Your Schedule And Exercise

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Meetings. School, work, volunteer groups seems like no matter what kind of group you may be involved with at some point they have meetings you attend. Some you may be able to get out of but something like, work, you really don’t get an option.

When you have a meeting with the boss you better make sure your happy little self is there ready to do what needs to be done.

A scheduled meeting with yourself to get your sweat on should be no different.

I’ve been asked how I manage to “stick with” exercise. I’ve been told that my “dedication” is to be admired. Often the person I’m talking with is wanting to know what the magic potion is that has helped me maintain my exercise regime for 8 years now.

I hate to tell you, but there isn’t any magic potion.

In the beginning it involved some whining and complaining ( to myself) but I made myself  go do it.

And those are accurate words… made myself.

No athletic clothes, no heavy sweating, no techie gear, no athletic goals dancing in my head. Just a decent pair of shoes, I’d dutifully walk off my 2 miles.

I wasn’t excited about doing it. I did it because I knew I needed to and if I wanted to live a healthy life I would move my body purposefully every single day.

I made a commitment to it. If I couldn’t do it in the morning ( my preferred time) then I’d come home in the afternoon, change shoes, and go get it done.

In time something crazy started happening….

I don’t remember exactly when the shift occurred. The shift from dutifully doing it and checking it off my list, to something I looked forward to and began to guard and schedule as anything else important in my life.

In a 24 hour span of time, my workouts sessions were my time I scheduled with myself.  I learned to view them as important as anything else I’d be doing in my day.

I learned to structure the rest of my day and appointments around my scheduled workout time, allowing for clean up and getting to my destination.

Some mornings are tight but I’ve become a wizard at transforming from sweaty, grime crusted athletic girl to someone who smells clean and looks respectable in an almost Ninja fast way.

Why? Because those meetings are important to me. They set the tone for my day. Workouts wake up my body, clear the night cobwebs and get my blood flowing. If I miss it, I honestly feel “off”.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.

When you commit to something and faithfully follow through it turns into this crazy thing called… a habit. Once that habit is established it doesn’t cross your mind to make excuses to not do it.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road and putting miles under me is a great way to learn things about myself.

I haven’t learned those things by not keeping my scheduled meetings to be there.

Over these past years I’ve seen what I’m made of when I have to dig deeper into myself for the challenge in front of me. I’ve learned I can continue to push past limits and head to new ones, and then push past those too.

In keeping those meetings with myself, fitness has taught me so much.

I’ve learned more about discipline, consistency, hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, goal setting, the strength of not just my body ( which at times I’m amazed at what it can do) but how it’s forged a fierce mental toughness in me which comes in handy for the rest of life. I’ve learned with training and determination I can do things I used to think were only for an elite group of people.

And in a cool way, I learned that I was pretty good at it.  Something else I would’ve missed out on not keeping those early morning meetings with myself.

So what suggestions do I give to people?

As mentioned above, that is one of the things I get asked mainly because I think people do find it so hard to stick with. They want ideas and help to get rolling (and hopefully ) staying with it.

They have a genuine desire but I hear them, it’s hard in the beginning! You have to fight back against all the things that come at you, especially yourself.

Excuses can be easily made to justify not getting it done. Work, family, school, other activities all clamor for our attention and we wonder if it isn’t easier to just let it go.

So here are my pointers, for what it’s worth.

~Determine what time of day is best for you. This will be a totally personal thing depending on the schedule of your life and if you function best in the morning or evening.  Find a time.

~ Start with something you enjoy doing.  You will stay with it if you actually like what you do. And why you’re doing that, be thinking of something else you can do. Having a couple activities keeps boredom from setting in.

~ Just start. Don’t wait for Monday or till after a holiday or your grandmothers birthday. Just get up and start.

~ There are days you’re gonna think you’re to tired. Do it anyway. You’ll feel invigorated I promise.

~View it as important as anything else in your day and don’t allow it to not get done. ** I will say here, sometimes life just happens, even for me. If things go beyond your control and it just doesn’t, just regroup and get at it again the next day.**

~ Zealously guard your time. In the beginning when I started exercising I kept at it because I felt like the alcoholic who, if they had a drink would fall off the wagon. Only I worried if I made an excuse one day, then it would lead to another day, and I’d find myself in the land of excuses again for dropping my exercise habit. Honestly, it scared me enough to make me stay at it. Sometimes a little fear doesn’t hurt.

~ Consistency and discipline have payoffs. Not just the side effects of helping you lose weight or how your physique may change with it, but you will build that discipline into a new habit, and new habits have this crazy way of sticking.

~ Be kind to yourself. Remember an unexpected set back or off day isn’t a reason to forget the idea. Several years ago I hurt my knee, and no, not from running. It was from learning to ride a motorcycle 😛 the doctor wanted me off running for 6 weeks. I was devastated. But I was more terrified with that much time off I’d be out of my routine and not want to go back to it. Not true. I counted the days and when I got back on the road for the first time, I literally cried. ( something I do not recommend as running with a snotty nose hinders your breathing a bit haha 😉 ) I cried to be back out. I cried that my desire hadn’t gone away. I cried for the pure freedom of doing something I had been learning to love.

That’s when I realized that exercise thing really had stuck.

Yes, there are days now I wake up and as my brain is focusing on my training for that morning I think am I gonna have all I need to do this ? Of course that’s my “foggy, I haven’t had coffee yet to remind me that, yes I do” brain speaking.

I do have all I need. I love what I can do and am thankful to be able to do it. I’m thankful I pushed on in those early days and didn’t quit.

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This is what happens when you stick with exercise. You’re snapping a selfie after finishing your first round through the entire duathlon course. #runbikerun

 

If you’re struggling to get started understand we’ve all been there. Just make a commitment to yourself and get rolling with one day at a time. Schedule your meetings with yourself and before you know it, you’ll be eager to show up for them.

Tell me have you overcome the lack of exercise in your life? How did you do it? Or is this an area you still struggle with ?

~

Health, Fitness And Not Giving Up

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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?

 

Food Choices Deprivation Or Empowerment

Pass Junk food

 

“Don’t you miss eating fun foods?” I was asked that question one day…. this person obviously didn’t know my eating habits super well or they’d know my weakness for some occasional chocolate, powdered sugar donuts, or better yet, French fries.

Years ago as I embarked on my health journey, that may have been my mentality. It would’ve have been my mentality if I had banned foods or put them off limits or treated them like I’d never, ever get to have them again.

Not making foods “good” or “bad” has helped me be successful, and stay successful on this path.  I think this theory will work for the majority of people wanting to be healthy.

Oh, in the past I can remember parties or get togethers and “abstaining” from whatever foods/desserts I thought I shouldn’t have.

Let’s be honest, that kinda stuff flat out sucks.

But here’s the weird kicker. What starts out in the beginning as something that feels out of your routine, or daily habit, can slowly be transformed into a new habit and permanent change in our lifestyle.

If you eat “junk” food and it’s your thing to go to, then your taste buds have definitely been trained to eat that way. I’d like to think all of you were raised by moms who attempted to feed you good, healthy food in the beginnings of your life.

As a free willed individual, you grew up and did your own thing. That might involve not eating what mom tried to get you to eat but instead opting for other less desirable choices.

You get it… you train yourself to eat foods that support your health and give you energy or you’re comfortable eating foods that satisfy your emotions and mouth and offer no or minimal nutritional value.

It does make me sad when people make jokes about eating foods that support good health and they don’t participate in eating that way. I’m over here thinking… “that’s your body your living in, the only one you get!”

A mental shift has to occur for anyone to be successful in weight loss and eating in a manner that supports good health.

If you view not getting to eat “junk” food as deprivation, you will not move forward. If you view eating well as punishment, you will not move forward.

We all face temptations when it comes to foods. I have my own that are best for me to stay away from.

I know what it’s like to be in the store, hungry, and all those things I know I don’t need seem to taunt me to buy them.

After all, I’m hungry, right?

But then there’s the stronger part of my mind and body that knows better…. I know how empowering it is to know it’s there and leave it. I know how empowering it is to make good food choices and how I feel after the fact.

And yes, if you are hungry in the store ( a practice I do not recommend 😉 ) there is a plethora of foods that can help you that are healthy to snack on…. really. You don’t have to be drawn in at the candy when you are checking out.

It all takes practice. And determination. And failure.

Yes. I said failure.

You aren’t going to nail this each and every time. In the beginning it will be a struggle. With repeated efforts of success and failure you will eventually have more success than not ( this is where determination comes in… and a bit of stubbornness doesn’t hurt either)

As you practice this you will develop new strength, new strength is empowering when you walk away from something. It gradually turns into something you will just automatically do.

Assess what it is. Think about if you really need it. Think about if it will support your health and fitness goals.

Make a choice.

And you know what, sometimes, it’s ok to get that candy bar.

I had done a long endurance session recently and by midafternoon my body was wanting just all out pure sugar. I’ve come to know this feeling occasionally since I’ve become involved in endurance sports.

I intentionally bought a candy bar. I can’t tell you the last time I had one. It was delicious. That feeling went away after. I haven’t wanted one since.

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It was good…

 

No guilt.

I fully knew I could’ve gotten a “healthier” treat. I also made a mindful decision that I wanted to get that candy bar.

It is empowering when you are in mindful control of making choices regarding what goes in your mouth and how you eat.

As you learn to make eating healthier a priority, you not only feel better and are more energetic, your tastes for the lesser quality food really will diminish. In time, you will find those desired foods will have less pull and it becomes quite easy to ignore them and never have them, and yeah, you won’t feel “deprived” either. You will however, feel empowered.

A successful healthy lifestyle will involve balance. Good days and bad days. The key to success is to keep moving forward. Learn to enjoy how you feel when you make more aware choices of what you eat and when you choose a better option.

In time, it will come almost effortlessly to you.

Tell me was there or has there been a time you’ve felt deprived because you didn’t think you could have some type of food? How do you feel when you make a better choice or a more purposeful decision in what you eat?

Iodine And Your Thyroid Health

I stumbled over the article quite by accident doing research for a post I was working on.

“Female athletes at risk for iodine deficiencies”

What? And what the heck does iodine have to do with anything?

Ok. The facts I do know or am cognitively aware of regarding iodine.

It’s a mineral. Our bodies need it. Our bodies don’t make it. I understood our thyroids need it ( but didn’t know to what extent till I started this project) I knew historically way back in the day Morton’s Salt Company started putting iodine in salt and…well… boom. No more health issues.

That’s it to the whole iodine story. Right?  Nod your head. It’s all you knew about iodine too… admit it.

Ok as a female athlete, I  obviously perked up on that story and checked it out. I mean, come on, I don’t want to be deficient in anything.

Fair to say when you meet with your doctor for your yearly check in, iodine probably doesn’t come up on the list of labs he’s doing for you.

( and for the educational record, all of our excess iodine leaves our bodies by way of urination after our bodies have scooped up what they need that day. Unless you’re also an athlete, then it up’s the game even more as we lose it through sweating as well)

After reading the article, it had some questions at the end to answer. 5 to be exact. If you answered yes to even one you had the potential to be iodine deficient.

I answered “yes” to 3 out of 5.

( do I exercise regularly, do I use less or no salt on my food, do I use sea salt instead of table salt were my “yes” answers)

I have taught myself over the years to use more cracked pepper for seasoning on my food than salt.  I also started using sea salt several years ago because I liked that it took a little amount to season my food, meaning less sodium.

Here’s what I learned on that topic… sea salt, the fancy pink salt or any other non-table salts…. none of them are iodized.

This is what put me on the road to learning more about this mineral, how it works and the role it plays in our bodies as humans, but also the role it plays for athletes. AND to figure out if I had any type of deficiency based on my answers and my athletic lifestyle.

First, some facts.

Iodine is a highly water soluble trace element that is rare in the earths crust but fairly prevalent in it’ seas. It’s also referred to as the “forgotten mineral”, it simply gets little to no acknowledgement in todays health world.  It is used by nearly every tissue in the body . This mineral is necessary for total body health and proper metabolic function. It is largely stored in the thyroid, but adrenal glands, ovaries, breasts, thymus, brain, stomach, and pancreas all require iodine, but the thyroid takes the lions share. of your daily intake in order to create the hormones  that regulate metabolism, generate body heat, and keep all your tissues functioning properly.

Thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), are manufactured in the thyroid gland using iodine. Iodine consumed in the diet circulates in the bloodstream and is selectively taken up by the thyroid gland where, through a series of complex biochemical reactions, it is attached to tyrosine and eventually incorporated in the thyroid hormones T4 and T3.

These thyroid hormones are stored in the thyroid gland until a chemical signal from the pituitary gland, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), activates their release into circulation. Once in the cell, thyroid hormones help to regulate metabolism and create energy and body heat.

When the thyroid is low on iodine these hormones decrease which can lead to fatigue, cold hands and feet, weight gain, dry skin, weak nails, hair loss, muscle aches, depression, constipation, even cancer and miscarriage.

Women have a special problem being that estrogen inhibits the absorption of iodine and can put us at risk for deficiency.

Our bodies need it in relatively small amounts to function properly. However, this is a mineral we do not produce. Without proper iodine levels our thyroids cannot function properly as it feeds off this mineral. A long time ago, before you and I hit the earth, people had issues with goiters and other awful things because of a lack of iodine. Once that was figured out, those issues largely began to drop. In 1924 Mortons Salt company began iodizing table sale which virtually eliminated those health issues. Interestingly enough, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are other common symptoms of deficiency. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism world wide.

However, the numbers in current terms are rather staggering….. according to research iodine deficiency has increased fourfold over the past 40 years and 74% of adults may not get adequate amounts! With doctors suggesting people reduce salt for good health the main “source” of iodine, and salt only having a certain level of bioavailability from iodine, with overall healthier lifestyles there has become a greater increase of deficiencies.

The RDA ( recommended daily allowance, here in the USA) is 150 micrograms for men and women, 220 for pregnant women and 290 for women breastfeeding however these numbers seem to be outdated as this guideline is sufficient enough to prevent goiters  and mental retardation but doesn’t address other symptoms of the thyroid or active lifestyles where it could be depleted. Sort of like the RDA for Vitamin D to prevent rickets. There is a base amount to prevent that, but humans can handle more than the RDA level.

There  are suggestions from my research that although 150 micrograms is the barebones amount people need to prevent health problems, upwards of 1100 mcg’s are tolerable for adults.

Keep in mind, as people often do, they buy into a thought that “if a little is good, a lot will be better”. Not true. Although toxicity is rare to much iodine can cause the thyroid to respond in negative ways. High levels of iodine can cause some of the same symptoms as deficiency , including goiter or thyroid gland inflammation. The thyroid is very sufficient in what it does and only needs so much to function properly.  To much can push it towards hypothyroid symptoms.

So, who’s at risk?

Back to my opening thought, my reasons for pursuing this topic. I’ve been blown away at the information on it, not only from my original intent of learning how it affects me as an athlete but the fact it’s a topic with a lot of information out there. In my research I’ve tried to steer clear of “extreme” thoughts and find common, intelligent information that consistently supports the topic.

As stated earlier, athletes are at higher risk for deficiency due to sweat losses, as well as the fact our bodies flush iodine through urination as well, A liter of sweat contains about 40 mcg’s of iodine which means we could easily lose up to that 150 mcg (baseline amount) without replenishing it through food sources, a multi vitamin, table salt, or a supplement, the chances of deficiency increase.

I had done my  own “sweat test” one day before a workout. I knew I lost a good deal of fluid but I had decided to do my own experiment for a post here on my blog.  I weighed in before and after, sans clothes, and charted my weight. In that particular workout I was a little over 3 lbs less when I finished… that was about 6 1/2 cups of fluid.  A liter contains 4.2 cups. That information alone tells me I could deplete myself considering it was almost a daily norm for me.

I learned that athletes performing at high intensity for prolonged periods of time, particularly in a humid environment, have significantly increased risk of becoming iodine deficient if they don’t pay special attention to replacing this important nutrient through diet, iodine-containing nutritional supplements, or iodized salt.

Looking at those questions on that little test, I fit a profile of an athlete who eats healthy, had already reduced salt, was using sea salt ( sparingly), exercised daily and sweated a lot. As I mentioned earlier, it came as a surprise to me that sea salt and all of it’s fancier counterparts are not iodized.

So what’s the verdict?

Without testing or overarching symptoms, you cannot diagnose you have a deficiency. An iodine loading test can be done to see how much iodine your body retains. Talking with your doctor would be the first and most important course of action if you are concerned over this.

As I obviously fall into a category that might plug me in as “potentially” deficit, I would first discuss any supplements and any testing with my doctor. On my own I will seek out natural food sources to support my iodine intake ( see some foods below).

The main thing I need to cautious over is the fact I am already hypothyroid. I  never really bring this up because well, I really don’t want to be defined by anything. I see my doctor yearly for labs, take my meds faithfully and on time every single day, and pretty much do my own thing and don’t think about it.  Athletically, I don’t feel it’s held me back in anyway.  From all I’ve learned though, taking on a supplement of any kind if you already have this condition could mess with your thyroid production. An supplement needs to be started with a small dosage to allow you time to adapt to it.

Eat healthy, it’s good for you regardless.

Below are some foods that naturally have iodine. By eating a iodine rich diet you should easily maintain a healthy level in your body. It should also be noted, if you take a multi vitamin, they have added the 150 mcgs in for you. But also as noted, that is a very bare bones minimum for a daily intake.

Iodized salt… just one gram can offer 77 micrograms of iodine.

Sea veggies. Seaweed offers the highest amount of iodine on the planet (obviously) Ok… I’m going to try dried seaweed although the idea is kinda making me gag… I’ll let you know…Just a small amount a day is all it takes to easily cover you. Literally,  a quarter serving provides 4500 micrograms of iodine

 

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I wasn’t smiling after I tried it… but I can say at least I tried it, right? It tasted like I had indeed been at the ocean and accidently got seaweed in my mouth. It tasted like salt water, and as I kept chewing I thought it tasted like fish. Gah. It was like the candy in Willy Wonka that kept changing flavors. I will not be able to eat this.  Ewww.

 

Other foods sources that are more normal 😉 are ….

baked potatoes, milk, codfish, shrimp, turkey breast, tuna fish, boiled eggs, greek yogurt, bananas, strawberries, cranberries, canned corn, cheddar cheese, green beans, pineapple, watercress, and white bread.

Of course you can get iodine with a multi vitamin and ramping up weekly intake of fish, milk, yogurt and other food sources from the list.

And finally….

There is a lot of information on this topic and interest in the “forgotten” mineral of iodine that you can continue to read on.

You are your own best advocate in regards to your health and well being. If you have questions or concerns on iodine deficiency, starting with your doctor would be the first consideration.

Of course, intentionally eating whole foods that offer rich iodine sources are the best way to give your body what it needs to function and be healthy.

 

 

Transformation: It’s The Small Things

As I’ve meandered along these past years on what I refer to as my “journey” in fitness and nutrition,  I’ve had opportunity to talk to a lot of people who are on the same path, or trying to stay on it.

Some are successful and have found the right “blend” that works for them, the thing that is sustainable allowing them to keep after it day after day and still live their life.

Others are still struggling, battling against various issues that push them back from staying on that road to success.

I’ve seen people excitedly get started and then I’ve watched the excuses start creeping in. Excuses for eating poorly or not getting exercise. Excuses for why there isn’t a loss on the scale.  These reasons seem justifiable to them.

And I know as well as anyone how you have to battle back against excuses that creep in and try to side track you.  Because in the beginning, they always do. And it’s easy to give into them because you haven’t been grinding it out long enough to make these things a habit.

You haven’t been doing enough purposeful exercise so it’s easy to tell yourself that missing today won’t matter… until it bleeds into the next day… and the next… and then you aren’t doing it at all.

You haven’t trained yourself to turn a blind eye to the box of donuts in the office break room or pass on eating seconds because you mentally know and understand these practices won’t support your current health goals.

So many things go into our success ( or lack thereof) when it comes to our health and fitness goals.

So many things must be done and built into new habits to contribute to our success. Without building these skills, we will keep sliding back to where we’ve always been.

It takes a measure of discipline, hard work, and the ability to have days we fall and get back at it.

It’s all those small things we do consistently that lead us to where we want to be.

If there’s one thing that stands out working with people ( and those who get discouraged and give up) it’s this….

No matter what you tell someone, those small things, done daily, add up.

Unfortunately, they have thoughts that all their weight will magically go away in a week or two, forgetting they’ve been adding it on for months or years.

They start exercising and get frustrated that their body is reminding them it hasn’t done work like this in a long time, if ever. And trust me, if you don’t think you’re “out of shape” before you start an exercise program, you do when you’re body is gasping for air or aches the day after you’ve done something.

It is enough to make you want to quit before you even get started.

Raise your hand if you’ve been there. Yeah, I have too.

But when you decide you’re in it for the long haul, and you settle in to just living life, and then you just do those things that need to be done as a part of your life, changes will happen.

It’s the small things.

Yeah,  I know in the world we live in today it’s all about instant gratification, quick results, no discomfort, and easy results.

Sorry. It just doesn’t play out like that in regards to  health and fitness.

Small choices we make, small moves we make, small daily consistencies, add up.

I was thinking the other day, plowing up hill after hill doing a 5k run for the duathlon how doing it was  hard work, but work my body has adapted to and learned to respond to. My heart and breathing are strong but not in that horrible way when I was out of shape.  I also have a fast recovery heart rate now as well so when I finish, it doesn’t take long at all to be breathing normal again or have my heart rate back in a much lower zone.

Of course it wasn’t always like that. When I first started taking on hills, depending on size, I’d maybe do part way up, and then reverse my route. As I got stronger I walked strongly all the way up. As my cardio system got stronger too, I could walk them and not have my heart pounding so fiercely or be breathing as hard like a fish out of water.

Eventually, I was just all out running them. It’s such a cool feeling when my body just kicks in and does what it’s been trained to do.

The steep grade of the hill and how my legs feel pushing up it. How my body position shifts. How my breathing changes to a deep even rhythm to push on.

Small choices and activities led me to that point. Small choices also led to weight loss, getting stronger and doing more athletically.

I cant stress enough to you… if you’re on a mission to get fit, to get healthier, to lose weight. to train for an Ironman, whatever your goals are… those small choices you make each day will get you to where you’re going.

You might feel like what you do today doesn’t matter or it’s not “changing” anything. You might feel like that longer morning walk wont  result in anything or skipping on that extra treat won’t matter, but it does. Do that in a week, you’ve made progress.

And don’t forget, there is SO much going on inside you that you don’t see. Changes, growth, energy being built from what you’re doing, fat leaving, muscles growing. Your body beautifully adapting to the new changes you are putting it through.

All from those small, daily, consistent things you do.

Don’t give up. Don’t quit.

The reward is big when you don’t.

small changes

 

Food Vs. Supplements

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Commercials. If there’s one thing they are designed for it’s to sell you on the product at hand.  To convince you that your life will be better with it. They want to make you spend your money on it.

You name it, nothing seems to be off limits anymore. One has caught my eye several times for an anti-aging skin care product… not because I put much stock in products that promote that. The cream supposedly has blackberry extracts to contribute to keeping a young look.

Of course my first thought was… why not just eat those suckers instead of using a cream that may have a touch of blackberry extract in it? They are a staple in my food consumption almost every day… I think it’s better eating them than slathering them on my eyes…

Blackberries are loaded with Vitamin C with a serving at 3.5 oz, offering 35% of the daily allowance, that serving is only 43 calories, and they are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. A serving offers 5.3 grams of fiber. This humble fruit is also loaded with all kinds of vitamins and minerals and antioxidant properties. These antioxidant compounds protect against aging, inflammation, cancer and other neurological diseases…their dark color is a sign of their high antioxidant content.

Now back to the skin care with blackberries being marketed as an anti-aging cream.

If blackberries are loaded with so many good things in such a tiny package, and are a huge anti-aging food, you should be eating them up and not just slathering a bit of cream on your skin that may have miniscule amounts in it.

You’ve heard that saying you are what you eat? Nourish your body from the inside out.

There’s a huge market right now for supplements and health products on the market. They all offer a replacement option to the actual thing… real food.

Vitamins. Minerals. Health aids. Probiotics. Protein powders. Colorful drinks. Meal “replacements”.

That’s my favorite. I don’t want a meal “replacement”.

I want real food, thank you.

This, that and the other. So many things vying for your attention and your money… mainly…. your money.

A quick stroll down the health and supplement aisle will have you believing you need these products to be healthy because well, you know, eating balanced, nutritious food just isn’t enough to keep you healthy, vital and energetic. Certainly you are lacking something…so take a supplement. Use our drink. Take this pill.

We’ve had this pushed at us for so long, we’ve started to buy into it…literally.

One of the biggest markets right now has to be with protein/supplements/shakes/add in’s etc.

Often people purchase thinking they need it, especially if they are spending time in the gym. I mean, isn’t that just a part of it? Like lifting, sweating, making gains.. you MUST be chugging down protein?

OK first… a quick look at what whey protein is

Milk is made up of two proteins, casein and whey.

Whey protein can be separated from the casein in milk or formed as a by-product of cheese making. Whey protein is considered a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is low in lactose content.

This is what you see mostly in the aisles of stores.

Whey protein is used for weight loss and to help protect and build muscles.

If you use it, it should in balance too. Over doing on protein supplements can cause health issues such as stomach pains, cramps, reduced appetite, nausea, headache and fatigue.

A friend recently sent me a story of a young woman who was training and working on building her body for fitness competitions.  She evidently lived on a pretty steady diet of protein supplements/drinks/high protein diet etc.

She was found unresponsive in her home and later died. Evidently she had a rare genetic disorder that stopped her body from breaking down protein properly. This caused ammonia to build up in her blood and an accumulation of fluid in her brain.  Unfortunately, this isn’t really tested for and only found after her death.

I know you’re sitting there thinking… “well, this is a rare thing so… people don’t need to really worry about this” …

the fact is, to much of anything isn’t good for us. Our body can only use and process so much protein at a time before the rest of it’s washed out. Excess protein will not make us have more muscles or achieve a better level of fitness.

I love protein and it definitely keeps me satisfied and from feeling hungry. I know it feeds my muscles and helps them to get stronger, and even grow a little. My protein comes from food sources, although, after long endurance workouts when my appetite is not there, I will use one for recovery just to get some carbs and protein in until my appetite returns.

People are “sold” on the idea that food isn’t enough. Or if a supplement/vitamin/ drink is good, more should be better.

We are bombarded with products in the store, online, and even what our neighbor is pedaling that is supposed to help us fix all of our ills ( which we don’t even know we have till we get the product to miraculously cure them all)  There are a few out there that are promising to “cure’ more and more things. Just note, I’ve seen new fine print that says it’s not FDA approved and that its not to prevent, cure or treat diseases)

Once again I’ll say this, our bodies are made in a beautiful balanced way, needing just a certain amount of vitamins and minerals for optimal health. To much of one thing could be enough to make you sick or throw off another vitamin or mineral in your body.

And don’t be lead astray by companies trying to sell you on the idea you’re “lacking” something and need to take their product. The only way you know you’re deficient in something is usually through the doctor after having lab work done. And if you are worried about something, talk to your health care professional!

Case in point… last year my husband had labs done and was found to be deficient in Vitamin D. Yes, he has been using a supplement with his nutrition to get his levels where they need to be.

Don’t be led astray that you “need” something without any evidence for it.

So here’s the deal…

good quality, nutritious food IS enough.

It is enough to give your body daily fuel, sustain it for workouts, your daily activities, and help you build a stronger more fit body if that’s your goal.

When you cut out non-essential foods that don’t contribute to your health and fitness goals and focus on eating nutritionally balanced foods, your body will respond, especially when you add in a good healthy dose of exercise.

So many of the problems we deal with today can be improved on with better nutrition, getting the non-essential foods and drinks out, exercising more and maintaining a healthy weight.

You don’t need supplements, shakes, drinks, potions or anything else to build a healthy body. We need to be careful about extra things we put in it lest we throw off the perfect, beautiful, balance that its naturally made to operate in.

Do you or have you used supplements ? Do you feel they helped you?  Have you ever felt like you just had to go along with what was currently popular?

Understanding Emotional Eating

It’s 9:30 at night and you are for some reason, in the pantry studying the options, deciding what your poison will be. Cookies? Chips? Maybe the freezer is your thing… there are several varieties  of ice cream begging for attention.

You aren’t really hungry. Your stomach is quiet and you don’t have the physical signs of actually needing to eat food.

But there’s this driving urge in you….

And here you are… stalking the goods… out of what? Boredom? Loneliness? Anger? Hurt? Happy the day is over? Frustration? Hard day at work? Worry? Maybe you don’t even know.

Whatever the reason, it’s emotionally driven. You may be aware of it, or you may feel powerless against it. It may come on like a compelling urge and you act purely instinctively on it without pausing to think of what you are doing.

Many times, it may be completely mindless. Eating as you feed your mind food for your emotional needs.

Emotional eating is only a problem when it becomes a persons central response to  regulating their mood. It is a coping strategy.

What is emotional eating, exactly?

Stress eating. using food to make yourself feel better, eating to satisfy emotional needs rather than physical hunger.

Occasional eating for reasons other than hunger isn’t bad. Some degrees of emotional eating is normal. Food is typically the focus on holidays, celebrations, life events, funerals, weddings, etc.

However, if it is your “go to” , your primary coping mechanism, then there’s a problem.

You are in an unhealthy cycle where the real problem isn’t being addressed.

~ Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food.

~ Feels good in the moment but then you are left with guilt of eating whatever is bugging you.

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Identifying… are you an emotional eater?

Do you eat more when stressed?

Do you eat when you aren’t hungry or are full?

Do you eat to feel better? ( calm or soothe yourself)

Do you reward with food?

Do you regularly eat till you are stuffed?

Does food make you feel safe or like it’s a friend?

Do you feel powerless or out of control with it ?

Emotional eating craves specific comfort/ junk food or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush.

Mindless eating is not satisfied when full. Emotional hunger is not in the stomach. This also leads to negative feelings ( guilt, shame, regret) eating what you feel you shouldn’t have.

Food self soothes. Emotional eating is an attempt to manage moods with food.

Identifying triggers

it’s helpful to assess yourself and understand what can set you off. Situations, places, feelings, etc can cause you to reach for food.

Triggers wont always be negative but can be triggered by positive emotions too ( a reward for a goal, birthdays)

I mean really, who is ever actually hungry for birthday cake or some Christmas cookies? We eat it because it’s enjoyable and we are celebrating.

Common causes of emotional eating

Stress, stuffing emotions, boredom, loneliness, feelings of emptiness, social influences or even ingrained childhood habits can lead to overeating.  It’s important to find other ways to feed your feelings, alternate behaviors that have nothing to do with food.

If you don’t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t revolve around food you won’t be able to control your eating habits for long. Diets often fail because they offer logical nutrition advice – IF- you have conscious control over your eating habits.

They don’t/won’t work when emotions take over demanding a swift payoff of comfort foods. To stop emotionally eating you must learn new ways to fulfill yourself emotionally.

Understanding the cycle and triggers is a huge first step. You need to learn alternates to turn to and not food.

How to help yourself

Pause. Think. Reflect = different decision.

Can you wait?

While you wait…check in with how your feeling… what’s your emotional status?

Are you truly hungry? as in experiencing natural signals of hunger? Or is it your mind/emotions talking?

You’ve attempted resistance in the past with the belief that your willpower isn’t enough.

The truth is you have more power over your cravings than you believe.

Really.

By checking in with yourself, pausing, examining what it is you’re feeling you are more likely to make a different choice than just eating whatever you have in mind.

Learn to accept good and bad feelings. The root of emotional eating is feeling powerless over your emotions. You can’t deal with them so you avoid feelings with food.

Become a more mindful eater.

Mindful eating is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and your food.

Think about the foods you buy. Do you buy healthy foods? Do you buy trigger foods that will contribute to times of emotional eating? Think of what foods will nourish you.

Come to the table hungry. Not ravenous, but with your body giving you it’s natural signals it needs to eat.

Start with small amounts. I’m always amazed, really, at the small amount of food it takes to feed myself and deal with my hunger.

Learn to really appreciate your food. I make jokes to hubby about how amazing food tastes when I’m seriously hungry ( like after long workouts and I’m finally ready for food) not only does it taste awesome, it feels good going in ’cause I am really hungry. I have an appreciation for food with true hunger.

How it tastes and the satisfaction are so different than eating when you aren’t really hungry.

Bring all your senses with you to the table. Learn to smell, savor, and visually appreciate what you are eating.

Take small bites, chew well, and learn to eat slowly.  Doing so will let you really taste and enjoy your meal while allowing your stomach to register that it has had enough food.

Becoming a mindful eater also means staying connected with your feelings and how it impacts your choices in your day with food. It’s practice but with practice you can become more mindful of reasons why you eat when you aren’t hungry or feel like you’re emotions are driving you.

Some reflective thoughts….

I’ve shared several times in blogs my own awareness of coming out of a family of emotional eaters. I’ve talked about learning about myself and being mindful of it in my own life. Understanding that definitely helped me on my weight loss journey.

Sometimes I make very mindful choices that I want something, knowing full well, I don’t need it. Hubby wandered into the kitchen one night to find me perched on the counter top with a bag of chips, munching away.

I told him “I am fully cognizant I’m emotionally eating these right now” and the fact was, there had been some thing or another that had made me feel angst and I just wanted those stupid chips.

The thing about knowing and understanding it’s what I was doing? I ate some, reined myself in, and put them away.

I was mindful of my actions.

You might need time to get there. Maybe you’re at a point where somehow the bag disappears on you. Or maybe more cookies than you intended. Or a whole lotta ice cream vanishes. Or whatever your brand of poison is.

It might require work and effort on your part. It might be times of failure and times of success. The more you mentally engage with it, the closer you will get to not feeding your emotions.

This is such a big topic, you might find more on it in the future here. I think many struggle with it and it prevents the success they long for with weight loss. Gaining insight and understanding can help lead to success.

Do you have thoughts on this?

Have you struggled with emotional eating? Did you find ways to change it?  Do you struggle now? What has made you aware of it?

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The Dangerous Game Of Off Limits Foods

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Just let the quote I have posted breathe over you for a few minutes. Think about it.  Can you relate on some level whether it’s now or at some point on your health journey ? It resonated deeply with me the first time I read it.

It’s a thought that permeates our society right now. An out of control, crazy way of thinking.

And it’s designed to have failure as the ultimate outcome.

“Good foods/bad foods”, ” Eliminate food groups”, “Sugar is like cocaine”, “Carbs are bad”. “Fat is bad”…..

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Every single one of those thoughts can potentially set you up for failure when it comes to eating and nourishing your body.  Setting up negative thoughts is exactly why so many people struggle with their relationship with food.

You may not like to think of it that way, but you do. We all do.

Those relationships can look really different for all of us.

Food can represent a power struggle in both directions. To one extreme it can result in eating disorders like anorexia… withholding food.

It can go the other direction which is bulimia, a complete out of control power with food.

It can also be the act of just over eating. Eating more than our bodies need for nourishment and health which leads to being overweight. Eating to feed a deeper need than physical hunger…  like emotional eating.

Our relationship with food can become rigid where everything is monitored that is taken in. Food becomes a task master to keep after and keep under a tight rein. It’s thought of constantly.

Or we may be fortunate to have developed a healthy relationship with it naturally on our own, or through our own health journey and arriving there through life experiences.

When we begin to set foods apart, good or bad,  putting them in an off limits category, and tell ourselves we can’t have them or that they are bad we start to give food a lot more power than it needs to have.

A part of learning and building new habits is to keep food in a “neutral zone”.

Food is food.

Don’t demonize it or put yourself on some restrictive way of living so all you do is think of those “forbidden” foods.

Do you see the danger of giving certain foods so much power in your life ? It’s designed to keep you from being successful.

Why?

You restrict foods, take them away, label them as bad, or you decide food group “x” isn’t something you are going to eat anymore ’cause that’s the current hyped up trend going on ( not that you have any health issues dictating it) but you’re participating in it.

You really love those foods and will miss them … where do you think your mind will be ?

Exactly.

Smack on the things you’ve set up as “off limits” which will only continue to warp your relationship with food and it’s a dangerous process.

I guess I fall in the camp of figuring out my relationship with food on my journey of health and fitness.

I shared in another blog that I grew up in a family of emotional eaters. I was one too and figured it out as I grew in my understanding of my relationship with food. I’d say I largely have it under control, although there are moments I am aware I’m eating for a reason other than hunger.

I tried many “diets” through my life. Ultimately, all I could wait for was for it to be over and get back to “normal”. ( I see you nodding your head. You know what I mean). Good times.

I’d say THE single biggest factor in my success ( I’m 8 years out now so I think I can address this)

I put nothing “off limits”.  Nothing.

You know what that did? It took all power out of anything that may have been forbidden.

I know what you’re thinking…. “Oh, then you probably just went off the wagon all the time”

No. I didn’t. I’m a big girl and certainly have the ability to control what I stuff in my mouth. But it did keep me from over thinking on food.

If my family went to get a burger ( which was an occasional treat) I wanted to enjoy it with them and not sit there forlornly eating a tub of pale iceberg lettuce with two tomatoes in it.

You might think that would send me off the deep end. Like… throw in the towel. Not at all. I continued my commitment to what I was doing. My daily focus on food was to eat well, eat moderate, and allow some treats to be factored in on my weight loss journey.

Now hear me. Although I don’t like to label foods, we can agree that there are some that aren’t the best for our health goals or the best to eat on a frequent basis. I kept that in mind too.

Fried/processed foods, drive thru meals, sugar, alcohol, simple carbs like cookies, cake, chips, candy, sodas, sugar drinks etc. can be tasty treats but must be handled with moderation.

I wasn’t to crazy at all about the idea of giving up chocolate to lose weight! I learned that a small amount, savored, often was enough to satisfy me. I didn’t need to just keep consuming it because it was there.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. The most successful people I know have done it with a non-restrictive balance in their lives.

Do I have trigger foods?

You bet I do. I know that it’s just not a smart move to bring home any type of kettle potato chip unless I’ve got people there eating them with me. 😛

It’s been a learning process.

Learning to trust myself with food. I don’t have to eat it because it’s there or have a “last supper” mentality and consume it all because I may never get it again.

Learning to listen to my body and it’s natural signals.

Learning to not be horribly restrictive to prevent the caving in and eating whatever because I felt deprived.

Learning to make better choices that supported my overall health and fitness goals.

I have learned….

to know my body and what makes me feel good and energetic.

I feel better eating lots of veggies and fruit. I have learned some foods just make me feel more sluggish or bloated and I’d rather pass on them. Lean meats, veggies, and good whole grain carbs keep me energetic and decently lean.

Those foods that used to have a pull on me don’t so much anymore. Healthy eating is natural and comfortable to me now.

I’ve learned to be patient with myself. Some days just might not be that great and it’s ok if I get up and keep going. The “not so great days” though have become less and less as this has become my lifestyle and I’ve built permanent habits.

Forward, slow, steady progress is the best kind of progress. It lasts.

I’ve learned a lot about nutrition. I eat adequate, good food to nourish my body three times a day and I don’t really think about food much anymore… except when my tummy is yelling at me 😉

I’ve learned life is a beautiful journey and it will have birthdays, and holidays and celebrations and food is a big part of those things. Finding balance and being able to enjoy those times is one of the best things about not having “off limits” foods. I have learned I can have my treats and it doesn’t undo all of my hard work. The best part? Not having that self-imposed “guilt” that used to come with it.

I don’t know where you are on your journey of health and fitness. If you struggle with food and are trying to understand your relationship with it, I hope that you at least begin to not cast foods into off limits groups. I hope you give yourself the freedom to eat well, to learn about yourself in the journey, and that you will find perfect balance in your personal relationship with food.

In summary

Know your relationship with food.

Don’t categorize food. Food, is simply, food.

Learn to know your body and listen to it.

Nourish it with healthy foods the majority of time and allow occasional treats.

Trust yourself.

Don’t practice a restrictive lifestyle.

Walk the road you are on. Slow and steady will last a lifetime.

Don’t quit.

Where are you on your journey? Do you feel like you have balance in your relationship with food? Have you set foods up as good or bad and then changed your thinking ? How did that help you?

 

 

 

What’s Your “Why” For Good Health

 

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What’s your why?  Why do you do what you do? All of us have “whys” for things we do in our lives.

Let’s take that to our health and fitness goals.

Why do you want to do it? Or why are you out there every day going after it ?

More energy? Better health? To do something you’ve never done? To build your confidence? To daily activities easier? To be strong and empowered?

If you are like many I talk to, they want to but haven’t nailed down their “why” for getting fit or losing weight.

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I think, it’s a reason many people start, stop, and quit.

I was talking to a young woman the other night. She’s half my age. The conversation started that she didn’t believe I had ever been heavier or not fit. ( my daughter had informed her of that 😛 )

I’ve taken pictures since I started my health journey because it tells a much bigger story than numbers on a scale.  I showed them to her.

8 years ago I was a much softer, fluffier version of me. I was also quite a bit heavier.  My arms were soft with no muscle definition as were my legs.

I hadn’t looked at the photos in awhile so it was like a rapid fire look through my transition of the past few years.

Change definitely takes time.

Then she asked me..

“So why did you do it? What made you start?”

I have my own “whys” for getting started on my health and fitness journey.

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My check up with my doctor that year was my turning point. It became my “why”.

I knew I was packing pounds I didn’t need, and I knew I wasn’t getting the exercise my body needed.

I also knew my family history and that my mom and grandmother were both obese and had many health problems associated with being to fat. My grandmother had a heart attack at 50.  Her and my mom had high blood pressure and diabetes. My mom eventually developed kidney issues, having two transplants and ultimately being on dialysis. My father, although having really no contact with him, I knew he was overweight and had diabetes. He ultimately died of a heart attack.

I was 46 the year of that check up.

Knowing I was still healthy and had the power to change things settled on me.

My “whys” became so I didn’t walk the same paths as family members before me. To be healthy for myself and for my family.

My “why” for starting was fairly simple and uncomplicated.

Lose weight. Stay healthy.

I had no idea the journeys I would go on in the upcoming years.

I guess the rest, is history. I made the choices I did and in that I found activities I love and have become passionate about.

Never, ever would I have thought I’d become a runner. Or a cyclist. Or that I’d be pursuing both at the same time for a race.

I’ve learned to eat more good foods than not. It’s all worked together.

My “whys” turned into, “why not’s”.

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She started telling me her story, one that is familiar to me now as many people have similar ones.

She just wanted to lose weight.  She wanted to get back to working out.

So I asked her… “Why? Why do you want to?”

One of her first responses was “well I want to get back to the weight I was in high school”

I told her that was great, but what was so wonderful about that weight?  Did she think it would make her happier or more successful? Why did she think that was a reason for getting started?  (And for the record, your high school weight was great when you were 17 but it might not be where you need to be today in the body you are in now)

Talking it out for a bit she finally admitted “well I know I was pretty thin and wasn’t taking care of myself like I should”

Maybe that isn’t a good why reason.

We kept talking and she said “well I would like to lose weight because I’ll just feel better about myself, and doing that makes me feel more confident”

Ok, good reasons. Now we were slowing getting somewhere.

She talked about her son and how she wanted to be healthy for him and how she wanted to be able to do things with him. She mentioned how she bought him all these healthy foods and she didn’t focus as much on her own nutrition.

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I asked her why she thought taking care of herself wasn’t a priority. (note… you get no bonus points in life for putting yourself on the back burner)

We continued talking and brainstorming as I listened to her share her story with me.

She finally admitted she needed to consider her health as a priority as much as her sons was.

Now… now we were getting somewhere.

She was getting to her “why” for wanting to do it. More than just a vague acknowledgement of wanting to lose weight.

We all need to come to the point where we can answer our own “why” for wanting to lose weight and get fit. Then we must begin to remove the excuses that keep us from moving forward to our goals.

It might be fun to think of getting to your high school weight or losing 10 lbs before a class reunion but is that going to be enough to get you going?

To keep you going ?

You have to examine it beyond a surface thought of “I just want to lose weight” to a deeper level that will keep you motivated to reaching your goals.

Making your own list of why you want to get healthier and fit is a good way to move towards making it happen.

As you make a list think of how losing weight will help you. How will you feel? What will you be able to do easier that you can’t now? What health needs do you need to address? How will losing weight improve them? How do you feel about yourself right now? Would losing weight help you with a more positive attitude about yourself?

You can apply similar thoughts to getting fit and eating better.  Losing weight doesn’t just change our bodies, but it changes how we feel about ourselves and that in turn affects the rest of our lives.

Getting to your own reasons for why you want to lose weight, get fit or stronger and healthier is a key step to actually accomplishing those things in your life.

What was your “why” reason for weight loss and getting in shape?

 

 

Exercise And Aging

Exercise ~ activity requiring physical effort carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.

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Exercise. I might have made some attempts to sell you on the idea 😉

Ok.. maybe I feel a bit passionate about it. Maybe I know once you get started, get over that “obstacle” that holds you back from committing to it and making it a new habit in your life, you will not be able to imagine not doing it in your day.

I don’t know what your “obstacle” is.  But if you aren’t doing it and make excuses not to, you have an obstacle.

Exercise really isn’t something that we naturally and inherently flock to… like… “ohhhhh yes! Of course I want to feel uncomfortable and sweat and breathe hard and have my heart pounding out of my chest!”

No one does. This is the point we can see, feel and know … ugh… we are really out of shape. In turn, this makes us feel worse, feel inadequate and that we’ll never “get there”.

We quit before we start.

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Exercise then, is something we must teach ourselves to do.  We have to push through our own personal obstacles.  We must do it until it begins to feel weird if we don’t do it.

We’ve got to turn it into a new habit.

Building new habits my friends, takes time and a healthy amount of determination.

I recently ran into an woman I had gone to school with. I don’t think I’ve seen her in person since then ( she’s only seen me via social media). We chatted about many things when the convo turned to exercise and she commented on my physique telling me how inspiring I was.  When I mentioned I didn’t start exercising till I was 46 she was shocked. I told her it was a few years later that my athletic side really started to kick in… when I started getting more serious about running and ultimately training for marathons.

She asked how I did it and I told her I just kept at it and didn’t quit. The rest is history.

When you press on and exercise every day ( or almost every day) your body responds in wonderful ways and there are tons of health benefits that come with it.

Here’s a few:

controls your weight, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, lowers blood pressure, reduces risks of some cancers, strengthens bones and muscles, improves your mental health and mood, increases your chance of living longer, and improves your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult.

Let’s not forget things also like gaining new energy, confidence, and overall feeling good. If you’re looking for the fountain of youth more and more research suggests exercise is the key to it. In order to stay healthy you have to keep your cells young.  Exercise forces new cell growth and turn over in our bodies causing an anti aging effect ( this is sooo simplified right now. Maybe I’ll do a blog on just this idea … stay tuned!)

Let’s just say this.. our “chronological” age is pretty well set and that’s something we have no control over. Our “biological” age… we have a huge amount of control over.

This is why two people the same chronological age can look years different.

Ok if all that isn’t enough let’s just focus on the part about being older and still being able to do daily activities and being strong and balanced so you don’t fall. Falls are one of the leading causes of death in older people and reasons as well why they are in care homes.

You don’t want to wait till you’re “old” to start exercising. You start now wherever you are. Being fit and strong is something that you will draw from as you get older. There is a huge misconception that getting old means you get weak and frail. That you lose strength because you are.

No. You get weak and frail because you’ve stopped using your body and the old saying is true “use it or lose it”.  But at some point in your 30s, you start to lose muscle mass and function. The cause is age-related sarcopenia or sarcopenia with aging. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30.  This is what contributes to weakness and not being able to do things as people get older.

You must counteract all of that to preserve and build muscle. Enter strength training and muscle building exercise.

You can’t wake up old and decide to pop some Geritol or some magic pills and hope they will carry you through. Ideally you work out and you work hard, most days of the week. Then as you age your body is used to labor and the things you’ve done help you maintain balance and strength ( hopefully protecting you or totally keeping you from falling) you then live a strong, energetic, and independent life doing the things you like and want.

But… you’ve got to start now. It’s like saving money. You don’t have any to draw on if you don’t save it.

Goes like that with exercise. If you want something to draw on years from now, you need to start now. You work your body every day and let it do things that will help you live strong and independent when you’re older.

If you don’t know where to start, start walking. Everyone can do it and it’s generally safe for most people. Be sure to walk briskly and move at a steady pace for at least 30 minutes. You will seriously want to incorporate some strength training in your week too.

Think of activities you like that you might want to try. Experimenting is one of the best ways to find your passion.

Focus on taking one day at a time. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses to not do it. Think of how you’ll feel when you are finished… strong, accomplished, clear headed and moving forward to a healthier more fit you now, and in the future  🙂

exercise