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.



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.


Traveling by SUP; Paddling the Charles

Last weekend I tried out stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and fell in love. It was so much better than kayaking and canoeing. I didn’t have to sit in water. I could see out across the lake. And, I got an amazing full body workout for what felt like little effort.

So, today, I went to the Charles River with Tom and rented a SUP. We trekked down the river, peeking in on various coves where herons, swans, ducks and geese all were handing out. We took time to relax where I at lunch on my board and Tom in his kayak. I powered against the current and wind. And at the end, my legs were getting tired, I could feel my abs and sides, and my arms were becoming rubber. But, it was all so good!

I pulled into the dock where a college student helped me off the board and asked how it went.  When I told him we had made it down to a big bridge about two and a half miles down, he was surprised. Standing in line to pay for the session I realized most people only stayed out about an hour.  We were out there almost three.  How could you resist? We had a nice 5.2 mile trip today in sunny 80 degree weather.

Anyway, I am definitely thinking that in the spring I’m going to get a board. Besides cruising along rivers and lakes, there are these great SUP yoga classes and I can even take it with us to the ocean. I’m not going to surf through. I saw some videos and it is exactly like real surfing which I failed at miserably and it scared/scarred me for life. But, a little foam to cut through and then paddling parallel to the shore is just my speed.

Not really a true ‘travel’, but it was a quick journey that was every bit as Zen as my runs (which I also did this morning before we left). If I’m in a city with water and SUP rentals, I may just have to switch between running and paddling on my trips. I’ve go so many coming up this fall from San Francisco, Las Vegas, NYC, Chicago, Switzerland and Tokyo. Almost all have water ways.  Will I be lucky enough with weather to SUP? I sure hope so.