Tag Archives: health

Neurological Reorganization… Life Changing!

59684_1524221838850_7579784_nI have a feeling I’m going to be blogging on this topic A LOT this year. I am totally fascinated by this field and am about to begin a program with my daughter and possibly my two older sons as well. In a nutshell, neurological reorganization is a way of treating a whole host of learning and behavior disorders without medication and with permanent beneficial results. The goal is to identify gaps in development that occurred from birth onward and take advantage of our brain’s neuroplasticity and go back and bridge or eliminate those gaps. At least that’s my understanding so far. I can honestly see ¬†this being the single most important discovery of my life as a mom to date. If you have an hour and fifteen minutes to spare, and even a mild curiosity in what I am talking about, I highly recommend you watch the video below.

 

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Immunity Boosting Spicy Lime Hummus

hummusI love to make my own hummus when I have the time. It is so much fresher and more flavorful than what you usually find in grocery stores. I prefer to use dried chick peas and soak them overnight, which also adds to the freshness, but you can use canned chick peas as well. The variety of spices in here, as well as the lime juice and apple cider vinegar, are all great for your immune system. A little disclaimer here: I find it very difficult to follow recipes without making my own modifications to suit my tastes and available ingredients. Therefore, I also have a hard time measuring very accurately and providing exact recipes, but I think this is the closest I’ve come so far. It’s almost exact, so here goes…

2 cups organic chick peas (dry, soaked overnight and cooked 1.5 hrs, or canned)
Juice of 3 limes (squeeze out every last drop!)
2 tbs. avocado oil (could also use olive or walnut)
2 tsp. organic apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. purified water (alkaline, ionized if you have it)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 tbs. tahini
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
ground rainbow peppercorns to taste (I turned the grinder about 4 times)
dash cayenne pepper

Toss all ingredients into a Vitamix or food processor and blend away. If it’s too thick, try adding a little more of any of the above liquids (lime juice, oil, or water). If you like it spicier, add more of the cayenne. My kids don’t like things too spicy so I kept it mild. Serve with fresh veggies, chips, or if you’re like me, you may just want to eat it plain like a bowl of pudding. My four kids (2, 5, 8, and 9) and I polished this off in a matter of minutes. Enjoy!

Spartan Postmortem

Today is the day. Let's do this. #spartanrace

A post shared by Rachael Marie Lewinson (@rachael.lewinson) on

Yesterday was the big day —

the day this 40-year-old Spartan Virgin was initiated into the world of Spartan racers. I knew that the race was going to be intense, but I had no idea just how intense, or just how woefully under-prepared I was as I stood at that starting line. This was just a Spartan Sprint, mind you, the shortest distance offered (4+ miles and 21 obstacles), and still it has left an indelible impression on me. Thus I feel it is my civic duty to help prepare any potential future Spartans for the realities of this race, as well as offer my kudos to the event’s organizers for finding such a creative outlet for their sadism.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve always been an athlete, and I usually find athletic challenges to be fun (and frankly, not all that challenging). For example, I’ve biked 105 miles through the desert in Death Valley, with diarrhea (entirely TMI, I realize, but I need to give you the full picture here). It was very tough, but I handled it. I’ve also given birth to four children vaginally, three of them without drugs. So maybe you’re beginning to get an understanding of why I thought this #SpartanRace might be just another over-hyped, remedial “challenge” like those we encounter in so many other areas of life these days.

Not so, folks.

THIS.

IS.

THE.

REAL.

DEAL.

Some caveats:

Not surprisingly, my body decided to give me a few extra difficulties on this of all days. I was menstruating. I had a cold/cough/scratchy throat. And on top of that, my husband really ticked me off on the car ride there. So granted, I wasn’t starting off on the happiest of notes when the race began. I had trained diligently for 5 months (not more than that because I was nursing my new baby for the whole previous year). But then I stupidly scheduled a vacation right before a 3-day conference I had to attend, all right before the race. So I had nearly 2 full weeks of exercise challenges (rushed, abbreviated workouts and long days of sitting still) immediately before the event. I was pretty exhausted. I now realize I should have been training hard core every day and going to bed early every night right up until race day.

The blow-by-blow:

All excuses aside, here’s how it went down. I arrived at the venue, a ski resort, and stared up at the steep, smoking hills before me. A little shiver crept up my spine. Young, muscular bodies flowed gracefully around me in a constant stream. A few of the elite class men were already weaving their way down the rocky mountainside, pecs slick and glistening in the sun. I turned to my left and headed toward a set of obstacles at the foot of the mountain. College kids were hoisting heavy sandbags into the air, grimacing only slightly, as if stuck on a tricky question during a Bio final. They then scampered toward an inverted wall and activated their spider powers as they climbed over the top in a matter of seconds. I moved on, scribbling copious mental notes and taking a few deep breaths.

I then arrived at the starting area to warm up. The wave before mine was about to take off. The emcee was psyching them up, having them shout “I am Spartan!” in response to his rousing declarations. I didn’t think much about his obvious mirth at the time, but in retrospect, I now see why he found the whole scene so bleeping hilarious.

We had to climb a wall just to get to the starting line, by the way. That was my first clue that this could be a bit more than I bargained for. After our own Spartan pep rally, we were off, zig-zagging up the mountain strewn with rocks of all sizes and little smoking things stuck into the ground for extra effect. The first third of the race actually went pretty well. It was mostly strenuous hiking through the woods, climbing walls and nets, and monkey bars over muddy water. I started to enjoy myself.

Then came several upper-body challenges, like lifting and carrying a 65-pound boulder, dragging cinder blocks through the woods with a chain, carrying logs through the woods, etc. I have never had much upper body strength even in my best shape, and here is where I realized that arms/shoulders should have been my primary area of focus in training. I was in for a rough 2+ hours (2:11:20, to be exact). The other thing I didn’t realize is that you only get one chance to complete most of the obstacles, and if you fall or miss, you can’t go back and start again. Nope, you immediately get sent to the burpee zone, where you have to do 30 burpees (chest hitting the ground) for every obstacle you miss. In my training, I could never really do more than 30 burpees in a day without great difficulty. On my race day, I did at least 150-180 (I lost count after awhile). This was both exhausting and demoralizing.

RL_Spartan_burpees

I whimpered a few times. I wasn’t used to feeling so defeated. But I soldiered on. ‘Soldier’ is truly an appropriate verb here, as I eventually had to crawl what seemed like 1/4 mile under barbed wire, scraping my knees and shins on the hard rocks underneath me as I inched and rolled along to the sound of the drill sergeant’s taunts and jeers. I also had to carry a sandbag up and down yet another steep hill, and the only way I could do it was to pretend it was a baby, whom I had to carry safely through a war zone. Everyone else had the bag on their head or shoulders, but I cradled it right against my belly, picturing my baby every step of the way. It was the only way I could keep myself going.

There were some other bright spots along the way. I loved the steep downhills where I just let my feet fly and somehow managed not to fall and break my face. I loved the camaraderie of the teams I saw along the way, waiting for each other when someone fell behind and encouraging one another to keep moving. I even managed not to be bitter about my own team bailing on me at the last minute. (Oops, did I forget to mention that in my caveats section earlier? Yeah.) But honestly, even if you do participate as an individual, you soon realize that you are all one big team during this event. One woman offered me her shoulder to stand on, as we both stood waist deep in muddy, manure-scented water staring up at the first step of the wall we were about to climb. And then there was the sweet volunteer who now knows my crotch about as well as my midwife does, after shoving my rear up over that inverted wall I mentioned earlier (guess my spider powers failed to activate). So you see, it wasn’t all bad, really.

Some of the later obstacles are barely worth mentioning, as I was so exhausted by the time I got to them I could scarcely attempt them before sulking my way over to the burpee zone, again. Eventually, I got to the last few obstacles where my husband and kids were watching. Seeing their proud faces and hearing my kids cheer me on really gave me the strength to continue and even start to feel a little proud of myself at last. After a couple more manure baths and twisting my ankle just as I was about to leap over the final obstacle — logs on fire! — which almost caused me to land in the fire, I limped across the finish line with a huge wave of relief. A protein bar and a banana were shoved into my hands, my finisher medal hung around my neck, and I was released back into civilization once again.

It was over.

I didn’t feel the same euphoria I had felt after my first mud race, which was more of a glorified 5K with mud puddles in comparison, and even now I am not sure how soon I will be signing up for my next punishment, I mean event. (But I’m sure I will be signing up — only for the Sprint!) It wasn’t until my daughter got ready to do her Spartan Kids race the same day that I really felt excited about the whole experience. Seeing her beaming face as she approached each obstacle, and watching her proudly display her finisher medal (which I’m pretty sure she slept in) has truly made this a rewarding experience. It’s really not about looking good for the cameras, or finishing in the top 10, it’s about developing physical, mental, and emotional toughness, and learning to persevere even under the worst of circumstances.

Action shot of Scarlett from yesterday.

A post shared by Rachael Marie Lewinson (@rachael.lewinson) on

In short, when I signed up for Spartan, I thought I was signing up for a fun obstacle race. What I got instead was another rough life lesson, but in all honesty, I’m still very grateful. Once my soreness subsides and my scrapes heal, I’m sure I’ll be more enthusiastic, but I wanted to document the brutal realities of this race while they’re fresh in my mind. If you are planning to run a Spartan Race and are not already a world class athlete, you now have a pretty accurate idea of what to expect. I wish I had read something like this early in my training, so I thought the least I could do is give someone else the heads up I didn’t get. Let me be clear: I absolutely recommend this race…for those who will prepare for it. It’s awesome. There’s nothing like it. But when they say it’s no joke, they mean it.

Go Spartans! Aroo!

We did it!!! #spartanrace #finishers

A post shared by Rachael Marie Lewinson (@rachael.lewinson) on

Fortified (I’m Turning 40 Tomorrow!)

Tomorrow is the much-anticipated big day… the day I happily wave good-bye to my thirties (not that it was a bad decade, by any means) and turn to greet a fresh new decade ripe with possibilities and full of the promise of great ongoing progress. I guess we all love fresh starts, and although we can theoretically have one any day we choose, it always helps to have the momentum or pomp and circumstance of an appropriate event like a milestone birthday to take full advantage of the opportunity.

So, I keep getting asked what I am going to do to celebrate. In fact, I began celebrating at the beginning of the year and will continue to do so for as long as possible…hopefully forever. My gift to myself for this year and this decade, at least, is unprecedented health and balance. For one thing, I decided to get back into athletic shape, similar to when I was in high school, playing sports year-round and setting school and local records left and right. I want exercise and athleticism to again be part of my daily regimen, and even identity. I love the discipline and the connection with my body, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with working out regularly. So, as I’ve blogged about before, I signed up for a Spartan Race and am enjoying the training immensely.

I’ve also been pampering myself a lot more. I’ve never been much of a girly-girl, so for me one of the ultimate luxuries is making time to read, for pleasure and for my own education. Sitting down with a cup of organic decaf coffee and a great book for even half an hour is the equivalent of a spa day or a week’s vacation at this point in my life. On a similar note, writing just for the sake of writing is another guilty pleasure of mine, which is why I began this new blog earlier this year. In fact, at this very moment, I should be cajoling my children to do their math work (we home school), but since they’re playing happily together outside and the baby is napping, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to flex my fingers and reflect on how I’m feeling. Math can wait, especially on a beautiful day like today.

I like to keep things simple and natural, and every so often I have to remind myself to shed the unnecessary and get back to the basics. I’m feeling more comfortable in my own skin than ever before, somewhat as if I’ve been rediscovering what I’ve always known and loved about myself. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve been given. Are there things I want that I can’t have right now? Things I regret? Sure, a few. But overall I am in a really great place, and it feels very solid and secure. I certainly didn’t get to this place by myself, but I’ve worked hard to get here nonetheless, and there are things I’ve learned along the way that can’t ever be taken away from me now. In short, I have so much more than a birthday to celebrate, so it’s hard for me to plan a day, or a week, or a party that could possibly capture who I am and how I’m feeling this year (especially on my budget – ha!). Instead, I will do my best to celebrate my Life, and all it includes, to the fullest, each and every day. Cheers!

I am Spartan, hear me roar!

Spartan graphic¬† I recently signed up for a Spartan race and I am so happy I did. The Spartan team sends me daily workouts, so I never get bored or wonder what I should do on a particular day. I never thought I could find the time to exercise EVERY DAY, but somehow when I see that specific physical assignment in my inbox each morning I feel (happily) compelled to rise to the occasion. I have been an athlete all my life, but now that I’m older and have young children I’ve been struggling to maintain a consistent exercise regimen unless I have a fun event to train for. I don’t like to run for running’s sake. I need a goal to pursue… a challenge to look forward to. The fact that I get to crawl through mud and climb walls and things makes it all the more exciting.

As if the workout motivation weren’t enough, Spartan also sends daily recipes incorporating most of my very favorite foods. So even my meals have gotten more interesting since joining this event, which is really more of a community. Love it. Thank you, Spartan! Looking forward to getting my @$$ kicked later this Spring, and I’m sure I’ll be back for more later in the year. Haha.