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.
Advertisements

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.

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.

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.

Healthy Living: Adding and Not Subtracting

I caught a blog title on MFP today that talked about adding rather than removing. It’s so true! This past year was all about losing the weight. Reducing bad food from my diet. And shedding the old me for a new me. Instead, what if I had taken another outlook which was about gaining?

Now, the 5 suggestions are pretty basic and I’m sure geared toward those getting ready to embark on the obvious New Year’s resolution of getting back in shape, getting healthy, and shedding pounds (drink more water, get more sleep, eat more fiber, add in healthy fats. It was the last one that peaked my interest – try a new workout.

It was timely. Except for a day of skiing, my workouts consist of treadmill runs. Too cold for SUP – we were at 9 degrees today. Same for hiking. I want to go ice skating at city hall, but again, its frigid out there. I keep thinking I’ll hit a gym and then I can’t get my butt out of the house to sign up. So, if I can’t do that there isn’t much chance I’ll go.

What I did do without prompting from that article is pick up my body bars the other day. I have 5, ranging in weight form 5 pounds to 14. I grabbed the 10 pound one and did squats and arm exercises after my run. It doesn’t take more than ten minutes. Though, it does give me a workout!

Arms do okay as I will pick up my bars and do arm work after runs a couple times a week. It was the squats that awakened some muscles I forgot I had. I have no idea what you call this muscle, but it is in the back inside of my thigh. It is stiff, and sore, and kept me from keeping up with Tom at Target today. He had a grand old time speeding up as I walked faster and faster until I realized he was messing with me. The only good thing was that I had to really open up my stride which helped stretch those muscles and make them feel a bit better.

I’m not sure how working these muscles will change my legs. I’m only hoping that muscle is attached to my butt and it takes out some of the old lady sag. I’m also wondering if this will help my skiing even thought this isn’t a muscle that seemed to be challenged after the other day.

Anyway, I added squats. Not a big thing. Just something to say that its no longer about giving something up but gaining something back.

 

7 Treadmill Training Tips

I didn’t think I would do this but I’ve shifted to the treadmill for running. As the cold is sweeping into New England I am chilled to the bone and shudder at the thought of running outdoors. I have outdoor running gear. I see other hearty souls with their hats and gloves journeying through town. Me, I’m content to hot house. I think my California roots are showing.

Anyway, if I’m going to treadmill it, I better find a way to keep my outdoor running ability for the time when spring comes and avoid boredom which takes me off track from healthy living. For the past month I’ve come up with ways to keep me going.

  1. Get inspired by music: A great playlist is mandatory. Running music-less outside works because there is so much more to look at and feel one with nature. I tossed my headphones a couple months back for my outdoor runs. Indoors and you have walls and metrics from the machine. My playlists are tuned for straight all out runs or ebb and flow from high energy runs to casual jogs. My mind tunes to the music and lyrics and I’m lost in the motion.
  2. Catch-up on my shows: My husband started watching sci-fi  while on the elliptical. That way I wouldn’t pull out my hair on the more hard core shows. I took his queue and started watching my late night shows – Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and SNL. These aren’t my all out runs, but it give me a good work out when I need slower resting days and its better than streaming from the couch. Besides, my husband can’t watch these shows like I can’t watch his sci-fi. (I do like sci-fi, it just has to be good!)
  3. Change it up: There are speeds and inclines for a reason. Don’t just think of the treadmill for HIIT workouts. Speeding up and slowing down, flat or climbing is just more interesting. You can adjust the treadmill manually during your workout or pick a program. Either way, it cuts the monotony and helps to avoid injury from overworking the same muscles and pressure on your joints.
  4. Grab a friend: I have a hard time running with people outside. It kills my Zen. But indoors and its much easier. I don’t have to keep pace with the other person and we can talk. It let’s me hang out doing something I love with those that have longer legs or are verging on Olympic athlete. (That is about 90% of the runners I know).
  5. Jump on anytime: I am either working from home or on the road. Even on days that I’m full on crazy with my schedule, it is nothing to throw on my workout clothes and get on the treadmill. I don’t need to drive to the gym. Or, I take advantage of the hotel gym. If you have a gym at work, use that. If you don’t have a gym, invest in a treadmill – they come in all price ranges.
  6. Jog out my meeting: In the early days of healthy living I would walk while joining my team conference calls. Later I got on the elliptical. Now I run on the treadmill. I have to pick my calls wisely. Internal team only where I don’t need to be the primary contributor. No client calls. Now Michele Show calls. For those hour long meetings, what better way than to get on your tablet, login to the Webex/GoToMeeting/LogMeIn and be active while doing so.
  7. Safety always: I slowed down on the treadmill initially because a 10 minute mile seemed fast compared to outdoors (I’m running at a 9 min/mile with bursts at 8 min/mile). I was, still am, deathly afraid of being thrown off. Also, when I dropped down a few too many pounds accidentally, I would get head rushes and a bit dizzy. Sometimes on the treadmill. There are those quick release safety magnets for a reason. When in doubt, connect. Its weird at first but if you need to get comfortable on the machine, pushing off a cold, or training went a little too far, better to look like a dork than get hurt.