Monday, February 10, 2014

10 Tips to help you salvage your New Year's Health & Fitness Goals!

 My Top 10 SIMPLE & SUCCESSFUL Health and fitness tips for the rest of 2014! 

  • Go to your doctor or find your ideal healthy weight using this calculator. This will take into account your height and body frame and suggest a healthy weight range. 
  • Don't try to lose to the lower end of the range. 
  • Start off slowly because you can always adjust your goal within this range. 
  • Be realistic... you've got to crawl before you walk! 
2. COUNT CALORIES. There are a zillion weight loss systems in the market but they all involve counting calories. At the end of the day it is all simple math.
  • You must work with your caloric intake to see any type of weight loss. The good news here is that if you do this, you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want so as long as you keep your calories to the suggested daily amount. 
  • My advice is to do just that, eat what you want until your body gets used to consuming less calories. In time you can begin to make necessary adjustments to improve the quality of the foods you do eat. 
  • Proteins keep you full longer so instead of eating a donut, you might want to have a fistful of nuts. Or instead of a burger, you might want to opt for a steak salad. There are tons of delicious and healthy substitutes you can make as you begin to embrace your new healthy goals.
3. EXERCISE! Yeah. You knew that was coming. Relax, I'm not going to tell you to go buy expensive equipment or systems. I'm not going to suggest you join a gym. I'm going to tell you to walk or ride a bike or swim.
  • Start off slow and add to it once a week. 
  • Increase either the amount of time or speed or distance. 
  • If you engage your lower body you will burn more calories because those are your largest muscles. Start off 3 times a week and add days as you continue to progress. 
4. DON'T CHEAT by UNDER EATING! Once you incorporate exercise to your fitness goals you will need to consume more calories.
  • Use this calculator to determine how many calories you must add to make up for the amount and intensity of the exercise you are now performing. This is important because if you under eat your body will hoard calories and you won't see the weight loss you are working towards.
5. HOW TO HANDLE A MISSTEP. So you went over your calories during lunch.
  • Your instincts will be to skip your snack or dinner. DON'T! 
  • If you are hungry, prepare your usual snack or meal and eat some or all of it. 
  • The same goes for your workout. If you missed your usual workout, maybe do a modified routine or just do it the next day. 
  • You don't have to wait an entire day to 'start over.' Missteps will happen so 'fool proof' your system to accommodate these little bumps in the road.
  • Get into the right frame of mind. 
  • Avoid looking at this as an event but as a journey. 
  • Stop expecting it to happen in 2 weeks, or 5 months. Accept, embrace and celebrate that this is a gradual process. 
  • Be patient and diligent. Have faith in the process and in yourself. Don't compare your journey with anyone else's. 
  • Every "body" is different and you should be kind and patient with yours.
7. CHANGE YOUR INNER DIALOG. Have you heard how you talk to yourself? It's no wonder you have little motivation to get started, let alone follow through.
  • It's time you use proactive language on yourself. 
  • Remind yourself that you are worth this effort. That you deserve a healthy body and mind. 
  • Compliment yourself when you've made achievements. And when you hit those bumps, call yourself out but do it kindly. Tell yourself that you'll do better next time, and then follow through. 
  • This is a process so be prepared for all the normal series of events that will come up and challenge your resolve.
8. BE REALISTIC! Firmly plant yourself in reality.
  • Understand that you might not see immediate results. Or you will. Some weeks will be better than others. 
  • Embrace the fact that this is no longer a system but a lifestyle. It is not something you are doing for a class reunion or wedding, this is something you are doing for life. Your life. 
  • Give your health the same commitment that you give your job and your family. Don't "call in sick" on yourself! Show up, be present. Apply the same expectations on yourself that you do when it comes to those people and events that are non-negotiable for you. Your health is NON-NEGOTIABLE!
9. KEEP IT SIMPLE. One of the main reasons so many people quit is because they become overwhelmed. They make drastic changes that lead to giant disappointment. They buy foods they hate and workout until they hurt themselves.
  • By keeping it simple and starting off slowly and realistically you have a better chance of success. 
  • If what you want is results you must aim for sustainability. If you cannot sustain the eating plan or exercise program, then you will not get results. 
  • "Drastic and Insane" sound very result-driven but most times you are left discouraged. Embrace "slow and steady" because it will help you build your resolve and maintain it. 
10. SWITCH IT UP! Lastly, if you're going to embark on a fun and exciting change, you might want to prep your surroundings to keep you motivated and energized.
  • Make a visual and physical change to the places that represent where you've lost your mojo and abandoned your health goals. 
  • If it's the living room or kitchen switch it up. Rearrange the furniture or the cupboards.  
  • Leave your running shoes by your bed as a motivator, or by the door for convenience. 
  • Place your fruits and veggies where they are easily seen and accessed. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

How To LOSE Weight in 100 Words or Less!

  • Determine your ideal healthy weight. (see A)
  • Consume the amount of calories you need in order to lose weight. Remember to increase that number to compensate for the exercise you engage in. (See B)
  • DO NOT CHEAT by eating LESS than the calories allotted to you.
  • Start simple! Adopt an exercise plan that fits your schedule such as walking. You’ll be engaging your largest muscle group so you will essentially be getting more bang for your buck. Add distance and speed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

(Note: Found this photo on Pinterest that originally posted on Tumblr but I cannot find the owner in order to give proper credit and tremendous 'thanks' for this visual)

Last week I covered a great deal of reasons we become unmotivated with our plans to tackle a healthy lifestyle.  My personal pet peeve was the inability to lose weight in spite of my daily running and introducing weight training.  After much reading and consulting friends in the medical field I was able to put my worries to rest and remain on track.  But nothing helped like this photo!  This week while web surfing I found this photo which sealed the deal for me!

I cannot stress enough that there are no secrets or magic bullets to weight loss other than your decision to adopt a healthy lifestyle.  For every diet or weight management program out there, and for however great they really are, the most important ingredient to their success is YOU.  Don't believe me?  How many people do you know that have regained their weight even after enduring lap band or stomach reduction surgery?  The problem is not our mouth, it's just a little above that, it's our brain.  

I am a firm believer that your objective should be to live healthy and happy and that weight loss and body strengthening will be a wonderful side effect.  You must abandon the way you used to think and adopt a new dialog and perspective on your body's overall health.  

Here are some tips that have done wonders for me!

1. Scratch negative words from your dialog.  Don't say or ever go on a diet.  That is restrictive and temporary.  Use terms that are built for long term use such as "healthy LIFEstyle."  

Don't use negativity to motivate yourself.  Be your best cheerleader.  Compliment yourself for all your achievements great and small.  And when you revert, skip beating yourself up and replace it with the commitment to do better on your next meal or next workout session.

2.  Quitting is NOT an option.  I have found that when I leave myself no escape I have no other choice than to stay committed.  Some 20+ years back when I began my healthy lifestyle I was on Weight Watchers and going to the gym every other day.  One day I skipped and my dad said to me, "You don't have to exercise but you have to go."  Just the discipline of getting ready and driving over there made all the difference.  Somedays I would get in a great work out and somedays I was sluggish BUT I went and it was really the 'discipline' muscle I was working out then that has gotten me to where I am today.

The same could be said with food.  If you find yourself counting calories and one night you are tempted to over do it, give yourself a 'cheat number.'  My WW friends have a rule of thumb to kill the temptation and that is to give in to it by allowing themselves 3 teaspoons of said tempter.  Three chips, or 3 bites of bread, or three tiny teaspoons full of ice cream.  This way you STAY IN THE MOMENT and have control over it and the damage is far less than if you excuse yourself with the old "I've ruined it anyway so I may as well go all out!"  

3.  Don't trust just one source for your weight and health.  I learned that this month!  How you look, what your measurements are and most importantly - how you FEEL - are a better indicator of the success of your weight & exercise program.  When my scale began to tell me I was gaining weight I panicked first and then I went on a research mission.  I never considered giving up because I could see my thighs were far more toned, and my skin wings have diminished, and I feel STRONG.  

Learn to trust and listen to your body.  You are your best advocate for the most precious resource you have ever been given and will ever have - YOUR body!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tony Horton of P90X

About a month ago the realization hit home - it was time to bring the upper body into the act.  As a runner I had convinced myself that I was getting all the cardio and exercising I needed to keep me healthy, active and strong into my golden years.  That fantasy began to erode when I noticed my arms were not only developing skin-wings, but were weak.  Something clicked and the next phase of my fitness life began.

After much research the hubby and I decided to check out the popular P90X.  We have seen the tv ads but have also seen results among our friends.  Although my husband has been doing weight training for years in the comfort of our garage, I had been the hold out and now I was joining the fray, but with the help of Tony.

The program has been very manageable and enjoyable.  We are almost at the 30 day period and although I have gained 3 pounds and am not happy about that - I am seeing and feeling the difference. For starters, I have a butt now.  Well, the old butt is starting to climb up to where it used to be.  My thighs are more toned.  My arms are starting to show a tiny bit of definition.  The most important change though is how I feel.  Strong.  A word that I never really associated with my body.  I feel taller, confident.  

But let me get back to that weight gain for a moment.  I have been disciplined and keep my weight between 138 and 140.  Now I'm weighing in at 143.  I've been told it's muscle but after some research it seems my body is adjusting and adapting.  It could also be water weight that accumulates in the muscles.  Whatever it is for certain I am not allowing it to derail my efforts.  

If you have been following this blog you will know that here we speak honestly and proactively.  We are about health and fitness first and then celebrate the side effects of those efforts.  To that end I want to share the lessons I've learned with anyone that is beginning this journey or supporting someone that is.

1.  Health and fitness should be your most important goals.  When you expect obvious physical changes you may get discouraged and then give up.  Do not set yourself up for failure.  Keep track of the weight and inches lost but also keep track of what you are gaining.  Take time to log how you are feeling.  Strong, happy, confident.  

2. Strong is the new skinny.  Get your priorities straight.  Strong is not always visible so embrace the fact that even though you may not see definition or bulging muscles, you are still benefiting from the efforts through strength.  

3.  Have a realistic goal and image in your mind.  I'm 48 and I will never look 20 again.  Keeping that in mind I am only trying to make the best of my body as it is today.  No matter how hard I work I will never reclaim all the things that made 20 so awesome so let that go and move forward.  On a side note, I have hung out with beautiful young women and even the fittest and most beautiful have a dimple here and there so - even perfection is not perfect!  

4.  Surrender to the process.  If you are going to begin a weight loss or training program SURRENDER completely to the process until you have completed it.  So many people decide early on that they don't like this or that and slowly they relinquish the program.  I hate the yoga part of the P90X but I have to trust in the process as a whole that it will work.  After almost 30 days, the yoga is helping me with the focus problems that so often derail me.  Bottom line - trust the system, trust the experts.  Once you've mastered the program then you can feel free to personalize the program to your needs.

5.  STOP QUITTING!  Commit to committing.  Before you even start commit yourself to not quitting. Whether it's a 30 day or 90 day program promise yourself that you will at the very least complete the program.  Health and fitness is driven by the feeling accomplishment.  Do not rob yourself of this vital part of the process.  Once you prove to yourself that you can FINISH you will have broken a pattern that used to define you to yourself.  My goal is always to finish.  It may not be pretty or awesome but I can always tell myself that I FINISHED and that provides the inner strength I need to tackle everything.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

An "imperfect" girl's way to health & fitness

If you have been following my posts you probably have learned that health and fitness do not really come naturally to me.  At the root of me I am prone to very poor behavior that does more to sideline my best efforts than to inspire them.

I am "calling myself out" today because I know the majority of us that are trying to lead a healthy lifestyle are not the super, elite athletes that crave sprout shakes and dream of scaling mountains.  Most of us are average individuals that have no intention of ever giving up a carb in order to fit into a pair of skinny jeans. And it is for this reason that I want to offer you a realistic, sensible, EASY and brutally honest approach to your journey towards healthy living.

1. Love yourself and your body RIGHT NOW - AS IS.
Accept every curve, every pound, every dimple, every scar.  They are yours and they make up the wholeness that is YOU.  If you begin a new internal dialog with yourself that is affirming and loving - you will naturally WANT to do right by your body and feed it foods that make it stronger and leaner.  Your journey is not towards perfection - it is towards the healthiest you that you can be.  Do not let others dictate to you your worth.  You're here, you're a player so GAME ON!

2. Do not EVER give up foods that you love.
Anyone can lose weight but your goal should be to keep it off and you won't keep it off if you are eating foods that you do not like.  I am a huge advocate of Weight Watchers because that is exactly their principal.  You lose weight eating foods you like.  Nothing is off limits.  What I found going through WW is that I continued eating the same foods but not in the same ways.  I no longer over-indulged.  As time went by, I would substitute a healthier version of my favorite foods.  I try not to use sugar but rather than weird chemicals, I use maple syrup.  It's natural and because it's so sweet, you need less to get the same affect as sugar.  I also replaced useless starches like pasta with quinoa.  It is a super grain that they make into a variety of different pastas so you can still have your lasagnas, macaroni, spaghetti and it looks and tastes exactly like pasta but you are getting proteins and nutrients not found in the other pastas.

3. Dump your expectations and timelines and just - do it.
I love to set goals but when it comes to something so personal and emotional as weight loss goals are just another excuse to quit.  When you don't meet it, you give up.  Set yourself up for SUCCESS not failure.  Do not give yourself a timeline or a specific weight you want to be.  Instead determine what your ideal healthy weight should be for your height, frame, etc and aim towards that while keeping in mind that the average weight loss should be about a pound a week.  And life and hormones and all kinds of variables may change that number to zero, gaining or losing more.  This is why your only goal should be to stay on track and to start new every single day.  If you over did it on Monday, do not wake up on Tuesday and starve yourself.  Just apply your healthy eating to Tuesday - start over every single day.  And please, avoid comments like, "I've been bad" or "I've got to be good."  This is just food, it isn't a test on your morality or character. I've adopted my husband's line, "I must fuel the beast!"  Because the most important point of eating should be FUELING your body.

4. Don't eat anything that tastes bad no matter how healthy it is.
Life is too short -- or too long to eat foods that you don't like.  My hubby tries to sneak in that wheat pasta and I stand by my opinion that it has the consistency of beach sand.  He loves it, I hate it and I would much rather eat a healthy portion of the regular pasta than consume the one I get no joy from.  If I feel deprived I will be more likely to indulge on things that will only sabotage my efforts.

5.  "If you can't be good, be the least bad you can be." -St. Thomas More
Ok, did you see what I did there?  I totally contradicted myself and used the terms "good" and "bad" even though I said previously not to use these labels.  This is because we are human and will more than likely stray occasionally from our strongest convictions.  Keeping that in mind, plan for it.  Be prepared for those times when you will feel too tired to make the healthy choice of item or amount.  Just remind yourself that if you're going to indulge, set a limit and stick to it.

6.  Life is RIGHT NOW not when the weight is lost and the body toned.  Don't postpone joy.
I was super guilty of this.  During my weight loss journey I stopped cutting my hair.  Wore frumpy clothes that just got baggier and baggier.  Quite frankly, my outside did not match my inside.  I learned from a fellow Weight Watcher that once she lost her first 5 pounds she dumped her wardrobe and invested in clothes that would see her through the changes.  She bought leggings with sassy tops that as she dropped pounds she would belt.  She acquired wrap-dresses that always looked sharp and saw her through a 20+ pound weight loss.  She did not wait to be fabulous - she began her transformation the day she made the decision to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

7.  Put food in it's place.
Food is not a person, partner or solution.  It is just food.  Take the mystery and the romance out of it.  Reframe how you see food and you will find you are going to use it differently.  Food is fuel.  Period.  That is it's ONLY purpose.  So while it's fine to love your food, don't forget that it is not there to make you happy, or to soothe your feelings - it is there to fuel your body.  If you need love, comforting or someone to celebrate with get a hug from a friend not from a donut!

8. MOVE!
Don't join a gym.  Don't buy fancy workout clothes or gear.  Go to a super store and get yourself some body fitting clothes and sneakers that you are comfortable and happy in and then go outside and walk.  Period.  You have to start somewhere and the big mistake many make is that they start too hard and with too much ambition and then - well - you get hurt, or sore, or discouraged and then you quit.  Start slow and build yourself up.  Walk around the block and increase the speed and time a little bit each week.  I started walking around my block and within a year I was running 3 miles every other day.  My goal was never to start running but I let it evolve naturally.  I pushed myself just enough to make a different every week and my only goal was not out there in the distant future, it was a weekly, do able, obtainable goal that kept me motivated and feeling all kinds of accomplished!  Well over a decade later, I run between 3 to 6 miles a day and my goals are still the same, I try to add a little distance while increasing the speed.

9.  Set yourself up for SUCCESS.
This is one of my favorite sayings and advice.  Be mindful and honest with yourself.  Work with who you are and what will work for you.  Prepare your home for your new lifestyle.  Dump the junk and replace it with things you love that will fuel you.  Don't change who you are but just the stuff you were feeding yourself with.  Replace those high salt, sugar and oily chips with a delicious but healthier alternative.  Do the same with your dessert or favorite liquids.  I used to drink sodas but the 10 spoonfuls of sugar per serving crushed that addiction immediately so now I enjoy a blend of naturally sweetened juice with seltzer water.  The same is true with your workout.  I cannot go to a gym and I cannot work out in my house.  Too many distractions, i.e. ways to avoid doing it.  Walking was my best resource because I had to 1) leave the house and then 2) come back!  It was the perfect exercise for me.  Today I run.  I don't own a treadmill because even though I've been running for over a decade I still need that discipline.  Find what is within your comfort zone and then work it in.  What's right for your twin sister may not be right for you so dare to get creative and break away from the pack and do your own thing that gets you sweaty and that heart rate UP!

10.  RELAX!
Your feelings, your stress levels are important to your efforts and it is for this reason that you should begin this journey with an open and non-judgmental mind.  If you can truly love and accept yourself right now, as you are, then you can move forward loving yourself as you change a tiny bit each day.  Every single day that you make some effort towards a healthier lifestyle is a successful day.  Start by forgiving yourself for all the things you feel you have brought into your life that have not served you or the future you envision for yourself.  You can't change the past so focus on your future.  And don't focus on it as a destination.  Let the future be as simple as "tomorrow."  An ironic but appropriate quote I will use here is, "How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time."  If you truly take each day at a time, life is so much more manageable.

Having said ALL OF THAT - be your very best friend.  Be your biggest cheerleader.  Don't wait for others to compliment you or validate you.  Remember that you already have everything that you will ever need.  Know that.  Believe that and be the very best and healthiest YOU that can be.

* Next week I will share some of my lowest moments and what I do that keeps me on track in spite of my terrible habits! *

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What moves YOU?

(In the pink skirt is OUR survivor and FASTEST runner in the bunch - love you Jojo!)

A frequent topic that crops up occasionally is what motivates people to not just adopt a healthy lifestyle, but maintain it.  Some people may stay on track because they want to look good, or feel good, or simply be healthier.  Others might have gotten on the path to weight management due to health issues.  Then there is the portion of the population that do it only for a one time event. A reunion, wedding, milestone but find it so rewarding that they stick with it.

This weekend we attended an annual race to fight breast cancer.  Gathered there were countless individuals whose lives were changed in an instant when they or a loved one were given a diagnosis that moved them into action.  There were women and men running their 50th race, or their first.  Some walked, some pushed strollers, some pushed wheelchairs.  In the crowd were plenty of people who took up a resolution to be healthier in 2012 and this race was their first effort to actually show up for themselves, while doing something for others.
While I like to believe that we should be motivated simply because it is the best thing for our body, mind and soul, the reality is that it does not matter what it is that puts you on the path to wellness as long as you stay there. 
But as you embrace the journey, if you find yourself feeling like it might be pointless or not worth all the effort, dig deep and try to motivate yourself.  And in this instance, dare to do it for more than just a cause or someone else.  Do it for you.  Do it because the body you have is the place you spend the most time in, and with and you deserve to exist in the most wonderful place you can create for yourself. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How your clothes can make or break your weight management efforts!

For more years than I care to admit I kept the jeans I wore in high school in hopes to one day fit into them.   I would not be so embarrassed to admit that if the size was even remotely realistic but they were a size zero. So when I found them hiding in the back of the closet I could not help wonder what I was thinking?

Shortly after that discovery I went on a cleaning spree.  I got rid of all the clothes that were too small and too big.  I decided to only keep clothes that fit and I would only purchase clothes that were form fitting.  That closet thinning made a huge difference in my weight management and exercise routine.  

For years I wore the frumpy oversized t-shirts and baggy shorts when I worked-out.  Not only did they make me look and feel sloppy, they also created a drag.  When I ran or worked out, they would hang, not allowing me full mobility and the ability to see what I was doing in the gym. 

And my casual and work clothes were also not doing me any favors.  By being either too big or too tight, I never looked quite put together, making me look and feel unprepared and not presentable.

Once I made this simple change I removed all of the expectations of being an unrealistic size and could now focus on what my true weight should be and then dressing for that size. 

Today I am a happy and healthy size 8 and I have a closet that reflects that.  My workout clothes are all body hugging so that I can feel and look stealthy and strong.  My everyday wardrobe makes me feel confident but if they get too snug, I know it’s time to revisit my caloric intake. 

You deserve to look as good as you feel and by finding your healthy weight and dressing for it you now have another visible indicator and motivator to keep you on track!