Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rest in Peace...

Death is a funny thing. Though the word itself sounds “dark,” many people view death differently. For some it is a time of mourning. For some it is about a celebration into another life. For me? I see it from both sides.

I was raised Catholic, but now not so much. Sure I believe in God, Jesus, the Bible, heaven, etc. but I do not believe I need to go to church weekly and do X, Y, and Z to have a relationship with Him. I firmly believe in the power of prayer and I believe that if I ask (nicely) I will be forgiven of my sins. That is a whole other conversation, however.

My medical knowledge lets me know that your hearing is the last sense to go. Research shows brain activity through auditory sounds when unconscious. This can be a good and a bad thing depending on how you look at it. I believe that when you die, you have that “out of body experience.” You can see yourself, others around you, hear their voices…and you feel lighter. You feel warmth, protection, safety, happiness, and contentment. I think that you hear the choirs of angels before heading towards the Pearly Gates to meet with your Maker. You have finally reached Home.

My grandmother passed away this past week. I have mixed feelings about it. I was given the incredible opportunity to see her and talk to her before she passed and I was even there holding her hand when her heart beat for the last time. I got to tell her what I wanted to in her last moments. I know that she could hear me. How awesome is that? How many people get to say they get to do that with their loved ones? Not many. My immediate reaction? Total breakdown. This woman helped to raise me when my mom was working her butt off trying to get a better education and support me so that we could live comfortably. I was sobbing. I was hysterical. Tears came like Niagara Falls down my cheeks and they burned my face as I came to the realization of what had happened. Her touch still felt so real to me at that time. I couldn’t even talk and my eyes were swollen shut. My heart was breaking into a million pieces and I did not know what to do.

On my way back to her house from the hospital, I called some close friends and asked them to just pray with me on the phone. Maybe I just wanted to hear their voices and understand that I had people I could call when I was feeling like my whole world was crashing down on top of me. Maybe I was asking for a miracle. Maybe I was just asking for the strength I so desperately needed to be exuded from their body into mine. They knew the truth though. They could not give me back her as much as I wanted them to.

In the days that followed, I had my moments of course. Walking into her closet and smelling her, seeing her picture everywhere, looking at her handwriting as perfect as it was, listening to her voice on the answering machine. It was surreal and these moments brought me back to a hard reality. I took a walk one morning and thought about everything going on. My grandmother was one of the purest of hearts I have ever known. She was so deep in her faith and in her love and it showed with her smile, laugh, and kindness. She loved to talk about anything and everything and I distinctly remember many of our conversations. She could not wait until she could experience her life in heaven. She was not scared of leaving her shell here on Earth and being what she was meant to be: an angel. She wanted us to be able to celebrate her life knowing that she was going to be happy, wherever she was. An instant joy came over me. I was at peace. I knew my grandmother was genuinely happy. And I knew that when I talked to her, she would listen and be there.

Will I still have my moments? Of course. I am only human. We grieve the loss of a body because of its tangible components. But I did not lose her. She will forever be mine and I will forever find comfort in knowing I can just talk and she will listen.

Death can be the mourning of the loss of a physical substance but it is also a celebration of what one was. The stop of something and the start of another. The end of a beginning and the beginning of an end. Many people do not like to talk about death and that is their decision. My grandmother is the 9th person in 5 ½ years that I have lost. The others have all been friends. I find that talking about them keeps their memory vivid in my mind. I can remember them more accurately when I talk about my losses with someone else. I can smile knowing that they still are a part of my life through my words, like these.

Death is a funny thing. Though the word itself sounds “dark,” to me it is the “light” that leads you down a new path. A path of grief, love, celebration, and remembrance. A chance to fall and explore a world of unknown…on your own two feet…

I have started to read Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo. It is a written glimpse into heaven as told by a four year old. Your imagination will definitely run wild with this book as he recounts vivid details about events that happened before he was born, what God looks like, how the angels look, what heaven is like the way the Bible describes it when he hasn’t learned to read yet. A must-read for all that want to forever change the way they think of eternity and who want a chance to see and believe.

R.I.P. Janette Lynn Reardon  September 17, 1944- November 15, 2011 “May angels guide you in…”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Month, New Goals

Holy moly, it's November?? What??! I feel like this year is flying by and I am just now noticing! I only recently wrote down a new set of goals for myself...My lovely friends Jami, Molly, Kari, Janie, Cait, Lauren, and Brittany (did I miss any of you??) all a part of the awesome Tone It Up team created a challenge for ourselves to prepare for my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving! Please join in if you would like! Our challenge? No alcohol, 5-6 workouts a week, check in each Friday (when we meet for our Baltimore Tone It Up Workout Crew), and one cheat meal. Sounds reasonable, right? It's a great way to lose that last 3 pounds or so!

Every Wednesday, us Baltimore ladies have recently gotten into CXWORX, a new Les Mills high intensity core class that can burn up to 230 calories on average in just 30 minutes! You may not feel the burn right after class but later that day or after 24 hours you are definitely going to feel it! Many gyms are offering the class for their members and its a great quick workout! (For more information about the new revolutionary program, go to this website! )

This morning I had my usual protein smoothie, modified from the Tone It Up meal plan. I have this smoothie about 5 days a week (though I drink some kind of protein drink every day). It is super yummy and I usually take it on the go with me.

I have been told that drinking protein shakes/smoothies that contain yogurt, milk, or other dairy should be consumed for breakfast or with a meal. Post-workout, if you are drinking your little slice of heaven, you should mix your protein in with warm water. It might not taste the best, but dairy contains fat and the protein drink is best absorbed post-sweat fest with water. Warm water allows the body to digest it faster since it doesn't have to bring the liquid to your core body temperature.

Protein Smoothie
(modified from the Tone It Up meal plan)

4 ice cubes
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use chocolate sometimes)
1 Tbl. almond butter
1/2 cup water
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (I use soymilk)

Throw it all in a blender and blend for 30 seconds or so. Enjoy! 

Last night I did an intense cardio workout for about an hour and a half and burned upwards of 1,050 calories. Here is an example of what I do:

Treadmill (12-15 minutes)
Walk 4.2mph 1-1 1/2 min
Walk 4.2 mph 3% incline 1-1 1/2 min
Walk 4.5mph 5% incline 2 min
Jog 5.8mph 2% incline 5 minute
Alternate Jogging with sprinting at 8.5mph at 3% incline (1 minute each) for 5 minutes

Elliptical (15 minutes)
I always keep my heart rate in my target zone but it is usually never less than 172bpm

Increase your resistance as you see fit.
Keep your pace UP! Go! Go! Go!

Stairmaster (10 minutes)
I keep my resistance at around 65 and then move it up by 5 every 2 minutes...are you sweating yet??

Biking (about 10 minutes)
Usually in 10 minutes I can bike about 3 or 3.5 miles. My gear is never set below 12 (the higher your gear number, the faster you go on the machines in my gym)

The stairmaster and biking is when I really see myself sweating buckets! I love it!

Then I go back and do the circuit all over again. I leave about 30 seconds of rest time in between each station. Of course, I always finish my workouts with abs (about 15 minutes worth). Make sure you calculate your target heart rate zone to get the best workout :) 

I am thinking about signing up for the IronGirl triathlon next year (some of my Tone It Up Baltimore sisters I am hoping will do it with me??) before leaving for the military so I definitely need to rev up my workouts! My goal is to do a cardio workout like this one 4-6 days a week and strength training 3 days a week. Yes, sometimes I do two-a-days which makes me want to kill myself the next day, but hey...I'm gettin' it in!

Me and my girlfriend, Justina, as Batman and Robin for Halloween

What are some of your November goals?? When do you like to drink your protein drinks??

Hope everyone gets their daily fix of protein and gets that cardio in! You will find yourself more energized in no time and be able to accomplish more...on your own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

For all you Football Fans!

This was a project I had to do and thought since we are in the height of football season, I would share some of it with all of you. Just something fun to get you pumped up for whatever game you might be watching this weekend. Enjoy! (PS. To get the full effect, watch the first video first, read, then watch the next 2 in order :)

Grills are lit as early as 8 o’clock in the morning. Canopies and games are unfolded into the parking lots. Hundreds of hot dogs, burgers, steaks, chicken wings, and other “party foods” are unwrapped and devoured. Groups of people flock to a central location just to get a glimpse of what Saturday afternoon has become in America. A crisp fall day, where red and yellow can be seen for miles. But it’s not from the changing of the leaves. It’s where people come to cheer on a team, a unit, a herd, a brigade. It’s where people come to show their spirit and to be a part of this family. It’s where people come to show Maryland pride with three simple words, “Fear The Turtle.”

University of Maryland Football has become a staple for decades on Saturday afternoons in the college town of College Park, Maryland. Fans of all ages come together to cheer on the Mighty Terrapins as they take on Towson University, another beloved Maryland school. “A Battle of the Beltways” they are calling this day. And Terrapin fans are hungry for a win. Cheers can be heard in the parking lots surrounding Capital One Field before the game even starts. Footballs can be seen flying high in the air, music blaring from one car’s speakers to the next, and the mingling of alumni, current students, and just regular spectators can be seen with every turn of your head.

Before you know it, game time comes. Swarms and crowds walk to the main event, like a mother ship calling us home. Once inside the stadium, guns, cannons, and fireworks start the show. The team comes pouring out of the tunnel, but not before each player stops to rub the bronze terrapin for “good luck.” The team huddles and jumps up and down, hit each other on the helmet, and maybe even do some last minute stretching before the war begins. This is a place where boys become men. Where a uniform turns into armor. Where blood, sweat, and tears are left on the battlefield. And We Must Protect This House…

Until the next step bloggers...