3 Tips For Healthy Living – Getting Off the Fence

While in San Francisco last week I ran into a number of colleagues that hadn’t seen me in quite some time. So the fact that I lost almost 60 pounds was quite a shock. But, I also ran into a colleague that had started out on the healthy journey the same way I did, attending several weight watcher’s classes at the office. So, when he saw me, he asked, “How did you do it?”

There was something odd about the question because we both started from the same place, live the same hectic work life balance, and are food addicts. I made progress and he was still a work in progress (please don’t interpret that as mean spirited, more introspective). In many ways, as we talked, it boiled down to the fact that I had moved ahead and he was still on the fence.

To be honest, his question is what I keep asking myself even as I’ve read my own blogs and analyzed my tracking of food and exercise. I think that if I can come up with the secret sauce of why I was able to lose the weight and get healthy and others aren’t, I can keep on going. But, there really is no secret sauce. There are tricks and advice to be sure, but the answer I’ve come to is pretty simple and boils down to three things:

Choice is a Commitment

I’d been down this path before and the results were temporary or limited. The difference today was I knew I was at the age where I had to make a real choice – chubby and limited in life, or healthy and enjoying life. It really was that black and white. You can start a diet. You can take a walk. But, you need to choose to be healthy. Choice is a commitment, not an activity. When you decide to do something you need to back it up.

Know Why You Chose

A smaller pant size, getting into a bikini, and parading in a wedding pageantry is a vanity result. For me, and for others that have made a choice and committed to healthy living have a deeper drive. Some want to live and losing weight and getting fit improves their heart, cholesterol and diabetes. Some want to be active and involved with their kids and the weight is getting in the way of that. I wanted to enjoy all my outdoor loves and reconnect with my husband by doing things together as we are close to entering our empty nest stage. Yes, I love my skinny jeans, bikinis and athletic body. But it is the bigger reason for a healthy life that got me through the first phase of getting healthy and losing weight and is keeping me focused on holding back the weight and staying on point.

Just Live It

Part of commitment is that you commit. Sounds recursive, I know. But, that is the point. There is no wishy-washiness. There is no bargaining. There are no excuses. There is no gaming the system. If you are doing these things you will fail. It is that simple.  You don’t think about picking up your kids from daycare, you just do it. You don’t think about if you need to go to work. You just do it. It is the same with this. Sometimes you just need to not think about things. You just need to live it. Learn how to live healthy and then just do it. No gimmicks to this – its a lifestyle.

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Can Exercise be Fun?

I stalk the MyFitnessPal site to get ideas about food, nutrition and work-outs. They had a blog recently about recess inspired workouts.  I also saw a blog from a MFP member that is just struggling to get 10 minutes on the treadmill and hates to workout. It reminded me of another blog (for the life of me I can now not find) where a woman talked about taking dance classes for exercise because she loved to dance.

I’m learning something on this journey that should have been completely obvious but wasn’t. Exercise is a euphemism for being active. We exercise and work out today because we no longer hunt, gather or farm our fields to survive. Most of us sit at a desk for eight hours, sit in a car for two hours, and lounge on the sofa a couple hours. Then we sleep. Millions of years of evolution to be in constant active survival mode and self reliance can’t be turned off in 150 years by our industrial revolution. So now we exercise and work out.

Doesn’t that just feel like another job? While we might love to run, cycle, and do boot camp classes or crossfit (no I don’t do crossfit – but that is another blog), if we had the chance we might do something fun instead. We would play on a jungle gym, ski, back pack, play tennis, or join the kickball league.  Those activities are somehow different. They are all about fun.

My epiphany recently is that I need to think about how exercise can’t only be about a workout for losing and maintaining weight and health but also has to be about having fun. I found that by changing from running on the treadmill and road is more fun when I’m crashing through trails like a kid is awesome. I found that being on a SUP gave me hidden activity but a connection to the outdoors which I love. I used to play tennis and loved being with my friends and playing in leagues together, why not do that again?

So, go ahead and keep up the cardio and gym routines. We after all are still more sedentary than our ancestors. But, don’t forget to have fun!

 

 

 

My Five Reasons to Stand Up Paddle.

SUPI found stand up paddle boarding (SUP) this year and am hooked. It is so much better than sitting in the bottom of a wet kayak or kneeling in a canoe for me. I was going to wait until the spring to get a board, but just couldn’t wait, even through it meant my new skis aren’t going to happen this year.

Since I’m probably going to go on and on in my blogs about SUPs, I figured I’d give you my five reasons for adding SUP to my exercise and activities. Maybe I can convince you to try it or finally give and get a board.

1. Great workout

If you are a cardio junkie, the heart rate just isn’t going to be there – unless you really go all out racing style. But, paddling on the SUP hits just about every muscle. My legs are always engaged. My core is helping with stability and power in my strokes. My arms and shoulders pull me through the water. At the end of my excursions I can feel tightness everywhere, especially my upper and side abs.

Here a nice little chart from SUP Fitness that breaks it down:

SUP calorie burn

You can see that touring on your SUP can be just as good as running if you are touring. I can attest to that from a few hours paddling up and down the Westport River on a windy day against the tide. On the other hand, I have days when I’m paddling around Whitehall or a family outing on the Sudbury and Concord Rivers where it is more casual but certainly more exercise than a walk.

2. Changing up the exercise routine

Calories is really only one aspect that makes SUP great. SUP gives me a chance to let my muscles do something else than pounding trails and pavement. Running 5-6 days per week is tough on my hips.  After a motorcycle accident where I cracked my pelvis and  primarily what got me into my chubby girl era, anything I can do to offset overuse and keep running for most of my life I’m going to do. Don’t get me wrong, getting on my SUP after a hard 4 miler is not easy. My legs give a little shake.

That is minor compared to the fact that I can get the same high on my SUP as I do on my runs. The adrenalin still pumps, especially when I get in some hairy situations between wind and current that make me have to really focus on balance and dig in. Most of the time all is well. But, there was the one time I actually fell in. The adventure can be very real.

3. Getting into my Zen Zone

Nothing beats getting on the water and having the sun pour down on you. I’m a beach girl. Have always been a beach girl. So getting out on the salt marsh rivers, deep clear lakes, and ocean edges brings me to my Zen Zone. If ever I am stressed or over worked, its the water that makes me whole again. Add in some exercise that is rhythmic and I tune into my body in the best of all environments.

SUP takes me to my happy place the way running doesn’t. The ease of paddling means that I don’t have to pay attention to my achy calves pushing me up a hill. I don’t see the path in terms of miles the way I do when I run. I just go. Don’t get me wrong, I love my running. While running is meditative for me as I turn in on myself and thoughts. SUP does the same thing but in a gentler way, like Yoga.

4. Communing with nature

37034377121_031c1be451_zRunning trails, hiking and skiing mountains, snow shoeing, swimming in crystal clear lakes and basking in the glory of waves and surf is where I get my energy. Getting my body back only makes this easier. My SUP is another way that I can get outside and feel connected to nature. Its calming. The fresh air makes me feel alive. And, standing up high on the water gives me such a different perspective across the known and unknown waterways than in a kayak, swimming or lolling on a noodle.

I love that after touring for about an hour I can drop to my board to have a quick bite and drag my feet in the water. If I’ve moved farther ahead of Tom while he takes pictures in a cove, I can drop down to my board and lay back to catch some rays and float. I can feel nature all around me and I’m part of it.

5. Getting exercise while doing something fun

There is something to be said for getting in your 30-60 minutes of exercise per day by doing something you would just do for fun. SUP doesn’t feel like exercise for me. In fact, when I first tried it, the reason I did so was because it was something fun to do with Tom as he kayaked.

I keep reading about how getting your exercise doesn’t mean going to a gym, getting on a cardio machine, running and biking for miles, or taking classes. If you can find an activity to do for the same length of time that is fun, and you would do for fun, that increases your cardio and builds muscle, do it. Exercise does not have to be only about losing weight, keeping weight off, or anything having to do with body health. It shouldn’t be a chore.

There are a lot of things I like to do that are just fun and have nothing to do with if I can lose weight or maintain my weight. I ski because of the joy I feel speeding down the mountain, twisting through the glades or slamming over the bumps. Its just exhilarating. I hike because I like walking through nature and experiencing a jump in the river or waterfall. I like to back pack because it makes me feel like a kid again when I would have overnights in the woods at camp. Never do I think about how many calories I burn or personal bests.  SUP is part of that category of things that are just fun to do – which means I’ll be able to and want to do forever.

Where and When To Fit In Exercise?

Last week I was back on the road for work after 6 weeks and had to relearn my travel tricks. The difference is that I’m in maintenance mode. You’d think this could be easier as I don’t have as much to worry about with counting those calories and keeping to my macros. And you would be right. I just go vegan or add some lean protein and keep portions in control. Its the exercise that’s the killer.

The trade off is always, do you stay where it is easy to go for a run outside but is far from where you need to be each day, or do you stay somewhere that is close and rely on the hotel gym? I had one of those weeks.

You would think that staying in the Bay Area would be perfect. If I am downtown, super simple. Head out to the Embarcadero. But, in San Mateo you are in an industrial zone. It may not be shady (Trader Joes was right around the corner), but it is industrial and shady enough that this little girl was not going to run through the streets alone. Call me crazy, or recognize that I probably have too much of an exurb mindset from living in New England hamlets.

In the end, the Marriot gym and I got to know each other pretty well. I checked into the hotel and immediately threw on my workout clothes, pulled back my hair, and grabbed my headphones and iPad then headed to the gym.  40 minutes later, my treadmill run was done. The next day, I got back from my client meeting and again, without so much as a thought, got my act together and met up with my treadmill from the day before for another 40 minutes run. The trick, just do it. Don’t think about it or you’ll only find an excuse.  Mine was all too easy, I hate treadmills.

That’s the travel side of things, but I am also realizing that as the summer turns to fall, and Jose is kissing our New England shores, the weather and length of day is no longer my friend. I can’t get out for a run anytime I want. And with the water getting colder, so my SUP will see more time in my garage than the lake and river. Outdoor stuff is still possible, just a bit more challenging or I can’t do yet because snow has not yet arrived (need to ski! need to snow shoe!).

What’s a girl to do? Use my work at home days to my advantage! I had a 50 minute call with my team today where nothing was to be presented and all we were doing was grocking on a strategy to cover an evolving technology space. I could either sit at my desk with my phone in my ear, or I could get off my lazy a$$. I chose the latter. With 7 minutes to spare before my call, I threw on my workout clothes, grabbed the phone, and headed to my elliptical.

The call was interactive, engaging and actually fun. I went back and forth muting and unmuting my phone as I would jump in to contribute so as not to distract the conversation with the sound of my machine. I also did what I thought was a decent job of speaking and sharing, although a bit breathy.  Alas, it didn’t go completely unnoticed. Back at my desk my colleague Cinny had shot me an email…”Are you running or biking during our call? love it! <end>”

exercising

I have to say though, it was a great workout, one of my better elliptical workouts. I upped my calorie burn by about 50 calories for the same amount of time and got my heart rate up to 134 when I’m typically in the low 120s. Maybe I should do this more often! Those meetings must get me riled up.

Machines aren’t my favorite workout mode, but when all else fails I need to not think about how I’m getting exercise time it and just work on making it happen. It really is a lifestyle change that thankfully isn’t as hard to do anymore. I feel good after my workouts just as I do when I run, SUP, hike, and bike. I also get the benefit of keeping my weight off. Over the past month I hold pretty steady at 111 – 112, and that is with the Five Guys burger a week ago and the over indulgence on pigs in a blanket and Guinness this past Saturday night at a hockey party.

Life is good.

 

10 Tips to Stay On Track With Diet While Traveling

Work and travel get in the way. But, I’m sitting at the bar in the Chicago United Club and its the perfect time while in a travel mindset for an update.

Can you lose weight as a road warrior?

Verdict: Yes!

Conditions:
I’m down almost 35 pounds with another 20 to go (Starting weight 168. Current weight 134). I’ve gone from a size 12 pant and XL/L shirt to almost a size 4 pant and small shirt. I can wear a bikini this summer. I can also run again! I can also see myself back on the slopes hitting the moguls like before rather than shimmying down the green trails.

There are good weeks and bad weeks. It’s about taking one day at a time. The real test is your mindset. You really need to want to lose weight and transition to a life long healthy lifestyle. It’s not anything you haven’t heard before, the question is really, will you take it to heart and commit to change?

There are no cheat days. There are no days off. There are no days where you can give permission to poor eating and inactivity. This is your new religion. I firmly believe that taking off the weight and keeping it off is not a temporary mindset. Commitment is real – this is a marriage to a new you.

I speak from experience, both from being in shape and out of shape as well as tackling this later in life when hormones and a lower metabolism is my everyday enemy.

Being a road warrior  has taught me to be both realistic in how I scrounge for meals that fit healthy eating and living by the feedback on my wrist that says I am as active as I should be.

  1. Just move: I look for ways to get in movement anyway I can. It can seem crazy and extreme at times. I get in a workout at odd hours. I tour airport concourses. I skip the cabs or car rental if I can walk to where I need to be.
  2. Be Sally: When Harry Met Sally, everything is on the side. It is definitely awkward the first time, but you are the customer and can have your food any way you like it. Let the kitchen know not to coat your salmon in oil. Put calorie rich sauces on the side. Substitute the fries, rice, and mashed potatoes for another helping of steamed veggies. When you can’t get it right, get the grilled chicken sandwich, pull off the top bun, and eat your sandwich with a fork and knife.  You saved 120 – 140 calories and a bad dose of simple carbs.
  3. Portions: Get familiar with your portion sizes by measuring stuff at home. This way, those large plates can be put in their box. You know a healthy portion of steak, chicken, even salmon (it has more fat than you think, even if it is good fat, too much of a good thing isn’t good anymore).
  4. Get a Map: Are you getting your walking or running game going? If you don’t have an app, ask the hotel for safe routes and bike trails. Not every place is ideal, but just like knowing the great places to have dinner, your hotel knows the best places to get outside. If you have the time, go ahead and get in that cab/Uber/rental car to tour a city on foot or by run. You get a city tour you might not have had the chance otherwise to do.
  5. Love the bands: If you are heavier at the beginning or just have a lot more to lose, sometimes being self conscious will keep you from the hotel gym. For less than 20 dollars, a set of resistance bands lets you build muscle in your hotel room until you are ready to show off the toned bulges that start to appear after several weeks.
  6. Exercise apps: I can’t say I used them a ton because I am a cardio freak on and off equipment. But, my yoga apps and HIIT apps get me 20 – 30 minutes in my hotel room when I need to squeeze in a workout.
  7. Indulge pragmatically: This is where portion control is key. United in Chicago added a scrumptious chicken alfredo. It’s deadly, I know. But, when you’ve been stuffing your face with veggies all day, you have some extra calories. I don’t condone going over your intake goal. But, with a little planning, some small indulgences help you not feel deprived at the same time you don’t sabotage your work.
  8. Pack Snacks: At the beginning when I wasn’t so sure, I kept snacks and mini meals on me. As I’ve progressed and gotten confident and educated, I don’t do this anymore. When I started it gave me more control. I still keep a piece of fruit or low calorie bar in my purse just in case. But, I don’t dip in anymore as I’ve gotten in a routine.  So it worked to help me in the beginning, but it gives me a safety net when all other food options fail.
  9. Track it: Honesty comes from transparency. I was a tracking freak across 3 apps (Weight Watchers, LostIt, MyFitnessPal). I’ve narrowed it to one (myfitnesspal.com) because it does a good enough job and I share my diary with my husband and oldest son. This keeps me both honest, I get kudos on my progress. It also helps me see progress and let’s me adjust as needed if there are weeks where the scale doesn’t move or goes in the opposite direction, or in some cases when the weight loss is too fast (yes, you need to watch for this too).
  10. At home: With all the good intentions on the road, when I get home it is detox. Even though I’m pretty healthy on the road, when I am home, I go vegetarian or pescatarian. This is when I do have more control and I take advantage of it by enjoying my creative cooking passion and coming up with new healthy dishes and testing them on my family (husband is in, kids I think are hoping I just keep it to myself.) I also make sure that I get in 2 days of intense workouts. Hike a mountain, get in a run, go for a ultra long power walk, or on yucky days, pack in my machine and weight time.

I can actually see the goal in sight, but in reality, I hit my goal. Yes, I’m within a couple points of a healthy BMI. Yes, my RHR is at the athletic level. Yes, I can do things I dreaded doing or couldn’t before. Yes, I actually found a way to like veggies and salad. Yes, I feel I can do this for the rest of my life. My top ten helped me get there.

Don’t Let Airports Defeat Your Healthy Lifestyle

united plane (2)

I was so ready to come home yesterday.  A whole week on the road takes a lot out of me and working in healthy living was just another stress factor to a hectic pace. Even though I was thrilled to be headed back east, a day spent in airports and on a plane mentally felt insurmountable. I needed to figure out how to make the most out of the day.

Normally I am thinking about food. Yesterday I was thinking about activity. It is way to easy to check into the United Club or pull up at a bar and watch a game on TV with laptop running. But, the rings on my Apple watch were taunting me as I passed through security. Only a quarter of the way through, sitting was not going to be an option.

Here’s the thing. Airport concourses are big. There’s a reason why they add those moving walkways.  They can be as big as the length of a mall, or maybe bigger depending on the airport. So, chubby girl figured that if walking in a mall helps seniors with their exercise, why not use the airport the same way?

Well, that is exactly what I did.  I walked up and down the concourse in Seattle and Chicago to kill time and get in my 45 minutes of exercise. If you happened to be bumped or felt a swoosh from a little girl with a roller-bag in tow, sorry, that was probably me.

It may be a crazy thing to do. But, the walking helped me stretch out during my connection. I still spent time in the lounge, I just didn’t spend all my time there. I also didn’t spend any time at a bar allowing me to avoid the temptation of poor menu choices or having more than a single Guinness for St. Patrick’s Day.

The result, I closed my move and exercise rings easily and then some.

For the week, I pulled off a pound.

For the journey, today, my fellow hockey mom noticed I’d lost 20 pounds.

For happiness, I got some new lingerie. – too much information? 🙂

Living Healthy Through Hectic Days

At home, living healthy is so much easier. On the road, it feels like another job. When will that stop? I honestly think it won’t and can’t. As a road warrior, you have to carve out your own plan and be religious about it – even on the most hectic days.

My day started with a 6:30a prep call for a meeting next week with some of my company’s best clients. After that, I had an hour to get showered, dressed, and downstairs to the dining area for breakfast. A workout was not going to happen and the best I could do is be mindful of my breakfast choices at the breakfast buffet.

Did I mention how much I am loving Marriott’s breakfast options? Yes, yes I have. Pineapple, strawberries, scrambled egg whites, slice of whole wheat toast and chicken sausage left me full and not feeling deprived of a great breakfast. At about 340 calories, it wasn’t the lowest calorie breakfast, but a day packed with client meetings I wasn’t going to risk getting the hangries and loosing patience with my techie types. High in protein and fiber, I was quite prepared.

Coffee with its caffeine certainly adds another jolt of energy and I powered through my morning meetings. By the time lunch came, I was hungry, but not dying. This made menu madness as the Mexican restaurant bearable. Picking grilled tuna lettuce cups that were surrounded by carrot sticks, jicama sticks and celery sticks was exactly what I needed. Topped off with three glasses of water and an iced tea, heading to a two hour client meeting was a piece of cake. The only issue was making sure I hit the bathroom!

Finished, all I wanted to do was crash when I got to the hotel. My caffeine fix was wearing off. The combination of a  40 minute Uber to get my car from my first meeting location and then driving 30 minutes through traffic to the hotel was enough to allow fatigue to set in.  As I trudged up the stairs to my room, I fully intended to grab a Guinness out of the fridge and settle into the sofa to watch CNN.

Well, at some point between opening my hotel door and dropping my key, I threw off my heels and rummaged through my clothes to pull out my workout clothes. My goal was to close my Apple rings while watching The Daily Show on the elliptical. In the end, I stayed on more than the 20 or so minutes my rings closed and pushed through to 45 minutes by switching over to the treadmill.

With my workout complete and a quick hop on the scale that I know under weighed me (but I’ll still bask in the glory of a smaller number), I threw together a shrimp marsala to Billy Holiday singing from my iPhone.

Sitting at the kitchen table in my room, my belly full on half my meal, and done catching up on my emails, I’m relaxed and satisfied that I made it through a day that would normally have defeated me. I made the right menu choices.  I fit in a workout. I have room for that dark chocolate pudding in the fridge as a reward.

What did I learn? My way of making it through the road warrior lifestyle is to work in as much normal living as possible. Staying at a hotel that has apartment style rooms makes the experience more homelike, encouraging me to be in an “at home” mindset. My day wasn’t that different overall to what I experience when I do work at home or in the office. While I gravitate toward a Residence Inn, other extended stay options are out there, check them out.

So, to my fellow travelers, create a temporary nest if you are staying somewhere for two nights or more. It has been my biggest success factor. I head home tomorrow, getting in at 12:30a. I’m preparing myself for my real weigh in to see if I was actually able to take off another pound. Crossing finger – chubby girl shrinking out.