Aging Or Decaying?

Random. Spontaneous. Adventurous. Fun.

Some of those adjectives describe me at any given time…. especially when it comes to doing fun, off the cuff pics. I recently had posted and shared this playful one after the AARP magazine had come in the afternoon mail.

 

Aging Or Decaying
No. This isn’t my usual reading material.

AARP for my readers outside of the U.S. means American Association of Retired Persons.

I know I’m in that happy “ you’re getting all middle-aged and old, get settled down” zone but honestly, I relate on no level whatsoever to it.

I know there are probably one or two people who want me to get the memo about middle age and want me to talk about getting old and achy with my middle aged complaints and put up my Converse and torn jeans but I don’t foresee that happening any ‘ol time soon.

Nah.

I have a wide age range of friends, but totally love my younger crowd. I love their energy, passion, plans for the future,  and their outspoken openness on many things. I find conversations interesting and fun with them and in turn, they actually enjoy me too.

Age is pretty irrelevant to me.

That being said… after I took the pic and set the magazine down an article on the cover grabbed my attention…

“31 Proven Age-Erasing Secrets”

Most of the time I read these articles honestly not expecting to walk away with much. I look for things I find usable or that I can share with my followers.

The article first of all, was immediately engaging and witty. You can always pull me in with that.

Humor is the way to my heart 😛

The article went on to discuss how to remain healthy, strong, fit and active in what they refer to as your “third act”.  Some people refer to it as your “golden years”, you know those years you are supposed to hang it all up, chill out, and watch the world go by.

It goes on to mention that an active healthy lifestyle can prevent many health issues and keep us moving and doing things that we love. ( something I firmly believe)

Then they used an interesting term I’ve never heard, but it really had me thinking for the rest of the day.

It was this….”most of what people call aging, and most of what we dread about getting older, is actually decay. We are stuck with real aging, but decay is optional.”

Yeah, just let that breathe over you for a minute or two.

Decay is optional. Those words hung out in my head the rest of the day. I’ve just never thought of it in such a way.

It’s true if you think about it. We begin aging the minute we are born into this world.

Aging, is a natural part of the life circle.

The article goes on to say that basically, we don’t have to decay, yet many will.

“In the absence of signals to grow, your body, including your brain, decays and you “age”. The keys to “overriding” the decay signals? Daily exercise, good nutrition, emotional commitment, and a real engagement with living.”

The article continues on with all the health benefits of daily, strong, vigorous exercise as the main way to prevent “decay”.

It should be noted that decay is listed as all the illnesses, aches, pains, and overall decline that people associate with, or believe is, a part of “getting old”.

It just doesn’t have to be.

Remember that “use it or lose it” term ? if you don’t actively use your body in time you will lose muscle and muscle strength.  Walking to your bathroom will feel like you ran a marathon. Daily, easy tasks will feel harder. Basic things will take more effort.

The biggest contributors of decay is inactivity, an overall sedentary lifestyle, followed by poor nutrition.

On a personal level, I think there’s a lot to be said for strong, daily exercise and good nutrition. There are payoffs. No, they aren’t instantaneous. Yes, you have to invest time and energy but is it worth it to live a strong, energetic, healthy life?

I absolutely believe so.

So I was left pondering this question… how do I want to live out my life?

Do I want to age? … which is a natural part of life.

Or do I want to decay? …. be sedentary, eat poorly, be overweight, develop diseases associated with  being overweight, live a sedentary lifestyle and have aches and pains from a body that isn’t used?

And I’ll leave this question with you.

Do you want to age, or decay?

Below are 7 rules to stop aging from the authors:

1.Exercise 6 days a week for the rest of your life.

2. Do serious aerobic (cardio peeps, cardio) exercise 4 days a week for the rest of your life.

3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.

4. Spend less than you make.

5. Quit eating crap.

6. Care.

7. Connect and commit.

Pretty straightforward, right? The most important thing is to start. If you get two days in a week, great. Set your goals on three etc until you are working out most of the week. I know aerobic (cardio) hard breathing, sweating exercise a lot of people don’t like but that’s youth building stuff… do it.

Just start somewhere, where you can, and then build on more days as you’re able.

Ok and before I leave you, I did find and read this book. It was sooooo worth the few dollars I spent on it. I won’t spoil it for you, but you can find my review for it here…..https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/05/04/younger-next-year-for-women-book-review/

 

Want more info on this? Check out the “Younger Next Year” series of books by Chris Crowley and Henry S Lodge M.D.

 

Some Of My Favorite Super Foods

avocado

Food.  Let’s talk about food. I know I’ve been talking a lot lately about understanding your relationship with it and  learning how to eat in balance and moderation but let’s talk now about eating and eating some “super foods”.

I hesitate to use that term since it’s kinda over used but seriously, there are some really awesome super foods out there that pack a ridiculous amount of health benefits and not a ton of calories to boot.

I want to share some of my favorites with you =)

Spinach. I love this stuff! It’s sautéed in with other veggies and eggs for a breakfast meal and has become my “lettuce” for salads.  What other benefits does it offer?

Powerful antioxidants in spinach have been found to combat a variety of cancers, including ovarian, breast, and colon cancers. And it’s good for the noggin: Research indicates that spinach reduces the decline in brain function associated with aging and protects the heart from cardiovascular disease. Although it contains relatively high amounts of iron and calcium, oxalate compounds bind to these minerals and diminish their absorption.

Get creative in how you use it and indulge all you want as it packs minimal calories and tons of nutrients.

Walnuts. Who can resist a handful of nuts? Especially when they offer up the goodness that walnuts do.

One-quarter cup of walnuts supplies 90 percent of the daily recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in everything from maintaining cognitive function, to improving cholesterol and blood pressure.

I love some tossed in my morning cottage cheese with fresh fruit. It makes a fast, protein and nutrient packed breakfast I can eat getting ready. They’re also tasty mixed in with oatmeal and a handful of dried fruit =)

Yogurt. It’s no secret I love Greek yogurt but all yogurt packs lots of good benefits. Greek just contains the highest amount of protein.

Yogurt contains probiotics, which are bacteria that live in the intestine, aid in digestion, boost the immune system, diminish bad breath, and are even associated with longer life spans. A 1-cup serving also supplies one-third of your daily calcium requirement, as well as 14 grams of satisfying protein.

Just be cautious about “fruit” varieties as they can pack a whopping amount of sugar.

Sweet Potatoes.  These tasty little critters have shown up a lot more in my house than just for Thanksgiving 😉 My favorite way to have them is to cube them up, toss them with some olive oil, sliced onion and bake till crisp and tender. The cold ones are delicious to add to breakfast the next morning!

Need a beta-carotene fix? Just one medium sweet potato packs over four times the recommended daily amount. These tasty tubers are also rich in potassium, inflammation-fighting vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which may prevent clogged arteries.

Boiling sweet potatoes may cause some of the water-soluble vitamins to leach out, so try them baked, roasted, or cubed, and added to soups or stews. If you need a boost of fiber, make sure to leave the skins on.

Avocados.

Just one half of a medium-size avocado contains more than 4 grams of fiber and 15% of your recommended daily folate intake. Cholesterol-free and rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium, avocados are also a powerhouse for heart health.

Use avocados as the base for a creamy homemade sandwich spread, or add a few chunks to your favorite salsa for a simple and delicious way to dress up grilled chicken or fish.

I use avocado to mix into tuna to replace the mayo =) Add a little lemon juice, salt and pepper… . yummy!

Seriously. I love avocados.  😉

Apples. Who doesn’t love biting into a perfect, sweet, crunchy apple ?

Apples are the richest fruit source of pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, decrease the risk of colon and breast cancers, and maybe even lessen the severity of diabetes.

Try throwing a few slices on your favorite sandwich or toss with field greens, toasted pecans, and a light vinaigrette for a delicious salad. With so many varieties available, you’ll never get bored finding new ways to incorporate them into your daily diet.

Blackberries. In my area have been so plentiful and inexpensive most of last year I’ve almost always had them in my ‘fridge. I love them in salads, alone, or tossed in my morning cottage cheese. Get creative with how you use them.

Blackberries, which contain only 62 calories and less than 1 gram of fat per cup, are excellent sources of a few key nutrients. As a result, they help keep your tissues healthy and combat chronic disease.

The fiber in blackberries helps aid digestion and may help lower your cholesterol levels, which fights cardiovascular disease. One cup of blackberries provides almost 8 grams of fiber, which is 21 to 32 percent of the daily fiber recommendations for men and and women, respectively. The vitamin A in blackberries also supports your digestive tract by helping maintain healthy mucous membranes, such as the tissues that line the inside of your mouth. Each cup of raw blackberries provide 308 IU of vitamin A. This is 13 percent of the daily vitamin A intake for women and 10 percent for men.

Blackberries owe their rich purple hue to their anthocyanin content, and these anthocyanins also offer cancer-fighting benefits. They act as antioxidants — chemicals that fight genetic mutations and cancer-causing tissue damage — and may have the ability to slow cancer cell growth, according to research.

I’d say there’s lots of reasons to grab some, wouldn’t you ?

And one more favorite pick….

Oranges.

Just one medium orange (think tennis ball) supplies all your daily vitamin C, which is a dynamite immunity booster and cancer fighter. And consuming vitamin C is best done in its natural form: Italian researchers also found that test subjects had greater antioxidant protection after drinking orange juice versus vitamin C–fortified water. Plus, this sweet and tangy fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium, calcium, folate, and other B vitamins.

Now there are lots of awesome foods out there to feed your body… this is just a tiny sampling. Explore on your own and find something new you haven’t tried to add to your own super food list =)

Tell me… do you have a favorite super food ?

 

Don’t Wait For Next Year To Change

January

“Well, I’m just gonna get started in January, you know, once the holidays are over.”

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it, yeah, a lot.

The New Years Resolution.

The New Years promise to finally “get in shape”, to “lose weight”, and to “get healthier”.

What it might amount to is a fairly guiltless free for all of eating for weeks like a man condemned to the gallows never to see good food again.

Then with a rigid determination come the official first of the year and a stoic do or die approach, you set out to finally lose weight.

All the good foods are gone ( you might have helped eat them to “get them out of the house”) you’ve stocked up on celery and rice cakes and pulled out the Jillian Michaels workout video that you will overdo on and hurt like heck the next day ’cause your body is protesting all that activity. You will hop on the scale looking for it to show some “loss” to reward you for your first hard day of labor and suffering.

Ha.. ok.. I’m  messing with you, but maybe you see yourself in there somewhere.

I do. I used a lot of my past to kinda make fun of the predictable behaviors so many go through each year.

Sad thing is, those good intentions, almost never last past that first month.

I just want to encourage you to not wait for the New Year to start focusing on taking care of yourself. Each day is a new opportunity to eat well, and get in some good purposeful movement. I was talking with someone and again the conversation came up that exercise is something our bodies require for health and wellness, not just to be used as a tool to lose weight ( although it helps with that too).

Exercise is crucial to our overall well being! And needless to say, eating well, gives us good energy to move through our day.

I want to challenge you to not wait for 2016 to start making changes, but begin today.

Taking small steps each day will position you to continue forward movement after the holidays are over towards permanent healthy changes.

Can you think of a better way to start off your New Year ?

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 =)

That Stupid Cancer

storm

Hello blog world. Yes, I’m still here…and alive….but boy has life been going down hard and fast in my world the past few weeks.

I’ve missed all of you, my 1.5 readers. I’ve thought about what to write and how to write it. The words piled up in my head among other thoughts waiting to be put into organized, readable context.

And somehow…. weirdly… I’ve struggled with sitting down and getting it done.

This is a post on life.

I promise to resume my health/athletic(y) blogs soon.  But even as we do things to maintain a healthy body and mind, there is this big thing going on around us called life…

And you know what? There are times life is just freaking…. hard…brutal, take no prisoners, hard.

So where I’ve been the last couple weeks in life…..

to start with, my son unexpectedly lost a close friend in a tragic car accident. This friend was also to have been one of his groomsmen in his September wedding. He has lost many friends in the past few years of his young life. Once again my heart ached for him, his friends, and the young mans family at his swift removal from this world. As I sat at his memorial service and saw his beautiful face, my heart was pierced at how wrong it felt that this 22 year old young man was gone.

No words… simply no words… could make this right…or take away the pain from his family. Nor could I as a mother, absorb it for my son.

During this time, my husband had gone in for his yearly check up. He mentioned to the doctor he had a lump on the side of his neck and thought it was a swollen lymph node. Doctor sent him for a sonogram that day. A few days later they called wanting him to have a CT done (this was on a Friday) Monday we saw the doctor who told us the report indicated possible malignancy, but without a needle biopsy they can’t officially confirm. Somehow, they got us in that afternoon. He returned to Houston  afterwards where he had been working. We could only wait now for the biopsy results which they have promised to have for us by Wed. ( amazing and fast indeed, right?)

Both of us were positive and upbeat knowing we had to take these steps to rule out the dreaded “C” word.

Cancer.

I mean, it wouldn’t be, right? Why would it?

Wed afternoon I got the call from him. Results were in.

Tests confirmed he had thyroid cancer.

How does one respond? How does one act? I felt semi-numb and felt myself immediately kick into the zone I go to when difficult things come. Stay focused. Keep on task. Think about what I can do or what needs to be done.

Cry or freak out later if need be. That serves me no purpose when I need my head about me.

Meanwhile, hubby had immediately ended his contract where he was working, closed out of his apartment and was headed home. I felt helpless not being able to be there and help him after getting that news or knowing he’d have hours to drive home thinking about it.

Things were already unfolding though as we had an appt. the next day with the surgeon to discuss everything and surgery was set for Friday.

When I say things moved with lightening speed and were all beautifully orchestrated is putting it mildly. We know and personally believe God’s hands were all over this. No one gets the diagnosis and then two days later is having surgery to remove it. I can’t tell you how unheard of this is.

Thyroid cancer as we’ve been told is highly curable and treatable. But whoa… still… you have…. cancer.

The surgery went well, doctor felt he got all cancerous tissue and removed thyroid as well as the tumor. A short hospital stay and we had him home. The next step now is a one time radiation treatment that will literally kill any thyroid cells left in his body, but only those cells. How cool is that ?

Of course, we’ve made all kinds of jokes teasing him about being radioactive and glowing. Or with his neck wound if it had been Halloween he would’ve made an awesome Frankenstein 😉

You must…  need to…..find humor… and moments to laugh… when you are feeling scared, anxious or worried. Laughter relieves and relaxes tense moments.

We met with surgeon on Thursday to remove sutures and discuss the next step. Right now, that’s what it’s about, the next step to crush this thing, get him better, but most of all, to keep living life.

That’s been my goal as we’ve moved through this. To not let it define our lives or be the “thing” that has center stage.

Beautiful, glorious life is still going on.

Things to be celebrated. Moments to be shared. Laughter to partake in. Tears to cry. Family to be loved on. Friends to be appreciated. Feeling your partner nestled next to you during the night.  Normal days to be embraced. Sunrises to be seen.  A full, bright moon hanging in the dark night sky. The sounds of your kids voices to be treasured. The smell of your grandson. A hot shower. A good meal. The smell of coffee brewing. Waking up and knowing you’ve been blessed… entrusted… with another day.

Another day…. a pure, precious, breathtaking gift so often taken for granted.

Do you ever just wish, you could wrap your arms around it ???

So yes, we are looking forward to many more days. His prognosis is very good. We are doing all things necessary to ensure his complete health and removal of all cancer cells.  His attitude has been good and he’s strong and determined…. um….stubborn…. to use his word….well… he was under the influence of drugs after surgery when he said that… does that still count ??

Like, he admitted that to his nurse… I think that counts… don’t you ? 😉

It’s ok… stubbornness can be quite useful in life .. ask me… I might know a lil about that haha

So as we’ve moved through these past 2 weeks of difficulties in losses of loved ones and treasured friends, and dealt with the unexpected, dreaded “cancer”, and contended with other life issues going on I’ll tell you what we have been confident of….

God has been with us. He has been our Strength and Peace and I know He is our Provider. I don’t understand a lot of what happens in this world or life… I’m merely human with a very limited, short perspective in this vast world and universe… but by faith I rest and trust in One who is bigger than I am.

I just want to encourage you, who are reading this right now. Life might be smooth sailing and you have no current issues…. they will come…. or you might have just gotten out of difficulties….Or you could be having a life like I’ve dealt with recently.

Stay strong. Know this will pass. Breathe. Live and deal with only the moment you are in, running to far ahead can only offer fear and worries that might not ever even happen and only steal the joy from your current day. Appreciate random moments. Stop and smell the flowers. Value small things. Wear the fun dress. Get out the “special” dishes… use them for all their worth.  Turn up the music and sing loud. Do that thing you want to do.

Most of all…. live…. embrace your life…  and don’t let your circumstances define you.

storm 1

Does Exercise Have Benefits?

uncle sam exercise

Hey boys and girls =)

You think I lost my mind with the title of this blog, don’t you ? Little Ms. Fitness Girl asking such a weird question?

As blog ideas go, I get inspired from all kinds of sources in my life to write on. Recently, a comment came up that made me ponder, do people REALLY question that purposeful, physical activity is good for their bodies, and their minds? Heck, it benefits all aspects of who we are as individuals.

I know, I know… many of you feel like…. this….. you need to work and move past this stage…. you can… it will take effort on your part.

hate exercise

But in this day and age of so much information and knowledge we possess, can people still remain largely ignorant to the fact our bodies are made for movement? Need movement for health and wellness? That intentional exercise has benefits that keep us strong and healthy ? And in turn, that gives us energetic and productive lives ?

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of brisk cardio activity 5 days a week (this is an activity that gets you out and increases  and sustains your heart rate for at least 30 minutes) for people who would benefit from lowering blood pressure or cholesterol they recommend 40 minutes of aerobic activity to lower risk of heart attack and stroke. They also recommend two strength training days a week as well for everyone.

What are other benefits to regular exercise ?

It controls weight and helps in weight loss.

It combats health conditions and diseases. Being active actually can “boost” your good (HDL) cholesterol and decrease unhealthy triglycerides. As I shared in a previous post on my labs, for me, this is true. My HDL was high and my tri’s were very low. I credit it to adequate and consistent exercise along with healthy eating.

Exercise can improve your mood. Blow off steam. Get a little emotional lift. Feel mentally empowered. It definitely can lift your mood.

It boosts your energy. Hey… that purposeful exercise you “practice”? it comes into play in the rest of our day when you need strength and energy to do tasks.

It promotes good rest. Trust me, physically working your body will help you sleep well 😉

It’s good for your sex life. Regular physical activity leaves you with a high level of energy and looking better which can have a positive impact in the bedroom. Win/win.

Exercise can be fun! The important thing is to find what you enjoy and can be passionate about. Don’t find just one thing, find a couple activities to shake it up, keep it fun and interesting. Find the thing that you can do and stick with it. Become an expert at it.

Exercise is not an instant gratification activity but it can begin to have some immediate benefits… like just over all feeling good that you went out and got it done… it’s mentally empowering. It can also bring about a sense of well being and peace.

However, with consistency and time, it does really cool things inside our body that we don’t see. Our heart and lungs get stronger, our resting heart rate can get lower, blood pressure can drop, cholesterol levels can change. Our body goes through amazing changes as exercise adapts it to new physical demands. No one knows this better than a distance runner 😉

Exercise can also combat or protect from various diseases and health conditions… isn’t that motivator enough?

Other suggestions for “extra” movement in your days…

Look for ways to move more. Take the stairs, park farther out at the store, get outside and do some yard work ( I love using a push mower simply for the extra work it gives my body to do it) garden, play with your kids, go ride a bike anything that gives you some extra movement in your day.

These activities though, don’t take place of those 30 minutes (or more) of heart pumping, sweat inducing, exercise ( fast walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing… get it ?)  make sure you get that time in…. anything else is gravy.

And finally, after awhile, making that investment into yourself to do purposeful exercise, your body begins to change. The outer look (aesthetically) almost becomes a by product of what you’ve been doing. I don’t know anyone who isn’t happy with those changes that show up from an investment of hard work.

Understand too, that this is a habit and a daily discipline you will have to school yourself in until it becomes something you can’t imagine NOT doing. Trust me, you will get to that point. You just need to be as intentional and purposeful about it as anything else you find to be important in your life.

Your health and well being IS important. Shouldn’t you do things to be pro-active about keeping yourself healthy and well ?

You are definitely worth it =)  Do you have a favorite activity ?

exercise benefits

You Are What You Eat

Hey boys and girls =)

So in view of my focus on being fit and healthy, one of the things that is important to me is making sure that I take care of myself with proper health care. I kinda refer to it as temple maintenance… just like we maintain anything else in our lives… shouldn’t managing our health be at the top of the list ?

That being said, today was my yearly check in with my family physician. One of the reasons I see him is to have labs done to make sure my thyroid levels are all still on par (which they have been for years now) I learned a lot about this tiny little thing (that we all have )several years back.

When I could barely drag myself through a day without desperately needing a nap, and I’m totally serious, my gyn inquired as to if I’d ever had it tested.

I was like… “what’s a thyroid??” haha

Anyway, a blood test revealed mine was way low on producing enough hormones which is why I was dragging so bad.

One tiny little pill and in a couple days… I felt like Wonder Woman… amazing. We will be fast friends for the rest of my life but I’m ok with that.

And by the way, the thyroid produces two hormones, T3 and T4, which control energy, regulate temperature, and assist other organs in their functions. It controls your metabolism and keeps your whole body functioning properly. It’s crucial that it’s all in balance for your overall well being.

Now that I educated you on that….. in a nutshell version 😉

Besides that it’s my bi-yearly weigh-in. Yes, seriously, I see my weight maybe twice a year.. freedom 😉 ( this will lead to another post on weight and body composition…watch for that)

Anyway, Mr. Doctor is also a friend in the “real world” so I don’t mind seeing him…  walks in and promptly says…

“Got your labs. Your boring. Good boring.”

He then rapid fire goes through numbers with me….all of which look stellar. My blood sugar, which I’m careful to watch since I’ve had family members deal with diabetes issues, came in at a low level. He also promptly said “and your cholesterol looks awesome, especially your good one” which was like 82.

For most people, yours truly included, getting the good cholesterol up is harder to do….exercise and eating well can drive it up.

(Hang with me… I’m going somewhere ) after going through labs it led into my athletic adventures. Not only does he counsel me on a “normal” person level, but also who I am as an athlete and what I’m doing physically.

We discussed my goals for the year…  my interest in a tri or duathlon…his concern I don’t run my legs off ( I promised him I DO listen to my body) … tried not to giggle as he once again proclaimed ” I don’t get you runners!” and talked over cross training, rest and recovery ideas.

He said “I’m always trying to get my patients to exercise and.. you… I feel like  I need to keep you reined in!”  haha

I love his support and encouragement… even if he might think I’m a lil crazy 😉

As he mentioned again my labs and how good and strong my heart and lungs sounded I quipped…….

” Seriously, all that exercise and eating right SHOULD have pay offs!”

Now here’s what I want you to pay attention to……

Our health and fitness levels are revealed in a lot more ways than how strong we may be or how fast we can run, or aesthetically what our bodies may look like. Yes, that all reveals levels of health, strength and fitness. When we have blood taken and tested that gives us a look at what’s going on INSIDE it also reveals an extremely important level of our health and wellness.

I know that sounds like a no brainer but so many people miss that.

Eating well and purposeful physical movement is an investment into our lives and the quality of them. I can’t run strong or lift heavy or take on the million tasks in my day if I neglect to care for myself in crucial ways.

I eat lots of veggies and fruit…rarely eat fast foods or refined/processed foods… lots of water.. minimal sugar. Overall, I make an attempt to eat well 95% of the time ( you do know I still like my occasional Peanut M&M fix 😉 and sometimes, yes, I do want to eat that burger out somewhere. I workout doing something 5-6 days a week and see my exercise as important as anything else I have to do.

It’s in the overall constant choices we make that matters.

How you eat doesn’t just fuel you for energy , but builds and strengthens all those internal things you don’t see but which are so vastly important to our overall health.

There is a huge truth then in….you are what you eat =)

How do you look at that? Have you ever given much thought to the fact, the foods we take in have a great impact on our internal health and wellness ? Have you had to make changes? How has that worked for you?

Building New Habits

No, I didn’t get lost. Were you worried about me? 😉

I had this idea… but it was still in scattered pieces in my head and I wasn’t sure how to develop it till this morning… in the shower… it kinda came together. I know… most people sing in the shower…. more often for me it’s a time to run things through my head uninterrupted.. it’s also a place where my weakest moments are allowed out too.

The idea was talking to you about developing healthy habits, and for ALL of us, especially in the beginning it can be such a daunting, overwhelming idea that we can’t contend with… change… leaving behind or switching up everything that’s become all comfy to us. It’s not an easy task to accomplish. Dare I say we can rebel against it, even knowing those changes are for our overall good and well being  ?

Then it crossed my mind while showering, how change and developing new habits and behaviors are much like marathon training. If you’ve trained for one, then you know, you know how that training carries over into other aspects of your life. It’s become natural for me to look at taking things on in my life like I do training for a 26.2 mile race.

That training involves a huge amount of discipline and sacrifice. Purposeful planning. Repetitive workouts.  A willingness to invest the time in running to allow my body time to change and adapt to the demands of high mileage. A complete understanding I cannot simply wake up one morning and  just take off to run that distance with no preparation (don’t…ever…do that).

No, to properly train my body for the marathon it involves slow gradual changes moving towards my ultimate goal.  Smaller short weekly runs, long weekend runs becoming longer, small steps towards the bigger prize. It takes months of training to do it successfully ( I believe).

Developing new habits and behaviors are like that too. If you wake up on Monday with the determination that “Now is the time!” and you make a drastic immediate reduction of all food, hack out everything you love, and decide to go run 5 miles even though you haven’t done more than walk from the closest parking spot at the store to inside, I can guarantee Tuesday you’ll wake up starving, frustrated and having your body threatening divorce because you physically taxed it beyond what it was capable of doing and you hurt in places you didn’t know you owned.

A smarter approach is being willing to make small, gradual, and daily, changes to what you are doing. Focus on the day at hand, not the week, or months out.

Stop looking for instant gratification because weight loss and body change take consistent and dedicated time.

For me, 7 years out, I can tell you my body is vastly different today than when I started. It takes time… but hey… what else am I doing anyway? Or you? what else are you doing?

Some suggestions:

⇒ Focus on one day at a time.

⇒ Have a longer term goal in mind too.

⇒Don’t eliminate all foods and eat lettuce. Practice eating smaller portions as a start.

⇒ Consider how and what you eat. What changes do you need to make? Keep a food log to help remind and guide you.

⇒Decide on a physical activity you can start slowly with, especially if you have not doing anything in a long time.

⇒Stay away from an “all or nothing ” approach.

⇒Schedule your exercise commitments.

Consider the definition of habit :   an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary:

Most of all understand that developing new habits does take time and consistency….. I’ve heard up to 3 weeks on a daily basis to form a new habit.  It will require a willful choice on your part each day to do these things until it begins to feel more normal to you. That’s what a habit becomes…something that feels normal and natural in your day until it gets to the point you can’t imagine not doing it.

Note: in the beginning…. it probably will feel like work. Just press on taking those smaller measureable steps.

Following this pattern day after day will allow you to shape and define new ways of eating, exercising and making positive life changing choices 🙂

Healthy Habits And Lifestyle Change

Hey boys and girls…. it’s Monday! Are you ready to take on a new week ? It’s sunny and beautiful here in south Texas this morning and a bit on the cooler side too… no worries… it won’t last long 😉

I felt it when I scampered outside in only my shorts and sports bra… brisk air slamming into me… the beauty of working out? You warm up fast and get over that ha

Today was a combo of boxing, weights, and core body moves. I like doing this because it’s just a progression of constant movement from one point to the next. Not only that, boxing always makes me feel like a beast 😉

I knew getting up this morning that this workout was on my agenda for my day. A part of my day. As non-negotiable as eating or brushing my teeth.

Why? My workouts are a habit now, and honestly, a habit I love.

On our pursuit of developing a lifestyle change ( not a diet, a permanent change you can live with) new habits and behaviors must be formed along the way to make that change.

Food habits :  learning to make better choices to support our goals, and setting aside other things that don’t support our goals.  How do you look at food? What is it to you? Comfort? Stress reliever? A friend ?  or is it fuel to support your life and activities? What kind of fuel do you put in it ? When you’re hungry, what are you reaching for ? To move forward requires making intentional, better choices for yourself. Know also that it will take time for your tastes to change. If your daily diet consists of fast food, processed foods, sugars and refined foods know it will take time for change to occur. When it does, you will honestly taste the difference..those foods will taste “off” to you.

Exercise habits: movement isn’t just good to help with weight loss, but it’s good for us mentally, spiritually, and emotionally too. Our bodies are MADE for movement.

We have to make intentional choices to exercise like anything else in our life.

The thing is, for most people, in the beginning, it’s hard and uncomfortable! It’s also the point where you will quickly realize how out of shape you really are and get discouraged. Start small, start slow, stay consistent. Yes, you will be uncomfy but the more you continue to do it, the less you will feel that way. Trust me, you can move to a place where you embrace the challenge and look forward to the workout and will feel like something is missing if you don’t do it.

Mental habits: How often are you thinking of food ? What are your thoughts about food? Is it in a proper place in your life? How do you talk to yourself? Are you mentally preparing yourself for physical activity ?

Lifestyle habits: How we’re raised, how we learned to eat with our families impacts us forever. The spoken or unspoken rules that we grew up and lived by… good or bad…. we carry these habits with us into adulthood. If eating extra was encouraged, “clean your plate!” was the mantra or poor nutrition was modeled you will have to work intentionally to build new lifestyle habits. I think perhaps of all things, breaking free of family habits is the hardest thing but it can be done.

I also think it’s important to know what your triggers are, what have you “conditioned” yourself to that you need to rewire? Do you stop at a gas station and automatically think you need soda and a candy bar? Are you a little hungry and think you need to go through the drive thru before you get home for dinner? or to have a more nutritious lunch?

That was a serious revelation for me years ago…. I don’t need to run through and get something… I WILL NOT… starve to death before I get home… I won’t… neither will you. I try and keep small snacks with me if I do need something. I’m not saying you should ignore those natural body signals, just learn to plan wisely and have better snacks than the local fast foods value menu.

Like any habit we develop in life, our relationship with food (how we eat, what we eat, how much) are all driven by habits we’ve allowed to settle into our lives. With persistence and determination, you can build and develop new habits to support your lifestyle change. The most important thing is to be determined and make these changes each day to lead to permanency.

Another Drink Bartender

Flaming_cocktails

I know with my title I just picked up some new readers 😉

Let me make my usual disclaimer that the thoughts and opinions contained within are merely, my thoughts and opinions, and you my lovely reader, are entitled to yours as well.

I thought I’d chat a bit on alcohol. Alcohol, a substance loved and used by many, a substance that I personally don’t  use or care for.

Now please stick with me, this does have a health/fitness bend to it and I want you to know I don’t come at this topic from an overly zealous religious stand point, or any other wild angle.

I simply don’t like the stuff.

(Yeah, I heard some of you gasp) primarily, I don’t like what it would do to my body physically… nor do I consider it to be something that supports my health and fitness goals. I used to feel kinda awkward saying that to someone ( I don’t drink)  especially in this day in age where it’s so common. I totally got over that 😉

Oh don’t get me wrong, years ago, a lifetime ago, I tried to be a cool kid.

I mean, isn’t that what you do? I tried to like it, I did.

But then, without ingesting to much of the stuff I’d get all warm, and fuzzy, and wanna lean into something…or take a nap… I didn’t find that fun at all. And perhaps you’re saying….but that’s the good part! Ah, maybe so, but I didn’t like it.

The biggest thing I didn’t like ?  The idea of giving up control of myself to a substance.  No thank you.

Control freak? Perhaps, but that is definitely something I can call the um…shots… on… 😉

Not just that, but within personal circles, I’ve never, ever seen anything good come from it. I have seen it damage relationships, and health, and turn otherwise pleasant events, unattractive. Again, that’s not a selling point for me.

No judgment here… if you choose to… that is your choice….. just like choosing not to is mine.

Now from a health and weight loss perspective.

If you are on a quest to drop some weight and adult beverages are a key part of your life, you might examine more closely the calories that it contributes to your day.

Consider this : Alcohol has a relatively high caloric content (7 kcal/g) only fat has more calories per gram ( 9)  if you’re watching your weight you might want to know that a serving of wine is about 100 calories, beer about 150 and a typical Margarita is over 300 calories!

Also, unlike solid foods, alcoholic beverages fail to trigger the “fullness” response. It’s not surprising that regular consumption does make it difficult to avoid weight gain. Alcohol might also reduce inhibitions leading you to over eat.

You could see that daily consumption of alcohol, with more than a drink , can add unwanted calories, which can lead to extra weight gain.

On a health perspective : the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises… “those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation- defined as consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.”

Also important to note, on average, a healthy adult metabolizes the equivalent of one drink per hour. If someone drinks more than that, such as two or three alcoholic drinks in an hour, the liver is unable to “keep up”. The excess alcohol is released back into the bloodstream, through which it’s distributed to all body fluids and tissues, including the brain. Anytime you consume more than one alcoholic beverage per hour, you are exposing every tissue in your body to the toxic effects of alcohol.

Again, that sort of thing doesn’t support my health or fitness goals…. and if you’re looking to get on a healthier lifestyle, it won’t support your goals either.

Obviously, the more alcohol consumed can also contribute to other health related problems, or more serious alcohol issues. If you choose to drink, be educated and wise about the effects it can have on your health, and if you are focused on serious weight loss consider how alcohol might be slowing your efforts to success.