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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Goal! I made it! It is worth it!

If you noticed, my count down timer is done! Amazing that it’s been a year. Amazing that I have held back that weight for three months now. Amazing that I don’t feel like this is the end but just another leg in the journey.

All the new year resolution articles and blogs on weight loss are pummeling my inbox, websites, and MFP app. It reminds me how inspired I was by those and read them exhaustively looking for the wisdom to get me on and keep my journey for a life of healthy living. I learned a lot. I’ve changed a lot.

So, it is making me crazy that this year I’m noticing another type of article popping up. The one that talks about the downside of weight loss. Business Insider released a video on the dark side of losing weight. Another article talked about how weight is genetic. Both seem to be saying that overweight and obesity are something you are just going to have to live with. This is just bull$h!t.

You can lose weight and do it without feeling completely deprived, hangry all the time, and without losing will power. It’s called addressing the life change not the weight change.

Genetics might predispose you to a certain metabolism, but if you don’t exercise and eat poorly, you get fat and your body reduces your metabolism. Regardless of genetics, you can reverse that and get yourself back to your genetic norm.

Depression can creep in if you aren’t eating a healthy balanced diet. Off set that with avoidance of diet fads and even super food fads. Just eat right and balanced. Don’t deny yourself; keep perspective on portions and macro balance. If you are worried, see your doctor and get tested for deficiencies. Also, get rewarded as you see your blood pressure and cholesterol levels improve after all that healthy eating.

The commentary out there that allows people to accept obesity and overweight bodies is just wrong and dangerous. The health risks are clear. Eating a diet of highly processed and prepared foods is demonstrating drastic changes to our immunological systems. Increased girth and increased visceral fat contributes to heart disease, cancer, depression and dementia.

Being overweight and obese is not okay. It is hard to shed the pounds and change habits. But don’t let these articles give you an excuse that being fat is in anyway permanent and destined. Every pound you lose puts you at less risk. Every pound you lose lets you do more of the things you want to do. Every pound you lose is a win for life.

Am I through with my chubby girl journey? Absolutely not. Will I gain weight back? I really really really am trying to not to let that happen. I don’t even let myself go over 110, even thought I was originally allowing a 5 pound insurance policy. I have a healthy paranoia today that I’ve never had before as at 48 it would only be much MUCH tougher to do this again. The decision to be healthy has to be your obsession to get you through to goal and keep your goal.

A little secret, I’ve been doing this journey slowly.  If I miss a day of exercise, I yearn for doing it. If I eat poorly one day, it makes me feel physically sick. A healthy body cues you to keep up healthy living.

It is worth it. Ask anyone that’s done it and is keeping it off. It is worth it.

I’ll Start Tomorrow is the Kiss of Death for Health

What statement is the kiss of death for healthy living? “I’ll start tomorrow.” As soon as it crosses your mind you are doomed. You’ve just started with procrastination. You’ve made up your mind that getting healthy or dieting is hard. You’ve already determined that this isn’t really something you want to do.

So, don’t start tomorrow. Just start. Start living.

Coming up on one year of my chubby girl journey (2 days to go!), I learned that the single biggest challenge is not the food, not the exercise, it’s the mindset. You don’t all of a sudden wake up and go from a healthy weight and lifestyle to a chubby girl couch potato. You trained yourself to be like this.

I’ve been taking a look at how I’ve changed my life outside of the obvious healthy living changes to understand what it took to reprogram me for life long health. What I realized is that it all came down to a decision to experience life. Here is what I did that was less about food and exercise and more about enjoying life as a healthy person:

  • Turn off food shows: I learned to cook by watching Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Charlie Trotter, and all the other PBS chefs. Saturday’s were my time to watch, compile my grocery list and try to recreate the dishes or use the techniques I just learned. Fast forward to cable TV and food became an obsession with competitions and diner food porn.  And so, my waistline went up. This year, I paired back to PBS Create to get back to the education of food using tips from the chefs that showed how to make recipes heathy, vegetarian/vegan options, and learn to enjoy clean eating.
  • Take in the sights: Traveling for work is grueling and rarely fun. I lived in airports, taxis, conference room and hotel rooms. The best times were when I could get out to eat where I could watch a hockey game or decompress with a colleague. Bar food, rich foods, beer, wine and desserts were constantly flowing. This year I made a choice to get out and about in the cities I traveled to. I squeeze in a museum or a last minute ticket to a game. Or, with little time, my running shoes took me on a tour of the city. I make sure I collect experiences in my travels.
  • Cut the cord: This was the hard one and something I had to work up to.  Cable food and home shows were first to go. Then it was my NHL network. The last was the cable news. It took a year to pair back and then finally be free. I haven’t had cable news in a month which was the hardest as I, like most, was glued to the reality TV of politics. But, I’ll be honest, going 100% to a news feed on my iPad and the occasional evening or weekend news show on local TV does wonders for my sanity. It has done wonders for my mental state to use cord cutting as a way to detox from toxic and minute to minute depression news.
  • Embrace rather than escape: My mindset over the past decade was how to escape the pressures of life. Anxiety was a constant in work and at home. Food was one way I escaped. But living in front of a TV, sleeping in and taking long naps on the weekends, and overall creating a cocoon for myself at home was the way I coped. This year I looked for ways to come out of the blanket of anxiety, depression and retreat. Even if that meant putting on a bikini while 150 pounds and laying out at a Florida resort, that seemingly small decision was symbolic of joining life rather than hiding from it.

What not to eat…why not!

I’m getting a little frustrated by all the messages out there about what not to eat during the holidays. It is overwhelming. Add to that the rest of the years messages. What not to eat to look younger. What not to eat if you don’t want cancer. What not to eat if you want to live until 100. It just sounds like a whole lot of shaming.

In the grand scheme of things, knowing what is a healthy choice and what is not is important. What drives me crazy is that the denial of things you love is a sure way of going back to old unhealthy habits.

What do I mean?

If you eat healthy 80% of the time, that apple pie with salted caramel ice cream and whipped cream is not going to kill you the one time you indulge at the holiday table. If you are staying active and working out 4-5 days per week, going to a micro brew pub for beers and plates of gastro goodies is something you don’t have to pass up. The key is balance.

All the sinner talk about sugar, fat and processed foods is because our society is eating crappy more than 80% of the time and not active. Keep shaming and denying the masses their goodies and the rebellion will ensue. We are at that point, where at every turn there is something else we shouldn’t be eating. If you listen to all the advice on cutting out this and denying yourself that, there will be nothing left to eat but kale…except kale may be crawling with E.coli and you don’t even know it – CRAP!

In fact, there is a militant tone out there if you don’t follow the rules.

Don’t believe me? Go find an article about the benefits of plant based eating and add a message how someone would have to pry your steak out of your cold dead hands. Warning – children should not try this and make sure you are near your phone to dial 911. There are some real believers out there.

Anyway, will I be watching what I eat this season? Yes. Will I slack on my workouts? No. Will I cut out sugar, fat and processed foods as they are passed around the table? No.

If you are transitioning to healthy eating and living, then this season is going to be difficult. But, don’t overly restrict yourself. It is a sure way to resent getting healthy. Instead, indulge in a single chocolate. A small portion of mashed potatoes. A single gingerbread cooking. A small glass of eggnog.

If you can stick to your plan mostly and make it through the season by not gaining weight, you won. You won by not sliding backward. But, more importantly, you won by learning what the rest of your life will look like with small indulgences in maintenance mode.

Yes you can.

 

 

When You Lose Weight, What People Say…

As an obvious chubby girl I publicly taunted myself with comments of my girth as a way to deflect what I was convinced people were thinking when they saw me. As I began to lose weight, most people who knew me would get a little squint in their eye and I’d catch a quick up-down look. But, they wouldn’t say anything. Now, when there is no way you could ignore the fact that I lost a third of my weight, people are more than willing to blurt out anything.

Such is what I’ve been experiencing for about three months now. Whether it is a friend, acquaintance, colleague or family member, I am always amazed by the reactions and at times a loss for words.  Let’s share some:

  • “I’m so proud of you! It is so good that you are taking care of yourself,” well meaning relative. I raised my eyebrows on that one. It was definitely a backhanded compliment if there ever was one.
  • “Can I ask? How much did you lose?” work acquaintance in a whispered conspirator voice. No, you really shouldn’t ask me how much. Does it really matter? But, I’ll tell you anyway.
  • “Michele!?” client clearly confused if I was who they thought I was. This was pretty amusing because I could see their discomfort in how to handle the situation.
  • “You look amazing! You lost so much!…Is it a good thing? Are you okay?” work colleague. Honestly, this was not the only person that has asked this. Yes, I’m okay. I don’t have cancer. Its a good thing. “Oh! Great. You look great!”
  • Eye comment – Up down. Up down. Up down. Stood with a colleague and two clients who verbally said nothing but gave me the once over. The two men looked more stunned. The woman was a bit snarky. Oh well. Such is the workplace where men sometimes can’t help themselves and women often secretly hate each other.
  • “How did you do it?” friend. I actually like this comment the best. It gives me a chance to talk about running and all the fun I now have paddling, hiking, and enjoying new foods.
  • “I always wanted to wear leather pants.” relative. Not snarky, but a little envious. Yes, I wore leather pants to Thanksgiving dinner. Got it, flaunt it sometimes. But, I was more surprised by who said it. They would look amazing in leather pants now. Maybe getting myself in shape has added to my confidence!

One Simple Travel Tip To Stay Healthy – Just Keep Running

I realized I created a habit while not even thinking about it. While road warrioring, I get to my hotel room, change into running gear and go for a run.

It could be indoors or outside.

It could be slow or fast.

It could be for 30 minutes of an hour.

It could be morning, mid day or evening.

It doesn’t matter. I just do it.

The realization came when I took my son up to NH this weekend for a hockey tournament. I got to the hotel and had the most compelling urge to run. At 3:30 in the afternoon and sitting in a car for 2 1/2 hour, I had to just run. So I did.

Why is this so important to me? I realized that running is a habit. Not an exercise. Not strictly a passion. It is something I just need to do. Almost like brushing my teeth. I realized on the couple of days that I don’t run I feel like I forgot to do something or feel like something is missing.

I have only been running since May, six months. Running while at home is certainly easier. But the fact that I have a routine of hitting the road, trail or treadmill just after checking into my hotel when traveling is an eye opener. It means I moved from running as a way to keep my weight in line to a healthy living lifestyle.

Maybe running will be your thing. Or maybe you get on an elliptical, rower or bike. Doesn’t matter really. The simple trick is finding the one thing as a road warrior that will drive you to exercise and it isn’t a chore but a need to fulfill. Now your have a habit, drive and motivation.

Holiday Healthy Living Strategy

It’s been 319 days since I starting my Chubbygirl journey to healthy weight and healthy living. I hit my goal weight of 110 back in September and hover around 108 and 109. The true challenge will be the holidays and all the eating. For me, it starts at 5:00p today when the in-laws arrive. I’ve already got a brisket in the oven and potatoes ready for mashing.

Which brings me to the holiday conundrum. I landed on my goal weight based on what should my optimal weight be as well as giving me a five pound buffer during the holidays. I know that I won’t be able to resist stuffing, or wine, or egg nog, or cookies. Chocolate is another one that while the single square or two isn’t bad (and I do this now), it is the whole bar or those boxes of truffles that kill me. Nut bowls? OMG, shoot me now. Yes, my hand lives in them.

In reality, I don’t want to gain five pounds. That is a month of 1200 calories again and more exercise. Its a diet that I will fail at. It puts my healthy living mindset at odds with a quick fix to a lack of self-control and gluttony.

I’ve come up with a strategy based on what we do in our house and with our family and not use this time to deviate to far from healthy living. In the end, I still want to enjoy the holidays. So here it goes:

  • Snack bowls go away: We always have bowls of chocolate, nuts and dried fruit out. I would typically make a meal out of that before eating a meal. Now, if I want a sweet (or others do) you have to get it out. I can keep with my portioning that way.
  • Keep with smaller plates or eating inside the rim: I can portion my meals better if I shrink the footprint they sit on. I do that today and need to do  that for our big family meals.
  • Don’t have to try everything: Thanksgiving in our family means 3 kinds of stuffing (regular, corn, meat). I need to pick one. I like mashed potatoes, but I don’t need them and sweet potatoes and squash. Roasted and smoked turkey are served, but I don’t need full portions of both.
  • Big meal, will race: I think every town has a 5k the morning of thanksgiving. There are also a ton of jingle bell runs this time of year. I’m just going to do it to add some fun to my running ritual.
  • Go for hikes in the woods: There are so many state and town parks around with great trails. Instead of lazing around the house we can add in a hike or trail run.
  • Take some time for rest and family bonding: Our big family thing is pulling out an insanely difficult puzzle and diving in together over the course of the vacation. We spend time together, talk, and chill out – except when the end is near and we compete to be the one to put in the last puzzle piece!
  • Keep to my exercise regimen: If I can get off a plane, get into a hotel at 9p or be severely jetlagged and still get on a treadmill, the holiday’s are no excuse to slack off.
  • Don’t sweat the gluttonous meal: If I fail on Thanksgiving day, Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and a party here or there, so be it. I’ve had unplanned cheat meals that haven’t killed me yet. Just don’t make it a daily habit.

I need to trust myself, continue to embrace the changes I’ve made, and realize that instead of the holiday’s being scary, they can still be fun.

What are your strategies?