Tag Archives: diet

New Year, New You: Three Strategies to Help You Keep Your Fitness Resolutions

13 Jan

The year has started an everyone has resolved to get in shape and lose weight!  There is a myriad of information available that provides us plans on how we intend to accomplish this but at the end of the day, it comes down to this: eat the right things and move.  Although you may be tempted to start another fad diet, pick up the magazine article, “Five minutes a day to the perfect body” or just stop eating in general, none of these things in the long run will likely help you toward improving your health, getting fit or loosing weight.  Fitness and health is best achieved through basic principles.

To keep you from derailing your efforts, here are some simple strategies to follow.  (Sorry, no fad diet advice here!)

Strategy #1: Place fitness on your calendar. 

For those of you who attended college, try to remember, what was the number one way to achieve satisfactory grades in your classes?  Working in higher education for several years and having talked with countless students about academic success, I know the answer to this.  Attend!  Show up.  That’s a sure-fire way to earn a satisfactory grade, which is a great start.  The same goes with fitness.  The best way to insure you are making progress is to show-up.  So, place your fitness activity, whatever it might be, on your weekly calendar and attend.  Even if you plan to not give 100% make sure and get there and do something.  Treat exercise like a priority. You’ll make progress and as you see results that will likely motivate you to work hard, earning you the grade you desire.

Strategy #2: Enlist accountability! 

Today, my friend posted her exercise and weight loss goals on facebook.  That was a bold move.  Better yet, another friend started a blog on her journey toward weight loss.  I imagine some of us write our fitness goals down and tuck them away in the drawer for fear that we will disappoint others if we don’t meet them.  The truth is, when you share your goals with others, you make a commitment to them.  If you truly want to get fit, lose weight or regain health, you need to be vocal about your plans.  If you fail to meet all your goals, it’s likely that it will be you that’s the most disappointed.  Your friends will be the ones that admire you for working toward something valuable.

Strategy #3:  Eat, and eat the right things.

Avoid the nearest fast food restaurant.  Think about this, every time you eat fast food is it because you truly are craving it or is it because it is quick and convenient?  I’m going to guess the latter is true for many of us.  Unfortunately there are very few fast food restaurants that offer healthy choices.  Fast food restaurants tout that they offer healthy alternatives but if we are going to take the time to stop at a drive-thru, the reality is we usually end up making a poor choice.  Planning is the key.  The best way to insure you eat the right things is to plan ahead.  Spend one day a week preparing meals and portioning out snacks.  If you do this I guarantee you’ll be less likely to eat poorly. Don’t forget, of course, to take your food with you and eat before hunger strikes.  If you get too hungry, you are going to eat whatever’s put in front of you.  Pack a cooler in your car, throw small bags of snacks in your handbag, and remember to eat regularly.

Simply by implementing these strategies you can improve your success in getting in shape in the new year.  They might seem obvious to a lot of us but the truth is we don’t all do them. Make it a priority.  You’ll be glad you did come next December!  Good luck in your journey!

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Diaries of a Bikini Competitor: What I Learned From the Journey

22 Nov

Bikini competing is a unique sport, one that requires persistence and dedication.  I have to admit, I really had no idea exactly what I was getting myself into when I signed up.  I underestimated the subjectivity of the sport.  I overlooked how much of a challenge it would be to express myself and my personality to a judge without saying a word.  Being willing to step on stage and be scored on your physical appearance is a huge risk.  There are the elements of swimsuit choice, posing and confidence, but at the end of the day, it primarily comes down to physique.  Did you fit the image the judges had in their mind of what a bikini competitor looks like? 

A successful competitor often needs to master dieting.  This is by far one of the most difficult things I’ve ever undertaken.  People constantly told me they could never give up certain foods.  Surprisingly, that wasn’t the hardest part for me.  I had the will power to resist food.  I wanted the goal of getting on stage and knowing I did everything I could to do well more than I wanted food.  What I didn’t anticipate was that severely restricting my diet would take a toll on my mind.  My moods shifted, I eventually found myself losing energy and motivation.  I struggled every day the last month to stay the course. I stuck with it and learned a lot about myself in the process.  So in the end, what did bikini competing really teach me? 

…It taught me the balance is paramount.

…It reminded me that sometimes you have to give up something up in order to get something even more valuable.

…It showed me that you don’t have to win a contest to win the hearts of others.

…It proved to me that age is just a number.

…It re-affirmed my opinion that the very best people I know believe in others as much as they believe in themselves. 

…It certified my belief that strong is good, every body is different, and they are all beautiful in their own way.

…It confirmed that people who have the ability to light up a room often do it with their smile and their inner beauty.  If you were to be left with one desirable physical asset, always choose a warm smile.

…It made me more fully appreciate the amazing people I know.  It lost friends in the process but it gained some that I’ll never forget.

…And mostly, it solidified that you should never be objective with yourself.   There are enough other people who will do that for you. Your job is to completely believe in your ability to achieve whatever goal you set for yourself, regardless of how far you have to go to get there. Dream big! If you want something, go out and get it! You CAN do it and you WILL.   And whatever you do, don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise!

If you ever consider participating in a bikini competition, or any type of body/fitness competition for that matter, do it for yourself.  Don’t let the score or the placement dictate whether you were successful.  Recognize that it takes courage to get on stage.  Surround yourself with a support network of people who believe in you.  Value the journey more than the actual event.  Finally, never doubt your ability to inspire someone simply by putting yourself out there.   

With that, I am going to go treat myself to a cookie.  Be well, live strong, enjoy life, support others, smile a lot and appreciate every moment.

Finding Balance: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

10 Nov

What qualifies me to discuss the ins and outs of fitness, diet, and nutrition?  I’m not a dietician, nor a nutritionist.  I’ve done a lot of research and reading on many aspects of diet, but no agency has certified me as an expert.  What I am is a real-life test case.  A wise mentor of mine said recently that sometimes living through something gives you the best perspective.  It’s much like parenting, once you live it, you feel like you have some helpful advice to offer on the subject.  Your thoughts don’t apply to everyone, but they might help someone.  With that, I’ll share my thoughts on health as it pertains to body competitions.

I wholeheartedly endorse the concept of pushing yourself.  Putting yourself in a situation where you are challenged, both physically and mentally; it is where you find growth.  It teaches you about who you are and for what you stand.  I put myself in that situation when I decided to participate in bikini competitions, and here is the most important thing I am taking away from it.

 The mind is as much a temple as the body.

I’ve come to believe that each person has an “optimal” health point.  This is the place where you push yourself hard and you hit a point where you mind, body, and soul feel complete.  Physically you have eaten right, appreciated food, and come to understand what your body needs to work most efficiently.  Your excellent health reflects in your attitude.  Your mind is in a good place, thriving off positive energy and peace.  The food and exercise that fuels the body allows you to handle what the world throws at you .  Your soul understands the depth of how these pieces are intertwined.  You feel invincible.  This is a place where people strive to be. 

This road should be carefully navigated though since excess in either direction can interfere with achieving your goals.  Much like a person carrying a lot of internal baggage and struggling to lose weight, being too thin and/or exceeding your physical limitations can be equally detrimental.  You may get a lot of positive feedback as your success is judged on looking good physically, but what if someone were to look internally and grade your mind?  Do you feel good inside, or are you empty?  Are both your mind and body in a healthy place, or are they unbalanced. 

Food fuels the body.  Eating right for your specific needs allows you to find the optimal spot where you thrive mentally and physically.  Paying attention to your mind and body as a guide to fitness and nutrition is paramount.  Much like the universe is balanced, so are we.  Think carefully as to how you navigate your health and fitness goals.  Push yourself hard physically but be vigilant about protecting your mind and spirit.

I recently asked a friend about her experiences running marathons and what she has learned over the years.  “I always remember going in that my body starts the race but my mind finishes it”, she said.  ” True grit is the perseverance and passion for long-term goals and the motivation to achieve them”.  This personality trait is what allows us to push our bodies far beyond normal levels.  It’s important to rely on our minds to help us realistically determine how much of that is healthy.  We should pay careful attention to how our fitness and nutrition goals allow us to achieve balance. While we rely on experts and coaches to help us, we should learn to trust and rely equally on our own intuition to make decisions based on what our minds and bodies tell us is right.  Push the limits, but don’t push so far that you lose yourself as a result.