Category Archives: Random

My resolution has no resolution.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s a marketing ploy to sell stuff. However, I do believe January is a perfect time to “reset” and think about my goals or plans for the new year. So I am starting this new year off by doing #Whole30. I don’t want to say it’s a diet because it isn’t. It is not designed as a vehicle to lose weight as much as it is to focus on how food interacts with your body and how to eat and get maximum nutritional benefit without relying on processed food. It does, however, have guidelines to follow for as long as you want to adhere to them. The guidelines are no dairy, soy or processed/refined/sugar items. Basically, anything that turns to sugar once digested is a no-no.

Two years ago, I did a January Whole30 and found it to be very doable as long as I prepped my meals in advanced and kept a lot of turkey bacon, avocado and eggs on hand. There is a lot of information provided by founder Melissa Hartwick on social media, and she is totally honest about how you will feel throughout the month. I like doing Whole30 in January because January sucks in Chicago. It’s usually grey and freezing, and I get really unmotivated to leave my house. It’s a perfect time to prep meals and if I feel sluggish from the sugar detox, I stop writing and make soup or take a nap. Ok–not everyone has that luxury, but I’m just being honest because hey, it’s my blog.

During my first Whole30, I had more energy, lost some weight, lowered my cholesterol (a genetic inheritance) and felt overall much better while eliminating sugar from my diet. On the other hand, I also found myself obsessing over what to cook for dinner every night. This time,  I have a plan. This year, I’m trying Blue Apron as they are in a  partnership with Whole30. I chose three dinners a week where I don’t have to think about cooking or shopping and not worry about what will be Whole30 compliant. I also intend to make a lot of soups. It’s just an easy way to eat and also experiment with my new Insta-Pot.

I am not going to say I’m only participating for a month. My “goal,” is to somehow keep sugar out of my diet. I would love to figure out how to occasionally eat pasta or bread and not slide down the carby slope of decadence. My problem last go-round was that I didn’t know how to bring certain foods back without completely flying off the rails. I also had trouble eating out. It is much better to follow this program and not have a social life because it’s just easier to have control over your food than eating at restaurants. Plus, who needs the temptation? I am going to have to stop kvetching about it and suck it up because I do go out on Saturday nights, and I do need to figure out how to eat out of the house on Whole30.

Today my refrigerator is stocked with chopped vegetables, seasonal fruit, eggs and beef bones for broth. I am on the lookout for compliant recipies too. Here’s to keeping the sugar dragon at bay. Happy New Year!


Silence the Symptoms! Parkinson’s and Exercise

Do you ever scroll through Facebook and marvel at articles or fan pages showing the 75 year old who ran a marathon? Or the 65 year old who has the fitness level of a 35 year old? Just because one is aging — a fact no human can prevent — doesn’t mean muscle strength has to deteriorate if it is maintained through regular exercise. The unfortunate reality is, the adage “use it or lose it” is a well-established truth, according to a study in the Journal the Physician and Sports Medicine done in 2011,

What if one suffers from Parkinson’s Disease? Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that occurs when dopamine generating cells cease to function. It is classified as a movement disorder. Common symptoms of the disease include tremors, difficulty walking, and balancing, as well as loss of motor skills.

Can it be possible to slow down the progression of a disease that occurs when the dopamine generating cells cease to function? Can one reduce common and obvious symptoms of shaking, slowing of movements and difficulty walking? According to the American Academy of Neurology, the answer is yes. While Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, and there currently is no cure, exercise can slow down the speed and increase dopamine and neuroplasticity, according to NeuroReport 2013.

In 2006, a man living with Parkinson’s for fourteen years literally shuffled into the Ridgewood YMCA in Bergen County, New Jersey. After managing the disease with exercise, the 50-something year old began falling due to persistent Parkinson’s symptoms, and over time, his ability to exercise on his own became more difficult. Previously a runner, his goal was to achieve the highest fitness possible and worked with a trainer attacking each symptom as it occurred focusing on high intensity (particularly spinning), core, yoga and balance exercises. After several months, he was able to reduce his Parkinson’s medication due to the improvements from a regular exercise regime. In 2011, he had participated in the local Ridgewood 5K Run four years straight.

Enter Carol Livingstone. Carol is the Health and Fitness Director at the Ridgewood YMCA in Bergen County, New Jersey. She holds a degree and multiple certifications in training patients with Cancer as well as Parkinson’s Disease.

Motivated by this patient’s success, Carol began researching exercise programs that specifically addressed Parkinson’s patients. She wanted to focus on people who had early stage Parkinson’s to help them reduce their symptoms. She eventually discovered Delay the Disease, a group exercise program affiliated with the OhioHealth healthcare system in Columbus, Ohio. Delay the Disease was co-founded by David Zid, BA, ACE, APG Director of Movement Disorder and Musculoskeletal Wellness at OhioHealth and owner and president of DavidZid Health Works, a personal training facility and Jackie Russell, RN, BSN, CNOR, Co-Founder and program director. David and Jackie began training older adults who suffered from Parkinson’s and after years of evidence-based research, co-created a Parkinson’s-specific program for trainers. They both speak throughout the country spreading the program and its benefits. They also created a specialized program for caregivers and partners to help loved ones using Delay the Disease exercises at home on a daily basis. Delay the Disease is a wellness program that empowers patients, puts them back in control, and offers hope and optimism in the face of a progressive neurologic diagnosis.

Delay the Disease was exactly what Carol was hoping to find through her research. In 2010, she flew to Columbus, Ohio, where she participated in a 2-day program and received certification to train those afflicted with Parkinson’s using the Delay the Disease program. She learned about the signs and symptoms, clinical progression and current research and assessment tools with Parkinson’s patients. Without any advertising, word of mouth spread at the Y, and she began the 12-week pilot program with 19 people. They pre-tested people’s movements, and tested them again after completion. The exercises focused on balance, agility and mobility, and generated significant results. At the onset of the program, one male participant could not rise out of a seat without assistance. Well over six feet, the task was difficult even with his wife’s help. After the pilot program ended, he completed 7 unassisted rises from a seated position in 30 seconds. Similar gains were made with other people’s balance and agility.

More importantly, a community developed at the Y for Parkinson’s patients to exercise, and commiserate. Working together as a group had the effect of disarming the isolation normally felt by Parkinson’s sufferers, since the entire group had symptoms such as shaky hands and difficulty rising. This allowed the group to exercise and motivate each other and maintain their dignity. Eventually, Carol trained several trainers and the program spread to four additional YMCA’s as well as Valley Hospital in Northern New Jersey. The program was so effective that every Occupational and Physical Therapist working at Valley Hospital was trained using the Delay the Disease program to help Parkinson’s patients in the hospital. When those therapists weren’t at the hospital, they volunteered with Parkinson’s patients at the Y.

While a Parkinson’s diagnosis will affect roughly 60,000 Americans a year, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, that does not necessarily mean those patients should cease an active lifestyle. Exercise is shown to reduce effects of the disorder, and research continues in hopes of finding a cure. If you are interested in learning more about Delay the Disease and its efforts, go to

WGN and the Holocaust Graphic. Oy.

My husband and I were discussing over dinner the debacle that is the WGN graphic incident. In case you weren’t on the internet, or you don’t live in the Chicago area, while doing a story on Yom Kippur, the WGN 9 PM News used the Holocaust yellow star with Jude across the middle as their graphic to convey the Jewish holiday. The graphic also included nice blue and white striped vertical lines to suggest the prison clothes worn in the camps. I’m not going to comment on the utter stupidity or insensitivity of that graphic. I’m just going to say that the Holocaust survivors are dying off, and as much as people are aware of the atrocities they faced, there is still an enormous lack of understanding in conflating this symbol with a religious holiday.

Let’s face it, how often have you heard politicians attack each other or presidents by calling them Nazis? Is it so unusual to hear presidential candidates suggest another holocaust is inevitable if the Iran Deal passes? How often has the Israeli army been called Nazis? Are there not men of power who continue to deny the Holocaust ever occurred? If the Holocaust is thrown around so easily, is this offensive graphic really a surprise? When politicians and others throw the Holocaust around for political gains and scare tactics, it truly diminishes the impact and lessens the impact of the history it created.

My children learned about the Holocaust in Hebrew school beginning in fourth grade. In middle school, the Language Arts curriculum included a Holocaust unit. In Social Studies, they studied world religions including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. However, I live in a fairly Jewish community. It makes me wonder what students learn about the Jewish religion in areas with different ethnic backgrounds.

Perhaps there is a disconnect between who the Jewish people are and their history. By equating the Holocaust with a Jewish holiday suggests a lack of understanding and education as time marches on.

Taking a cue from Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B

Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 69 years old. June 5 usually represented what my family called, “Birthday Week.” My mom kicked off 6 days of Dairy Queen cake for her, Portillo’s chocolate cake for my son, more Dairy Queen cake for my husband and finally, some kind of cake we weren’t already sick of, for me. It was exhausting because I usually had to cram in kiddie parties and family gatherings (we combined my husband’s and mine, but the kid got his own). We always started off strong for my mom though. She always got her choice of dinner and an M&M Treatza-Pizza or Pecan Cluster Dairy Queen confection. In my family, Gemini’s ruled. And that was cool.

It’s ironic that this week my Facebook page was inundated by Sheryl Sandberg’s post acknowledging the end of Sheloshim for her husband Dave Goldberg and shared by people who’ve lost parents. I also read Mayim Bialik’s post on about the loss of her dad and grieving in a public space. I would like to have a minyan with both of these women and I’d also include Sheryl Strayed, but she’s not Jewish, so maybe she could hang out there anyway?

I have no epiphany to share in the mourning process. People tell me the “firsts” are the hardest, but Birthday Week is forever shortened by one day, and I don’t see that ever improving. I considered sitting in my backyard among my mom’s flower pots, sipping ice tea, wearing one of her large brimmed hats and rereading The Great Gatsby not only because it was one of her favorite books and I have her note-filled copy but also because my son needs to read it over the summer. I guess in a way, that’s taking Option B.

Bibs, shorts and apps. Bike stuff.

As of May 19, I have ridden a total of 125 outdoor training miles in preparation for Ride the Rockies next month. Abysmal spring weather has dampened what is generally the time for accumulating base miles. However, I’ve been in this situation before, and because I’ll be in Denver next week for my pre-RtR Colorado Camp with my friend Sue, I know I’ll pick up more miles. I’m not going to put a number as to how many, I just hope the weather allows us to ride.

In the spirit of my pre-RtR days, I bought some new stuff because I haven’t purchased bike gear in years and more importantly, if I’m on the saddle and climbing, comfort is a must.

One thing about Ride the Rockies is, whatever you begin the day wearing, you will strip off by the end. So I highly recommend a handy little app called, What To Wear Cycling. Pretty obvious, but it uses GPS so you get your weather conditions. Yesterday morning, I checked it and reluctantly pulled out the leg warmers and full finger gloves. Day 2 of RtR is Grand Mesa, and I vividly remember starting with gloves, leg and ear warmers and jackets, peeling stuff off as we climbed and quickly redressing at the summit which was around 30 degrees. It was strange as I descended in mid-June and immediately headed for hot tea at the food station.

I also bought new bike shorts. I like Pactimo and bought several of the same pair for my 2012 ride. I still wear them, but this time I tried bib shorts. I see so many women, particularly triathlon women wearing them, so I figured I’d give them a shot. They are very comfortable and a little more streamlined then shorts. I like the almost girdle or Spanx compression too. However, I do not get how they can be worn on long distance rides. Seriously. Guys have the advantage here. I know I will not want to take off my shirt and nearly get naked in a tiny porta-potty each time I have to pee. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’re making the trip, but I did get new Pactimo shorts which I’m packing. Ladies, do you wear bib shorts when riding long distances?

The last thing I got was a new Gore Bike Wear Women’s Cycling jacket. I bought my first Gore jacket in 2004 and I still wear it today. It is by far the most durable, convenient and practical piece of clothing I own. It has an inside back pocket and strap so I can stuff it up into itself and wear it as a belt. It also has zippered sleeves which is tremendously helpful when riding long distance. I searched all winter for an updated version but sadly, couldn’t find it. Does Gore want us to wear more of their clothing? What I bought is useful in wind and rain, but it doesn’t provide any the features as my original. It doesn’t even have pockets! What’s the point of a CYCLING jacket if you can’t put your full-finger gloves away when the temps warm up?

I’ll probably wear it in case it rains at Red Rocks when we see The Decemberists.

I rant, I rave, but I don’t do this!

I am now convinced that we as a society are on the decline. No weapons of mass destruction? Nah. Jeggings? No. We’re done. Here come the Goths cuz the Romans have exited the vomitorium. Why the despair?

Because if you’re sitting in a public waiting room, like at a Toyota dealership for example, and you think it is perfectly acceptable to listen to music, using your SPEAKER phone, you are part of the problem and not the solution, my friend.

Where are the manners? Why did a grown man in his late 30’s at least think it’s permissible to pollute the waiting room? No one else blasted their music. People wore HEADPHONES to keep their bad Polish, or maybe Russian pop music to themselves. But not where I was sitting.

I looked at him several times. I covered my ears. Did he get the hint? Nope. And no, I didn’t ask him to turn it down, off or stick it where the sun don’t shine because I’m a not interested in getting confrontational in a waiting room. Especially with my 16 year old sitting next to me.

Instead I engrossed myself in the Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford beauty products infomercial. Twice.

On to the next adventure.

No filters necessary

Last week on a run, I decided to take pictures using Instagram. I’m amazed at the high quality of photos people take using it and the subtle use of filters can really enhance a photograph. Anyway, I wanted to take pictures of beautiful flowers because as a person with a brown thumb, I am always impressed with anyone who gardens or grows something beautiful when I usually kill stuff.

A clear, sunny day, I turned onto a street that I usually pass. I’m so glad I did because I came across a yard that was definitely worth checking out. I asked the elderly gentleman if he’d mind if I took some photos of his beautiful garden. He unlatched the gate, invited me in, and walked me around pointing out different flowers, how he acquired them, and how unenthusiastic he was about tending such a glorious place since losing his wife six weeks ago.

He told me he’s had several people stop by to admire it, so I’m hoping he doesn’t give up. He told me to stop by again and if there are tools out, get some work done. I warned him of my brown thumb, but he didn’t seem to think I’d be too dangerous.

My pictures don’t do these beauties justice, but just knowing they’re close by and on my run path, makes me want to keep running, and possibly pull some weeds.