Smiling The Stress Away

Smile by the_momentI found this article on the Huffington Post. It came out last August so it’s a little older, but the information is still valid. It talks about how smiling, real smiling, can help lower your heart rate when you are stressed.

Here’s an excerpt:

Smiling Could Help with Stress: Study

New research shows that smiling — and especially genuine smiling (where your eyes and mouth muscles are engaged) — may play a part in lowering heart rate after you’ve done something stressful. The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

“The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment,” study researcher Sarah Pressman, of the University of Kansas, said in a statement. “Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!”

Here’s a link to the full article: Smiling Could Help With Stress: Study

I’m thinking about this because I do a lot of trade shows for my company. It’s stressful, really stressful. First there is the travel – even fun travel can be hard on the body and the mind, and this is rarely fun. Then there is the fact that I’m frequently traveling with coworkers. Ten or twelve hours in a car with anyone can be trying, but with a coworker? Doubly so. Plus there is the show itself. It’s hard work standing all day long in a 10′ square selling your products to people who are mostly uninterested.

It isn’t all bad, but it can be easy to slip into a foul mood. Maybe I should give this a try. Smiling is good for sales – if it lowers my heart rate too, that’s a pretty good bonus!

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Thoughts in the Shower

I love this blog post from Teetotal for Two, “Who Do You Shower With?” Here’s an excerpt:

…no, not like that.  What kind of blog do you think this is?!

I mean, who do you think about?

What argument do you play over in your mind?  What hurtful words do you hear on your repeat?  What stinging and witty comeback do you plot in minute detail?  Whose birthday present do you plan?

I’m betting, if you’re anything like me, you don’t shower alone.

Click on over there and read the whole thing for yourself – it’s good stuff and got me thinking. I know I am guilty spending every moment of every day constantly thinking about… something.  It also reminds me of this TED Talk by Andy Puddicombe:

At several points in my life I have made time for meditation. Lately? Not at all. Teetotal for Two’s idea of simply taking that time in the shower to be present in the moment is beautiful in its simplicity. I think I will give it a try!

Happiness Questionaire

Happy Orange Bird by Sam HowzitSo, this was fun – I ran across the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire today. The questionnaire has a series of 29 questions which you have to answer with a number:

1 = strongly disagree
2 = moderately disagree
3 = slightly disagree
4 = slightly agree
5 = moderately agree
6 = strongly agree

Once you get through the questionnaire, you tally your numbers average them out to determine your score. I’m not going to give too much more information than that, (I don’t want to bias your scores) but if you have a few minutes, hop on over to the website and check it out.

My result was moderately happy – satisfied. I would say that is true. While there are a lot of things I would like to do, and some changes I would like to make, for the most part, my life is good. I have wonderful people in my life, meaningful work, an excitement for the future, and the love of a hound dog. I can’t ask for much else!

How about you? How did the questionnaire come out for you? What did you think of it? Do you think it was right? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear about it!

 

Photo credit: Sam Howzit

One Step Closer

run! by gemslingOh my goodness – I had an absolutely wonderful experience at my run clinic last night! I learned so much and I am so glad I went. My Marathon Running Coworker laughed when he heard I had gotten a book out from the library on running. He said, “What do you need know? Just get out and run!” When my Fashionista Coworker heard I was going to a run clinic, she siad, “Of course, you are. You are so education based!” And it’s true, I am. Especially when it comes to something I know nothing about. No, wait, I do know something – I know you can really injure yourself if you aren’t careful. (Hmmm… seems like education is a good thing!) The clinic was a perfect way to get some hands-on knowledge.

The class went like this: it started with a discussion of what works, and what doesn’t. We talked about good form, why it makes a difference, and did some physical movement so we could actually feel our muscles moving correctly. Then we headed out into the store. All of us ran from one end to the other while they filmed it. We did that twice, once with shoes and once without. Then it was back into the classroom to talk technique.

It sounds silly, and there was a little red faced shuffling when we heard we were going to run through a store while people were shopping! But, there were 12 of us in the class, from never-having-run-me, to weekend warriors, to track coaches, and we all did it. It was quick, and really pretty painless.

The instructor was great, he really showed us what we were doing – and what we were doing wrong. Again, it sounds terrible – having to see yourself running on video (projected on a huge wall), but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Since we watched it in slow mo and stop frame, it was fairly blurry, which meant that all the embarrassing parts were blurred right out. What you could see was form – and that was the important part. It was fascinating, and by the end of the class, all of us could identify common problems.

I had some rather unique problems. Pretty much everyone in the class had the same sorts of things, and after awhile, all of us could spot them. But, me? I like to be special!

Actually it is a symptom of never having run. Honestly, the length of the store is the longest I’ve run in something like 25 years. That is no exaggeration. Only good news is that it means that I don’t have any engrained habits. While I have some work to do, it isn’t like I am fighting years of training. The instructor gave me some exercises to help and I really feel like I can make use of the knowledge.

I picked up shoes and running socks while I was there, but I still have to find that elusive sports bra. (I tried some on there, but I ran out of time and I need to go back.) I am constantly getting closer and closer to taking that first run. A little better weather and a few more minor things, and I’ll be there. Looking forward to it!

Photo credit: gemsling

Thinking About Success and Happiness

Video

I just stumbled on this TED talk by Richard St. John. He talks specifically about success in a business sense, but I think it is apt for any type of success.

It’s got me thinking a lot about identifying what makes you happy – and by doing it well – reaching success. It’s a short talk (under 5 minutes) check it out and see what you think:

Sometimes, You Have to Laugh

From the Amusing Compliments File*Day 279: Smiles by crimsong19

Last night I had a Board Meeting. The conversation went something like this:

Board Member 1 (who knew I was working on my weight): There she is! Miss Skinny Minnie! [followed by additional very kind compliments.]

Board Member 2 (who obviously heard the complimentary tone, but not the content,): Oh yeah! I wanted to say, Long View Hill, that I noticed it right away in the parking lot. You have a new haircut! I thought to myself, Long View Hill looks really cute today! **

Note: I have had roughly the same haircut for about a year now.

Lesson Learned: When you lose 20 pounds, you also get great hair!  Who knew?!

* I share these compliments with you because they make me laugh, but please know that these are not the only things people have said to me. People have been awesome! I have had wonderful support from my boyfriend, my sister, my mother, and all my dear friends. One of my coworkers, who I’ll call Always Annoyed Coworker (as she always seems a little pissed off), raved about my weight loss the other day. This is the first compliment she has given me in the 14 years I’ve known her!

** Though I giggle about this with you, I learned a long time ago that a compliment is a gift. You should never turn down a well intentioned gift. The best thing to say when getting a gift is simply, thank you. My response to Board Member 2 was: Thank you. I appreciate that!

Photo credit: crimsong19

All About the Ladies

Two Quick Things:Lovable Sweetheart by Nesster

When I mentioned that my sister and I bought some new clothes for me, I forgot to tell you one very important thing: we also picked up a couple new bras for me. Now, I’ve never kept close track of my weight or even the size of my clothes. I can’t tell you what I weighed at age 25 or when I transferred from a size 14 to a 16, but I do know about my bra size. When I was in my twenties I worked at a high-end department store in the lingerie section for several years. I was a bra fitter, so bra size was something I paid a lot of attention to. Back then I was a 36DD. Since then, I have been as high as a 40DDD. Now? I am back at 36DD! Yay for me!

The second thing is that tonight one of my local runner outfitters is having a clinic for new runners. I am going! After the clinic I am planning on asking them to help me find my perfect shoe – and get a sports bra in my new size!

Look at me go!

 

Photo credit: Nesster

 

My Dog, My Trainer

Why are you blogging? We should be walking right now.

Why are you blogging? We should be walking right now.

My boyfriend recently reminded me that while I started losing weight officially in January, I actually started quite a bit before that – back when I got my dog, Hermes.

It’s hard to believe that he hasn’t been with me forever, but in fact, he came into my life August 2011. I’ve always been a walker, but Hermes made me hardcore. Because I don’t have a fenced in yard, and he is a hound dog, I can never just let him off leash. So, twice a day irregardless of wind, rain, shine, blizzards, tornado warnings, hail, thunderstorms, or any other weather, Hermes and I are out pounding the pavement. I walk him roughly an hour a day during the week (a half hour in the morning and then again when I get home) and a bit more on the weekends.

Even if I had a fenced in yard, I’d still be walking him. (I mean, look at that face!) Hermes doesn’t care if I am too tired, or feel like wearing slippers rather than hiking boots. He doesn’t understand weekends or sleeping in, (so, we are up at 6:30 regardless of the day of the week), and he doesn’t care about my bad day or weekend plans.

Hermes has two things that he dearly loves in life.  Walks and naps.

Naps rule.

Fine. I will nap until you are ready to walk me again. Please hurry.

Now, I would never suggest that someone get a dog to lose weight. And even though there are tons of articles out there touting the wonders of a pet on your health, bringing an animal into your home is a huge commitment. It’s also fairly expensive. Not all families or individuals are suited for or have time for a pet, especially a furry buddy who needs long walks every single day.

For me though, he’s been a godsend in a lot of ways. I love the little guy and I am glad we found each other. I adopted him from a shelter, but I am a firm believer that the dog you need will find you. Hermes found and claimed me. He also got me into shape. I don’t think I would be contemplating running right now if he hadn’t kicked my butt in gear with walks. We’ve literally hiked for hours up at my cabin, and that’s built up my strength and ability to determinedly head out – even in sleet.

I’ve considered training him to run with me, but I think that might be a bit more work than I am ready for. There is a reason that you see people running with Labs, Boxers, German Shepards and even Rotweilers, but you don’t see people running with mixed breed hound dogs! Hermes doesn’t love his walks because of the exercise and pretty views – that’s what I get out of it. He gets the smells. When we walk, that brown nose is plastered to the pavement and he moves like a metronome across the sidewalk. If he encounters a particularly enticing smell, he plants all four paws and forty pounds in a dead stop. We’re working on that.

Until we get that worked out, I think I’ll run solo.

 

 

Running Down a Dream

I hate squirrels. I like this photo, though.

I hate squirrels. I like this photo, though.

“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.”

-John Bingham, running speaker and writer

Just a quick running update:

As I mentioned yesterday, I picked up some running clothes this weekend. I’ve also visited two different parks – both of which are just ten minutes from my office. Both of them have running/hiking/walking trails, and of course, there are pros and cons to both. There is still a third I want to visit and check out. So, I feel good about that, I have some locations scouted. Sometimes I think the hardest thing about trying something new is the big fat element of the unknown. Like anyone trying something new, I am a little nervous. I am trying to minimize it as much as possible.

I am ordering a sports bra today. (I’m getting it from Title Nine since I have had very good experiences with their products in the past.) Next step – shoes! We’ve got a great store in town for runners, and they are my destination once I get back from my next business trip.

Looks like I am on my way!

Photo credit: Randy, Son of Robert