Recap Week, Day 5: (never home)maker Favorites

>> Friday, July 30, 2010


For our last day of recap week, we decided to throw a central theme to the wayside. Friday is all about doing what you like, so today's all about (just a few of) our favorite posts. As random as can be, too. We get ideas for what to write all the time. Sometimes, what we publish is well planned. Sometimes we get a burning question in our inbox, passionately type up an answer, and 30 minutes later have a new post. What can I say? Blogging can be quite a roller-coaster.

Whenever we get emails (and lately, we've been getting quite a few! so THANK YOU for writing us!), we let people know if they ever have ideas or things they'd like to read about . . . LET US KNOW! We want to write what you want to read. What you want to comment on. So, leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker@gmail.com.



Sad, but true -- this post concludes our recap week. I'm sure we'll do it again in the future -- it was fun looking back on the variety of posts we've had in the eight months we've been live.

If you missed the other days, get caught up now:
But now onto future fun projects. We want to share YOUR story for an upcoming week celebrating healthy living. No story is too insignificant or unimportant. Silly or boring. It's ALL good. All you need to do to be included is to email us (neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com) what made you care about your health/fitness/nutrition. Anything goes, really. And if you have a blog address, be sure to include that, too. And a photo would also be fantastic (can be of anything related to what you write).

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On the Importance of Sleep

>> Thursday, July 29, 2010


Anyone who knows Stephen knows that he has this ridiculous amount of knowledge about marine life. The other day he mentioned something about how sharks don't sleep (well, at least not how we do) because they must keep swimming. They constantly move, rushing water over their gills to receive oxygen (yeah, to breathe under water). This whole thing blew my mind.

I can't imagine being in non-stop motion. Not sleeping. Yikes!

With all we have written about running and fitness, there's been little on the topic of rest and relaxation. Especially sleep. Sleep is not only necessary, but also amazing -- almost magical. It gives us the opportunity to recharge mentally and physically. Our bodies and minds do a lot of important work in those hours of dark and quiet. We've all read what too little sleep can do to the body -- from increased stress and weight gain to shortened life span and hastened visible signs of aging (source). And runners and athletes need a good night's rest to perform their best in the short and long term.


When I was less athletic, I stayed up late almost every night. Usually till 1:00 AM or so. I would read. Look up stuff online. Hang out with friends. Or even do nothing at all. I just didn't sleep well, nor did I care. When I became more physically active in college, my sleep regulated, but my social life worked against my natural urges. I didn't get nearly enough rest between studying for exams and partying on weekends (OK . . . and week nights). When I graduated, I slept more, but still not enough. No, it wasn't until half marathon and marathon training that I truly understood and appreciated the power of the pillow.

Now, I crave sleep. I need at least 8 hours a night to feel "normal," whatever that means. If I don't get that much time, I feel lousy. And I'm lucky. I live a lifestyle right now that allows me to get a ton of ZZZs on a regular basis. Of course, those of you out there with children are probably laughing right now, and many of the tips I provide may not work for you. For the rest of you, however, despite what you may think, you, too, can find more horizontal time each night.


(Who's that in the photo? It's Steff from Steff Says!) You just need to have the motivation. The dedication. And a few helpful tips. How much sleep you "need" is entirely up to you. The recommended daily amount is anywhere between seven and up to ten hours (depending on a variety of factors, including age and activity level). To find what works best for you, experiment.


#1: Make the commitment to yourself. Sleep is important. We've already covered that. The first step in getting more rest is reminding yourself of this fact (sleep is important, sleep is important, sleep is important) whenever something comes in the way. For example, I often get in the habit of writing posts at night, well into the night. I now have a cut-off time of 9:00 PM so that I can start to unwind . . . disconnect. If I'm not in bed by 10:00 PM on a work night, I know I won't have enough time to get in my "required" 8 hours. However, I've made the commitment to myself that because sleep is important, I will push aside other duties and pursuits in favor of more shut-eye.

Sometimes I have to actually verbalize this commitment to myself if I'm particularly wrapped up in work or another activity. But I've been getting quality rest time for over two years now, and I'm ever-so thankful. If you're having trouble choosing sleep over other stuff, just think about how much better you'll feel with the extra snoozes. Picture yourself waking up the next morning -- do you feel refreshed . . . or not? More than likely, you'll wish you had skipped that late-night celebrity gossip fest. So, turn off the TV and head to bed!


#2: Look at your routine and create a ritual. It's difficult to get in the zone if you're pushing yourself to the max until you go to bed every night. What are you doing in the afternoons and evenings? Is it relaxing stuff . . . or stressful stuff? Are you drinking coffee or alcohol (both may impact your sleep)? Are you bottom-loading your day with social activities out of your house/apartment? Basically, are you setting yourself up for a successful night's sleep? The answer may surprise you.

Along these same lines, if you create a ritual every night (like taking a warm shower 15 minutes before bed . . . drinking some herbal tea . . . reading a chapter of a novel . . . etc.) you'll get your brain in sleep-mode. If your routine involves staring at a TV or computer screen (or iPad), you may want to reconsider. Staring at an illuminated screen -- much like sitting in lit-at-all-hours casinos -- creates this false sense of time. "Melatonin signals are sent through the brain as a response to darkness, telling the body to prepare to shut down for the night" (source). So, if this is part of your night, try to limit your exposure an hour to half an hour before bed.


#3: Rearrange your day. You may save work or other obligations for the night-time hours. You may think you literally don't have time to get in those extra hours you need to feel and perform your best. But think again.

Consider creating a schedule in Excel of your day. Divide the sheet into days of the week and hours of the day. Activities and responsibilities are blocks of time -- usually one or two hours, etc. Work and other items may be constants -- blocks that cannot be moved. But look at where you might be able to shuffle stuff around. Meal times. Exercise times. Hanging-out times. Errand times. Make sure to include in this schedule a nice block of sleep time. You CAN fit it in, it may just take some creative scheduling.


Sometimes the issue is not a matter of trying to squeeze in more time for sleep. No, sometimes getting any shut-eye at all is difficult . . . for a variety of reasons. I've had my fair share of weird no-sleeping spells. In our next post on this topic, we'll cover ways to get over these issues. If you have and of your own tips to add, just leave us a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Recap Week, Day 4: Reader Spotlights


We've had some great reader spotlights since (never home)maker started last November. We thought it'd be cool to share them all in one place so you can read what our readers are writing about. Check out their blogs. And possibly feel motivated and inspired to submit your very own reader spotlight piece to us!

That's right: YOU! If YOU'd like to be considered for a Reader Spotlight, just check out our info post with all the gooey details.

C'mon! Don't be shy :)


If guest posting isn't your thing, maybe you'd like to be added to our Link Love list. Just head over to check out some great sites by fellow readers and find instructions on how to add your own!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!!

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Recap Week, Day 3: Running Tips and Tricks

>> Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I began my day with an easy and fun 7.2 mile run at 8:28 pace. All in my Vibrams. I can't imagine a better way to start off my 27th year. As most of you know, running is one of our most frequent topics on (never home)maker. And you may not have checked out the running button in our right-hand sidebar yet. All our running-related posts are available to you -- at all times. But we thought we'd post it this week, too. The information covers a range of topics related to running, training, motivation, and everything else for beginners and long-time runners alike. So, if you're new, you're in luck! There's a ton of stuff you can read through/catch up on. Enjoy!

In the future, you can get all this info easily, just click on the button that looks like this:


And if there's a topic you DON'T see covered yet -- let us know. We're always looking for ideas. Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.


GROWING COLLECTION OF RUNNING POSTS:

RACE REPORTS:
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Happy Birthday to Me!


It's my 27th birthday today! I can hardly believe my eyes when I read that very sentence. My 20s are flashing by at mach speed! In honor of this wonderful occasion (and my all-time favorite holiday), I'm showing you all a photo that was taken exactly 27 years ago.

Shortly after I came out of the oven. Freshly baked, indeed!


26 was my most fit year yet. I ran in my first marathon. Took nearly 20 minutes off my previous half marathon personal record (from a 2:04 back when I was 21 to a 1:46 at Lake Placid). Smashed my best 15K time as well. I'm looking forward to seeing what my body can do this year -- but training for yet another marathon is already getting me a little frazzled.

Stay tuned on that one . . .


26 was also an interesting diet year for me. I went from being mostly vegan to eating eggs, yogurt, and cheese on a regular basis. I'm feeling pretty good about that decision, and I'm enjoying new and exciting recipes I've been able to create as a result.


Most of all, 26 brought us (never home)maker -- our new corner of the internets. And I'm so thankful for all you awesome readers out there in blog-land. Thanks for your comments, emails, and support. Now, I'm off to celebrate!


Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!!

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Recap Week, Day 2: Sumptuous Soups

>> Tuesday, July 27, 2010


It's recap week, day 2! And today we're cooking up for you our best soup and stew recipes. When I did my digging for this post, I was incredibly surprised by the number of slurp-able posts I spooned up. Basically: We love soups because they're easy to create and oh-so satisfying. Just add some slices of your favorite bread and a small salad, and you've got yourself a filling meal.

We'd love to know what your favorite soup and/or stew recipes are, too. If you have one on the tip of your tongue, just leave us a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.



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Recap Week, Day 1: A Budget-Friendly Life

>> Monday, July 26, 2010


Welcome to recap week! We thought we'd devote an entire week to giving you the best of (never home)maker that you may or may not have already read. We had some great posts when we started out, and as we've grown, they've become buried and forgotten. While we work on better searching and discovery for these posts, manually putting this info together seems like the best approach.

Now, there's a recurring theme on this blog . . . and it revolves around budget. We're always looking for ways to save money. And through the years, we've certainly learned a thing or two about how to get the most for less. So we decided to round up a bunch of our penny-pinching posts for you. Their focus is broad -- anything from saving bucks on kitchen design to slashing grocery costs. Getting a little DIY on home design to honing your culinary art -- so we hope you'll take some time to learn and explore.

And if you are curious about how to save money in other ways that we haven't yet covered, let us know! We're always looking for post ideas from our readers. Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.





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Seasonal De-Motivation

>> Sunday, July 25, 2010


Michelle writes: "This question is related to your post about becoming bored with running. I am in good shape and typically run every other day, 2-5 miles (whatever I feel like, have time for, etc...) I also take pilates, yoga, and Zumba, which keep me very active and entertained throughout the week."

"But recently, I've become bored with it all! I don't know what to do! I'm very busy and these activities always fit into my schedule so nicely. I just wish I could feel as enthusiastic about them as I did a few weeks ago. What do you do to get through things like this? Does the excitement come back? My theory is that it's the hot weather that's dragging me down (I loved running at either 10am or 5pm, but now it's too hot for me at those times). Does the heat and humidity affect you and how do you deal?"


Michelle's situation is not at all uncommon. But what makes me particularly identify with her is her theory that the heat and humidity might have something to do with her lack of motivation. So, if you're looking for basic motivation tips and tricks, head over to the Race Burnout and Marathon Training post, where readers from all fitness levels weighed in on their best strategies to get back in the game.

But if you're interested in how to beat the heat (or cold, depending on the season), keep reading. Whenever the season changes, I go through this period of two weeks to three weeks where I feel like almost every run is a struggle. Naturally, I imagine it's temperature-related. But I also bet that it has to do with where the sun is in the sky when I run. Since I work full time, I usually end up running in the evenings (despite how much I try to get up and go before work), so in the summer months, that means it's super hot with lots of sun. In the winter, it's dark and frigid.


Essentially, I get the worst of whatever extreme is happening at the time. Here are some ways that I cope with what we could call Seasonal De-Motivation.


1.) Be prepared. Even if you can't control the weather, you can empower yourself by knowing what to expect. Become a regular at weather.com. You can find us on that site pretty much every day -- even a couple times -- checking out the highs, lows, and forecasted precipitation. You can even get an hour-by-hour forecast, which certainly comes in handy on those days where the first half is dry and beautiful and the second half is sleety or stormy.

If you know what to expect, you can plan and dress accordingly. You can mentally prepare, too. If it's going to be particularly hot and humid, for example, you can see at what time of day the temperature is best for you. You can also get lots of information about sunrise, sunset, etc.


2.) Change your method. I recently ran a 7-miler in intense heat and humidity. And it was only 6AM. Yeah. Sometimes that first step doesn't work because the weather is seriously too crazy hot or cold . . . and waiting until the magic hour is not going to change anything. What I did for my run was simple. I threw out all my expectation for distance and speed and just ran. What I think often works best is the walk-run approach. I ran for 9 minutes (just about a mile, little more), then walked for 1. Repeat. I did this until I reached my goal distance for the day. However, other times, I've stopped at half my slotted miles.

It all goes back to the No Workout is Too Short or Slow philosophy. Part of feeling motivated is continuing a feeling of accomplishment. Finishing a workout creates a feeling of accomplishment. You do the math.


3.) Consider cross training. Sometimes when it's just too uncomfortable, it's best not to run at all. That day I ran the 7-miler in the heat, I groaned on my Facebook page that it was simply too hot and humid to run. My friend Randy quickly replied "Bike instead! You get the benefit of some cross training and a self generated breeze!" And he's so right!


Don't forget that there are other ways to work up a sweat -- even if you don't actually sweat. Yeah, swimming is a great way to beat the heat. Biking. Even a nice walk can suffice (you can wear a hat and carry a huge bottle of water). Even do a hybrid workout (like this Tri Training for Runners one).

In the winter months, you may want to head indoors to the gym. Hit up the elliptical or stair machine. Join a group fitness class. Lift or do some Zero Dollar Strength Training. Going inside may delay the inevitable (getting used to the new weather at hand), but keeping that feeling of accomplishment may be all you need to stay motivated.


4.) Pick function over fashion. You may just need some of the right clothing to keep yourself going in the heat or cold. If you're not dressed properly, you may be cheating yourself. If it's cold, check out our post on How to Suit Up to Set Out. That post was inspired in January after Stephen and I participated in a series of races where the temps stayed below 0 degrees F (with brutal wind chills). This past winter was cold, for sure. But it was the first time I didn't retreat to the gym, which helped me maintain better training (for running, at least). Layers are KEY.


In the warm months, you need to go with smart fabrics (CoolMax or Dri-Fit). I purchased two amazing running shirts (Under Armor) at the beginning of the summer, they wick away sweat and are extremely lightweight. It feels like I'm wearing nothing at all. In those months where the weather is in-between, layers, again, are your friend. It may take a couple workouts to find what works best for you, so I recommend running a loop that goes by your house so you can change, if necessary.


However, sometimes you really can get the best of both worlds (fashion AND function). For example, Lululemon makes some fantastic, great quality clothing. Check out Fit Style: Lululemon for more of my thoughts on that topic.


5.) Keep your spirits high. Remember that a week of missed or lousy running doesn't define your training. Nor does two weeks. When the weather is just ridiculous (and, I mean, c'mon -- 100+ degrees with 80 percent humidity is pretty funny, right? Same with negative temps and blinding snow), keep telling yourself that this setback is only temporary. Get out there and do what you can, but your fitness doesn't start to fade immediately.

If you're training for a race, look it up online. Browse the webpage. Look for Facebook or Twitter groups -- people who are training for the same event. Last year, when I was having trouble training for the Philly Marathon, I googled "Philadelphia Marathon running blog" and found Elizathon. Not only was it cool to find someone else out there training for the same race -- but she was also using my exact plan! It was great reading her progress and sharing in her successes (and vice versa). Reach out, and you won't be disappointed.

What are your hot or cold weather running tips? Have you ever experienced the whole seasonal de-motivation phenomenon? Tell us all about it! Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!!

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