The Struggle

challenges

The young woman talked easily with  me sharing  her struggles with weight loss and food  describing her various up’s and down’s with weight loss over the years.

At one point she said…. “Oh, but I’m sure you don’t  understand that” as she does  an overall gesture that covers me from head to toe, indicating that based on how I look now I certainly couldn’t understand her struggles, or that I had walked in her shoes.

Maybe not to the entire degree she had, but the physique I have today, I wasn’t born with nor have I had it most of my life.

I’ve had to earn it, and it’s only come about in the past few years working at it. Which is pretty much exactly what I told her. She hadn’t known me very long when our paths crossed so it was perhaps easy for her to draw conclusions that I’ve always been some kind of fitness queen.

How did I explain the struggles I had been through in the past, yet, had overcome? Like, the need to go through a drive thru for a “snack” because I was “starving”? ( please note: you won’t really starve before you get home to get something better than a drive thru snack) I’ve since learned to keep a few decent snacks stashed away, for emergency purposes 😉 how I’ve trained myself to eat slowly and savor my food, and understand that it doesn’t take a lot to feed your hunger? That I made a dedicated, focused choice in the beginning to exercise? That some days I flat out didn’t want to do it, but now, couldn’t imagine NOT doing it? To treat food with respect and know that it will still be around tomorrow and I don’t have to eat it all tonight? Coming to an understanding that eating good, healthy, nutrient dense food wasn’t a punishment, but life giving, energy inducing, age defying goodness ?

I shared parts of my story with her and let her know that I did indeed, understand struggles. In fact, I’m pretty sure there isn’t a person around that doesn’t struggle at some point.

We struggle with eating to much, not eating enough, not enough of the good foods, or  to much junk, getting our bodies out the door to exercise, whatever it is, there can be struggles.

I’m no different.

I thought about that today as I was grocery shopping. There are SOOOO many tempting treats… so many impulse items we can buy. I mentally slapped myself and kept going several times.

You know how I don’t eat certain things ? I simply don’t bring them home…which…well… kinda sucks sometimes when I’m trolling really wanting something and it’s not there haha it’s a cruel paradox.

Not that I don’t have treats… ’cause I do… I’ve just learned that to be successful means saying no to impulsive moments more frequently than giving in to them.

If I want something, really want something, I do get it. Some things I try to not bring home ’cause I know it’s my “trigger”.

For instance, I adore Salt and Pepper kettle potato chips…. adore them. One day I was shopping with hubby and  drooling as I walked by them and he said.. “well, just grab them”

He doesn’t understand… they are like… crack to me…or I’m pretty sure they have crack in them… either way… no matter what… I know once that bag is opened … it’s all over.

My plan is to have just a few… but somehow… I nibble that bag away till they are gone the next day.

I know my weaknesses. I’ve learned tricks to deal with some of those weaknesses. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes, not so much so.

As I shared with the young woman, I haven’t gotten where I am without my fair share of struggles.

What’s kept me successful is not giving up, giving in, or quitting. Not saying I had a “bad” day and I’m a failure and it’s not working so I should just quit.

I guess, at some point, stubbornness isn’t a bad thing.  It can lead to success….

I want to remind you that struggles along the way to getting fit and healthy are normal. But I also think we are refined in the process.

struggle  to success

We learn to make better choices, think things through more, decide what really matters to us.

I’ve learned to think so critically about many things I put in my mouth, but again, it’s been a learned process that has been born through struggles.

I know it’s almost cliché to use that “anything worth having is worth working for” but it’s true.

Every time you make a better choice, pass on something you know you really don’t need, say yes to healthier foods, get out and move , whatever it is, will make you stronger and help you take the next step to your goals.

 

the-struggle-is-part-of-the-story-Whitney-English

I want to encourage you, no matter where you are on your journey, the struggle my friend, is a part of the victory of success.

Don’t give up.

The Delicious Habit Of Exercise

Hello World !

Wow.. I can say that and mean it literally =)  Ok so I figured I’ve been posting this week on habits and how important they are to our success in living a healthy lifestyle, I figured I’d end the week talking about another important habit we need to build in our lives.

Exercise.

OK stop… I hear your collective sighs and groans and gnashing of teeth.

You hate to exercise. It’s hard. You sweat. Your heart beats fast and your muscles protest. Your thighs rub together in an uncomfortable way. You have sweat trickling down in areas you don’t think it belongs. You think you’re dying.

Good. You’re doing it right.

I’d have to say when I talk with people, alongside wrestling with food choices, exercise is a hard thing for people to develop a habit for.

Why? ‘Cause it’s hard and almost everyone will find something else to do besides that.

I think personally, the most important thing you can do to guarantee you stay with it is find THE thing that you love to do… then become an expert on it.  If you are passionate about what you do, you will stay with it.

I usually hear… ” I can’t run” or ” I hate running” because people know it’s what I do and what I’m passionate about. I remind them it’s fine to run… if they want to… if they don’t.. then please… don’t.

I also think it’s great to have a couple things you enjoy that keeps you from getting bored and allows you to change things up.

Being injured these past few months has kept me from running much, therefore, I’ve spent lots of time on my bike. I have loved it and it’s given me an outlet for not being able to run. I have days I’m inside and do strength training. I love having choices and enjoy them all.

Each one of these activities have developed because 1) I enjoy them 2) I’ve repeatedly practiced them.

Exercise isn’t just a weight loss tool and shouldn’t be viewed as just such. Yes, when we eat right with exercise, the natural outcome is weight loss.

But our bodies need movement for overall health and wellness. Exercise offers mental clarity and can reduce blood pressure and improve other health issues.  Not only that it can produce overall feelings of well being.

Why wouldn’t you wanna make that a life habit ??

Like anything, it requires persistence, and a certain amount of stubbornness to make it happen on a daily basis.

In my opinion, habits are built on a determination to change something in our life… good or bad.

The common “reason” I hear for people not exercising is … time. Listen, if you have time to do anything in your day, you have time for exercise too.

I know that mornings are my best time to get it done for a variety of reasons. First, nothing feels better and more energizing than having a workout done and tackling my day. I also know mornings will be my most successful time to make it happen for sure. If I say ” Oh, I’ll do it after dinner” I know there’s a huge probability it might not happen. There’s to much going on. People are awake and want things from me. I don’t feel as perky. The list can go on….

I do have a HUGE amount of control on when I get up in the morning to making that happen.

When my husband was unexpectedly hospitalized several years ago, I’d get up at 5:30, head out to do some strength training, finish up by the time the kids were waking up for school, get cleaned up, put them on the bus, and head to hospital.

I needed that time for myself. It helped keep me sane in difficult days.

Exercise at that point was a need and a habit for me. It’s more so now.

I’ve gotten up at 5:30 midweek to knock out a 10 mile run before the critters had to get out for school. Yes, I had to make adjustments and schedule it, but hey, I do that with anything else in my life too.

I read an interesting comment in a running article I was reading. Although it was talking about running I immediately identified it as applicable to exercise in general.

“It takes about three weeks of running at least three days per week to get to the point where missing a workout triggers a sense of withdrawal, which increases desire to be more consistent. ” (emphasis mine)

I get that. I get twitchy if I miss a day, and it’s worse with two. But sometimes, life happens.  I don’t mind feeling that sense of withdrawal because it keeps me hungry for doing it. But what those three days in article means is, they are making it a habit they can’t do without, conditioning themselves to making it feel normal.

So how do you begin to build this in your life ?

Identify what  your best time of day is to get it done. Morning? Evening? Early afternoon before kids descend on you again ? Figure it out.

 Now….put it on your planner. I literally make appts around my workout schedule. Make it fit in your day.

Mark a starting day ( soon!) that you know you will get it going.

Perhaps you go buy some new shoes for your activity with the plans to start the following week ? Some new clothes ( I always look forward to the next run when I get new gear 😉

Start small and keep it maintainable. As you keep those commitments look at how you can challenge yourself and increase what you’re doing.

Allow yourself no excuses (other than valid ones like injury or a day that goes wildly out of your control)

Reward yourself in non-food ways.

With a little planning, a positive attitude, and a determination to make exercise a part of your life, it will become your new favorite habit =)

 

 

 

The Habit Of Eating

In yesterdays blog I talked about will power vs. habits and their role in weight loss and building a healthy lifestyle pattern.

One habit we all have in common and I’d dare say we all enjoy, is eating.

Food is good. Food is also the source of fuel for our bodies to perform daily tasks and live life. Food is meant to be enjoyed and savored!

There are lots of things to eat, and hopefully, you are making choices to eat healthy and nutritious foods the majority of the time.

In the ways of developing habits I’m sure most of us have habits of eating at scheduled times during the day to keep our energy level up.

We have an amazing God given built in system that tells us when we need food.

Ever get that grumbly, growly, tummy ? That’s the signal you need to eat. Once we’ve eaten enough to be (comfortably) satisfied we stop…or we should.

Unfortunately, many can go to either extremes with this. Either the hunger signals are constantly and frequently ignored which can lead to possible eating disorders, or one can eat often and frequently enough to not even remember what natural hunger signals feel like.

I know when I do long runs, my appetite can sometimes hit the roof and I feel like I can’t get it in fast enough. It feels good when it hits bottom!

Why? Because I’m genuinely, truly, hungry. I always joke food tastes so amazing when you are really hungry.

What I want to ask is this… do you eat when you are really truly, hungry? Or do you eat as a habit ? Because it’s a scheduled meal time?

We do need to schedule and eat adequate meals, but we also need to learn when enough is enough to take care of our hunger but not send us into that “I ate to much” feeling.  Balance is what we’re seeking, balance in meeting our needs, but not over doing it.

Get this… you don’t have to eat if you aren’t hungry. Or if it’s a scheduled meal time and you aren’t hungry.

However, if you get balanced, adequate meals in your day you should be experiencing those natural signals before your next meal. Allow yourself to understand, feel, and act on those signals.

Developing a habit to eat, when hungry, and stop when your hunger is comfortably satisfied is a big step towards losing weight and moving into healthy lifestyle patterns.

Is this easy for you to do ? Or will you need some practice to make it a habit ?

Will Power Or Habit ?

Why hello December! November certainly was a whirlwind, wasn’t it ? Here in the States we just wrapped up Thanksgiving last week… which is always an amazing overload to the senses.

A day full of delicious food and tasty treats… how can you go wrong with that ??

Thanksgiving is like this seque into Christmas with it’s plethora of delights.

Candy. Cookies. Rich meals. Cakes and treats.

I grew up with a grandmother and mom who were baking queens during the Christmas season.  I will share more on that in another post, but it’s safe to say, I learned all my tricks from them. What a wonderful heritage to be given.

I love baking and I love giving it away. The week of Thanksgiving I took a variety of treats to my local Starbucks ( ’cause I love all my little baristas there 😉 and I want them to know I appreciate them. One of the comments I got was…

“How do you stay in the shape you’re in, and bake like that??”

My response, ” I bake, but I don’t eat much of it” 😉

Then comes something I’ve gotten used to hearing from people.

” I just don’t have that kind of will power”

Ah yes, the illusive “will power”.  It’s defined as control of ones impulses and actions, self-control.

Often when I’m talking with people that subject comes up. They are struggling, wanting to lose weight and move into a positive lifestyle change yet feel their willpower is lacking.

Can I say at best, it can fail us ? Oh we will be “good”. We will decline treats and special foods and maybe for awhile feel successful. We will drastically alter all of our eating and feel like we are finally getting somewhere.  After attempting to keep rein on our willpower we can even begin to feel angry with it.

“Why can’t we have that treat?”

“Why can’t we enjoy the things we really love?”

And then… one day..  we snap.

Everything that’s been off limits, is now far game. If it can run, it better get outta the way. You’ve held on to your willpower for as long as you can and now it’s anything goes. You deserve to enjoy things too, right ?

And then… you’re back at square one. You might have feelings of failure, discouragement and frustration that once again, you just don’t have the willpower to control things and you’ll never get your goals.

May I offer an alternate suggestion ? One that you slowly, simply, build into your life?

Habits. You begin to build new habits, day in and day out until it’s seamlessly a part of your life and willpower doesn’t really have to do with what you eat. You begin to develop comfortable boundaries with what you eat and when.

I shared on my Facebook page this past Monday that I was ready to get back to “normal” and by that I meant I was ready for some serious exercise and lighter eating. You see, I was able to enjoy my Thanksgiving celebrations, but I’ve built habits into my life that I naturally want to return to.

For me, getting back on the road for a run and having a big colorful salad for lunch was normal for me. Over the past few years I’ve made exercise and eating well, in moderation, habits for myself. Once these things are ingrained in you, it’s not hard to return to them.

When I talk with people I try and stress the importance of building new habits to make the journey to a lifestyle change. I believe it’s ultimately, the only thing that will stick.

Understand this: habits aren’t built over night. They are built from a purposeful and intentional desire to do things differently. So many things we do in our lives are habit, good and bad.

Know you will bomb some days. You’ll feel frustrated and wonder if it will ever stick. It will. Get up and start at it again.

When I first started out walking I was so worried if I missed a single day I’d fall off the proverbial wagon. If I didn’t get my walk in the morning due to scheduling, when I got home, the first thing I did was grab my shoes and hit the road. ( this was before days where I was all super athletically haha) I wore what I had on, changed my shoes, and got it done.

You know what that was doing ? Building a habit in me that said “purposeful, daily exercise is important and necessary. You make time for it. ”

Food. In slow, daily, and steady changes I taught my body to appreciate eating healthy food. I also allowed it Peanut M&M’s if it wanted  a few. When you KNOW you can have something, it really removes the power from it, because you know it’s there… if you really need it. In time, certain foods and treats honestly began to have less of a draw. I recognized how good I felt eating well, eating appropriate amounts and feeding my body in a healthy way.

Again, I had days I bombed, and days I felt like super woman. No matter what, I kept a forward moving mentality. Each day gained, got me that much closer to making those things permanent habits for me.

Not my amazing willpower. Not my superior strength of being able to say “no”.

New habits that were leading to a lifestyle change.

I’ve heard it can take 21 days for a new habit to be set in place. Depending on what it is, some things might take more or less time based on our personalities.

My suggestions if you want to build new positive, life changing habits?
Don’t try and change everything all at once. Pick one or maybe two things.

Slow and steady is best.

Do have a journal to write down your progress in the beginning to hold yourself accountable. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to ask you how you’re doing.

Focus on the day your in. Move through it making good choices. Allow yourself a measure of grace if you fall, but get up and get back at it.

No throwing in the towel!

Do not allow yourself to make excuses to not do what you’ve set out to do. You are more than capable of success.

Make a realistic goal sheet of habits you want to form.

Understand you have to practice your new habit daily to make it a um…. habit 😉

Seeking to build habits instead of having “willpower” will lead you to a new freedom and your healthier lifestyle.

What good habits do you have in place already? What habits do you need to work on and build to live a healthier lifestyle ?

 

 

Holiday Survival Tips

If there’s one thing I want to help people with on their health journey ( well I have more than one thing )  it’s navigating through these next couple months of amazing food and deliciousness that will be tempting us.  It’s my plan to continue to offer you sane and sensible advice in these upcoming weeks.

I think people under estimate their abilities to keep pushing on to their goals even in the midst of festivities. It’s entirely possible to do. You don’t have to jump on the “diet band wagon” in January. I’ll tell you, nothing, nothing at all has felt more freeing to me the past few years than not thinking I have to “get on a diet”. When you live a lifestyle, it’s an ongoing thing, all the time.

This afternoon I flipped the TV on in time to see the Dr Oz show coming on ( which I’ve never seen) I was going to move on but they were talking about surviving the holidays and strategies to not gain weight.

Well… ok…they had my attention and I wanted to see what suggestions might be offered up.

A lot of it was similar stuff I already preach to you, my 1.5 readers. And again, good point brought up, people don’t gain weight just from Thanksgiving/ the day after or Christmas Eve/Christmas. Really, you won’t pack on pounds from some extra sweet potato casserole or the pie.

No… it’s all those days in between that people feel entitled to eat because it’s the “holiday season”. It’s all those not so important days of excess that over those couple months lead to weight gain.

They offered up a suggestion of having a “high calorie” day where you allowed yourself treats, followed by a “low calorie” day where you ate normally with a focus on eating well. Personally, I don’t think even every other day should be a feeding frenzy, but hey, that’s just me.

I thought it was an interesting idea… but when he said “keep your high calorie days around 2,000 calories and your low calorie days no more than 1200” I kinda balked at that… I mean… 1200 calories… you are gonna be more than ready to go off the wagon on your high calorie day ’cause you’re gonna be starving.

My thoughts? Just be sensible. Remember every day doesn’t need to be filled with cookies, treats, drinks etc.
Learn to be super selective in what goes in your mouth. Eat only what you truly love.
Continue to eat good, healthy foods.
Eat small amounts of things you love and don’t stuff yourself…. the food won’t be taken away from you if you don’t get it all at once…

Make exercise a priority… it does more than manage weight or help with weight loss. It will clear your head, reduce stress, and help you keep your focus on what matters. Not only that, you will feel like a Superhero when you’re done 😉

Being smart and careful will see you through the season without needing to increase your pant size in January =)

To Count Or Not Count Calories

In the ways of health and fitness stuff there are some common questions that I get frequently.

One being… “Do you count calories?”

Short answer. No. I find it to be a total drag.

Nowwww… if you’re a happy calorie counter don’t get upset here 😉 it does and can have it’s place in helping you understand your calorie intake. It just doesn’t need to be a life long thing you must do. With all the apps out there today keeping track of your intake has never been easier. (just make sure you’re brutally honest about exact amounts of everything you eat) AND understand exactly how many calories you need to lose weight and sustain your activities.

When I started my health and fitness journey ( 8 years next month!) one of the things I set out for myself was to not have to follow a certain set of restrictive rules.

By that I honestly mean, I got rebellious with those rules every time I decided to knock a few pounds off. I didn’t like being boxed into what worked for someone else.
I didn’t want to be told what to do when or what I “had” to eat.

Consequently, I dropped it like a bad habit after a couple weeks of dieting/calorie counting/ eat this meal thing.

You know what worked and what I developed over time ?

I built new habits.

Slowly, steadily, one day at a time plodding along. If I had a day that bombed ( and trust me, I did) I didn’t throw in the towel, I just kept on going.

My new habits meant listening to my body’s God given signals for hunger and being satisfied. When you sit down and are truly hungry food tastes amazing in a different kinda way. I ate enough to satisfy my hunger and stopped.

I learned if I wasn’t hungry at the next meal I wasn’t obligated to eat just ’cause the chow bell dinged.

I didn’t restrict foods or label any as “bad” or eat only salad and rice cakes.

Moderation became my motto. I ate what I wanted but listened to my body’s signals.

I didn’t need to clean my plate…. when I was comfortable I stopped… not when I felt stuffed or heavy feeling… gosh I hate how that feels and rarely let myself go there now days.
Unfortunately, most of the world loves to continue to feed their mouth long after the tummy is satisfied. The outcome? excess pounds.

So in building some new habits of eating when I was truly hungry, and stopping when I was satisfied, and training myself to eat natural and healthy foods the majority of the time I lost weight but wasn’t dependent on calorie counting. I was listening to my body and it’s specific needs.

You can do the same thing. It takes daily discipline and a tenacious, stubborn spirit to not give up, but I tell you it’s complete freedom when you nail down these new habits. Complete freedom.

After almost 8 years… I think it’s working 🙂

Tell me… do you count calories? Do you find it helpful? Or feel it’s something you must do? And if so, do you ever feel enslaved to having to do it ? Or do you know your needs and listen to your body and go by that as your guide?

Eating Mindfully

Food.

It’s everywhere in our lives, isn’t it? Food is essential for life and health, but it’s also used for purposes other than nutrition.

food as a drug

Perhaps you’ve seen this quote floating around the internet. Food is used for everything from celebrating, comforting, helping our emotions, and perhaps even feeding deeper things in us that we are unaware of, like coping with life.

There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t at some point, eaten, without the need of hunger. There isn’t anything necessarily “wrong” with it… I mean come on… when we have room for chocolate cake after a meal… we aren’t hungry, are we? And I usually won’t turn it down… 😉

For any of us on a health and wellness journey, eating mindfully is crucial to long term success.

What does eating mindfully mean?

Let’s look at it like this… have you ever been in the kitchen and found yourself mindlessly shoving something in your mouth ? Are really thinking about it? You might have seen it and thought… “oh this…”  you might not even really taste it in the full sense of tasting. You’re checked out thinking about the laundry, or tomorrows to-do list.

You can put yourself in whatever scenario…there are times we are shoveling food in our faces without a purpose and well, quite mindlessly.

Or, we could feel stressed and emotionally strung out. A hard day. Kids making us nuts. Aging parents. Job that takes a toll on you.

We find comfort in our favorite food.

Trust me… I get it.

I think one of THE biggest things that clicked to me a few years ago was recognizing I often would reach for food, and not good stuff, and realize I was emotionally eating. I also understood I had seen it modeled in front of me my entire life in my family. To identify (emotional eating) helped keep me aware of that weak area in me.

I remember one evening, after a rough day with one of the kids, my husband walked in the kitchen where I happened to be shoveling BBQ chips in my mouth.

I told him… “I want you to know, I’m fully aware that I’m emotionally eating right now!” Now that is kinda funny… but for me… saying it out loud and seeing it…gave me some power. ( I didn’t eat the bag… I really had a couple handfuls and put them away… I started thinking of what I was doing)

As I’ve moved along, I have become more aware of eating mindfully. I think for a lot of people, that is a key element missing in their quest to lose weight and get fit.

What does that mean? or look like?

Think about what you’re eating.

Are you hungry? Do you need it ?

If you are (hungry) learn to eat slowly and savor what you are eating. The slower you eat the more satisfied you’ll feel.

Think about your meals… what do you need? Plan tasty and healthy options that you enjoy.

Be aware of how much you eat. The majority of people greatly over estimate portion sizes often eating two-three servings. These extra calories in a day all add up to weight gain.

Think about your snacks. Be mindful of how they support your goals of losing weight and getting healthy.

One example for me is, walking into a gas station. I went in to grab a bottle of water the other day and looking around I thought “there is almost nothing in here I should eat”.

I’ve become “mindful” of my eating habits. It’s a good change to make. I’ve learned to look at foods and mindfully determine if it’s what I need.

I’m mindful when I make food selections and portions.

Gaining control in our lives with food will require intentional thinking and readjusting of habits ( in the beginning) in time though, being mindful of how you eat, why, and what, will all be new healthy habits for you =)

Water 101

Summer has totally arrived here in south Texas… but then it’s July and we’re probably due for some weather that feels like summer.

Hotter weather definitely means making sure you stay well hydrated. Whether or not you are physically active getting in adequate amounts of water in your day is essential for your overall well being and health.

I often hear from people “I’m not a water drinker”.  Actually, we all are, but we’ve conditioned ourselves to other beverages that are (unfortunately) often sweetened.

Water is not only essential for life, but it also has many other benefits to it.

Consider this, water is the second most consumed beverage, after soft drinks. This is a disturbing stat considering soda is a huge health hazard upping the risk of obesity, stroke, and other health problems.

Roughly 60% of your body is made of water. Drinking adequate amounts helps transport nutrients, helps digestion, regulates body temp and more.

Drinking water can help with weight loss, it helps you to feel full making you eat less ( don’t use this as a substitute to NOT eat)

Water is also muscle fuel. Sweating out at the gym or in your workout cause muscles to lose water.  When muscles don’t have enough water they get tired. Adequate water ensures smooth muscle function. Staying well hydrated helps you in those final miles running or the last set you are doing in the gym.

Drinking water also helps you have clearer skin, it flushes toxins from the body, helping reduce pimples and break outs.

It helps with kidney function. Our kidneys process 200 quarts of blood daily sifting our waste and transporting urine to our bladder.  Kidneys need enough to clear away what we don’t need in our body. Yet another reason to drink up!

Water can also help boost our productivity boosting our concentration.

Feeling tired ? Dehydration is often the reason beyond that dragging feeling.

It can help with pain prevention…. aching joints and muscle cramps can occur if you’re dehydrated.

It helps with digestion and can prevent constipation.

Water may help with decongestion and dehydration helping it to bounce back when under the weather ( ok I personally swear by this… when I start feeling a little off… I up my water intake)

Of course, if you workout, it’s crucial you stay on top of your water intake and make sure you’re adequately hydrated before your workouts and replenish appropriately afterwards. A good rule of thumb is to weigh in (naked) before a hard workout, then after. For each pound lost, replenish with 16oz.water.

There is some debate on exactly how much water you need each day. Studies suggest adults need 9-16 cups per day.

Other things do contribute to your water intake (note … these don’t take the place of water…but do supplement) coffee, tea and water-rich fruits and veggies.

How to get more water in….

Start when you wake up in the morning. I always need a big glass after I hit the floor.

Try drinking a good size glass 30 minutes before a meal.

Make it a habit to take water everywhere with you. I never leave without my big water glass loaded with water and ice… I will even go back and get it if I forget it. I drink on it constantly while I’m out.

If it’s “bland” to you in the beginning ( a common complaint… in time… you won’t need anything) try adding lemon or lime to it.

Our bodies really do have a natural thirst. It’s often been suppressed. Consistent drinking of water will cause this natural thirst to return.

Water has so many health benefits, it’s a zero calorie drink, and perfectly replenishes what your body needs.  Get started and in time, you’ll be drinking it all the time =)

Some Truths About Diabetes

So I’ve been seeing a lot in the news lately on diabetes and the (sometimes) confusion over what Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes is. Since I’m about promoting health, wellness, and being fit I think it’s really important for people to understand and be educated on the types, how they develop and more importantly, are you at risk ?

Understanding it can be crucial to your overall health or someone you love.

Type 1 (formerly called juvenile onset) accounts for 5-10 people out of 100 who have diabetes.  Symptoms usually start in childhood or young adulthood. Medical care is often sought when individuals become seriously ill from sudden symptoms of high blood sugar. Episodes of low blood sugar are often common.

It cannot be prevented.

Type 2 (formerly called adult onset  or non-insulin dependent diabetes) can develop at any age.  It commonly becomes apparent in adulthood although there is a rise in children. Type 2 accounts for the vast majority of diabetes. 90-95 out of 100 people will have it. The person may not have symptoms before diagnosis.  There are no episodes of low blood sugar unless the person is taking insulin or diabetes medicine.

It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly and regular exercise.

Both types of diabetes greatly increase a persons risk for a range of serious complications.  Although managing and monitoring the disease can prevent complications it still remains the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It also is a critical risk factor for heart disease, stroke and amputations.

The biggest difference in the two ? One is not preventable.

The other? the individual has much control over as it is lifestyle driven… meaning the choices you make can determine whether or not you will develop it.

Being overweight, not exercising,  & eating poorly all contribute to the development of Type 2.

Ok… I am rather passionate about this particular disease… that people know and understand the serious import of it. My mother nearly died in 2001 with undiagnosed diabetes and had a blood sugar level of 960 when admitted at hospital.  Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a miracle she survived. However, great damage had already been done from years of neglect to her body.

Kidney disease, eye problems, wounds not healing, and ultimately, amputations of parts of her foot before she passed away last year were all things she dealt with. She had also undergone two kidney transplants that had not worked out and was on dialysis for the last few years of her life.

It is a silent, horrible and destructive disease. Living in denial does not stop the damage that occurs. Just because you might feel “ok” doesn’t mean that the disease isn’t damaging your organs and body in critical ways.

If you have diabetes it is so very important to check and manage your blood sugar levels.

I was recently talking to someone who acknowledged that they had  pre-diabetes and then laughingly said… “Oh, but I don’t really do what I’m supposed to or what my doctor says”

It took everything in me …. everything…. to not reach out… grab her by the shoulders… and shake her…. and grit out… “Do you know what you’re saying? Do you know what you’re doing to your body? Why aren’t you taking care of yourself ???”

No… I simply smiled and told her she really needed to take care of herself…  but silently struggled with wondering why someone would be so flippant with such a destructive disease.

Why? because like so many others she didn’t “see” anything going on and assumed it couldn’t be so bad.

Keep in mind there are a variety of risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes

  • Over weight or obese
  • Immediate family members with diabetes
  • African-American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander
  • High blood pressure 140/90 or above
  • HDL (good cholesterol) level below 35 mg/dl or a triglyceride  level above 250 mg/dl
  • Cardiovascular disease

Keep in mind that those stats…. 4 of those 6 risk factors are heavily influenced by lifestyle. Meaning you have a large level of control over not getting this disease if you take steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

We must be proactive in our own healthcare. To stay on a path of health and (hopefully) avoid this disease consider taking these steps.

  • Consult doctor and understand where your blood sugar level is. Know what your numbers are! Understand what normal is and see where yours line up.
  • If required get a home testing kit to check your blood sugar through the day.
  • If you are overweight, get started to drop a few pounds. A 10-15 lb loss can greatly change your numbers.
  • Get regular and frequent exercise 5 days a week.
  • Stop eating fast foods, sugars, processed or refined foods and stick to healthy nutritionally dense foods This will also help your cholesterol levels.

Taking small steps and using preventive care will go a long way to keeping you healthy for you and your family =)

I Don’t Need Your Weight Loss Product To Be Fit

So yesterday presented one of those golden opportunities to spring board an idea for todays post. Just when I worry I might be running out of creative, challenging, inspiring, clever or inventive ideas, life just delivers it into my lap.

How splendid 😉

So I made a stop for some iced coffee at my favorite coffee place and was hanging out on the patio enjoying the breezy warm afternoon when from behind me someone grabbed my chair and acted like they were going to dump me from my comfy perch…

turns out to be one of the guys who is typically in during  the morning… one of the “regulars” I’ve gotten to know some. There is a lively group who encourages my running, wants to know what I’m currently doing, provides weather reports for my running days, ask when my next races are and wants to see my medals after I finish one.

I call them my cheerleading section and my fan club… it’s kinda nice 😉

Anyway, we just start chatting about random stuff and he moves into asking me about a particular “health” product and if I’ve heard of it or used it before ?

I tell him no I just try and eat good food, drink water, and stay away from most junk/random food. It’s been working…

Then he says… “well, what do you use for detox?”

I blankly looked at him for a moment and then said… “I have a liver that does it for me”

Haha…. the look on his face…. I’m not sure if he thought I was messing with him… but I mean seriously… it’s not hanging out in your belly for nothing.

When I mentioned I really enjoyed having a lot of veggies and fruits in my daily food intake I got the “yes, but there aren’t any nutrients left in foods anymore” mantra…( oh I’m weary of that one)

Ok… I like this guy. He’s always really nice and everything.. it’s just… he’s delivering the lines that companies have coached people into believing or saying to sell their product. They sell a product, using lines they’ve been given and not always understanding what they are actually delivering.

I told him I’d take my chances with “nutrient deprived veggies from our poor depleted soil”  that it seemed to be doing ok for me so far… I mean… as if this “product” was better than eating fresh veggies and fruits ? Really ? a man made product is better than fresh, nutrient dense foods ??

That perplexed me.

He then brought up having energy and getting moving in the morning. I told him I don’t really suffer from lack of energy (usually) and I found eating well, combined with exercise really seemed to be a good combo for abundant energy…. ( oh, and coffee, always coffee 😉

He then mentioned he knew people who had some success with it. I told him my issues with all these “health” products is that people want to believe it will deliver the “miracle” cure they are looking for and bring this item on board while never changing or making improvements in their overall nutrition plan, often continuing in their poor habits… not making or building new ones to replace the negative.  The only thing this product might do is make them lighter in their bank account.

A lot lighter based on many items I’ve seen.

Ah… I deal with this frequently. When people know I’m living a healthy lifestyle and that I workout and am fit, they want me to use their product to “improve” or “get better” or to have more of “something”.

Weird kinda thing here…. I got where I am, I look how I look, I do what I do, all on my own, somehow without all these amazing products to get me healthier, more energetic, fit, cleansed, etc.

My labs at doctors are great. My weight is in my perfect zone. My body fat is very low. I have lots of energy. I sleep well and am more fit and athletic than I’ve ever been in my life. All accomplished without some miracle product to get me to this point.

The biggest thing to success in weight loss and getting fit ? Is finding what works for you… the thing that is sustainable and easy enough for you to maintain and work at day in and day out without giving up.

Something that doesn’t have a shelf life of 6-8 weeks before it’s back to the old way of life. And ideally, something that doesn’t do a monthly draw off your bank account either is a good thing.

I would caution anyone…. think before you jump onto the bandwagon of a product making promises to make you healthier, more energetic, or fix your medical problems. (For goodness sake, if you have medical issues, consult your doctor, not your neighbor selling something!)

Nothing will work long term for you like learning to manage your own nutrition and developing an active healthy lifestyle. Changes must be made, new habits must be formed.

Have you ever tried a product hoping it would be your “magic pill” for success?  What was the outcome ?