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?

 

 

I Eat Ice Cream Don’t Judge Me

It had been one of those days. My morning started as usual, workout, then the life stuff I had to attend to.

After that, it was off to town to do errands and finally, landing in my favorite coffee cave to chill, socialize, and write.

Oh yeah. That’s what I’m here for.

Writing 😉

Believe it or not, I am way more productive being out than being at home where things pull at me.

I had been writing for awhile and was wrestling with the feeling of needing something sweet. This is sometimes for me, normal, after a morning with a hard workout.

Sugar is nothing but pure, raw fuel for the body. I’ve learned to not fight against it when it hits, but get something to quiet that need.

Last year after a particularly long run, by midafternoon, I was craving jelly beans in the worst way. ( Can you say sugar?)  I went and bought some and chowed down on a handful without blinking.

jelly beans

The next day, I had a couple and was overwhelmed with how sweet they were. I didn’t touch them after that.

Fast forward to the other afternoon with a similar feeling creeping in. I kept writing but that need was still there.

I finally decided I wanted ice cream. Actually, where I got it, it’s a fancier version with other goodies added into it. This one happened to be Salted Caramel.

As I’m prone to do posting fun, random, or whatever pics on my social media sites, I posted a pic of the ice cream.

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It’s drool worthy, right ? 😉

 

As I expected several of my friends teased me about being “normal” and  they were happy to see I ate stuff  like, ice cream.

Of course I do.  Don’t judge me 😛

I’m not just some perpetual veggie eating machine 😉  I mean I am… but… I still like some treats too.

Anyway, yeah, so the ice cream was delicious. But my tummy also let me know a bit later it wasn’t to crazy about that heavy treat during the day when it’s not used to it.

 

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Did I eat it all ?!

 

When you eat healthy most of the time, that other stuff really begins to not set well in your tummy.

So why am I telling you this? Because I want to share with you what I shared with those who follow me on social media.

The main thing that has led to me being successful in my weight loss and fitness has been a healthy dose of balance and moderation.

I knew I’d never be successful if I developed my own plan and it was restrictive and rigid. Somehow, knowing I could have my favorite things took away the focus from them. It’s a huge mental game and it was one I wanted to be in control over.

As I bounced through those first couple years losing weight, chocolate and occasional French fries were a part of my success. So was birthday cake and Christmas cookies.

Note I used the word occasional. As time went on, the pull became less and less.  Mainly in part because your tastes begin to change and those foods start to taste “off” and that also helps to stay away from it. The other part is, knowing it was available in some ways, made me not think about it.

This is what I want to bring to you.

I believe successful weight loss comes with balance. We need to get rid of the all or nothing mentality. Have lots or have none. Do without or eat it all.

These thoughts and attitudes do not lead to success. They can contribute to guilt and more self indulgence. When we believe we’ve “failed” it turns into a brutal cycle we can battle.

The only time you fail is when you quit. Staying with it no matter how bad you think you might’ve done in a day is more successful than quitting.

Life is going on and it has fun things like celebrations, and sometimes, it even has random just for the hell of it ice cream afternoons.

Did eating ice cream change anything for me? Did it change my fitness level? Make me gain 5 lbs? Turn me into a crazy “I can eat anything now” monster because I had ice cream?

No.

Nothing changed for me.

I eat well 95% of the time and the other is for whatever floats my boat.

Balance. Moderation. What is sustainable for the rest of my life.

That stuff works.

If you make it your goal to eat well and eat well the majority of the time, you are on your way to a life time of success. Throw in some solid exercise you’re doing even better.

I firmly believe that when you know you can have everything ( not that you are going to) and that foods aren’t forbidden or good or bad,  it removes a lot of the power from them.

It protects you from the “Last Supper” mentality.

You know… eat it ALL now ’cause tomorrow I diet and I will never, ever have it again.

**raise your hand if you’ve done that** 😉

If you know you can have it, you don’t have to act like the garbage can and clean it all up in a night. No one will take it away so you can’t have it again. Really, your favorite foods will still be around.

Do you see how so much of our thinking can be disordered when it comes to food and weight loss ?

This might take some practice. It might take a failed attempt or two to nail this practice. Maybe you’ll slip up and eat a half bag of cookies.

It’s ok… keep on with it… not the eating cookies part, the practice part 😉

With practice and some balance and moderation, you can have your ice cream and lose weight too.

 

Just Google It!

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So it’s been a couple days since I’ve posted something.  Life, you know ? Trying to multi task on several big things, and keep up with my training and other projects that need my attention can leave me feeling like it’s supreme effort just to think on some days.

Nod your head if you agree with me… you’ve been there…

As in yesterday. I’ve tried to make my run/cycle/run days midweek as it fits in well to my training. Anyway, to put it mildly, those days place a heavier physical demand on me than others. Add to it, after I finished I did some errands and then came home and cut grass for an hour.

I didn’t think I’d be able to drag my carcass to bed that night, much less write something smart, witty or sarcastically clever for you.

And I have all these ideas rattling around in my head clamoring to get out…for instance…

A book review I’m itching to get to.  I finished such an awesome book that I think everyone should read. Seriously.  Anyway, keep your eyes open for that coming soon.

Or more thoughts on healthy lifestyles.  Or a couple ones on food, ’cause I love to eat and so do you 😉

BUT THEN there’s this other thing… those diet/health/wellness companies. It doesn’t help when people send me stories or ads  because they know it gets me fired up ( thankfully they too, are on the same page and get it) and then I get to reading those claims about those products and thinking about the absolute, total, complete nonsense of some of it and then before I know it…

I’m writing a post on products and other overall odd stuff people  buy into on the daily.

Hold on…I’m on my soapbox again… and I promised after last weeks Snake Oil post I’d settle down for a bit.

Ah, maybe I shouldn’t make such empty promises… not when there is so  much rich material always at my fingertips.

I just get so passionate about people who will believe this stuff and are desperate and all they ultimately will really lose is their hard earned money. And let’s face it, there’s a plethora of companies out there with promises of health, wellness and overall ease into a healthy lifestyle.

It’s not easy! It does require work! It does require discipline and a willingness to keep at it every single day!

There are no short cuts to being healthy and fit, yet so many will go to many extremes other than simply doing what needs to be done.

Often these products are simply band-aids covering the underlying problem and never fixing or getting to the root of why a person is overweight and what their relationship is with food. Nor are they learning about balance, healthy eating and the importance of moving their bodies.

Let me just throw out some words from a few of these sales pitches that made my eyebrows arch even more…honestly… one of these days… they’re gonna arch right off my face…..

“Pounds don’t matter”, “detox fat cells to burn inches properly”, “oxygenate the body”, “build muscle”, “keep your blood sugar in check”, “lower your cholesterol”, “burn fat”, “control your cravings”, “many people can’t lose weight because of their blood sugars going up and down”, and finally my favorite…… “X product”  knows how to grab the yuck and send it out while blasting oxygen throughout your body”.

WHAT?!

And last but not least, the most interesting thing in so many of these glowing endorsements is to “go Google it!”

Like…really? You’re talking something up you are supposedly an expert on and you can’t even deliver to me, your reader, credible sources of information?

As a writer, research is something not new to me. I often consult a variety of sources to glean what seems to be the most consistent, overall thoughts, or ideas on a topic.

But consulting Google on your product or better yet, conditions you are supposedly curing with it, is sketchy at best.  And again I’m left wondering, why am I the reader, or better yet, anticipated future customer, having to go “Google it”.

I want to just pull out a few things to comment on from the quotes above…

“Pounds don’t matter”. Ok, so I understand there is more to the overall weight loss and getting fit than just the scale numbers. But if you’re overweight, yeah, extra pounds DO matter.

“Build muscle”. Listen, if building muscle was as easy as some supplement, pill or drink we’d all look like muscular gods.  It’s not. I’ve worked my butt off for years, as have many other people I know. It takes work, discipline, and a good daily diet to build muscle.

“Keep your blood sugar in check”.  So here’s the deal. Our bodies are designed in a perfect beautiful way to operate without manmade potions to keep them healthy, regulated or “balanced.”

It’s really super cool.

In case you missed biology or it’s been awhile… here’s how that works… the pancreas secretes insulin to balance glucose levels, keeping it from getting to high or to low. People with diabetes inject insulin because the pancreas is not working properly.

If you are having problems with high blood sugar, or you feel there might be a problem, you need to be working with a doctor. That means something is not working right in your body.

Otherwise, why would you take something for your blood sugar or to keep “levels in check” ? A healthy body does just fine keeping it “in check”.  And who is really determining that?  Are these people actually testing their blood ( as a diabetic person would) to know if everything is “in check”?

“Burns fat”. Hey, you know what burns fat?  A good dose of cardio exercise several times a week. Best fat burner out there.

Lower your cholesterol, control your cravings” just gonna throw this out there… when you eat a healthy, nutritious daily diet with scheduled meals, you won’t have that up and down swing of being hungry and craving things. Throw in at least 30% protein to every meal and you will feel “stable” and not have cravings.  Stop eating junk.  A healthy diet goes a long way to reducing cholesterol and even better if you add exercise in with it.

“Many people can’t lose weight because of their blood sugars going up and down”   People don’t lose weight because they eat to much and don’t move enough.

“Detoxing fat cells to burn inches properly” now I’m not sure how my fat cells are going to know from this product that they should now pay attention and burn my inches off “properly”.

I just don’t have anything logical to even bring to the table on this line…. other than.. are you serious??? Burn off inches properly?

On the subject of “detox” again, back to our wonderfully made bodies. If your body isn’t “detoxing” you’ll know it. In fact, you’ll be in the hospital if it isn’t. The liver filters blood, the kidneys filter out waste and excess fluids, not to mention what goes through our intestines. If those are all systems go …. then skip the crazy detox stuff and just….eat… good, healthy foods!

As to the other… “grabbing yuck and blasting oxygen through your body”... I just have to wonder… is that on the generated company propaganda all sales people get ? I just don’t know if that sales pitch would work on me.

“Grabbing yuck”.  What, pray tell, is “yuck” ?  Someone. Please. Tell me.

You want oxygen blasting through your body? Exercise.

Ok well that’s a bit simplified but true.

Hey! there are other ways to get more oxygen in your body…. just Google it.

 

 

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.

Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy Habits

So it’s afternoon coffee time and I’m ready to kick back and write for awhile. This morning was my “brick” training session… meaning I run, bike, then run again. Today I increased my miles on foot to a full 5K.  I’ve been gradually moving it up as I’ve adjusted to this activity.  I really do love it. It’s different and it’s challenging.

Oh. And I want to do a duathlon at the end of the year so I do have some extra motivation 😉 It involves a 5k run, 22 mile ride, and a 5K run… on some crazy hills as well.

The weather was on the hideous side. Foggy, misty rain, poor visibility, cool, but not cool once I warmed up. I gave up on wearing my glasses as I couldn’t keep them cleared off ( any tips or ideas on that faithful readers?) once I was on the bike I was chilled from being wet and now flying down the road, water running off my helmet into my face, my gloves wet and the roads somewhat tricky in some places.

Good times.

I believe if I’m training for something, I need to do it in all weather ’cause I never know what race day will deal up.

Anyway, it’s a rather strong way to start my day. I’m really loving multi sport days. As time moves along I will most likely increase my training to two days a week doing it.

But goodness… it can fire up my metabolism all day long!

Ok enough of that.. on with the show!

I thought since I talked about building new habits yesterday I’d focus on a couple specific to eating.

One should be obvious but often it’s one we ignore or sadly, we never experience it anymore.

Let yourself get hungry and experience those hunger signals.

To often in our world, we are programmed to eat “because it’s time”.   As if we experience those growly, hungry feelings we might not survive.  It might take some practice, but learn to experience hunger 30-60 minutes before a meal time.  It is one thing I began doing years ago, learning to eat when I had true hunger.  Not because the clock said I should eat. It’s amazing how good food really tastes when you have true, real hunger.

( and hunger after a hard workout?? eek.. food has never tasted better haha)

Seriously, though. Get back in touch with your body if you can’t remember those feelings or overlook them.

Again you will have to work at it. It might be a new habit for you to work on if you don’t currently practice it.

Once you start getting in touch with your bodies natural signals again, you might want to practice this next step, or new habit.

They kinda tie in together…. which is…

Learn to eat just enough food to satisfy your appetite, but not over eat.

This might be tricky in the beginning for you. We are often conditioned to eat what’s on our plate, or eat because it just tastes good. We can eat well beyond what we need to be comfortable and satisfied.  Allowing yourself to eat slowly and really savor your food gives your body and mind time to be in sync. You will be surprised that a lot less food will handle your hunger.  Again, it’s a practice, a discipline, you will have to work on to build this as a new habit.

And a final new habit you might consider….

Learn to eat 3-4 healthy balanced meals in your day.

Unfortunately so many of us have been conditioned to skip breakfast or lunch and then go crazy at dinner like it’s our last meal or something. We practice a weird form of starvation all day and gorge in the evening.  When you learn to eat real meals, at regular times, and satisfy your natural hunger you don’t spend all day thinking about when you can eat.

Crazy, I know.

Somehow we’ve accepted a thought that eating breakfast is a good way to lose weight or that we don’t have time for it.  Or if we skip lunch we can have a bigger dinner.

But what if you had satisfying meals, staged at regular times, and got hungry for each one? You’d be less likely to snack or be thinking about when you could get your hands on food again.

The “4th” meal would be if you workout heavily, you might need extra calories somewhere between your meals.  Some days I need more, some days I need less depending on how hard I workout.

As in any other habit, you will have to be intentional about what you do. It wont come easy or over night, but with practice you’ll master these new habits. New habits lead to a lifestyle change and steady sustainable weight loss.

 

 

 

Why Do You Want To Lose Weight ?

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Your Monday morning thought provoking question :

No… it’s not “should you get another cup of coffee” that… is never a question 😉

It’s this…

Why… do you want to lose weight?

Seriously, I want you to stop and think about it. Assuming, you, like many of my readers have a goal to do so. It could be as little as 5 lbs. or as much as 50.

If you are one of the rare, and few readers who doesn’t need to/want to/ or has hit their goal… you might want to just go grab more coffee and head into your day…

Or read along with us.. choice is yours… 😉

But why? Why do you want to? I don’t mean it in a flippant way, but more of a thought provoking way.

I recently overheard someone saying she wanted to lose weight for her boyfriend and it was all I could do to keep my big mouth shut and tell her she was doing it for the wrong reason then.

At the starting point of thought… weight should never be about someone else. And by that I mean, that you are doing it to please them.

So.. the question.

Why?  It’s important that you really understand that because the idea will be what helps motivate you, keeps you going, gives you something to center your goals around.

If you just have a blind thought like this… “I need to lose weight! I need to lose 30 lbs!”

It’s just vague. There is nothing connected to it to help you get to the goal of losing 30 lbs… or 5… or 10.

It’s abstract with no solid plan to get there.

So may I suggest if that idea has been rolling through your head, you take steps to make it more of a concrete thought with reasons why you need to?

I’ll give you an example.

8 years ago when I was at my yearly appointment with my doctor he simply told me.. hey… you look good.. your labs look good… but you could lose some weight.. it will help you in the long run..

When I left his office that day I had to think about some things and make a decision for myself. I certainly knew what my family history was ( Grandmother and Mom both in the obese categories. grandmother had heart attack at 50 and a dad who had health issues and chronic diseases who died of heart disease)

That should be enough to make anyone sit up and take notice with their own health, right? So roughly at the age of 44, I needed to make some choices. I needed to examine how I was living and did I want to follow the paths I’d seen in my family already?

I had to ask myself… why do I want to lose weight?  What was going to motivate me to get the job done? How would I do it?

I didn’t want to live like my family. I didn’t want health issues. I wanted to be strong and healthy for my husband, kids and ( now) grandchildren.

Please note.. I wasn’t losing weight to please them… or make them happy…

it was about wanting to continue to have a good quality of life and take care of the body I had that was still free of any chronic diseases I could prevent.

You understand don’t you, that most chronic diseases, we have the ability to prevent in ourselves?

I’ve seen the ugly toll they take on people you love. I wanted no part of that… I want it even less at this point in my life.

For me, that was the “why” question answered.

From there, I had to be proactive about making things happen. No one was going to do it for me. I had to have a plan and goals and day by day make them happen.

The goals were small and attainable. In the beginning I set out to walk, every, single day.

2 miles. No matter what. I did it.

I also began slowly adjusting my eating… day by day… choosing better foods and learning portion and moderation sizes.

I didn’t beat myself up if I had a day I felt wasn’t “spectacular” I just kept going.

I made weight loss goals small too. I focused on 5 lbs at a time. I celebrated when I’d hit the next “5” or “0” number on the scale.

Pretty much it’s what I did for awhile as the scale slowly crept backwards and my clothes started getting to big.

As time went on, I kept readjusting my goals and ideas of what I wanted for myself.

I eventually lost the weight I wanted and my goals continued to shift.

A stronger, leaner body led to me running more which led me into running big events like marathons and a 50K to celebrate my 50th birthday ( yes, crazy I know)

My goals and desires are still flexible and changing. I run and cycle now. I love spending a couple days inside lifting heavy stuff and doing strength training.

My “why’s” have changed a lot.

Yes, I wanted to lose weight for a healthy life. Yes, I wanted to lose weight to not have health issues. And honestly, yes, I wanted smaller jeans 😛

But the other things that came along with it were just as valuable.

Losing weight and gaining confidence in what I can do athletically is empowering!  Learning about myself and taking on new challenges showed me  what I’m made of.  The mental muscle and internal strength I’ve gained can’t be measured. Being strong in my daily life is another huge payoff. I love having lots of energy for all I do in my day!

As time has moved on, I’ve also been able to teach, encourage, and mentor others on the same road. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing others be successful at the same thing.

Now, I don’t feel a need to focus on weight or losing it. I did however, have that starting point.

I had the “why” question.  I then took steps to live it out.

You… ask yourself the question… then make a concrete plan to see it through.

You’ve got all you need in you to be successful and accomplish it 🙂

 

Why I’ve Given Up On The Scale

scale

The scale. I’ve written about this little tool before.  I talk about it ’cause it makes me sad and crazy to see people under some burden of feeling their worth and value is somehow connected to what those numbers say.

Those numbers don’t make you a better or worse person… say that to yourself if you fall in that grouping.

I’ve come a long way in my relationship with it. From a love/hate to…  ” I don’t need you anymore scale… I can ignore you and life is splendid without you”

Our relationship went to another level this week as I again reminded myself, in the overall context of my health, lean muscle mass, how I look, how I feel, and my athletic abilities, it’s irrelevant.

Like…totally…irrelevant.

I don’t use it often… sometimes it’s a few times a year…

then there are just those times that I’m thinking I feel leaner and look it and there’s better definition to my muscles and so I hop on to just check it out…

that’s where I was this week… and that’s when it told me… nope… you’re still rocking along right where you’ve been almost forever….

What. Ever.

Now that’s not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. What I constantly drill through my head is the fact if I’m putting on muscle the scale might not change at all, even though my body does. ( note…you really have to workout  for a while before you start claiming muscle weight. This won’t happen in 6-8 weeks) Compared to fat, muscle is much more compact and dense and contrary to things I hear people say, muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound is a pound.

fat

But geeez…. you’d think with all I put myself through it would offer up something different.

Like hey here’s a consolation prize for busting your butt all the time!

I joke… but I don’t care anymore…

well.. I do…. but I don’t…

I’m smart enough to know and understand  a healthy perameter I need to stay in. Beyond that… yeah.. I don’t care.

And I’ll speak this disclaimer here as well: we ALL have a healthy weight zone we need to be in for good health and an energetic lifestyle.   You know if you have extra fat. You know it needs to go. In your journey to lose it, the scale is a tool, to show progress of less fat.  Record your numbers and move on. Use it wisely then leave it alone.

I guess I can say that now 8 years into my health and fitness journey. I’ve learned a lot in these past few years about weight, the scale, my body, and the fact it’s an ongoing science experiment.

I’ve gone from having weight to lose, which I did in a slow, steady manner, almost 50 pounds to be exact. At that time, the scale definitely helped keep me moving towards my goals.

Fat had to go. I weighed in once a week. I accepted the results and didn’t let it define me or make me feel like a loser who needed to give up and quit. I didn’t expect instant results.

The fat did go. The goal had been to get “thin” (whatever that means )

I started running.. it was easy to keep pretty lean logging miles. Add to that training for marathons and logging 50-60 miles a week… I had the lowest body fat percentage I’d ever had in my life.

The scale tipped to a low point that was easy to maintain based on all those miles.

I just accepted those numbers for where I was at athletically.

I guess the thing I learned being new to athletic life is that when you train hard all the time, and come off  it, your body adapts and settles back to a weight I believe, everyone has “pre-programmed” in them. It’s the place you can stay and not have to obsessively diet or watch every crumb that goes in your mouth.

You can easily maintain where you are.

I’ve learned that when I’m not in heavy training, I’ll carry about 5- 10 more pounds on me.

It’s been a revelation that I’m ok with…. mostly.  I understand athletically there are seasons and my body will change based on what I’m doing.

Not burning up the road with so many miles has allowed my muscles to grow more and so there are parts of me that are more developed now and take up space…my body has responded to weight training by building muscle.

Other reasons why I’ve given up on the scale:

it doesn’t tell me I’m getting stronger.

it doesn’t reflect the creativity or thought processes that come from miles on the road.

it doesn’t reflect my overall health and well being.

It doesn’t define me as a person by whatever numbers roll up for that day.

it doesn’t take into account I’m a woman or where I’m at in my cycle.

it won’t reflect how well I perform on the bike or running.

it’s not going to applaud my good lab reports

it doesn’t define my worth or value.

The total number certainly doesn’t reflect I’m more lean muscle now than fat.

And finally, it definitely won’t tell me my jeans look good  or offer me coffee 😉

What can you do or focus on besides the scale?  Try some of these things:

How do you look in mirror?
Are your clothes fitting better?

How do you feel? Strong, confident, healthy? Do you have more energy?  Can you move through your day strong and able to do daily tasks with ease?

Focus on action. Are you eating well? Do you have a consistent exercise or training program?

Do you have more self confidence and an  overall better body image?

These are all good things to focus on other than the fickle and always changing numbers of a scale. Learning to do these things will give you a new mindset on viewing yourself and your relationship with the scale.

Ok, well this probably won’t be my last rant on the scale.  If this made you laugh or smile a bit, good.

If you want to read more, check out my post, The Scale Experiment, where I literally charted my weight at various times through an entire 12 hours to show how much it fluctuates and changes in the day.

On your own journey of health and wellness I want you to embrace and love who you are…all along the journey. Yes, you might be on a course to lose some weight or you might be at your goal weight now and working on getting stronger and more fit. No matter where you are..love and embrace yourself on the journey… because that is where we really get to know ourselves… and don’t forget to celebrate all your victories along the way that have nothing to do with the scale.

 

 

 

A New Year And A New Start

fresh-start

Hello beautiful people and Happy New Year to you! I hope you’re still out there since it’s been awhile that I’ve offered anything up to you… I’m still here!

2016 ended with a lot going on, not to mention the usual Christmas events and celebrations to prepare for. A big thing for me was finally having to move my dad out of his home into a personal care home  in December as his Alzheimers had greatly progressed and he needed constant care.

Unfortunately, my 2017 started off with him passing away a few days into the new year. Even though we knew he would be leaving us soon, the finality is always something you still have to contend with.

Ah…kinda  heavy stuff to start the year off with but life keeps moving… right?

Even with so much going on in my life, a new year always inspires me, gives me a fresh focus and vision with things I want to accomplish or try. A new year full of opportunities and goals to set.  And trust me, I have new goals already set.

As usual I’ve heard from many people about their weight loss and fitness goals. That this is going to be “their year” for success. They are ready to get going on “the journey”.

And of course, all of the weight loss products are out in full force on every aisle in the store along with your neighbors who are pedaling stuff and are now experts on nutrition and health … I’ve said it once I’ll say it again… you don’t need any of that to be successful… save your money for new clothes…

it’s sounds old school but solid nutrition and some healthy movement are the only things that will give you life long success at staying healthy and fit.

Sooooo….you have good intentions. You’re ready. More importantly, you’re mentally ready to begin this process… and it IS a process. It’s not something you will achieve overnight but if you keep at it, will be a lifelong process of health and well being… it will just be what you do every day without thinking about it.

Where does one start? How does one start? Do you feel overwhelmed before you begin?

You aren’t alone.  I remember multiple attempts before it finally “stuck”. What made it different for me? What got me moving in a permanent forward direction?

I’ll share a few things with you….

First, I had to just make a commitment to myself to do it. Not for my husband or kids or so I could wear skinny jeans . It has to be for you. This is your life, your body, you are responsible for taking care of it and keeping it healthy and well.  Do it for you.

Own where you are and be honest with yourself. If you’re overweight you know it. It’s not a surprise. Be real and then get real with how you’re going to change it.

Set realistic goals.

Understand, no one, at all can do the work for you. I can offer someone tips, suggestions, food and exercise ideas etc but if they don’t follow through and do the work…well… then they go no where.  What you eat, how much, if you get out for some exercise, it all falls on you.

Know that you will have a good and bad days. It’s important to just keep going. No quitting. No deciding nothing is ever going to change. You commit to one day at a time, hopefully making more positive choices than negative and you live the day you’re in.

Get honest with yourself and really examine your relationship with food.. why do you eat? what makes you reach for food? are there things that trigger you eating?  Getting an understanding of food and how you interact with it will be helpful on your journey. For instance, one thing I identified early on, was that I came from a family of emotional eaters. Over time, I’ve really learned to rein that in, be aware of it, and have  control over it.

Don’t let the scale be your judge and jury to your health journey. It’s a tool. It in no way reflects your overall health and well being. Use it carefully.. maybe just once a week. Note the numbers and move on.  Things like losing inches, lab results (reflecting internal health), getting stronger, or faster  and your mental well being aren’t reflected on the scale.

Start small. Start with one thing to change at a  time. If you’ve never exercised maybe aiming for 2-3 times in a week would be a good starting place.  If you always eat seconds maybe work back on not eating those. Learn to listen to your body…seconds really… are for our mouth and eyes…not our tummies which are usually satisfied.

Food. Don’t cut out everything you love and go on some restrictive diet that makes you want to quit in a week. Eat enough food to satisfy your hunger, no more. Eat when you get hungry. Don’t eat when you aren’t.

Work on eliminating junk type foods. Simple carbs should be minimal in your daily nutrition ( that means things like cookies, candy, soda, sugary drinks, boxed snacks/foods, chips, processed foods, baked goods , fast food etc)

Complex carbs… those found in fruits,  green veggies, whole grains, beans/peas, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, pasta etc should begin to fill your plate along with protein and healthy fats.

Treats. I always tell people I’ve been successful by not restricting myself from things I love.  I learned early on to really appreciate and savor a small treat over nothing at all. Literally, I could get a few chocolate kisses with my coffee at night and it satisfied the need for a sweet treat. It wasn’t anything that would sabatoge my work for the day and I didn’t ultimately go on some binge because I had overly restricted myself.

With a determined mind set, a willingness to change, the knowledge to take baby steps and progress slowly knowing change takes time, and making small changes in your nutrition and exercise program, 2017 will for sure be your year to achieve a lifestyle of health and fitness.

And the most important ingredient to your success? Don’t quit!

Detox Me!

Hand writing Time to Detox concept with blue marker on transparent wipe board.

 

Eat this! Don’t eat that! This food is bad. This food is good. Eat 6 times a day. Eat one meal and drink the rest. You need this supplement. You shouldn’t take that one. Drink this potion and it will cure all your ills. This tea will make you thin.  Wrap your fat belly in plastic wrap and get 6 pack abs. Drink this to “cleanse” your body. Follow this crazy regimen to get “clean”.

Have mercy. For the love of all things chocolate. Help me.

Help. me.

The times I have to keep my eyeballs from rolling outta my head.

As I’ve gotten older I’m more likely to call out nonsense  when I see it. Or maybe it’s not as much being older, perhaps wiser and simply paying attention and wanting to be intelligent in the ways of caring for myself.

I guess in some ways, it makes me sad when I see people buying ( literally) into hype when they could use their money for a lot of other things…. like you know… good food.

But we’re in a desperate world and people want to get fixed up “fast” and marketing companies know this and prey on those weaknesses.

Sadly, we don’t get fat overnight therefore, we won’t get thinner and more fit over night.

It’s a process that we have to go through one day at a time. Slow, steady, forward moving steps to losing the weight that has crept on from becoming more sedentary and careless with what we put into our mouths.

So among the snake oil and smoke and mirrors things that I’ve heard more about recently although it never goes away is this thing called…

Detox.  Detox teas, drinks, cleanses and blah, blah, blah.

Use this drink or this combination of things to “detox” and clean your body. Lose lots of weight fast! Get healthy! Feel great!

Something about losing 21 lbs in 21 days? Like… if you’re still alive and not fogged over from starving….

Can I be blunt?

It’s bird poop. Awwww look how nicely I said that 😛

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. If you missed science class back in the day, your body has a God given, built in detox system. If it wasn’t working, you’d know it.

The take away I get from people who decide to tough out doing a detox? They are miserable. They are hungry. They want food. They don’t want to drink everything that goes in their mouth. They would give their right arm for a steak. Or a donut.

Or coffee. Who willingly goes into some program that takes away coffee????

Any weight they “lose” will be easily gained back once they start on a normal diet again.

How frustrating must that be?

In all of these things, my heart really hurts for people wanting to be successful. They want to reach an ideal body weight and they want to live a healthier lifestyle and are willing to be a guinea pig in the hopes it will work.

More hocus pocus. Poof and nothings gone but your money… or your even temperament ’cause you’ve been a hungry bear.

Can I make a couple helpful suggestions?

Why not begin adding one or two new healthier foods into your daily diet? If you feed your body real, healthy food ( and by that I mean as close to how it’s supposed to be naturally…or maybe 5 ingredients or less) you will be giving it lots of wonderful vitamins, nutrients and minerals it needs.

Want to clean your body? Eat plenty of fresh veggies and  fruits and drink adequate water. I can assure you a daily diet high in those things will move stuff through you 😛

Practice leaving some on your plate. ( really, you don’t have to clean your plate…you don’t. And you don’t need seconds either)

Make sure each meal contains an adequate amount of protein to satisfy hunger ( about 30% at each meal)

Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not. The meal bell chime going off doesn’t mean you have to put food in your face.

Eat enough to satisfy your hunger and stop… even if you have food still on your plate.

If you need a snack, be mindful of what you are snacking on. Sitting down at the computer with a bag of chips is a recipe for disaster.

Get out and move. Sounds simple and it is, but really, the hardest part is moving yourself out the door. Daily activity will not only help with weight loss but it’s also a tremendous mood booster.

Focus on the day you are in. Live it. Make good choices. Accept the bad ones when they come and move on. Don’t quit.

With a steady, practical approach you can have your cake and eat it too without ever having  to do a detox with the hope of getting “healthy”. Instead you’ll build a healthy lifestyle each single day.

 

The All Or Nothing Approach

all_or_nothing_logo_design_by_dannygdesigns-d527xic

So as I eagerly shared with you in my last post, I have jumped more into the world of cycling with the purchase of my first professional cycling bike ( I wanted to sleep with it after I brought it home. Put it outside?? haha)

In the week that I’ve had it we’ve been getting acquainted with one another. I have to take a little time to do that.

Being on a new bike is like buying a new car.

You simply have to spend some time with it to see how it responds, and how it handles under you. You learn how much you can push it and how fast you can stop when you do push it. You learn how fast you can go on curves 😉

Actually, I’m being good and haven’t really pushed the speed a lot yet.

There is also time for your body to adjust to the differences as well. Being on a bike that is sized and adjusted to my body, obviously positions me very differently from my other bike that I had adjusted as much as possible for my arms and legs.

Therefore, I’m feeling it in different ways after a ride. As much as I’ve wanted to take off and go ….for miles…. in this week I’ve kept the rides short… usually between 8-10 miles.  It gives me enough time to settle in and adjust but not so much that I’m uncomfortable later.

It’s hard mentally knowing what I can do, but keeping it in check to allow myself time to adapt to the changes with the new bike. If I jumped in and took off on my usual route which hits somewhere between 20-25 miles…. I might not be feeling so great the next day and left feeling like I wanted to do nothing because I hurt.

I cannot take an all or nothing approach to conditioning myself for new athletic adventures.

To continue strong  in my training means being practical to my approach in training if I want to make consistent progress.

Yet… so often when I’m talking with people about health and weight loss there is an “all or nothing” approach to it.

I must give up everything to be successful. No fun. Nothing good.  Lots of exercise.  Rice cakes and celery sticks, here I come.

OR

I will just eat whatever. Exercise doesn’t matter so much. I’m ok the way I am. I’ll get to it…someday… maybe… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it.

An all or nothing approach to weight loss and fitness never works either.

In fact, it’s designed to fail.

For instance, things that make me cringe. You’ve seen those “30 Day Challenges”?  You know, something like get up to 3,000 squats by the end of the month or a zillion pushups?

Ok, I might be slightly exaggerating but the effects would be the same.  If you crawled off the sofa and just started pushing your body hard with activities it wasn’t used to, well, most likely by day 2 you’re gonna be so sore you’ll be using that challenge chart to start a fire.

Maybe you just decide you’re going to go start running and try a few miles.. and you haven’t even done walking miles yet. It could be anything.

When you just throw yourself into it with no preparation, your body will let you know it’s not happy about it.

You had that crazy moment of going after it “all” approach… and now you are paying for it… which is when you decide the “nothing” approach is probably better.

What a vicious cycle!  No wonder so many give up frustrated and discouraged with the process and quit.

What if, you built a plan, that was gradual, consistent and sustainable?   A plan that allowed your body to adapt to the changes you were putting it through?

Much like I cannot just get up and run a marathon without months of training or do a really long ride on a brand new bike without some adjustment, you cannot just jump in to extremes and expect long term success.

Beginning with a few days a week, alternating days with low intensity exercise will allow your body to adapt and prevent extreme soreness with will sideline you. Each week you can add a little more to what you do.

Learning to slowly make daily dietary changes will keep you from feeling deprived and then later binging because you’ve restricted yourself so much.   A slow steady approach adding in new healthier choices, cutting back on not so healthy choices, learning to eat enough to satisfy your appetite, but not to much, as well as learning to eat when you’re truly hungry are all positive habits to building nutritional success.

Implementing these things gradually and consistently will take away the “all or nothing” approach, which will lead you to permanent and long term success.

Tell me… have you done that in your quest to lose weight or develop an exercise regime? Have you taken on an all or nothing approach? Did that work?