Tag Archives: health

Chasing Beauty: The Balancing Act of Being Healthy and Fit

29 Aug

I am the first one to post quotes on Facebook like: Never Give Up, You Only Achieve What You Think You Can Achieve, and Get Fit-Yes You Can.  I take pride is pushing myself in every realm of my life in an effort to achieve the goals I’ve set and help others.  With that though, I often also experience the “it’s never enough” feeling. I know there must be many people out there that feel these same feelings.  You set a goal, work hard, achieve it, and then immediately begin to compare yourself to those around you who are one step farther.  You pay little mind to the external factors that determine why, you just think you need to do more.

This feeling, at least for me, is often illustrated in the realm of fitness and body image.  I think back seven years ago to my initial goals of losing weight and feeling healthier.  A size 14 at the time, my dream was the buy a sleeveless dress and feels good wearing it.  I wanted to wear a bikini at the beach and feel comfortable.  Slowly over time I dedicated myself to the goal and got there.  I was temporarily happy, yet quickly set a new goal.  I can be leaner, maybe a size 6 would be nice, maybe I ought to be a little more toned in my upper body and that will be perfect.  So I worked at that, got there, and then revised again.  Some of my revisions had a lot to do with career goals I was chasing and other’s opinions of me.  I let that guide me to some degree.  I am acutely aware of the societal pressure that exists to look a certain way to be accepted.  I know the stigmas attached to beauty.  Working in the modeling world, I certainly feel a tremendous amount of pressure in this sense.  Sometimes I get so confused I am not even sure what the ideal is anymore.  When this happens I go right back to this: The ideal is feeling healthy and being balanced.  I can’t say I think that’s always the ideal in other’s minds, but for me it is.  I’d go crazy trying to achieve an unobtainable goal if it wasn’t.

As I work to take the next step in my career, I’m strongly dedicated to improvement but firmly committed to balance.  Having been at every spectrum of the health, weight and image scale I know exactly where I am happiest.  I know that there will always be things about my physique and my looks that are not my favorites.  I often look at the girl next to me and think “she’s got it all” when in reality there are things she struggles with as well.  We each have a unique beauty about us, it’s most noticeable when we strive for health, when we chase the goal and not the image and when we accept that there are things about us, no matter how hard we try to change them, that just are. Beauty is most obvious to me in people who smile, who are self-confident and who are grounded.  I’ve noticed I find those qualities to be the most attractive part of a person both physically and spiritually and that’s the goal I want to chase.  I certainly want to be an athlete, healthy, fit and strong, but I don’t want to kill myself trying to change the smallest of things, to achieve a goal that really will not matter much as soon as I check it off the list.

At the end of the day, I remind myself to define my health and fitness journey by how I feel, not by how others think I look.  I know where I need to be.  It’s a place where I am physically, mentally and spiritually balanced.  I am not starving, I am respecting my body, and I am pushing my physical capabilities at a reasonable level.  Wherever that takes me is where I’ll go and I’ll be content there.

Advertisements

Top Four Ways People Sabotage Their Fitness Efforts

25 Jul

Image copyright Doug Berry available on istock.com

1)      Starting Too Big: Dreaming big is good.  I want to lose 50 pounds, I want run 10 miles, I want to hold a plank position for 2 minutes.  Achieving, however, is attainable by making small steps towards your goals.  Health and fitness should be a lifelong pursuit, not one that lasts a month.  Just like weight loss, if you want it to last, you need to take one-step at a time.  Begin with a reasonable goal. If you are not a runner and desire to develop your skills, set a goal that you will run/walk one mile three times a week.  That’s it.  Don’t go out and try and run three miles on your first attempt.  You’ll disappoint and loss motivation to continue.  Bottom line: Like building a house, develop a strong foundation.  Start one brick at a time and move up from there.2)      Failing to Develop a Support Network:  People are much more likely to stick to a goal and succeed in achieving it when they are surrounded by like-minded people who offer support.  There are many ways to develop a support network.  Commit to fitness goals with your partner.  Create challenges for each other and register for a class you can do together.  Become part of an online accountability group.  These areas are often good places to share ideas, ask questions and gain support.  Find a smaller gym where you are more likely to get to know the individuals or join a running group or hire a trainer to help keep you on track.  Bottom line: People never succeed in isolation, they succeed in groups.

3)      Doing What Others Say You Should:  A lot of people will offer advice when you become vocal about wanting to get in shape.  They might tell you the only way to do it is to lift weights, or to do cardio an hour a day.  The reality is that you will not stick with it if you don’t enjoy it.  Keep in mind that it will be difficult at first.  You can’t say “I don’t enjoy any exercise at all”.  Pick something that seems to suit you.  Maybe you love tennis, or you like walking your dog.  Try a yoga class and start with gentle yoga as to not overexert yourself.  If you like the outdoors consider hiking.  Create obstacle course for your kids in the park and participate with them.  Bottom line: In some form or fashion start moving.

4)      Exercising Purely for Weight Loss:  Many people decide to exercise to lose weight and when the weight doesn’t come off quickly they become disappointed.  Your body takes time to adjust to new patterns.  It has a strong desire to hold on to fat and pounds, especially for women.  Choose exercise for health.  Years ago a friend of mine told me about her commitment to start runing.  Day in and day out she ran, everyday seeing the same image in the mirror.  Not a lot was changing physically for her but fortunately the main reason she chose to start running was for her health.  She felt better physically and mentally regardless of what the scale said.  This motivated her to stick with it.  She still exercises daily and now has an incredible physique.  It didn’t happen overnight though.  It built over a series of years.  Bottom line: Exercise for sanity, not vanity.

Simple Health and Fitness: A Life Approach

24 May

What sells?  Magazine covers that read “5 minutes to a better body.”  Cookbooks that are titled “Eat what you want and lose weight.”  Diet plans that advertise “Take this pill and get fit and firm”.  That sells because it’s an easy fix, but the reality of getting the body you’ve dreamed of and the level of health and fitness you desire is simply not a quick fix.

So, with that said, the first thing you need to decide is do you really want to achieve this?  I’m going to give you some very good reasons why your answer should be yes.

While it’s very challenging to begin, in the long-term you will feel better about yourself, be more productive and able to navigate life more effectively.

Being healthy is not only a positive change for you but also for your family and friends. 

Being fit and healthy helps boost self-esteem which paves the way for success in other areas of your life.  It’s not just a matter of how you look; it’s your ability to realize you are stronger than you think.

Eating better makes you feel better.  We were not designed to eat fast food and chemicals.  Eating healthy and clean allows your body to function more properly.  When your body does that so does your mind.

There are plenty of reasons to work on achieving health, so why aren’t you doing it?  It comes down to this: We live in a faced paced society that has encouraged you to do everything quickly.  We attempt to accomplish ten tasks at once, we go till exhaustion thinking we will get ahead in doing so.  We eat on the run and fitness easily drops off our priority list.  We fall into these patterns and at some point usually step back and say “I’m not sure I’m really happy.”  True happiness is achieved through balance, mindfulness and purposefulness.

If you have read this far you probably agree with what I am saying and want to change this pattern.  You want to live healthier, be happier and more productive.  If you are going to make a life-long change for the better you are going to have to do it in small steps, period!  Here are ways in which you can move forward in achieving this:

  • Stop eating fast food.  Give yourself license in the beginning to keep all your old habits but just stop eating fast food.
  • Change one eating habit per week.  Swap out a product for something healthier; eliminate something from your diet that isn’t good for you.
  • Begin an exercise program that requires you to do ten minutes of cardio at a time.  Ten minutes, that’s it.  You can make ten minutes a day.
  • Simplify your life.  Life gets cluttered and clutter takes up a lot of space.

Example 1: Clutter in your home.  That actually pulls your attention from other things.  It’s hard to manage life when you are surrounded by things, and piles of paper and undone tasks.  Change that pattern and de-clutter your home, car and office space.  This will help you focus.

Example 2: Clutter in your life.  This comes in the form of people, activities, and commitments.  Sometimes less is more.  We tend to give of our time to so many things that then we really are not offering anyone anything much of value.  Or, we are offering a lot to others but in the process neglecting ourselves.  Simplify commitments.  Pick your top 5 priorities and do those!  Make fitness one of them.  Pick the people who you want in your life and make time for them.  You can’t make time for everyone.  The reality is that some individuals are actually a drain on your productiveness.  Begin to recognize that and make the necessary changes.

People often think health and fitness is basic.  You exercise, eat right and achieve it.  That is the foundation, but taking a closer look at what prevents us from doing that is the way we can actually achieve these goals.  Fitness and wellness is a life approach.  It’s a philosophy.  It is less about an act and more about a mindset.  If you can get to that mindset, the rest will come easy.

Eat Pray EXERCISE Love

3 Apr

Eat Pray EXERCISE and Love

This is my new mantra.  I saw the movie Eat Pray Love some time ago and have thought about it ever since.  I have several moments where I yearn to be Julia Roberts traveling through foreign countries finding myself.  Since the life of a mother to two young children precludes me from doing that, I’ll have to spend the hours between 8:30 – 2:30 weekdays figuring it out while simultaneous grocery shopping, cleaning, running errands and working.  Never-the-less, I am going to keep working on this and hopefully someday I’ll figure out the key to happiness and the meaning of life as a result.  I imagine the best way to get there is every once in a while just putting aside my ambitions, goals, pressures and responsibilities and focus on just being me.  Today I decided to reflect on eating, praying, exercising and loving.  I had to add exercise to the equation, because if I were to travel world like Julia I’d likely do this as well. Here’s what I came up with.

Eat

Eating is happiness. If you don’t believe me, try not doing it for a few days straight. Better yet, try limiting yourself for months on end.  Trust me, I can speak intelligently on this topic, I’ve been there.  Eating the right foods that nourish the body and fill the soul helps you mentally.  Balance is paramount in this, not overindulging too much, nor under indulging.  Developing a healthy relationship with food is important.  Think about the bad relationships you have had with others, they can be toxic to your well-being.  The same can be said for relationships with food.  Figure out what your body needs to feel you’re very best and stick to that.

Pray

I am not overly religious, but meditation, reflection, and communing with whatever power that you see fit can greatly improve your perspective.  Quieting the mind is the most difficult part for many of us in doing this. We live in a society that demands we are always “on”.  We begin to wonder… if you strip away all the things about me…my resume, my degree, my awards, my relationships, my possessions, am I enough?  Just me, is it enough?  That’s a good question.  Praying, in whatever fashion you see fit, seems to reaffirm that you are enough, exactly where you are at.  You don’t need anyone else to tell you that, you just need to believe it yourself.  Acceptance of who you are, often arrived through prayer, can open doors that were invisible to you before.

Exercise

We are designed to move.  We eat and we move and it seems to balance out.  Like ying and yang, eating and exercise go together.  Nourish the body so that it can move.  Effectively combining these two things allows for love.  You will grow to love your body for its strength and health.  Aging gracefully has a lot to do with respecting your body not for its physical features, but for how it supports you.  Exercise=empowerment.  Push yourself to achieve physical goals and suddenly you will find yourself doing that in other areas of your life, and being successful at it.

Love

Love yourself.  Love your body.  Love others. You were put on earth exactly the way you are and no amount of wishing you were someone will change that.  Loving yourself is the door to fully appreciating life, and others for that matter.  Loving yourself is not a bad thing.  You ought to be your own biggest fan.  You ought to believe in yourself and abilities.  You can believe you can do something or you can believe you can’t, either way you are right.  Learn from others, let them in, but don’t ever allow others to make you believe you are not beautiful, or capable or amazing.

Today I’m committing to loving myself.  To keeping exercise a priority and to eating foods that make me feel good.  I will respect my body, and take pride in being perfectly imperfect.  I’ll recognize that I can change certain things about myself but there are things I can’t, and that’s okay.  I’ll spend time quietly reflecting on life, being in the moment and appreciating that the world is bigger than me.  I’ll love fiercely and boldly, trust more than I’m comfortable with, and support those around me.  I’ll live with no regrets; take chances and risk failure… most importantly I’ll find myself, even if it means I don’t go farther than up the street to do it.

 

Eat Clean, Get Fit: 5 Easy Recipes To Help You Get Started

21 Mar

“I exercise because I like to eat”!  Are you someone who says that to people?  Many individuals enjoy satisfying their taste buds, but there are ways to do that while still maintaining healthy eating patterns.  Cooking using fresh ingredients that provide the body vital nutrients it needs to function properly is vital to maintaining a healthy physique and sound mind.

I’m fortunate to have many friends who enjoy cooking.  They frequently cook for the families and have their favorite recipes.  I’ve included five favorites from those I collected.  Give them a try!

Spinach Dip: Submitted by Pam White

Ingredients

1 (16 oz.) container low-fat cottage cheese

10 oz. container frozen spinach, thawed

8 oz. can water chestnuts, chopped fine

2 tbsp. onion powder

1 tsp. dried parsley

2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Step 1 – Using a blender, blend the cottage cheese until it is smooth and creamy.

Step 2 – Put the cottage cheese in a large mixing bowl, and add all other ingredients. Stir well.

Turkey Chili Recipe, Slow Cooker Style. Submitted by Shannon Jay Dougherty

Shannon’s website: www.shannonjaydougherty.com

Ingredients:

2 lbs Lean Ground Turkey

2 Jars (16 ounces each) Your Favorite Chunky Salsa

2 Cans (14.5  ounces each) Diced tomatoes, undrained

2 cans (15 ounces each) Red kidney beans, drained & rinsed

1 bag (16 ounces) Frozen corn kernels, thawed

2 tablespoons Chili Powder

2 teaspoons Cumin

2 teaspoons Garlic Salt

2 teaspoons Dried Oregano

Greek Yogurt

Step 1 –  Spray slow cooker.  Brown ground turkey breaking up large pieces, drain fat and place in slow cooker.

Step 2 – Add all ingredients and stir. Cover on Low for 8 hours. Garnish with your favorite toppings. My choice is a dollop of Greek Yogurt on top!

Leek, White Sweet Potato & Mushroom Soup.  Submitted by Jennifer Zlaket

Jennifer’s website: http://www.holisticzwellness.com

Ingredients:

1 medium onion

1 bunch of leeks

1 large, white sweet potato

2 carrots

2 stems of celery

1 large bunch of mushrooms of your choice

thyme

fresh parsley

celtic sea salt

black pepper

Step 1 – Dice the onion, leeks, sweet potato, carrots, and celery.

Stock:  Sauté the chopped onion, carrot, and celery with a sprig of thyme and the stems of the mushrooms in 1 tbsp of coconut oil, until tender.

Step 2 – Add 6 cups of water, a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of black pepper and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for half an hour.

Step 3 – Sauté the diced leeks and sweet potato with another tbsp of coconut oil for 15 minutes.  Add diced mushroom caps and sauté another 10 min.

Step 4 – Strain the stock and add only the liquid to the leeks, sweet potato and mushrooms.  I run this through the blender to make a soft, silky consistency.  You will have about  4 ½ cups.

Step 5 – Put it back in the pot, add about 1 tbsp of minced/crushed thyme leaves, another pinch of sea salt, another blast of pepper, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Garnish with chopped, fresh parsley.

Protein Quinoa Pancakes: Submitted by Thomas Miller

Ingredients

1-1/2 cup cooked quinoa

2 whole eggs

2 egg whites

Topping Suggestions: Fruit, Honey, Agave syrup, Avocados

Step 1 – In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, eggs and egg whites. Whisk until smooth and creamy.

Step 2 – Mist a non-stick pan with oil and cook as you would any pancake. Do NOT cook these on high heat. The outsides will burn and the insides will still be raw. Use medium heat and cook for a little longer until golden brown.

Step 3 – Top with any clean topping.

Curried Cauliflower: Submitted by Jennifer Zlaket

Jennifer’s website: http://www.holisticzwellness.com

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower

1 large brown or yellow onion (you can also use leek instead, or in addition to the onion)

Curry powder

Turmeric

Cumin

Black pepper

Step 1 – Finely dice the onion and sauté in coconut oil with few teaspoons each of the curry powder, turmeric, and cumin (about 10 minutes.)

Step 2 – Add diced cauliflower and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes.

Step 3 – Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley.

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!

Mindful Eating: How to Eat Less and Enjoy More

2 Nov

Freshly prepared meal made from fruits and veggies purchased at the Farmer's Market

What happens when you’re hungry?  For me, it’s easy to find the quickest and most convenient thing I can get my hands on and eat it.  That’s definitely something I had to retrain myself on when I set my goals for improving my health and losing weight.  The goal became not to find myself in a position where I was really hungry, especially in the presence of a fast food restaurant!  As I got better at this, the concept of mindful eating became more present for me. 

What is mindful eating anyway and how can it help you achieve your goals? Mindful eating, according to Center for Mindful Eating (www.tcme.org)  is, “Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom”.  What does that mean?  For me, it’s about fully enjoying the process and paying careful attention to what food does to my body.  In an effort to ensure I was being mindful of my eating habits, I developed a process of nourishing myself.  Here’s what it looked like: 

 Mindful Eating for Meal Time:

1) Prep for meals and snacks: Doing this rather than just grabbing food on the go allows us to develop a keener sense of our body, how to care for our health, and how to appreciate and respect food.  Look through cook books, find recipes or ideas, and subscribe to blogs or sites on food that give suggestions.  One of my favorites is www.mariamakesmuffins.com  .   Shop local farmers markets and talk to the growers.  Think carefully about what goes into growing and raising food.  Pay attention to nutritional content.

2) Allocate time to prepare meal: This makes you more fully appreciate what you are putting into your body.  Even the art of buying bags of almonds and portioning them out makes me more aware of how much a serving is, what it offers me nutritionally and how much it fills me. When creating meals for my family, I occasionally take some time to concentrate on preparation, making eating an experience rather than just an act.

3) Savor the moment: When you sit down at the table, close your eyes for a moment.  Think about what you are about to ingest and how it will nourish your body. Are you eating empty calories?  If so, that’s okay, just be aware.  Does your plate have a variety of colors on it?  Is the food on your plate a blend of the vital nutrients we need to sustain ourselves?  Take a moment to truly think about what you are eating. 

4) Make eating a ritual: Start by having a glass of water to cleanse the palate.  Ensure you are not going into meal time over-hungry.  Breathe deeply and smell the aroma of the food.  As you eat, pay attention to the flavors.  Eat slowly and intentionally.  Pause between bites to allow your body time to take it in.  This will ensure you don’t overeat.  Before having a second helping, give your body time to digest.  

5) Reflect: After eating, notice how your body reacts.  Did the foods you ingest make you feel good, give you energy, or did they take away from those things?  Many people have food allergies or sensitivities and go years before they ever realize this.  Everyone is different.  You are the best judge of knowing what food works for you!  Some people avoid dairy, others red meat, some are vegetarians, others vegan; some can’t have gluten, some have sugar intolerance….I have seen it all.  You are the owner of your body.  Only you know what makes you feel good.  Pay attention to your body and figure this out.

Eating right and caring for yourself is a skill. Feed the body good whole foods , appreciate the moments of eating, pay careful attention to the process, love yourself, share your successes and tips, learn from your failures, and support others.  This will go a long way toward achieving your goals for optimum health.  Good luck in your journey.