Your Happy Healthy Heart

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Your heart. How often do you think about it?  Probably not often although it’s been working for you since your mom was 6 weeks pregnant with you ( let that breathe over you for a minute) and it has continued its work tirelessly for you and will do so until you breathe your last breath.

It’s heart health month here in the U.S. but I’m pretty sure heart health is a world wide important thing, right?  The focus of course is to make people aware of their heart and how to take better care of it for a long life.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Seriously. Over all cancers and diseases it’s at the top of the charts.

The good news is… it’s one of the most preventable types of diseases.

The sad news is aside from genetic issues some have, most of it is brought on by our lifestyle and what we do or don’t do to ourselves.

Consider some of these sobering stats:

Heart disease (which includes Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases) is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States

Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually

In regards to women consider these facts: Pay attention ladies.

  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
  • While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
  • Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
  • Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
  • An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
  • Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
  • The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood.

(source Sources: CDC.gov – Heart Disease Facts
American Heart Association – 2015 Heart Disease and Stroke Update)

Heart disease is a huge issue and you (mostly) have control over it. What are steps you can take to keeping and having a healthy heart?

Don’t smoke. Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels. Smokers have a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Maintain a healthy weight. Don’t be in denial. If you’re overweight you know it and it’s not good for your heart .

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It also increases your chances of having high blood pressure/ and or cholesterol.

Know your numbers. Your cholesterol ( good and bad) and triglycerides are important numbers to let you know what’s going on inside you. Talk with your doctor about what yours should look like.

At my last visit he informed me that my good cholesterol was really high ( because of my exercise) my triglycerides were only double digit numbers.. something he said he almost never sees… again.. thank you good nutrition and exercise 🙂

Your blood pressure. Again, know what’s your normal range and stay in that zone. Losing as little as 10lbs can dramatically drop it.

What other ways can you be proactive to having a healthy heart?

Watch what you eat! Strive to eat whole, healthy foods and skip processed, refined or fast foods.

Be aware of your weight. Less body mass is less strain on your heart.

Exercise. I can’t stress this enough. Your heart is a muscle that needs worked out too. Vigorous cardio exercise, minimum of 30 minutes, most days of the week is essential to keeping your heart strong and fit. Not only that. it benefits the rest of you too 😉

How does cardiovascular exercise affect your heart?

Clipart Illustration of a Healthy Red Heart Running Past

 

When performing cardio, blood flow is directed toward working muscles and away from areas that aren’t doing much (such as your arms during running, or the digestive tract). There is increased blood flow, and blood volume returning to the heart.

As the heart registers a larger blood volume, over time the left ventricle adapts and enlarges. This larger cavity can hold more blood, and ejects more blood per beat, even at rest.

Over time, with chronic cardio training, our resting heart rate drops because each beat delivers a bigger burst of blood, and fewer beats are needed. This takes work off your heart and is why cardio exercise is recommended for heart health.

I’ve been tracking my heart rate for awhile and it’s been interesting to see my resting heart rate bouncing between the high 40’s -low 50’s.  All that cardio has had payoffs… a much lower resting heart rate.

Other cool stuff about your heart on exercise….

When done regularly, moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity strengthens your heart muscle. This improves your heart’s ability to pump blood to your lungs and throughout your body. As a result, more blood flows to your muscles, and oxygen levels in your blood rise.

Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger as a result of exercise, so it can pump more blood through the body with every beat and continue working at maximum level, if needed, with less strain. It becomes a powerful, more efficient working machine for you.

Seriously, I cannot stress enough the importance of strong, vigorous exercise for your hearts health.

Whether you are aware of it or not,  your heart works constantly for you. An amazing piece of equipment planted in your chest bringing life giving blood and oxygen to every part of your body with no effort on your part.

Your effort.. should come in taking care of it… doing everything you can to keep it strong, healthy and fit.

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Running Health And Rolling Pins

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I glanced out the window taking a break from my writing. I was as per usual, hanging at my fav coffee cave and enjoying some caffeine, some socializing,  and with a goal of getting a new blog post written.

Some days I’m more successful at some parts of that combination than others 😉

What caught my eye was a group of kids running around and all over the place in a field that was on the other side of the parking lot. Part of me wanted to just go out and join them …to shake the kinks out of my body from my time in the chair writing. The cool part was knowing I still had the abilities to do it if I wanted to crash their fun afternoon romp in the sun.

I decided I should behave myself and focus on getting my writing done for the day and not running around the field like an over grown kid .. I choked back a giggle imagining their faces if I just joined them 😛

Watching them though got me to thinking about our lives as adults… what happens that we stop running and being vigorous ? When do we get to a point that the idea of it seems funny and like it’s something only left for kids to do ?  Like running and using our bodies isn’t a total natural thing we should be able to do for a good long time…if not a life time ?

You know why?

We stop using them like they were designed for. We get lazier and less interested in moving around fast, much less running. Then at some point we start viewing running as an activity that a select group of crazy people doing in varying distances.

We look at running as an activity in a separate bubble that doesn’t apply to us anymore. True, some get older and have health problems that arise or some issue that truly keeps them from being that active.

But overall, we simply stop moving that way. We lose the ability/desire to do it.

However, for some of us, we find it again. We find the pure, natural joy of running again as grown ups, and we embrace it, perhaps in a way we never appreciated as a child.

I did. I was in my mid-40’s when I somehow evolved into a runner.

Go freaking figure.

Questions that are often posed to me.. “Oh, so you must’ve run in school?”, ” were you athletic in school?” “have you always run?”

No, no, and no.

I simply changed from a fast walker to running… in some ways I found it easier than fast walking.

But however it occurred, it started to get in my blood. It was my exercise, my therapy, my way to clear my head and process creative thoughts. It could also be my escape when I needed to retreat from moments in life that felt heavy.

Needless to say when an injury took me out of it last year, I felt frustrated and angry to not be able to pursue what had become my passion.

I have been slowly working my way back up. I’ve spent time on the road doing lots of fast walking. I’ve been trying to do things that will promote healing and let me go after it full speed and mega miles again.  I’ve also done strength training and cycling to help work me in different ways while keeping me strong and keeping my cardio levels where I want them to be.

One of the biggest things that has helped is basically learning to be more aggressive with the things I do BEFORE and AFTER I’m active.

Rolling, stretching, some yoga moves, etc all are contributing to helping me get back out there the way I want to be.

This is what I want to remind you of if you’re a runner or engage in pretty serious physical activity… the things we do before and after matter a lot to keeping our bodies strong and healthy for the activities we love.

I always joked that running was as simple as tossing on your shoes and taking off, and it is.

But there needs to be some time to prepare your body for that activity to let  it get loosened up, or to help it unwind afterwards. This was a part I was missing. Oh yeah, I did a little warming up, but not the rolling and stretching I’m factoring in now.

So I offer up some “tools of the trade” that I have found helpful and use before I workout, after I work out and usually in the evenings watching tv

 

The foam roller. A handy tool to roll out most of your body. It’s great for even rolling up your back and shoulders. It’s a great way to loosen things up. The negative to foam is it can start getting “soft” and losing it’s healing abilities. Make sure you change it out frequently if it doesn’t have the same firmness.

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I don’t use foam much anymore since the Airrosti clinic got me rolling on a pvc pipe. Yes…a pipe… a hard pipe like what water runs through. In the beginning it was definitely an adjustment but they told me my muscles would adapt to foam and the pipe would be more aggressive to working out tight hard muscles.

Yikes they were right and now I hands down prefer it over foam. It doesn’t give under my weight so I can really work my muscles into it.

A lacrosse ball. It’s great for feet. I use it constantly to really work into the tight areas. It’s also great for getting specifically into a muscle that needs some serious attention. It can be ridiculously painful in a good way… like make you whimper and cry kinda way… but it’s good

A plain old kitchen rolling pin. You can use it to work into the backs of your calves or other small areas that feel tight.

Yoga. Ok I’m far from an expert or yoga guru, but I do have a few go to moves that I took home from some classes. Learn a few basic stretches to help keep you loose.

Besides all of that I learned it’s important to stretch my feet, ankles, and toes…yes…toes! Go figure, but it actually feels good and with the impact feet take from running, stretching all those ligaments and muscles not only helps, it feels good.

Yes, running is fun and hard and rewarding and on many levels, just natural and easy. Taking a few extra steps to warming up and cooling down will hopefully keep you and I on the road for a long time to come.

Tell me, do you have any tips or tricks to keep your body healthy and well for running or other physical activities?

 

Do You Need Supplements From Door To Door Salesmen?

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So before I dive into todays topic, I will preface it with this side note.  I started my morning off with a HITT workout ( high intensity interval training) I had been pondering a rest day… which is never easy for me to do… instead I pick a quick 22 minute HITT sesh as my other option 😛

Anyway, I’m now at the local coffee shop writing as it seemed like a fair thing to do, give the legs a rest.  But then I decided to wear these cute little heeled booties with my new sweater dress and my legs are asking… “why?”… but hey… fashion before function, right ? 😉

Have I ever mentioned, next to fitness stuff, I love fun fashion? yeah.. well maybe that’s a future post waiting to happen…

But for now… on with the show!

Todays topic.

It was generated by some articles I was reading the other day that got me once again to thinking and pondering what was being said and then, well here I go again, climbing on my  “snake oil pedaling” band wagon.

I’ve talked before about all the hype of “health and wellness” companies, the products that are offered, the claims that are made, and the money it costs for these items.

Some of the propaganda is quite enticing to people who are desperate and wanting something, anything, to fix the health and weight issues.  Something other than exercise and eating better…

I’ll tell you… so much of it hurts my heart that they are going to throw their money away on stuff and still be in the same boat they are 6 months or less from the time they started shoveling it out.

Now listen, if you’ve got something that works for you, great. If you’ve found something that works alongside what I refer to as the basics ( eating good wholesome food, in the right portions, minimal crap food, and plenty of exercise) good for you.

nutrition-vitamins

My issue is sales people that tell you that you “need” stuff in the products to be healthy or to lose weight.

For instance, here’s what tripped me up….this article was saying how you needed to take chromium because it’s not produced in your body.

Ok first of all… most people are not really going to care or know what it is much less feel like they need to run out and buy if cause their body is in desperate need of it.

Well… here’s a little lesson on this mineral our body needs that wasn’t included in company info…

Chromium is actually a trace mineral that our body uses in very small amounts for healthy functioning.  Chromium plays a role in the insulin-signaling pathways that allow our bodies to control the amount of sugar we take in, it balances blood glucose levels and gives us stable energy.

Here’s the kicker though… it’s easily found in the majority of foods that we consume… whole grains, cereals, meats, potatoes, vegetables, etc ( please don’t buy into the “our ground has been stripped and our foods have no good nutrient value anymore” nonsense) … you can also get more from cooking in stainless steel and drinking tap water. Since we use so little of it for natural functioning most people take in more than adequate amounts to sustain what they need. Meaning, a supplement is not necessary and the body only “washes” what’s not needed.

The only people found to (possibly) need a supplement might be those with diabetes or the elderly.

Like any supplement it is possible to take more than you need for a healthy body and although overdoses are rare to much can cause toxicity and some serious side effects. It is always best to consult your doctor when considering certain supplements , vitamins, and minerals or other products  you are thinking to add to your daily diet.

Todays thinking has become “if a little is good, more is better” and that’s not true. Our bodies are beautifully wired to work in a perfect balance and throwing in more than we need is often not helpful or can cause health problems if dosage is to much.

And a final reminder… no matter how well meaning your family member, co-worker, friend, neighbor etc… who are selling “health products” … they are often only sharing published information the company has generated that they in turn feed to you.

Keep in mind they are not your doctor, a nutritionist, or health care specialist and you should always seek advice of professionals before taking products you may not need

Be your own advocate. Do your own homework. Know what it is you are considering  putting in your body before you invest your money into something you may not need or benefit from.

Building Your Own Workout Plan

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Let’s talk a little about building your own fitness plan. It should be easy, right? Just decide you wanna lose some weight or gain some muscle or train for a race and do it.

Ah if it were only so cut and dried!

The best way to success is to have a plan, something that you develop, that will work for you, your life, your schedule and your goals.

Let me outline a few things that may help you

  1. Goal setting. I know this sounds cliché but if you don’t know what you want or how to go after it, how will you achieve it?  Whether you want to start walking, running, training for an event, lose some weight, or get into a schedule for the gym… whatever it is… your choice… It’s old school now days but I just love having a basic calendar to outline what I need to do. When I’m marathon training I sit down and mark out the mileage for each day, as well as days I strength train and have active rest days.  There’s something satisfying about blocking off each day when I get it done…and it gives me a visual tool moving me closer to my goal.
  2. Be real. No one knows your life better than you do. Don’t plan to train for a big event if you work full time, have a family and other obligations that won’t let you do what’s necessary to prepare. Or don’t set a to lofty goal to lose a big amount of weight in a short time. Better to be realistic and maybe overshoot what you have planned than be frustrated you can’t get it done.
  3. Know where you are. If your intentions are to lose weight, you’ll want to gather some measurements so you have a baseline from where you start from. I know it can be rather…sobering… but if you want more than the fickle scale to give you feedback you’ll also want some starting measurements. Be honest and be real with yourself.   Also, you might consider taking a “fit test”. This again, will give you a baseline for your strength and cardio abilities.   A.  Record time it takes to walk a mile. B. How many push ups can you do in a minute? ( knees on floor if needed) C. How far can you reach to your toes, seated on floor and leaning forward?  D. Pulse rate before and after test. You won’t need to reassess but every 4-6 weeks.
  4. Commit to exercise, most days of week. No matter what your goals are, exercise should be a part of them. Start small, but start. Get  a partner if you need accountability. Again, you use your planner to track your activities.
  5. Finding balance. Rest days are just as crucial to your success as time in the gym, or out on the road.  I’ll freely admit to chafing at rest days. I feel..lazy… or like I should be doing something. Until I got that rest days aren’t about being lazy but should be active…as in… feeding my body good food, and doing things like stretching, or yoga to keep my muscles in working order.  Having a rest day also gives you some time to be more mentally focused for when you’re out again.
  6. Speaking of stretching. This is something I’ve really learned the value of and have tried to be much better at doing it before and after a work out. I use a variety of things from the standard foam roller, to a pvc pipe to roll out on. A lacrosse ball is also awesome for feet or really getting into a tight knotted muscle.
  7. Mix things up. I learned early on that having several activities would keep me from getting bored with always doing the same thing. Later, as I learned more, it just made sense to incorporate a variety of things because it worked my body differently to make me strong all over and not just good for one sport.  Not only that, doing things like strength training if you love running or cycling will hopefully keep your body from injuries.  Find things you love doing and then make a rotation in your week with them. For instance my week might look like: run, cycle, strength train, run,cycle, rest day. Sometimes I put my rest day midweek.  Other times I might have an extra strength training day if the weather is really awful and I cant get outside.  Sometimes I have two rest days if my training has been more physically demanding. Making your own plan is flexible!
  8. Listen to your body! I’m not talking about that part that is encouraging you to skip your workout… tell that part to shut up and get after it. I mean if you feel “off” or not well, are running a temperature or something is really hurting you take a rest day. That is far more beneficial than doing it to just “get it done”. Chances are, a day off, you’ll come back stronger the next day.
  9. Make a commitment to consistency. I won’t lie. It is crazy hard in the beginning to commit to anything new, especially exercise! I would encourage you to make a daily commitment to it, not make any excuses for not getting it done, and challenge yourself to systematically take one day, one week at a time doing it.  Habits take a few weeks for form. Give yourself time to develop exercise as a habit… once it is… you will not be able to imagine NOT doing it!
  10. Finally, have fun! Yes, I said have fun….exercising… have fun. Find things you love and commit to becoming the best student you can of it. Enjoy how you feel and the things you will learn and accomplish. Enjoy new strength and energy and being fit.

 

Now… get busy… grab a planner… your ideas…. and get started on your own personal fitness plan!

Cheers To The Average Athlete

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So yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday here in the good old U.S.A.  to say the results  upset the applecart of many is putting it mildly.  Two big footballs teams battling it out for the top honor of being “the best of the best” in the league. It seemed like the game was in the bag until the Patriots (although not my choice to win 😉 did some pretty incredible athletic things on that field to not only pull from behind, but to take the game into the first overtime ever in Super Bowl history, winning the game and the title.

It’s hard for me to not observe all that goes on in a game from an athletic stand point. I am in awe that these guys can get slammed by 100’s of pounds of bodies on the ground, fly through the air, run at the speed of light, move with the agility of a deer being chased, bounce and land on their feet again. Their moves I often think of as strong male ballet. For such a rough sport I find beauty in the strong athletic movement of it. These are athletes in their prime.

Yes, I know and understand these men train as hard off the field to keep their bodies strong for the sport they play on the field. Nutrition and strength training are vital roles in their success on field.

Ok… so this post isn’t about the fact I may be getting more and more into football…. 😉 it is though, going to be a nod to the average, ordinary, hard working athlete.

To you. To me. To the normal people.

Those  who are disciplined and dedicated in training their bodies for tasks beyond the “usual”. We won’t be under stadium lights in front of a million screaming fans or earning coveted trophies.

No, our rewards will come from the dedication to our own sport ( or if you’re crazy like me…sports…) where we train hard against ourselves, setting new goals, working hard, returning home exhausted with maybe the only one happy to see us being our dog who is happy to wash the sweat from our grimy legs.

We alone know the mornings or evenings we will put ourselves through our sport, sometimes not feeling entirely like doing it. We know the mornings we are up early out getting it done while people still sleep. We understand the aches of a body worked hard and yet somehow, embrace it, preferring that over aches from doing nothing at all.

Our training teaches us more about nutrition and eating smarter to perform better. We learn how to set aside foods we don’t need and focus on foods that are fuel for our bodies to become stronger for our sports. It becomes a learning process that somehow our bodies teach us as we move along. How to eat enough, and eat enough of the right foods.

We set goals, lay out our own “game plan” and train like the world depended on how successful we are at it. We perhaps, have a few events we train for in a year. For some, it could be stepping stones to something bigger.

A 5k that starts off as a lark, leads to training for a 10k, and maybe ultimately a half marathon or more.   A cycling event or  maybe a mix of cycling and running. Perhaps there are loftier goals of full marathons or Ironman competitions or the desire to see just “how far” you can go doing something.

The things we can choose to pursue are limitless… sometimes only hindered by our minds and our thoughts of doubt that could hold us back.

So this post is to all of us, to you, the athletes who are inspiring to every day people who watch you. You may never get a “prize”, or have public accolades, or be famous. But what you do every day, what you work towards, the goals you set, the ambition you embody, the passion you have for your sport, could be inspiring someone else to get out and move. It could inspire them to try something new and different, to get beyond their comfort zone because they see you working it and doing it every day.

And that my friends, is certainly reward enough. To inspire and motivate others is one of the greatest gifts of all.

 

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The Right Diet For You

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Say what? Did I just use the word “diet” in my title? Maybe you’re thinking… “you don’t do diets… what’s up? And what do you mean the right diet??”

And you’re correct, I don’t subscribe to any particular diet or current trendy food movement that’s going around.

8 years ago I decided when I was going to finally do it ( lose weight) and be done with it this time (for good)  that I needed to figure out what worked for me.

I had to first acknowledge what DIDN’T work for me.

I knew that I didn’t like having to follow some set daily food plan telling me what I could eat and how much. I didn’t want to be locked into something ridged that kept me from living my life and enjoying it.

I didn’t wanna be miserable. I didn’t wanna be deprived. Basically, I wasn’t interested in suffering.

Isn’t that what diets are about? You jump into something for 6-8 weeks, hope for the best, and count down the days till you can return to “normal” life and eating. You just get through it.

And well, I’m honestly a bit of a rebel at heart and just  don’t like having to follow the rules of a set diet. Like… don’t tell me what to eat and when….. everything in me rebelled against that.

That’s when I decided… I’ll just do my own thing…. and you know what? it’s worked for me.

I wanted to lose weight, not be hungry, and eat what I enjoyed while I did it.

Let me give you 3 tips or suggestions on building your own daily “diet” ( and I use that term to describe what you consume in your day)

 

Safe.  Whatever you decide to do, it needs to be safe in a health way. Don’t overly restrict your calories or live off nothing but bananas or some crazy stunt. Understand what your basic daily caloric needs are and operate within that zone.  If you actively exercise don’t forget to adjust your needs for higher active days. If you need help understanding your calorie needs, consult with your doctor for a good base line starting place. It also needs to have all food groups included.

 

Simple. For me that meant being able to eat foods I enjoyed and could easily prepare. It also meant having a working plan that I could stick to and follow. It also had to be flexible. If the family went out for a burger, I certainly didn’t want to sit there picking at a salad while they had fries!  ( although, now days, a salad is almost always my preference simply because I like them and feel better eating them over a heavier meal) If I had a burger, it was an intentional choice that I enjoyed and then just moved on with life.

 

Sustainable.  I think this is the most important point. Whatever you set up for yourself has to be what works for you. That is the only way you will stick with it and be successful long term, and for the rest of your life.  It doesn’t have to be what your co-worker is doing or your neighbor. They aren’t you… you aren’t them. It’s time to set aside cookie cutter diets and not try to fit into molds that aren’t designed for us.  I think that’s why so many fail in this process of losing weight.  Trying to fit into something that is designed to fail from the beginning .

 

Other suggestions to this would be:

Make sure you include all food groups in your plan. If you aren’t crazy about something ( like veggies) then just start taking small steps to incorporate them.

Eat enough food to satisfy your appetite, but don’t stuff yourself.

Listen to your bodies natural signals… eat when hungry…don’t eat when you aren’t.

Don’t restrict foods. I think that was a huge thing to my success. I basically told myself that I could have anything, nothing was off limits, and it really takes the power out it knowing you can have it…if you realllllyyy need it…  but it gives you the freedom to leave it alone too. It puts a huge level of control on your side.  Understand.. this wasn’t open season for me to just eat crappy food. I knew that was stuff that needed to be limited for my success. It just removed its power over me by mentally by not restricting it from my life. We always…want…what we cannot have.

Structure your meals to where you eat larger ones early on in day…tapering to lighter at the end of day.  Really, think about when you need the most calories and energy…it’s not before you go to bed in the evening with a huge meal.

Get to know your body! Know what foods make you feel good and energetic and which make you feel like crap. Don’t shun foods groups just because it’s the latest trend. If you have a valid allergy issue or if you don’t feel great when you eat it, fine. Otherwise aim for balance of all foods.

By developing and building your own plan, you will be able to stay on it for a life time and not just a few weeks.  Making your own rules will keep it sustainable and doable for you which will lead to your success.

 

A New Year And A New Start

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Hello beautiful people and Happy New Year to you! I hope you’re still out there since it’s been awhile that I’ve offered anything up to you… I’m still here!

2016 ended with a lot going on, not to mention the usual Christmas events and celebrations to prepare for. A big thing for me was finally having to move my dad out of his home into a personal care home  in December as his Alzheimers had greatly progressed and he needed constant care.

Unfortunately, my 2017 started off with him passing away a few days into the new year. Even though we knew he would be leaving us soon, the finality is always something you still have to contend with.

Ah…kinda  heavy stuff to start the year off with but life keeps moving… right?

Even with so much going on in my life, a new year always inspires me, gives me a fresh focus and vision with things I want to accomplish or try. A new year full of opportunities and goals to set.  And trust me, I have new goals already set.

As usual I’ve heard from many people about their weight loss and fitness goals. That this is going to be “their year” for success. They are ready to get going on “the journey”.

And of course, all of the weight loss products are out in full force on every aisle in the store along with your neighbors who are pedaling stuff and are now experts on nutrition and health … I’ve said it once I’ll say it again… you don’t need any of that to be successful… save your money for new clothes…

it’s sounds old school but solid nutrition and some healthy movement are the only things that will give you life long success at staying healthy and fit.

Sooooo….you have good intentions. You’re ready. More importantly, you’re mentally ready to begin this process… and it IS a process. It’s not something you will achieve overnight but if you keep at it, will be a lifelong process of health and well being… it will just be what you do every day without thinking about it.

Where does one start? How does one start? Do you feel overwhelmed before you begin?

You aren’t alone.  I remember multiple attempts before it finally “stuck”. What made it different for me? What got me moving in a permanent forward direction?

I’ll share a few things with you….

First, I had to just make a commitment to myself to do it. Not for my husband or kids or so I could wear skinny jeans . It has to be for you. This is your life, your body, you are responsible for taking care of it and keeping it healthy and well.  Do it for you.

Own where you are and be honest with yourself. If you’re overweight you know it. It’s not a surprise. Be real and then get real with how you’re going to change it.

Set realistic goals.

Understand, no one, at all can do the work for you. I can offer someone tips, suggestions, food and exercise ideas etc but if they don’t follow through and do the work…well… then they go no where.  What you eat, how much, if you get out for some exercise, it all falls on you.

Know that you will have a good and bad days. It’s important to just keep going. No quitting. No deciding nothing is ever going to change. You commit to one day at a time, hopefully making more positive choices than negative and you live the day you’re in.

Get honest with yourself and really examine your relationship with food.. why do you eat? what makes you reach for food? are there things that trigger you eating?  Getting an understanding of food and how you interact with it will be helpful on your journey. For instance, one thing I identified early on, was that I came from a family of emotional eaters. Over time, I’ve really learned to rein that in, be aware of it, and have  control over it.

Don’t let the scale be your judge and jury to your health journey. It’s a tool. It in no way reflects your overall health and well being. Use it carefully.. maybe just once a week. Note the numbers and move on.  Things like losing inches, lab results (reflecting internal health), getting stronger, or faster  and your mental well being aren’t reflected on the scale.

Start small. Start with one thing to change at a  time. If you’ve never exercised maybe aiming for 2-3 times in a week would be a good starting place.  If you always eat seconds maybe work back on not eating those. Learn to listen to your body…seconds really… are for our mouth and eyes…not our tummies which are usually satisfied.

Food. Don’t cut out everything you love and go on some restrictive diet that makes you want to quit in a week. Eat enough food to satisfy your hunger, no more. Eat when you get hungry. Don’t eat when you aren’t.

Work on eliminating junk type foods. Simple carbs should be minimal in your daily nutrition ( that means things like cookies, candy, soda, sugary drinks, boxed snacks/foods, chips, processed foods, baked goods , fast food etc)

Complex carbs… those found in fruits,  green veggies, whole grains, beans/peas, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, pasta etc should begin to fill your plate along with protein and healthy fats.

Treats. I always tell people I’ve been successful by not restricting myself from things I love.  I learned early on to really appreciate and savor a small treat over nothing at all. Literally, I could get a few chocolate kisses with my coffee at night and it satisfied the need for a sweet treat. It wasn’t anything that would sabatoge my work for the day and I didn’t ultimately go on some binge because I had overly restricted myself.

With a determined mind set, a willingness to change, the knowledge to take baby steps and progress slowly knowing change takes time, and making small changes in your nutrition and exercise program, 2017 will for sure be your year to achieve a lifestyle of health and fitness.

And the most important ingredient to your success? Don’t quit!