Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Document 100 Happy Days

At some point over the past year, you likely saw someone -- or many people -- share a photo on social media with the hashtag #100happydays.


It's exactly what you think it is, where you record through photos 100 happy days in your life, in a row.  The movement began from 100happydays.com, which explains the problem of today's "too busy" lifestyles and promises to send you a book of your photos when you complete the challenge (though I never got mine...).  However, the hashtag has ballooned out into a viral exercise in happiness, where people do it just for themselves.

And it's not for nothing, either!!  In my post daring you to write three good things, I explained the psychological research behind intentionally identifying the good things in your daily life.  Practices like writing three good things or taking a snapshot of one thing that made your day happy force you to acknowledge something POSITIVE in your life, even if your day was otherwise so-so or miserable, even.

If your day was blah, you still need to find something good, and this is what helps increase your happiness.  You see how many good things there are to celebrate! 

And I did!  On Instagram, I captured 100 Happy Days of my own. 



In those hundred happy days, from April through July, I was surprised at how easy this task actually became.  Some days, I was surprisingly overwhelmed by just how many "happy things" I had to choose from.  Some days, I Instagrammed the hashtag multiple times, because there were just too many things contributing to my happy day! What a great problem to have!

Of course, there were also plenty of days without an obvious "happy", and I'd have to really search for something simple to be happy or thankful about.  But then, that's the point: On days I wasn't doing anything fun, social, or interesting, I'd actively find something good in my day to identify as my "happy day."  Then, whatever it was, it was something I knew made me smile.

And that is how a practice like this can increase your happiness: It shows you just how many good things there are to be happy about--including things you might otherwise overlook.


I photographed beautiful views of the city.  I went out into nature.  I sang my heart out at concerts.  I sipped on wine.

I had fun, crossed things off my year-long bucket list.



I enjoyed time and celebrated with friends and family.



I celebrated fitness and health!


I learned new things!


Simple pleasures became "happy days".


This challenge made me look beyond the rain 
and feel thankful for my rainboots:



This challenge made me appreciate the little things... this challenge made me happy! 

Those are just a few snapshots from my happy days.  See them all here. What's GREAT is now that the "100 happy days" are over, I'm still feeling benefits.  How?

Post-challenge benefits:

  1. I have a collection of photographs that bring a smile to my face.  I remember the happy day, the thing that made me smile, and today makes me smile again.
  2. Even better: I still see through a "#100happydays" lens.  My eyes still look for the happy thing.  I'm no longer using the hashtag, but I am consciously feeling thankful, happiness, gratitude for things I might have otherwise overlooked. 

If I did it, so can you!   

Dare you to capture #100HappyDays in your life!!! 

What made YOU happy today?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Make the hard but healthy choice

I'm supposed to be running a 10k right now.  I should be out on Roosevelt Island with Alec and Jen, running 6.2 miles for the New York City 10k.  I should be feeling simultaneously fatigued and energized, on the brink of glory, as I was one month ago at my first 10k.

Instead, I'm lying in bed, drinking tea, considering what type of soup I want, and coughing up a storm.


I've been sick since precisely September 24, when I first felt the itch in my throat.  Over the following weeks, my upper respiratory infection got worse, and then better, and worse again.  Even after I felt well again, my cough persisted, and I was continuously short of breath.  As a result, I did not continue training for my next 10k, and I didn't hit the gym at all.  Walking wore me out, and talking exhausted me. After too long, I finally admitted that this was more than a cold and went to the doctor.  He first tried to knock it out of me with some strong meds (which worked for only the one day after taking it), and then started me on antibiotics. I'm currently on day four of seven.

As today's 10k approached, I kept trying to convince myself that I would be okay.  One evening last week, I went out for a test run to see how I'd do.  I made it one mile--a distance that hasn't challenged me for years--before I had to stop and catch my breath.  Then, I turned around and walked/jogged back home, saddened at what this likely meant for my race.

Yesterday, I found myself walking for just 20 minutes (for transportation purposes), and this, too, I felt in my chest.  By the time I got home, I was coughing heavily again for an hour straight.  The coughing gave me a headache.  Enough is enough--I'm sick. 

While I and the friends I asked had been on the fence, saying sure, I could go and just walk when I need to... my trusty friend Dr. Jordan told it to me straight: "Don't do it."  

He was right!  My poor lungs!  Why was I pushing myself, only to make myself worse?  I should be resting and recovering, letting my meds run their course and hopefully pump me back to life sooner rather than later.  I'd surely already delayed my recovery by continuing to go to work every day; by forcing myself to travel 6.2 miles on foot, I'd undoubtedly further set back any progress toward health I'd made up to that point.  And for what, to get a medal and run with friends?  I know my friends will run with me a different day, and I'll cross those 6.2 miles when my body is up for the challenge.

So, I did not set my alarm for this morning.  I spent yesterday afternoon trying to pawn off my race bib.  I went to bed at 10 last night, and slept exactly until the 8-am start time, at which point I woke up, as though my body knew where I wanted to be.  I thought of my friends running the race and hoped they'd meet their goals (they did!).  I rested.  I took my medicine. I'm continuing to rest.


Doing what I've got to do.

It turned out to be a very cold morning, and I woke up feeling sickly... but my cough sounds better, and I'm glad I'm not overdoing it today.

-----

Dare you to make the hard but healthy choice, when you're in a similar position.  

Sometimes "healthy" means not pushing yourself, not running/moving/lifting.  

Sometimes, you have to give up something you want, looked forward to, even paid for, when your health calls for it.

Then, when you're well and feeling great, shoot for the stars :) 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Eat Apples

Fall!  Leaves!  School!  And... APPLES!

Although I didn't love eating fruit as a child, apples are one that I always enjoyed.  As an adult, I've gone through phases of apple consumption.  Whenever they're around, I gladly eat them, but I just have to remember to buy them.   Whenever I do, I'm always pleasantly surprised by how tasty they are!  This fall, I've dared myself to step up my apple game, and I dare you to, too!


Apples courtesty of tuelekza / freedigitalphotos.net

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away," or so they say.  I don't know if this is true, but I do know that apples have been long hailed as a health food.  What's all the fuss about? Don't so many health companies and apps use an apple in their logo or icon?  Why is that?

What's so great about apples?  Let's explore:
Nutritional Benefits 
Fiber
Antioxidants
Vitamin C
Boron
Pectin
*many of these nutrients are contained in the skin -- don't leave em out!
Note that apples are high in sugar.  Of course, this is a natural sugar that doesn't bother me much, but if you need to watch sugar consumption for one reason or another, it's something to be mindful of.
Medicinal Benefits: 
Antioxidants help protect against heart disease, cancer, and asthma
Apples are a "cooling" food that treat the heart, lungs, large intestines, and spleen
They're moistening, so they reduce thirst
Apples help cleanse the liver and gallbladder
Can boost exercise endurance
Can help clean teeth!
Promote beneficial intestinal flora and support normal colon function
Aid weight loss by satiating hunger via a modest amount of calories
Plenty to boast about!  No wonder apples are so popular.



Did You Know...
  • It's said that an "Adam's apple" originates from Adam being unable to swallow the bite of forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden
  • Apples trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit
  • There are more than 7,500 apple varieties grown throughout the world today 
  • It takes 36 apples to make one gallon of apple cider
  • Peak season for apples is from September to March (aka NOW!)

For me, the best part of apples is how satiating they are.  I find the fiber really fills me up, which is why this portable snack is a great option to toss in your bag for long days or trips.  Bonus: they're pre-portioned by nature!

Image courtesy of  rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Still, there are SO many ways to eat apples!  I bet you can find more than one way you'll enjoy:

Dare You To...
  • Take a bite of a whole apple (a timeless winner!!)
  • Slice and add to salad
  • Slice and eat with cheese or nut butter
  • Slice thin pieces to make little apple sandwiches (like this!) 
  • Make applesauce! (Recipe here)
  • Stew for use in a sauce 
  • Try dried apples as a convenient travel snack
  • Use apple butter as a scrumptious spread
  • Bake apples and add cinnamon for a sweet dessert (delicious grain-free apple crisp!

Click below to read more on apple selection, care, consumption:

I want to know:
What's YOUR favorite way to eat apples??
Feel free to post recipes in the comments!

Sources: The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia TheYummyLife.com Eating Well Huffington Post LiveScience.com WellnessMama.com, StillTasty.com FarmFlavor.com