I Hiked Alone and Didn’t Die!

Hiking is so popular in LA that even I have done it a few times. It’s an activity that involves nature, strenuous activity, and general discomfort, but sometimes I’m forcibly dragged on one anyway. So I whine a lot and try to make the other person turn around and get ice cream after ten minutes. Usually that doesn’t work thought, and I go on a hike. But never alone, until now!

I took the day off work for a thing that ultimately got cancelled, so I found myself with a rare free morning. I thought a calm, solo hike would be a great way to break my routine and re-center. And because I love failing at things, I chose the Wisdom Tree. It’s a short but rugged hike that ends at the top of a peak where there is one lone tree. It’s awesome! But usually I don’t make it to the top, because I’m out of shape.

When I was alone, I whined less. I whined to strangers on the trail a little, but mostly I was quiet. The walk from my car to the start of the hike was already a steep hill, so I was tired before I began. Then my legs grew heavier with every step. But I kept going! I climbed and climbed until…

VICTORY!

….I got tired and gave up. I didn’t make it to the top. But I probably made it over halfway up, and then I went to get a breakfast burrito, so I still consider it a huge success 🙂

My Favorite Apps for Changing Nothing About My Lifestyle

It seems like these days, there’s an app to improve just about every part of your life. A lot of them look time-consuming and stressful, but not these. Here are some apps I love for creating the smallest illusion of life change.

I’ve been trying to get more sleep, so I downloaded Sleep Cycle a few months ago. It’s an app that runs during the night and, like magic, tracks your sleep patterns (based on breathing I guess? Technology is scary). I love it because it “reminds” me to pay attention to how much sleep I’m getting every night, even though I’ve made no effort to improve my habits at all. It also tracks my sleep quality, which is generally poor.

SworkIt is an app where a small person leads you in five minute workouts. “Stretching” is pictured above but “yoga,” “strength,” and “cardio” are also available workout options. What’s great about this one is that you can watch the little person do your workout and still feel as if you get some of the benefits. Plus it’s only a five minute investment of your time, so how hard can it be to keep up with it? Also I use it rarely.


5 Every Day is a fantastic resource for all Los Angeles folks. It was made by some sort of public radio station, maybe? Anyway, it’s my favorite way to learn what’s going on around town so I can feel bad for not going to even more things. Until I got this app, I had no idea what gallery openings and concerts I was missing out on every single day of the week. The simple interface makes it easy to think “ooh, I should check that out!” every day, and then sit at home with Netflix.

Recipe: Magic Eggs

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I didn’t have a lot of time for lunch today, so I made something quick that is usually a totally passable lunch choice: spinach and eggs. The recipe is simple. You saute some spinach, then crack a couple eggs in as soon as the spinach starts shrinking up. The eggs finished cooking – I swear they were all cooked – and I crumbled some goat cheese on top. I sat down to eat.

Only then, like MAGIC, the eggs uncooked themselves! It was yolk soup. It was a disgusting lunch miracle! It was basically inedible.

I didn’t eat it.

But I didn’t give up. I popped the whole thing in the microwave for a minute, which cooked up the eggs a little too much. It didn’t taste good, but I did have lunch. And that, my friends, is what I call an adequate meal 🙂

My Deepest Secret: How to Make Anything a Meal


Hello, loyal readers. Being a successful lifestyle blogger is not as easy as it looks. In order to share my self-actualized, spiritually whole lifestyle with the masses, I need to be willing to let you into my life. You come here to get the secrets of the universe, and there’s a lot of pressure on me to deliver.

Well, now that we’ve known each other for a few months, I feel like I finally trust you enough to divulge my most adequate secret. The cardinal rule of an adequate lifestyle:

If you put it in a tortilla, it’s a meal.

For example, if I put cream cheese, spinach, and salad dressing in a tortilla? That’s dinner.

Nutella and craisins in a tortilla? Also dinner…AND dessert.

Tortillas are easy to keep on hand, and any combination of ingredients from the dregs of last week’s grocery trip will co-mingle inside. That’s right, ANY ingredients, whether it’s leftover sauteed veggies or the last shavings from the bottom of a bag of shredded cheddar. No matter the ingredients and/or sauces, if you wrap a tortilla around it, it qualifies as a “wrap.”

You’re welcome.

 

 

Exercise Hack: Develop a Habit

I get it. It can be really hard to stick to an exercise plan. I had the same problem, until I finally found something that matches my life and motivation levels.

Every day, I put on my workout clothes. That’s it! That’s the plan. Sounds easy, right?

But usually, when I put on my workout clothes, I at least feel guilty enough to run around the block or do a couple sun salutations. And getting started is half the battle. The other half is quitting immediately.

My Competent Guest: Office Fitness

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Camille does her exercises.

I’m extremely adequate. But that doesn’t mean I can be adequate at everything, all the time (I’m only human!). Sometimes, I need to seek the help of someone who is just as adequate as I am. So I’m pleased to present my first interview with a Guest Competent Person!

Work days are long, and sitting kills people. So when I wanted to learn about how to get more exercise at work, I talked to my friend and fellow blogger Camille Campbell.

Camille has been a dedicated assistant since she graduated from college (she declined to say when she graduated). When she started life as an “office drone” she was worried that she would have to sacrifice her physical well being in order to earn a paycheck, but then she created a revolutionary ‘stay fit at work’ program. I met up with her at her favorite donut shop to discuss her body goals and office fitness, or as she calls it, Offness™.

Julie: Tell us about your Offness™ routine.
Camille: The core of my practice revolves around breakfast. Every morning I have breakfast at my desk, usually some Lucky Charms and then two hard boiled eggs with 5 tablespoons of Cholula, and to carry all that food involves a lot of delicate balancing, shifting weight between arms, while engaging my core. Then once I make it to my desk, I don’t get my coffee until later. That way I’ll get up from my desk to get my coffee. That’s the beauty of Offness™ – it’s subtle and smoothly blends in with your day.
J: I don’t think I could commit to anything that makes me delay coffee, but maybe I’ll get there someday. Besides breakfast, what are some other ways you practice Offness™?
C: There are so many ways to creatively enjoy Offness™. Yesterday, I printed all the reports I needed at a printer in another building. Then I went and looked for them. Took me twenty minutes, so that’s almost one of the three recommended 30 minute workouts doctors suggest you do every week. To get those other two workouts in, I’ll drink a lot of water to increase my trips to the bathroom. People think I’m speed walking to the bathroom because I really have to go, but it’s just a part of my program.
J: Wow. I’m lucky to get five minutes of cardio when I’m running for the bus! What about strength training? Flexibility?
C: My desk is in a very public area, so there’s a limited number of socially acceptable movements I can do. I tend to do hourly leg lifts under my desk. I just lift one leg up and then the other. It keeps the blood flowing in my legs. Or I’ll print out copies of my favorite gchat conversations, so I’ll need to refill the printer more. We keep our paper on a bottom shelf in the supply closet, so that’s one squat, and the paper acts as a three pound weight, more if you take two reams. Exercise is all around us once you look for it.
J: Thats a beautiful mantra. Do your coworkers support your efforts?

C: I was questioned about my use of office paper. But I just let our Office Manager, Jared Krakowski, know that it’s part of my fitness plan, and I have every right to take care of myself. He was very understanding. He’s been trying to walk to his car in the parking lot more, and I can tell it’s made a difference for him. This is why Offness™ is the best kind of fitness – it forces you to express who you are and fight for your rights in the workplace.

J: What about diet? I notice you’re eating an apple fritter right now.
C: Offices are not known for their healthy food, so if you’re going to adapt and thrive in an urban office fitness environment, you have to be able to eat whatever and whenever. This donut keeps me training on a Saturday.
J: Yes, speaking of Saturdays, how do you practice Offness™ on the weekends?
C: This is one of my two rest days. All fitness plans have rest days.
(Camille then stared at me for an uncomfortably long time.)
J: I see… Well, how many calories do you estimate that you burn per day practicing Offness™?
C: Offness™ isn’t about burning calories. Because when you turn the whole office into your gym, it’s impossible to count how many calories you’re burning. I mean how many calories do you burn typing? Your fingers do a lot of lifts and crunches, but how do you measure that? No one knows, so we don’t count those calories, which is a sizable loss if you’re trying to count calories. So you can’t measure Offness™ with calories. You have to measure it with results – how does it make you feel.
J: I like feelings. How does Offness™ make you feel?
C: Before I started Offness™ I never moved – I just sat, counting the hours until I could go home and sit and watch “Call the Midwife.” Now I feel alive and filled with zest, and I’ve done that without disrupting my life with jogging, yoga or any other aggressive form of exercise.
J: Has your body changed since you started practicing Offness™?
C: I think it has, but until Jared agrees to buy scales for the bathrooms I won’t really know. And on one level I’m okay with that. Because like I said, Offness™ isn’t about results. It’s more about surrender and compliance.

Diet Tip – Buy Subpar Snacks

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One of my guilty pleasures is that I love snacking. Yes, I’ll admit it: I like salty AND sweet snacks. And if you’re like me, it can be hard to “just quit” or “don’t keep it around the house.” Easier said than done, and a sure sign that I’ll be running out to Von’s on a rabid 11pm ice cream run.

I bought a box of Stauffer’s Whales – that is not the recognized brand Stouffer’s – at the 99 Cent Only Store, because that’s where I was. I thought, these will be the same as goldfish. Now I will have snacks.

No.

They’re somehow cheesier and less cheesy than goldfish. Somehow too salty and not salty enough. Somehow too crunchy to be called a cracker(??). I don’t know how so many paradoxes can be contained in a one dollar box of crackers, but it was so.

I’m not going to buy any more snack foods til they’re gone, so here I am, eating these “crackers” a few at a time. With that kind of forced portion control, I’ll have to resort to the only other joyful food in the house: beer. And that sounds like a diet to me 🙂 🍺

A Quick, Breathless Workout

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’m trying to exercise more. It can be really tough to carve out enough time for a solid workout. If you’re like me, living an active lifestyle needs to be efficient. TV doesn’t binge-watch itself, after all.

Yesterday, I biked to the neighborhood ice cream place with my roommates (I follow my own advice). It was a nice day, and a short ride of about a mile each way. Biking is great exercise, but I abandoned it when I was ten – it seemed too much like a sport and I didn’t like those. I’m just getting back into it, and this was my first ride in traffic. Ever. What a rush! Cars are so much larger and faster than bikes!

I just can’t wait to get back on this bike.

The hills in my neighborhood helped to keep the short ride challenging. And the more cars passed by me as I rode, the more my heart rate accelerated. Wrangling left turns made all my muscles tighten up so that using my legs was nearly impossible. While trying to get across a busy street on a short green light, my vision turned blurry and reality started to feel hazy. Before I knew it, my breath had quickened and I was having a panic attack, right in the middle of my workout! What a happenstance!

The more nervous I got around the cars, the more embarrassed I got at being nervous – which just made my breathing more shallow. Better still, the very last hill by my house was enormous. I thought my legs were going to fall off as I desperately tried to take in enough oxygen to keep pedaling. What an opportunity.

Afterwards, I wobbled inside and hyperventilated into the couch. My lungs felt like they were going to explode – the surest sign that I exercised effectively. I’ve never felt so physically and emotionally spent in such a short period of time. Plus, I now know what it’s like to be so shell-shocked you can’t taste ice cream. That sounds like a diet tip to me!

So if you need an efficient way to get that heart pumping really, really fast, be like me and be very anxious!😬 🚴

 

Bedtime Routine: Sit in Front of as Many Screens as Possible

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This is what it looks like when I sleep.

For most people, the night is reserved for sleeping, and that’s a terrible waste of time. Whether you go to bed late or really late, make the most of that last hour of awakeness so you can rest easy/never.

When it’s time to wind down for the night, get in bed and boot up all your screens at once. No matter how unproductive you were during the day, there’s plenty of time to get things done in the last hour before you grudgingly turn out the lights.

There are lots of ways to do this. I like to play cell phone games while I watch TV on my laptop, but I think you can do better than that. If you have a gaming system and a 47″ plasma screen, now’s the time to fire it up. If not, maybe you have an iPad? A Surface?An Apple Watch? The key here is quantity.

I like to get in bed with my screens, letting the cool blue light hypnotize me until I’m stuck in a state between waking and sleep. It helps if I haven’t brushed my teeth yet, because the dread of getting up to do that will keep me in front of the screens at least 30% longer. You might find that something else works better for you. The key here is general discomfort.

When I finally do turn out the lights, I find myself feeling wired for no reason. Immediately, all the thoughts flood back into my head as soon as I’m not completely numb anymore. You might fall asleep immediately, but studies show that’s unlikely. You do you, though. They key here is regretting it all in the morning.

What screens do you like to use before bed? Tell me in the comments! 🙂

Exercise Better: Find Your True Motivation

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I have a hard time with working out. Gyms make me anxious, yoga class makes me more anxious, and I hate sports. But I don’t like feeling lethargic and imagining my arteries turning into marshmallow fluff, so I’ve been trying to start a regular exercise practice.

Walking is a great workout that doesn’t feel like “exercise” (or burn that many calories). But finding the motivation to go for a walk can be difficult. Sitting is just easier. 

Bribe yourself to go for a walk by going to get a fun snack. I walked to Scoops for ice cream. I walked to Cafe Tropical to get a truly unreasonable piece of apple pie (fact: the tirimisu is better). Walking is good. Dessert is delicious. I win double. And you can too! You don’t have to walk that far to justify consuming three times the calories you burned, and you can ride that high – and sugar crash – for days.

It might look like a cop out, but I guarantee it will feel like a sweet success 🙂