Tag Archives: weight loss

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.

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.

Fruit & Sugar: How to Maintain a Healthy Balance

11 Jul

“I can’t eat fruit, I don’t want to get fat.” Does that statement have any truth to it? …..Let’s find out.

Fruit, compared to many other options, is a great choice.  It often contains a decent amount of fiber helping to fill the body and has a variety of nutrients.  The downfall to fruit can be its sugar content.  Sugar is something we should try to limit in our diet, as having too much causes all sorts of issues for us.  So, it’s not to say you can’t have some, it is to say that you keep the amount in check.

There are two types of sugars, those occurring naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and those in dairy (lactose).  Other sugars are those sugars and caloric sweeteners  added during processing.  The American Heart Association (www.Heart. Org)   recommends we limit out sugar intake to 26 grams a day for women and 36 for men.  Those should come from naturally occurring sugars.

So, think about your diet.  I’m guessing the vast majority of us are consuming way too much sugar.  It’s partially habit, lack-of-knowledge, convenience, and let’s face it, it just tastes good.  One thing that helps is to be educated on where you find sugar though, which will aid in beginning to limit our consumption.

Fruit is not all created equally.  When looking at the sugar content, here’s how it stacks up:

Blackberries: 7 Grams Per Serving

Strawberries: 7 Grams Per Serving

Apples: 13 Grams

Pineapples 16 Grams

Bananas: 18 Grams

Grapes: 23 Grams

Here are some simple tips to help you maintain reasonable amounts of sugar intake:

1)      When reaching for fruit, pick berries first.  Overall they seem to be one of the lowest on the spectrum of sugar content.  That and the fact that they are packed full of vitamins make them a good choice.

2)      Don’t drink your food.  It’s easy to throw a bunch of fruit in a blender and feel like you are eating healthy but it’s important to remember that the body craves the sensation that comes along with chewing.  Allowing yourself to actually eat foods rather than drink all of them aids in this desire. In addition, we often consume more than necessary when we drink our calories because it goes down so easily.  This is particularly true of fruit smoothies. Same goes for juicing oranges.  Fresh squeezed orange juice tastes delicious but should be reserved for a treat, as it can easily result in quickly downing 5 oranges, putting us over our daily limit.

3)      Shop the produce section, not the grocery store isles for fruit.  Canned peaches in heavy syrup do not constitute fruit.  There is very little in the way of nutrition in canned fruits and whenever possible the best choices are fresh fruit.  Frozen fruit without any additives is also a good option.

4)      Avoid the attitude of “It has fruit in it, it must be healthy”.  There is nothing farther from the truth.  Fruit is contained in many products and dishes but that does not mean it’s healthy.  Even dried fruit is often coated in sugar and should be avoided unless it’s something you consider your “treat”.

5)      Combine fruit with other things.  Get your fruit intake by adding a bit of fruit to a variety of dishes you eat during the day.  Considering adding blueberries to Greek yogurt, apples to Steel-cut oats and bananas with a tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter.  Doing this can help you combine proteins, carbs and healthy fats to your snacks.

Just Eat Already: How Eating Regularly and Picking the Right Food Combinations Aid In Weight Loss and Fitness

27 Feb
The Farmer’s Market! A great place to stock up on tasty fruits and vegtables.

I’ve been everywhere in relation to food over the course of my life. I’ve eaten too much, I’ve eaten too little. I’ve eaten without regard and been completely mindful. It’s come down to this. If you don’t eat food, it will eat you! Food and health is all about balance and feeding your body the right foods at the right time is paramount.  If you do this, you will naturally begin to crave these foods and you will be better able to maintain weight. So, here’s what that means to me.

1) You need to eat. I cannot even tell you how many people I know who skip meals. I know, you get busy, you travel, you’re in meetings, I hear it all. You just have to decide you are going to be prepared, pack food if you need to, and take 5 minutes to eat. Wake up, eat breakfast within 30 minutes, and eat every few hours. Let your hunger dictate some of that. Do not allow yourself to get too hungry! As soon as that happens you will find yourself in a bind because you will eat the closest thing you can get your hands on.

2) You need to think very carefully about what you are eating. Your ability to combine the right foods at the right time is important. I used to believe as long as I was eating something healthy I was doing well. Not true! Steel cuts oats are great, for example. Should you have just that for breakfast in the morning? No. Consider these combinations as better options.

A serving of steel-cut oats, 3 egg whites, a few slices of avocado

A serving of steel cut oats, one serving of nonfat Greek yogurt, a small handful of natural almonds

A serving of steel cuts oats, 1 scoop of protein powder, flax seed and one serving of berries

3) You need to hydrate yourself. Thirst often masks itself as hunger. Drink water throughout the day. The side effects of hydration are numerous and sometimes we don’t even realize that we are dehydrated. What helps? Invest in a water bottle or cup with a lid and straw.  Keep that with you and fill it up regularly. Every time you find yourself in a place that serves or offer you water take it.

4) Include vegetables. With your snacks include a vegetable. Carrots are easily able to be packed and add a crunch to your diet. Snap peas are tasty. Adding things like bell peppers and mushrooms to your breakfast isn’t that hard. You can also throw spinach in smoothies and sometimes not even notice it’s there. Veggies help you fill up and offer a wide variety of nutrients.

Focusing daily on eating regularly and combining the right foods will help curb your cravings and prevent you from eating foods you will later regret.  Please feel free to share combinations of foods that work for you.  I’m always looking for new ideas to incorporate in my diet!