7 Tips To Healthy Living “I did it!”

Does it ever feel like getting healthy is more about cutting things from life rather than gaining? In the beginning of your healthy journey it is one of the biggest hurdles. It’s not fun to avoid those cookies and ice cream. Fitting in exercise means cutting back on what you have to do and what you would rather do – even if that is to just sit and watch your favorite show. It’s really about finding your motivation to get you into better habits and maintain your results.

My motivation was being able to do all the outdoor activities I did before and not have my body hold me back. By doing those activities I would be able to spend more quality time with husband where we could share experiences and not just count time we’d been together.

The result is that this year we did a big hikes through the White Mountains, day long bike rides, paddling on rivers, marshes and lakes, 5Ks, and best of all, hitting the bumps on the ski slopes. Yes, you heard me. At 48 I was bounding through the moguls all day yesterday and I’m both alive and my body, and knees aren’t  complaining today. That’s me on Angel Street on Loon Mtn. Don’t be fooled by the picture, those bumps were 1-2 feet high on an ungroomed black diamond trail.

There are lots of advise lists on how to get to your goals. I’m going to share what has worked for me that isn’t what you may always read. Maybe it gives you some added inspiration as you start your journey, hit a plateau, or are getting discouraged that this might be too hard:

  1. Do something fun. The secret to getting yourself to be active is just getting active. Find things to do that you want to do and require you aren’t sitting. Just wandering through a museum adds steps to your day. Do a little gardening and mulch your own beds. Play in the snow with your kids or take a walk like you did as a kid after the fresh snow. The point of doing this isn’t to lose weight, it is to have fun.
  2. Celebrate progress. No, this doesn’t mean having that extra bowl of ice cream. It means that you give back to yourself. Figure out what progress means to you. Is it weight lost? An activity you can now do? Or a personal best in your favorite activity. Get a mani/pedi. Get a massage, Get a memory bracelet and add a charm or bead for every 10 pounds you lose or inch off your waist.
  3. Move until you can’t stop smiling. Runners know this; it’s the runners high. But it happens for any exercise. After awhile, you just feel good and you will find there is this big goofy smile on your face. You might even start to giggle. That was me yesterday in my last mogul runs. I got that way when paddling. I end my 5Ks that way. No matter how hard the exercise is, even if your are gritting, there is the high that comes and brings a sense of joy and accomplishment. It keeps you going and gets you to do it again.
  4. Have a sweet everyday.  I don’t advocate big sugary deserts. However, for those of us that use food as a reward, or comfort, that is a habit that is just hard to break. What I found, I could swap out that cookie, brownie or sundae for a touch of sweet. I have hard candies, jelly beans, chocolate squares, gummi bears, and frozen fruit and chocolate bars. I allow myself something bit sized (less than 50 calories). Or, I plan in being able to eat a sweet under 100 calories. I never felt deprived.
  5. Challenge yourself. There are tons of challenges in your fitness apps. You can compare yourself and your progress to others through those apps to. Or, you can set goals for the day, week or month. Tell yourself, “I wish I could [fill in the blank].” Make it reasonable and small like you will add 1000 steps to your day. Or, take a look at your exercise progress and compare that to a training plan for a race to see if you can do a 5K, 10K, or even a half marathon. Tie the activity to a good cause and it helps you and someone else. What ever you choose, give yourself something to move toward other than a drop in pant size or weight lost.
  6. Brag. Notice what I did to start this blog? I bragged about my skiing progress. I did something that is hard and maybe even a little crazy to some. Use your accomplishments as a way to celebrate yourself and maybe it also inspires others. This isn’t to say you become obnoxious – strength is quiet. But your healthy journey will begin to show not only in how you look but also by what you share about the new things you can and are doing.
  7. Help others. When you start to make significant progress, it will show. People will start asking you what you are doing. Embrace it. Tell them. It’s not about the 10 point plan to healthy living, but boil it down to your own simple principles. Invite those that are interested in your progress to do something with you – take a walk at lunch, help them run a mile, get together and cook healthy meals, or invite them on an outdoor adventure. If they are serious about making changes, sharing your simples or inviting them in will make you feel good too.
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Ten Tips To Stay the Exercise Course in Winter

By now you’re a month into your weight loss resolution, working on getting through your first winter of maintenance mode, or you’re a seasoned healthy liver and the winter doldrums are kicking in. I hear your pain. I’m right there with you. A little honesty, I’m sitting in my hotel room killing time before heading to my meeting and didn’t follow through on my plans for an outdoor run (or any run) this morning.

To be fair, I did go to the fitness center after I checked in to the hotel last night. I even kicked my husband off the phone because talking to him was starting to give me an excuse not to go for my treadmill run. He’d already talked me out of an early evening run through NYC mid-town even though there are a ton of people out and about, perfectly safe, but not to him.

When I get stuck, in a rut, negative, or defeated, I turn to my internal motivation list. Thinking you could use the encouragement too, I’ll share my tips that help me move on and start moving on these short cold winter days.

  1. Create a habit: I have two habits that keep me running. When working from home or at the office, I go to the gym and hit the treadmill before I eat lunch. When I’m traveling, I check-in to the hotel, drop my bags in my room and throw on my running clothes and hit the gym. These habits are working as I can get in 3 of my 5 running days without too much thinking during the week.
  2. Set the right bar: Let’s face it, running outside can be more interesting as you can take in the scenery, especially if you trail run. I can easily run an hour. But, the treadmill is much harder for me as I can only stare at the wall with my music going or watch a TV show. It’s just not enough. So, I reset the amount of time I spend running to a minimum of 30 minutes. I may do more, but I won’t do less. I run slower on days I’m sore or tired and I push hard when my energy is front and center. I listen to my body and mind.
  3. Rest days are okay: In the warm weather I was exercising in one way or another every day. Sometimes I was running in the morning and paddling in the afternoon. Very active.  Winter, completely different. I have a 5 day rule and work at not losing it on my two rest days. It’s hard, but using machines just seems to cause me more aches and pains than outdoor runs and activities. Maybe it’s the cross training. Whatever it is, my two days off works to get my body back and make it easy to keep up my workouts without the excuse that I hurt.
  4. Clean those closets out: I have an enormous walk-in closet. I have years of clothes in all sizes and styles. My bathroom closets and linen closets are full. My storage closets and rooms are piled with old toys, books, furniture and things I never knew I had or wanted. I have spent hours cleaning house on the hoarding. All that walking back and forth, bending, climbing and lifting gives me activity/move minutes. It’s as good as walking to get my steps in and I am getting more organized by the day.
  5. Eat right: If you are slowing down activity wise, the worst thing you can do is increase what you eat or eat more unhealthy food and meals. If during the warmer months I had an especially large meal (my guilty pleasure is the Chinese buffet with dumplings) then I could always go for a trail run or bike ride and feel like I was burning off my gluttony. Keep up your healthy eating program so you don’t sabotage yourself during the slow activity period.
  6. Find a new activity: Never a fan of exercise classes, I did see a couple that looked like fun. No, I haven’t done it yet. But, I am considering hauling my butt to the gym for one of those HIIT workouts. Even if I don’t, I’m still thinking about mixing it up to hold back exercise boredom.
  7. Make a friend pact: I haven’t liked it in the past when Tom would get on me about exercise and eating right. But, that was when I was chubby and in denial. These days, with both of us on the healthy living program, its easier to prod each other if we see slacking. Tom’s even said to get on him. I am ambivalent, but we agreed how he could tell me without me getting annoyed. If it’s not your SO, get your besty or sibling. Healthy peer pressure is good for the heart.
  8. Get outside: I know, its cold. There is ice. While I’m not interested in running outside below 40 degrees, I do love to ski, snow shoe and ice skate. The difference with these activities is that I dress appropriately and don’t get cold because I’m moving. I won’t do this everyday or even every week, but it does break my sulky winter mood when I can get fresh air and a little winter sun on my face.
  9. Research races: Sometimes I just need something to work toward. My inbox started filling with announcements of races in the spring. It got me looking at what would be my first race. It also got me thinking if I could run a 10K or even a half marathon. I don’t want to “train” in the literal sense. But, as I looked at how I exercise and compare that to the training programs I could see how ready I was for these races. Turns out, that 10K isn’t going to be a big deal. That half? I just may be able to check that box this year.
  10. Talk the talk, walk the walk: The more I relate to other runners or tell my story to friends and acquaintances the more it drives my accountability to keep it up. It would be more than horrifying to have done all this work to only turn back into the chubby pumpkin by the spring.  Talking and sharing makes me more accountable.

Skiing, Finally!

Just before Christmas me and hubby got out and demoed skis. That lead to the gifting of new skis for Christmas. They arrived, were tuned, and ready to go. Problem was, the weather turned on us. Days below zero, no snow, and warm days with rain killed any hope of a New England ski day.

That all ended today. After a bit of snow during the week and cold days to make snow, we saw a window of opportunity and took it. Up at 5:30a and on the slopes of Loon Mountain by 9:00a, we were in glee as snow fell and blanketed our trails and ice blanketed Tom’s beard.

Another bonus was being able to test out my Garmin Vivoactive 3 on the slopes. It did a great job tracking our runs and my intensity. The issue was that I am in better shape than Tom. He got intensity minutes. I on the other hand was perfectly fine on endurance and couldn’t manage getting out beyond 109 for a heart rate. So, I’m 20 minutes shy of my intensity minute goal this week. But, it definitely tracked my calorie burn and that coincided with the ache and burn in my legs.

But that is the technical piece. The real win was how much fun we had. Yes, the first runs were a bit horrid as I got my ski legs back. Arms flailing instead of planting my turns. Twisting to the point of pulling at my knee. And, leaning back on my heals as I careened down icy spots. But, after a couple runs my form was back and while I still was a bit out of control on the Northeast ice spots, I was in control and attacking the mountain. By the last few runs I was popping over the mini moguls skied up by the other skiers on the trails. I even had a few “woo-hoos” in those runs.

The drive home stiffened up our legs and the chills of being outdoors all day set in. It wasn’t something that a hot Jacuzzi tub, meal and beer couldn’t fix. I sit back now cherishing my day, enjoying my wind burned face and the awesome feel of fatigue after a great day of activity.

Everyone should ski.

 

When I Just Don’t Want to Exercise

I was so pumped up after this weekend of being able to run outside and now all I want to do is kick back and pop chocolate truffles in my mouth.

I’m dragging from my trip to NYC and the cold weather with snow coming back isn’t doing it for my mood. I did hit the gym when I was away but yesterday I was stuck in an all day meeting and then a rush to the airport. The only walking I got was from hotel to client’s office and through the airport terminals.

Not only did I not run or exercise yesterday, I was so bad when it came to eating. Big everything bagel with full fat cream cheese, large skim latte, falafel and gyro lunch, fried chicken wings with onion rings at dinner. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the gin and tonic on the plane. I came home with a belly ache and bloat baby. Tom even rubbed it. Ugh.

Today was a day for no excuses. But all I could do was delay, delay, delay. The thought of getting on the treadmill was painful. I had no energy. I had no motivation. I had no time – yes I did. I was also going to eat healthy and vegetarian as a cleanse. Instead, I started off the day with an egg sandwich with chorizo slices. Only 340 calories but you can just see the fat dripping off onto my plate. That right there should have been all the motivation I needed to get on the machine.

I completed all my calls by 3p and had an hour and a half before last next client call. As a guilt trip I pulled up Garmin Connect to shame myself into moving. I had barely 1000 steps for the day. I only logged 62 intensity minutes and my goal for the week is 280. I had already had more than half of my calories.

Lazily I headed upstairs and pulled out my workout stuff and put it on grudgingly. I headed down to my treadmill and set up the TV for Stephen Colbert and a leisurely jog. I almost had a meltdown as my Garmin Vivoactive 3 had froze and I couldn’t get to the screen to select my treadmill setting. After 10 minutes of trying to reboot the watch, I was finally able to get going again.

30 minutes later, and slow as a turtle, I got off the machine not at all feeling my runner’s high. Knees ached. Hips ached. My head was just not in it. Completely dissatisfying. Add to the fact that my Garmin said I ran at a 4 mph pace when I know I was at  5 mph (did the math on time and distance) drove me to another level of defeat.

Yeah, I was not into it today. Some days are just like that. Still need to do the work though. Hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Outside! It was running weather this weekend.

It has been so cold since November that my treadmill is more familiar with me than the road these days. But that changed this weekend as we hit 50 to 55 degrees and there was no snow and ice on the side walks. It was time to hit the road and get my running legs back on pavement and real hills.

I can’t say I wasn’t a little worried. The treadmill is good for cardio but I wasn’t sure it had kept my muscles up. I almost bailed too. Instead, on Saturday, as soon as I got home from my son’s hockey game I just went on auto pilot and put on my running gear. I just needed to get a respectable 3 miler in.

I didn’t have to worry. Taking a moderate pace, running up and out of the neighborhood was a breeze. Hitting mile one I knew I was running again. Instead of taking the route for my 3 mile loop I headed for the 4 miler with added hills. Launching through my steps to my 90’s alternative playlist and I got home with the biggest smile on my face and runner’s high.

Today, Sunday, I did the same thing. A little stiff heading out, but I quickly opened up. Another 4 miles and shaving off 30 seconds on my pace. Still slow, a minute off my PB, but oh so very happy to be outside again.

Winter is heading back in this week along with travel. I still packed my running gear for the gym for my trip. I also added in some warm clothes in case I just need to go run outside again. I mean, I ski in the winter, I should just get over the cold.

By the way, getting outside inspired me to get ready for a half marathon. Now I have to mix up my treadmill with outside runs. No way I could run ten miles on the treadmill for training. I need the scenery to keep me going.

Review: Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs. Apple Watch

When getting on my chubby girl journey I looked at wearables to help keep me motivated and focused. I landed on the Apple Watch. I’d already had it, it was connected to my phone, and I got all the data I thought I needed. Plus, it looked good on my little wrists.

Fast forward a year and I find I wanted something more. Tom has a Garmin Fenix 5. He also got a chest strap and sensors for his running shoes and the elliptical. He dumped and consolidated his data from Fitbits and his Microsoft wearable into a database and now has all his history together. I was educated daily on his fitness details with pretty charts and graphs in Garmin Connect. Why didn’t I get one of those? Simple, it is too big and manly.

So, when the Vivoactive 3 came out it looked interesting. Smaller, still stylish, and very much cheaper than my Apple Watch and Tom’s Fenix. But, I still loved my watch and the functions beyond fitness. The fact that I talk on my watch with my son in Nashville while cooking dinner is so cool. But, I was already switching off my iPhone for work to a Pixel2 and my cord to Apple is getting smaller by the day as I also no longer work on a MacBook Pro.

Again, the Vivoactive 3, was becoming more interesting and at about $250, while not cheap, trying it out seemed like a worthy endeavor. I broke down and ordered one. Took off my Apple Watch, and went Vivo for the week. Here’s what happened…

Vivoactive 3 Pros

Activities: I love that tracking activities is more granular. I have skiing and paddling as options now where Apple Watch only gave me Other. Somehow Apple thinks that the only way to exercise is in a gym, walking or running. Its just so urban.

Feedback: I love the breakdown in my workout intensity that Garmin Connect provides. I also like the intensity minute bonus for working in zone 4 and 5. Its much more motivating for little people. When apple tells says you only burned 190 calories in 30 minutes and you see for the same intensity your 160 pound husband gets 50% more calories, us competitive people go nuts. I still get my calorie feedback and love that there is a base and anything you do adds to that. Apple calculates your BMR and adds move calories. Somehow that always confused me even if maybe it is more accurate.

Sleep: With a longer battery life, I can now wear my Vivoactive to bed and get an understanding of my sleep patterns. A chronic insomniac, I’ve now gotten the feedback needed to adjust when I go to bed and recognize what wakes me up to help me actually get a decent night sleep. I got my first 8 hour sleep in I don’t know how long. Apple watch can do this to, but you need to download an app and then there is the issue of only a day’s worth of battery life. So, tracking sleep is not as easy.

Battery life: I can definitely leave my activity tracking on all day and don’t need to worry if my Vivoactive dies. I can’t run my Apple Watch all day on a hike or ski day, it’s dead by 3:00p in the afternoon. Charging the Vivoactive is also really fast. I took off one morning, plugged it in at 40%, took my show and got dressed, and I was at 70% in about 15 minutes. My Apple Watch takes a bit longer to charge but I just set it on its station at night and in the morning I’m all set. I only failed when I forgot the charging cord when camping on the weekend. Not going to be an issue with the Vivoactive.

Simple: It didn’t take reading the manual to know how to use my Vivoactive. The initial set up using Connect and then messing with the button was all the training I needed as I completed my set up. I like that you can click the button to move into activity tracking mode and with a few swiped on the face you see stats or can just slide your finger on the side to scroll. Apple Watch is easy as well, but scrolling with the side button isn’t optimal.

Simplifying: I already us the Garmin scale to weight myself. I always had to then enter that into MyFitnessPal then it got to Apple Health. Also, any activity I did I would have to open the Watch app and then it would push my activities to MFP. Now, Garmin Connect is my central dashboard. The issues I have with MFP connectivity are still wonky (I don’t get my food calories moving to Connect), but everyting else has giving me a single dash. I don’t need another app to get better more granular stats from my Watch. I don’t need to only look at my dashboards on a little phone screen.

Vivo Active 3 Cons

Funtions: Apple Watch wins out in apps and ease of use to take a call and text. I also have a better way to manage notifications so I’m not pelted every minute with something new. Vivoactive and Garmin in general need to work on managing notifications better. While I can respond to a call or text, its is not as simple. I also can’t talk on my Vivoactive. I need my phone with me at all times now. Yuck.

Style: I got the white version of the Vivoactive and the smaller face. It is still a bit bigger than I’d like but not horrid. I do wish the sides were not white and continued with the silver face down. I can change out the band for a stainless steel melenese or leather, but with the white walls of the watch it looks a bit strange. The Apple Watch gets points for style.

Waterproof: The claim that the watch is waterproof is generally correct and I and I am leaving it on while in the shower. However, the water dropping on the face does weird stuff and it will change modes, sometimes bringing up settings, that is a bit unsettling. I could use this time for charging, but I’m curious what will happen this summer when I am jumping off my paddleboard or body surfing through ocean waves. I didn’t have these issues with my Apple Watch.

Syncing: I really really really wish Bluetooth would take care of syncing regularly. I always seem to have to open the Garmin Connect app to bring all my vivo data into the app and connect. Maybe I need to find a setting. In the meantime, I like the auto syncing between the Apple Watch and the Watch app better.

Bottom line

I’m going to keep going with my Vivoactive 3 and live with the cons. I can’t say I’m not going to miss my Apple Watch and its BatWatch features or better style. But, maybe an upgrade to a stainless fenix will happen and style will follow. We’ll see. Right now, I recommend the Vivoactive 3 for women that want all the bells and whistles a sport wearable can give. Good price, decent style, perfect for upping your game.

 

A Weight Loss Maintenance Guide for Women

It’s been four months since I hit my goal weight. The scariest part for those of us that have accomplished this feat is to stick to the program of healthy living and manage against a body that would like nothing more than to go back to business as usual. In reality, its not the body, its us. We want those cookies at the office gathering. We want the extra slice of flatbread pizza when out with friends. We have days when staying on the couch watching yoga seems much more inspiring that actually doing yoga.

On the other hand, the fear can lead you to some pretty crazy things. For example, I hit 110.5 a couple weeks ago when my period was kicking in. Normally, this bloating would drop right off when things finally got flowing. Instead, Those 2 pounds lingered a couple days freaking me out. I was convinced it was poor eating and a little lightening of the intensity when running. My response was to get back on the program, cut back my calories and step up the speed on the treadmill. A week later, I get on the scale this morning and I’m at 106.8. Oops! Shaved off a little more than I should have.

It makes me take stock of my approach and if how I’m looking at things is right. What can I do that keeps me where I should be while  not getting so neurotic and get unhealthy habits?

  1. Keep body image in check. While at 110, which is my benchmark not to cross, I still look good in my skinny jeans and leggings. I don’t need to wear a tunic to cover my butt while in them. I don’t feel like my clothes are tight, even work clothes that have no lycra in the fabric. The only thing I notice is that the little crinkly skin above my belly button from three kids and loss of the 60 pound fat baby isn’t there, but is when I’m 108. I still have the image I was seeking when I started this journey.
  2. Think in terms of cycles. I weigh in daily when not traveling. It’s my analyst self that is great for my job and carried over into my chubby girl journey with a vengeance. But I love it because I have a place to review, cheer or correct. Looking at my weight over four months I can clearly see when I am coming into my period and when it leave me. I also see my ovulation days. I fluctuate about 3 pounds from 107 to 110. The past month of a little slowness to release the extra pounds was probably nothing and I could have just given it another day or two. If it stayed for a week or two, that should have been my wake up call.
  3. Check my zones. My runs keep me in my aerobic zone (75% – 85% intensity). They are a bit more intense in that zone if I run outside because of hills and more resistance from the ground. But, my treadmill with some speed and incline adjustments is doing me fine. When I popped up the speed this week, I was much more in the anaerobic zone which gets me nothing and actually added more aches and was less fun as I had to psych myself for 30 minutes. It made me dread the run. I’m going back to my good aerobic zone where I enjoy running and don’t have to pop ibuprofen.
  4. Balance macros and micros. I started treating calories equally over the past month and saw a trend of more fat, sugar, and carbs from bread and pasta. While my calorie intake was still well within the range of where maintenance mode should be, the quality of the food was degrading. This is what was probably causing my bloating. Shifting back to a flexitarian (mostly vegetarian) diet was the smart thing to do, I just shouldn’t have cut back my calories by 300 per day.
  5. Focus on me. Tom, my awesome husband, took his cue from me this spring and picked up on healthy living habits too. He went from 175 to 155 and got into the best shape he’s been in since running track in high school. He leveled out at 160. So proud of him! He let it go during Christmas and gained 7 pounds, above his 165 ceiling. At the same time I was holding onto my 2 pounds he was getting back on the program. It made it easy for me to think I was in a bad place too, kicking off my freak out. Moving forward, I can’t let his, or any other person, set my happy place. Its all about knowing what my happy place is and sticking to it.
  6. Find your motivators. I look internally at who I want to be, toward guru advice to find ways to stay on track and yes, I have the shallow motivators of comparison to women my age, 10 years younger and 20 years younger. In maintenance mode, it’s no longer about goals but about loving who you are. I want to be healthy, experience things, and be interesting. I want to be challenged to get better running times and a stronger body. When two thirds of the country is overweight and obese, there is the shallow pride of being trim and fit at 48 and everyone seeing that. I know, horrible, but all women compare themselves to others I am just admitting it.
  7. Find your groupies. Let’s face it, women need their networks. One of the greatest things since losing the weight and getting fit is the ability to talk to others that share the same passion for the activities I’ve taken up. Runners are all too happy to discuss races, training, injuries and playlists. Hikers share stories on the trails, hidden treasures on the trail, and where they want to go next. Paddlers are more rare around me, but kayakers and canoers are in the mix to share great river, lake and ocean spots. Participating in sports, even if individual sports, has been a great way to break the ice with people I meet and reinforce my chubbygirl (skinnygirl) journey.