fit over 50, Health blog, self care

Sometimes Our Mind Breaks As Well

“It’s not always the heart.  Sometimes the mind breaks as well.”  r.h. Sin

We live our lives trying to measure up.  But measure up to what?  Perhaps to a standard that was set by our parents, a teacher, by society or even by religion.   I get it.  You’re the female who works tirelessly to make sure everyone else is comfortable and happy.  You overthink and stretch yourself, because you want to be enough more than enough.  There are only a certain number of hours in a day, and you want to attack those hours.  No regrets.  At the end of the day, when your head finally hits the pillow, you wonder if you should’ve done more.  Could you have been more perfect?

The answer is no.  As always, you went over and beyond what was expected of you.

But people have dropped out of your life, haven’t they?  And it hurts like hell.  You’ve been shocked, disappointed, and sometimes abandoned.  Left to wonder what you could’ve done differently.  Maybe if you’d been softer or more authoritative … prettier or more outgoing  … thinner or more educated.  What if you hadn’t lost your temper?  What if you’d spoken up about what was bothering you much sooner?  What if you’d let more things slide?  The what ifs are endless, and they wear on you.  Maybe if you had been enough, you would have been more worthy of love.  I mean, bottom line is that if people stop loving you, then something must be wrong with you.  Right?

The answer is no.  You are enough.  The problem isn’t you.

But there are other women who have it all together.  They have perfect relationships with their families and they are successful in whatever they do.  They’re accepted and happy.  You see them out, don’t you?  They’re the ones who are always fixed up head to toe, wearing a smile.  They must be doing something that you aren’t doing.  What is the secret?

The secret is that there is no secret.

When we compare ourselves to others, we diminish the grandest act of God.  You are his most prized creation, created in His own image.  No one else in the world is exactly like you.  What makes you unique (you know, those things you see as flaws ) those are what make you so beautiful.

That woman you see out and about in town who “has it all together”.

Stop.

Picture her in your mind right now.

Yeh, she’s just like you.  She looks in a mirror and sees all the things she wishes were different about herself.   She’s had broken relationships, she’s lost her temper, she’s said things she wishes she’d never said and has done things she wishes she could un-do.  She balances work and family and hits the pillow at night just as hard as you do.  We’re all far more alike than we are different.  Some just wear better masks.

Sometimes our minds break.

We forget life isn’t a competition … that there are no winners or losers.

The truth is, no one is doing life better than someone else.  We’re all doing our best.  If you’re breathing right now, you’re winning.  Period.  So stop looking for what’s wrong with you and start seeing all that’s so perfectly wonderful about you.  When you begin to love yourself, others will love you back.  What you believe about yourself, others will believe.  And your strengths far outweigh your weaknesses.  Trust that and go with it.  There’s no need to fake it until you make it, because you’ve already made it.  You are enough.  Today, this moment, you’re everything you need to be.

As for those people who’ve left you and who’ve stopped loving you.

To those people who’ve made you feel like you’re not enough.

Let them go.

There are people who want to love you just as you are.

 

 

 

 

fit over 50, get healthy

ULTA Must Haves & Five Exercises You Should Be Doing At Home Everyday

Hair and skin care are everything.  If you’re forty-five or older, you’ve figured that out by now.  As we age, our skin and hair lose their vibrance.  Heck, we may still feel like we’re in our prime, but we look in a mirror and see a stranger gawking back at us with crinkles, wrinkles, sags, bags, and drabby dry hair.  We have at least one foot in the grave with all hope gone until we discover ULTA.   (Cue the sound of angels singing)  The Generation Xers and Millennials believe ULTA is hip and chic, created for them.  The real scoop, though, is ULTA was created for those of us who are no longer climbing that hill.  Let’s stop, raise our hands high in the air, and thank God for ULTA … am I right?

Here are a few of my ULTA must haves and the reasons why I must have them:

Ulta Blog 4

Tinted moisturizer is like putting a heavenly dew on your face that will even out your skin tone and make you look as fresh and new as Springtime.  An over exaggeration, maybe … put this stuff is the bomb.  My favorite pick is Derma E’s Tinted Moisturizing BB Cream with SPF 30.  It has bilberry extract, which improves skin tone;  vitamin C, which brightens skin;  and vitamin E, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  I apply it over my regular moisturizer, which helps it to go on my skin much easier.  I apply it to my face and go.  It’s my makeup.  Nothing else.  It’s so much lighter than traditional foundation or powder makeup, and as we age, often times, less ends up being more.   You can find it here.

Ulta Blog 5

The Derma E Ultra Hydrating Alkaline Water Eye Gel is a magic roller filled with cool healing gel. It hydrates the under eye area, making your eyes appear younger and less puffy.  I use it at least twice a day and am hooked.  It’s less than fifteen dollars, which makes it very affordable.  Think of it like a lipstick.  Apply it whenever you want that fresh glowing look.  You can find it here.

Ulta Blog 6

The Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer is currently my go-to moisturizer.  I recently listened to a podcast that featured Dr. David Sinclair, and now I’m onboard with his take on the anti-aging benefits of resveratrol .  This moisturizer contains resveratrol, as well as jojoba, shea, and vitamin C.  It’s pricey, but it leaves my skin feeling completely hydrated … more so than any other moisturizer I’ve ever used.   Moisturizing morning and evening is a must for healthy skin.  I use serums as well (if you’re not using an hyaluronic acid serum, order it now), and the moisturizer goes on AFTER the serums.   Apply using upward strokes, and don’t forget your neck.  You can find this moisturizer here .

Ulta Blog 3

Are you into fitness?  Then you absolutely need a dry shampoo.  If you’re anything like me, you don’t always have time to wash your hair, so having dry shampoo on hand can be a life saver.  In addition, because dry shampoo lengthens the time between shampoo, blowdryer, and flat iron, it’s actually a healthy alternative for your locks. It’s important, however, to invest in a good dry shampoo.  If you purchase a cheap brand, you’ll find it might leave a weird residue on your hair.  For the record, I’m a weirdo when it comes to dry shampoo, so I go outside to apply just so I’m not breathing it.  You can find Big Sexy Hair Dry Shampoo here. 

As we age, not only are losing vitality in our hair and skin, but we are losing muscle and becoming weak and flabby.  In fact, after age thirty, we lose 3-5% muscle mass every decade.  Many people have the misconception that you have to join a gym or a fitness class to be fit, but the truth is you can workout in the comfort of your own home.  Here are five easy exercises you could begin doing at home today and everyday to fight back the flabs:

  1. Push-ups.  Three sets of twelve.  Even if you have to start on your knees and work up to a full push-up, you need to bite the bullet and start doing them.  Within a few weeks, I promise they become easy peasy.  Push-ups are beneficial for building upper body strength, working the triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders.
  2. Planks.  Three sets on elbows or hands for one minute each. Planks strengthen your spine, your rhomboids, and your abdominal muscles, which promotes strong posture.  Good posture means you’re keeping your bones aligned properly, and that’s very important as you age.
  3. Crunches.  Three sets of twenty-five.  Crunches strengthen your abdominal muscles and core, improving your posture and balance.
  4. Squats. Three sets of twenty-five.  In addition to tightening your glutes, squats improve core strength, overall mobility, range of motion, and natural hormone production.
  5. Donkey Kicks.  Four sets of twenty-five.  Like squats, donkey kicks tighten your glutes and improve core strength.

Just my thoughts,

~Mel

get healthy, self care, Uncategorized

4 Happy Habits I Learned From My Kiddos Who Rock An Extra Chromosome

Being the mom of two kiddos who rock an extra chromosome and who are 100% nonverbal has made me a quasi expert at reading people.  In order to overcome what could quickly turn to mutiny, it became necessary for me to anticipate their thoughts before they could even think them.  I never have been much of a people-watcher, but because of this acquired skill,  I’m much more aware of non verbal queues and human behavior.  When your daily survival requires mind reading (no exaggeration), you pay much closer attention to those things that make no sound at all.

Even though I interact constantly with Hope and Charlie, I still can’t imagine what it must be like to be non verbal and to have no real independence.   They don’t know any different, of course, but I still believe if I didn’t have a voice, I’d be pretty frustrated a lot of the time.  But you know what?  They’re not.  In fact, aside from those times when the occasional diva comes out of Hopey, they’re the happiest kiddos you’ll ever meet.  They can’t tell me if they have a headache or tummy ache, what they did at school, what they want to watch on tv, what color they want their bedroom painted, what song they want to hear in the car, who they wish they could visit, or even what they dreamed the night before.  So why are they so happy?

      Charlie Blog

There are four attributes in Hope and Charlie’s lives that never waiver.  I believe these are ingredients for happiness that not only pertain to them, but to all of us:

  1. Sleep.  Hope and Charlie don’t go down easy, but when they finally give up the ghost, they sleep like rocks.  Because of their disability, they have no guilty consciouses, no agendas for the next day, and no schedule to worry about.  They don’t even have to think about what they’re going to wear to school the following day, because I do all the grunt work for them.  No responsibilities means they don’t have a care in the world, so once they’re snoozing, a locomotive train coming through the house wouldn’t disturb them.  While it would be difficult to clear our minds in the way Hope and Charlie do, sleep is vital to our mental and physical well-being.  Sleep keeps your heart healthy, reduces stress and anxiety, makes you more alert, improves your memory, helps you lose weight, improves your mood, and helps your body heal itself.
  2. Exercise.  Hope and Charlie are constantly moving.  Much to my chagrin, when they’re awake, they’re literally moving nonstop.  As with most kiddos, they are balls of energy.  While our busy schedules and long lists of responsibilities don’t allow us, as adults,  to be in constant movement, we can (and should) make time to get our hearts pumping.  Exercise produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety, making you feel happier, helps with weight loss, builds muscle and strong bones,  aids sleep, and reduces risk of chronic diseases.
  3. Choose to be happy.  Hope and Charlie don’t ever ask for anything, because they don’t have voices.  As a result, they’ve learned the art of being happy with what they have.  Whatever I fix them to eat, they eat.  Whatever clothes I buy them, they wear.  Whatever toys they have, they make the most of.  The absurdity of “the haves” and “the have nots” has not even occurred to them and never will.  They live in the moment and honestly make the most of life.  No worries.  No wants.  Just making a choice to be happy.  It might sound simple and trite, but we can all choose to be satisfied with what we have and to be happy.
  4. Be a friend.  Because Hope and Charlie are unable to speak, they are much more aware of what’s going on around them, and they are especially open to people.  Somehow, for instance, they are able to discern when a person needs a hug.  Hopey can be running wild, but when a person who is hurting comes into her presence, she immediately dials back her energy and gives a gentle hug.  Charlie can be happily playing in his own little Charlie world, but when a person enters our home, he always puts down what he’s doing in order to give warm hugs.  Both of them are friends, no matter what.  You can be tall, short, rich, poor, successful, or a deadbeat … they never notice.  They only see people.  Studies have shown being a friend to others offers a myriad of benefits, such as increased feelings of belonging, purpose, increased levels of happiness, reduced levels of stress, and improved self-worth.  Giving our hearts away to others in the form of unconditional friendship is a beautiful gift.

Try to make these four habits a part of your life and see what happens.  Like Hope and Charlie, you might feel happier too.

Just my thoughts,

Melanie

 

fit over 50, get fit, get healthy, Health blog, Uncategorized

Attention Online Dating Scene, Homecoming Queen, and Future Running Machine: Your Costume Is Everything

“Costume is a huge part of getting into character.  Your body soaks in what you’re wearing, and you turn into someone else.”  ~Jane Levy

Relationships.  Dang, we make them difficult, don’t we?  I mean, it’s actually simple if you think about it.  In each relationship, we play a role and wear a costume.  As long as we stay in character, those relationships roll along without too many bumps in the road.  In one relationship, we’re a daughter, and in another, we’re someone’s mom or grandma.  At times we’re a friend or acquaintance, a student or teacher … a neighbor, sister, cousin, aunt, employee, or employer.  Suffice to say, we’re many things to many people.  And in each role, we put on a distinct costume, whether we realize it or not.

We offer a friendly smile and thank you to the bag boy who pushes our overloaded grocery cart out to the Suburban that’s literally rocking in the parking lot, locked and loaded with a couple of wild kiddos who just got out of school for the day.  (Ummmm, yeh, that very detailed example might be personal to me.)

We offer a completely different smile and thank you to our mom when she takes the time to cook our favorite meal.

And when hubby brings home flowers, he gets his own special sort of thank you.  Boom-chicka-wow-wow, right?

It’s a costume.  A familiar role.  And it’s as predictable and boring as dirt.  As long as each role we play remains in its designated box, those relationships will remain dirt,  predictable and familiar.  The message is pretty obvious.  Don’t ever, ever, everrrrr treat the bag boy like he’s hubby.  haha.  It’s much safer to stay in the box and to be dirt.

Some roles are easy.  As moms, for instance, we know exactly what our role is, don’t we?  The moment that baby is placed in our arms, we put on our motherhood costume, and you couldn’t rip that costume off of us if you came with a mechanical claw, a couple of raging bulls, and fifteen knife-wielding zombies who haven’t eaten in weeks.   We are mom, dagnabbit, end of story.

The role of employee, employer, teacher, student, and acquaintance are straight-forward as well.  These roles are far less emotionally driven than the role of mom/child, but we know what’s expected of us, and we can easily meet those expectations.

Other roles are more hairy-scary.  Kids rebel.  Grandma’s sometimes overstep and spoil too much.  A neighbor might not like the color you painted your house.  And a best friend might choose a new friend.

If a child would remain true to his role by respecting parental authority, his life, and the life of his parents, would be so much easier.  If Grandma would support parental authority and willingly give up her Matriarchal superpower, more families would stay intact.  If Joe-Blow neighbor would support his neighbor’s right to paint his house chartreuse green, there would be no need for fences or home owner associations (preach!).  And if every best friend valued the gift of having an old friend who loved her way back when she had braces put on her bucked teeth, used pasty white Clearasil to cover zits on her face, and went through a third break up with the same loser guy … then friends would be friends forever.

Are you getting the general gist of how life-altering these roles are?

Well hold on, because if you have a significant other, things become even more complicated.  What role do you play in your relationship with your significant other?  Are you the princess who is adored and cared for by your prince charming?  Are you an equal partner where you both demonstrate mutual respect and decision-making authority?  Are you submissive to an all-powerful partner … or are you the power player?  Is your significant other somewhat like a father figure?  Or more of a best friend?  Were you high school sweethearts?  Or did you meet on Tinder when you were sixty?

Whatever the role, our romance began somewhere, and that beginning continues to direct the relationship.  For instance, I have a friend who married his high school sweetheart.  She’s a couple of years younger than him and was crowned homecoming queen her senior year of high school.  To this day, more than thirty years later, he still refers to her as his homecoming queen.  In his eyes, she is forever his high school love.  I’m actually fairly certain she hasn’t aged a single year in his eyes.

I have another friend who complains to her husband all the time.  “Why don’t you do this?”  Why did you do that?”  “You make me so mad!”  She badgers the man constantly,  but her husband always responds with (insert a grown man using a baby voice here):  “I’m sorry, honey, will you forgive me?” … then he gives her a bear hug, a kiss on the cheek, and tells her he loves her.  She rolls her eyes, giggles, and tells him she loves him too.  This goes on every day and has for more than two decades.  I think she complains just so he’ll hug her, kiss her, and tell her he loves her.  It seems insane to me, but this has worked for them for more than twenty-five years.  They’re one of the happiest couples you’ll ever meet.

There’s another woman who was a widow.  She met her (current) husband on Christian Mingle.  He was a widower, too.  Their entire relationship has been built on how fate magically and mysteriously brought them together through internet dating.  They’re both in their late sixties / early seventies and talk about how they met all the time.

Each of my examples demonstrate a role and a costume.  It’s the normal, predictable, and expected that make up the foundation of what makes those relationships work.  The dirt, so to speak.

God forbid if the high school sweetheart in my first scenario ever ceases to see his bride as his homecoming queen.

In the second scenario, what would happen if the man’s wife did her normal complaining, but instead of receiving the typical hugs, kisses, and I’m sorry, the husband started accusing her of complaining too much?  What if he called her a pain in the — you know what?

And in the third example, I hope there never comes a day when the former widower tires of gloating about meeting his bride on an internet dating site.  I hope they both continue to acknowledge their magical, mysterious, fateful meeting … until death parts them.

The small roles that are played out in relationships hold tremendous power to make or break a marriage and/or relationship.

So what does this have to do with being fit and healthy?

Two things.

First, to feel alive, you MUST have relationships.  And if you’re going to have relationships, you’re going to be much more mentally and emotionally healthy if you succeed in them.  Grab hold of your role, embody it, don’t change your costume, and respect the boundaries each unique relationship in your life has established.   Some of those boundaries have been put in place by God, some by society, and some by our own volition.  Whatever the case, treasure them, protect them, utilize them, and keep peace.

Second, if you really want to become fit, you need to wear the costume and play the role.  Buy the yoga pants, ladies.  Wear the sneakers.  Pull your hair back in a pony and sock a cute strapback cap on your head.  If you dress the part, and if you embrace the role, you’ll succeed in every area of your life, including in fitness.  Your body soaks in what you’re wearing, and you turn into someone else.  Do you want to become a runner?  Dress the part.  Do you want to become a yogi?  Dress the part.  Then join a gym, hire a trainer, buy a treadmillor an elliptical machine, or take part in a regular exercise class.  It’s not only important to dress the part, you have to actively play the role.

Every time I run a race, I look forward to being given my bib and number.  It makes me official.  It makes me a runner.  The 5k race is a role.  My bib and number is a costume.  My body follows what my mind believes … and it works.  Every.  Single.  Time.

The method is so simple, perhaps it’s too simple, yet we sometimes miss the obvious.  Why do we make life more difficult than it has to be?  If a fifty year old woman can still be her hubby’s homecoming queen more than thirty years later, you can certainly be fit and healthy.

Just my thoughts.

Mel

Fitness, get fit, get healthy

A Twenty-Nine Week Quest Toward The Middle-Age Divine Purpose And Other Such Important Things

Is your life more than half over?  Are you having hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weird cravings, knee pain, back pain, joint pain, belly pain … aaaaaaand do you feel like everyone around you has become a general pain in the you know what?

Menopause.

What was God thinking?  Hmmmm.  I’ll take a rib from this strapping man to make a delightful young vibrant woman.  And for those precious fleeting years when she has the most energy and vitality… and when she looks her very best, I’ll saddle her down with a brood of needy ankle biters.  Then, just at the time when those kids become independent, I’ll strip every last hormone right out of her.  She’ll be a shell of her former self, completely befuddled.

Feeling befuddled?

Well if you’d like to take hold of your life this year … I mean, beyond weight loss goals, if you’d like to have more energy,  to feel happier,  to look younger,  to take a vacation,  to be more organized, and to sleep better, then you might want to join my twenty-nine week bandwagon.  Today, on this 29th day of January, I’m starting a twenty-nine week blog that will (hopefully) accomplish those things and more.  The blog will drop on Wednesdays, so follow to make sure you get your weekly reminders.

Why twenty-nine?  Sure, it might be more hocus-pocus than substance, but I’ve always had a curiosity with numbers, and they’re thought to have meaning.  The number twenty-nine, for instance, is known for telling us to trust in our own abilities when it comes to fulfilling our soul’s divine purpose.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible, coincidentally (or not, who knows?), is Jeremiah 29:11:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  I’d argue it’s impossible for any of us to fulfill much of any purpose if our body and mind are not in sync and under our own authority.

I get asked all the time about my age.  I’m almost fifty-two, and I run two to three miles a day and lift weights four times a week.  PLUS, I juggle two very active kiddos who are 100% nonverbal, who rock an extra chromosome, and who require constant supervision and care.  “Where do you find the energy?”  “What’s your secret?”  “Would you train me?”

I had to find the energy for survival, and so I did.

Of course I’ll share my secrets.

Hopefully this blog will sort of be a training tool for those who wish to be trained.

I’ve lived this plan for four years now, tweaking it as I go, so I know it works.  If you decide to follow along, know up front there’s a method to my madness.  While I do love my family, and while I also believe my mom is one of the most beautiful women in the world who doesn’t look her age at all, I wasn’t born with great genes.  The health history in my family isn’t the best, so I couldn’t rely on genetics.  I’ve worked hard, I’ve studied, and I’ve figured out a combination that works.  It’s not difficult, by the way, but it is a way of life that requires intention and dedication.  Without a doubt, if you follow along, you’ll see positive results.  Here are the first five foundational steps:

Mel Jan 2020

First things first. To reverse the aging process (yes, I did say reverse), scientists say intermittent fasting is a key.  What does that mean?  It means you only give yourself an 8-10 hour window of eating per day. For example, your window might be 8am until 6pm or 9am until 7pm.  During those times, you eat.  Outside of those times, you don’t eat food, but you do hydrate.

When you’ve finished the fourteen hour fast, it’s important to think about the first thing you put into your body.  This is an opportunity to give your body nutrition and energy.  I like to begin my day with a glass of fresh juice.  Packed with nutrients that purify your blood, prevent disease, improve circulation, strengthen your immune system, improve cognitive function, and make your skin more radiant, my favorite green juice is a mixture of apple, spinach, celery, cucumber, and lime.  Once you get your juicer, make this a priority.  I’ve been juicing for nearly fourteen years, because it’s a quick and easy way to make sure I get my daily fruits and veggies.  If you’re not a person who regularly eats fruits and veggies, you’ll notice improved energy within days.

juicing

Along with drinking fresh juice, I eat one or two protein balls as a first meal.   I make them on Sunday and keep them in the refrigerator for the week.  My protein balls are made with crunchy peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, coconut, raisins, and dark chocolate chips.  You can use almond butter or cashew butter if you have a peanut allergy, and you can have fun with your protein balls by adding different flavors of protein powder, cinnamon, flax seeds, etc.  It’s a quick bite and helps you begin your day on the right foot.  For lunch and dinner, eat sensibly, meaning limit carbs, sugar, and processed food, and stop eating before you feel full if you want to lose weight.  Avoid snacking.  And remember, while you can only eat during your 8-10 hour window, you can (and should) hydrate all day.

peanut butter balls

Hydration.  Drinking water is life.  IF you don’t already have an insulated mug or tumbler, you can find them anywhere, and you need one.  I’ve never been a fan of water, but I drink one-hundred ounces of water per day.  I know you’ve heard the analogy of the grape that turns to a raisin when it doesn’t get hydration.  Well, once I hit fifty, that analogy got real.  I choked down water in an effort to not become that said raisin until I discovered Crystal Light Flavor Packets.  And like the fourth stanza of ‘Just As I Am’ at a tent revival meeting, those little flavor packets have changed my life.  With only 10 calories per packet, it’s a no-brainer for me.   I use one packet per mug of water, and my mug holds 50 ounces.  So yeh, I drink at least two mugs of water per day.

drink water!

And next, of course, is exercise.  Twenty-five minutes a day, five days a week, is a must.  Find something that motivates you to move.  There is a free app called Charity Miles, that will track your walking, running, or biking miles and will donate money to your charity of choice based on your mileage.  It costs you nothing, but it gives back something tangible.  What can be more motivating than knowing your work is going to help fund a cause that means something to you?  Last year, I made a commitment to run 1,000 Charity Miles, and I accomplished it.  Some days I ran two or three times a day, and it felt so good to cross that 1,000 mile mark.

 

There’s another app called Achievement , and it will literally pay you for being fit.  If money motivates you, then be sure to download that app.

Commit to run a 5K this summer.  There is no better time to begin training.  Check out the Couch to 5k App, which will give you a plan on how to make that 5k goal a reality.

I recently purchased a Fitbit Charge 3 , and it has offered extra motivation for me.  I use it to log food and water intake, my exercise, calories burned, and sleep.

Bottom line, find something that motivates you to move.  Then stick to it.  If you’re new to exercise, begin by walking twenty-five minutes a day.  Don’t stroll, by the way.   You should walk fast enough that you find it difficult to carry on a normal conversation with someone else.  Get those arms to pumping and move.  Next step, advance your walk by jogging for a minute and then walking briskly for three minutes, interchanging the two, back and forth until the twenty-five minutes is up.  Advance further by jogging for a minute and walking for two minutes, interchanging the two … then jogging for a minute and walking for a minute … and so on and so forth, continuing the interval process until you’re able to jog (or run) for twenty-five minutes straight.  The tabata app is helpful for keeping up with your interval times.

You might think you’ll never become a runner, but as soon as you start running … guess what?  You’re a runner.   I wasn’t a runner until two years ago, and would’ve never thought I’d run like I do now.  The key is to just do it.  I’ve tried it all, interval training, group exercise classes, elliptical machines, biking, running, etc.  For me, running has produced the best (and fastest) all around results.  It’s definitely worth a try.

Last step, if you are smoking any type of cigarette or if you’re vaping, stop.  Smoking has been proven to age our bodies faster than anything else.  You’re in menopause hell anyway, so what better time to give up the habit?

To recap, the first four foundational steps are:

  1. Intermittent fasting
  2. Hydration with water (and juicing)
  3. Limiting (controlling) carbs, sugar, and processed foods
  4. Exercise
  5. Don’t smoke

You’ll take these steps with you for the full twenty-nine weeks, and each week we’ll build upon them.  It’s a commitment to yourself and for yourself.  As mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters, we give, give, and give some more.  Our innate ability to nurture and to care for others is one of the most magnificent things about being female.  Our biggest weakness, however, is we too often neglect ourselves.  To put it bluntly, we suck at self care … Amen?

As a special needs momma, I was guilty of neglecting my own care.  One day I had a light bulb moment and realized God doesn’t discriminate, which means He isn’t going to give me a health pass just because I have two kiddos who need me.  It’s up to me to put in the work by doing the best I can to take care of my health so I can be with my kiddos for the long haul.  It’s the same for you, whatever your circumstances are.

For twenty-nine weeks, I’m going to push and challenge myself while being your biggest cheerleader.  I have an Instagram page called melsmiles68, which I use to document my running/fitness.  If you want to follow it, I’ll be putting occasional video on my instagram story to motivate both you and me.

Sooooooo, you can follow me on the melsmiles68 instagram page, follow the blog, comment, message me, ask questions, and share the journey.

You asked, so I’m answering.  Let’s do this!

~Mel

 

 

Down Syndrome, special needs blog, Uncategorized

Take The Five Second Challenge & Be The Change

‘Be The Change’  … Think about those three words for just a moment.

How can you actively “be the change” you want to see in the world?

For me, this is an easy answer.  As a mom to two amazing kiddos who rock an extra chromosome and who are 100% non verbal, I’d like to change the way the world too often views them.  Lumping the special needs community into a one size fits all category is dehumanizing.  Sounds a bit harsh, I know.  But it’s true.

“Down syndrome kids are always so happy.”

Is that so?  (cue rolling my eyes as far back in my head as is humanly possible).  Talk to me about how happy cutie pie is when I say no to that Oreo cookie.

“Down syndrome kids are so loving … they love everybody.”

Ummmm.  My two ragamuffins are completely nonverbal, yet they’ve figured out a way to constantly grunt, groan, and fuss at each other just like typical siblings … This is more like toleration, not love.  haha.

I hate to burst the bubble, but in my home, beyond the almond shaped eyes, small stature, and bright smiles are two individuals who have distinct personalities, temperaments, strengths, and weaknesses:

A diva who will size you up in a heartbeat, Hopey is fiercely independent and feisty:

Hopey Braids

Charlie, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different.  He’s a soft cuddle bug who’s a master charmer when it comes to getting his way:

Charlie Swing

Hopey is mischievous and funny,  while Charlie is a more go with the flow kinda dude.

Both will go outside to play for the same amount of time … Hope will come dragging herself in the house with skinned knees looking like she’s been wrestling a couple of hogs in a pile of mud while Charlie will look like he’s just bathed and is ready for Sunday School.

I foresee a day when people will automatically accept them and see them as individuals instead of brushing them with the broad stroke of Down syndrome.  When accepted as individuals, Hope and Charlie become human and worthy of identity and relationship.   Neither should be expected to fit into a once size fits all Down syndrome kids bucket.  You get the point.  Yes, both are kids who have Down syndrome … but more than anything else, they’re just regular kids.

be the change 3

I’ve immersed myself in the differently abled community.  It’s become my passion and my life.  In the process, I’ve made very real friendships with many adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Just like Hope and Charlie, each are unique in every sense of the word.  Through my own relationships and experiences with these amazing individuals , my desire has grown for others to see what I see.  All people, regardless of ability or disability, are much more alike than different.  Whether differently abled or not, for instance, we all love the anticipation that comes with Christmas Eve, how sand feels when squished between our toes, the view from a mountain peak, time spent around a campfire with friends, a sloppy kiss from the family dog, a new pair of jeans that fit just right, the crisp edges of a fresh baked brownie … am I right?

At the same time, though, we are all a bit different.  Some of us are born Chatty Cathy’s while others are excellent listeners.  Some of us are athletic while others are artistic.  Some of us have arms and legs … others were born without limbs.  Some of us have brown eyes, and some have blue.  Well … in the same way, some folks were born with an extra chromosome, while others weren’t.  It’s no big deal at all, because differences are never a bad thing.  They’re just a thing.  And those things that make us unique might actually be what make us most interesting.

I was given this shirt by Bee Attitudes , and was challenged to describe how I’m being the change I want to see in the world.  I’d honestly never thought about it before, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it.  If I want the world to treat Hope and Charlie with love, honor, acceptance, and respect, then I must treat the world, especially the differently abled world, with love, honor, acceptance, and respect.  Through my friendships with the differently abled community, I guess I’ve lived out the term ‘Be The Change’.  How I treat those individuals (since I pretty much adore them) is definitely how I want others to treat my two loves.

be the change 2

 

Here’s my 5 second challenge to you.  If an individual who is differently abled is placed in your path, no matter where you are … at church, a restaurant, a grocery store, or a ball game … introduce yourself.

“Hi, my name is Melanie, what’s your name?”

It’s that simple.

Then follow up with a warm smile and a handshake.

That simple act not only takes five seconds of time, but it validates that you see that person as an individual.  As human.  As equal to you.

I’d love to hear from you.  In the comments, tell me about how you are being the change you want to see in the world.

Remember this:  In the big picture, God never makes mistakes.  And when we choose love, we’re all The Change.

(With every purchase, Bee Attitudes gives back to charities who are making a change.  Be sure to click the link and check out their site!  This mustard colored shirt is one of the softest shirts I’ve ever worn.  The fabric is bouncy, so it hangs nicely.   Not to mention … what about that cute message?)

Just my thoughts,

~Mel

Fitness, get fit, running

2 Tips 2 Help You Get Moving

“In January of 2017, I became a runner”  … Let me tell you, those are words I never thought I’d say.  Fitness has always been a part of my life, but whenever anyone would mention running, I’d quickly shut it down.  Can you relate?  I mean, running is hard.  Runners are known for saying it’s more mental than it is physical, but when I try telling that to my legs, they just don’t listen.  “Hello?  Legs?  No worries, because this running gig is all mental.”  haha.  Nope.  Running really hurts and never gets easier.

Last year, I turned fifty (which wasn’t nearly as scary as expected) and ran thirteen races (which was every bit as scary as expected), proving age is just a number.  As it turns out, an old dog really can learn new tricks.  Psychologists say there’s no such thing as a life plateau, so if you’re not growing, you’re going backward.  I don’t have time to go backward.  So this year, in addition to the 5k and 10k races Spring will usher in, I’m planning to tackle a half marathon.  Quite honestly, my palms get sweaty and my tummy gets butterflies whenever I think about it.  13.1 miles is a looooooong jaunt for a gal who’s only been running for a little over a year.

Mel's Races 2018

But after a year of running and achieving some goals, I know I can do this.  The benefits of running have been life changing for me.  I don’t remember a time when I’ve had so much energy.  The runner’s high is real.

At the same time, though, I know myself … and I enjoy a comfort zone as much as anyone.  Currently, 5Ks/10Ks are what make me feel super safe and cozy.  Needing a boost of motivation to run all of the extra miles a half marathon will require in preparation for the actual race, I started talking to other runners about how they manage long practice runs.  Podcasts seemed to be a buzzword everyone mentioned.  But I’m 50, remember?  And I’m not very cool.  So what the heck were these podcasts the millennials were speaking of?

Well.  I found out.  And I’m hooked.  On this show:

lewis howes podcast

When I run, I listen to his podcasts, and I learn and grow.  I get so caught up in the stories and interviews, I forget I’m running.  I find an episode that interests me, plan to run until the end of the episode, and then off I go.  Before I know it, I’ve been running three or four miles.  So, tip number one to motivate a good run (or a long walk) is to listen to Podcasts.  Use that time to enjoy being outdoors while being inspired by someone else’s story.

Taking motivation a step further, I just recently learned about charity miles.  If podcasts weren’t enough to keep me excited about moving, this app has sent me into running orbit:

charity miles logo

Get this.  Charity Miles gives money to YOUR favorite charity for every mile you run (or walk).   The money comes from corporate sponsors who are repurposing their advertising budgets for good.  It’s a win-win for all.  There are 40 charities to choose from, and you’re not locked in.  You can change your charity choice at any time.  As the mom of two incredibly cute and amazing kiddos who sport an extra chromosome, my charity of choice is Special Olympics.  Every step I take, I think about how I’m doing something to benefit talented athletes who consistently demonstrate true heart and sportsmanship.  Love, love, love this!  I logged 24 miles this week for Special Olympics, and it feels good!!!

mel charity miles 3

According to Tony Robbins, the secret to living is giving.  I completely agree with him.  When we give back, it reminds us of our truest purpose and motivates us to be more productive.  So find a podcast that will encourage you to be a better version of you, and then upload Charity Miles, get moving, and be a better version of you.

These are two tips that keep me moving.  What motivates you to get fit and stay fit?  Share in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you.

Just my thoughts.

~Mel

christian blog, Down Syndrome, Fitness, get fit, Health blog, self care

How A Special Needs Mom Fought Loneliness With Three Easy Steps … and Won!

kuhl jacket 4

I’ve been a special needs mom to a princess who rocks an extra chromosome for more than 13 years, and thanks to the miracle of adoption and a red-headed cheese puff who also rocks that extra something, I’ve been a special needs mom to two kiddos for 10 years.  Both are non-verbal, and both are a handful of mischief, drama, and constant giggles.  Like typical siblings, they fuss with each other (which amounts to grunting back and forth for what seems like an eternity at times).  They take things from each other, occasionally pinch one another, and even manage to tell on each other.  Picture little man grabbing my hand and pulling me to his big sister, then bursting into tears … while at the same time, big sister rolls her eyes and looks away.  Yep.  She’s usually guilty.

hope and charlie with momma!

Neither can take care of any of their needs independently.  They rely on me completely.  I dress them, bathe them, feed them, put them to bed, and read their minds (at least I try).  I talk to them, filling in their quiet with my own version of what they’d probably like to say if they had a voice.  Hopey has a high cartoon voice when I speak for her.  She thinks it’s hilarious, especially when I roll my eyes, stomp my foot, and act like a true teenage girl.  For Charlie, I use a sweet baby voice … because he’ll always be the baby of the family.

We try to agree on music in the car.  If I choose a Luke Bryan or Bruno Mars song, we’re always good.  But when I step outside the box, they sometimes break down into sobs.  We try to agree on clothing choices, but they’ve been known to rip off their clothing just as I finished getting it on their wriggling bodies.  Charlie, for added affect, likes to throw his shirt across the room.  Uhhhhhm, I guess you don’t like the shirt choice, dude?  haha.  (Did I mention they are full-on drama?)  I can laugh about it now.  I mean, c’mon, it’s funny.

The stress level of a special needs mom has been likened to the stress level of a combat soldier.  I’m convinced it isn’t necessarily because the role is so difficult, but because special needs moms never feel like they’re doing enough for their kiddos.  We question ourselves constantly.  Have we provided enough opportunities?  Therapy?  Education?  Are we feeding them too much?  Are they exercising enough?  Did I remember to double lock the doors so she can’t escape during the night?  Is his sniffle worth a doctor’s appointment?  Or is the risk of him catching something worse too great for that appointment?  And don’t even get me started on how much we worry about our child’s future.  Honestly, our minds never shut off.

There was a time when I was so caught up in figuring out how to be a special needs mom that I forgot how to live.  Unintentionally, I closed doors on friends and family who’d been in my life for years, because I felt they couldn’t possibly understand my new normal.  One day, I awoke to an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and regret.  I’d been so laser focused on reaching my two kiddos, that in the process, I forgot that I needed a support system.  I felt lost.  I thought I was being the best mom in the world.  But you know what I realized?  If I lose myself, I’m not being the best mom I can be.  More than anything else, they need me to be me.

I’d like to say that with this realization came a sweeping life altering shift.  As with most change, however, it was slow and steady.  I began by hiring a trainer.  I felt if I committed to her and to a schedule, I’d stick with it.  As it turns out, she became my biggest cheerleader.  Not only did she daily encourage me to push through my workouts, as I got to know her, she slowly invaded all of my empty, hurting spaces.  She asked me questions about my life.  She listened.  And she reminded me that I’m enough and that God is always with me.  Last year, she challenged me to run a 5K.  I ended up running thirteen.  She’s been my trainer for four years now, and I count her as one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.  The gym quickly became my community as I met new people.  In the process, I became physically stronger.  The more fit I became, the happier I felt.  My energy increased as endorphins kicked into high gear, I went from a size 8 to a size 4, and then one day I realized I felt like myself again.  It had been years.

tonya and me --- hot chocolate race 2018

Around the same time, I decided to open my home once a month to a group of my best buddies for a pizza party and karaoke.  They are all so much fun, I knew they’d usher happiness right into my life on a regular basis.  And they never disappointed.  What I didn’t expect, though, was what a tremendous role their parents would play in my fight.  These selfless moms and dads would drop off or pick up their adult children, and instead of walking away, they’d hug me.  They’d look me in the eyes and thank me for hosting a party.  Sometimes they’d come into the house and chat with me.  They made an effort to get to know me and my children.  Welcoming me into their lives without any walls, prerequisites, or expectations, they made me feel like a part of their families.

halloween pizza party

And finally, I became intentional about hiring sitters so that I could get out and do regular things that other moms get to do.  I have to say, God really showed off in this area.  I was terribly slow to trust others with my munchkins, because remember, I never left them.  So it was going to take some super fantastic girls who had a true desire to spend time with Hope and Charlie before I’d be able to leave them.  He brought me Nancy, Dana, two Hannah’s, Kelsey, Katie, Bryn, Bethany, and Rikki.  I can’t say enough about these girls, who are my superheroes.  Each wear their love for my kiddos on their sleeve.  They’ve worked tirelessly to break into Hopey’s tiny circle, they’ve tried every trick in the book to get Charlie to eat solid food (at 10 years of age, he still has his food puree’d and put into a bottle), and they’ve recklessly embraced all of me.   Whenever I attempt to show them more love and appreciation, they immediately meet we with the same.  They’re like beautiful mirrors reflecting everything I have to give right back to me.   I treasure them.  In every way, they are the hands, feet, and heart of God.

hannah and bryn

Life is messy.  There are times when we wake up and wonder how things became so crazy.  Can you relate?  But my message is that it’s never too late to make changes.  Maybe you’ll be blessed by getting a chance at a re-do.  Or perhaps you’re like me, and you’ll have to start all over from scratch.  It doesn’t really matter as long as you dig your heels into the dirt and move forward with intention.  I began with three simple goals.

  1.  Exercise so I can be healthy enough to raise my kiddos
  2.  Open my home to others
  3.  Hire sitters so I can occasionally get out

I stuck with them, continued to move forward, and my life totally turned around.  Not only am I not lonely, my life is filled and overflowing.  If I can do it, so can you.  What are your three simple goals?  Write them down and make a decision to hold yourself to them.

Just my thoughts,

~Mel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Vacation, Down Syndrome, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World

The Day I Met A Hero On Rockin’ Rollin Coaster

hope disney

What mom in her right mind takes her two special needs kiddos to Walt Disney World during the Christmas holidays?  I mean, wait times are longer than the summer tent revival altar call … and people are more wound up than the church lady who received a dose of the Holy Spirit during that tent revival meeting.  But my kiddos are suckers for Goofy in a Santa suit, and I am too.  So off we went.

Due to the throngs of Disney fans (short for fanatics for a very good reason), the Disability Access system was on overload and crashed.  As a result, for two days in a row, in order to get the much needed paper version of the disability pass, Hopey and I stood in line at Guest Relations for forty-five minutes.  The sole intention of the pass, mind you, is to avoid long lines.  Go figure.

In typical Hopey fashion, as we waited our turn in the queue, she tried her darnedest to make friends with everyone around her the only way she knows how.  She hooked her hands into the pockets of the man in front of her and yanked hard … nearly pulled the man’s britches clear to his knees.  I honestly did get a shot of his white skivvies.  He turned around and glared at me as if I was supposed to know she was going to pants him.  He’d been defenseless, poor guy, but he wasn’t her only target.  She grabbed a boob or two, pinched a teenage boy so hard he yelped, turned flips over the queue line chains, and kissed about a half dozen strangers.  By the time we reached the counter on both days, the Disney attendant was very pleased to hand me a pass and scoot us out the door and on our way.

We rode Everest, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Slinky Dog Dash, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Test Track and Tower of Terror.  While Hopey enjoys Dumbo, Pooh, Small World, and the Peter Pan ride … she lives for the thrill rides.  Each line though, even with the Disability Access Pass, was terribly long.  And in each line, I worked as diligently to manage her as she worked to “make friends”.

By the time we hit Rockin’ Roller Coaster, I was exhausted.  She looked up at me with that mischievous twinkle in her eyes, and I begged her to just stand in line patiently like everyone else.  I would’ve had better luck getting an oak tree to dance the Vietnamese Waltz.  With a tummy full of Mickey Bars, the sugar high was real.

As we waited, Hopey couldn’t help but stretch her arms out and touch anyone she could reach.  Every fiber of her being longed to share her excitement with the people around her.  Her face beamed with the biggest smile.  I imagine she wanted to tell everyone how thrilled she was to be at the most magical place on earth, but with no words, the best she could do was to tap the person next to her, in front of her, and behind her.  “We’re all riding this together, and it’s gonna be awesome!” is what she wanted to say.  But to many people in the line, she was an aggravation.  Eyes rolled.  People turned their backs to her.  And some even shot me the angry eyes.

I apologized to several people, and I actually hate when I do that.  What’s there to apologize for?  My daughter is filled to the brim and overflowing with unbridled and uninhibited joy,  but she’s unable to verbalize what she’s feeling.  What else can she do but to try to pull those around her into her world.  “Look at me!  See?  I’m just as happy as you are to ride this ride!”  She speaks the only way she can … with facial expressions, actions, and behavior.

We eventually made our way into the holding room for the pre-show, the one where Steven Tyler gives all the Disney fans  fanatics backstage passes and a limo ride, and Hopey and I ended up in front of the room right next to the door.  But when the door opened up to allow guests to ride the ride, everyone pushed in front of her.  They acted like they didn’t see her and shoved right past her.  In response, I held her close to me and told her to hold on, that we’d wait and be the last in line.

And that’s when it happened.

This man suddenly appeared in front of us, and shouted:  “This is unbelievable!”  He then jumped in front of everyone who was moving forward ahead of us, threw his arms wide open, and continued:  “Everybody stop and let this young lady get out to the ride.  She’s at the front, you’re all cutting in front of her, and it’s rude!”

A young guy tried to dart around him, but he put his hand out in front of the guy.  “That’s not gonna happen!” he stated flatly.  “It’s this angel’s turn.”

And just like that, he’d made a way for us to go in.

You might not know this, but every special needs mom is given a sixth sense.  It comes with the territory and is a not so subtle bead on the heart of people toward the special needs community at large, but especially toward her own child who has special needs.  Within seconds of meeting someone, for instance, I can tell whether the person is accepting (or not) of my two children who sport an extra chromosome.  In the special needs world, people are either all in or all out.  There’s no middle ground.  Even family members and long time friends will sometimes drop out of your life and forget your kiddo.  Being a special needs mom … and being an individual who is differently abled … is not for the faint of heart.

There are those, however, who are all in, and let me tell you, those people glow with a brightness that outshines the sun on its best day.  They dig their heels in deep and embrace that you are the ringleader of a circus where your child is the clown, the juggler, the knife thrower, the trapeze artist, the escape artist, and sometimes the ferocious lion … all rolled up into one.  But mostly our kiddos are the cute clown, eager to be funny, to charm and to make others happy.  And oh, how those amazing saints love our little clowns.  They choose mercy, grace, love, and acceptance.  They laugh when they could judge.  They press in when they could pull away.  They choose to be there.  No excuses.  No matter what.

This complete stranger was one of them.  He was all in.

It’s in moments like that when I get an extraordinary glimpse behind the veil to see what God sees.  The best in humanity.   No one else in that line or in that holding room saw Hopey.  I mean, yes, they looked at her.  But they didn’t really SEE her.  This man, however, grinned when he saw her hands flapping with enthusiasm.  He allowed her to reach out and touch his arm, made eye contact with her, and spoke to her.  Then he took a giant leap further when he publicly acknowledged her and defended her.

But most important of all, the stranger ended up making a difference.

As we waited the last few minutes for the ride, several of the people who’d been in line with us, those who’d previously ignored Hope, smiled at her.  A couple of people asked me if she was excited.  One guy gave her a high five.  I’d like to think they finally saw what they’d missed before and wanted to make up for it.  It didn’t matter to Hopey.  She was happy to share in the excitement with whoever would allow it.

To the ordinary heroes who choose to “see” what others miss.  Thank you.

“A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” — Zeus (Hercules)

hope and minnie mouse

Just my thoughts,

Mel