The Queen of Cheese: On Slowing Down and Avocados

By , SparkPeople Blogger
June's over? Julyin'. Welcome to my new favorite dad joke and this month's blog. As a kid, I don't know that I really, truly appreciated the glory that is the three-day weekend. Sure, I threw caution to the wind by putting off all my reading homework until the night before school started again and I made sure to cram in as many sleepovers and holiday foods as possible, but now, as a (mostly) fully functioning adult, the three-day weekend is something to be cherished and adored. Having an extra day to frolic outside and spend time with family and friends without a bedtime looming is great for resetting your brain, taking a deep breath and just being.
Growing up, my mother would occasionally let us have "mental health days" (usually after a particularly torturous orthodontist appointment) to leave the stress of school or the "Peter told me that he heard from Jason that you told Brad that I totally like him," drama behind and just enjoy an ice cream cone on the curb. Replace "school" with "work" and the Peter drama with email chains, and the three-day weekend is basically the mental health days of the working world. Getting to Sunday and realizing, "Hey, wait a second. I don't have to do 15 tons of laundry tonight and meal prep—I still have a whole other day! Monday Alicia can worry about that outrageously large amount of laundry," has got to be right up there with the joy of having a child or being the Duchess of Cambridge.
So, whether or not you celebrate 4th of July and its fireworks, U-S-A chants and flag-printed swimsuits this weekend, let this and every three-day weekend be a reminder to slow down, smell the barbecue and enjoy this crazy little thing called life. I also recommend throwing Tom Petty's "American Girl" on in the background for your soul.


A photo posted by SparkPeople (@sparkpeople) on

Has a single definition ever caused so many people to simultaneously think, "That's so me"? June's top Instagram post struck a universal chord with followers for its too-true vibe.
If you're here, it's because you're working to make yourself better, whether that means losing weight, getting stronger or just maintaining your current level of health. As we work to improve ourselves and our bodies, though, sometimes we can get stuck in the idea of perfection, thinking: My eating plan has to be perfect or everything will fall apart. I have to have a perfect week of exercise or I'll never be successful. The truth is, we're all human and being "fit(…ish)" is perfectly okay sometimes. This month, keep your eye on the prize, but remember to enjoy the journey and life along the way. 

"Get yer cotton candy! We got pink! We got blue!" the passionate cotton candy salesman hollered at the red-clad crowd. "There are two colors? Really?" my 19-year-old brother asked (hey, Alex!).
It was during this short exchange last year that I realized the gravity of his color blindness. What's a world where you can only see one color of cotton candy, after all? Two of my three brothers (hey, brothers!) are color blind, which, for me, always just meant that they couldn't read those little colored dot cards and they couldn't be pilots. Not a huge deal, right? But as we started talking about it, I realized that he couldn't really see the different greens and browns on the baseball field below us. Rainbows? Meh. Matching clothes can be a Titanic struggle. And the cotton candy, geez.
Lucky for him, some kind friends helped us raise money for EnChroma glasses, which "enhance color perception by separating light into its primary spectral components before they reach the eye," according to the website. Basically, where you once saw kind of a murky gray, suddenly ruby red tulips and various shades of green in a bush appear. Imagine for a second never understanding what the hype about sunsets and sunrises was all about, then popping the glasses on and finally, literally, seeing the light. That's some life-changing stuff.
Over the last two weeks, a few "reaction" videos have been circulating and they're worth spending some time watching. If you're a happy-crier like me, probably a good idea not to watch at your desk or your coworkers will start judging you and gossiping about how you were crying at your desk probably over a Microsoft update. And not to be the Queen of Cheese (though, if that position exists, I would be a phenomenal candidate), but our world is full of a huge spectrum of gorgeous colors, from the sun setting over the ocean to a tropical bird soaring through a forest canopy to the fruit display at the grocery. He may not have cried or marveled with mouth agape at flowers upon putting the glasses on, but watching my brother, a lifetime baseball fan and player, finally watching the Reds in their red jerseys play on a gorgeous green field overlooking the brown Ohio River, the way it was intended, was one of those "smell (and admire) the roses" moments. Plus, he finally gained an appreciation for the very distinct difference between pink and blue cotton candy. 

Cincinnati's Washington Park has undergone a surprising and inspiring makeover in the last few years. Not only has it done great things for the city, but the revitalization means that the area is now a place where once a week throughout the summer months, I get to go hang out and do yoga outside in a park in the sunshine in the shade of a gorgeous, Instagram-worthy building with a hundred other people radiating positive vibes. Last week, without a cloud in the sky and the green grass vibrant as ever, a violinist from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra provided the soundtrack for our practice and it was freaking awesome.
I would be remiss in my duties to brighten up your week if I couldn't help you enter the same tranquil headspace. So, cue up a classical Spotify playlist and recreate the calming, summer vibes in your own backyard with this ultimate Zen and chill routine from one of our favorite yogis, Kristin McGee: 


Confession: Breakfast has never really been my thing. Brunch and breakfast foods, yes, but waking up and creating something is a whole different story. I know the sayings and I've read bits and pieces of the studies, but the most important meal of the day is usually the most inconvenient meal of the day in my house. I've always been a late sleeper, so sacrificing a precious few extra minutes of dreams for noms is something I've never been okay doing.

This month, though, I discovered something wonderful, something so delicious and simple that it's actually gotten me out of bed early, like three times already. I call it "Egg Resting in Avocado Boat on a Tranquil Tray" There are a few recipes available online (see here, here and here), but the gist is this: Slice avocado in half, hollow out hole, crack egg into hole, sprinkle with salt and pepper, bake, pat yourself on the back for starting your day with a 20-minute breakfast like a champion. Protein, check. Good fat, check. Since my revelation, I've tried adding different herbs and Parmesan cheese, plus I tried it with a hollowed out tomato and some mozzarella and each variation is just as good as the last. I think as long as I don't throw PB&J in, I'm golden.

Pro tip: Slicing a sliver off of the bottom of the avocado off will help keep it stable so your egg doesn't slide all the way out and on to your baking pan. I once also used some salt-and-pepper-seasoned radishes chopped in half to keep the avocados upright, which ended up being a tasty, starchy treat, too. I scoured my phone for a photo to prove that I really made and ate it, but, alas, it seems my hunger got the best of me and I inhaled it before getting photographic evidence. Worst. Millenial. Ever.

Did you have a stop-and-smell-the-roses moment this month? Tell us all about it in the comments below and be good, SparkPeople!

Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!