Food And Cheat Days

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It’s hard to believe we are already moving quickly into another year, and yet another holiday is behind us with the celebration of Easter this past weekend.

For many it’s a time of worship, family gatherings, and well, food. As things go with holidays there are special treats and meals that are prepared as we gather in celebration.

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Food is meant to be savored and appreciated.

Therefore, I found it semi-amusing when I was asked on Saturday not once, but twice, in different conversations if I allowed myself  “cheat days”.

If you don’t know what this means, in some dieting plans there is a day in the week you’re basically allowed to just eat whatever and enjoy it without any (supposed) guilt for doing it.

The first person to ask me was a friend… he simply inquired if I allowed myself to do that… to have days of indulgence.

The other person was an employee in the store I had chatted with briefly. She was telling me about an asparagus dish involving bacon and she laughed and said ” I know you look really disciplined, but I figure you’ve got to have some cheat days along the way too!”

Ok, I admit, I don’t really “see” myself like others do. Does anyone ?

I know I am a bit more muscular looking than a lot of people roaming around so perhaps there’s an idea I don’t ever touch anything that might be considered “off limits”.

That idea kinda makes me laugh….

So here’s the deal… I’ve never subscribed to the idea of having “cheat days” and I’ll tell you why.

First of all, why would I just want to bomb a whole day needlessly ? And what if I didn’t want anything “off limits” on cheat day ? What if I really need a piece or two of chocolate on a non-cheat day ? Or there’s a special celebration?

On another thought, it also begins to set you up for thinking of foods in “good” or “bad” terms. The idea being you eat bad foods on your cheat day… good foods the rest of the time…

On a personal opinion I’ve just never seen it as a productive idea.

What has helped me be successful and lose weight is balance and moderation of allowing myself things which has kept me from feeling deprived or the need to binge on something because I have withheld it. Somehow, this seems to have worked as I’ve lost weight these past few years and maintained my fitness goals.

This is how I counsel people who are trying to find a balance of losing weight and living this thing called life.

That being said, even though I don’t like setting foods into “good” or “bad” groups, you need to have an awareness that there are definitely foods that support optimal health, keep you well and energetic, that contribute to weight loss and support your fitness goals.

These should make up the majority of your daily diet.

Then there are foods that are enjoyable and make life fun but should be consumed in careful moderation.

There are some “foods” I will never put in my mouth as I see them as wasted, useless, calories that do nothing for me.

When you begin to see foods in this light it also removes guilt that people tend to put on themselves for eating “bad” foods.

I can’t tell you the times I’ve heard people apologize because they had a treat at a party or a piece of birthday cake or something similar. Or worse, feel they have to punish themselves or “work it off”.

Seriously, lose the guilt, stop apologizing. When you make a decision to have something, own it and move on.

As you progress and eating healthy begins to feel what is more normal and natural to you, those other foods honestly, will have less attraction. You will feel better eating healthy foods and (personally) I don’t feel so great if I have a day eating foods my body isn’t used to anymore.

In brief:

Eat healthy, whole foods the majority of the time.

If you need or want something special, consider a small amount to meet that need. Take a moment to decide if it’s really what you want.

Is it something you really love or are you eating it because it’s there?

Don’t lock yourself into one day to go off the tracks. There’s no point in wasting a day or ruining your efforts for the week.

Think moderation and balance.

Guilt is not a part of success. Don’t entertain it.

If you really overdo, just refocus on your goals, pick up, and keep moving forward. Quitting isn’t an option!

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Serious About Weight Loss

weeks of fitness

 

Goals. Resolutions. Plans. Ideas.

Where are you with yours a few weeks into the New Year ? Are you one of the many who has determined  that weight loss and fitness will be what you finally achieve this year?

Sadly, many will start with the best intentions but quickly give up when their  plans are a bit lofty and to restrictive, determining it’s to hard and give up.

Please don’t quit. Isn’t it more productive to have small forward movement than none ?

When I chat with people I often hear some… denial ? About how they eat ,what they eat, and  how much they eat.

Trust me, it’s easy to disillusion yourself. Or there is some joking about it… about not eating well…. as if poor eating is a fun game.

Can I say this ? If you’re serious about weight loss, you need to be serious about what you eat.

Kinda just let that breathe over you for a second.

What kind of body have you built? What kind of body do you want to build ? And I don’t mean like… building a competition body or anything like that… although if that’s what you want you need to set goals to get there.

I mean do you want to lose some fat? Do you want to build muscle? Strengthen your cardio system to be able to do daily tasks without getting out of breath ? Do you want energy to keep up with your family and do things with them ? To achieve those goals means getting serious about what goes in your mouth, and how much of it.

Getting serious means taking a hard look at your eating habits and patterns. A study of your eating habits as it were.  What triggers you to eat when you aren’t hungry?  What foods do you reach for ?  Do you know how to stop once your hunger has been satisfied or do you keep eating because it’s there or it tastes good ?

How do you nourish your body ? Is it with junk type foods? High fat? Sugar? Alcohol ? Fast food ?  Over eating?

Or is it with healthy, colorful, flavorful life giving food to build you up in the best way possible ?  Foods that will give you energy and vitality?

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Listen, you won’t just snap into changes overnight. You will struggle and rebel against changes you want to make, know you need to make, it won’t come easy.

But…. you are more than capable of doing it.

One day, one moment at a time.

I guess it might sound pretty basic but if you’re gonna make changes you need to assess what you’ve got to do to start making that happen.

May I suggest a long heart to heart with yourself ?

Look at how you eat, when, how much etc. if it’s not a meal time look at snacking or eating when you aren’t truly hungry.

What or how do you feel that makes you reach for food ?

What foods do you reach for ?

In a day, write out foods that are healthy, good for you foods and then the “other” foods. Make a list… which list is longer at the end of the day. You might track this for several days.  Make sure you also add in all sugary drinks, alcohol etc

Determine ( on the not so great category) where you can begin to make small gradual changes.  For instance, if you’re a big soda drinker and have maybe 3?  a day you might try cutting it back to two for a week, then down to one until you’re weaned off or save them for really special treats. Although by that time you might find them to be to sweet for you once your body has adjusted to not having them.

In the healthy section look at how you can continue to improve and build on healthier foods.

Where can you add more veggies ? Choose a healthier snack? Pass on vending machine “treats” ?

To move forward you must be serious with yourself on your eating. Understand your food triggers.

Take a critical look at the foods you eat. Can you make healthier substitutions for some things ?

Asking yourself some hard questions and making small gradual changes will begin to move you forward on your health and fitness journey.

start today

Weight Loss 101

weight loss

It happens.

You get on the scale and the numbers start spinning like a slot machine in Vegas.

You wait for the final tally to show up. If only it would spit money out at you when it finally stopped.

Ugh… why is there this huge distance between where you are now… and where you want to be ?

And worse… how did you get to this point ?

You feel defeated before you get started.

I remember. I relate. It seemed so very far away to get to where I wanted to be.

That’s what we all struggle with isn’t it ?

I hear from so many of you. You want to get lose weight and get healthy but you aren’t sure where to start…it’s overwhelming! Overwhelming ’cause we just want to get to our destination over night and that won’t happen… we have to get back the same way we got where we are now…. slowly and steadily… just in reverse now.

I’ll throw out a few little tips that helped me… maybe it will be helpful to you too.

First, getting your nutrition under wraps is the most important thing. Know what you eat and how much you are eating.

It’s easy to think you ” don’t eat that much” when in reality, you could be eating more than you realize. Those calories ( liquid and food) add up. Or in a reverse way, maybe you’re restricting your calories to much making it harder to lose. This is also where it’s so crucial to understand the calorie needs your body has each day.

Logging your food and drink for a week or so will give you a visual idea of what your daily intake looks like. You can do it the old fashioned way by writing it down or use several of the current apps that are available to track your food and exercise.

I have used an app called Lose it! and others use one called My Fitness Pal. Both can keep track of your foods and how many calories you are consuming in a day. You won’t need to do this forever but do it long enough to understand your food consumption and see your eating patterns.  Make sure you log everything you eat and drink.

Good nutrition is really key to long term weight loss. Exercise is important but if you don’t have a good base with healthy nutrition it won’t matter how much exercise you do for long term benefits.

Also, consider what you buy at the store and bring home. If you have trigger foods, and they aren’t there, you can’t get them if you have a craving. Buy healthy foods, you’ll eat healthy foods and so will your family.

I have a huge weakness for salt and pepper kettle potato chips. I know if they come home, it’s all over. My husband teases me that once in awhile won’t hurt me. Perhaps, that’s true. But do I need them ?

Seriously, once that bag is open…. I’m like an addict.

So yeah, think about what you buy and the impact it will have on you at home. Get serious with what you buy and consider the value of it for you and your family.

Eating well is your first line of defense to losing weight successfully and you will see the best results when you shape up your nutrition. Not only that, but your overall health will benefit too.

Another thing I found helpful was only setting 5 lb. goals for myself at a time. I turned it into a game… I can do anything if I can make it a game or make it playful. So I would just tell myself… “ok, just focus on moving from the “0” to the “5”…. and I moved along in those 5 lb. increments till it really started to add up.

Focusing on 5 lbs. at a time was totally manageable. I could handle that. It takes that huge daunting goal and makes it easier to achieve.

Try it…. It builds your confidence that you can accomplish what you set out to do.

As you bring your nutrition in line, it will be important for you to consider what exercises you can do to support your weight loss goals.

Keep in mind, our bodies need movement for wellness, not just to help with weight loss. Purposeful exercise also helps us mentally, emotionally and spiritually, in addition to physically.

Decide what you can do. What works for you. I will encourage you to look at a variety of activities, first, to prevent boredom. Second, a variety of activities can work all muscle groups overall shaping and building your body to be more defined and strong.  I honestly think I’ve stayed with working out because I found things I could be passionate about and because I had different activities it allowed me to mix things up when I wanted to.

If you are self motivated you might find working out at home fits your needs. I love not having to go somewhere to workout… my time is important so to just go for a run, pedal off some miles, or out to my building for strength days is a huge bonus to me.

However, you might need the motivation of being in a gym setting, or having a workout partner ( iron sharpens iron kinda thing 😉 Perhaps a personal trainer might be what gets you on track.

Know your needs and what will help you be most successful to stick with it.

In summary….

Log your food/drink intake for a week or two until you have a good idea of your food patterns (the how, what, and when of your eating )

Make healthy food choices that you keep in your kitchen.

Set 5 lb. goals at a time.

Select a physical activity that you can be passionate about and look forward to doing.

Remember, slow and steady will reap long term lifestyle changes =)

D

The Ugly Truth About Fat

So as I pondered the blog I’m about to write it crossed my mind that it could fall into that realm of ” not politically correct” that seems to permeate our world today. You know, that place where you can’t or aren’t supposed to say anything or have an opinion on anything for fear of “offending” someone ? That if you speak out, someone might feel that you are bashing or tearing them down ?

Hear me… there’s a huge difference in speaking out in love/concern over being mean spirited and hateful.

Well! Now that I have your attention…. 😉 ( you’re pondering…where the heck is she going with this?)

I’m fixing to speak truth.

I’ll tell you…. I’m gonna talk about….. fat…. and the fact our country has an epidemic of it…. including our children… childhood obesity will have to hold for another post…

It’s not cool to mention fat. We live in this current world of not “shaming” and trying to make everyone feel ok and comfy when the reality is this…

Obesity increases the risk of many health conditions, including the following:

  • Coronary heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Cancers, such as endometrial, breast, and colon cancer.
  • High total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides.
  • Liver and gallbladder disease.
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems.
  • Degeneration of cartilage and underlying bone within a joint (osteoarthritis).
  • Reproductive health complications such as infertility.
  • The high cost of healthcare for these diseases.

Hear me on this, fat isn’t bad. Our bodies need fat to protect our organs and give us energy as well as help with proper functioning of our nerves and brain, it helps to maintain healthy skin and other tissues.

Excess fat is what becomes bad. It puts extra stress and strain on our knees, hips and other joints. Internally, our heart and lungs have to work harder to carry the extra weight. On a practical level…. daily tasks can be harder and take more energy and that can leave you tired.

I feel I have a platform to speak on this. I’ve not always been athletic, had muscles or worried overly about what food I ate. If you’ve known me for awhile, then you’ve seen me at varying sizes, however, so many of you are new to following me you might assume I’ve always been into running/fitness. Not true.

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April 2007, Senior pics with my first born who was getting ready to graduate. This was a rather unplanned pic that the photographer took of us. I love it ’cause I’m with him. I was not “unhappy” with myself? But It was one of those moments where I once again was reminded…. “you could drop a few pounds”. 7 months later I began my journey and never looked back.

My grandmother and mom were considered morbidly obese… not a pretty term….but sadly true. I’m the age my grandmother was when she had her first heart attack. She had not only heart issues but diabetes and other health related problems. She eventually died of congestive heart failure.

My mom nearly died one Easter of undiagnosed diabetes. Her blood sugar level was something like 960.  If you know your numbers then you know… that is out of the world high. Somehow though, she pulled through that. She also had high blood pressure and dealt with many other issues including loss of both kidneys,  2 transplants, and later in the past few years, life of dialysis and never ending doctor appointments. Because of diabetes complications, she eventually had toes and parts of her foot removed. All of these things directly related to her being so overweight. Oh, she did have surgery a number of years ago and lost a lot of weight and was quite small when she passed away…. but all the damage had been done.

I lost her a year ago tomorrow.

My grief is neatly packed away on some levels and there is a blog waiting to come out…. someday….. but I digress….

It’s an ugly truth we don’t want to confront in ourselves or in this world today. Fat can be deadly and take a huge toll on our health and quality of life. But we don’t want anyone to feel bad so we act like it’s all ok…. again…  this isn’t about treating anyone poorly…. it’s about offering love and support.

7 years ago I started my journey after kindly being confronted by my doctor… or perhaps challenged is a better word… to consider losing some weight. Pointing out basically, I was healthy, but could stand to lose a few pounds. Well, honestly, I went on to lose more than a few, about 55 actually. Not to mention who knows how many inches, and about 6 pant sizes.

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At one point, I couldn’t wear these pants. I guess I still can’t wear them 😉                                                                     

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I remember the first night I went out for a walk ( begrudgingly I might add) I had to deal head on and face to face with the reality. I was 43 at the time…. did I want my life potentially to be like my mom and grandmother? Was I going to let food dictate and control my life? Or was I going to make changes?

That…. was when my fitness journey began.

I will always remember taking in the December 2012 edition of Runners World to show my doctor. I had been one of 22 selected out of over 400 submissions to be shown in their “Runners Body”  feature. I asked him if a few years ago when I first came in would he have thought I’d have been in such a magazine ?

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My feature page from Runners World Body Edition

He was in tears…..his words….. “I tell people all the time, they usually don’t  listen. I’m proud of you”

So yeah, I feel like I can speak to this topic on too many personal levels.

Yet, losing even 10lbs can lower blood pressure, help reduce knee and hip pain and help to lower blood sugars. Not to mention, it can make you feel awesome for doing it =) Oh yeah, what about increased energy as you lose weight ?

The most important thing ? Get started.

→ Set small realistic goals

→ Include daily purposeful exercise

→ Remember even when you don’t see big “losses” that things are happening inside you too.

→ Enlist help or a support team

→ Aim to eat healthy nutritious food 95% of the time.

→ Allow for an occasional treat but don’t reward yourself with food.

→ Don’t quit. Slow and steady wins the race.

→Progress pics aren’t vain…. they can remind you how far you’ve come….. take them =)

You ultimately are the only one who can take control of your health and wellness. If you are in a good place perhaps you need to be encouragement to someone on their journey…support goes a long way! Most of all, consider what you do an investment in your quality of life… you’re more than worth it!

Crossing the (Diet) Bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe, perhaps, because we get it.

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

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

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

Discipline.

Sacrifice.

Dedication.

Willingness.

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

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

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

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

You love yourself on the journey.

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

A permanent lifestyle change. Welcome to the other side.

Cookie Cutter Diets Part 3

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Diet, diet, diet.

That’s all that can often consume our minds when we’ve got some weight to lose, isn’t it ? Which one to do ? Which might offer the biggest bang for our time and investment of energies and most of all yield the biggest rewards?

As you read in part two of my series, sometimes the idea of starting a diet was a better idea than well, actually DOING the diet. And the best part was when I painfully struggled to the end and cried “Uncle” when I  finished… or when the diet finished me…. whichever came first.

Losing weight isn’t easy. It requires work and sacrifice and determination to make it happen.

Often though we go about it by trying to fit into a plan that isn’t made or designed for us. We try to adapt and follow a set of rules someone else has made with food choices they have selected and we try and be good and make it work…. we do. Some of us might be successful, but for the most, it’s a reverting back to our old ways of what we know, and what we eat.

What if perhaps, there was something that was more made for us as … gasp… individuals ? Something that took in to account our unique likes and food preferences ? Could we, maybe then, have success ?

When I started on my health and fitness journey, there was one thing I determined early on.  I was not going to make any food “off limits”. I understood that I was an adult and quiet capable of controlling myself and not splurging on the whole carton of ice cream.  Somehow doing that took the power out of those foods. Knowing they were still there IF I wanted them seemed to put them in a proper place. No one was taking anything away from me. I could completely have that chocolate shake….. if I wanted it.

Now I was in control. Those foods were there but I didn’t have to eat them.

Imagine my delight years later finding out that even high level fitness trainers didn’t restrict themselves from occasional treats.  If I had a moment I wanted something, I allowed myself a little, and moved on. Doing that didn’t cause binging or make me feel deprived or majorly crater my day…. and I moved along like that every single day.

Along the way I’ve learned that my body has specific caloric needs to sustain life AND specific needs for my athletic life. Every single day can be different depending on what I’m doing.

You, my faithful reader, are no different. If you’ve done your homework from the past two parts of my series, you’ve assessed the WHY of wanting to lose weight, and you were also to consider your daily life and activities as well as foods you enjoy eating. You will have set out some short and long term goals for your journey.

Because now you’ll need to figure the calories YOU personally need on a daily basis to do the things you’ve listed.

How? You might ask ? We’re gonna use a calculator to help determine your needs for daily living and any purposeful exercise. Be honest with yourself. If you don’t do any physical activity (yet) don’t plug in that you are moderately active. I’ve found the link below very helpful for figuring my daily caloric needs

http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/

Calculating your caloric requirement will then allow you to build your own nutrition plan based on your daily needs.

To lose weight, take your total daily number and reduce by 20%.

Keeping a food log for a few weeks will help you assess where your strengths and weaknesses are. What nutritional dense foods do you eat ?  What is more empty calories? What do you need to let go of ? Where can you make improvements ?

I think it’s also important to think about that “thing” or two that you absolutely love and build a small portion of that into your weekly plan. If you don’t want it, fine. But if you have a craving, allow yourself and move on.

With practice you will begin to figure out what foods you can eat and stay within your daily calorie intake. Don’t get all crazy and think you have to keep it an exact science.

The goal is to build a sustainable plan you can keep at day in and day out and steadily, consistently lose weight. Enjoy foods you like while making intentional changes to remove or reduce foods that are not as nutritionally beneficial.

In time you will train your body to want healthier foods making it easier to maintain your new lifestyle =)

Cookie Cutter Diets Part 2

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Hey! welcome back to the next part of my little series  =) I thought this would work better than writing a novel you’d be reading for days…. if you missed part 1…. scamper over and check it out first.

I wanna set the stage here for you… since we’re talking about diets…. maybe you’ll relate. This was my strategy for success years ago.

* determine I was tired of being fat  (yes, I’m using that word)

* decide that,  “Monday was gonna be it…time to start”

* proceed to eat all random, crappy, junk type food I could shovel in to “get rid of it”  over the weekend ( because all that food would never, ever be available to me again. Ever.

* decide which seriously calorie deficient diet I was gonna do, and there were LOTS to choose from.

* start on Monday with lofty expectations of being slimmer by the next weekend. Engage some furious exercise. Think of all the foods I was gonna miss.

* Tuesday… hunger is my new best friend. Food is always on my mind and I  have fantasies about my next meal more than a teenage girl does Justin Bieber. Get on scale and check for weight loss. Get mad when it hasn’t changed.

*Wednesday hop onto scale… first thing early… naked… carefully balancing and holding my breath. Yay…  a pound or two gone. It’s gonna be a good day. I can do this. When do we eat again ?? Weigh again later in day hoping for more good news…think about when it’s over…

* Thursday no new change in the weight. I’m getting kinda sick of a piece of fruit, an egg and water for breakfast and similar things rest of day. Hunger sticks closer than a bee on honey. I think about…cake… and cheeseburgers… and all things fat.

*Friday almost have a week down. I’m getting used to the light headedness from not enough food… besides the scale told me another pound was gone… I can handle being hungry…. I’ve been thinking about “when this is over” and getting back to normal.

* Saturday… I’ve been good! I deserve a treat, or two, or three… right ?? And the whole day turns into a happy eating feast of all things that have been banished in the past week. OMG… it all tastes sooo good.

*Sunday… I’m not realllyyyy needing to lose weight, am I? I mean, I never will be able to anyway…so… I might as well just do what I’ve been doing…. maybe I’m supposed to just be like this. I  just don’t have the will power or strength to be successful.

* Monday…. resume my old ways. Resolve to try again another day.

Do you relate ? Have you done things like this ? You can tell me in the comments section.

I’ve since learned a lot. There were several flaws with my plan for weight loss.

→ Not understanding my needs or exactly how many calories my body required to just be alive on a daily basis. At the time 1200 calories was standard diet fare ( sadly it still is today) If you were living large, 1500. Imagine my shock when not to long ago I learned that my daily BMR (basal metabolic rate which we’ll talk about later) was actually 1500 calories. This is if I were to sit on sofa doing nothing and to support the normal functioning of my body. No wonder I was hungry all the time! There were no extra calories for my daily living or exercise built in.

→ Removing, depriving and taking away everything I perceived as “bad” Giving power to foods and not keeping them in a proper  perspective. We  are living life and have to allow for it even as we pursue our weight loss goals. Occasional treats keep us on target and cut off binging. Putting foods on a banished list only made me think of them more.

→ Not treating my body with respect by giving it adequate food for health and living. Being hungry is a God given signal to feed our body.

→ Not having realistic goals for myself. I would not reach a slim status in one week. That set me up for failure…. as if  not enough food wouldn’t.

→ Not setting long term, permanent, life goals instead of just weeks out goals.

→ Trying to fit my body into that standard diet and not knowing my own needs.

When you and I began to grasp and understand that we should be focused on all of our lives and not just a few weeks or months, we’ve made huge progress. Eating well and movement  are, or should be, what we do all our life.

Now, remember your homework you had from last post ? You were supposed to set a goal and determine what your weight loss fitness goals are

Now along side that I want you to consider what your needs are. Could you relate on any level to my story above ?  What mental changes do you need to make for success ?

Finally, think about your life. Your work , activities, hobbies, exercise etc. and consider what kinds of food will give you energy and help you on your weight loss journey.

In our next post we will look at how to figure how many calories you personally need to reach your goals and most importantly how to make it your plan for success.

Setting Realistic Fitness Goals

When I kicked started my little blog a few short weeks ago, it was to hopefully, share, encourage and motivate those who stumbled across me in the vast cyber world of blogville.

It’s a big place out there boys and girls. And wow, ya’ll have been so…. nice……

I wanted to take my voice into the world to do what I’ve been doing in real life and through my Facebook page, motivating and encouraging people to pursue a lifestyle of health and fitness.

As you know, and as I’ve shared in other posts, I’m a runner and love running and will talk a lot about it ( as in, I have a half marathon this weekend, so spoiler alert, you know what’s coming 😉 however, there’s a lot more to me,  a person, and much more to our lives we deal with so I will also venture into other topics and ideas to share with you as we move along.

I think when people are setting out to do something as (big) as get on their health and fitness journey, they really need a cheerleader, a mentor, and someone who’s plowed the road in front of them to say “hey, I got through this, you can too!”

It can be hard…. frustrating… overwhelming. As one reader commented to me the other day on my post, they hadn’t “thrown in the towel yet”…..

That means a lot … if you can press on taking one day at a time and just focusing on it…. and not the rest of your life….or that you feel like you’ll be fat/out of shape/ unmotivated whatever… you WILL make progress.

Trust me.

There will be days you’ll look at yourself in the mirror in that self-loathing way (don’t… do … that… or I will…come beat you) and you think there’s no progress going on… but there is…. you must give your body time to adapt and adjust to what you are doing. Remember part of the process is knowing that there’s a lot of changes going on…. not just physically inside and out ……but mentally and emotionally as well….

Our bodies really are this cool science experiment.  Work them, feed them good foods, be consistent in that process and in this slow steady way…. stuff happens….

Honestly, I’ve been at this for 7 years now. I’ve kept my weight off, built muscle, gotten stronger, leaner,  have more energy and can physically do more than I did half my age ago. I realllllyy l that 😉

Did you notice something ?

 7….. years…..

I’ve made forward progress by being consistent and letting changes happen in the way they need to……over time.

Are my fitness goals different now, than when I started this process? You bet they are ( and that, boys and girls will be another post)

The important thing is this. I just lived my life each day…. purposefully and intentionally  with forward progress. This is not something you can manhandle out quickly. You’re living your life, settle back and enjoy  the journey.

I still have people who will see me and say “when did you get like that??” and my response is “I’ve just been working at it for awhile”.

May I offer some suggestions if you are thinking of starting your journey or maybe you’re on it and need encouragement.

Ready ? Take notes 😉

Be kind to yourself when you start the process. Firm, but kind.

Don’t tolerate excuses from yourself (you can read more on that in my “No Excuses” post)

Set reasonable goals.

Make a vision board of ideas or goals you want to achieve. My closet door is littered with ideas/quotes/goals.

If you’re serious… tell people! My Facebook page has been a place where I post what I will be doing and I know at least one person is going to ask about what I’m doing and if I did it. Not only that, you are also going to motivate someone else… win/win!

Educate yourself in what you are doing… read and learn.

Finally, make it fun! You are doing this as a “lifestyle” enjoy what you’re doing!

With consistent daily progress you will hit your goals.

But no matter what….. don’t you give up and throw in the towel. You will never reach your goals by doing that!

Have you thrown in the towel before? How many times before it “stuck”? What things  helped you ? Share =)

2007/2014 7 years into my journey
2007/2014 7 years into my journey

That Nutrition Thing

What came first? The chicken or the egg ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is a food group, isn’t it ? 😉

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small steps can lead to big, long term changes!

That Stupid Scale

20150311_170859-1Let’s face it…. truth time…..

In our lives we’ve all had relationships with scales… and it’s usually a love/hate relationship.

THE SCALE – our judge, jury, condemner, slammer of our self-esteem and worth. The “thing” that has the ability to take our good, happy day and turn it to crap based on what numbers dial up like a slot machine in Vegas. Those numbers can make us feel like a million bucks or a huge failure.

If the numbers are “good” we allow it to stroke our self-esteem… like our personal value is hinging on those numbers.  If we determine they are “bad” then it can single handedly take us down, making us feel instantly bad about ourselves. Might as well paint a big loser symbol on our chest and send us out into the world.

Let’s establish this right now… you are not “just” a set of numbers… ok ?? There is far more to you than a set of numbers.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The scale does have a value, but it’s a tool, and there are times we need to use that tool, but use it wisely.

When I started my fitness journey, I needed to lose weight, and my weekly weigh in’s were important to my progress.

Did you note the key word here?  Weekly.  Not many times in a week, a day, or several times a day, weekly… once.

I won’t lie. I was in the same boat.

Some weeks,  I loved the damn thing. Other weeks, I had to resist throwing it out the window. I understood for my progress to be successful it needed to be slow and steady, which it was. Some weeks there was more, some less, but it was forward movement.

You know what that scale didn’t tell me ? What it doesn’t tell you?

How awesome you are no matter your size, even as you are seeking to be less of you. It doesn’t take away that amazing feeling you have finishing a workout. Before I’d lost any weight worth mentioning, I mentally felt great after coming in from my walks (that’s where I started in the beginning before, the sickness started, you know, the sickness that is making me run a  50K 😉

The scale also doesn’t show all the cool stuff that is going on INSIDE you. It doesn’t show your lab tests improving, your heart and lung health getting stronger, your resting heart rate getting lower (and a whole lot of other scientific stuff)  or the way you think of yourself, your growing confidence and stronger self-esteem, or the way those workouts help you feel less stressed.

Nor does it show how empowered you are becoming with each workout and positive step forward.

No. It won’t show you any of that.

Being a certain number doesn’t make you “healthy”…. nor does striving to just be “thin”….. it can make you skinny fat which basically means you have more body fat percentage than lean muscle mass. Ah, the benefits of building lean muscle mass… another topic to be pursued….

The goal shouldn’t be to get “thin”.  Oh, years ago when I was starting to lose weight that WAS my mentality.

“I just want to be thin and fit in size 10 jeans again!” at that point that’s all I knew….all I wanted.  Make the scale say less… life would be good.

I didn’t realize it could be so much better than just a quest to be “thin” and trying to achieve some perceived number of “perfection.”

But then…. things happened along the way. Yeah, I was losing fat. But other cool stuff was happening too.

Losing fat let my muscles start showing up. Lifting weights wasn’t just giving me some muscles but making me stronger for ALL  of my daily living. I went from cute 5lb weights to the 35lb I currently use.

Running was shaping me in crazy ways. My legs are not only wildly strong but have awesome muscles. I can’t tell you the times total strangers stop me to comment my legs. My abs leaned out.  Actually I can’t tell you a single area that running hasn’t improved on me.

I got faster. I could lift more. I tackled projects in life without needing someone “stronger” to help me.

I got mentally stronger….tougher.  My confidence grew. I was empowered and didn’t ( and don’t)  consider that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do.

Oh wait…… hold on ……. do you see my numbers at work here ? Defining me ?  No, I don’t either.

You see now days I’m more concerned about what my body can do, and how it can perform doing the things I ask of it, rather than if my numbers are bouncing around on any given day. Today I can’t think of a better compliment than when someone tells me I look strong.

I honestly get on a scale maybe twice a year and it’s at the doctors office. Total freedom.

You see the scale was a “tool” to get me moving. I used it for it’s purpose. It allowed me to see my efforts of eating better and moving more were having results.

Today, all my clothes  are single digit sizes. Remember me mentioning all I wanted was to get back into my size 10’s? I never thought a day would come they’d be two sizes to big. As long as my clothes fit well, I don’t concern myself over numbers hopping around on any given day.

I mean, why ?  Don’t we have enough in our days to trouble us ? Enough negative to potentially bring us down? Do we need to give something like …a scale… that kind of power ??

Ok…. the take away for you my lovely 1.5 readers….

The scale is a tool. Use it as one ( wisely) on your weight loss journey.

It is not your moral judgment.

If you are at the weight you desire to be, how your clothes fit should be a good indicator of your weight, however, if you check in with it, once every week or two is probably enough.

Remember, you are not defined by a number! It’s doesn’t give you value or take away your value.

Focus on all the cool things that make you feel strong, empowered, and confident.

Celebrate your body and what it can do. There’s only one of you in all your awesomeness.

Most of all, love yourself, on the journey to your destination =)