The Thrill of… Push-ups?


The very word struck fear into my elementary school-age heart. I hated them. I could do any other exercise they threw at us… sit-ups, jumping jacks, 10 laps around the gym… but push-ups? Ugh. Push-ups were the bane of my existence. At least in gym class. Outside of gym class, I didn’t really think about them. It’s not like I did them for fun. Besides, what use would I ever have to hold myself up with my hands and my toes?

High School gym was the same way. Oh how I hated the ‘Down….. Up! One’ count…  (My teacher wasn’t really evil, she was probably one of the best teachers I had. I just hated her during push-ups. Especially when she made us hold the down position. I lacked the upper body strength to make it through.)

So…. I joined a circuit exercise class. That’s right. A classic heart pounding, bicep- curling, jack jumping, mountain- climbing, push-up- doing exercise class.

But we couldn’t just do traditional push-ups. Oh no. INCLINE PUSH-UPS! I don’t know about you, but I think incline pushups are worse then traditional pushups. Not to mention there are 15 other people on the circuit who seem to have no problem doing them. And who all stare at me as I attempt to push my body away from the chairs.

Finally, I decided I had had enough. I was going to conquer push-ups once and for all. Or at least be able to do 10 of them.

So I increased my weight training, and did extra triceps kickbacks. I did triceps dips, hammer curls, triceps extensions and planks. I did a set of 5-10 pushups each day. I did wall pushups, inclined on the couch, inclined on my stability ball, and pushups with resistance bands.

And you know what I did this weekend at the end of my class?

I did 10 push-ups in a row in perfect form.

And it was THRILLING. I was ecstatic. I felt STRONG. I was STRONG! I could do it! I never had to be afraid of push-ups again- of going down and not being able to push myself back up!

I may never be a body builder, or bench twice my weight. But I can do 10 push-ups. Who knew such a simple, classic exercise could be so thrilling?


Seasonal Affective Disorder

December is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Awareness month. With the holidays and ice/snow storms and my Internet issues, I just didn’t get a chance to post about it. I bet some of you are feeling it already. And if I’m not careful, I will too.

SAD is more than just “winter blues” or “cabin fever”. It is a form of depression that occurs every year during the same season, usually in the fall and/or winter. (SAD in the spring/summer is very rare, but can happen.) Symptoms of SAD include
-increased appetite
-social withdrawal
-loss of energy
-loss of interest in activities
-unhappiness and irritability
-thoughts of suicide (1)

There is no clear cause of SAD, although some experts speculate it is related to reduced exposure to sunlight, disruption of circadian cycle, lowered serotonin levels(2) or Vitamin D deficiency(3).

Light therapy (mimics sunlight and shines on your skin) and dawn therapy (the light mimics the rising sun by growing brighter through the morning) have shown to be helpful (1). The jury is still out on vitamin D supplementation (4).

I have been taking a vitamin D supplement since a blood test last summer showed me very deficient. So far SAD has not made an appearance and I am hoping that it won’t this year!

SAD can be very serious if not treated and can turn into long-term depression. If you or a loved one might have Season Affective Disorder, please contact your health care provider right away.

As always, I’m not a doctor and this should not take the place of professional health care.

1. National Alliance on Mental Illness Season Affective Disorder February 2004 Available from: (Accessed January 2014).

2. WebMD Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)- Topic Overview July 2010 Available from: (Accessed January 2013).

3. Larsen, C, Vitamin D and SAD: What’s the Connection? January 2014 Available from: (Accessed January 2014).

4. Reynolds, D, Can Vitamin D Help Seasonal Affective Disorder March 2010 Available from: (Accessed January 2014).


Since I am researching pica for an article I’m writing, I thought I would post the very first thing I wrote about pica. Way back in July of 2012, I wrote this Facebook note:

 “A week before her 3rd birthday, Krissy was diagnoised with Pica. Pica is characterized by persistent and compulsive cravings (lasting 1 month or longer) to eat nonfood items. Krissy eats paper, crayons, chalk and lotion on a regular basis, sometimes to the point of throwing up.

As a mother, the diagnosis comes as relief that her eating behavior is not something I did or didn’t do. It’s also worrisome because it’s not something that can be cured overnight and there are little treatment options and no guarantee of success. It may be something she outgrows or has to deal with into adulthood. I worry about her going to school. I worry about her trying something toxic. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to call poison control.

Punishing her for eating non-food items does little to deter her, because the drive to eat nonfood items is so intense. We talk often about how food helps to be healthy and helps us grow and be strong. She understands paper (her favorite) can make her choke (because it’s happened more than twice).

She seeks out the stuff she craves. The lotion hidden in the back of a closed tub under piles of other stuff is no match for her.

Pica can be associated with mineral deficiencies and medical conditions. Krissy has neither. Although it would be easier to treat the primary condition, I am thankful she is healthy. Right now, the goal is to learn to cope. The doctor has suggested giving her a fiber supplement to help keep her fuller longer. I have also started keeping Krissy-friendly foods available on the bottom shelf of the fridge for her to go get by herself when she wants to eat something.

Here are some good articles if you are interested in learning more.”


Krissy is now 4 1/2. We have seen some serious improvement. It looks like (and I’m crossing my fingers!) that she will grow out of it. We have identified some triggers- mostly stress and disruption to routine. She started preschool last fall and now that it is part of her routine she no longer eats her worksheets or her art projects. Her teachers have been wonderful.

I’ve learned that it isn’t necessarily the paper or lotion she wanted. She was craving a certain texture in her mouth. (Pica can be a texture too, not just a substance!) When she goes for paper, I ask her what she needs to eat. She is learning to tell me she wants/needs something soft and smooth or something cold (those are her two picas). She eats a lot of yogurt! She also likes rice and pasta. I try to keep cut up fruit and veggies available in the fridge that she can help herself. Dinner can be difficult sometimes during a pica episode, but we are managing.

We have been working on other ways to help get her frustrations out. Chewing gum, jumping, giving her time by herself in her room (not a time out, sometimes she just needs to be away from a little sister!) have all helped. Sometimes a simple redirection is all it takes.

There isn’t much more information out there then there was 2 years ago. Pica is still a poorly researched, poorly understood eating disorder. I am hoping more awareness comes to pica.


Sabotage, His Eviler Twin, and Their Distant Cousin

I wrote this for my Spark People page way back in like 2008.

Sabotage, His Eviler Twin, and Their Distant Cousin
(And How They’ve Been Banished From the Life of Tara)

“Sleep well tonight. I love you.” David bent down to kiss me.

“I love you too. Have a good night. Don’t forget your lunch!” I looked up from the computer.

As he walked out of the room, I held my breath for the sound of the door closing. Slam! There it was. I heard his car sputter to life and I tiptoed out of the quilt room to the living room door.

There, he was gone. Now I could eat.

Now I could eat? What the heck was I doing? I wasn’t hungry, I was about to take a shower and go to bed. (I should mention that David was working 3rd shift!)

At least, that is what I thought.

I went back to my computer to work on some more quilt designs, thinking that if I ignored that little evil voice, it would go away.

You know the one I mean. The one that makes you think you need something to eat. The one that while your grocery shopping tells you your lunch will not be complete without Doritos, and that you should invite Oscar Mayer and that Little Debbie would be very offended if you invited him and not her. The one that will throw any excuse your way until you bite (pun intended).

The one that says, “You’ve had a long day, you need some energy.” Or “You worked out, you should have some protein to rebuild your muscles.” Or “It’s ok, popcorn is full of fiber.” Or “You have to eat so you can take your meds.” Or “Just one more. You can stop tomorrow.” The one they call…Sabotage.

Instead, I found myself heating up some chicken tenders. When I was finished, I pushed the plate back and heard another familiar voice. The eviler twin of sabotage. The one called Guilt. I bet you are well acquainted with him too.

This one told me “How could you just throw all your good choices away like that? Looks like you ruined the whole day.” And “You silly girl! You’ll never lose weight if you keep eating!” and “You don’t deserve to feel good about yourself anyway.” And “You know you’ll just do it again tomorrow. Why even try?”

“That’s not true!” I argue back. “Tomorrow will be different! I won’t eat sweets and I won’t eat after dinner, and I will work out everyday!”

Then Guilt replies. “That’s what you said last week! I bet you won’t last 2 days!”

Then Self-Pity (a whiney distant cousin of the gruesome twosome) chimes in “Poor Tara. She doesn’t have any self-control. Too bad…. She would have looked fantastic in that great dress… *Sigh* Maybe she can find it online in a larger size.”

I’ve decided to shut the Triplet Terrors up for good.

My first plan of attack is on Sabotage. I am adopting a new mantra. Instead of telling myself I will start my diet tomorrow, I will tell myself that I can have whatever I am wanting, tomorrow. My theory is, is that I will either a) forget about it or b) plan my day better to allow for it. After all, the food will be there tomorrow. I don’t have to eat it all today. My long lost friend Willpower will help me. He’s the one that helped me lose 30 lbs for my wedding. He tells me I did it before and I can do it again. He’s the one that will make me get up off the couch and onto the bike. Motivation will be there too. She’s the one that offers rewards for a job well done, like a new book and a bubble bath, or new charm packs.

The next attack is on Guilt. I know I will make some not-so-good choices. But that doesn’t mean I’ve ruined the whole day. When Guilt starts creeping in I’ll call on Better-Next-Time. She tells me to count it as a vegetable, move on, and make a better choice next time. You know what is great about BNT? She gives you as many do-overs as you need. And the more you make better choices, the easier it becomes. I recommend not counting everything as veggies though, or Guilt might get stronger. I have to actually EAT veggies to get the nutrients.

As for Self-Pity? That’s where Confidence and Self-Worth come in. They are the ones who have helped me come up with positive affirmations about myself like “I am worth it!” and “I deserve to be happy and healthy” and “You are AWESOME!” They remind me that I’m smart, I’m creative, and I am working hard to accomplish my goals. They are the ones that tell me dress for your body now! Just because I’m not the size I want to be, doesn’t mean I have to be frumpy and grumpy. I can be stylish and an XL. (There’s just more of me to love, right?)

Oh, and I am going to start taking my meds at dinner so that excuse will be… eliminated.

So… Good riddance Guilt! So long, Sabotage! Sayonara Self-Pity! I have new friends now!

The Little Geeky Girl in Me

The start of a new semester always excited me… Don’t get me wrong, I love my breaks, but the thrill of learning new things just makes the little geek girl in me squeal with joy.

My classes don’t officially start until next Tuesday, but my books have been ordered and my school supplies have been organized. And I just discovered one of my classes has an announcement posted. Academic geek heaven….

This semester I am taking Food  Production Management and Organic Chemistry. To date, I have loved my chemistry classes, even when finding them difficult. I have no idea what to expect from Food Production Management, but one of my books is called Food for Fifty and it looks to be a guide on planning food for large quantities.

I’m just saying.

Food. In large quantities. YAY!

What else is there?

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Tara Hovis

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