The Art Of Self Care

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In todays adventures boys and girls, we’re going to branch out into something a little broader, something that encompasses more of us than “just” our bodies.

One of the buzz words out there right now is “self care”.  It’s a term  who’s meaning is most likely fairly obvious.

Let’s define self care as any activity we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health.

In a world that is increasingly more hectic and busy with lives that sometimes have us running in different directions with all kinds of responsibilities it’s easy to put ourselves at the bottom of our to-do list of important things.

Where I’m at now in life, at the age I am, I’ve learned not only is self care perfectly ok, it’s also necessary. Self care for me involves everything from my daily exercise to reading something I enjoy or escaping to a warm bubble bath if the day has left me stretched thin as well as many other things that can soothe my body and mind and keep me a happy, healthy functioning woman.

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Somehow, being upside down, is one of the ways I enjoy self care 😉 #yoga

 

I make no excuses for it or apologize for it. Nor should you. We don’t get any extra awards in life for not taking care of ourselves.

Even with all that said, many do not, or think they aren’t important enough, to practice self care viewing it as perhaps selfish to do so.

Eh.  Perhaps some may believe it’s selfish.

I don’t really think it is.

Honestly, if you don’t take care of you, who will? And no one will take care of you better than you. ( gosh that’s a lot of “you’s” haha)

Self care keeps us not only healthy in all aspects of our life for (us) it benefits those we are involved with too ( family, friends, co-workers etc) I’m pretty sure they enjoy us when we’re at our optimal best.

So where do you start if you aren’t already practicing it? Or maybe you are to a degree but are looking for other ideas.

Let’s consider the three points mentioned: Mental, physical and emotional.

The most important thing to understand on this topic…. it isn’t a one time deal.  Much like eating properly, exercising, and anything else we do, it’s an ongoing process. Practicing small self care things each day should be something you train yourself to do. Now with that in mind let’s move on. Below you’ll find a few tips or suggestions to help you get going. I’m offering up five various ideas but you will probably be able to come up with others for yourself.

Mental self-care

Social media. Pretty much everyone is on it in some way. There can be a lot of negativity and things that aren’t positive when we log on. Some days I don’t spend much time there because honestly,  I just don’t need to view what’s on it. Weed out people who don’t offer positive vibes to you or at least mute them if their posts are troubling or pull you down. Unplug and walk away for awhile.

Do a mini-declutter. Nothing makes me feel more frustrated or overwhelmed than things seem disorganized or out of hand. Spend a few minutes on a drawer, closet or any other area that might be bothering you.

Take another route to work or change the way you go if you ride a bike or run. It’s mentally refreshing to have a different point of view.

Get out of your comfort zone. There’s nothing I’ve found more mentally engaging than getting out of that place I’m most comfortable. It will grow you.

Be selfish. Yeah there it is. The selfish word again. Do something each day for you that you enjoy that brings you pleasure or happiness. It’s really ok.

Body self-care

Exercise. Of course this doesn’t come as a surprise that this would be my first suggestion. Moving your body will not only help you physically, it helps mentally too.  Find mini times to move through out your day as well. A quick 10 minute walk or some basic stretches to loosen you up.

Learn to breathe deeply. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in yoga it’s practicing those deep breaths through all the moves. You can simply learn to take three deep, slow breaths anytime in your day. Breath in deeply, let your diaphragm expand and feel your lungs really fill with air. Slowly exhale.

Laugh. Read something funny you enjoy or watch a show that evokes laughter. Laughing is good for the soul too.

Make small changes in your diet. Maybe drink an extra glass of water, try a new vegetable or swap a sugary treat for something healthier.

Take a quick nap. A power nap can refresh and energize you for the rest of your day. Remember to keep it between 10-20 minutes

Emotional self-care

Let’s refer to emotional or care for our souls. After all we aren’t just a body wandering around and our souls need some care too.

Write out your thoughts. For me personally, writing can be the most  cathartic thing I do for myself. There are times I let my humor out and there are times I write and feel like I’m bleeding all over what I’m sharing. Write out what makes you happy, sad, angry etc

Help someone. That’s explanatory enough. There is satisfaction in helping others.

Make a small connection. Connect with the checker at the store, the barista who serves your coffee or the person in line with you. Hubby often wishes I wasn’t so skilled in this area of making connections  haha

Splurge a little. Buy yourself a treat that you might not always indulge in.

Pray or meditate. Whatever you choose to do find sometime to just be alone and reflect. To let life breathe over you. Use that time to center your thoughts and reflect on the things in your life.

There you go.  A few ideas, some suggestions, to help you with this idea of self care.  Hopefully you will come up with a few others that are specific to meeting your needs.

The most  important thing to remember is that you are valuable and self care is not a special treat or a one time thing. It’s to be practiced in a variety of ways every day to keep you healthy and well for you and those you love.

Tell me. Do you have any special self care tips or suggestions?

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The Modern Day Snake Oil

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This weirdly sounds like the sales pitch for products today.

 

Oh boy. I’m getting on my soap box again so buckle up boys and girls.  I try and stay off of it, but with this particular topic it’s such a rich sea of constant writing opportunities it’s just hard to not capitalize on them.

What you may be wondering is it that keeps my creative writing pot over flowing?

The world of “health” and wellness companies.  I’ve had a thing or two to say about them before. I’m sure it won’t be the last time either.

The products are sold by your next door neighbor,  the friend you do yoga with or the sweet grandmother down the street.

Once they sign up they become health and wellness experts overnight.

Actually, they just regurgitate what the company spoon feeds them in propaganda.

Listen, I’m not knocking someone who’s trying to make a few extra bucks. Their intentions are well meaning.  I know lots of people who do. I’m just suggesting you might not turn your health care over to someone who doesn’t know squat about most of the things the company tells them to promote or say.

Maybe your blood sugar is just fine and if it isn’t your neighbor isn’t the one to consult.

If you need energy maybe, perhaps, your nutrition needs adjusting and you don’t need supplements of some kind to give you “energy” ( which can translate to nothing more than “natural” speed in some products) maybe you need to lose weight to feel more energetic.

One company vendor posted a screen shot a customer had sent. The customer was proclaiming “how much energy he/she had and they hadn’t even taken their Adderol!” ( Adderol if you don’t know is a legal, controlled substance taken by many people but it’s a legal “speed”) Whatever natural thing was in the product made them feel like they had taken their meds.

That made me raise my eyebrows…a lot….well… there’s LOTS that make my eyebrows shoot off my face sometimes.

Ok well I’m getting to my main point for today. One company is huge on talking up “gut health” and telling you that you need all these products cause you’re more sickly than you realize without them. This company’s literature is loaded with all kinds of “issues” or “problems” you can have in regards to  gut health. But I must say, what’s set me off on todays tangent is something I read earlier and it was a meme that said…

“Anxiety is not all in your head. It’s actually in your gut.”

WHAT?! WHAT?!

I desperately wanted to ask if it was a “for real” post ’cause it just was so… shocking to me… disturbing.. that someone would believe that or say it. Like.. do you know anyone who has anxiety issues?  I couldn’t imagine telling the person I know who deals with  it that it was only “in their gut”.

And I guess I was disturbed that someone would be so casual about a mental condition to use it in a meme that was designed to get you to respond so they could say… “well hey! I have all these products to fix your awful gut and it will fix up your anxiety too!”

Are. You. Kidding.

It honestly bothered me all day on lots of levels.

I have done a bit of my own research on this topic… and let’s just say in a huge way the jury is still out on the topic of “gut health”.  There are lots of opinions and thoughts and there is still a lot of discussion on it.  You can find various writings and articles but like anything out there, you’ve gotta consider the sources.

Ok but first, simplified, what on God’s green earth does that REALLY mean?? Here’s my definition for you so we have something to work with here.

“Gut health is anything pertaining to your digestive working system.”

Everything we eat passes through the GI tract. The tract is lined with a thin, sticky mucous and it’s lined with millions of bacteria that live, grow and metabolize ( digesting and absorbing) in what’s considered a complex ecosystem comprised of both beneficial and harmful bacteria.

So ideally, we eat foods good for us, it processes through our amazing organized system and in the GI tract the food is broken down and nutrients are delivered via the small intestine into the blood stream.

When we feed our body good foods it operates in optimal form.

However, let’s face it. Many don’t.  Sometimes life is going on and we don’t eat as well as we should. So yes, you can have issues or problems with your “gut” ( and I really hate that word, just throwing that out there)

If eating poorly is a lifestyle then there can be many common problems that you may deal with:

Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, inflammation, cramping, indigestion etc.

Wow, that all sounds fun, right? Some people might just come to assume it’s what they have to live with, that it’s normal for them.

You really don’t have to feel that way.  And you really can keep your money and not buy the snake oil to “heal” you.

Our bodies were made to function on foods and not man made supplements. Healing your gut, for the most part, can be helped with improved nutrition and better eating habits.

Here’s a fun fact for you….within 20 minutes of eating whole healthy foods you can begin “healing your gut”  as the bacteria in your bowels divide every 20 minutes on average. Meaning what you eat either feeds your body health promoting bacteria or non healthy bacteria.

The type of food you eat is a powerful weapon for health.

And a few other tips/suggestions to get and stay healthy:

Probiotics. The natural way to get them would be through foods. Yogurt is a wonderful source, make sure to choose ones that say active or live cultures.

Fermented foods like sauerkraut also have a high level of probiotics.

Avoid use of antibiotics unless necessary. These destroy your “good” bacteria.

Eat less refined sugars.

Lower stress levels.

Exercise.

Eat a healthy daily diet.

So here’s the thing that these companies leave out. There is a small nod to diet or exercise with them.  but it’s more about “buy and use our stuff to be healthy and feel awesome.”

The list of problems their products promise to help and fix is staggering. I’m waiting to hear it cures cancer next.

Let’s keep in mind, at the end of the day, they are a marketing company and everyone is out to make money.

They aren’t telling you that good nutrition should be your goal.  They aren’t telling you exercise will help you have energy, change your lab results, or help with your moods.

They are saying… hey, eat what you want and use our products to help you….why should you have to change?

If you don’t change your behaviors and your eating habits there is no product that is going to fix those problems and the only thing you’ll lose is your money to the snake oil salesman.

Rant now over.

The Sacrifice Of Self Caring

I was chattering away at hubby over breakfast on Sunday talking fast and excitedly as I’m prone to do when I’m really passionate about something.

He made careful work of his breakfast while I was shooting things off at him wondering when on EARTH the waitress might wander back and bring me more coffee….for real.

What passionate thing was I engaging him in ?

Something that has gotten closer to my heart more and more in the past couple years.

Health. Fitness. Wellness. Being empowered and strong… and more importantly… wanting it for others… to help them achieve that.

Here you thought I was gonna say running… didn’t you ? Well, you know I’m passionate about that, but we’ll save that for another blog 😉

I am passionate about people “getting” it. When they figure out there’s no magic pill or secret formula, shake, drink or potion. When they get off the crazy carousel diet wagon. When they understand they can do things in a sane and sensible way and lose weight and still have a life….

When they find the balance that works for them that’s sustainable and allows them success.

I freaking love that.

But what I was particularly going on about with hubby was this…

I was reflecting on how people give up, give in, and walk away from the very thing they want to accomplish.

They quit. As if quitting is going to get them closer to their goals they have set for themselves. Why do so many quit? Give up? Throw in the proverbial towel ?

I’ll tell you. (uh… did I mention this might be a rather hard hitting post? )

Losing weight and getting fit requires A LOT of sacrifice. It requires a level of discipline that can make people uncomfortable. It means getting out of your comfy comfort zone. And honestly, it’s more than some want to give, and they quit.

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I saw a meme on Facebook recently that said “There are only two options: Make progress, or make excuses.”

If we are to be successful in our pursuit of being healthy, fit and strong, we need to focus on slow, steady, and constant progress.

The other option is where people make excuses and quit.  There’s always a reason “why” they aren’t being successful or a reason why they can’t eat better or exercise or ate half a tray of brownies.

I’ve worked with some people who I (think) expected that somehow I’d lose the weight for them, or be along to slap food out of their hands.

It doesn’t work like that. It does come down to this….

You’ve got to determine you want it bad enough…for you. Not for your bf/gf, husband, wife, or anyone else… it’s got to be for you. And no one can do it …for you.

And then… then comes the hard part… because to do this…to get on the wagon and get moving… requires that sacrifice I was talking about.

Self care requires sacrifice.

Sacrificing old ways, old beliefs.

Sacrificing ways of eating, things that you do eat, how you eat, and how much of it you eat.

Sacrificing time to get out and get your body moving in purposeful exercise on a daily basis. Sacrificing your comfort for discomfort that comes with exerting your body in new ways.

Sacrificing your sense of “entitlement” that you should be able to have or eat certain foods in the amounts you want.

Sacrificing old habits for new ones.

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It’s not easy boys and girls. I’d be lying if I said changing ingrained eating habits you’ve had for years and training your body to like exercise ( and look forward to it!) is easy.

On my journey I’ve had good days and bad days. Days I didn’t WANT to exercise and couldn’t imagine a day that it would be so ingrained in me that I couldn’t imagine NOT doing it. I’ve had days where I knew I ate more than I needed or ate when I knew I wasn’t truly hungry. I just shook it off and kept moving forward. In time, the bad days became less, as my new habits settled into place.

Remember what I said about so many quitting the process….you must take some not so good days on your journey along with the ones that make you feel on top of the world… and keep moving forward.

But… it’s so worth the effort invested… the sacrifice you will make.  So worth your time to take care of your body…. which contributes to all of your overall health ( mental and spiritual too) and no, it’s not selfish. ( we’ll talk more on that in another post)

Which brings me back to my passion… to help others get it.. to encourage them that those daily sacrifices they make will in time add up and it really will get easier and become much more of a habit to do than something they have to “make” themselves do.

Maybe you’ve sidelined yourself more times than you can count. Perhaps you’ve given up after a few weeks declaring it was just “to hard” or “nothing is happening”. You’ve allowed self-defeating talk to rule you and your choices.

Come closer and I will tell you something…. are you ready ?

You don’t have to stay in that place. You have everything in you to be successful and achieve your goals.

Yes, sacrifice and struggle will be involved. Yes, there are times it will not be easy.

Don’t quit… you’ll never arrive if you do.

In the end though, you’ll see, it was all worth it.

 

 

Fit, Fluffy, And Frail

The alarm brought me to life and I did what I do every morning. I began to slowly stretch out my muscles from the nights sleep… it’s a nice way to wake up… stretching things out while I’m still laying down 😛

I’m kinda used to waking up with some kind of tight muscle somewhere on my body.

No, I don’t mean that comment I hear from people about having random and various aches and pains, the “it’s what happens when you get old” aches and pains complaint ( I have my thoughts on that too).

I wiggled my shoulders feeling the tightness in my chest and across my back.

Ahhhh, yes. Yesterday I had finally gotten back to do some boxing. I had taken weeks away from it while my new tattoo healed ( more on that later;) I launched into it with gusto and spent some time as well lifting heavy things.

Hello deadlift, weighted shoulder squats and chest presses.

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My body was reminding me that’s what we did yesterday.

Some mornings… it’s the legs… or the glutes.. or…. yeah… you get it….

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Fun you’re thinking.

No, seriously, I don’t mind.

You see when you exercise your body adapts to the demands put on it. In the beginning you do feel that tightness or ache or whatever (that, unfortunately, is when many people give up and quit) but as you keep at it your body wonderfully adapts to those demands.

After awhile you might not really “feel” that activity anymore. It seemingly becomes easier but the reality is, you, are getting stronger =)

Therefore, I like pushing myself a bit more to where I “feel” it. I don’t want to become complacent in doing the same old thing over and over.

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I want to challenge myself, to do a little more, to continue to build my strength and endurance.

I shared with hubby recently that I had been thinking of some things ( he gets a troubled look on his face when I say that haha;)

But I was thinking how there are things in life we cannot control. Things we have no control over…. no matter how we try….

And then…. there are some things we have a level of control over…. for instance….

I can control whether or not I’m fluffy or frail…. neither of which I have any desire to be… and I do have control over that.

I want to move ahead in my life being strong, fit, and healthy.

I can control what I eat, how I eat, and maintain a lean, strong fighting weight.

I can engage in activities that make me stronger for daily living and the tasks I take on. That time spent working out is the “pre-game” for real life that goes down way beyond my scheduled workout time.

I was chatting with a doctor the other day and we were discussing the benefits of being active and staying fit.  As we age we don’t have to become weak, many do because they don’t actively use their bodies. I love reading stories about people who are definitely in their “senior” years…. 70,80’s….. and they are strong and fit.

Why? They have stayed active. They run, power walk, cycle, do yoga, weight lift etc. they do things that they enjoy and have stuck with it. They know the benefits of eating well combined with purposeful exercise.

The results? they are strong… not frail or weak. They are at a healthy body weight.

Lifting heavy things keeps our muscles strong… that old saying … use it or lose it.. is pretty true.

Cardio work keeps our insides strong and healthy.

We become weak when we don’t work our bodies. But… that is something we have control over.

I don’t care how young you are… or how old… you have the power to make changes in yourself that are positive and that can impact your life in great ways.

We are always capable of making changes in ourselves.

How do you do that ?

Make a commitment to yourself that you really are worth it. This isn’t the time to be a martyr and say other things need you more, you don’t have the time to do it, you can’t take the time away etc.

Start small.

Add or increase your activities slowly to avoid injury.

Know some discomfort comes with the process!

Be realistic with your goals. Expect progress, not perfection.

Finally, don’t quit or give up! Even with a bad day, pressing on will get you steadily to your goals.

Learning To Embrace Yourself

Last week while I was being busy droning around the house doing those varied and multiple tasks that need to be tended to, I heard a story come on one of those entertainment shows that happened to be on, ( let it be noted my tv “viewing” is more often listening while I’m doing something else haha)

Anyway, it was a story about Kate Gosselin, and how she had this incredible bikini body. You may or may not remember her claim to fame was being pregnant with eight babies at once, which then turned into a reality show for awhile. Honestly, I have no idea what she’s up to now…other than rocking it on a beach somewhere in her bikini.

So I did watch with some fascination and agreed, yes, she looked awesome. But then, hey, couldn’t every mom who’s given birth if they had a team of plastic surgeons nipping, tucking, shaping, lifting and “enhancing”?

Please, hear me out.

I’m not being snarky. I’m not bashing. I firmly believe that women need to build each other up and not tear down based on insecurities. I admire women and my goal is always to be encouraging and supportive.

I just don’t know that it’s a real honest assessment… like she’s busted her butt forever and got that  body… to hold that out to the average woman as something she can achieve.

I’m sure she works out… I mean… I don’t know for a fact… but it’s a strong probability.  I just don’t know it’s fair to hold that image out to women like “hey, after all those babies she can look like this and you should/can too!”

I mean, that’s Hollywood and unrealistic expectations for the rest of the world, right ?

We don’t have 24 hour personal trainers.

We can’t afford plastic surgery even if we might want to.

We don’t have personal chefs or nutritionists that plan and cook our meals.

We don’t have time to devote half our day to our bodies.

We work, have kids to chase down, homes we have to take care of and all that goes with it,  projects to do, meals to cook, etc. etc.

And somewhere, in the midst of all that, we try and carve out a little time to take care of ourselves ( hopefully you do)

And I hope, you have a positive, loving attitude about that body of yours. It makes me sad when women ( and maybe guys do this too) are critical and harsh with themselves.

Supposed “flaws” are singled out. Comparisons made to other peoples bodies. Self-defeating talk. Magazines with airbrushed seemingly “flawless” bodies that can leave us feeling inadequate.

Why are we so critical with ourselves? And why do we often miss how self-defeating that is.

No. Most of us will never be shaped, enhanced, or lifted to fix our “flaws”.

But hey listen up, there’s nothing wrong with you and it’s ok to embrace yourself as you are.

Working to lose weight? Be kind and patient with yourself as you move through the process of becoming a stronger, healthier, more fit you.

Maybe you’re at the weight you want to be but you’ve been working on that “thing” ( seriously will that loose skin EVER tighten up ??)

Perhaps you look in the mirror and hate your ( fill in the blank).

Stop it.

Learn to embrace you and love yourself. Understand some things will never change.. be ok with that. Know that many things CAN change… you need to determine if you want to work for it to make it happen.

My body has changed dramatically from my mid20’s when I was having babies, to my 30-40’s, to now.

Physically, I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been. I’m stronger, pack more muscle, and can do more athletically than when I was younger. I love that.

I’ve also carried to term, three beautiful sons.  My body miraculously housed and then delivered big, strong, healthy boys. No matter what exercise I do, I will still have marks from carrying them and skin that isn’t perfectly tight.

My turning point was a few years ago when I just decided to own every aspect of myself, and that meant not worrying so much about my perceived “flaws” and focusing overall on having a strong, healthy and fit body.

I did rock a bikini at the beach. I was more confident and proud of those muscles in my tummy that I had built than skin that wasn’t entirely “perfect”…. but even now I’d have to say…by whose standards would that be determined… “perfect”?

I simply learned to embrace myself… no excuses or pardon needed for anything.

There is a tremendous amount of freedom when you do that, learn to embrace yourself, and be truly comfy in your own skin.

Now I’m not saying you should dive into a bikini if you’re not comfortable with that… be you…  always be who you are…. but don’t hide behind something because you think you have to.

Don’t make apologies for yourself. Don’t look at yourself as flawed.

Embrace the beauty of who you uniquely are…. and hey…. we might not look as reshaped as Kate… but if you wanna rock that bikini…. go for it 😉

 

 

 

So Much Food. What To Eat ?

So today’s post is coming from questions I sometimes get… and there can be some interesting ones 😉 one that has come up several times is this :

In regards to health and wellness, it’s the “what do you eat / do for meals ?” question

Let me say first, what works for me, might not be the “thing” that works for you.

Also, on any given day what I eat depends on the training I’m doing. Obviously, my needs are greater with a 20+ mile run, versus a strength training day so my caloric intake can be quite different.

And the other thing…. it will also depend on our likes and dislikes and overall personal tastes. I don’t follow any current “trends” of don’t eat this or that. Unless you have a food allergy/health reason, eat the food. It disturbs me how many people today follow a certain trend without even knowing the why’s of doing it….

There are some things that I do which, I believe, are beneficial to everyone….

I rarely eat fast food. I don’t do a lot of processed, refined or fatty foods. I keep sugar to a minimum. I don’t drink alcohol or sugary drinks or fake sugars. I skip creamy stuff like mayo, spreads, and those sort of items. I prefer whole grain/brown foods over “white”.

I do drink a ton of water (’cause I really do like it and it’s the best thing for your body)

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Side note…. I don’t use bottles… I really run around with a big glass full of ice water.. it travels everywhere with me.

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One of my fav healthy breakfasts….

Fruits and veggies make up a large part of my daily nutrition. Not shown here are sweet potatoes. Such tasty little suckers. I often roast them with some olive oil for dinner, and use the cold ones with my breakfast or toss them in with my lunch salad. These are a great nutritional super food.

I believe dairy is important (especially for women) so I try and get in a couple glasses of milk a day and my Greek yogurt snacks 🙂

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seriously, the best. I also add a few roasted coconut almonds into it for a tasty midafternoon snack

Protein is very important with my training to make sure my muscles have enough to grow on =) I know it’s not currently trendy, but I love real milk. No apologies.

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Eggs are a perfect breakfast food for me. I also keep them hard boiled for afternoon snacks.  I eat the whole egg… the most important nutrients are contained in the yolk. I find protein does a much better job to keep me feeling satisfied and “level”.

I have no issues with “grains” and enjoy multi whole grain breads/bagels, oatmeal and some cereals.

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Keeping foods that are easy to quickly grab in your ‘fridge is a first step to making good snack choices =)

Basically, I try and eat, the majority of the time healthy foods. I don’t believe in eliminating food groups unless you have a valid health reason to do so.

Oh, and some treats are allowed and completely enjoyed at times =)

And of course, this is always a part of my day. Isn’t coffee a food group ??

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I’ll tell you this, of myself and people I know who have it going on nutritionally, they have a strong foundation in their daily diet of lots of fruits and veggies. These not only fill you up with less calories, the nutrients they deliver to your body contribute to your overall health,wellness and appearance.

If you don’t currently eat a lot of these tasty food items do this:

Start by eating more of what you like.
Try something new every day or two.
Cook veggies in different ways. I love roasting or sautéing mine
Experiment with new recipes to get more veggies in.
Do fruit salads instead of veggie salads in your meals.
Reach for these things as snack items…understand you must train yourself to do so.
Stop treating these foods like they are the enemy…they are health and wellness for you.

Oh, and if you can’t STAND a certain veggie/fruit… then.. don’t eat it! There’s a lot more out there to choose from.

Making slow shifts in your daily diet and replacing not so good foods with better choices will get you on a healthy lifestyle path =)

That Nutrition Thing

What came first? The chicken or the egg ?

I think it’s like asking in the health and fitness world, what came first?

The knowledge  your body needed movement and exercise for better health? Or that you needed to eat better and make intelligent food choices for better health ?

We all arrive in different ways. If you are gonna get out there and kick your butt in some hard physical activities , do you really wanna come back in and feed it garbage ?

Oh, in the beginning it might be like that. “I worked out today! I deserve this!” as the cheeseburger and fries go down… or the fancy sugary coffee drink or whatever your poison is. There’s a sense of entitlement.

It might take awhile, or not so long, for the shift to occur. To realize if you’re doing this hard work you don’t want to undermine your efforts. You start looking at things in a different light.

If your physical activities are really hard and demanding it doesn’t take long to understand that what you put in you IS fuel and you need a) enough fuel and b) the right kind of fuel to sustain your activity level.

Last year I picked up a sports nutrition book for endurance athletes to read and teach myself more of what I needed to do. Training for that 50K I knew I needed to really eat…. intentionally.

Let’s just say, there were a lot of days I wasn’t eating enough for what I was physically doing. It takes planning and forethought to consume foods to not only support your daily living and activities but also your purposeful exercise.

I’m learning. I’ve learned a lot and don’t think I’ve arrived at getting it right. It’s a constant work in progress.

Anyway on my journey of the foods I eat, salad has always been a standard for me. Not as a “diet” food. Not because I “had to”… I’m a weirdo… I just enjoy them.

Before I became somewhat knowledgeable of foods and nutritional content one of the food groups I enjoyed in my salad was…… Ranch… yes, Ranch dressing.

It is a food group, isn’t it ? 😉

Then I started getting smarter and realized I was killing and totally negating any positive effects of salad by the dressing on it. Now I was horrible about it, not like some salads I’ve seen where the lettuce is buried under a sea of white dressing, almost no longer visible….

Over time, I slowly weaned myself away from it. Oh, I have it occasionally ( I like it with my salad and pizza 😉 but this is rare for me.

Let me say this. I often eat salads. Most days of the week they are my lunch staple, because I really, honesty, enjoy them. And, you can seriously get all your daily servings of veggies in with it….. double win.

My salads are not just the standard lettuce, tomato, cucumber kind of salads. I throw all kinds of colorful veggies in, sometimes a fruit of some type, some nuts, seeds or other crunch along with some protein. I’ve learned to use spinach as my “lettuce”. It’s a creative venture for me each time 😛

Seriously, spinach is like a powerhouse of amazing, good for your nutrient rich stuff for almost zero calories. You wanna eat that stuff. Our store has been carrying locally grown and it’s spoiling me!

So I learned, if you add enough texture and variety of tastes and flavors to your salads, dressings are only needed in very minimal amounts.

But, as mentioned, when you are on a health and fitness journey, you do begin to look critically at how and what you eat to support and sustain those goals.

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A sample of a lunch salad…lots of fresh spinach!

One of the main “suggestions” I offer to people who are wanting to lose weight, is to keep a record of what you eat for about a week, and really consider all the little “extras” you might consume but don’t consider empty calories piling into your days.

Things like an over abundance of salad dressing, mayo, and other creamy sauces and the like really do add up. When you can see from your food journal what your consumption of certain items are, you can then begin to examine what you don’t need or could eliminate to help you on your journey to shed weight and get healthier.

Small steps can lead to big, long term changes!