Health, Fitness And Not Giving Up

people give up

Hello world! Are you still out there? I know I’ve been gone for some days, but if you remember from a previous post, I had a son get married this past week and I gained a new daughter in law.

To say my four day weekend was a little busy is an understatement. However, the wedding happened, it looked beautiful, and they are now married. The most important part, right?

To say I was proud watching my oldest get married, to see his petite bride taking his arm with a smiling face and eyes only for him, yeah ok I was proud.

So now here I am, a week later trying to sit myself down and share something with you so you know I’m still alive and kicking.

So, on to todays program! As many of my posts are, they get generated through conversations with people, or sometimes a quote I see, or whatever current hype I want to address.

I recently saw a post on social media about “getting started again”. There was discouragement this person had gotten off track with their fitness goals and were attempting to get back heading the right direction again.

It really is so easy to do, to get discouraged and throw in the towel.

We forget it takes some time and perseverance to make progress!  We tend not to chart our progress when we gain weight or skip workouts ( who wants to remind themselves they aren’t working out or eating right?)

Yet when we are wanting to lose weight or get more physically fit, we get frustrated with ourselves. We want quick results and almost instant change. We look in the mirror for visible results. We put clothes on expecting them to be magically bigger.

When it doesn’t happen, we just quit.  Maybe we quit because for awhile, our old habits are just easy to fall back into. Like our fav pair of jeans or sloppy shoes.

It feels comfortable to us.

Those new changes feel uncomfortable and when we don’t get quick results it’s easy to think “why bother”?

We may look at the scale and see numbers that are seemingly so far away and getting to that goal feels overwhelming.

Maybe it’s lab results at the doctor that give a more in depth look of your health and those numbers aren’t so good.

Perhaps that walk you took off on has reminded you that, yeah, your cardio health, it’s as out of shape as the outside body you can see.

It’s not comfortable to move into a zone of “discomfort”.  And yeah, there is a certain level of discomfort that comes from moving ourselves into new habits and behaviors.

Change just won’t come unless we’re willing to accept and embrace it.

Our focus needs adjusted…

When we focus on how far we need to go to get to whatever goals we’ve set for ourselves it really hinders our progress. Not only that, it’s just not fair to yourself.

If you’re working daily to make changes ( even if you might not feel you always nail them) you aren’t being fair to yourself to consider all the work you’ve invested into the process of a lifestyle change.

I think, talking with people, this has to be one of the single most important thing to consider and remember.  I try and remind them of where they’ve come from, Whether it’s a new mentality about food, learning to listen to their bodies more about how to eat and when to eat, learning to exercise,or thinking in more positive ways about themselves. Maybe they had a better report at the doctor or they have been able to do more physically with greater ease.

A lifestyle change is a slow, daily, determined process. Don’t believe that those small changes don’t matter, they do! And in time those small things will lead to that greater weight loss you want or being able to take on a physical activity you previously thought you couldn’t.

I’m no different. True, my goals and perspectives have changed for myself since I started my health journey. I’m no longer focused on weight or trying to lose it.  But I still feel that way when I’m pushing myself to get faster on the bike, running, or lifting something heavier.

I remind myself how far I’ve come and that this is indeed, a daily journey and I need to keep my focus on how far I’ve come and not the road in front of me I’m still traveling.

Same for you. It’s much more enjoyable when you focus on what you’ve accomplished than what you still need to do.

Celebrate your victories, don’t be to harsh on yourself if a day doesn’t go as planned, and learn to enjoy your journey and all you will learn about yourself.

Are you in a place of discouragement or have you quit again? Have you done it before but now are on the right track again? What has helped you stick with it?

 

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The Right Diet For You

diet-over

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Other suggestions to this would be:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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?

Fuel Your Body Right

Food.

It’s no grand secret it’s the key to life 😉 I really kinda like the stuff too.

I mean seriously, when you are honest to goodness hungry and you want to eat the first thing that moves, doesn’t food taste… amazing ?? I don’t feel like that if I’m not hungry.

Give me an hour after an intense workout and I can do food like a piranha.

piranaha
Attractive, I know. Me….a couple hours after a serious long run….

And there’s sooo much deliciousness in this world we can choose from… vast amounts of food to handle our daily needs… aren’t we blessed?

Now here comes the trickier part… if we keep in mind that food is fuel for our body… to give us energy, balance, and stability for our day…we need to consider how we are fueling.

That can require some thought and preparation so when we are in full blown hunger mode, we can still make smart choices.

One thing I’m starting and it’s not a novel idea is chopping up all kinds of raw veggies and tossing them in a Ziploc bag. Now I know people do food prep and have cute little containers for the week or day, but I think it takes up to much space and my veggies don’t mind gettin’ all close and comfy in the same bag together 😉

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Look at all those tasty critters living in harmony 😉

This is handy in several ways for me. If I need a fast snack and those veggies are ready to go, I am way more likely to graze on them ( instant gratification) and if I’m super on top of things, I’ve also whipped up some ranch dip made with plain Greek yogurt to have with them, if I’m so inclined. On the lunch menu, I really love salads so having veggies I can just toss in with my spinach and not have to cut and chop is a huge bonus.

Now all of you out there who’ve ever wondered how you get your veggie servings in … a super salad at lunch can just about get your there.. and you can snack like a ravenous beast on veggies…wheelbarrows full for minimal calories and huge nutritional benefits.

What? You can’t do it? Don’t like them so much over say, chips? Remember that habit thing we’ve been talking about ? Just start small, with what you like, and go from there.

Veggies are a wonderful fuel source for your body, and so good for you too. I love being satisfied, but not feeling lethargic, from a good lunch. The foods we eat can make us feel good, energetic, and stable or they can leave us feeling full, sluggish, lethargic and not energetic. Consider your meals and how you feel after… determine where you might need to make adjustments.

Remember the fuel illustration. If I had a high performance sports car, I wouldn’t put junk fuel in it.  Take the same approach to your body.

Food prep comes in handy to help you make good choices when you need them and gives you the ability to make wise fuel choices when you might be weak. It all keeps coming back to the habits we build…. train yourself to reach for good foods.

Other things you can consider:

Hard boil eggs for a quick protein snack or to add to a salad.

Have cheese cubed for an afternoon snack with some fruit.

Make your own snack mix with raw nuts and craisins ( I like the 50% less sugar ones) keep in small bags for when you’re on the run.

Greek yogurts… ready to go.

I love sweet potatoes. I usually roast extra at night so I can use in salads or for breakfast.

Mix up tuna with avocado. I love it by itself with some fruit or you can have it on a sandwich.

Keep fruit washed in ‘fridge so it’s ready to grab.

I know when I’m hungry I’m less likely to take time to do certain things, so if I’ve prepared in advance, it definitely helps keep me on the right eating track. Making good choices makes me not just feel better physically, but mentally too.

Do you do food prep? If so, what tricks do you have?

Crossing the (Diet) Bridge

800px-Cross-country_skiing_bridge,_Mittagskogel

 

I have two special friends, male and female, who have been extremely successful in their quest to lose weight and get into living a healthy lifestyle.  Like myself, they have done it the plain old fashioned way of taking it slow and steady, losing weight and allowing their minds to be transformed along with their shrinking bodies. They have had good days and bad on their journeys to get where they are now. Nothing happened over night, but it did happen.

Now a much, much slimmer version of their former selves they have learned skills along their journey to stay successful. Eating better, eating less, building in their favorite “treats”, exercise and a positive attitude. These things all contribute to  permanent success.

As things go in life, all of our paths have intersected and I now have enjoyable relationships with each of these people.

I found it interesting that in totally separate conversations, they voiced to me what I’ve often pondered myself on this journey.

“Why do some people get started and quit? Why do some start, re-start and start again and then something happens and it “takes”?”

All three of us have used the illustration of crossing over the bridge. Funny, because we each had this same thought and shared it within our conversations.

Maybe, perhaps, because we get it.

I think most people would agree, it’s fairly easy to put weight on, but requires a lot more from us to remove it.

Discipline to say “no” to things we want to eat. Discipline to pass on seconds, or foods we know won’t best support our health and wellness goals. Sacrifice to make room in our schedules for exercise or to get up earlier. Dedication to a new way of living that at first feels unfamiliar, foreign, and down right uncomfortable.  Willingness to finally get real with who we are, where we are and how we got there. Not to mention a certain amount of tenaciousness to hold onto wanting to be successful like a bulldog with a favorite toy.

You see that ? All those things, they start in your head.

Discipline.

Sacrifice.

Dedication.

Willingness.

We tend to think of weight loss as just a body thing….” I’ll just stop eating to much and lose weight and it will all be fine”  without realizing the huge part our minds play in the process of truly becoming successful.

Why do you think people who are going to undergo major weight loss surgeries are encouraged to go to counseling classes to help them process not just weight loss but what will be required of them from a nutritional stand point? Sadly, so many of these will go back to gaining all that weight again because even though their bodies  are changing, their minds haven’t made a connection to a new way of living, they are still thinking about all the food that got them to that point in the first place and wanting to eat in the same ways.

Like many others, they will not have “crossed over the bridge”.

It’s that place where it all connects together and you understand exactly what has to be done, that it will be a process, and you simply settle in for the journey. You take a single day at a time. You strive to make the best choices (nutritionally) you can. You stop viewing eating good foods as a form of punishment. Exercise becomes just as valuable as brushing your teeth each day. You allow your body to slowly and steadily go through the losing part just like it did the gaining part. You get that there will be days that will bomb and you dust off and keep going.

You love yourself on the journey.

The journey, that crosses you over the bridge into freedom and into a new way of living.

A permanent lifestyle change. Welcome to the other side.