The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

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As the old Christmas song goes… “it’s the most wonderful time of the year….”

This is a disclaimer before you proceed reading anymore :

I’m gonna get all kinds of nostalgic on you so either buckle up and grab a fresh cup of coffee or abandon your computer for higher ground .

You’ve been warned.

I’ve always loved Christmas but I’m pretty sure my mom and grandparents had a lot to do with making that impression on me.

My memories of childhood were of fun, festivities, and family. Of course there were always lots of delicious baked goods and candies, and everything was always beautifully decorated. Christmas music was on and I remember my mom and grandmother singing along with various songs. There were special table linens and candy/cookie trays that were brought out every year to be filled again.

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Speaking of childhood and vintage. How about a couple pics of yours truly age 17 mos. and 6 years. I look thrilled over that baby which I still have…somewhere.

 

Cookies. Can you say… cookies? Of all the ones to be chosen, the cut out cookies still have my heart. All of those fun Christmas shapes in sugar cookie form … is there anything better? That is one thing today my kids all still love doing. Piling in at the kitchen table and decorating trees, Santas, reindeer, angels, sleighs, snowflakes, gingerbread boys and girls. My mom had tons of cool cutters that I enjoy using as well along with the ones I already had.

The season was steeped in many traditions for me.

As a family we always went together and bought a fresh tree. I’m grateful no one had any issues that kept us from having one because to this day it’s one of my favorite things to go do… pick out the biggest tree I can get my paws on… thank goodness I have 12 ft ceilings now! As a child our ceilings were much shorter so we were limited in the height we could drag home.  This years specimen comes in right around 11 ft and it smells soooo amazing. Some years the fragrance isn’t as strong, this year, beautiful AND fragrant.

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The photo really doesn’t do it justice

 

No, I don’t mind a real tree, and no I don’t mind cleaning up at the end of the season. It’s all worth it to me.

My children are adults now ( good heavens… I can’t believe that sometimes) and they too continue to expect a real tree and the married ones plan to carry on the tradition.

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I love looking into the tree when it’s lights are the only thing on. It’s still magical to me.

 

So we had the tree covered in bright lights ( remember those big C7 lights you could line a run way with?? I do have those on my tree but they are the more modern ones that stay cool and wont burn the tree down) and family decorations, amazing homemade treats, beautifully wrapped packages, family, special meals, worship service and of course the celebration of Jesus birth.

I simply grew up immersed in the beauty of Christmas, and not just the beauty, the magic too. The magic of waiting expectantly for Santa on Christmas Eve and the inability to fall asleep from excitement. My family always worked to make sure that the magic was a part of Christmas.

My mom was such a child at heart about Christmas till the day she left this earth. I’m afraid I’m no different.  I still get excited at Christmas and I have a hard time sleeping sometimes.. only now I’m Santa and my kids and grandbabies get to experience it.

It was a sobering moment to me thinking this year that I’m the only one left to carry on all these traditions that have become precious to me. To pass them on to my children and their families.

Let me say I’m fully aware that Christmas isn’t fun for many, especially when they are acutely aware of loved ones that are missing from their lives.

Nothing brings that loss home more than Christmas time and I can fully speak to that.

In the last 5 years I’ve lost my brother, my mother, and this past year, my dad.  At this time of year there are moments that the pain and anguish strike my heart and spirit  so hard it almost takes my breath away.

I deeply miss my people.

I miss the ones who shared those long ago memories with me. I miss taking out certain decorations or ornaments and reminiscing about them. Oh, I still do on many items as I share stories of various treasures with my kids but they don’t have the memories associated with it.

In this last year I’ve also been busy cleaning out my parents entire house and going through years of….life. It has to be done but there have been so many days it’s been an agonizing road to walk.  There were times I went in with the intent to work and only found myself sobbing on the sofa longing for those I loved to be there again.

However, in the cleaning process I’ve found some beautiful treasures that I have brought home to enjoy and to share with my kids. One thing I finally felt emotionally strong to do was go through the various boxes of carefully wrapped ornaments that had been my mothers and my grandmothers. I tried last year but opening the box that she had last carefully packed away was a bit more than I could handle at the time.

This year, I brought everything out. I laid them all on the table smiling, laughing and sometimes crying looking at all of the years of Christmas treasures in front of me. I pulled precious old ones from the mix, ones of my grandmothers that date back to World War 2.  There were treasured delicate glass ornaments that have always gone at the top of tree to protect them, now in my care to treasure. There were silly ones that for some reason I always loved, like these colored glass balls that had big fake eyes and a foam mustache. When my brother and I moved out my mom gave me a blue one and my brother a red one. Two years ago mine fell from the tree and shattered in a million pieces. Yes, I cried.  Going through my brothers ornaments I came across the red one… somehow it was like an old friend was back as I settled it into a position on my tree.

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He’s old and not fancy, but I love him. As a child I named him Oscar.

 

 

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One of several from my grandmother that date back to World War 2.

 

Speaking of trees….

I realized that one poor tree, no matter how big, reaches a point of holding all the memories of Christmas past.  However, I can have several other trees that are fun or have a theme. Of course my kids might secretly be wondering if I’m turning into a crazy old tree lady… 😉

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I love this little pink tree. It’s fun, whimsical and is my gingerbread/candy tree in my kitchen. I add real colored candy canes to it as well.

 

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The tinsel tree is a new acquisition this year. The tree is new but it’s covered in vintage glass ornaments. The little house in front is actually an old light bulb that my great grandmother used on her tree
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I love the rustic look of all of this. The trunk was a great yard sale find years ago for 15.00. It’s an 1800’s steamer trunk.

 

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I won’t lie. I’m seriously in love with this. I picked up the tiny white tree this year and it’s covered in more vintage glass ornaments. The old wooden coke crate contains many more that were on my grandmothers tree.

 

So many treasures are vintage collectibles now. Not just that, it’s the history they hold as well that means so much to me.

AH! I’m vintage.

Ha well in the life of Christmas decorations when they are up and over 50plus years that’s pretty old. I’m fascinated with the Christmases they have seen and sometimes wonder how they’ve survived so long.

My cardboard Christmas houses, so delicate and fragile and originally only pennies in a dime store are now worth hundreds of dollars depending on the era it came from, style etc.

I am completely enthralled with them. However, my love again, was started as a child when my grandmother would place her little village out with the Barclay skater people. It was one of my most favorite parts of Christmas. I was thrilled when my mother let me have the beat up old village when I found it in the back of the loft long forgotten. I took them home and carefully restored them. It was only when I began digging into their history that I found the ones I grew up with were actually the end of an era of these unique houses. The first ones had been produced in the late 1920’s -early 30’s into the 40’s and 50’s and were last made in the mid 60’s a far cry for the original grandeur they had been crafted in.

Today, I have my grandmothers original set I still put out for that is where my childhood memories are.

But I’ve also carefully collected some beautiful, unique houses by shopping carefully and skillfully on Ebay. There are some I have to look wistfully at and let go as they soar in price zones I won’t participate in.

All of the houses in my collection are  70-80 years old. How they have withstood the test of so many Christmases gone by always amazes me. Some I’ve purchased and carefully done some restoration on. Others, I’ve purchased knowing they will stay “as is” in my collection mainly because the coloring or materials would be impossible to find and replicate now.

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Shhh step into my quiet winter wonderland…

 

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Churches are my favorite pieces. The red windowed one is from the early 1930’s.  The one on end hales from the same era. I’ve collected seven unique ones.

 

I wrote a post on them last Christmas, you can learn more reading “Favorite Things Of Christmas”  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/12/22/favorite-things-of-christmas/

I guess I should say for a more modern, trendy girl, I absolutely love and adore vintage Christmas. The new cheap modern day stuff doesn’t have the same appeal to me. I think though, it’s more because my heart is connected to the times gone by with the old items from the past.

But life moves forward, and memories are sweet and dear and keep us connected to those we’ve loved and have been privileged to share the journey of life with. As I’ve decorated this year it has been a sweet treat to incorporate so many things from the past that are old and beautiful with newer things I’ve collected with my family over these past years.

I love being able to create a magical, special season for my family like I knew growing up. It blesses me that they appreciate it so much and enjoy being there. I want them to have memories of special times and special things that they can share with their children.

Traditions. Simple or elaborate I want them to have the history of traditions.

But Christmas is so much more. It’s a time in the year when we should be more mindful than ever of peace, love, and joy. To be mindful of those we hold dear and the treasure that they are to us.  To give those gifts freely and generously back to them.  To embrace some of the simplicity of the season and not be swooped up in the commercial money train it has become.  To enjoy the presence of each other because that isn’t always granted to us.

I hope that you make your own traditions with those you love. I hope you value and embrace the simple things that make Christmas so beautiful and magical. I pray you know the peace and joy that this season is about and that it stays with you all year long.

As I’m concluding this post, and thinking of peace, I can’t help but mention it has been snowing here now for over an hour. I’ve watched big white fluffy flakes tumble from the sky and blow through the air, silently beautiful, peaceful.

It’s kind of a big deal for a girl who lives in south Texas… we rarely ever see snow.

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Do you wanna build a snowman? My adult sons crafted this big guy.

 

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Oh my! Did we get some snow! How beautiful is this?? Our first real snow since 1985. What an exciting day and night it turned into! A bit of a white Christmas for us.

 

 

It’s peaceful and quiet… it’s been reflective for me. I pray you know and experience all of the things that matter most in this Christmas season and that you have eyes of a child to still appreciate the magic and a spirit that receives the peace and hope of the Christ child.

Do you have special traditions or things that make Christmas magical to you? What are your favorite childhood memories?

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Simple Nutrition

Yeah, hello, I’m still alive out here.  No, the duathlon didn’t leave me laying on the side of the road 😛  I promise, I am doing a recap but…well… they keep teasing us with all our free race photos and course I wanna toss one or two of those in as well… so hopefully sometime this week you can find it here so stay tuned. I had fun and I did ok so check back. 😉

However a busy Thanksgiving week and all my well intended plans to scratch something out for you seemed to sail out the window.

So much tasty food for Thanksgiving. Some new dishes shared as well as the traditional favorites everyone enjoys.

It goes without saying that eating comes pretty naturally for all of us. Where we differ is how we choose to eat and the foods that we put into our bodies.

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Every time we eat, we have the power to make choices.

Obviously, how I feed my body is important to how well I can potentially do my training sessions and also have energy for the rest of my day. I’ve learned that cutting back on food or not eaingt pre work out is the equivalent of taking off on a long trip with your gas tank sitting on or close to the empty mark.

In todays busy world food sometimes seems complicated and it shouldn’t be. I don’t spend a lot of time obsessing over food .. unless it’s 4:30 and the dinner hour is breathing down my neck, everything is frozen, and I’m completely clueless what to feed the crew.

THEN I might start obsessing a little.

Having healthy snacks or easy balanced and nutritious meals shouldn’t have to stress you out. I’ve personally found if I have healthy foods in my ‘fridge with easy access to them I’m always more likely to grab them.

No, I don’t meal prep or have 50 containers of the exact food waiting for me day after day. There are foods that I can easily grab or assemble as a snack if I feel like I’m famished ( and some days after long training sessions those moments can come on quickly) Maybe you haven’t done a long training session but maybe you’ve put in a long day at work and dinner is still in the process of coming together.

Taking a little time to prepare some things to keep on hand will help you make healthier snacks choices.

Consider things like:

Hard boiled eggs

Cheese sticks or cheese cubes

A variety of precut, prepared veggies you can grab

Ranch dip, made with non-fat Greek yogurt

Fresh fruit

Peanut butter ( in moderation)

Grilled or baked chicken ( works for so many different things)

Greek yogurt ( toss in some berries or raw almonds)

Raw nuts like almonds or walnuts

Homemade smoothies with your choice of fruit, milk etc. (be really mindful of buying smoothies when you’re on the go as they are often high in sugar and loaded with tons of calories. )

I also like to keep whole grain crackers around. I will put together a small plate with some cheese and fruit to carry me over till I can eat my next meal.

Or try this tasty little healthy snack:

Apple slice cookies:

Red delicious apple ( you need a nice firm apple for slicing) , peanut butter, unsweetened coconut, mini chocolate chips, chopped walnuts.

Core apple, slice into 1/4 inch slices. Lay out on cookie sheet and press with a paper towel to absorb excess water ( this will help peanut butter stay in place) spread a  thin layer of peanut butter then add coconut, walnuts and mini chocolate chips.

Enjoy 🙂

The more prepared you are the more likely you are to make good choices.

But back to that dinner thing….

I know I’m not the only one who sometimes bangs their head against the wall thinking of something clever for dinner. Personally, I could eat meat and veggies of some sort all the time but the rest of the crew.. well they have different ideas at times 😉

Mind you.. I have like… 5 thousand cook books so it’s not like I lack a place for ideas.  It’s just that they aren’t always with me if I’m out running around an realize I need food ideas.

Enter Pinterest

Who doesn’t always have their phone with them? And if you haven’t checked out Pinterest, will you should. All I have to do is open that app and search up some dinner recipes. Although now I actually have a board started with all kinds of tasty dinner recipes to choose from so I can be in the store, get the ingredients if I don’t have them and still put something new and delicious together.

( Click on my Pinterest link to follow me there and find a lot of my fav dinner ideas.. oh… and do I have some desserts for you too 😉 )

My favorite  new thing is one sheet dinners. I’m telling you… your life will never be the same again…ever.

All of the tasty goodness is cooked on one pan. Easy clean up. Nutritious. And there is a huge variety of ideas.

Simple nutrition my friends, simple.

Some of my favorites:

https://pin.it/4nqwlidnygrmkg  ( Greek Chicken with Green Beans And Feta Cheese)

https://pin.it/o5yrbbd2v3vx2l  ( Sheet Pan BBQ Dinner)

https://pin.it/mwxp5oounhzkdt  ( Roasted Garlic & Herb Sausage and Potatoes)

https://pin.it/2qaxgmnxitv3k6 ( Asparagus Sweet Potato Chicken)

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I’ve made this too. It was a huge hit, and totally delicious

 

 

Not only are these meals easy to prepare with minimal work and clean up they offer a good variety from many food groups. Some are stand alone meals, some I might add a salad or bread depending on what it is.

Eating healthy with a focus on good food doesn’t need to be complicated. It may take a little time for you to get into the routine and find what works for you but once you adapt you will find it easier than ever to make healthy meals and snacks that will keep you on track with your health and fitness goals.

 

 

 

 

Reflections From The Road

It’s a quiet afternoon in my fav coffee cave which is a bit unusual given the time of day but I’m not gonna complain about that. Sometimes, I wonder where all the people have come from and why they are taking up my space haha

It’s also another day in this long week that is nothing but grey skies and feels perpetually like morning…. all… day… long.

Sometimes it makes it hard to feel like doing anything more than grabbing a blanket, a good book and chilling somewhere.

Instead, I’m going to write and let my thoughts out if you’ll humor me. Writing is often cathartic for me and let’s me examine things more closely through words.

As in… thinking about my first multi sport race this upcoming Sunday. My first duathlon.

Did I mention it’s listed as the toughest in the state? Yeah I don’t start with easy things.

I’ve certainly spent a significant amount of time on the road preparing for it. So much time to think and reflect, to ponder this journey that I’ve taken myself on.

I view myself as somehow a most unlikely candidate to turn into a duathlete.

This journey has been over 2 years in the making. It’s been out there in front of me, sometimes taunting and sometimes a bit illusive as I’ve had to bide my time waiting for the right moment.

You see when I first got the crazy idea I was fully in the mix of an ugly Achilles injury that had me doing no running at all. It’s during this time that cycling came into the picture a bit more. I had thought the following year I’d be up to it but just had things working against me that kept me from fully pursuing it. I remember seeing the cyclist out that year during the race and feeling a bittersweet longing to be able to do what they were doing.

My goal, my wish, began to be “just let me get healthy enough to run the distance required for the duathlon”. which at the time was bookend 5k’s.

All I had to do was run 6.20 miles … in two parts.  Was that asking to much ?

I diligently rehabbed myself. Spent a lot of time strength training, learning to row to stay strong with my cardio ( for the record rowing to me has many similar feelings to running), and doing cycling. As I got better I took it back to the road for some strong walking. It just felt good to be out there going through the motions even if I couldn’t all out run yet.

Time moved on, I improved and was able to pick up some running again, albeit, cautiously .

This time… the duathlon seemed more feasible. I continued with slow. easy, short “runs”. I stretched, foam rolled, iced and did whatever I could to keep getting better.

When I saw the promotions start coming up for it this past May I knew it would be something I’d take on in this year.

In June I made the commitment and registered. And I say commitment ’cause when you cough up money to pay for an event, you’ve just invested yourself fully to it.

With that, my “official” training began.

I think back to those first brick sessions I did. ( fyi a brick session refers to back to back activities. For me it was a bike and run session. Eventually it turned into a run/bike/run sessions)

I did only 8-10 miles on the bike and then a 2 mile run. I remember getting off bike, changing shoes, and then taking off on legs that felt like loose spaghetti noodles.

It’s hard work changing gears from one activity to another!

I wondered how long it would take or if I would adapt to getting my body from cycling mode to running.

Months later, it’s definitely still work especially after running and cycling, then running again but I’ve found I’m stronger and have managed some decent mile times… you know… for an old lady 😛

And here I am. Months later with the race staring me down the face.

I’m as ready as I can be. I’ve worked hard and prepared to the best of my abilities. I’ve trained in horrible weather and good weather. Right now the forecast is for a chilly but sunny day and I couldn’t be more thrilled with that!

I’ve practiced riding those crazy hills. I remember the first time I took on one that I thought would eat my lunch, which then fed into a second hill immediately after.

 

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So this is the first one…. it doesn’t look so scary in this pic 😛

I cried when I topped the second one. I know. I’m such a girl.

Doing hard physical things and accomplishing them brings out strong emotions in me. Maybe it’s a relief that I could do it. Maybe it’s overcoming something I thought might be insurmountable.  Or once again realizing I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for.

Spend some time on the road making your body work hard, you begin to see what you’re made of. You begin to see how your mind and body can work together or against each other.

I’ve learned I can push a bit longer and farther. I can dial in and focus on that moment in front of me and set aside anything else so I can keep pressing on to my goal.  I’ve learned how to listen to my breathing, to keep it even and steady even when I’m working hard. I listen to my body but try not to let it convince me it wants to quit or back off because it’s getting uncomfortable. ( not injured or hurt, but out of my comfort zone, there’s a difference )

If there’s one thing endurance sports has taught me it’s about discipline, determination, perseverance, and sacrifice.

I’ve learned to deal with hot, warm, humid weather.

 

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Nothing like a good sweat to cleanse the soul haha

 

As well as those  mornings I’ve geared up and headed out into a cold, wet, rainy, or foggy misty morning to train.

Yeah. All I really wanted to do was stay in warm and dry. Yes I considered I might be crazy but there was a deeper thing in me that wouldn’t let me give in or back off from what I had committed to undertake.

If race day dialed up a cold, wet, foggy morning I better be able to handle myself in those conditions.

Of course months of training has leaned me out more, almost a side effect of all my training. I know it’s working when hubby tells me I feel to thin haha

I’ve peaked in my training and with that comes a physique that reflects my work, endurance to do my running and cycling, and improved times doing them.

There is a bittersweet aspect to this as well. I know there will be the inevitable “let down” when it is finished. The thing I’ve focused on will be done, my goal accomplished. It will be time to thing of new goals.  I know these feelings go along with the excitement and thrill of doing it.

Now.. it’s almost show time.

With days out I’ll focus on stretching, rolling, eating well, getting rest and of course making sure my gear is ready and I have the coolest clothes to wear 😉

Looking good helps your performance, right ?

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Sporting the new cold weather cycling jacket I got for the event.

 

One thing I always remind myself of before races… the world doesn’t stop spinning based on my performance. It somehow takes some of the hyper energy off me.

Oh. I didn’t mention that did I? All the hyper energy and edginess counting down to it.. the “taper week”. That energy continues to build till I’m standing on the start line.

As much as I want to do the very best I’m capable of, the fact remains, when I cross that finish line, I’m a winner.

I win because I set out goals and dreams for myself and I worked hard and pursued them and I won’t go through life wondering “if” I could do it.

And nothing will feel better than that.

Cheat Days Vs. Healthy Eating Habits

The question came at me again. Often there are similar ones that arise in conversations  in regards to health and wellness.

“Do you allow yourself a cheat day/meal?”

If you don’t know what that means, in the fitness world it’s a day set aside where you eat whatever suits your fancy. Anything you’ve been craving or put off limits from yourself. It could be a meal or an all day eating frenzy depending on how deprived you feel.

The answer is a big “no”.

No, I don’t. Never have and don’t have any intention of starting.

I’ll tell you why. October marked my 8th year on my health and wellness journey.

8 years people. I’ve lost the weight of a hefty toddler child and about 5 pant sizes. In those years I not only lost fat but have built muscle and a strong physique that allows me to enjoy all my outdoor athletic sports and gives me a good deal of energy and strength for living life.

I’ve not gained it back or played yo yo dieting games.

As I’ve gotten deeper into endurances sports I’ve come to accept that my body will go through times of being leaner when I’m doing a lot of training and a bit softer when I’m not heavy training. I can fluctuate within 5-7 pounds and I’m ok with that.

Losing weight and keeping it off for a lifetime involves small, consistent, changes that turn into new habits. It’s really the only thing that works and you have to intentionally build on it every day.

The cheat day/meal thing

if you’ve followed me for awhile you know I’m “anti” diet and diet hype nonsense. I consider my take on things practical, livable and sustainable. When I started my journey one thing I set out for myself was that nothing was off limits or to be considered “Bad or good”.

For me, it took a ton of power away from food. Mentally, if I knew I could have “whatever” then I was less likely to think about it or “wish” I could have it.

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It’s amazing how that works.

Allowing myself a fun meal with my family and then resuming my normal eating took away feelings of “deprivation”.

Admit it, haven’t you at some point been dieting and everyone is eating and living the good life and you feel freaking miserable, left out, disgusted with yourself and well…fat?

Me too and enough of that already.

Having a fun meal or some birthday cake at a party didn’t undo all my efforts. I had mentally taken on living healthier and I loved being in control of my choices.

If I didn’t want cake, I didn’t eat it. If I did I was smart enough to know a small piece wouldn’t end my efforts.

On the other side, saving a day to eat all the things you’ve withheld from yourself or over eating can lead to you feeling bad (physically) and bad (mentally ) for over doing it.

Binge eating only feels good in that moment.

The power of your choices

Learning to change my lifestyle I also learned there was a tremendous amount of power I had in my choices of food I made.

It was rather freeing.

Making healthier choices began to get easier and the other foods that used to have a pull on me began to have less.

But sometimes… chocolate. Or French fries.

Let’s face it when you are trying to lose weight those cravings or desires don’t come in at your scheduled cheat day do they? And what if it’s cheat day and you don’t really feel like having it?

I found allowing myself a small amount of whatever I wanted set the craving aside and took it out of my mind.  I’m still like that. If there is a strong pull, almost a physical need, I listen to my body.

I can tell you if I want something particular the need is quenched and I’m on with life again.

It is powerful making choices for yourself. Choices that involve thinking and listening to your body.

Think of how mindlessly you can eat. Eek. Tell me you’ve had those moments, that I’m not alone!

You know.. maybe you aren’t truly hungry but you are stuffing food in ’cause it’s there? or you’re in the pantry at 10 at night trolling but you know you aren’t needing food? Or when you eat past what you need to feed your appetite?

Making smaller more mindful choices on a daily basis will lead to weight loss that lasts long term and not just a few weeks until you’re eager to get back to “normal”.

Practice makes perfect…er… perfect “ish”.

Ok so no one is perfect or nails the eating thing perfectly.  With time, consistency and practice the cool thing is it will start to become second nature.  As you teach yourself to balance all food groups and eat in a healthy manner with room for those treats and celebratory moments you will find yourself automatically making those good choices and passing on things that don’t support your health and fitness goals.

You won’t need a cheat day to enjoy life or the things you love. You won’t feel deprived as you work on building new habits and skills in your life. You will feel empowered by trusting yourself and making mindful choices.

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Just Don’t Quit

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I stumbled across this quote one morning looking for something on not quitting for one of my social media posts.

I liked it because it wasn’t one of the zillion cliché quotes about not quitting or giving up… and well.. it was honestly quirky enough to completely suit me.

I recently asked for thoughts from people on why they believe people quit what they start.  Why do some hold on to what they set out to do with all they have, working hard and refusing to give up and others, with the slightest discomfort, lack of reward, or immediate gain, throw in the towel and quit ?

I had my own opinions/thoughts on it, but wanted some feedback.

I got responses like “it’s a part of our individual personality”, ” it’s how we were raised”, “it’s something learned”,  to my favorite, “it’s pure stubbornness and a refusal to give in”. I think that’s my favorite ’cause it’s how I’m wired 😉

But I was also raised to finish what I started. I was raised by strong women who didn’t give in when things got rough.

As a grown woman who has lived a lot of life I realize I have that same grit and strength I was exposed to growing up.

It serves me well.

But then there is also who I am as a person. By nature, strong willed and a wee bit stubborn.

I believe all those traits meld together to push me to take on things that make me feel like they can eat my lunch… like my fast upcoming duathlon.

I did my most likely, next to last training session on the course this morning.

It was grey, cold, windy, and some on and off again misty stuff thrown in for good measure. Rain mingled with my sweat is always an interesting feeling.

The wind seemed to delight in coming from angles that weren’t helpful crawling big hills on the bike. It was my suckiest time ever since I started. On a good side, I also did my fastest 5k time, dropping it again from last week.

The good and bad.  I mean I was out there doing it so it’s all a win, right? But that quitting quote rolled through my head.

Not mind you, that I was pondering quitting. Not when I’ve come so far and worked so hard.

Not a fat chance.

But let’s look at a few reasons why people might throw in the towel, or you know, quit.

~ People usually give up or quit when the going gets rough or it takes to long. They fail a few times, don’t know that the struggle is part of the game and walk away from it.  Obstacles are a part of pursuing our goals or dreams and as we get more proficient in what we are doing the obstacles get a bit easier to get over.

~ There’s a lack of ownership. Is it your goal? Your dream? It’s difficult to stay motivated if it’s not yours. You must buy into your goals and dreams. Own them. It totally changes the game. Once you own them, you can begin the steps of practicing to get where you are going.

~ Not willing to put in time required. Training for a duathlon, I knew what I was up against if I was going to do it. I knew the time and training that would be required to get me to the starting line. If you decide to set a lofty goal for yourself, understand what the time investment will be. Reaching our goals takes hard work and a lot of practice. If we don’t excel in something it will take both of those to get there.  Being a multi sport athlete is certainly nothing that was in my back round or skill level. It has required hard work and a lot of practice.

~ Limit distractions that get in your way. So many things clamor for our attention now days and if you let them get in your way you may find yourself getting side tracked from what you are pursuing. You may have to set things aside to make time for your goals and to ensure you don’t quit.

~ People often quit when there is insufficient reward or as I refer to it, instant gratification.  They feel like they’ve invested a little time of a few weeks or a month and expect results. Everything from weight loss, to a new career or hobby or getting fit. It takes time. I didn’t wake up one morning and go run a marathon. I didn’t just sign up for a duathlon and go do it. Little things at a time have built on the other leading me to bigger successes. This goes for anyone. If you want to do more, you’ve gotta invest the time and energy and not expect instant results.

~  A lack of belief in themselves. Simply put, you’ve gotta believe you can do it or you’re out of the game from the beginning.  The first time I realized I was really committing to running a full marathon the thought danced through  my head…. ” That’s 26.2 miles. That’s so long. How will I do it?”  I immediately stomped those thoughts down, never let them back in, an proceeded to not only train for my marathon but go on and do more too.  Those thoughts had no place in my head if I was going to be successful.

~ And a final thought that I think is perhaps the biggest reason to why people quit or give up or whatever you wanna call it.

They simply lack the discipline to see their goal or idea through to the end.

They can’t get themselves to see the end result of what they are pursuing.  They haven’t developed the habits required to work on the days they not only feel like it, but more importantly, days they don’t feel like it.  Trust me, heading out into a cold, wet morning to train isn’t necessarily my idea of a great time. Staying in warm and drinking coffee is definitely more appealing but it’s on those days I have to rely on my discipline to get me out the door and get the job done.

There has to be a willingness to take on the good days and the bad days to get where you’re going.  You have to push forward no matter what the challenges are that come at you IF you are determined and stubborn to reach your goals or dreams that you have.

If you struggle with quitting when things get rough or don’t produce fast enough results, consider some of these points and determine where you can change things in yourself.

With some intentional choices and a willingness to fail and make mistakes, along with some stubbornness and purposeful dedication, you will be able to achieve your goals.

Do you struggle with following through? Have you before but have you overcome obstacles to get to your goals? What did you find worked best for you?

The ABC’s Of Building A Healthy Diet

Healthy eating 2

 

So it’s early afternoon and I’ve finally managed to escape to my fav coffee cave and write. WHY is it so hard to get it done sometimes? Not for lack of ideas or clever creativeness but some days are just hard to make it happen.

I’m making it happen today… doing it before you decide I’ve given up on this idea of writing.

I’m glaringly aware that my computer informs me today is November 2 and there are a few thoughts that accompany that awareness.

First, wow, October sailed by. Of course I ended the month like many playing dress up for Halloween and hanging with my kids getting free candy from people who had nothing better to do than sit in their driveways all evening 😉

Then of course, with the arrival of November there are thoughts of Thanksgiving now dancing in my head. There will be plotting and planning for all of the goodies that go with that day.

BUT before Thanksgiving or anything else…. gulp.. this is the month of my duathlon. Actually 17 days out from this point. It’s hard to not see it staring me down but ready or not… it’s coming.

Ok.. more on that later….

November definitely makes me think about food. It makes me think of the seasonal tasty treats we get to enjoy and the traditions that go with them.

But today I’m thinking about food more along the lines of a healthy diet. What does that mean, exactly? And how do you build one if you don’t know much about it? Maybe you’ve been wanting to eat better but just aren’t sure what goes into a “healthier” daily diet.

Realistically, there’s no one way to eat that’s right for everyone. What works for you, might not work for me.

We’re individual and our likes and needs are varied and different.  Our likes can be based on not just our needs but cultural preferences too.  A person with health issues, like diabetes, may have to eat differently from someone who doesn’t.  So it’s rather broad to say there’s a standard healthy diet that fits everyone.

However, there are some definite building blocks that apply to all of us. With these building blocks you can shape and build your own nutritional plan that works for you.

What is a healthful diet?

it provides the proper combination of energy and nutrients to you each day. It has four characteristics.

It’s adequate, moderate, balanced, and varied.

No matter your age, health, fitness level or weight, if you keep these thoughts in mind you will be able to select foods that give you energy and provide good nutrition to you each day.

A healthy diet is adequate

An adequate diet provides enough of the energy, nutrients, fiber and crucial vitamins and minerals to maintain a persons health. A diet can be inadequate in one area or many areas of a persons daily needs.  For example, many people don’t eat enough vegetables and not consuming enough of the fiber and nutrients vegetables provide. Their intake of protein, carbs and fats may be more than adequate, often to many of these calories are consumed and the person is overweight because they eat more than exceeds their energy needs.

Under nutrition can also occur if there are several nutrients ignored for long periods of time.

Also a diet that is adequate for one person may not be adequate for another. As an athletic woman, my caloric needs on many days during the week are vastly different from a woman my age who is sedentary or lightly active. As individuals we would differ greatly in our activity level and our body fat and lean muscle mass making our requirements for fat, carbs, proteins and other nutrients very different.

A healthy diet is one of moderation

Moderation is one of the keys to a healthful diet and I believe one of the most important. Moderation refers to eating any food in moderate amounts, not to much or to little.  Eating to much or to little of any foods we cannot reach our health goals.

One example would be people who consume soft drinks. Loaded with empty, non-nutritious calories, it’s an easy way to pack on the pounds if many are consumed each day. Often I’ve seen individuals stop drinking soda and easily drop pounds.

Enjoy a variety of foods and treats, in moderation.

A healthy diet is balanced.

A balanced diet contains foods that provide the proper proportions of nutrients.  The body needs many types in varying amounts to maintain health.

A healthy diet is varied

Variety of course refers to eating many foods from all food groups on a regular basis. Often I have people say… “well, I don’t really like to eat….. ( some food)” and I remind them there are lots, and lots of other foods they can choose from that are healthy and provide good nutrients to their body.  When you eat a variety of foods it will increase the chance that you are consuming all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.   Also, when you eat a varied diet it keeps boredom from setting in which often cause many people to give up because they are tired of the same foods.  Enjoy so variety in your daily diet!

In summary…

A healthy daily diet provides adequate nutrients and it includes sweets, fats, salts, and alcohol in moderate amounts only. A healthy diet includes an appropriate balance of nutrients and a wide variety of foods.

Foods to include in your day would be:

Whole grains, a variety of veggies, fruits, dairy products and protein foods. It’s important to remember protein goes a long way in keeping you satisfied and preventing hunger as well as keeping your blood sugar stable through the day. Make sure you get adequate portions at each meal to feel full and avoid those feelings of “crashing”.

When it comes to vegetables, many people do not come close to getting enough in their daily diet. Learn to experiment with a few new ones each week. Learn different ways to cook them and be willing to explore new options for your health.

Filling your meals with whole foods (  foods as close to being real and not processed as possible) you will be able to meet the majority of your nutritional needs.

The extra stuff.

You need to limit the amount of empty calories you consume. empty calories refer to foods that provide few or no nutrients.  You should limit the number of empty calories you consume to a small amount that fits in with your daily requirements. all of which depend on your age, gender and level of activity.

Foods that contain the most empty calories are :

Cakes, cookies, pastries, doughnuts, soft drinks, fruit drinks, pizza, ice cream, hot dogs, fast foods etc. High sugar foods such as candies, desserts, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are all referred to as empty calorie. ( I know, you’re thinking, that’s all the fun stuff!)

These foods don’t have to be banned, they just shouldn’t be what your daily diet mainly consists of.

Building a healthy and nutritious food plan might take a little work and discipline but with time you will find you can not only eat well, but have some cake too 😉

Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl.
This is a great visual on how to structure your meals.

What’s Your Next

whats your next

 

Happy Monday beautiful people!  Even as I write that I’m aware in the crazy way the universe rolls, it’s actually the end of Monday for some of you on this planet and you are now preparing for Tuesday.

This can be a bit much for my brain to process so I’ll just leave it here and say I hope you’ve had an awesome day no matter what it technically is.

For me though, it’s Monday. Monday morning.

And for the record I’m not “anti-Monday”. I’m glad I’m blessed to still be here, to experience another day of life.

Perspective people, perspective.

My last few Mondays, and today, and the next several will be heavy training days for me. I kick start my week by doing the entire duathlon course start to finish. It does seem rather daunting when I’m slowly coming to life waiting for the coffee to brew wondering if I’m gonnna churn out all the energy this task in front of me will require.

Of course that is my non-coffee brain thinking. Once I wake up more and slip into my gear I’m all business and ready for the task at hand.

Weeks remain till race day. I’m already feeling that edginess that comes over me as an event approaches.

It’s not just the race, it’s the awareness that all of it will be… over.

I’m well acquainted with the feelings and emotions of preparing for a big athletic event and the inevitable let down of emotions when it’s done.

There is something that can’t be explained in the preparation and training ultimately culminating in this event I’ve prepared for.

In those miles and hours of training leading up to it, there is a sort of hunger that develops. A hunger that really is disguised as passion.  To see myself improve, make better times, take things on a bit more effortlessly as my body adapts to the rigors of what it’s being put through.

Honestly, it’s a bit addicting.

All the while in my mind though is the question… “what’s next?”

That question can taunt and challenge. It can intimidate and have a level of fear. It can also be the thing that makes me examine how much more I can bring to the table.

What’s my next thing

It’s never far from my mind. I’ve been asked if I’m gonna do a marathon again. Ha, I will most likely start with a half to warm up to it.

Yes, I love distance running and I love what it’s taught me and how I’ve grown from my experiences on the road.  In some crazy ways, I’ve missed it.

Obviously, training for the duathlon, my athletic goals have been much more laser focused. My running has been shorter and geared to my event. Not to mention, doing a multi sport race requires my body to perform in different ways so I need to keep my energies centered on that.

But I’m heading back to distance running. Maybe a spring half marathon…we’ll see. I already have fully acknowledged I’m gonna miss those brick training days ( combined running and cycling back to back) I’ve come to enjoy the challenge and hard work of them and I may just keep one built into my training week… because… duathlons. 😉

What’s your next thing

ok this has been leading somewhere. Let’s talk about you.

Do you work and strive for something specific without a thought to where do you go from there?

How do you continue to grow, change and challenge yourself?

Do you see your current endeavor as a learning process to get to a new level?

Yeah I know, not everyone is doing something athletic oriented, but you for sure, have goals or dreams something you’re pressing on towards.

I’ve loved every step of the journey I’ve been on that’s built me as an athlete ( well, most steps haha) I’ve accepted it’s where I am at that moment.

You as well should embrace your journey to your goals.

But for all of us we should never lose sight of the fact we can always do more, be more, achieve more.

Maybe I’m wired a bit more intensely. Maybe the physical challenges I’ve put myself through have only caused me to wonder… what else am I capable of?

You know, that statement applies to you too, right?

What else are you capable of? How big can you dream? What new thing can you take on?

That next step

Don’t get me wrong. That next step once you hit a goal might actually scare you, and that’s ok.

I had 4 half marathons under me without a single thought to running a full one. I mean come on, that’s 26.2 miles! It was when I finished my fifth and walked off the course with my best time ever that the idea floated into my mind…

“It’s time to consider a full marathon”

I shoved it out of my head and dismissed the idea as a lack of carbs to my brain for the crazy thought.  Really. There’s no way I’d do a full marathon.

That was in the spring, and by end of year, I had my first one under me.

I had only a fleeting thought after I committed of wondering “if” I could do it. I stomped it out and never let myself think I couldn’t.

A few pointers

Nothing in our lives accidently happens. If you want to do something, you’ve got to be intentional.

~ Set your new goal.  I’m still so old fashioned and love writing stuff out where I can see it. Use a calendar to make reminders or things you need to do daily or weekly.

~ See yourself doing it.  Don’t allow any idea to creep in that makes you doubt yourself. Your mind is a powerful playing field!

~ Engage with like minded people who can encourage you on your journey.

~ Be the best student you can of what you are pursuing… always be learning!

~Don’t be afraid of new challenges. These bring us more growth.

Getting to the next step might be big and scary and we might wonder if we have what it takes.

You do. We all do.

Enjoy your journey, embrace where you are, but never stop asking “what’s next”.