My Top Tips for Healthy Eating, Part Three

Eat what you love. Start with small changes that, over time, make a big difference. What do these two tips have in common? What my third tip really encompasses:

A choice. It all begins in your mind.

We often read up on things, study, analyze diets, ask friends, and scrutinize workout plans. But to see change we have to decide to begin. And this leads me to part two of this tip: Accountability.

My accountability began with a prayer for help. As I said before. I firmly believe whole body health cannot be achieved without our total person being involved. In fact, my next series of posts will deal with four aspects of our life to consider when living our vibrant best.

After asking God for help, I told my mom and husband. I shared with some friends. Knowing they would be cheering me on and asking how I was doing made a huge difference.

Change is active. We decide and act. If something doesn’t work, we tweak it. We learn, grow, and move on. And we get healthier in our minds as we gain confidence, which is then reflected in our bodies.

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Choose a healthy habit to cultivate

Drink more water? One less soda? Sweets only on the week? The possibilities are endless.

2. Pick an Accountability Partner

This needs to be someone you let ask you the hard questions and you can be honest with without fear of ridicule.

3. Start Now

We often say we will wait until…and until never comes. Start first thing tomorrow.

4. Pray for Guidance

5. Allow Yourself to Learn

Make mistakes, change what doesn’t work, know it’s a process.

6. Know Why you are Doing This

Improved endurance and energy? Longer, better life? Better health markers? It needs to be personal, measurable, and go beyond only how you want to look.

7. Keep a Statement of Your Why Where you See it

Make it succinct. Say it out loud. Remember why when things are hard or results don’t come as quickly as you want,

So there you have it! My top three tips to become healthier physically. Our bodies are a marvelous creation. When we take care of them(without seeking perfection), we will be our best , most sustainable weight. Feel more energized. Be able to do all the things in life we want to do and are called by God to do. Because, in the end, isn’t that your goal? To live well? Go do it!

New Beginnings

So I disappeared because I worked full-time in December. In retail. On my feet. It was crazy and I had to let some things go and blogging was one of those.

Now a new year has come and I have been introspective. That’s just me. We have had a “bit” of snow, unusually cold weather, and more time indoors, Thank heavens for Pilates and my dog, Tucker, who make sure I get exercise.

I have decided to change things up here a bit. Be more authentic, which means bringing my faith into things a bit more. I don’t think you can be “fit” physically without being fit spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and relationally…or pursuing that. So my posts will begin reflecting that.

In the meantime, I would love to hear what you are doing for your new beginnings of the new year. My big decision is just yo do things that scare me(I am a worrier so this definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone). How about you?

What I Learned about Life from taking a Pilates Reformer Class

Last Monday I got to do something I had been dying to do for two years: take a private Reformer class. And, for those curious about what a Reformer looks like, here is an example:

The instructor lives in a beautiful loft apartment in my town and teaches there to keep costs affordable. I love that! I was excited and nervous about going but mostly eager to be learning something new and getting some hands-on instruction to use in my personal mat practice.

This sweet lady got on to demonstrate and told me I would be doing some innocent sounding exercises called “footwork.” Piece of cake, right? Well, except for the fact that this is Pilates so every exercise is designed to be total body and is never simple.

I loved the lesson and can say I was a bit sore for two days after that! And the biggest takeaway for me was this: Nothing is as easy as it appears to be.

We often watch other people flow through life. Things seem easy and success effortless. But there are always hours of learning, re-learning, sweating, and shaking that precedes any change.

If you are doing Pilates “right,” your entire mind and body are engaged and in the moment. And so it is with life off the mat. But the time spent to learn how to do something right is crucial to living your best life.

So please, don’t compare yourself to others. Try something new. Let yourself be a beginner. And live in deep satisfaction of soul that comes from knowing that you experienced the adventure of being yourself.

What lessons are you learning lately? Head over to my Facebook page and let me know.

Meeting your Wellness Goals in a Perfectly Imperfect World

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I was recently asked some readers for feedback on my Facebook page about what keeps them from meeting their health, fitness, or wellness goals. Here were some of their answers:

  • Distraction
  • Depression
  • Illness
  • Work
  • Children
  • Busyness
  • Unexpected Curveballs
  • Lack of focus
  • Long-term health issues

 

I felt overwhelmed with what these wonderful women shared with me. I wanted to help but I had no easy answers. And what I do know is going to sound so trite. Because it all boils down to this: Life gets in the way of our best-laid plans.

 

 

So what do we do? Especially those of us Type As who want to do it all and do it perfectly?

I recently talked with a friend who was reading a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. While the title was off-putting, I looked into the main point of the book. You know what it boils down to? Embracing imperfections in yourself and the world around you. And not seeing every flaw as something to be improved upon.

And that’s just it. What if we give ourselves a break? What if we look at areas we really struggle with (perhaps getting up early for a workout or not eating lots of sugar) and dig deep into the why of it. Why do I struggle with it? Is it really important to me? Maybe I need to embrace seeing exercise, nutrition, and wellness as something I do “good enough,”  rather than perfectly, always striving for some elusive or impossible goal. What if I make my health, fitness and nutritional goals serve me. Now they’re something I do to improve my ability to enjoy my life and live better. Once I do this it becomes much easier to make a fitness plan that fits into this total package that is my imperfectly perfect life.

So let’s agree to embrace wellness and not just fitness. I think we’ll discover that it changes the dialogue in our minds about our health journey. Sometimes giving ourselves a break can lead to our best breakthroughs.

September Musings

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I am a goal maker and a thinker. It’s just hard-wired into me. So at the end of each month, I evaluate things and then choose a new focus or to-do list for the next month. Each new day, week, month and year are filled with possibility and that is exciting.

So here are a couple of lessons I learned in September.

It’s okay to be a beginner  I started a new job in August in retail. It’s part-time, about 20 hours a week. You would think retail would be easy, but it’s not. I’m back to dealing with people, both co-workers and customers, who also have to deal with me. 😉 Plus, learning new lingo, systems, and ways of doing things. So I have let myself be the new guy. Lowered my expectations and asked questions and tried hard not to beat myself up for being less than perfect. And you know what? It’s a nice way to live. I think I’ll let it spill over into other aspects of life as much as possible.

The unexpected can bring some great memories  We were caught up in Hurricane Irma’s path. We had lots of extra visitors from Florida, very little gas(and it was expensive), and days without school, power for some people, etc.  But that time spent off the normal routine, with my family, was precious. I have the best things in life in my family and in friends, and that’s something that no amount of gas or inconvenience can take away. Plus, I met some amazing Floridians at work and heard incredible stories of their lives. Definitely, it’s something I’ll always remember.

Even though I can make pumpkin spice everything, September in the south still feels like summer!  A little tongue in cheek, but man, it’s been hot here this month. And you know what? It makes anticipating the fall weather, changing leaves, and shorter days all that more magical. And yes, I still had my homemade pumpkin spiced coffee.

So here’s to October. And thank you, September, for memories, lessons, and the gift of life.

P.S. Drop me a line and tell me about your September. I love hearing from you.

The Scale Does Not Define You

My daughter (a college sophomore) has been to the doctor twice in less than two weeks. She was rarely sick…until college. So she went once to get a refill for face medicine (she may kill me for telling you that, haha) and today because she had a sinus infection. A week and a half ago the doctor’s scale weighed her five pounds less than it did today. She had on heavier clothing and boots today (Hurricane Irma made it colder than usual here), which accounted for some of the difference, and we know she’s still the same size. But she admitted to me that it bugged her anyway. We had a great discussion about how the scale bothers most of us as women and can dictate our mood, etc. Even though we KNOW fluctuations occur due to what we’ve eaten, hormonal cycles, clothing we wear, etc.

So today, I want to remind you of what the scale tells you:  how much gravity is holding you to this earth. Period. Now, it may tell me that I need to lose a bit of “gravity” 😉 (and yes, it has done that before). It may tell me that I’ve been upset and avoiding dealing with things and my eating of cookies and drinking lots of iced coffee has caught up with me. That happened to me last fall when two of my kids moved out and on to work and college within two months of one another.  So, I looked reality in the face and did something about it.

But, in the end, what the scale DOESN’T tell you is so much more. It doesn’t tell you how uniquely made you are. How much of an impact you make in the lives of others. How strong you are. How gifted, talented, beautiful or handsome, and deeply loved by others you are. How you are on this earth to make a difference that only you can make.

So, when the negativity kicks in, step back, take a deep breath, and remember your worth. And if necessary, throw out your scale and find other ways to measure your health and well-being. And remember, what’s really holding you to earth isn’t gravity; it’s the truth that you are here for “such a time as this.” (Holy Bible, Esther 4:14).

Why I love Pilates

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A few people have asked how I came to Pilates. It’s a long story but I thought I would share it here so you can be encouraged to keep moving and find something that works for you. And so you will know that what works will change over the course of your life…and that is okay.

I started exercising in the early 1990s. I was in my late 20s and noticed some weight “creep” and the spandex and lycra leotard group was the rage. I joined a women only gym where we jumped and pranced and ran in place to thumping music. Then we entered the step aerobics craze. This time, we jumped up and down and around our aerobics step. All the while ignoring the important components of weight training and flexibility training.

Somehow in my mid-thirties, my body began to change yet again. I was aging, had three pregnancies and births under my belt, and just had less time and energy for a gym and high-impact aerobics. I began to lift weights and still do my cardio and my body composition totally changed. I looked fitter and firmer. Now mind you, I was still pounding the heck out of my joints with high impact, but I could still take it.

In my forties, I began running to cross-train. And that was fun for a bit(except for the near constant shin splints I had.) I have issues with my flat feet and back curvature that really don’t like all the jumping and pounding. But I thought that was what exercise entailed. And I was a “go hard or go home” person.

So I entered my late forties about twenty pounds heavier and full of aching joints. I hobbled if I sat too long and my hips ached nearly constantly. And I was always nursing some sort of injury. I changed my diet and tried barre for a bit. I lost the weight but now my knees ached, along with my hips. I was discouraged and thinking that exercise should not have to hurt to be effective.

I had tried Pilates in the past but thought it was too easy to be effective. Remember, I was a “go-big” person. A friend told me about Lisa Pentony of Pilates By Lisa and an upcoming challenge she was hosting, complete with a meal plan and online support. I figured a month couldn’t cause me too much weight gain if I decided to lie down and work out, right?

Oh, how wrong I was! In that month my clothing got looser (and I really didn’t’ follow the meal plan at all), my energy soared, and, most remarkable of all, I no longer hurt. Soon I could sit cross-legged on the floor again. I had absolutely zero pains in my hips and low back. I was amazed.

The best part was having a trainer in Australia who was super-responsive to any question I had. Over the two years I’ve done her workouts, she has honestly become a good friend and I even had the privilege of meeting her last November when she was in America. It was seriously like meeting up with an old friend.

Today I walk and do Pilates. That’s pretty much it. I feel good and still fit in my clothing. 😉 And I am just so disheartened when people say they’re exhausted from going to the gym or running all the time.

The thing is, you don’t have to hurt to be healthy and fit. You just need to find the thing that causes you to feel good. Yes, our bodies were made to move. And maybe yours was made to run, unlike mine. That’s fantastic. But above all, I want us to all experience a mind shift. Fitness and exercise should be about taking care of ourselves so we can live our lives fully, abundantly, and with joy. Exercise isn’t the goal:  living life is. So I encourage you to find that type of movement that lets you do just that.

How do you like to move and stay healthy? Drop me a line and share your thoughts, tips, or journey with me. I love hearing from you.

Oh, PS~If you try Pilates with Lisa, be prepared to be humbled. She does have a free 10-day trial and a fantastic beginners series. You can get 10% off your first payment with the coupon code MEMBER.

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Why I Strength Train

 Women’s wars are a thing now, aren’t they? Mommy wars about how to feed children, co-sleeping, and working vs non-working moms abound. Vegan vs Paleo, cardio vs strength training, cross-fit vs yoga,  Republican vs Democrat, and so on. And I say enough!

You can find dozens of articles out there to support your side. I could give you scientific reasons why I favor Pilates and my weights over lots of cardio. But here’s the thing: I’m not a scientist or fitness pro. I’m just a woman in her 50s who has exercised since her late 20s who has tried it all on her self. A certified experiment of one. So today I’ll share with my beliefs about why I think building some muscle is great.

 

When I  first started to exercise in my late 20s, I wanted to lose some unwanted pounds. And life was all about cardio then. I joined a gym and we put on our spandex leotards and did step aerobics or floor cardio, jumping around like crazy. Other friends ran. And life was good. The pounds left and I felt better.

But fast forward to my mid-30s. Marriage and three babies later, I was tired and my weight had shifted. And cardio was a burden. I heard about strength training and tried some weight work at my gym. My weight went UP a few pounds and my clothing size went DOWN. And, cardio seemed easier. That was a total eye-opener for me.

In my late 40s, things changed again. I was still using weights, but my body ached. And I was about 20 pounds heavier. Clearly, something had to change. And a lot of that was what and how I ate…which is another post. But I realized all those years of high-impact jumping had taken a toll on me. So I changed how I exercised(switched to barre and Pilates) how and when I ate. And lost the weight and healed my body of the achiness.

Today I focus on Pilates and walking. And even though I am about 8  pounds “heavier” than my lowest cardio-craze weight, I wear a smaller size in clothing. My sleep is better. My anxiety has improved (I have struggled with anxiety off and on all my life). I am more relaxed and can sit on the floor and bend and squat at work with the 21-year-olds. And health markers actually improved over doing lots of intense weight and cardio work.

If you look at the studies, they will tell you the following about strength training:

  1. It increases muscle mass
  2. It increases bone density~adding more muscle to your skeleton increases its load so bones are stimulated to strengthen and grow
  3. It improves strength
  4. It improves cardiovascular endurance
  5. It improves your mood

 

All of which I personally experienced. And that’s why I love it so much.

Do you strength train? What type is your favorite? Let me hear your ideas and your stories about strength workouts. And tell me your favorite way to exercise. I love hearing from you.

Warning: Reading this Blog Post Could Cause You to Nap!

We live in a world of extremes. Extreme diets, extreme exercise, extreme work schedules…which leads to extreme anger and confusion and exhaustion. And frankly, social media is a huge culprit in perpetuating this. I refuse to be one of those bloggers, people, or friends.  I’m all about being well in mind, body, and spirit. So you won’t see the terms “eat clean,”  “go big or go home,” or, my personal favorite, “suck it up so you don’t have to suck it in.” Seriously???

 

In the quest for whole-body health, we need balance. Movement is vital because, anatomy wise, we were made to move! Food is a necessity but should be about so much more than just “fueling your body.” It’s time to slow down, enjoy family or friends, and savor life with your five senses. Work is important so we spend our lives helping others and being productive (and yes, staying at home counts as work)! 🙂 But the vital link so overlooked today is rest.

 

I’m not talking about SLEEP. You’ll see plenty of articles on this necessity~although many are geared toward getting enough sleep to optimize your physical training and results…whatever that means. I’m talking about deep, peaceful relaxation. True soul rest. It’s rare and often confused with laziness.

 

Stick with me while I unravel something for you a bit. I’m sinking into some language arts and foreign language nerd talk…taken from my studies of the Bible. And even if you don’t believe a bit of that is true, hang with me because you will learn something important for living your best life.

 

The Bible is written in several languages such as Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. These languages are much richer than English as they often have multiple words for what we express in only one. The word rest is one of those. In the first half of the Bible, (the Old Testament before Jesus was born), there is more than one word for rest. The one I want to highlight today was known as nuach.

 

This word means rest, relaxation, stopping work. But it also has a meaning I absolutely love: settle down or settle in. I think of my dog Tucker, pictured above, turning around multiple times to pick just the right spot to relax. He finally lies down, sighing deeply with obvious contentment. Settling down.  Or imagine getting ready for movie night. You get your favorite blanket, snack, family or friends or pet. You get comfortable. You dim the lights. You settle in.

 

We have got to stop and let the dust settle. Regularly. I would argue DAILY, even if it’s just for minutes at a time. If we don’t, we become grumpy, angry, frustrated, and isolate ourselves. Our productivity wanes and we lose our sense of purpose and joy.

So how do we rest? Find something you love to do for the sheer pleasure of it. Throw the list of goals out the window and just think of what makes you feel joy. I find this in looking back at Cheri as a kid. I loved to go outside, to read, to sing and listen to music, to daydream, color, and write in my journal. So daily I try to do one of those things for at least a few minutes. And one day per week, I take the time to do something for several hours that just makes me feel alive.

 

What makes you happy?  Shopping? Hiking? Having coffee with a friend? Drawing or painting?  Promise me you will do it. This week. Today. And drop me a line and tell me how it makes you feel.

 

As for me, I want to color with my favorite pencils and go take a short nap. What will you do?

 

 

 

Cardio For Haters Like Me


Any other Pitch Perfect and Rebel Wilson fans out there? Anyone else out there who wishes Anna Kendrick had the lead and played Bella in Twilight?

Oh, wait…Cardio. I avoid it and avoid talking about it! I love getting up and walking my dog with my husband most mornings but other than that, I am with Rebel Wilson on this one.

I know it’s good for my heart, cholesterol, blood pressure and stress-all inherited family traits, by the way. So a couple of times a week I try to skip my walk and add in some extra oomph. I thought I would share my three favorite free Cardio channels on YouTube with you so you can find something that might work for you as well.

Cocolime Fitness 


A recent find, this is fantastic for beginners or those with conditions that make it hard to exercise. Suzanne is a certified trainer who suffers with fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism so she understands fitness for those of us who aren’t athletic or have medical conditions but who still need to move. She is encouraging and has a wide range of videos with great music. Her site is about way more than cardio, too. Here is a link: Cocolime Fitness YouTube Channel

Pahla B Fitness 

Pahla has a fantastic channel! She is a marathoner and certified trainer and is very responsive to her “Killer Bs,” as she calls her followers. She offers plenty of encouragement and a friend-next-door feel through her wide variety of workouts. I love HIIT (high intensity interval training) because you get a ton of benefits in half the time, haha. I have flat feet and slight scoliosis and hate high impact and burpees! Pahla shines in the area of low impact HIIT and I use those workouts the most. Pahla has a fun group on Facebook, too. Check out her channel here: Pahla B Fitness YouTube Channel

Jessica Smith TV

I have been using Jessica’s workouts for years! She is my favorite in the area of ballet and barre and walking workouts, but you will find everything here! A certified trainer and wellness coach, Jessica offers fantastic cueing, an encouraging vibe, and an adorable French Bulldog named Peanut who makes appearances in her videos. Jessica also has a wide range of professionally produced DVDs and downloads. My favorite workouts with her are Cardio Ball Blast, Cardio Ballet, 9 Minute Low Impact HIIT, and Terrifying Tabata(featuring Peanut in various Halloween costumes, haha).  She offers challenges, Q&As, and much more. Check it out! Jessica Smith TV YouTube Channel 

Now, if you like high impact, running, jumping…go for it! Whatever makes you happy. And on Jessica Smith TV and Pahal B Fitness, you will find high impact and burpees along with the low impact choices~something for everyone.
What do you like to do for cardio? Walk? Run? Exercise on equipment at the gym? Tell me or share your favorite channels or DVDs.