Thursday, June 26, 2014

Daily Affirmations

Almost every day the VP of my department sends us an affirmation and words of encouragement. Today's was worthy of a share.

This particular affirmation was especially meaningful when I saw it come across.  Today is the 45th day of a personal 90-day challenge to clean up my diet & build my self-control around all things cake and potato (and also for some research).

Whether you are working on a new fitness program, a better diet or a promotion, you can't allow one set back to negatively affect your plans, your journey or your goal. We should never strive for perfection - it doesn't exist!

I am officially halfway & feeling great! But it hasn't been easy - I've had a number of hiccups along the way. Bad choices, whether by lack of willpower or lack of planning, have surfaced. But I have not - CAN NOT - allow those bad choices to slow me down.

Wasn't it Thomas Edison who said "I failed my way to success."?

So, how do I keep going despite the setbacks?

Be prepared.  For EVERYTHING.
I've stumbled and fallen more times that I'd like to admit -- 6 times to be exact. And I can tell you about each one -- the unhealthy item, the date, and the circumstance.   And the reason.

5 of the 6 times I wasn't prepared for my day.  Plain and simple.  The 6th time, well, I just wanted potato salad at Jack's BBQ.

Being healthy isn't easy, but you can be prepared for both the unexpected and the expected (see #5) by doing the following:
  1. Carry a small snack (raw almonds, a nutrition bar) with you at all times.
    1. Meetings run over, "snacks provided" sometimes mean candy bars and hershey kisses.
  2. Pack a water bottle for long car rides. 
  3. Don't forget your pre-workout snack/post-workout recovery meal if you go straight from the gym to work or work to gym. 
    1. Or buy a week's worth of snacks on your weekend grocery trip and stock your desk Monday morning.
  4. Look at your calendar the night before and plan for the next day accordingly.
    1. Lunch meeting? Browse the restaurant menu online before heading out. 
    2. Working late? Plan a crock pot meal or make arrangements for someone else to take over the cooking tonight. 
  5. Offer to bring dessert. Banana "Ice Cream" anyone? 
    1. 3 frozen bananas, 1/2 cup 2% organic milk - blend together in high-powered blender or food processor. Bring along fresh fruit, raw nuts or seeds and honey for toppings. 
Remember how GREAT the great days feel. 
When I felt myself reaching for that 2nd helping of chips and queso at Chuy's (on June 3rd, at a birthday dinner) I thought of how great I'd been feeling all week....

Was that 2nd basket of chips really worth giving up this feeling? I decided no, it certainly was not - and have continued to say no by using that same thought process almost daily.

Channel your healthier self before you sabotage your entire day or give up entirely.

My goal is not to reach a certain number on a scale or minimize inches on my waist - though I am certainly excited to see these changes along the way - I just want to feel better, be stronger, have more energy and be (generally) less cranky and lethargic feeling.

So far the effects are better than what I've hoped for - and I felt them almost immediately. No upset belly at the end of the day (or when I get out of bed), I no longer get that 2:30 feeling in the afternoon, my workouts rock and other people have noticed my good mood.

I will NOT ruin all those accomplishments by continuing on a downward spiral spiked by a minor misjudgment.  That's my mantra and it works.

Change your thinking -- and shake the guilt.
Women especially get into a "well, I blew that plan by eating that cupcake, so I might as well just eat bad the rest of the day/week/month!" mentality. STOP THAT IMMEDIATELY.  Feast or famine is not how healthy choices are made.

We tend to internalize and dwell on small one-off choices that don't mean much in the grand scheme of things. This happens with our home lives as well as our diets. Do I think you should eat a cupcake every day? Well, no, of course I don't. (That's an example of a small choice that can have disastrous results).

Do I think that if you are at a retirement party it's ok to treat yourself during that one-time celebration? Of course I do. And I think you should stop feeling so bad about it.

REWARD your bad behavior by doing something good for your body. 
When you do eat a cupcake (or a side of fries), apologize to your body through your actions.  Grandma always told me "Actions speak louder than words."

Nosh on raw veggies and hummus for your afternoon snack. Better yet, log an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill. Your body, and your brain, will appreciate the extra surge of endorphins - that "feel good" chemical we all hear about so often.

When our bodies move into an anaerobic state we get a rush of endorphins to make up for oxygen depletion to our muscles and that's when the "high" kicks in - I know it, I've felt it and if you haven't I encourage you to ASAP!

Realize there is a healthier option...and make it.  
It might not be your ideal option, but it's there waiting for you. Remember my post about Grief Eating -- cold cuts might not be high on my healthy list, but choosing a turkey and mozzarella roll up instead of salami on white bread let me stay within my challenge rules and still enjoy lunch.

Sometime you just can't convince the family that it's not a good idea to order pizza for a quick and easy meal for 10....what you can do is ask them to tack a salad onto that order or make yourself your own fun dinner with what's left in the fridge.

Write down your mistakes...and then forget them and move on.
I've tracked each "oops" along the way. This gets it out of my brain and serves as a tiny reminder that "Hey - I wasn't perfect on this journey, but that's OK".

I refuse to let those tiny little minuscule setbacks let me lose focus of the end result - a healthy, happier me!

Stop Making Excuses
And just do it.  There is no ideal time, things happen, unexpected things.  The trick is that when I hear an excuse coming on I know that I am getting ready to cave and I fight it with every ounce of my being.  Is summer an ideal time to cut out sweets and desserts and (gulp, 30 days of alcohol)?  NO!  But I had to start some time!  

Your body (your life) will thank you for your dedication and stress-free approach to a healthier lifestyle!

And in case you are's the challenge
  • NO white bread/white pasta 
  • NO milk chocolate (70%+ pure dark is allowed) 
  • NO donuts/muffins/danishes/pastries 
  • NO cupcakes/pies/cake/desserts 
  • NO candy 
  • NO soda or black tea 
  • NO chips/pretzels 
  • NO fast food 
  • NO ice cream/frozen yogurt 
  • Days 60-90 only - NO alcohol 
The results (pictures, weight, measurements) will all be shared after I am done!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer is here (yay!)...

...and you know what that means -- extended daylight for your outdoor runs and workouts, afternoons by the pool, ball games, family picnics...the list goes on and on.

Even with all the benefits, more outdoor activities mean more exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays and an increased risk of malignant melanoma.

But did you know the risk for malignant melanoma is even higher in runners and those who workout outdoors? It's not just the additional exposure to the sun's rays. Intense training can also suppress the immune system, leaving your skin more vulnerable to damage.

So, what do we do? Lather on the sunscreen and pop a couple of fish oil supplements daily?

So glad you asked because the answer is: YES! That's exactly what we do!

According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition fish oil supplements help protect against the suppression of the skin's immune system in response to sun overexposure.

In addition to contributing to brain development, cellular function, joint, and cardiovascular health, taking a high-quality, pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplement, like USANA's BiOmega, can help you strengthen your skin - from the inside out.

(Source: Runner's World)

To order BiOmega or any USANA products, click here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Cost of Eating Healthy

Recently it seems like everyone around me is saying:  "but it's so expensive to eat healthy all the time".

Before firing off my usual but it's worth it!!! or No, it's not! I got online and found a recent study (Dec. 2013) that found healthy eating does, indeed, cost more.

About $1.50 a day more, to be exact.

I say that $1.50 buys you a lot more than just healthier eats.  You're also getting an extra boost in energy, an improved mood - your HEALTH!  Among many things, eating healthy offers you a leaner frame, a reduced risk of heart attack and diabetes, lower blood pressure and less stress.  On the outside you'll also notice a healthier smile and better skin.

To give you an idea of how much it costs to eat healthy, I've tracked and recorded my day in review for you.

I do my grocery shopping at Kroger and buy my shakes and nutrition bars through USANA

Pre-workout Snack  
1 slice sprouted grain bread $0.17
1/2 banana $0.13
1 TBSP natural, creamy peanut butter $0.11

Post-workout Recovery
1 USANA Nutrimeal Shake ($3.33)
1/2 banana ($0.13)

Mid- morning snack
1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt ($0.63)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries ($.75)
5 small strawberries ($.85)

White Bean Tuna Salad ($1.36/serving)

Mid-afternoon snack
USANA Fudge Delight Nutrition Bar ($1.93)

Spaghetti with Tomatoes & Shrimp ($2.58/serving)

Total spent for the day:  $11.97
*If you don't need the post-workout recovery, you're down to $8.51*

Some people spend that much daily on medicine for high blood pressure, insulin, etc.

Diet plays a big role in current and future health issues.  Why not take control & spend a little more now to better your health in the future?

If you want to see whats on my weekly shopping list, click here to see my prior post "What's on my shopping list"

***October 30, 2015 Update:  A recent pole showed that the Average American spends $15.50 per day eating out.  If you are one of those you won't just be saving calories, you'll be saving dough.

Monday, June 9, 2014

How do I calculate calories burned?

Calculating calories burned isn't easily found by using an easy equation, there are many factors that go into the number of calories burned -- weight, gender, age, resting heart rate & intensity level.

If you are looking for an accurate calorie burn, using the monitors on indoor bikes, treadmills and other equipment is not your the best - they are gross generalizations and can be off by up to 20%.  Some equipment is advanced enough to take into account age and weight, but factors such as gender, heart rate and intensity level are still unknowns (hey, a 6.0 might be a killer for me on the treadmill, but for the guy next to me it's just another walk in the park).

The most effective way to manually calculate calorie burn is to invest in a heart-rate monitor and use one of the formulas below.

  • Male: ((-55.0969 + (0.6309 x HR) + (0.1988 x W) + (0.2017 x A))/4.184) x 60 x T
  • Female: ((-20.4022 + (0.4472 x HR) - (0.1263 x W) + (0.074 x A))/4.184) x 60 x T
HR = Heart rate (in beats/minute)
W = Weight (in kilograms)
A = Age (in years)
T = Exercise duration time (in hours)

Or you can go to Shape Sense to plug in the numbers like I do!  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Grief Eating - How to Avoid it!

The past 2 months have been a bit of a roller coaster, but I have been determined to keep myself on track.

If you have ever lost someone close to you, you know how hard staying on track with your healthy eating habits can be during the immediate days afterward - your schedule is all over the place, people are delivering food (mostly in the form of comfort or dessert), and quick meals at odd times are often your only choices.

In early April, I let my guard down and spent days eating muffins for breakfast, fried chicken and cold cut sandwiches for lunch and leftovers for dinner. And let's not forget the berry and apple pies that called my name at least once a day. Most of my energy in those days was focused on battling an upset belly, being overly tired & cranky and in addition to the emotional stress I just felt UGH.

Last week I found myself in the same situation and vowed that I would NOT put my body (or my family) through any more chaos than it needed.

Here are the 5 easy steps that kept me on track while dealing with my grief.

1. Volunteer to do the grocery shopping. When I walked in that first night, the refrigerator was void of milk, there was only white bread in the pantry and a tray of muffins was sitting proud on the counter. I got up early the next morning and went on a shopping spree that included whole grain bread, rolled oats (NOT instant), fresh strawberries & blueberries, Kind bars, organic 2% milk, natural peanut butter, a case of water.....

2. Bring along healthy snacks and water. You are going to be at the funeral home during odd and extended hours - over lunch, over dinner, until 8:00 at night. Throw a handful of almonds and a nutrition bar (or 2) or a banana in your bag and plan to snack small. Resist the urge to overeat prior to going, as that will just spike blood sugar levels and leave you with that uncomfortable feeling. If the funeral home doesn't have a water cooler, pack a few bottles in your bag as well.  Take extras so you can help keep your entire family turning into the Kranks at the first signs of hunger or thirst.

3. Eat light when you eat late.  Going to dinner at 9 p.m. is almost a given at least once, but this is where those snacks you packed come in handy.  Get a light salad (strawberry spinach with slivered almonds) or cup of broth-based soup (chicken noodle) for you late night dinner.  Your body will need the fuel, but this will be light and healthy(ish). 

4.  Make breakfast for everyone.  On the morning of the funeral I woke up about an hour before everyone and started the coffee...and the rolled oats.  The grocery store I went to did not have steel cut oats, so I settled for the old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant!) and made huge batch for the family. I also put out some honey, strawberries, blueberries and brown sugar (for my not-so-healthy little brother)  to make prep easy.  Everyone enjoyed the treat, avoided the 2 dozen donuts someone dropped off the night before, and appreciated not having to think about breakfast.  

5.  Choose the healthiest option, always.  So, you've hit the wall here, it's time for the wake and it's veggie trays and meat & cheese trays and pie galore.  Not to mention all the diet soda - ugh!  Remember that whole grain bread you bought earlier in the week?  Time to grab that loaf and make your sandwich.  Choose turkey over salami and mozzarella over cheddar. Dress your sandwich with a tomato, lettuce and mustard.  Skip the ranch dressing on those veggies.  Pass right by that pie and grab a bowl full of strawberries to snack on instead.  This time of year they are juicy and full of flavor!  

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