Throwdown Thursday: Diet or Die. Surviving the Sugar Detox

As we prepare for our poker pilgrimage, Paul and I know we need to shed some pounds.  Being in shape will be critical to fully enjoying our poker travel lifestyle. We’ve spent a lot of time in the past year talking about losing weight, but pretty much no time actually losing it. Enter the sugar detox diet.

We were both in great shape about four years ago. However, fitness rapidly wanes when your primary forms of entertainment consist of poker playing, TV watching, and wine drinking. After the fish tank epiphany on our summer cruise, we decided it was time to get serious about shaping back up. Last month I happened to come across an article about a sugar detox, which led me to Mark Hyman’s, book The Blood Sugar Solution. Which led us straight into hell.

Paul: Maybe gorging ourselves on my birthday weekend with every bagel, piece of cake, croissant, bottle of wine, etc. that we could get our hands on was not the kind of prep we should have been doing. Following that with a week of no carbs, no sugars, (even fruit is out), no wine, and no caffeine is no picnic.  With only water, tea, meats, vegetables, nuts and a waning will to live to subsist on – our house wasn’t pretty.

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Happy Poker Partnership

4 Steps to a Happy Poker Partnership

Paul and I both love poker. We feel very lucky to be with someone who not only shares our values and goals, but also our love of poker. Poker rooms are replete with men calling their wives saying they are “at the mall” and others sheepishly reporting that they promised to be home several hours ago, while clearly having no intention of leaving any time soon. Even among couples who both play poker, one is often clearly miserable, while the other can’t get enough. Paul and I came into this relationship both loving poker. There were definitely some bumps in the road early on reconciling our love for the game with our love for each other. However, over the years, Paul and I have found that there are four steps to a happy poker partnership.

1) Do You Both Want to Play Poker?

In order to create a happy poker partnership, first ensure that both you and your significant other truly want to play poker. If one of you is jonesing for the felt every Saturday while the other would rather be tending the garden, and you both separately pursue those passions, that’s one thing.  If the gardener, however, is playing poker just to get time with his partner, that’s a relationship headed for trouble. No one should ever play poker just because their partner is a fan. That’s an expensive, and ultimately, self-defeating proposition.

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How to Meditate

How to Meditate to Reduce Stress

In my ongoing campaign to reduce stress and anxiety, increase my levels of gratitude, and embrace optimism, I have taken up meditation. Actually, I should say that I have taken up meditation again. I have long been aware of the reported benefits of meditation. I first learned how to meditate in a college course on “Stress and Health”. At the time, my professor emphasized both the emotional and physical benefits of meditation. However, when I gave meditation a try as part of a homework assignment, I had a panic attack.

That experience stuck with me for a long time. I finally gave meditation another shot a couple of years ago, when life events sent my stress levels off the charts. I knew I needed to reduce my stress and anxiety or I was going to be heading to the doctor. This time around I had a much better experience, and have been meditating at least semi-consistently ever since.

So I learned how to meditate, downloaded a couple of meditation apps, and started practicing regularly. I have since reaped the benefits of meditation. My stress levels are definitely lower now that I meditate. Despite juggling three  jobs, two teenagers, and the financial challenges posed by a child heading off to college. Meditation also helps me to sleep better and think more clearly.

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How to Keep a Gratitude Journal

How To Keep a Gratitude Journal

When you are working toward long-term goals, it can be difficult to maintain focus on the positive.  If optimism does not come naturally to you, it’s easy to emphasize the obstacles and stumbling blocks rather than the progress you are making toward your goal. In order to keep your motivation high, it is crucial to acknowledge the wins. And the best way to ensure that you notice the good things in your life is to write them down. Keeping a gratitude journal has helped prevent us from missing all we have to be grateful for and kept our eye on the prize of our long-term dream.

Why Keep a Gratitude Journal

We keep a gratitude journal just because it feels good and it reminds us to be thankful. As it turns out, a number of scientific studies have shown concrete benefits of gratitude journaling. In 2015, Psychology Today published an article citing several scientific studies about gratitude which have shown, among other things, that gratitude improves physical and psychological health, improves empathy, and actually leads to better sleep. Last year, an article in Time Magazine added the benefits of patience, better relationships, and willpower to that list. Researchers at NIH have found the direct neurological causes for these outcomes. Gratitude increases activity in the hypothalamus (hormone levels and eating and sleeping control) and the brain’s use of dopamine.

So why not just think happy thoughts? There is value to translating your thoughts into whole language. In other words, simply thinking grateful thoughts is not as powerful as writing them down. Additionally, research indicates that using handwriting to record gratitude (vs. speaking or typing) is a  more effective way to reap the full physical and emotional benefits.

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key to a healthy relationship

Key to a Healthy Relationship: Save It for the Summit

My husband, Paul, and I have a pretty healthy relationship. In fact, I would say that we are soulmates.  However, we also have each had numerous romance fails in the past. So we expend every effort to insure that our current relationship does not start to slide. Generally this is pretty easy. We agree on most things, work pretty easily together, and generally pick up the slack for each other’s weak spots.

However, into every relationship a little friction will come. When you spend 24/7 alongside another person (we work, live, and play together), sand will sometimes grind the gears. Despite being generally reasonable people, we both get a bit irrational when steamed. Each of us has resorted to, shall we say, less than ideal methods of communication when angry.

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