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Going in Circles

For almost 19 years, I’ve been working on my body. I’ve lost and maintained a 100 pound loss with the help of healthy eating, exercise, and endless support from loved ones.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever fully processed what I accomplished, and truthfully I don’t know that I ever well, either. The truth is, when you have a lot to lose, the mental side of weight loss feels more challenging than the physical… at least most days.

My loose skin will never allow me to sport a “tight, toned” anything. And sometimes I’m OK with that, despite the fact that so much of the media out there tells me that I need to take care of that problem- there’s a pill/exercise/program/surgery for that. I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t seriously considered some of these options. I always imagined that when I reached my “goal weight,” I’d finally be just like all the others- skinny, tan, perfect hair, clear skin, and a fast metabolism…

ha.

I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t ALWAYS work out that way. I’ve been told 1000+ times to lift weights so my skin will firm. To do crunches so I will finally have abs.

And I’ve tried, to no avail. To be honest, lifting weight and crunches haven’t ever been attractive to me. I’ve given them their fair shot, and they still make my workout routine on a yearly basis, but I find myself bored and unable to stick with it. I like my walking and elliptical time- and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about exercising, it’s that I MUST listen to my body/mind when I’m struggling to get into any sort of exercise. If you’re stuck, I encourage you to find what you enjoy and go with that- it’ll keep you going much stronger/longer. Some people like to torture themselves with exercise… but that’s just not for me.

I used to apologize for my routine, but I’m realizing more and more that the best thing to hear is : You’re doing it right. You are moving, so you are doing it right. Change when you’re ready, but for now love what you do and most importantly… love YOU!

 

 

Winter: You WIN.

I’m going nuts. (Like, even more crazy than the norm.)

This winter is breaking my will. Yesterday I did so many “laps” around my house trying to find something to occupy my time that I started crying- CRYING!! After a series of questions from my husband and tissues, we determined that I’m stir crazy and just tired of being so cold.all.the.time. (Seems like a logical reason to cry, amIright?!)

My story is not unique. I think pretty much all have nearly reached breaking points in what has turned out to be a long, polar-vortex-ridden winter. It’s March and we’re still waking up to ridiculous-below-zero temperatures.

My friends… as much as we hate to hear it, to think it, or to believe it… we must press on and hold on to hope that warmer weather is on its way. And not just a “temporary warm up,” I’m talking about lasting above zero temps. In the meantime, I think it’s important that we take care of ourselves and each other.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, and perhaps even more prominent this year. People suffering from SAD often feel tired, moody, or depressed for a length of time on an annual basis. It’s more common to see SAD around the winter months, but it may also be experienced in Spring/Summer. Treatments include light therapy, psychotherapy, and medications.

If you aren’t diagnosed with SAD, you might still feel the symptoms (and if you’re like me, you can add stir crazy and anxious to the list). This is the part where taking good care of yourself becomes really important:

  • Drink plenty of water to keep flushing out your body and avoid dehydration. Establish and then keep a consistent sleep schedule- even on the weekends (make sure it’s enough).
  • Fruits and vegetables are also an important part of staying healthy; vitamins and minerals from these foods will help you- inside and out, head to toe.
  • Get off the couch and MOVE. When it’s -50 outside, the last thing anyone wants to do is jump in the car and go workout, but trust me on this one: just get there. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to take a days off because of the cold, but I can tell you I’ve never regretted going. I’ve also “treated” myself to some new workout DVDs (dancing ones are my favorite, because we’re all dance stars in our living rooms) for those days where it is absolutely impossible to go anywhere (we’ve had our share of those as well).
  • Do what delights you. Find your creative outlet and go wild. I’ve gotten quite a few puzzles put together this winter, and I couldn’t be more excited every time I open up a new one. (And if puzzles don’t scream “go wild,” I’m not sure that anything does!)
  • Think positive. I know, this is one of thee HARDEST things to do when you live in a place where it hurts to breathe… but do your best. Surely there are GOOD things in your life that give you reason to be thankful and smile? If not- look harder.
  • Make sure you are keeping in contact with the people who make you happy. Find fun reasons to get together and laugh (gym dates? trying a new sport like cross country skiing using equipment from the Outpost? lunch dates? book club?). Talk about life, or the Olympics, or the latest award show, or whatever you enjoy. Even though I’m a self-proclaimed social butterfly, there have been long spurts of time in the past few months when I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone besides my husband and our dog- and even that was a struggle. In those moments, I’ve been thankful for the gentle nudges and lunch dates with friends and family- something that I could look forward to.

I’ve given you a few things to help you get through the final stretch of this crazy winter we’ve been having…

Now tell me: What would You add to the list?

 

I don’t do Change. Well, maybe.

I am a creature of habit, and a craver of routine.

I find ways to make peace and feel balanced in my day-to-day, and when it “works,” I stick to it.

I’ve heard over and over that it’s better to “mix it up” at the gym, but I was hesitant. I like my elliptical- it’s safe, it’s predictable, and I can watch all of my crappy reality TV shows while working out.

This winter brought a few “bubbles” in my routine- via blizzards, vacations, and boredom.

The first time the Wellness Center closed because of weather, my heart dropped. It was totally throwing off my routine and I had no clue what to do. (I realize that this sounds totally ridiculous now, but I’m not known for always being real “mellow.”) I decided to dust on my Zumba DVDs and get my groove on.

AND IT WAS FUN!

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I’ve made a commitment to staying healthy, and until it’s nice enough to hit the ski trails or go for a walk outdoors, I have to continue finding ways to keep my word.

As this seemingly-never-ending winter continues, my elliptical boredom is starting to set in. I decided to dust off another set of DVDs I had yet to even open after purchasing them over a year ago. Well, the new DVDs KICKED.MY.BUTT (and I like to think I’m in pretty good shape)! We’re talking dripping sweat in 1/2 the time of my machine routine. Not only that, but I was hurting the next morning- a great indication that I was effectively working out.

I started thinking about why it took me so long to open the package of those new workout DVDs. The answer rang loud and clear:

Change.

I struggle with it. It might be uncomfortable, or hard, or not as safe, or unsuccessful…

But seriously, who cares? If I fail, I will just have to find another way. And if you never try, you’ll never know.

So tell me, how are YOU going to shake up your healthy lifestyle routine this month?

High Five?!

Let’s face it;

sometimes you just.don’t.want.to.go.

You know- to the gym.

The thought of changing your clothes, tying your shoes, putting your hair in a ponytail, driving/walking to the building… it’s all too much. And sitting on your couch watching the latest episode of Real Housewives seems way easier and probably more fun.

I recently suffered a “don’t-want-to-go” day. The weather is changing, and it’s borderline perfect for outdoor activity/must go back indoors to work out. What’s a person to do?

When I get into a rut, I try a few different things to get unstuck:

  1. Change into gym clothes as soon as I get home. No in-between sweats. Straight for the real stuff.
  2. Pick a time you’re going to leave. And then STICK to it. No excuses, even if it means setting an alarm. Sometimes I’ll plan for a time that will get me there just in time to tune into a favorite show.
  3. Switch up your routine. Do you always run on the treadmill for 1/2 hour regardless? Maybe you need to add a little biking, weight lifting, or even some intervals to the mix. You can really go on a ledge and take a class (Zumba is one of my favorites) or join intramural team or even try your hand at the rock wall.
  4. Call a friend and make a gym date. If you cannot go at the same time, just let them know when you’re going to keep each other accountable.
  5. Get some new music and save it for the gym.
  6. Psych yourself up! Dance around the house as you are leaving for the gym. It’s time to CELEBRATE GOOD HEALTH!
  7. … and finally, remember how good you feel after you finish a workout. If you go with a friend, end with a high five. ESPECIALLY on the toughest days. Every bit of effort is something! (Full disclosure: on more than one instance I’ve been tempted to run around and high five people at the gym who look like they would like to be anywhere else but at the gym. So if I ever run up to you with my hand in the air, you know why.)

As the weather gets colder, it’ll get easier and easier to talk yourself out of a workout. Start your mental training TODAY by developing an exciting routine; and keep it fun, fresh, and full of HIGH FIVES!

high-5

The best kind of Therapy.

Do you ever get so lost in your own thoughts that when you “come to” you struggle to put the pieces together, like how much time has passed, maybe how far you’ve ventured from home, how you could’ve possibly missed the ringing of your phone?

This happens to me. A lot. It’s almost always brought on by the same things:
exercise + good music + nature.

I swear I go into a trance.

I was out on the Greenway one day and actually jumped as a person passed me in the other lane. I was thinking about life, about love, about people… and all of a sudden a girl jogged past me and my rollerblades literally left the pavement.

Oh- Hello there, Reality!

Sometimes life sucks. It just does. You do really bad on a test, your car breaks down, your hair won’t work, you sleep through a big meeting, you get into a fight with a loved one, your morning coffee is now down the front of your shirt, you lose your pet… the rain just won’t seem to quit!

In those moments, I get a choice. In those moments, I have become totally and completely aware of the choice I get to make. This awareness has resulted mainly because of a 16+ year food battle.
1. I can eat my way through the emotions. I can quiet those voices that used to tell me it was the only way and listen to the ones that tell me I’m worth so much more than an entire package of cookies and the guilt that ensues.
2. I can explode on some unlucky recipient because it just becomes too much to hold in. “I SAID NO ONIONS ON MY SANDWICH, HOW DARE YOU?!” Ridiculous… right?!
3. I can lace up my shoes, grab my iPod, and cover some ground. (My family jokes that I am the “philosopher” of the bunch- I love quotes and emotions and talking and people.) I’ve discovered that my Greenway visits fill my soul like nothing else. There have been times when I’ve walked for over 4 hours without even realizing it- just thinking about life. When I return home, almost Army crawling because my legs have had it, I feel refreshed (and usually really thirsty)! 

Whether it’s walking, running, rollerblading, biking, lifting weights, playing tennis, shooting some hoops, joining a kickboxing class, or whatever else gets you up and off the couch and clearing the clouds out of your mind… Just do it. Trust me. You’ll feel so much better mentally, physically, and emotionally when you finish; the best kind of therapy.

a quickie

This week has been CRAZY-busy. I had no clue what day it was (until Friday, of course), and the only reason I knew the time was because my faithful cell phone kept telling me where I needed to be with each alarm.

I decided at the beginning of the week that I would do my best with working out and just be at peace with where ever that ended up. (This is hard for me to accept sometimes.)

I finally had a chance to get my hair done (first time since OCTOBER! I KNOW- I WAS DESPERATE.) 3 hours later, I emerged feeling confident and ready to conquer the world.

It was nearly 9pm (practically my bedtime) and I was closer to the Wellness Center than my house. I decided that I would stop for JUST 20 MINUTES- that’s it. Piece of cake. 

Normally I have a very “all or nothing” mentality with exercise- if I can’t get the full time in for some reason my brain deems it as pointless.

Not that night. I ended up going for just over a half hour, and it felt great!! I walked out of there with my sweaty new hair ‘do and a big smile on my face.

Your workout doesn’t have to take hours, or even a full hour. It doesn’t have to take place in the gym. Just get off your toosh and MOVE!

Remember that every minute counts.
Your heart and mind will thank you!

That is correct!

Brick Wall Reminders

Finals are just around the corner, and even though I’ve graduated from college already, I still have nightmares of the last push to Christmas break occasionally.

The truth is, no matter what stage of life we find ourselves in, it’s important to remember that we have limits, and we must act accordingly.

Remember when I told you that I recently moved back for a new job and new adventure?  I still love being back in Grand Forks. And I still love what I get to do at my job every day… but I recently learned that there are moments when I might fall off Cloud 9.

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For the most part, my job keeps me very, very busy. And because I love what I do, I think about it… almost all of the time. And because I’m a very “do it now and get it done” kind of person, I catch myself even sending emails in my sleep. The truth is, it doesn’t bother me… or so I thought.

Ever since my accident, I’ve started a downhill-spiral-caught-in-a-snowball-toward-a-tree kind of thing. It wasn’t necessarily that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things kept happening to me, I was just extra sensitive to the every day things that just sort of “happen.” Because I was busy reacting, my head was in a fog, and I started to just numbly coast toward Thanksgiving.

I was working out last Monday. A meeting went later than expected, so I missed a class I wanted to attend (another layer on the snowball). I decided to do some running/walking around the track… and the running part felt so good: I was FREE! Eventually I finished and started stretching. When I stopped, my racing mind caught up with me, and… so did the tears. Luckily I was sweating enough that the tears weren’t too noticeable (at least in my own mind). But as soon as I went outside into the fresh air it hit me like a ton of bricks.

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I’m not sure what “it” was, but it made breathing difficult. So I did what every daughter in distress does: call home. I talked to my dad about the Sing-Off, the weather, the upcoming vacation, and just about anything else that he could think of to distract me. Eventually that suffocating feeling passed, but sleep was the furthest thing from my mind.

I made it to the long weekend, and “home.” I slept 2-3 times longer than I had in weeks, turned off my phone, and laughed with loved ones. I ate good food (but not until I was sick), made sure I snuck in physical activity at least once a day, helped Christmas puke all over our house come alive through decorations, and enjoyed the simplicity of life for a few days.

As I was driving back at the end of the long weekend, I started to think about what led me to those tears while I was stretching. The truth is, I was trying to do too much. The lack of focus resulted from trying to think of too many things. I was so busy trying to be one step ahead I was tripping over the imaginary hurdles right in front of me.  I hit my brick wall of reality.

WORKINGSPIRIT wrote about the importance of slowing down a few weeks ago, and I just have to say “ditto.” After a few days of slowing down, I feel refreshed and ready for the week ahead- finally.

As you approach the finish line- whether it’s in the form of tests, papers, projects, meetings, tasks, or anything else that is in front of you, make sure that you take care of yourself and pay attention to what you need. Set aside one hour to hit the Wellness Center for some activity; it will leave you feeling refreshed, happier, less stressed, and and sleeping better. Even though you’re surrounded by some pretty amazing(ly rich) foods, enjoy them in moderation; healthier choices  give you energy, make you feel better about yourself, and sleep better too. Sleep enough- 7 to 8 hours at least every night- that means you may have to make a schedule and stick to it. Being tired won’t help your thought process. Know that it’s OK to talk to someone if you need too (being honest with loved ones helps me tremendously).

Although You are pretty darn amazing, it’s good to know your limits and respect yourself by respecting those boundaries.

Best of luck as you enter the week (and the challenges) ahead!

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