Spark the Story

Before I talk about the point of this post I have a story, which is also kind of the point. Wait, this will make sense soon. I promise. When I was in middle school, my English teacher told me that I had a "gift" for writing. At a time in my life, really everyone's life, when you feel awkward, nervous, and self-conscious, I was told I was good at something. From then on I decided that I wanted to write. I knew that maybe she told a lot of her students this. I knew that not everything I wrote mattered. Some of it was bad, some of it was good, but the idea stuck with me, and still has, that I could write.

This post is not about me, but it is about all of us. I've always felt that I express myself best in written form. I'm certainly not the best writer out there, but I do try to use my blog (although sometimes used for humor and the odds and in's of life) for things I feel that matter. I cling to female writers that are able to express their voice in a way that inspire and empower me. People like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Rebecca Wells, Maya Angelou, and so many more create a sense of pride in me.

Now, I'm lucky enough to know one of these people.

One of my friends from grade school and high school, and also theater, has realized her dream and is making big moves in the industry. Michelle is a real, bonafide writer. She writes in a way that I aspire to and her story is truly moving. She has been though something that all women feel is a nightmare, for me and most others, the greatest fear: rape. I urge you to read her story, published on Hello Giggles here. It's shocking, heartbreaking, somehow heartwarming, and makes you realize the power of girl-friendships. Also, it's superbly well written.

Michelle is not alone in her story, and she knows that. She decided to be open and active about what's happened to her. She is using her voice to tell stories about all women, and in a way that makes us feel more empowered. She's working on a play that, "explores how social narratives influence gender identity in young girls." She's going to England to research and her play is something that we all should support.

Michelle says, "Stories are the way that we understand the world." I find this especially true and I think that's what we're all doing. We all want to tell our story. Michelle is successfully doing this.

She started a Tilt campaign and I wanted to reach out to my readers and ask you to support her. She did not ask me to do this. This is something I believe in and feel so strongly about and hope you will too. Any amount will help. Seriously, $10, $5, whatever!

Contributing to this campaign will help be the spark to ignite this movement. I'm really proud to know someone that is not only making an impact, but also living out their dream. In this case, it also happens to benefit others. Somehow, it's a win-win-win, which is pretty rare in my estimation.  Click here to help!

Comments turned off, go support Michelle!

My FitBit Review + A Week of 10,000 Steps a Day

I am obsessed with my FitBit. Full blown, can't live without it. I know, it's not really necessary for life, but for me, it's a wonderful motivator.

I started a challenge for myself: #7DaysHealthy, where I'm adding on one new, small, healthy habits every single week. First was 93 ounces of water, then stretching, and this past week was to walk 10,000 steps a day. I'll get into how I did on the challenge in a bit, but first I wanted to review my new favorite sidekick: Franklin the FitBit.
FitBit Charge HR review

Yes, I named it.

And this is in no way sponsored. Not even a little bit.

I have the FitBit Charge HR. That means it tracks my heart rate in addition to calories burned, steps taken, hours slept, stairs climbed, and miles walked. Before the Charge, I had the FitBit flex. I wore it on my hip and it manly just tracked my steps, so this is a big step up from what I had before.

The design of the FitBit Charge HR is a bit clunky, I'd like it to be a little slimmer. But it's comfortable to wear and I hardly notice it most of the time. The clasp makes it easy to put on my wrist and I can adjust how tight or loose to wear it.

I really like the FitBit app for my phone. It makes it easy to see just what I've accomplished and what goals I've hit. When I'm working out I like to check my heart rate to see what zone I'm in: fat burning, cardio, or peak. It helps me gauge if I need to push harder or not. I'm not entirely sure how accurate the FitBit is about tracking calories burned but it's nice to check
FitBit Dashboard

Here's a look at how many steps I've taken for the past two weeks (so you can see I'm actually telling the truth about hitting 10k steps a day.) I really like how FitBit vibrates when you've hit 10,000.
FitBit steps walked

 As far as support goes, I am blow away. I was having a problem with my FitBit and I chatted with online support. Within minutes they let me know that I needed a new FitBit and sent one my way. I charge the battery about every 5 days, and it usually only takes about 15 minutes or so to become fully charged.

Bottom line: I love my FitBit. I think it's a wonderful motivator and I really like being able to see if I'm actually hitting my fitness goals.

No on to this week's challenge: Walk 10,000 steps every  day (70,000 steps for the week.)

What I felt:
Awesome. It was a great reminder to get up and move. I exceeded my goal by almost 3,000 steps every day (my average was about 13k steps a day.) Since having the FitBit I've been trying to hit my goal of 10,000 steps but hitting it for 7 days in a row shows me how often I sit. 

How hard was it?
I had to set reminders for myself to get up and move. I work from home, so I got up and ran around my yard every few hours. I did jumping jacks waiting for my soup to heat up in the microwave. I parked farther away. All these things really helped. I also walk/job thoughout the week which was the biggest way I earned steps. Hitting 10,000 steps a day is not easy. Especially if you have a desk job. But it's not healthy to sit for 4 hours straight so I need to make an effort to move more.

Any changes?
I don't think this will necessarily help me greatlylose weight, but it's a good practice to move more. I did avoid some exercises (biking) because I knew I wouldn't have my steps counted. I think I need to get over that. 

Will I keep it up?
I'm really going to try. I know that 10,000 is my goal and the FitBit makes a sad face if I don't hit that. Which honestly, is a big factor for getting my butt in gear. It's a good way to keep me accountable and remind me to move. 

The next challenge: Next week is Easter, which in my family's house means candy. But I'm really going to try to eat healthy and stick to under 1500 calories a day no matter what. I think I'm doing well with staying active, but choosing the right foods is something I've always struggled with.


How to Cure The Hiccups

I get the hiccups a lot. So often, in fact, I've developed my own cure for stopping them, almost immediately. I'm what you could call a chronic hiccup-er. Despite what you've heard, curing them has nothing to do with getting scared. Or drinking water. Actually, you don't need anything.
Screenshot from the video. It kind of looks like I'm hiccuping, so I went with it.

It really works every single time. Yesterday, I happened to have the hiccups and decided it was a good idea to record a quick video on how to cure them. You can thank me later.

Some notes about this video/if you can't watch this at work.

Here's how I do it:
1. Blow out all your air, so hard you push your stomach out. Hold your breath.
2. Swallow three times- while holding your breath
3. Count to 10. 10 long-ish seconds. It kinda hurts.
They're gone.

If they didn't go away, then you're not doing it right. Michael does this incorrectly, hence it doesn't work for him.
I know this video is a bit odd, but that's me.


How To Never Have Jet Lag

I have a secret. I love traveling — that's not the secret, duh. You may have noticed from my past posts that it's my favorite thing to do. I really don't mind flying, although I always get a little (by a little I mean I tend to freak out) anxiety before my flight. Even though I haven't quite grasped how to chill out before I board a plane, I have managed to master the art of never getting jet lag.
Not ever. So I'm sharing my secrets today.
how to never have jet lag

My very first international trip was to London with my family (and 50 college students. My parents taught study abroad and my mother ran the London program). I loved every second of it. From the adorable bright red telephone booths, to the massive towers and quaint flats, everywhere I turned I felt like I was living in a classic children's book, or discovering a new trend. But I had horrible jet lag that sometimes lasted for days.

Now Michael and I try to get overseas at least once a year. Our jam-packed trips usually include visiting two to five cities in a 10-day period, with little time for sleep. But I think we've figured out the whole jet lag thing once and for all, at least for us.

Depending on what time we board the plane, we check the current time of the place we're headed. If it's bed time for them, then it's bed time for us. Even if it's 10 in the morning. We sleep on the plane. Even if it's only a couple of hours, it helps. Can't sleep? Take something.

When we arrive in our location, we go with the flow of that city's schedule. Even if we arrive at 2:00 p.m. their time and it's 10 p.m. in Dallas, we stay awake. We bring along caffeine pills and power through it, knowing that the next day will be a lot easier.

Even if we're exhausted, we try to stay awake until at least 10 p.m. that night (sometimes a lot later). This helps us to fall asleep and stay asleep. That's one problem I had in London. I'd wake up at 2 a.m., stay up for a couple hours, then go back to sleep.

You'll most likely lose out on some sleep. But it's worth it when you're out exploring the world. Some things in life are worth losing sleep over, and this is one of them.

Do you have any tips for avoiding jet lag?
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