Finding Inspiration In Tucked Away Places

I posted the other day on tips to healthy living. A theme in the post was about finding your motivation. I was amazed by the number of people that liked the post. For a year I quietly posted on my blog as a way to stay motivated myself and if someone came and read it, great. If not, that was okay too.

To be fair, I’m a lurker. I quietly check out a few links, maybe I’ll comment, and there have been a couple followers that have commented back. But mostly, I just diary my days. It isn’t that I’m not interested. A better explanation is that I’m of the introvert type. Happy in my quiet space. Finding inspiration often in my quietest of times.

Thus, it was today that I was jumping through all your likes and inspired by your own journeys and POVs. In particular, there was one post I checked out from a visitor – Brett. In my notification of his like I saw a link and caught the words, “…winter on the prairie.” I clicked through to William Kurelek and Winter on the Prairie.

While I like art, I’m not a passionate follower of artists beyond my freshman year of college art history. So, I had no idea who William Kurelek was nor had I ever heard the name. But, sometimes that doesn’t matter. Art inspires, and his work inspired me.

Each painting, except one, showed a fun cheerful scene where instead of winter being an enemy, it was a friend and playground. Skating, sliding down snow embankments, skiing, and overall just having fun rolling in the snow put a smile on my face. It reinforced how getting through winter doesn’t have to be a hardship with the right mindset.

Thank you to Bret from our neighbor to the north, Oh Canada, where he shows winter is a way of life and not an interruption.

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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.

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.

 

 

On the road again

Philly this week. NYC next week and the week after that. Kansas City, Naples FL, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Europe (twice), still deciding on an invitation for China. All this before the end of April. Can I keep my healthy travel habits? Will I die trying?

Blogging in the hotel bed now and dealing with achy legs from my treadmill run at 8:3op after I checked in. A day sitting on the phone and then stuck on the plane left me idgy and ready to move. Eating was not quite on target with my choices but it did stick to my calorie goal. Running out the door and online ordering a Starbucks latte and ham and cheese croissant put me at 500 calories of caffeine and fat. I made up a bit at lunch with a cup of turkey and sweet potato soup and a few pretzels with hummus. Dinner was a mini turkey wrap and apple  from the airport concession. But I couldn’t pass on the Terra blue chips on the flight and my beer and skinny popcorn as my workout reward. Clocked in at 1400 calories with little of the veg variety to show for it.

Tomorrow is a new day and open for a new strategy. I didn’t quite have one going into today except to make sure I hit the gym and stayed in my calorie goal. Maybe I stick to fruit and yogurt for breakfast to save room for the mystery lunch at my client. They asked and took my request for healthy so I’m hoping for a chicken salad. That gives me a little wiggle room for the airport dinner. I need a rest day from exercise as my legs are a bit more sore and tired than I’d like, but think that means I’ll hit the gym in the morning for time on the elliptical rather than high impact treadmill running.

Where will my inspiration come from? Just got an alert about a Beach and Back run. Maybe its time to pick the first 5k of 2018.

Healthy Living Year 2 Goal: Be Interesting

It’s funny how losing weight, exercising more and eating healthy has changes more than my body. It has changed my perspective on life. Without my body and food holding me back, I experience so much more.

As a chubby girl I rarely hiked, biked, skied, kayaked, swam or even walked. When I traveled (always) I never saw more than an airport, plane, hotel room, conference room or inside of a taxi cab. This past year changed all that and gave me something I didn’t know I could have – the ability to be interesting.

That must seem so ridiculous and maybe even shallow for those that are chubby, the fact that a healthy person is more interesting. But, that isn’t quite what I’m saying. I’m making a point that my body and lifestyle were having the affect of making me less interesting because I couldn’t experience everything I wanted to in life. Thus, I had less to talk about and less to share.

For example, my trip to Stockholm for work this past summer gave me a ton to talk about while there and when I got back. My morning and evening runs through different parts of the city showed me more about Sweden than I ever would have gotten by sticking to my hotel and client offices. It also gave me the energy to go to museums after work hours. In contrast, past trips that took me outside the US I always had a reason why I couldn’t see the city. Too busy. Work to do. Not enough time. So, I came back without learning about another culture. I could only share a story about the food I might have eaten or wine I drank at a restaurant. I could complain about the flight and jet lag.

So, my motivation this year to stay healthy is different than last year. This year is about how to be interesting. What can I experience that I haven’t before? What can I learn that I always wanted to do? How will healthy living help with this? As with most of my blogs, here’s my punch list of goals for 2018:

  • Learn German: I have been awful about language since middle school. I remember almost nothing from French and Spanish. I hated language. But, I work with so many colleagues and clients globally that picking up a new language seemed like a way to better connect. I spend a lot of time with clients and colleagues in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. And, Tom and I are heading to Europe this summer.  Thus, I figured German it is. I’m on my Rosetta Stone Lesson 1 this week.
  • Take the road less traveled: I mentioned Tom and I heading to Europe this summer. But, we aren’t heading to the top of mind places. Instead, we are road tripping between the Czech Republic and Northern Italy. We’ll be taking time to explore beyond the castles and churches and take in the nooks and crannies of the cities, explore the country side and take in the national parks. I am even trying to find Roman ruins tucked in amongst all the renaissance era architecture and art (Harder to do than you think in Northern Italy. Venice was a strong influence.).
  • Go back to school: At 48 with my youngest heading off to college in almost 3 years, it makes me wonder what my golden years will look like. Non-working retirement just doesn’t seem like something I could do. Instead, I decided to go back to school for Economics and look at how to use this for either teaching in high school or working to drive socio-economic policies. Classes start in the fall and I’m most likely going to be one of the older students/graduates, but so be it. Its my way of giving back later in life.
  • Stay active, eat local: A simple thing to do is double down on what I’d started doing this year as a way to get healthy. Once spring has sprung, the 5Ks are going to kick back off again and I see myself signing up for more of them. Those where money goes to great causes like cancer research are top on the list. For eating, what better way to stay nourished and healthy than the farmer’s markets and our local hydroponic farm. I loved getting to know not only the local growers but the fish monger and butcher where I can trust the quality of my meat, fish and poultry. I get and give back at the same time.

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.