and water intake. In the past beyond nutrition and exercise journaling what I found really useful about SparkPeople is the community aspect.  The platform allows you to join teams made up of people with similar backgrounds, interests, or goals.  For example, I belong to teams for people who have lap bands, fans of The Ohio State Buckeyes, and writers.  You can join team goals, chat with each other in the forums, but most importantly cheer one another on.  The mini goals set by the teams and the camaraderie of supporting one another in victories and setbacks is what kept me coming back.  

I have to say since I was last regularly using the site the activity in the teams has died down a bit. My day job is in Community Managment so I know that this is pretty typical. I’m finding new teams with more active members to help me with the support aspect of this journey.

What is really helping me right now is the trackers for nutrition.  I do plug in my exercise too, but since I use a Fitbit for that, food is really what I focus on with SparkPeople. I love being able to easily pull up foods and enter them for each meal. The site automatically pulls up all the nutrients for me. You can set nutrition goals and trackers. Aside from calories I also track protein, fat, carbs, and fiber. I wish I could track sugar since that is something I’m really reducing, but unfortunately, that isn’t a current tracking feature on SparkPeople.  

Do you have other nutrition or fitness trackers that you swear by?



Intro to Essential Oils

Among the various types of yoga classes I’ve been taking over the past 18 months one of my favorites has been aromatherapy yoga. This is a restorative class where one focuses less on flow and sequences and more on the connection between the mind and the body. Poses are often held for longer periods of time, minutes as apposed to seconds. Essential oils are applied to different pressure points on the body depending on the oil and the intention of the practice.

This had led to using essential oils around the house and during meditation practices as well. Here are some of my favorite fragrances and what I use them for.

Clary Sage:  This is one of the first fragrances I was exposed in aromatherapy yoga. It’s supposed to be good for helping gain focus and clarity so I use it in a defuser when I meditate.

Geranium: A friend recommended Geranium oil as a natural repellent for bugs and tics. After a few outdoor excursions this summer I can say that it seemed to work well.

Lavender: This is a calming oil. Sometimes I put it in the defuser if I’m having trouble sleeping. I also use it on pressure points like my forehead, outer ears, and heels to help relieve headaches.

Lemon: What is it about lemon that is so refreshing? I use it with coconut oil and vitamin E as a homemade lotion.

Peppermint: Like lavender this is good for relaxing. It’s perfect to add to a homemade foot lotion and to help relax sore muscles.

What’s your favorite essential oil?


Mother’s Day and Other Updates

In March, I was focused on making, going meatless, and motivation. I did very well in those areas. It’s a good thing that writing and posting to this site wasn’t a concentration for the past couple of months because I would have failed miserably. This break was a good thing, though. I needed to focus on some minor health issues (everything is fine now) and some other areas in my life.
I also took some time to assess what I wanted to focus on right now with this blog and setting up a schedule for future posts. I’m happy with what I’ve come up with. Those of you who were following my old site know that I used to post seven days a week. I don’t have the time to do that at present, at least not at the quality I would want so I’ll be trying to post three times a week. Look for updates starting next week on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  
Changing gears, I just want to say a bit about Mother’s Day. This is a challenging holiday for many, myself including. When you’ve lost your mother it is hard to be on Facebook and see all the photos of friends enjoying brunch with their moms. I find myself dreading checking my email this time of year because of all the promotional “Don’t forget to buy mom a gift” emails from various retailers. 
I lost my mom a few years ago, just five days before my 30th birthday. My dad had passed away when I was 11. My thirties in many ways has been the decade of exploring what it is like to be parentless. No matter if you were incredibly close with your parent(s) or had some frictions, it’s odd to know that you can’t call your mom or dad up for advice, to share your victories, or look for comfort when you’re having a rough time. 
I’ve been thinking about the term motherhood. I don’t consider myself a traditionally maternal person. Having children isn’t something I feel strongly about and unless I have a dramatic change of desires in the future, being a mom isn’t something I envision for myself. Yet, without that title or want we all have people in our lives that serve that role of nurturer and we find ourselves supporting others in that way at one point or another.  
When you’ve lost your parents holidays can be rough. I still struggle with finding where I belong during these times. I’m very lucky in that I have an incredible family including two amazing sisters. My sisters always invite me to join them for holidays and I sometimes do. One of my sisters is married and the other is engaged so holidays often are spent with their in-laws or in-laws to be. I feel accepted by both of my sisters’ new families, but they aren’t my family and it is a much different connection I have to them than my sisters’ do. 
Aside from my remaining relatives I consider my close friends my family. This works out most of the year, with the exception of holidays, because the majority of my friends have parents and/or in-laws they are celebrating with. Finding home and family is something I struggle with even though to an extent I have both in my life. I have a feeling discovering and shaping those areas is going to be the other major definition of this decade for me.  

Making March Count

Sorry, I haven’t posted in a while. February was rough. I felt sluggish and minor health issues including migraines, acid reflux, and insomnia were becoming major stressors. I found these symptoms were impacting my life. I felt drained of energy and enthusiasm. My doctor determined that there isn’t any other medical issue causing these symptoms so we’re trying different ways to treat them till we find what works.

One thing I was advised to do that would hopefully help with all three problems is making some lifestyle changes. I was told to workout more (I admit that I work out less in the winter) and de-stress by finding a better life balance. I decided to make March about doing just that by following three Ms that I’m setting for myself:

Make: I need to allow myself time to create and it goes beyond writing. I’m setting aside time each week to work on projects like making stationary, cooking and baking, and redecorating. These little bursts of creativity I’m hoping will jumpstart getting out of an artistic rut.

Meatless: Aside from the other health issues plaguing me last month I felt very sluggish. I’ve been toying with the idea of adapting a pescetarian and maybe eventually adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. I decided to make this March the time to try by avoiding meat. I’m still allowing myself to eat seafood. After this month is over I’ll judge how I feel and if this is something I’d like to stick with or now.

Motivation: Being tired is demotivating. I found myself struggling to get myself moving or participating in activities outside of work last month. This month I’m not letting myself make excuses. I’m writing daily quotes on my mirror that I’m posting in Instagram and not letting myself talk myself out of doing things that are really important to me.

We’ll see how this goes. What are you focusing on this month?