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We’ve Trained for This: The Coronavirus and Me

I may have forgotten to mention it: Did I tell you I’ve been training pretty hard for the past three months?

Training for a fifth marathon, you ask? A community 10K? A speedy half?

No, dear reader. I’ve been unknowingly training for a whole different kind of event: social distancing. And MAN, am I in shape.

For those of you who haven’t experienced it, the first few months of parenthood can be a downright solitary time. Sure, friends and family pop in for precisely timed 90-minute visits between feedings and naps, but until your newborn has his two-month immunizations, many pediatricians advise avoiding crowds of any sort. That means no restaurants, no bars, no coffee shops and no birthday parties. Sure, you have an infant to keep you company, but it can get pretty lonely if you aren’t careful.

All alone, as usual.

But it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself healthy and sane during a social lockdown, whether you’re caring for a 13-pound human or responsibly hunkering down until COVID-19 slows its spread. That doesn’t mean it’s easy — it’s not, especially for all of you with mobile children to care for, too — but if you’re in a position to stay home these next few weeks, here are my best tips for maintaining morale when you’re forced to rip up your routine.

  1. Continue to exercise. Your gym is closed. Your barre studio is shut down. Your running club has halted group speed work. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit on your couch. Working up a sweat will help you feel better and keep anxiety at bay — you’ll just have to get a bit creative. My at-home workout of choice during Charlie’s first fiscal quarter out of the womb has been Barre 3 online, where you can choose 10-, 30- and 60-minute body weight workouts. Not for you? My local yoga practice has been streaming live classes for $10 a pop, and I bet other fitness centers and dance studios are doing something similar. (Heck, even Peloton husband looks pretty smart now.) My advice: find something you like and try to do it every day. (My baby personally recommends a play gym.

    This gym’s security is no joke.
  2. Get outside. If you can do it safely, try to get some fresh air away from crowds. We’re lucky enough to be hunkering down upstate, which means long walks with the dog are still on the table. If you’re in a densely populated area, you may have to think outside the box. Call us morbid, but Charlie and my favorite place to walk during his first few month in the city was a nearby cemetery — no crowds, wide paths and plenty of sunshine. Just be sure to wash your hands after pushing your apartment building’s elevator buttons, so when you visit the graveyard, you can stay just a guest.

    Baby on board.
  3. Cook something delicious. It’s tempting to survive on pop tarts and powdered sugar when quarantined indoors, but challenge yourself to make something homemade if you have the ingredients. It’s a particularly good time to cook something that takes all day, like chicken stock or stew. In case we’ll be inside a long time, cook up the fresh stuff first (I made chili yesterday to use the bell peppers), then start experimenting with pantry staples like you’re in an episode of Chopped. (Hint: Pasta, salt, canned sundried tomatoes in oil and Italian seasoning make a deliciously simple dinner.) If it’s your thing, it’s OK to have a drink, too, even if you’re camping out solo.
    Stockpiling, Baltimore style.
  4. Prioritize mental health, too. Eating well and exercising is important, but so is self care. Take a bubble bath. Read a novel. Bake some homemade bread. Plant a garden. Write a letter. Call your mother. Hug your dog. And most of all, try to stay off Twitter (and if you succeed in doing that, please tell me how.)
    More walks, please.

What are your best tips for healthy living during this turbulent time?

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A Barre Class Built for Two

Friends, remember how, at the onset of summer, I had just joined a barre studio and was extolling its virtues? (I’ll remind you: I wrote about it here, before going MIA for pretty much the remainder of the season. My bad. And here I thought my ghosting days were behind me.)

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Me! In the past!

Well, I’ve now been a card carrying member at Barre 3 for SIX months, and boy, has my body changed.

Although Barre 3 is adamant you won’t find a scale inside — it preaches balance and strength instead of inches and pounds — I imagine a lot of members still go into a cardio/free weights/pilates class like this hoping for some serious toning — or at least better fitting jeans. And who can blame them?

Since joining in April, I’ve religiously suited up two to three three times a week for these 60-minute workout classes, including more 5 a.m. wakeup calls that I can count. I estimate I’ve done dozens of planks, hundreds of crescent lunges and thousands of sumo squats in the past two quarters, hands down. And let’s not forget those hours and hours of ab work.

You saw the before photo above.

Now brace yourself for the after photo:

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Me! This morning!

SURPRISE! I’m having a baby.

If I haven’t told you yet in person, you might have pieced it together from the fact that we just moved apartments or from my suspicious May confession that the idea of vegetables made me want to puke. But mostly, no one would blame you for having no idea, because, let’s be honest, I’ve kept it really, really quiet online.

Why, you ask? Maybe because I’m terrified of jinxing things. Or maybe because I’m a pretty private person, blog be damned. Or maybe because I wanted to tell Lucille before the rest of you, and despite ALL my attempts to spell it out for her, she’s remained blissfully oblivious to the big change that’s coming her way.

Seriously, though. I’ve tried everything.

I’ve tried showing her all the puppy, I mean baby, sized clothing we’re collecting:

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I’ve tried introducing her to the other puppies, I mean babies, in our life:

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I’ve tried putting her in charge of puppy, I mean baby, kick counts:

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But no matter what I do, something tells me eight weeks from now, she’s going to be very, very surprised to realize how much her life has changed.

Then again, so are we. 

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A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

Given the chance for a do-over in life, I’d probably take it.

Now I’m not talking about the big stuff, like who I’d choose to marry or what profession to pursue or whether to stream Queer Eye Season 4 as slowly as humanly possible to savor every last corgi scene. But there are literally hundreds of little things I didn’t do right the first time around that just nag at me, and I’d love the chance to start over with a clean slate.

Stuff like investing fully in my 401K as a 22 year old, or collecting airline miles consistently, or making exercise part of my routine decades before I did. From wearing my retainer at night (R.I.P. American smile) to maintaining my language skills after a semester in Madrid, it wouldn’t have been that hard at the time, but at this point, change just feels like a lost cause. 

“What’s the point of it all?”

Of course, I know that’s not a healthy way to think. Just because you haven’t been, say, eating well in recent months doesn’t mean there’s no point in starting now. I mean, you wouldn’t refuse to go to a doctor just because you haven’t been before, right? But for the littlest stuff – the habits it SHOULD be easiest to tweak – it’s easy to see change as futile. As Barney Stinson tells his father in a 2011 episode of How I Met Your Mother, I’m too far gone.

But lo, sometimes life DOES throw you a do-over. Welcome to our new apartment.

I’m a sucker for a good arch.

Our old apartment, where we nested for three view-filled years, was great for a lot of reasons, but I felt like I never got it set up quite right. The closets were deep (which should be a good thing) but it meant I could never reach the things I’d stored in the back. Same in the kitchen – bakeware stacked high in deep cabinets isn’t that accessible, and I found myself shying away from home-cooked meals if I knew the recipe called for any tools not on the top of the stack. I suppose I could have taken everything out and done a massive reorganization, but the task just felt so daunting that I sucked up, left things unchanged and ordered a lot of saag paneer take-out. (Thank you, Raj’s Indian Kitchen, for sustaining us those 1,095 nights.)

But last week, our lease expired and we opted to move to a charming new apartment, and GUESS WHAT THAT MEANS, FOLKS: a clean slate. That’s right: a rare chance to do it all over again, from the start. And I’ve taken it to heart.

    I’ve Marie Kondo-ed my drawers. OK, probably not well, given I’ve never seen the show and didn’t get rid of enough joyless stuff, but I did stack my clothes vertically so I can always see what’s there without digging.
Oh shirt, I have a lot of stuff.
    I’ve stored my tupperware and lids together, like god intended. Why have I never done this before? Right, because I’ve lacked space and, fine, patience.
Please tell them at my funeral someday I once lived like this.
    I’ve found a place for everything inside my closets [yes, you read that right, I have two], and I’m committed to always putting things back where I got them, even if it seems like more work now. And if I mess up, I have this vicious closet enforcer to remind me.
Reporting for duty!

Is there a chance in two months, I revisit this post and realize it’s all gone to hell in a handbasket? Yes, that’s a very distinct possibility. But a little organization sure feels nice right now. And hey, if it gets messed up, we can always move again, right?

What are your tricks for keeping organized that don’t involve, you know, having less stuff?

 

 

 

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Raising the Barre

Whether or not you know her, it’s time I lay it out there: I trust my friend Rogan’s opinion on just about everything. Not only does she have excellent taste in NYC roommates and undergrad liberal arts colleges, but I also defer to her on all red wine selection, white wine selection and Irish fiddle etiquette. And let’s not forget her burgeoning political career. Yessiree, (Sheriff) Rogan’s going places.

I generally trust Rogan’s good judgement without question, which is why I was so startled when she revealed to me several years ago that she traveled most weekends ALL THE WAY TO THE WEST VILLAGE to take her favorite barre class, Barre 3. “But there are studios literally 45 minutes closer to the Upper East Side,” I said to myself, and likely, also directly (and full of judgement) to my friend’s face. “Why would you ever take yourself out of the city’s grid structure voluntarily for some workout that can’t possibly be better than other barre classes?”

And then I took a Barre 3 class. Dear reader, I was wrong.

Unlike other barre classes I’ve taken, which tend to make me feel inflexible (when the instructors say things like “and now everyone do your version of a split!”) or weak (when I can’t hold 2-pound weights for the duration of strength training) or furious (when my grippy socks make it hard to plank on carpet), Barre 3 classes do for me exactly what I want: they make me feel sweaty and energized and empowered.

And like taking super awkward photos.

So what makes it better for me? I’ve been trying to put into words what I like about this specific workout, which in theory isn’t all that different than other ball/barre-based pilates-like classes out there. I think it comes down to these things (but, let’s be honest, it also may come down to the fact that a gorgeous new studio just opened a 7 minute walk from my apartment):

  1. There’s a lot less tucking. In other barre classes, I’ve found there’s a lot of emphasis on the pelvis and whether it’s tucked correctly. But here’s the problem – how can you possibly tell if your pelvis tilt is right when it’s nothing you can see? I find it insanely frustrating to spend so much of a class doing an invisible exercise and not even know if I’m doing it correctly. In Barre 3, no one’s mentioned my pelvis once, and for that, I’m grateful.
  2. There’s more of a cardio focus. In addition to barre staples like glute and core work, there’s always a long section of combo work intended to get the heart rate up – think 80s aerobics class mixed with vinyasa flow. Mixing up the barre-staple “move small” movements like pulses with “move big” breaks like crescent lunges helps make the 60 minutes bearable.
  3. There’s a lot of body positivity and mindfulness. This class always ends with a few minutes of breath work in shavasana, which – let’s not lie to ourselves – is everyone’s favorite part of yoga. I’ve been in other barre classes where half the class sneaks out after core and skips stretching, but at Barre 3, it seems nearly everyone wants to stay through to the end to unwind and relax her mind. It’s a healthy mindset, and a good reminder that exercise isn’t just for the physical muscles.
  4. My studio is so damn cute. I like succulents and exposed brick and natural wood like the good millennial I am – so sue me. But I’ve also now been to the equally adorable Toronto studio, and I can attest that the aesthetic is good everywhere – as is the friendly vibe. My studio also has free coffee. Win.

I am a studio member, at least until I move out of Long Island City when our lease is up (RIP view), meaning I can bring first time guests free, so hit me up if you want to see it for yourself. Or we can just meet at the bar.

Have you tried Barre 3? And does this sound like sponsored content? I swear it’s not!

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Pouring One Out for the OG Blog Dog

Before Lucille — or even Ben — graced these pages, about 85% of my posts were dedicated to a certain goldendoodle with great hair, a sunny personality and immediate star power that probably warranted its own spin-off blog but then what would I have written about here? Oh yeah, running. Forgot that’s what I founded this thing on back in 2012.

If you felt a disturbance in the force yesterday, you weren’t imagining it: Keira, my original muse and the poodle mix voted most likely to play Joe Biden in a musical, passed away at the far too young age of seven. I know I owe her perfect prose and a eugoogaly to make Derek Zoolander proud, but I’m too profoundly sad to be funny or thoughtful tonight. So instead, I bring you six life lessons that my brother’s very special pup taught me, complete with — of course — photos. Because, let’s be honest, Keira would have wanted it that way.

Without further ado, I present to you a pictorial recap of everything Keira taught me as a runner, not least of which was that time she ate an entire crockpot of gravy until she nearly burst, making her, quite clearly, my self-control spirit animal.

Keira Life Lesson No. 1: ALWAYS BE PREPARED. 

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Whether you’re training for a long run with an emergency $20 in your pocket or donning a pair of goggles before your aunt Anne forces you to complete the ice bucket challenge, it’s good to be prepared.

Keira Life Lesson No. 2: DRESS FOR THE ELEMENTS.

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Running 12 miles is hard anyways. Don’t make it harder by forgetting your warmest spandex or leaving your gloves behind.

Keira Life Lesson No. 3: DON’T RACE HUNGRY.

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I’ll run 5-6 miles on an empty stomach, but any more than that and you’ll be swooning your way to the finish line. Try some peanut butter toast or a banana several hours before you toe the starting line — or your aunt’s delicious arm in a pinch.

Keira Life Lesson No. 4: DON’T SWEAT A BAD HAIR DAY.

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Or a bad training day. Some days you’re on top of the world, some days you feel like scum, but it all averages out if you let it. Shake off the bad days.

Keira Life Lesson No. 5: GET GOOD SLEEP.

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Eight hours a day isn’t just for babies and mattress models like Keira. Go to bed early, and stop scrolling through social media from the comfort of your pillow. (If you can figure out how to pull that off, please tell me.)

Keira Life Lesson No. 6: ENJOY IT.

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Move to Hawaii. Have a best friend. Be nice to strangers. Smile. Life’s too short for anything else.

Rest in peace, K. 

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It’s My Party and I’ll Hygge If I Want To

My childhood was leave-it-to-beaver charmed, and never more so than on the days leading up to November 18. Every year, we’d check out the same “how to plan a birthday party” book from the library, design six to eight handmade invites for a sweet group of babes I’m mostly still friends with, and print a ’90s banner on a ’90s printer that I’m sure you remember sounding exactly like this.

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Sweet pants, ma! No joke, these are totally back in style.

With my siblings born on back-to-back days in April, my November birthday always felt like an outlier, and my parents worked hard to make sure I felt special even with Christmas just weeks away. So we threw theme parties every year, and they were epic.

There was the pirate party. The backwards party. The hippy party. The “tell-a-joke-to-a-video-camera” party, which — yes — I still have on record. As the theme got a makeover each fall, the only thing that stayed the same with each passing year was my love of cake — and my terrible haircut. #SelfBurn.

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Why yes, I AM incorrectly signing the birthday song in a bowl cut! But enough about me, let’s talk about how cute Meredith is.

(Of course, once my parents stopped planning my birthday parties, they got a little less idyllic. That “Buffalo wing themed” 18th birthday party at Bill Bateman’s didn’t quite have the same ring. Neither did the “shot-gunning-beers themed” 21st birthday party on the streets of Madrid. The “whoops-I-just-threw-up-on-my-co-workers’-shoes-but-it’s-OK-because-SURPRISE-I’m-going-to-marry-him-in-four-years” themed 27th birthday party was funnily enough a bit more successful, but I didn’t realize it at the time. Suffice to say, my mom’s themes were better.)

So why do I bring this up? Because I just had my birthday this weekend — my 33rd, to be exact — and while my parents weren’t there to plan it, I took a page from their playbook and threw a bit of a theme day, if you will. The theme? Being in my mid-30s and loving every basic second of it.

What’d I do, you ask?

  • First, I woke up, not hungover, at 7 a.m. without an alarm and made a pot of my favorite coffee.
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People who defame flavored coffee have never tried Frosty’s Favorite which, yes, tastes as seasonal as it sounds.
  • Then, I curled up with a book in our cozy upstate house while my husband and dog relaxed across the room.
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Just kidding, Lucille never relaxes.
  • Then I went to my fabulous no-frills Hudson Valley gym (more on that later), where I treated myself to not one but two episodes of Flea Market Flip.
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The worst show on the best channel is still worth watching.
  • Then, after lunch and some Christmas shopping and a hike with Lucille and a nap, Ben and I went out for a delicious dinner — and were in bed by a most glorious 10:30 p.m. cutoff.
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I shared these, even though I wanted to be shellfish.

It may not have been one of the wild-and-crazy birthday celebrations of yesteryear, but it was exactly how I wanted to spend this November 18.

(The only thing that could have made it better was if, like on my fifth birthday, I’d looked outside to find my friend Sarah hiding in a tree.)

gos

Hey pals: What do you do to celebrate your birthday as an adult?  

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Something Old, New, Sweaty & Blue

Weddings — no matter how you slice it — tend to be pretty decadent affairs.

  • If you’re a guest, it means hours of unlimited crab dip and bubbly, unless you were at our wedding, in which case you strangely chose to drink the bar dry of totally healthy full-cream White Russians. Mmm.
  • If you’re a bridesmaid, it’s that plus two extra weekends of Bloody Marys and Mimosas and cute hashtags and hangover quiches, all of which can hit your waistline.
  • If you’re the bride, it’s all of the above — and a year of celebratory toasts and cake trials and a whole additional dinner where you literally taste everything you’ll be eating again in six months’ time.

(And you wonder why the global industrial bridal complex tries to convince us all we need to lose weight.)

It’s this notion — that weddings are unhealthy and there’s nothing you can do about — that many of us resign ourselves to as we enter the celebratory season. But in 2018, I’ve noticed a wonderful new trend emerge: every one of my girlfriends to tie the knot this year invited her friends to a sweaty, empowering fitness class to build excitement (and muscle!) for the big day. Who says a party can’t be healthy.

In March, we did a barre class with the world’s tiniest mats at a West Side dance studio to celebrate some upcoming nuptials.

This awkward photo of Cat definitely beats a group photo.

In April, we did a reformer class in Venice Beach because the super fit bride wanted to torture me for learning to read before her in kindergarten show me her favorite kind of machine-based core-stabilizing workout.

Perhaps I should take fewer fitness classes and more photography ones. That said, the shirts I designed rocked.

And just last month, we celebrated another happy couple with kettlebell swings and burpees at the very intense Fhitting Room on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that my hamstrings are still reeling from.

These three classes definitely went in ascending order of pain.

After the bridal workouts, did I still go on to drink seven glasses of white and eat all the bacon-wrapped things within arm’s reach during the main event? You know I did. But I did it with a little more muscle, and THAT’s my kind of wedding mass.

(Now don’t get me wrong: weddings are not just about the bride. The groom is very important too. And speaking of grooms…)

Look who just visited hers! 💇🏻‍♀️
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Runner Regrets

I’ve regretted a lot of things in my life:

  • Mentioning every single one of Lucille’s ailments while on the phone with her prospective pet health insurer.
  • Skipping Mitch Hedberg’s October 2004 show in Portland, convinced I’d get the chance to see him another time.
  • This haircut.
(Which I rocked for far too many years.)

But you know what I’ve never once regretted? A run.

I’ll be honest – it doesn’t take much to talk me out of a workout. It’s raining? I’ll just wait til tomorrow. It’s icy? I’ll just wait til it melts. It’s scorching? I’ll just wait til global warming ends.

But you know what? Even though forgoing a morning run feels good for about five indulgent minutes – when instead of lacing up, I make some coffee or scramble some eggs or climb back into bed – it quickly turns to regret. I don’t know about you, but I’ll spend the rest of the day wondering if I could’ve squeezed in a few quick miles, or imagining that I’ll head to the gym after work – which, let’s be honest, is always a lie. When I walk through that apartment door at 7 p.m. and my tiny lapdog climbs into my arms, it’s clear I’m not going anywhere. The refrain is constant: I should’ve run when I had the chance.

Feel free to print this motivational poster for your office.

Skipping a run that I could have done is probably the second worst feeling in the world for a runner. The worst? Skipping a race that I could have done. And not just any race: one that passes directly in front of my house.

That happened to me last year: by the time I learned about the Rhinebeck Hudson Valley Half Marathon, there wasn’t enough time to train, so I had to sit in the rain on my front porch and just watch it go by like the world’s saddest parade.

I vowed never to let that happen again, so when I saw that next Monday’s local Labor Day 10K goes by our house not once but twice, I knew what I had to do, even though I haven’t logged more than five miles at a time since May and my main speed work these days is running to the nearest soft serve parlor. In fact, you could say the only kind of fitness I’ve been doing this summer is “fitness entire bottle of rosé in my mouth.” Jokes.

Photo credit: my enabler sister in law

Come Monday morning, I’m sure I’ll want to hit the snooze button and roll back over on a precious day off, but I’m going to toe that starting line anyways. Because even if I briefly regret registering for a sweaty, hilly, 6.2-mile slog, I’ll surely regret not doing it even more. And that’s what Labor Day is all about — right?

What’s your running regret?

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Dog Days of Summer, or Keeping Your Better Half Cool

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about my own personal health and comfort. Today, let’s shift the spotlight to someone far furrier and less likely to hold a multi-year grudge: my dog.

Lucille, as you’ve probably realized, gets a lot of real estate on this page, and for good reason: she’s photogenic, she works for free and she’s at times larger than life — or at least larger than the back seat of a Kia Forte.

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I am a tender, sweet young thing, and I demand all three seats, please. (Name that reference!)

I’m writing about our family bear dog today because many of my readers are dog lovers, too, and as the mercury rises, we don’t always know the best ways to keep them from overheating. If it’s too hot for me to lace up and go for a run, it’s too hot for her, but with dogs unable to sweat or complain or crank up the fan, sometimes us dog mothers (fine, dog landlords) have to take cooling matters into our own human hands.

(Disclaimer: I’m not a veterinarian — just a pet owner whose dependent charge is constantly covered in 65 pounds of what I can only imagine feels like solid black felt.)

Now at our Queens apartment, Lucille does just fine even when the temperature pushes 100 — we keep her water bowl full, the AC blasting, the window coverings drawn, her outdoor walks short and the bathroom door open, so she can nap on the cool tile and lower her body heat/make it really hard for her humans to pee in privacy.

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Seriously, can’t even shower without an audience these days.

But every time we head to our upstate house, we start to worry that she won’t be able to cool herself down sufficiently in an 1840s home with no air conditioning and poor circulation and far too many centipedes. (That last bit doesn’t impact the weather so much as my personal wellbeing.) So we’ve devised a whole host of tricks to keep her cool, which — in tandem — have so far kept her from spontaneously combusting.

    • Keep water and ice-cubes within her reach: Dehydration is a major summer concern, so keep your dog’s bowl filled and offer the frozen variety if it doesn’t seem to bother his or her teeth.
  • Limit outdoor time during the middle of the day: Plan big walks for early morning, and make sure there’s ample shade outside if you’re throwing your pup outback.
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The real slim shady.
  • Buy a cooling pad: This is a new tool in our toolbox, so not quite sure yet if she’ll warm to it, but she certainly stays on it all night without complaints.
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Cool as a cucumber.
  • More unorthodox methods: Cover your dog in a cool wet towel. Take her for a swim. Or, if you’re weirdos like us, line her spine with ziplocks of ice. You know, normal things.
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Or what we call country-house AC.
  • Share your popsicle: Again, I may be alone in this camp, but she certainly seemed to like it.

Dog owners — what other tips can you share? Cat owners — I know you want an easy-to-manage pet but AT WHAT COST? (Just kidding. Maybe.)

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All Downhill From Here

I exhibit a lot of quintessentially millennial traits:

  • I remember life before the internet, cell phones and area codes
  • I don’t have cable but my phone’s never out of reach
  • I’ll add avocado to anything, can use a library card catalog and have very strong feelings about Topanga’s decision to enroll at Pennbrook University over Yale

But it’s not my love for the Scholastic Book Fair or my collection of photo albums that I think most identify me as Generation Y. It’s the fact that I really, really dislike doing things I’m bad at.

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(I also dislike having to choose between petting my dog-bear and holding my wine.)

I know, I know, it’s important to try new things and push your limits. But I’ve never much liked flailing or failing, and apparently I’m not alone among my cohort: studies show the generation raised on praise really doesn’t like to crash and burn.

So to avoid the anxiety of trying new things we might be bad at, we tend to do the same safe things over and over, from taking the same gym classes to cooking the same meals. Of course, many of my peers are better at risk-taking than me, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who gave up yoga for four years after a first terrifying class where I felt like a failure because I couldn’t pull off a shoulder stand.

(Other things I’ve only done once due to a single defeat: making homemade mayonnaise, taking a Physique 57 class, biking to work.)

So it’s no wonder that after busting my chin open on a high school ski trip, I waited FIFTEEN more years before approaching the bunny slopes again. And you know what? I’ve been seriously missing out.

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Ski bums.

I’m certainly no Lindsey Vonn — heck I’m no Elizabeth Swaney either! — but I spent five hours at Hunter Mountain this weekend and didn’t fall even ONCE. I was so scared to strap on skis again after failing in 2003 that I hadn’t realized all these years of running had improved my leg strength and coordination and balance, making me a better alpine athlete. I mostly stayed in the training area, but those few runs I did down an actual hillside were downright exhilarating. To think I might never have felt that had my fear of failure kept me sidelined.

Now I don’t expect skiing will work its way into my workout regime with any frequency — it’s expensive and time consuming and not that great of an aerobic workout since gravity does most of the work — but it’s still a great cross-training exercise for runners stuck in a rut.

“Runners as a group tend to be much too one-dimensional,” says John Lumley, a skier, runner and owner of the Running Hub in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “Any time a runner can work on strength, flexibility, balance, and/or use different muscle groups, it’s a good thing.”

And any time she can leave her comfort zone, that’s a good thing, too.

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Facing my fears from the safety of a helmet.

How are you pushing yourself today?