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40 Weeks to 40: 40 Movies in 40 Weeks, A Birthday Project

March 2, 2015

40 Movies in 40 Weeks A Birthday Project - mostlyfitmom.comI love watching movies. I’m not a movie nerd, but certain movies have become part of my life. Jaws ensures I will always be afraid to swim in deep water, whether it’s in the ocean or in a lake. When I tell my husband, “I love you,” and his response is, “I know,” I don’t take that as an insult but as a nod to our shared adoration of Star Wars. When I hear Jump by The Pointer Sisters, I start to giggle inwardly at the memory of the scene in Love Actually where Hugh Grant as the British Prime Minister is dancing around his house and caught by a one of his staff.

I try hard not to spend too much time glued to screens, but I do spend some time watching TV and so I figured I could make my screen time a little more meaningful over the next forty weeks by watching forty movies, one for each year starting in the year of my birth. Some are favourites, some I’ve never watched but are on my “to watch” list, and some just bring up special memories because of what was going on in my life when I saw it or who I saw it with. The movies are listed by year because I thought that was the best way to provide some sort of organization to the list.

Jaws 1975
Rocky 1976
Star Wars IV 1977
Grease 1978
Rocky II 1979
The Empire Strikes Back 1980
Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981
ET 1982
Return of the Jedi 1983
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984
The Breakfast Club 1985
Top Gun 1986
Dirty Dancing 1987
Die Hard 1988
When Harry Met Sally 1989
Pretty Woman 1990
Silence of the Lambs 1991
Unforgiven 1992
Jurassic Park 1993
Forrest Gump 1994
Toy Story 1995
Scream 1996
The Lost World: Jurassic Park 1997
Blade 1998
The Matrix 1999
Gladiator 2000
Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone 2001
City of God 2002
Love Actually 2003
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004
Serenity 2005
Cars 2006
Gone Baby Gone 2007
The Reader 2008
Star Trek 2009
Blue Valentine 2010
Warrior 2011
Pitch Perfect 2012
The Dallas Buyers Club 2013
Unbroken 2014

Are you a movie lover? Do you have favourites from your childhood? What movie is your current fave?

Yoga Explorations: Yoga “Wisdom” from a Newbie

February 26, 2015

Yoga Wisdom from a Newbie - mostlyfitmom.comI’ve barely dipped my toe into the pool of yoga knowledge, and yet here I am blogging about it. Outrageous!

I am not a yoga instructor and don’t consider myself a yogi. I definitely think of myself as a newbie. Yoga seems new and exciting and I’m eager to learn about it. I’ve been practicing regularly for a few months and in my exploration of yoga, I have found some great yoga resources online, but a lot of them seem to take for granted that you have a basic knowledge of yoga, probably because their target audience does indeed have that knowledge, and I’ve often wished for a yoga “common sense” post. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places.

There are no “yoga for beginners” workout links in this post, nor are there any “how-tos,” but I am sharing a few of the bits of knowledge that I’ve discovered in these early stages of my journey. If it helps you decide to take the plunge and head out to the yoga studio that all your friends have been talking about, then I’m happy to share.

  • Honor your body. Your yoga practice is about you, and every body is different. Just because the instructor is guiding you to a particular pose or the person on the mat next you is touching her knees with her forehead doesn’t mean that that is what’s right for your body. If you have an injury or another issue, talk to the instructor before the class starts so that she can help you stay comfortable and physically safe throughout the practice. If you’re practicing at home, dealing with an injury can be trickier in terms of adapting your practice for your injury. You’ll want to focus on alignment, stay aware of what’s going on in your body, and stop if it hurts. Like I said, I’m not a yoga instructor or otherwise qualified to diagnose non-dental issues, so I’m just laying out my “common sense” guidelines.
  • No one else is paying attention to what you’re doing in class. How often do you really notice what the other people practicing alongside you are doing? I occasionally make observations in passing, like, “Oh hey, that guy is doing a handstand,” or “That woman is having trouble with her balance today.” It’s not judgy. It’s more of an awareness of those around you. Most of the time though, I’m more worried about not falling over in eagle pose or luxuriating in the feeling of the twist I’m holding. Guess what: everyone else is also focusing on their own bodies and their own practice, too. Yoga is not about comparing yourself to others. That approach is something I’m trying to extend into the rest of my life, as well.
  • Hot yoga is REALLY hot. Before I tried hot yoga, I was expecting that the room would be really warm, comfortably warm, and I would feel like I was on a beach in Hawaii. I was completely unprepared for the oven-like level of heat. It was a good thing that the first class I went to was a yin class and I was on the ground the entire time, because the intensity of hot yoga was overwhelming physically. After I a couple of classes and making sure I was well-hydrated before going, I grew to love the feel of the heat. It helps me relax, makes me feel like my muscles are looser, and is so comforting, particularly on cold, Canadian winter days.
  • Child’s pose is always an option. Before I knew much about yoga, I was worried that if I couldn’t do what was being demoed, I would be looked down upon or, worse still, called out in class. Having been exposed to more yogic knowledge, my understanding is that my practice is about me and I need to do what’s comfortable and feels right to me. Sometimes yoga feels really hard and you lose your breath or you’re struggling to balance and need to re-centre yourself. Enter child’s pose, bum on your heels, head on your mat, arms wherever is comfortable. I like my hands stacked on top of each other, and then I rest my head on top. Child’s pose allows you to catch your breath and get back in touch with what’s going on on the inside so that you can continue your practice with focus.
  • Breathe deeply. Breath is a big part of yoga, and honestly, at this point, my knowledge of breathing is very limited. I focus on breathing fully, I practice my ujjayi breathing, and that’s the sum total of my knowledge. The awesome thing about yogic breathing is that you can take it off the mat and practice your breathing when you’re in traffic or when you’re trying really hard not to yell at your kids or when there’s mega-stress at work. Breathe into your belly, let your shoulders drop away from your ears, and increase your sense of calm.
  • A little is better than none. There are days when my to do list is unattainable and time seems scarce. You understand. You have those days, too. Sometimes all I can seem to fit in is a couple of down dogs and shavasana for a few minutes before bed, and some days I barely brush and floss and go to bed with my mascara on, forget about practicing yoga. That’s okay. Yoga will be there as my kids grow up, my priorities change, and I’m ready to devote more time to my practice.
  • Do what feels yummy. Have you practiced with Adriene of Yoga with Adriene? If you have, you’ll recognize her words. I love her videos and how she encourages you to move and explore as you practice. This is what I want from yoga. I’m just scratching the surface of yoga and don’t consider myself  informed about traditional practice, so maybe this isn’t how everyone practices. Here’s the thing: I just want to feel GOOD, so I aim for yummy.
  • Home practice can be awesome. Most of the time, I find it hard to carve out 2 hours to make it to a yoga class. My solution is to roll out my mat at home and practice when I have the opportunity. My dream is to create a warm, quiet, calm space to devote to my practice, but for now, I’m in the living room in front of the TV, where I am guided by the likes of Shiva Rea and Rodney Yee. My favourite DVD so far is Shiva Rea’s Daily Energy.

What do you enjoy about yoga? What have you learned through practicing yoga? If yoga hasn’t resonated with you, what is it that doesn’t feel right to you?

40 Wonderful Things to Enjoy at Walt Disney World

February 25, 2015

40 Wonderful Things to Enjoy at Walt Disney WorldI’ve been a Disney fan ever since I was little. Watching a Disney movie Sunday night was one of the most exciting highlights of my week as a kid. When we went to Disneyland when I was in Grade 2, and Walt Disney World the following year, it was like walking into a movie.

In the past several years, my family and I have had the opportunity to visit Disney Parks several times and I have to say that my love for all things Disney has only grown. I’ve even done work-related training through the Disney Institute.

In this, my fortieth year, I thought that I might add a runDisney race to my agenda as part of my celebrations, but we’re saving up to potentially go to the Olympics in Rio next year, so a Disney trip isn’t in the budget.

Dreaming of Disney brings me joy, though, and with this year being all about happiness and joy, I am indulging my Disney side by writing about 40 wonderful things to enjoy at Walt Disney World. If you are already a Disney lover, it is my wish that my list of favourites brings up a few happy memories for you. If you’ve never been to Disney, I hope that my list can inspire you as you plan a trip to Walt Disney World. If you’ve found that you’re not a Disney lover, then you may just have to eye roll as you read my list. Ready?

Magical Experiences

  • Being there for rope-drop when the park opens. There’s something magical about being one of the first people in the park.
  • Fireworks! My favourite part of a day at Disney. I pretty much tear up every time I watch the show.
  • Going in the off-season. Fewer people, shorter lines, and a more leisurely pace mean the joy of Disney with more relaxation.
  • Walking down Main Street and looking up at the castle. It makes my heart expand in my chest.
  • The Halloween-themed parade. The Headless Horseman is my favourite part.
  • RunDisney races. The crowds have so much energy and running through the parks, even for just part of a race, is uplifting.
  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Disney + Halloween = True Love.
  • Planning to go. The anticipation of visiting the happiest place on Earth makes me feel like I’m 7 years old. In a good way. Except I’m paying the bill.
  • VIP Tour Services. My mom sprang for this the last time we went with her, and it was an amazing experience.
  • FastPasses. Having them is awesome. Standing in line – not so much.
  • The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage. Awesome snacks, completely different view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, kid-friendly entertainment. And you get to have your picture taken with Captain Hook. Arrgh!Pirates and Pals

Rides

  • Pirates of the Caribbean. My long-time favourite ride.
  • Jungle Cruise. Cheesy, yes, but it’s on my must-ride list, along with Pirates.
  • The Teacups (officially “Mad Tea Party”). Classic.
  • The Tower of Terror. Love the feeling of my stomach dropping.
  • The Haunted Mansion. Another of my childhood favourites.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Sure, you’re mostly going in a circle, but my entire family loves it.
  • Star Tours. I’m an unapologetic Star Wars fan. Becoming part of the Rebel Alliance is a good time.
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. My daughter’s first big roller coaster, and now one of her favourite rides.
  • Expedition Everest. I love fast rides, and I love the Yeti story and theming.

Food and Dining

  • Fudge. It’s delicious. Enough said.
  • ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. We love the character breakfast here. Go hungry, because there is so much food.
  • Dole Whip. Cold, tart, and delicious. Available in Adventureland and at the Polynesian.
  • The chocolate-covered Mickey-shaped crisped rice treats. A sweet and simple snack.
  • The Garden Grill character meal at Epcot. Again, so much food, but you get to see Chip ‘n’ Dale, Mickey, and Pluto.
  • Disney World now has Starbucks. Sometimes caffeine provides a welcome boost as part of a long day in the park.
  • The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream. So much ice cream. So much whipped cream. It’s an experience to share with the whole family.Kitchen Sink

Disney Magic

  • The attention to detail. Hidden Mickeys, music appropriate to each attraction, the way the pavement changes to reflect the area of the park you’re in, the special touches that you often aren’t conscious of until someone points them out. You are immersed in Disney-ness.
  • It’s super clean. If you go to other theme parks, you really notice how Disney takes care of its environment.
  • There’s always something different to try: a new ride, a specialty drink, a different restaurant. No trip to Walt Disney World is ever exactly the same.
  • Seeing what’s off stage and what goes into the show. It’s pretty cool.
  • Customer service. It’s not always perfect, but cast members have provided us with some of our favourite Disney moments.

Staying On-Property

  • The Magical Express. It’s included in your resort stay, they worry about your luggage so you don’t have to, and it starts the magic right at the airport.
  • The Contemporary Resort. You can walk to Magic Kingdom. No waiting for a bus or a monorail.
  • The pool at the The Beach Club Resort. It’s huge and the kids have a blast.
  • Going back to the room in the middle of the day and chilling out. I love visiting the parks, but you can get burnt out.
  • The Polynesian Resort. It’s on the monorail, so there’s easy access to Magic Kingdom, and I love the South Pacific theming.

Polynesian ResortSharing the Love

  • Tucking my kids in after a long day at the parks. Those are some sweet dreams they’re about to have.
  • Having my kids tell me that I’m the best mom in the world for taking them to Disney World. Hey, I like having my ego stroked, too.Kid 2 sleeping

What’s your favourite part of Walt Disney World (or Disneyland)? What do you love about Disney? Or, if you’re not a Disney fan, why not?

40 Weeks to 40: 40 Day Gratitude Challenge

February 24, 2015

Forty Day Gratitude Challenge - mostlyfitmom.comI try to practice being grateful every day, right before bed, but I have to admit that I’ve been slacking lately. No big deal, right?

I disagree. Let me say that again: I DISAGREE.

I think it IS a big deal.

When I first started working with my life coach last fall, one of the first suggestions she made was that I start making a mental list of what I was grateful for every night before bed as I prepared to sleep. She told me that this subtle shift would have a huge impact on my life because it’s not possible to feel bad when you are feeling gratitude, except she said it much more eloquently. I may have inwardly rolled my eyes, because it sounded hippy-dippy to me, but darned if she wasn’t right – as she is about many things.

I also started sitting with my kids at bedtime and had them start to list a thing or two from their day that they were grateful for. It’s interesting to see how my son, who’s pretty relaxed and chill, will usually have no problem listing a few things from his day that were awesome, why my daughter, who is prone to anxiety, will jump around to the things that made her unhappy during the day, even as I encourage her focus on the parts of her day that she enjoyed. Hmmm, that seemed to be significant. Maybe there is something to this gratitude habit that can lead to more life satisfaction.

There’s research to support that gratitude and happiness are linked, and since I’m on a quest to make the next 40 weeks as awesome as possible, it’s a fantastic time for me to get back to practicing gratitude at the end of my day.

Guidelines for Gratitude

It can be hard, particularly if you’ve had a rough day, to come up with things that you feel wonderful about, that you’re truly grateful for. When I ask my kids about their day, I have a few simple prompts to help them get rolling.

  1. What friend were you grateful for having today?
  2. What food were you grateful for having today?
  3. What was your favourite part of today?
  4. What was your favourite activity today?

When I reflect on my day, I ask myself a few questions, too.

  1. Who was I grateful to have in my life today?
  2. What made me happy today?
  3. What situation did I get through and learn from today?
  4. What was the best part of my day?
  5. How did I love my body today?

I’m setting myself a challenge to not only practice gratitude, but also to write down what I am grateful for for the next 40 days.

Do you keep a journal or otherwise deliberately practice being grateful? Do you think gratitude is linked to happiness?

Interested in joining the 40 day gratitude challenge? Don’t be shy! Leave a comment below.

40 Weeks to 40: How to Really Celebrate Your 40th Birthday

February 23, 2015

How to REALLY Celebrate Your 40th Birthday - mostlyfitmom.com

I celebrate my 40th birthday in 40 weeks. It’s kind of a big deal, right? Forty seems to be a big milestone for a lot of the women I know. There’s a sense that the frivolity of your youth is over, but that there’s a whole lot of living to do, and as someone with forty years tucked under her belt, you now have a sense of exactly what kind of living that is.

I thought that I would be dreading the big 4-0, and while I guess I’m not exactly loving that I’m getting older and closer to death, I’m certainly not avoiding the idea of my big birthday at all. In fact, I’ve decided to celebrate being alive for 40 years through a series of challenges over the next 40 weeks.  I think it’s really a great time to focus on healthy habits, reviewing where I’ve been and where I’m at in my life, and plain ol’ having fun.

40 Challenges for 40 Weeks

It’s cheesy, but why not celebrate your 40th birthday for more than a single day? Why not do something that will make you a better person, reflect on where you’ve been, and get you having fun all the way to 40? These are not all week-long challenges. Some of them span 40 days, others involve compiling lists about your life, while still others will end on your birthday. Ready to see the list of challenges? Here we go!

  1. 40 Days of Gratitude
  2. 40 Favourite Songs
  3. 40 Favourite Things About Disney World (or your favourite place to visit)
  4. 40 Items Decluttered – Challenge #1
  5. 40 Movies in 40 Weeks
  6. 40×40 of Portuguese (or another language)
  7. 40 Favourite Movies
  8. 40 Gifts Challenge
  9. 40-Song Running Playlist for Spring
  10. 40 Facebook Posts by 40
  11. 4×40 Electronics-Free Hours by 40
  12. 40 Acts of Kindness by 40
  13. 40-Song Walking Playlist
  14. 40 Days of Planks
  15. 40 Ways to Show Employees Appreciation
  16. 40 Days of Saving by 40
  17. 40 Favourite Books
  18. 40 Loves Notes Before 40
  19. 40 Fun Things To Do by 40
  20. Run a 10k By 40
  21. 40 Days of Yoga
  22. 40 Healthy Things To Do before 40
  23. 40-Song Summer Running Playlist
  24. 40 Things To Do with Your Kids by 40
  25. 40 Sunsets
  26. 40 Days of Writing
  27. 40 Things To Do This Summer
  28. 40 Items Decluttered – Challenge #2
  29. 40 Nice Things To Do for Your Husband by 40
  30. 40 Nice Things to Do for Your Family and Friends by 40
  31. 40 Emails by 40
  32. 40 Meditation Sessions by 40
  33. 40 Days of Pushups
  34. 40 Work Goals by 40
  35. 40 Ways to Feel Uplifted
  36. 40 Days of Stretching
  37. 40-Song Fall Running Playlist
  38. Run a Half Marathon by 40
  39. 40 Selfies Collection
  40. 40 Days of Joy

As the year unfolds, I’ll be posting exactly what each challenge involves and how I’m doing.

To Party or Not to Party

You might be thinking that challenges are all well and good, but is there going to be a party? At this point, for me, I’m not sure. I love planning birthday parties, but it’s different when it’s my own. My gut is telling me to plan something with just my family, maybe a weekend away somewhere fun, doing stuff that brings me joy. All I know is that THERE WILL BE CAKE.

Do you think that forty is a big milestone? What’s your idea of a fabulous birthday celebration?

Yoga Explorations: 5 Reasons for Working Moms to Practice Yoga

February 22, 2015

5 Reasons for Working Moms to Practice Yoga - mostlyfitmom.comI am a yoga newbie. I am not super-flexible, my heels are off the ground in downward dog, and I still don’t really understand the etiquette of where to put my mat in the room when I’m at a yoga studio. How close is too close and how far is too far? Trying to get into crow pose scares me because I feel like I’m going to land on my face, and forget about grabbing my feet or ankles in bow pose. The front of my body is just too tight to pull that off. I love forward folds, struggle with twists due to major thoracic inflexibility, and can barely interlace my fingers behind my back because my chest is so tight. I also get irritated in a very non-yogic way if I don’t like an instructor’s voice or cuing. I love hot yoga, dislike doing yoga with my kids around because I find it hard to tune them out, struggle to tie up my hair so that I’m not lying on a lump of ponytail during shavasana, and practice at home the majority of the time. I know that yoga has a more spiritual aspect, but I haven’t really gone there at all.

In January, I practiced yoga daily. I was part of Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga challenge and I signed up for a 30 day introductory pass at Moksha Yoga, too. I made it to about four classes at Moksha, a hot yoga studio, over the course of the month and loved it, but found it super-challenging to fit into my schedule. I’m a mom with a fairly full calendar, so a two-hour block is a luxury for me, and I sometimes had to question whether spending those two hours on a one-hour practice was worth it. I really enjoyed the daily practice, though, and having been practicing regularly ever since.

As a working mom, my schedule isn’t terribly flexible. My work hours are pretty set as a dentist because patients get booked in sometimes months in advance, and really, at this point in my life, building up my dental practice is a higher priority than making it to yoga classes. At the same time, I know that my body is healthier and fitter when I practice yoga and I am making a conscious effort to get onto my mat regularly. Here are several reasons to make yoga part of your life, too.

  1. Your back will feel better. So many of us sit in the same position all day long, crunched over, barely breathing or moving. Yoga is a remedy for my slumped posture and forces me to uncrumple my spine, which makes my back healthier and happier and helps release the tension in the muscles of my shoulders, neck, and back.
  2. Yoga helps you manage stress. Yoga is all about being present in your body. It’s not about the 20 tasks you have on your to-do list, the fact that you’ve got to get your daughter to hockey practice by 7pm, or what you’re going to take out of the freezer for supper tomorrow. You are breathing deeply, checking into your body, and letting go of the mental chatter, and that is a recipe for increased happiness.
  3. Yoga increases flexibility and that’s good for preventing injury. I’ve been struggling with running injuries off and on for the past few years. I know it’s related to my glute and core strength, but I also have seriously tight hip flexors and a super-tight chest, which can make it hard to stride properly and makes it really hard for my back muscles and glutes to function properly. I’ve found yoga to be an active way to work on those tight areas in a way that’s more fun and feels more satisfying than just stretching.
  4. You deserve time to take care of yourself. It is becoming clearer to me how important it is to put my health and fitness at the top of my priority list. If I let myself get stiff and weak, I won’t be able to practice dentistry, pay off my business loan, and help support my family. That’s a recipe for stress right there, isn’t it? Plus, if I stop moving and plunk myself down on the couch all the time, what kind of example is that setting for my kids? “Hey kids, sitting on your butt while you watch TV for hours is A-okay.” Not exactly the behaviour that I want to model for them. You’ve probably read articles encouraging women to put themselves first, that say we have to take care of ourselves to be able to care for those that we love. I agree. You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you help those around you, and sometimes your work schedule and mom-guilt can get in the way of that. Taking care of your family is a priority for many women, but, that being said, you have the right to do it FOR YOURSELF, and not for anyone else. You are worth it. The challenge even greater than finding the time is believing that you’re worth it.
  5. Yoga makes you stronger. Plank, chaturanga, downward dog, arm balances, and warrior II are all poses that challenge my strength, depending on how many repetitions we’re talking about and how long each pose is held. When I started strength training again a few weeks ago, I was sure that I was going to have lost a ton of strength since the last time I was really lifting, but I was pleasantly surprised at how heavy the weights needed to be to be challenging, and I’m sure that it’s related to the fact that I’ve been practicing yoga. I’m about 50 pounds overweight right now, and just about the only benefit I can think of is that my muscles have had to support that extra weight during yoga, which has made me pretty strong.

I sense that as I continue to practice yoga, my reasons for doing so will shift. I feel like yoga can be what I need when I need it, that it’s continually changing as I change. Right now, practicing at home several times a week is what works for me, but in the future, well, I am working on being present, so we’ll see where yoga takes me.

Do you practice yoga? What are your reasons? Do you have any advice for a newbie?

6 Strength Training Workouts for Runners

February 19, 2015

As an injured runner, I know that strength training is a must, and as I plan to start running again, I did some research on strength training for runners. I am getting ready to get strong.6 Strength Training Workouts for Runners - mostlyfitmom.com

What I’ve been learning is that my injuries are likely related to hip instability. Nearly every strength workout for runners that I’ve seen focuses on strengthening the glutes and core, and this ties into hip stability in that strengthening these areas improves your hip stability and reduces your risk for injury.

The current issue of Runner’s World has a four-stage progression aimed at improving hip stability. It’s so simple that it only makes sense that I follow it. I couldn’t find any links to it online otherwise I would share, but I did find some other pretty awesome links that include info and exercises aimed at keeping us runners healthy and injury free.

Love the Another Mother Runner website? Get Ripped Like a Mother.

I couldn’t find the hip stability workout from the current Runner’s World magazine, but I did find their 10 Essential Strength Exercises for Runners.

Coach Jenny Hadfield has a super simple (read: doable) strength workout in The Minimalist Guide to Strength Training for Runners. In my world, simple = awesome.

Women’s Health Mag also has a list of 7 Strength Moves for Runners. Get the sense that runners are into less is more when it comes to strength training?

This article from Greatist has links to multiple workouts and also explains Why All Runners Should Strength Train.

Looking for a body-weight workout that’s challenging? Check out Prevention’s 12 Essential Exercises Every Runner Should Do.

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