Healthy Writers Club: Getting Real & Moving Forward

Photo Courtesy of Shallee McArthur
Happy New Year, everyone! I must admit, I definitely strayed from my healthy choices this holiday season. (I suppose everyone does...) This year it was different for me, though. I didn't fall off the wagon because I was happily surrounded by friends and family. I WAS happily surrounded by friends and family, but my poor decisions came from a different place entirely.

I stopped living healthy because I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by uncertainty and sadness.

Let me get real here. Social media is such a limited platform, because we usually only share our 'best of' moments and milestones. But we all have so much going on behind the curtain that perhaps honesty is sometimes an undervalued trait here.

"Wizard of Oz" Photo Courtesy of Out.Of.Focus
So let me be honest: December was one of the hardest months of my entire life. It highlighted the fact that I had just undergone one of the biggest changes I will ever undergo, and my Decembers will never, ever be the same again. (Read more here: Once There Was a Heartbreak.)

I find that when my life is out of balance, I purposefully find ways to make my body and space out of balance. How can you possibly have an immaculately clean house when your insides are falling apart? And how can you possibly have a strong, healthy body when your instinct is to curl into a ball and go to sleep?

I have gone through similar funks before--haven't we all?--but this time I decided to be gentle with myself. Instead of becoming frustrated and making myself feel even worse, I simply set my healthy goals aside and said, "Okay, you really want to go here, then? Fine. You have until the beginning of January to dwell on whatever it is you're dwelling on, and then you better be ready to hit the ground running in 2013."

Wow. It was like getting a free pass, but you know what? The knowledge that it was OKAY not to be okay was all the inspiration I needed. I took those last few weeks of December, and I drowned in my uncertainties. And then the moment that ball dropped to usher in 2013, I found myself filled with hope. I was out on the beach watching fireworks explode over the Gulf of Mexico with some friends, and those beautiful flashes mixed with turquoise water felt like salve to my soul.

My inner voice became strong again: "All right. That's enough. It's time to begin again."

Photo Courtesy of PhotoOptik
Weekly Healthy Writers Club Milestones:

1. BODYTwo bike rides (21 miles total), two arm workouts, two balance training workouts

2. MIND: I got a new job! Starting on Monday, I will be the Admissions & Graduate Services Coordinator at Southeastern Guide Dogs, an amazing non-profit that trains service dogs for visually impaired people and disabled veterans. Talk about good karma!

3. SOUL: A shared birthday party with a good friend in downtown Tampa, a wicked fun Surfrider Foundation benefit concert at the St. Petersburg Pier, a few fun lunches with friends, one beach visit (complete with sunset watching)

How did your week go? Any healthy milestones or set-backs? I'm looking forward to visiting your blogs, and I hope you have a great weekend!

Healthy Writers Club: Doing and Not-Doing

Photo Courtesy of Shallee McArthur
It has been another week, and I have been steadily plugging away at my healthy living goals. I hope you have been successful, too; it is so much harder to keep yourself centered during the holidays.

I've been thinking about Lao Tzu lately, and I have been paying lots of attention to the Taoism concepts of doing and not-doing. In the Western world, we place so much emphasis on DOING, and I see this reflected in my life all the time: exercising, writing, networking, job-searching, etc.

But this week, I have been trying to remind myself that it's okay to be NOT-DOING sometimes, too. It's critical, actually, because rest is one of the most vital--yet overlooked--aspects of living a healthy life. (My body learned this lesson the hard way this week. I attempted two back-to-back sixteen-mile bike rides with very high resistance, and my knees fought back and kept me grounded for the next two days.)

Here is my favorite part of the Tao Te Ching. I have found it very inspirational lately, and I hope you do, too:

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons
Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and he lets them come;
things disappear and he lets them go.
He has but doesn't possess,
acts but doesn't expect.
When his work is done, he forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

How does this relate to your life--writing or otherwise? I have recently discovered exactly how violently my stories will fight back if I try to force them to behave. I have also discovered that my mind and body both need time to heal. If I try to force either to fall in line, they will protest with a vengeance. 

That's why I am trying to embrace the fact that it's okay for me to NOT be okay sometimes. And with all the transition going on in my life right now, I need to accept the bad times just as fully as the good times. As the quote goes, "Sometimes, we must be hurt in order to grow. Sometimes, we must fail in order to know. Sometimes, we must lose in order to gain. Because some lessons in life are best learned through pain."

When is the last time you experienced this feeling?

Here are my weekly Healthy Writers Club milestones:

  • Three bike rides (39.5 miles)
  • Five ab work-outs
  • Three arm work-outs
  • 10,481 new words on my polar bear project, and I am actually having FUN
  • Lots of family time, a few adventures, and lots of moments of NOT-DOING in addition to my usual DOING ;)
How about you? Any setbacks or milestones this week??

Healthy Writers Club: Manatees and Squeeing!

Photo Courtesy of Shallee McArthur
Happy Friday, everyone! I am cheating and writing this post on Monday (four days before I'm supposed to), so I'm not exactly sure what my stats will be this week. However, I have a REALLY AWESOME excuse: I will be participating in the U.S. Geological Survey's annual wild manatee study in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge this week!

I am just thrilled to death about this. I have never participated in one of these studies before, but I have always, always, always wanted to. (I wriggled my way in this year through my friend Sonya, who worked with me at Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City Beach a few years ago. When she asked if I'd like to join her, I jumped at the chance.)

You are probably wondering what a wild manatee study is, and you are probably sensing how ridiculous and nerdy my squeeing is over here. I will fill you in on the details.

Here is what USGS has to say about their work, and you can read their full handout here:

Photo Courtesy of USFWS Headquarters

Over the last decade, the USGS has successfully captured, examined, and released over 300 manatees, creating an extensive sample and data archive. Research in greater Crystal River, Florida is providing needed baseline health information of West Indian manatees. This is the fourth year of the wild manatee study at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.

Health assessments are a valuable tool to determine the fitness, specifically related to environmental and medical issues, of any population of wildlife. Marine mammals, such as manatees, are often used as sentinels for emerging threats to the ocean environment and human health. 

Photo Courtesy of vladeb
A two-team approach is used to capture and exam manatees. The Capture Team and Assessment Team both consist of biologists and veterinarians representing federal, state and local government agencies. All procedures are conducted by experienced biologists and veterinary personnel. Manatees selected for capture are circled with a large net and pulled onto the beach by an experienced capture team. 

Photo Courtesy of vladeb
Once on shore, the manatees will receive a complete medical examination by veterinarians on the assessment team. Blood is drawn under sterile conditions from a flipper, centrifuged for plasma and serum separation, and submitted for routine blood analyses. Other laboratory tests are employed when necessary. A manatee physical exam includes the following:

• General Appearance 
• Body Condition 
• Photo-documentation of lesions and wounds 
• Heart/Pulse Rate 
• Respiratory Rate 
• Temperature 
• Body weight 
• Complete body measurements (body length and girths)
 • Eye exam 
• Implantation of PIT tag 
• Subcutaneous fat layer exam 
• Analysis of blood, feces, urine and skin 
• Reproductive parameters 

Improvements in the handling of wild manatees are possible by monitoring individuals using ECG and evaluating inflammatory response to injury or disease during capture. Blood biochemistry and hematology research has benefited manatee clinical medicine by establishing normal ranges for veterinary evaluations of healthy wild manatees. 

Photo Courtesy of myFWCmedia
Other published studies incorporating capture data include research on several biological subjects including: 

• Hormone levels for determining pregnancy 
• Capture stress levels in wild manatees 
• Epiphytes (living organisms that grow on manatees) 
• Trace element contaminants in manatee tissues compared to levels in the local environment

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons
OMG, those of you who are familiar with my first novel, THE MERMAID GENE, already know my protagonist Kai Murphy is the daughter of a famous dolphin researcher who does catch and release medical exams like this all the time. 

The fact that I built an entire novel out of the AWESOMENESS THAT IS WHAT I GET TO DO IN CRYSTAL RIVER means this adventure will absolutely qualify for my Healthy Writers Club BODY, MIND and SPIRIT milestones this week.

I will fill you in on all the details when I return!

Healthy Writers Club: I'm Allergic to Everything!

Photo Courtesy of Shallee McArthur
This has definitely been a busy week. On the BODY front, I have managed six workouts in the last seven days--which is so UNLIKE me that I just have to keep reminding myself I actually accomplished this. Four workouts were bike rides (36 miles total), and I've started trying to do abs (and sometimes arms) at the conclusion of each ride.

One workout was a canoe trip through the mangroves with my Dad, and the other was a paddleboarding yoga trip at Weedon Island with Urban Kai. Although I'm not flipping around or doing handstands on my board yet, I did manage a few warrior poses and such--and I didn't fall off once!

Here's a pic as proof. (I'm on the red board on the left.)

Photo Courtesy of Frank Long
Also on the BODY front, I got my food sensitivity test results back today, and OH MY GOSH, I am apparently allergic to nearly everything. Here's my list:

VERY HIGH: Banana and Pineapple
HIGH: Cranberry
MODERATE: Sesame Seeds
LOW: Broccoli, Cabbage and Clams
VERY LOW: Whey, Pecans, Baker's Yeast, 
Tuna, Milk and Egg Whites
TRACE: Whole Wheat and Lobster

My initial reaction was to FREAK THE F*CK OUT, but I am back under control again. Realistically, I should only really cut bananas, pineapples, cranberries and sesame seeds out of my diet. I can limit broccoli, cabbage and clams, and I can just keep an eye on whey, pecans, baker's yeast, tuna, eggs, milk, whole wheat and lobster. No big deal.

If anything, this knowledge can just help me remember to pay attention to the foods I shove in my mouth. It can also encourage me to eat as much chocolate and honey as possible. ;)

This week was a really good week on the MIND front. My WIP has been fighting with me ever since I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo, but I finally made a breakthrough this week and just started writing. I managed nearly 4,000 words in two days, and I feel so much better than I did before. 

This project is beginning to feel FUN again, and I'm starting to look forward to writing it. I also look forward to making this guy one of my characters. (In the most non-cheesy way possible.)

"Mac," Photo Courtesy of Me
On the SOUL front, I am continuing to explore Tampa and spend time with my family and friends. This week, it was the Holiday Market, Weedon Island (twice), the Florida Aquarium (again), the Royal Tea Room and various other spots around the city. I am beginning to know my way around now, and I am infinitely thankful for the people who have been there for me.

This transition still has its good days and its bad days, but I have been pinning the shit out of my feelings on Pinterest. What a great catharsis, and it's pretty to boot! :) Here's a link if you'd like to see what I have been up to: WORDS OF WISDOM.

So that's my update. I hope you had a good week, and I can't wait to visit your blogs. Have a great weekend!

Healthy Writers Club: NaNoWriMo Madness

Is it really Friday already? And is it really November? I feel like I've been stuck in slow motion for the past few months; I can't believe Halloween is already over!

Before I get into my weekly milestones, I just have to share this cute picture of my nephew and me at the pumpkin patch this week. He's certainly worth a move across the country, don't you agree?

Photo Courtesy of Me
Here is my weekly progress:


No stand-up paddleboarding this week, but I will be attending my first on-the-water yoga class this weekend. I'm hoping to someday be this girl:

Photo Courtesy of lululemon athletica
In the absence of paddleboarding, I went on three long bike rides, and I also did one super intense cardio session followed by arm and ab work. (Not my best week, but I'm still fighting that stupid cough and sore throat that has plagued me since I moved here.)


Oh my God, it's NaNo time. Are you guys freaking out or what?? 

Photo Courtesy of NaNoWriMo
I've never done NaNo before; I've actually purposefully avoided it, because I take deadlines--even self-imposed ones--so seriously that I often talk myself into panic attacks. However, I have resolved this year to use NaNo as a framework for getting some work done on my new manuscript. I'm not going to hold myself to NaNo's ridiculously high word count, but I am going to check in over there and use its guidelines to remind myself to get some words on paper. 

Are any of you taking the plunge? If so, please find me so we can be buddies: Lisa Ann


I'm hanging in there. It certainly is an adjustment to realize I'm not just in Florida on vacation, and I'm still struggling with the idea that I live here and my life is unalterably different than it was a few months ago. It's also difficult to jump outside my comfort zone, as I settled into a pretty comfortable daily routine in Colorado.

Being surrounded by friends and family helps. This week, I went to the pumpkin patch for family portraits, watched a ballroom dancing competition with my good friend Mel, attended my first silent film (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) with Mel and my dad, caught up with some friends I hadn't talked to since the move, and helped my sister and brother-in-law take my nephew Trick-or-Treating.

Photo Courtesy of josierichards
I have also been thinking about caterpillars a lot, and I've made my peace with the fact that you need to stay in the chrysalis for awhile before you are able to become a butterfly.

Here are my weekly Healthy Writers Club milestones:

1. Weekly Stats: Three 5+ mile bike rides; one cardio session; one arm and ab workout

2. In-Flight Entertainment Favorite: Mumford & Sons. Surprisingly amazing cardio music

3. Coolest moment: For the first time this week, I had a moment where I looked down at my legs and realized they felt strong. My arms are starting to feel strong, too, and that's certainly a new development for me. They haven't felt like this since I stopped spin class two years ago.

4. Hardest moment: My body just can't seem to get well. I have been in Florida for nearly a month now, and I have been "sick" in some way for more than three weeks of that time. First it was a sore throat, then a fever, then a runny nose, then sneezing, then coughing. I woke up a few days ago to feel ANOTHER sore throat, and I almost had a meltdown. No way I could have handled starting the cycle over again!

How did your week go? Any healthy milestones or set-backs? I'm looking forward to visiting your blogs, and I hope you have a great weekend.