Want to know how to really revitalize me, have me refreshed and inspired and ready to greet the world with positivity?
No, it’s not yoga (thank GOD March is finally here). Definitely not hot yoga. DEFINITELY NOT meditation.
Go to the zoo. More specifically, arrange a visit to zoo with other keepers and get to do fun stuff like feed giraffes, play with rhinos, and feed snacks to black bears.
Meeting new keepers was very helpful. But getting away from my normal elements (elephants and marine mammals) and learning about how cool giraffes and rhinos are was exactly what my spirit needed. Unfortunately I didn’t get pics of their rhino, but trust me when I say she was absolutely breathtaking and adorable!
Nature and wildlife are definitely my power elements. I cannot emphasize this enough. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when a fluffy black bear is giving you “the eyes” just before he gets his snack of romaine lettuce. And I forget all of my troubles when I’m watching a couple hippos hop in the pool for some yummy apple treats. I relaxed around a pride of lions and got pumped watching a cougar way a carcass attached to a hanging bungee. It was truly an amazing day.
I received some hopeful and positive news also. I’m trying not to count my chickens before they’ve hatched but it made me feel good that others are thinking of me and appreciate what I could potentially offer.
Today I traveled to Portland to visit a friend I haven’t seen in a while and go to the zoo. I’ll be here until Monday and probably not have a whole lot of opportunity to go to a gym, and eating habits may falter a little bit.
So last night I prepared what I could for the journey food wise and today I did a double workout before departing. I’ll walk around the zoo a lot so I know I’ll get some exercise in but it won’t quite be the same as a full workout.
I made my protein bars (I know a few people have asked for the recipe and one of these days I’ll get around to actually taking measurements of ingredients and write that all down… Right now I throw ingredients together until it “seems about right”.) Anywhos, I made my protein bars, a couple protein shakes, and brought tons of clean and healthy(er) snacks for the trip. This way I can eat clean on the road, and I’ll also save some dough by not buying an expensive lunch at the zoo.
I brought some special gifts for my friend, and the zookeeper I’m meeting at the zoo.
And I brought my iPad and both chargers so I won’t end up with dead technology and no way to communicate with friends.
I even showed how great of a wife I am by putting food out for the hubby. I made a beef stew for him that should last through tomorrow (although if you’ve met the man, you’ll know it probably lasted through tonight and tomorrow the poor neglected husband will STARVE).
I did all this to prepare for my weekend away just for myself.
Got the food. Got the gifts. Took care of my wellness and fitness. Took care of my hubby even. Know what I forgot?
I swear I’ll probably launch this program and never change the name but I’ll always be uncertain about it.
EarthFit is something I started thinking about last summer. It melds my two passions for fitness and conservation together and each inspires and complements the other. Get fit while saving the earth.
I have three main components to EarthFit that I mentioned yesterday
Connecting to the earth in a healthy way- my inspiration to workout out is strongest in the spring, summer, and early fall. Because getting outside is easier, it’s light outside longer, and the weather is more cooperative. All summer I participated in outdoor bootcamps at playgrounds.
I actually hike all year long. Luckily I live in a state that provides year long accessible trails. Hiking alone is my way of meditating. I’ve tried quiet still meditation in the past and I can’t do it. But when I’m hiking up a mountain by myself, I feel completely at peace and connected.
And when bike season starts, it’s rare to see me drive my car. I feel good riding to my bike to work, to complete errands, or get to the gym. My feeling is doubled because not only am I getting fit, but I’m doing my small part to reduce my carbon footprint.
Another part of this is reusing items to increase your health and fitness. I reused some deflated basketballs to create medicine balls. I made some Heavy weights using cat litter containers. And I’ve used broken rake handles for dowel rods for stretching and warming up.
2) eating for a healthy you and healthy earth-
There are dozens of ways to eat well and do your part to conserve the planet’s resources. Eliminating processed foods and palm oil to save asian wildlife, eating local to reduce carbon footprint, eliminate GMO food, reduce intake of red meat, eating sustainable seafood, ensuring the meat you do eat comes from free range farms and not from factory farms, etc…
I’m going to say this and I often feel afraid someone’s going to steal my idea. It’s absolutely brilliant but it’s going to take me some time to finish it. I want to write a cookbook that incorporates conservation and call it “Poach Eggs, Not Rhinos”. I hope I have some time this year to write it and publish it with proceeds going to conservation projects like Bowling for Rhinos.
3) zookeepers keeping fit-
Jean Ragland touched on why this is important to me after last night’s post. A lot of people assume that with an active job we don’t need to workout as much. This couldn’t be further from the truth. With an active job it’s even that much more important to stay fit to reduce risk of injury and ensure you are able to do your job safely.
So I have incorporated zookeeper bootcamps for a small but fun group of zookeepers to help work on exercises we perform pretty regularly. And if you want to read my post on Operant Conditioning, you may get more ideas on how I work within my field and lifestyle. Always focus on the positive.
That’s EarthFit. Or whatever I decide to call it. Not sure how I want to launch it. Facebook? AAZK? Gyms? Community centers? But I know I need to soon because I’m so motivated to do it.
Goodnight. Have a great weekend. Don’t let the hard work from this week go to waste. Stay good to yourself and others!
The video I posted yesterday about Arnold’s 6 rules of success really struck a chord with me, especially his 6th rule- give back.
I have a passion for fitness. No question. And I have a deep passion for conservation. So when I came up with a way to literally meld my two passions, my life became enlightened.
Last week I announced that HR wanted to talk to me about my fitness and how I can fit into their plan to revamp the zoo’s wellness program. Today I got the chance to talk to them and share my ideas and story with them. It went really well and they would like me to share my story with the zoo and possibly have presentations about some of my topics.
I really have no idea what to call my “program”. I’ve tossed around a couple names but the best I can think of is EarthFit.
I have three components of EarthFit.
Connecting to the earth in a healthy way
Eating for a healthy you and a healthy planet
Zookeepers keeping fit
I discuss healthy habits that benefit the environment and our job. And apparently that is exactly what HR wants to share.
Being asked to share my story and my ideas is really a dream come true. When I watched that video last night, I knew that #6 had significance for me. And now I have a perfect opportunity to do just that!
(Sorry my post is so late. I went to a yoga class and then tried to participate in a philosophy class. I made some protein bars and watched a couple episodes of West Wing. I will expand on EarthFit very soon. But I’m excited to say the least)
Yesterday’s post was ridiculously long (Brent Kuester, there will be a test on Saturday), so I’ll keep this (relatively) short and sweet.
I knew today was going to be a difficult day to resist temptation. The entire crew went out to lunch and the zoo was paying for it. And we had a LONG meeting today that I knew was going to have candy available.
But I committed to Washington Wednesdays and especially Karen’s Army of 100 Clean Eating Challenge. So I brought my super yummy locally provided lunch and skipped out on burritos the size of babies (they have photos of their burritos next to babies to prove their point) and had instead smoked salmon, tillamook yogurt, and granola made in Kent. And I crunched on an apple and more granola instead of Milky Ways and nestle chocolates.
Not a fan of how the meeting went, but I sure as hell am proud of myself.
Maybe i should wait and think this post out a bit more, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to ramble, a LOT. But I’m excited and millions of thoughts are running wildly through my head and I really need to get them out. Again, I can organize the thoughts later more cohesively and post on my blog.
This has to do with a absolutely incredible conversation I had with Chris tonight while making dinner. He was talking about making his daily tasks into a game of sorts, like dailies on some RPGs that you have to accomplish, or my drinking app “Plant Nanny” where I have to log my water to make my plant grow. Simple but effective. Sorta.
We talked about how we need some sort of reinforcement for accomplishing the tasks, no matter how trivial they seemed until they were just part of your daily mindset routine. And this is how training works too. When you are starting a new behavior, you reinforce every motion towards completing the behavior, but eventually you stop reinforcing the intermittent steps and only reinforce the finished behavior.
Chris mentioned that a method that doesn’t work for him and actually kills motivation is to withhold his “reinforcement” until after he completed his dailies. That also made a ton of sense to me- a trainer never withholds food from the animal. We never tell them that they won’t get food until they complete XY&Z. We either move on to something else, ask for a different behavior or sometimes completely start over. Withholding creates hostility and resentment. “I hate this stupid list! I don’t even want to but I can’t play my game until I finish it”. That doesn’t work to inspire motivation.
I told him if he didn’t feel like completing the whole list, he could instead say something like “ok, I do NOT want to do this list. I really want to play my game. Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll do one thing on the list and then play my game.” After a while he might add another item from the list and then another and so forth.
And I saw this amazing correlation to fitness and healthy habits. If someone told you right now that to get healthy you “had” to work out an hour every day and eat only these certain foods every day, or you won’t lose weight or reach your goals, you might come to dread the lifestyle and therefore it won’t stick. But instead, if you said to yourself “today I’m going to do 5 squats, 5 push-ups, and 5 sit-ups” you’d probably be motivated to do that. And then you could gradually increase your reps until soon you’re doing, I don’t know, 50 squats, push-ups and sit-ups. And then you could find other exercises to do. Until you have a routine and habit that you enjoy and know it won’t be overbearing or dreadful. (And yes, this method could even work with burpees)
And this led to yet another branch in the topic of training.
Now I can’t quite remember exactly how we got to this particular subject, but I told Chris that sometimes when we are training an animal a new behavior, they’ll have a little regression and fall back. I referred to The Kid who I’ve been training to “weave” between my legs. He’s solid when I’m standing still but sometimes gets a little confused or distracted when I’m asking for the behavior while I’m walking. So I briefly go back to standing still, reinforce that behavior and then move forward. Some trainers call this “going back to kindergarten”. And Chris loved this concept. He recognized that he does this all the time with his art. He started out by committing to 30 minutes a day. And he says he’ll work up with motivation and inspiration to working on his art for up to 2 hours. But then his motivation will falter and he goes back to thirty minutes for a little while and then he’s back working 3 hours at Gage Academy. And he’s okay with that. And he should be. Because he’s still staying committed and his skill and mastery is going up. He’s still improving each time.
Again, fitness is absolutely no different. Say you’ve been at your 50 reps count for over a week. And suddenly you wake up and working out, doing 50 reps is the absolute last thing you want to do. Pick a lower number, one that doesn’t seem daunting. “Ok, 50 is not happening today. But I can do 20.” And you do 20. But you DID it! That’s amazing. Because however many weeks or even months ago, you wouldn’t have even done 20! And you can either do 20 again the next day, go back up to 50, or try something in between. The point is you aren’t beating yourself up by not doing anything, you’re focused on what you ARE accomplishing!
There was even a little discussion about lowering criteria (if my trainer friends have made it this far into the post, I can only hope and pray they are having the same AH-HA epiphany moments I was having tonight). We do this with our animals ALL THE TIME! They had an exam the day before so we’re going to lower our expectations and not ask them to go in the crate today. Ease back into it. Fitness can be that way too.
“Oh, we just spent the entire day on a plane flying from the west coast to Germany. It’s midnight and we’re exhausted. But I didn’t do my glute exercises! Oh no!” Dude, lower your criteria. If you’re exhausted but you just HAVE to do your exercises, maybe just do the minimum or half a workout. And then Congratulate yourself because you did so much more than most folks would dream of!
We talked more and more about operant conditioning with fitness and found dozens of other correlations. I think this is such a great topic I want to include it in my Zookeepers Keeping Fit program!
Every little bit counts towards your goal, and everyone learns at different paces. Don’t judge yourself harshly. You deserve to treat yourself with respect and compassion. Your fitness is a journey. Enjoy the hell out of it!!!
I’m actually late with my post tonight. It’s 8:00 and I like to be off electronics an hour before I go to sleep, and I plan on going to sleep right after my bath/I finish writing this post.
I’m exhausted from not sleeping that well. And while I’m going to bed early, I realize I may not go to sleep early. I’m okay with that. As long as I’m relaxing and resting. I’m getting up early but I plan on getting a full 8 hours of sleep.
Because I’m worth it.
I’ll be dreaming of all the excitement that is heading our way. New beginnings and the world as our oyster. I feel very lucky to have someone like Chris who supports me in every way, in fitness, in health and eating habits, in emotional and mental well being. I can do ANYTHING as long as Chris is with me.
I’ll probably also dream about these absolutely AMAZING wontons I made for Meatless Monday dinner!
My good friend and fitness mentor Karen is hosting a 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge starting tomorrow.
I’m all about food challenges because it really gets my body in gear and helps me resist temptation at work or even at the grocery store.
Tonight I planned out my week’s menus. I organized my fridge so I can simply walk up and grab what I want on that day, too. I’m really motivated.
Because I know you all care so deeply, here’s my week’s menu:
Monday- “meatless Monday”
B: goat milk yogurt, honey and granola
Snack: cottage cheese
L: hummus and veggies
Snack: homemade super clean protein bar
D: veggie and tofu wontons
Tuesday– 20 for Tuesday (I might need to further explain it later but no more than 20 items for the day)
B: breakfast casserole (6)
Snack: cottage cheese and apple (2)
L: chicken and rice pilaf (2)
Snack: homemade protein bar (7)
D: sriracha chicken with brussel sprouts and shallots (3)
Wednesday– Washington Wednesday
B- tazo tea and snoqualmie oats
S- tillamook yogurt with locally made honey and granola
L- smoked salmon
Snack- another yogurt
D: rockfish and potatoes
Thursday: Thirsty Thursday (I learned my lesson last time not to have all meals as smoothies, but this week I’m going to try all my SNACKS as drinks)
B- breakfast casserole
S- juice and fruit smoothie
L- rice pilaf and chicken
S- protein shake
S- spinach shake
L- clean out leftovers
Snacks- cottage cheese, yogurt, and almond milk pudding
D- apricot glaze porkchops
Might be heading to Portland but I’ll have my casserole and a bunch of clean snacks (fruit, apple sauce, etc)
I’ll make Chris and Brent a stew for them to enjoy before I take off too
Worse comes to worse, I’ll bring some extra fruit with me for breakfast and hit a grocery store for lunch and dinner items. But I’m hoping to be at the mercy of my friend, Ann, and we can drink some tasty local wines and enjoy delicious food in each other’s company. I’m not worried about eating clean. I know I can handle it even when away.
See how prepared I am? I’m such a good little girl scout!
I have had a couple lengthy conversations with some friends (aka anyone who will listen to me) about training and communication.
In these conversations I’ve stated that we as humans/trainers/spouses/coworkers would be exponentially better communicators, improve our relationships, and attract more positive energy if we simply communicated in similar fashion as we do our animals- that is, direct (rather than passive) and positive (rather than negative). For instance, going into a room and exclaiming “is there a reason the lights are on?” is very passive. Of course there’s a reason! Even if that reason is someone forgot to turn them off. But the statement doesn’t get you what you want. Neither does negative statements. I don’t mean “good” versus “bad”. I mean using negative statements. “Don’t put the lamp there”. Okay. So, imagine if you were an animal being told not to do something. You can’t speak back and ask what the trainer DOES want, so you have to guess. And if you get it wrong again, you’ll likely become hesitant to do anything in fear of doing it wrong. A person may simply ask where you’d like the lamp, but they may also give up quickly and make you put the lamp up yourself. So, by speaking directly and positively, you are not only giving clear directions to whomever you are speaking to, but you’re a lot more likely to get what you want done. A positive direct statement would be “please set the lamp on the corner table”.
Many trainers around the world are really starting to put an emphasis on eliminating the word “no” from our communications with animals and other persons. And I have to agree with them.
But it is a little more than just communication. There’s the consequences as well. Most trainers nowadays already focus on the positive, in other words, ignore the behaviors undesired and reward the behaviors we do want.
Think about how much more pleasant life would be if we treated each other with the same mentality! Rather than hearing complaint after complaint or bitching about no one else doing the work, what if we said thank you and took the time to notice one another’s efforts? Maybe I’m speaking just for myself, but I’m way more likely to continue to help out someone who says thank you, even for the small things, and maybe even try to do more in order to receive their appreciation.
And we can apply these principles to almost any situation or scenario.
Take today. Hot yoga take two (because shame on me, I’m an idiot who thrives on torture). Yes, it was horrible. I had to sit down for at least a third of the class. I almost passed out but I ended up laying down on my mat and out my towel over my eyes and just focused on breathing in and out. Class finally ended and I grabbed my may and empty water bottle and got out of there as fast as possible thinking “never again! I hate Michele for convincing me to try hot yoga again! This is tortured hell”. But by the time I got to the locker room and grabbed my change of clothes, I was feeling better. And I don’t mean, relief from leaving the room better, I mean revitalized, peaceful, calm, just overall wonderful. I felt BETTER!
So instead of writing off hot yoga, I got to thinking. Yeah, maybe the movements are too much for me for an entire class. What about a third of the class? And I don’t mean leave after a third of the class. I mean do the work and poses for the third of class and then spend the rest of class laying on your may with a towel over your eyes. Go to sleep for all I care. Like a Native American sweat lodge. They used those the same way people feel hot yoga helps detoxify. Would I still feel good afterward?
I’m willing to try. Monday morning. I’ll be dripping my sweaty negativity away. Because I like focusing on the positive. –
I am having a bad February. I’d love to blame the yoga, or winter blues, or sad that we are closing the elephant exhibit, it a whole slew of other excuses, but truth is I’m in a slump. I haven’t felt like working out at all in ages. Yesterday I skipped out on all possible yoga classes.
But today I excused myself from class to get some things that will get me excited about my fitness and health again.
First and foremost: SHOES! Omg! SHOES!
Look at my new pretties! They’re Brooks “Ghost”, not really sure if that’s something amazing or not but they are comfy and I can’t WAIT to try these babies out!! In fact, I think I may just redeem my Experience Momentum certificate tomorrow so I can show them off.
Which brings me to #2- found my Experience Momentum certificate! It’s for classes rather than personal training and I’ve always had a lot of fun at these. I haven’t done their yoga class, but I think I might try it tomorrow morning after Empower X.
Third, I went by Sky Nursery in the afternoon and bought a whole bunch of seeds. I have your basics- tomato, zucchini, and bell pepper, but I’m also going to try kale and broccoli. And I got Rosemary, sage, basil, cilantro, catnip, and oregano. And in April, I’m going to plant them and start my own summer garden! Kale chips and zucchini spaghetti from my back porch! You just can’t beat that!
Next, I stopped by the grocery store and bought over $100 worth of clean, healthy, nutritious food for just under $50. As I told Chris, all must bow to her majesty, the queen of eating healthy and clean on a budget! I bought a HUGE fillet of salmon for half off. Tillamook (made in Oregon, practically right next door) greek plain yogurt on clearance, sheep milk cheese for grating, and organic rice all for super cheap! And for good measure, I bought some nut and cranberry mix on sale.
And finally, I went through my recipes to find some inspiration for me with veggies. I found some great ideas for zucchini, mushrooms, acorn squash, broccoli, and lettuce wraps, as well as some yummy chicken and pork recipes. So I jotted some things down and decided to walk to Thriftway to pick up what I needed.
I’m all prepared for my Clean Eating Challenge this coming week, and I’m going to eat like the Clean Eating on a Budget Queen that I am!
I may be in a slump but I am on my way out and thank goodness I’m prepared!!