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!

My Top Tips for Healthy Eating, Part 2

Perfectionism kept me from so many things. Enjoying life, trying new things and, ultimately, from eating in a way I enjoyed and kept me feeling my best. After I gained twenty pounds in my late 40s, I realized my all-or-nothing mentality had to go. That’s when I made the very first change that led to weight loss and better health and it is my tip number two:

Small Changes over Time lead to Big Results

Have you ever seen the movie City Slickers? There is a scene where Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, asks the tough cowboy Curly(played by Jack Palance) what the meaning of life is. Curly replies with one finger lifted. He goes on to reveal that Mitch needed to find his one thing in life.

Well, for my road to a healthier lifestyle it was similar. The trick is to make one Healthy change at a time. Over time, this adds up to a lot of change.

So the first thing I did was cut out eating after dinner. In a few weeks I felt better and had shed several pounds. Then I decided to eat a veggie at every meal. A few weeks later, and more positive results, I cut out my afternoon snack habit unless I was really hungry. I had been snacking because I thought I had to and most days I discovered I personally didn’t need it.

I now eat mostly whole foods and very little processed sugar. I don’t drink soda(and I guzzled diet soda). I eat meals at lunch rather than eating a PBJ only that led to me starving mid afternoon. But all that change happened over years. As I felt better I decided to experiment with different changes and found out what works for me(low carb, for instance doesn’t).

How do you make changes in your life? Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

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?

Meeting your Wellness Goals in a Perfectly Imperfect World

Perfectlyimperfect2-1

 

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.

Your Word for the Day is…Selah

Selah

 

I’m a grammar girl and word nerd. I love learning in general and specifically about words and history. So when I came across the word “Selah” in my Bible study the first time, I had to dig in!

This word is written in Hebrew in the Old Testament. What does it mean? Scholars aren’t really sure! It’s used over 70 times in the Bible…and all but three of them are in the Psalms. (The other three uses are in the book called Habakkuk, for inquiring minds). The most widely agreed upon interpretation is that it’s a call to praise, or stop and ponder what you have just read.

Pause. Think. Ponder. Praise. What if we lived our lives intentionally doing that?

I am angry and about to spout off to my child. Instead…Selah. Pause. Think. And see what the best thing to say is in this situation.

I’m about to spend money on something, or eat something, just because I’m feeling restless, sad, or frustrated. Instead…Selah. Pause. And think, what am I really feeling and what void am I trying to fill?

My day is busy and I don’t have time to breathe or think. How about…Selah. Pause, inwardly, and give thanks that I have the energy to make it through my day. That I am blessed with family, or friends, or good things to eat, the ability to face any challenge that comes my way, and on and on.

I’m exhausted at the end of the day or tempted to start my day by hitting the ground running. But instead…Selah. I pause for a moment or two, breathe deeply, whisper a prayer,  meditate a second, etc.

Let’s make a pact to build some “Selah Seconds” into our day. Pause, breathe, smile, think, and just be. Life is too precious to miss it by being “busy”.

Selah.

The Power of Routine

Full disclosure: I am a person who thrives with a routine and sticking to one comes easily…until it doesn’t. Then I change things up to a new routine for freshness. But even my husband, who likes spontaneity, swears routines are lifesavers. So today I am giving you a glimpse into my morning routine so you can get inspired to create one that works for you. It really will reduce stress for you.

  1. Drink water First thing I hydrate! I instantly feel better and more awake.
  2. Walk my dog This varies by whether I work in the morning or at night. Sometimes it’s five minutes and others fifteen to twenty. Getting out to move also wakes me up and allows me time to reflect.
  3. Pilates I usually exercise thirty minutes. Sometimes ten or fifteen, sometimes forty. That thirty minutes sets my day right and I don’t have to worry about fitting it in if my day gets crazy.

4. Shower or clean up I am low maintenance so this is fifteen minutes or so.

5. Breakfast Almost always a smoothie bowl.

6. Prayer, Bible Study, and Coffee Roughly thirty minutes but again, varies with my work schedule.

I set my wake up time according to when I need to have my routine accomplished. And I spend time menu planning and workout planning each weekend. It goes in my planner so I start the night before by reviewing my upcoming day and setting out food from the freezer, workout clothing, etc.

When I had young children, my routine was different, but I had one. I usually got up and exercised and then ate breakfast with them. I showered later on as I was a stay at home mom. Working moms often tell me their best exercise time is at lunch (walking), or as dinner is cooking. So everyone has a different lifestyle and rhythm.

Do you have a morning routine? Share your best tips with us here or on my Facebook page.

The Beauty of What If

I mentioned in passing that I have struggled off and on with anxiety. I am a first-born, Type A perfectionist who is also a people pleaser. It has been a difficult road to get to the place of embracing doing things well versus perfectly (which doesn’t exist) and realizing what others think doesn’t really matter.

I am gifted with a vivid imagination and that has a dark side: what if. If you struggle like I do with worry, fear, or anxiety (and who doesn’t from time to time), you will immediately get this.

But along the way, I have learned a wonderful truth: in every negative quality we have lies a gift. The key that unlocks it is my attitude.

The quote below was written by a wonderful Bible teacher and author, Chuck Swindoll. It became a defining “ah-ha” moment for me when I first read it. Check it out:

So, how has attitude-the ability to approach a situation with a positive or negative mindset-helped me? I see my WHAT IF as a good thing. When my mind says, “what if this bad thing happens, ” I stop and think, “yes, but what if …” and list the good things that can occur. And my imagination suddenly becomes a positive asset to me.

So how can you adjust your attitude? Do you see physical limitations as a bad thing? I have flat feet, bunions, and slight scoliosis. I can’t run without getting shin splints. But I have discovered a world of fun walking my dog, or with friends, or learning to dance and try other forms of cardio. And I cheer on my runner friends and family and lend a sympathetic ear to those struggling with limitations, aches, and pains.

A positive attitude is not something a person is born with. You work at it. Some days my attitude stinks. But I get up, practice gratitude, and keep learning. What if… at the end of my life, I can look back and think I made my days count rather than worrying them away. Now that’s a WHAT IF I can get excited about.

Let me know your struggles, thoughts, tips, and tricks to develop a healthy mindset.

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.

To The Mom Whose Child is Off to College or Work…”

 

Dear Mom of a young adult,

You are not crazy. You are not alone. And whatever you feel is so normal.

Spending hours looking at pictures of your child/children as babies and toddlers? Me too. Thinking about the time they spilled the milk…again, and you were harsh with them? Been there too.

Every parenting mistake you ever made will be fresh in your mind. You will wish a million times for do-overs. To go back and relive that one perfect day or one normal day. To hold them, breathe in their fragrance, laugh and stay up late and let the chores go. To live stress-free, playing and laughing in the park with them. To recapture for a second those sweet days of yesterday.

You’ll probably go by their room and cry…or sigh. Perhaps sit in there. Maybe close the door because seeing the empty room hurts too much.

You will wonder if it ever gets easier. And the answer, of course., is yes..and no. You will still hurt, but you get better at living with the ache. Living with the tension between being so incredibly happy for your “baby” who is starting to live her life and so terribly sad for you as a mom. And for Christian moms like me, your prayer life will improve.

So let yourself grieve. You are letting go of a huge part of your life. Talk to someone who gets it. Find a new hobby, find a new time in your life for you to try new things. Sit in the bathtub full of bubbles with a glass of wine and let the tears run down your face. Just know you are so normal. And that someone out there gets it and is praying for you. Because I am.

And as always, reach out to me if you need someone to chat. And let me know how you deal with your children growing up!

 

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?