Monday, April 4, 2011

Kangaroos in Kentucky

This morning I called into my favorite radio program, the Z-ROCK 103 Morning Show. The topic being discussed was "Things you tell people that they never believe". On my whole drive into work, I debated calling with my story and then finally broke down and called in with my famous Kangaroo sightings story. Quite a few people have asked me to go into detail, so here it goes:

When I was a senior in high school (9 years ago...I can't believe it's been that long, sheesh I'm getting old), I was driving home from my boyfriend's house one Saturday night around 1am. I was driving down Barnes Mill Road going back to my mom's house (Richmond folks - this was the in-town Barnes Mill Rd., so I was literally a half mile from campus when this happened) when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I looked over and saw a large animal HOPPING through yards next to my car. All of a sudden it darted from a yard out into the road right in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes and stopped in the middle of the road. The animal stopped as well and I got a perfect look at it for around 10 seconds as it stood illuminated in my headlights. It wasn't a dog, it wasn't a deer, it was a freaking kangaroo. It looked exactly like this:

Hellooooo Erin. I'm a kangaroo.
 We both stared at each other and then it hopped off behind someone's house. I immediately went home and woke my mom up to tell her. She totally didn't believe me and neither did my sister. They both insisted I had seen a dog. Trust me, if you see a kangaroo, there is no mistaking it for any other animal.

A week goes by and again, it's Saturday night and I'm coming home at 1am from being out with friends. I see the kangaroo again! This time it's hopping around in yards near my mom's house. The next day, I tell other members of my family and friends. No one believes me and jokes around that I must have been drinking.

A few weeks later, I get a call from my mom one evening. When I answer, she immediately says "I will never doubt you again. I just saw a kangaroo in the backyard". It turns out, she was taking my dog outside to use the bathroom when Ginger started going nuts, barking near a large bush. My mom said the bush started rustling and shaking and the kangaroo hopped out, looked at her and took off hopping in the opposite direction. This helped reassure me that I wasn't crazy. Haha.

That was the last we've seen of the Richmond, KY Kangaroo. However, in the years since, I've done some research and found information such as this that discuss kangaroo sightings in Kentucky:

Also, while called into the radio show this morning, the host Twitch did some internet research while I was on the air and talked about how he found other reports of kangaroos in Central Kentucky and even an article about a circus train that derailed in the late 1800's. I further looked around about this and found 3 different circus railcars that derailed or crashed in Kentucky during the 1880's. I'm currently doing some more research and will post with any updates I find.

Have any other Kentucky people out there seen a wild kangaroo?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Newfound Passion....Bikram Yoga

I have found a new love in my life...Bikram Yoga. For those who don't know, Bikram Yoga is a 90 minute long series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, each preformed twice. This series is done in a 105 degree room, kept around 50% humidity. Does that sound miserable to you? Well, I'm not going to lie, it is. 105 degrees is freaking hot. You pour sweat, get dizzy, mentally curse your teacher and would do anything to just get out of the heat. However, once the 90 minutes is over and you've stepped out of the hot room (what Bikram Choudhury himself calls the "torture chamber"), you can't deny just how amazing you feel. Plus the benefits of practicing this form of yoga are numerous.

Benefits of Bikram Yoga

• Tones and strengthens all major muscle groups down to the bone
• Increases balance, strength, and flexibility
• Builds cardiovascular strength & respiratory balance
• Promotes weight loss (the general consensus states that one class burns around 700 - 800 calories)
• Strengthens and restores all systems of the body
• Reduces the risk of sports injury and accelerates recovery time
• Heavy sweating helps detoxify the body
• Increases concentration and focus power
• Improves productivity & energy level
• Reduces the effects of stress
• Makes your skin glow
• Brings all systems into perfect balance, mind, body, and soul

With benefits like those, how could you not want to try it? :)  Anyhoo, my journey with Bikram began when I bought a Groupon to the Bikram Yoga Lexington studio for a month of unlimited practice for only $30. After a little bit of Internet research, I convinced my sister, Lindsay, to go with me and we went to our first class on March 8th. Man oh man. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. When the teacher tells you at the beginning of your first Bikram class that your only goal for the 90 minutes is to just manage to stay in the room, you know you're in trouble. LOL.

I managed to preform the different asanas for about half of the class and spent the other half sitting on my mat and towel, dripping sweat. Poor Lindsay just laid on her mat for about 80% of the class with her eyes closed, looking like she was about to die. However, about 10 minutes after class ended, we both noticed we felt wonderful and, surprisingly, invigorated. We came back the very next day and it was remarkable how much we both improved and how much more of the class we were able to complete, even after a mere 24 hours.

We've been attending Bikram yoga classes together for over 2 weeks now and I have already started to see some benefits. I have always had extremely dry skin and needed to apply lotion several times a day. Since practicing Bikram, I've noticed that my skin is much softer and far less flaky. I'm now only applying lotion once a day, in the morning after I shower. I've also noticed my posture is improving. The 2nd half of a Bikram yoga class is spent on the floor, doing different spine strengthening and stretching poses. I can tell these are really paying off and are reshaping my spine. I'm normally terrible about slouching while sitting and standing, but I'm beginning to notice that my back is beginning to ache when I'm NOT standing up straight now.

However, last night during my "regular" weekly yoga class, I noticed the my most remarkable improvement to date. When we went into our first downward-facing dog of the night, my heels sunk right into the ground. I was blown away. I've been practicing yoga for several months now and my super tight hamstrings have always been an issue for me. In downward-facing dog, my heels always hovered about 2-3 inches off the ground, no matter how much I stretched and pushed back my hips. We did several more down dogs throughout the class and each time, heels on the ground. I even tried another out on the living room rug when I got home just to make sure. Yep, still happening. I'm super impressed that just 2 weeks of Bikram yoga has helped loosen up my hamstrings so much.

Downward-Facing heels now look like this. Haha.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding Bikram yoga and it's founder, Bikram Choudhury, such as the fact that he patents and franchises his brand of yoga, his type of yoga doesn't focus on enough on the spiritual aspect of the practice, etc... I for sure do not agree with all of Bikram's principles (I'll save that for another post), but I can assure anyone who is looking for an intense workout that makes you feel amazing afterwards...Bikram yoga is where it's at.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water: A Trial

Wow. I'm horrible at blogging. Like really, really terrible at it. I promise to write more, then don't. One of my plans for the new year is to really try to document more of positive changes (mentioned in the earlier post) that I have planned for myself.

Anyways, today I want to talk about something small, easy and yet incredibly beneficial, that I've started doing for my health. For the past few days, Jason and I have both drank a glass of warm lemon water immediately upon waking up. Lemon is a type of "super" fruit as it is a rich source of vitamin C and it also contains vitamin B, riboflavin and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium as well as proteins and carbohydrates.

Here are a few of the health benefits of drinking lemon juice:

- Good for stomach and liver

Lemon can help relieve many digestion problems when mixed with hot water. These include nausea, heartburn and parasites. Due to the digestive qualities of lemon juice, symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching are relieved. By drinking lemon juice regularly, the bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently. Lemon acts as a blood purifier and as a cleansing agent. The intake of lemon juice can cure constipation.Lemon juice acts as a liver tonic and helps you digest your food by helping your liver produce more bile and flush out more toxins. It also eases the amount of phlegm produced by your body. It is also thought to help dissolve gallstones.

- Beneficial for skin
Lemon, being a natural antiseptic medicine, can participate to cure problems related to skin. Lemon is a vitamin C rich citrus fruit that enhances your beauty, by rejuvenating skin from within and thus bringing a glow on your face. Daily consumption of lemon water can make a huge difference in the appearance of your skin. It acts as an anti-aging remedy and can remove wrinkles and blackheads. Lemon water if applied on the areas of burns can fade the scars. As lemon is a cooling agent, it reduces the burning sensation on the skin.

- Good for Weight Loss

Lemon water can act as blood sugar stabilizer that keeps metabolism up and weight loss moving along. Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning upon rising can stimulate the body’s natural cleansing and detoxifying processes.

- Controls High Blood Pressure

Lemon water works wonders for people having heart problems, owing to its high potassium content. It controls high blood pressure, dizziness, and nausea. While lemon is an acidic fruit, once it interacts in the body it becomes very alakaline, balancing acid levels throughout the body, creating a more stable enviroment, which in turn lowers many ailments such as high blood pressure.
- Good for treating Rheumatism

Lemon is also a diuretic and hence lemon water can treat rheumatism and arthritis. It helps to flush out bacteria and toxins out of the body.

- Acts as a blood purifier

The diseases like cholera or malaria can be treated with lemon water as it can act as a blood purifier.

Anyhoo, after much research earlier in the week, I decided to give drinking lemon water a go. Yesterday morning, immediately upon waking up, I stumbled down into the kitchen and squeezed the juice from one whole lemon (my research indicated that those weighing 150lbs and over needed to use the juice from an entire lemon to achieve the maximum benefits while those under 150lbs only need to use the juice from 1/2 a lemon) into a warm glass of water. Then I chugged it down. I really like the taste of lemon, so that wasn't a problem for me, but I was gagging a bit, mainly due to the fact that I'm not used to drinking a large amount of water that early in the morning. Today, it was much easier drinking the lemon water and I'm sure it will only get better from here on out as it becomes routine. Be sure to drink the lemon water on an empty stomach and wait about 30 - 60 minutes before eating breakfast. Oh, a quick tip if you start doing this, after drinking your lemon water, immediately brush your teeth as the acidic juice can be damaging to your tooth enamel.

Since I'm only on day two, I can't report if I've noticed any significant changes or not from drinking the water, but I can say that I really have felt less bloated (TMI?) than I ususally do throughout the day. So who knows, I'll report back more as I get further along.