Food for Fuel, Physical Activity for Stress Reduction

Hi Friends! Thank you for your patience as I’ve been silent for quite some time now!

Remember we discussed being patient with ourselves and not being too hard on ourselves when we take a break from our daily fitness routines or healthy eating? It’s so important to avoid negative self talk and be kind to yourself. Celebrate the days or moments when you do something healthy and good for yourself!

PHEW! These past 7 or 8 weeks have been quite a challenge for me. I have exercised less in the past 8 weeks than I would have thought ever possible! Thankfully, I am continuing to fuel my body with healthy food. While I’m adjusting to a new work routine my fitness routine has suffered. I feel conflicted with this new reality because my job is to walk, talk, eat, and breathe health and wellness. Anyway, I’m back at it and moving forward! I felt so AWESOME yesterday after teaching a Zumba class and then going to my own gym to swim laps! Amazing how much a bit of physical activity can help melt the stress away!

I recently came across a headline about the cabbage soup diet. Any of you ever tried the cabbage soup diet? I have definitely made a pot of cabbage soup in the past. A few times, I used the cabbage soup diet to “jump start” whatever new diet I was trying. I don’t recall getting past the first few of days of the diet because it is very restrictive around what else one can eat. I believe the number of calories allowed for this diet was no match for the number of calories needed for my fitness routine. I wasn’t fueling my body the way I should have been, resulting in feeling lethargic and blah. I am curious how many others have tried this diet in the past and how it made your body feel?

I am currently practicing intentional eating, this effort is a work in progress. The idea around intentional eating is learning not only which but also the perfect amount of nutritious foods I should eat that will provide me enough energy to meet my mental and physical needs. Every day I start off with the intention to feed my body nutritious foods that will give me the most bang for my buck! To me, eating with intention seems so much less limiting than a week of cabbage soup. Intentional eating is all about the choices I make. I choose if the food is good or bad for me. How I feel after eating the food is my meter for whether or not I want to eat that type of food again.

My intentional eating effort has taken me to a place I never thought possible. Most days, I feel pretty great. I am learning that the more “whole” the food is, the better I feel. It has taken me quite some time to get to a place where I replace a fast food stop with a bag of mixed nuts and a cut up apple stored in the console of my car. Don’t worry the apple hasn’t been there for days. I have learned that food that is overly processed makes me feel unwell (ie. lethargic, nauseated). On occasion, I’ll begin to crave fast food or packaged, processed food and I make a choice to either eat it or not. When I eat it, I intentionally notice how it makes me feel. If the food makes me feel unwell, then I store that feeling in my memory in hopes that I will avoid eating that type of food the next time.

Take a moment and recall how eating sugary foods makes you feel? I bet your initial reaction is that sugar makes you feel pretty darn good! Yes, of course the body’s initial reaction to sugar is a beautiful, wonderful, and pleasurable experience. Now get past that moment of happiness and elation, what happens next? My personal experience is that my brain is like OH YEAH GIVE ME MORE but when I polish off the MORE I don’t feel like I did when I took the first bite. My body is building up a tolerance to the sugar. If my body is more tolerant then this means it takes more sugar to get that same initial feeling.

Now recall how you feel after you engage in physical activity. First, envision what activity you are doing? Are you working out at the gym, going for a walk or bike ride outside, participating in a fitness class, or swimming? How does this activity make your body and mind feel? After you get past the part of “exercising”, I bet you also feel pretty darn good?! Your brain is releasing endorphins to help squash your stress level as well as producing proteins that help reduce anxiety and depression levels and increase cognitive function.

Yesterday morning I was feeling pretty down. I was definitely in a funk and have been in one for several weeks now. I went to work to finish up some things I didn’t get to earlier in the week. I had a feeling of chest tightness and my outlook on the day and future days was very abysmal. I have felt for the past several weeks that my level of physical activity is not sufficient. Anyway yesterday, I made an intentional choice to change my behavior. I first taught a Zumba class. MAN!! do you have any idea how I felt during and after that Zumba class? I felt like I was on cloud 9!!! Then once I got home (still feeling AWESOME) I asked my husband if he’d like to go to the gym. We went swimming! Again, I felt so AWESOME! My body new exactly what to do!

How do I feel today? HAHAHAHAHAHA! Well I definitely feel SORE! But that’s okay! I will go for a run today because the sun is shining and all is right in my world! I will be intentional today for the health of it!!! Be well my friends!

 

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Are Your Wellness goals “on hold”?

It’s mid-February, how many of you are still working towards your New Year’s resolutions? I recently asked one of my friends if she has any New Year’s resolutions. She told me that instead of having resolutions, she has a list of things she either intends on doing more or less of depending on the if the item is viewed as good/bad for her. I was very impressed by her response.

For years, I have made a list of New Year’s resolutions. I rarely made it past the month of February with my lofty goals towards wellness. I am sure there are a lot of contributing factors to why I rarely achieved my New Year’s resolutions. Thinking of a goal I wanted to achieve was my first step, however, I don’t think I ever came up with a full plan on how I would achieve my goal. I didn’t have a solid plan which made it difficult to execute the steps because I didn’t know what the steps should be.

Fast forward to today, I,  like my friend, do not make a list of resolutions. Instead, I have a running list of things that contribute to my overall wellness. My plan is to try to include a few of the things on my list in my everyday life. I choose simple things such as eating dark leafy greens and other vegetables and fruit everyday. Some days are better than others, but it’s a goal and I make an effort to execute that goal every day. Luckily, the steps to my plan are very easy. Step One: I need to make sure I buy fruits and vegetables every week. Step Two: I need to make sure I put those fruits and vegetables in my mouth everyday! Sometimes I plan dinners around this, sometimes I plan daily snacks around this.

Another goal I have is to take 10,000 steps a day. That used to be really easy before I started a new career a few weeks ago. I used to teach several fitness classes a week and this was how I knew I was going to achieve my goal on most days! Now, if I don’t achieve my step goal then my husband and I go out for a walk very late in the evening. On a few days in these past three weeks, I haven’t quite met my goal and it’s disappointing to me because it used to be so much easier to achieve. Now I have to work a little harder in order to get this done.

The path to our wellness journey appears to have a lot of forks in the road, sometimes there even appears to be hard stops or dead ends. I am with you, I completely understand and I am here to say, don’t give in to the dead end! Persevere my friends! You owe it to yourself to dig out and move on! Let me tell you, this is the first time in a very long time that I feel as though I am letting my wellness goals hibernate. I’m working 10 hour days combined with an hour commute on both sides of my work-day and I also work on the weekends too. Gone are the days where I could wake up, walk down stairs grab my coffee, and then walk down more stairs into my basement and begin my work day (full time work at home project coordinator was my previous role). Anyway, I am IN LOVE with my new career as a Director of Healthy Living, but I feel as though I need to get back to practicing what I preach. And let me be clear, my food goals are all still going strong, it’s the fitness piece that has been lacking these past couple of weeks. And for me, being physically active most days of the week is what I do to relieve stress.

My fitness journey has hit a fork in the road. As I have mentioned before, I have a great support system at home. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and support person and I am very blessed to have him on my side. Keeping this in mind, I am also his biggest cheerleader and support person. The fork in the road exists because my personal preference to get my fitness activities done early in the AM and his personal preference is to get his fitness activities done in the evening. If I switch my fitness schedule, I lose my partner and so does he. I’m sure there is a compromise here, we just have to work together to figure out what that looks like. I mention this because I believe we all have what we feel are very good reasons for putting our wellness goals “on hold”. Are you actively trying to find a solution? I know I am because it’s important to me!

“LEARN THE WISDOM OF COMPROMISE, FOR IT IS BETTER TO BEND  A LITTLE THAN TO BREAK” . by Jane Wells

I challenge you to think about any new or old wellness goals. Be kind to yourself and reevaluate where you are and where you may want to go. Create goals that are achievable. Create easy steps to get to that goal. For example, if you have a general goal of weight loss, you should think about what are the things you are willing to do in order to lose weight. Then outline the steps (either on paper or in your head) on each of those items. The more specific you are with your plan will allow you to understand where you may find forks in the road or dead ends in your plan. For example, if you add “eat Kale every day” as one of the things you are going to do to contribute to weight loss, but you don’t particularly like Kale, then it may be a difficult to achieve that part of our goal. It’s all about being thoughtful and realistic. Remember to be present in your every day! Yesterday is over, you may have not been perfect, but if you gave it a go then recognize yesterday for what it was and worry about today! Be honest with yourself about how you’re doing but try to remove any negative self talk. You are a beautiful person. You got this!! Holla if you need a cheerleader!!!!

Be well my friends! I’m thinking of you as you are working towards your overall wellness!

Accumulation of Wellness

About 8 weeks ago, I registered for a half marathon. I am on the airplane travelling to Arizona to run this half marathon. The race is tomorrow and it will be the third half marathon I have ran. My daughter reminded me that after I run tomorrow I will have run one and a half marathons. I kind of like the ring to that. This made me think that my running can be thought of an accumulation of miles over time and I don’t have to do them all at once to receive credit for my hard work. And if I can apply this thought to running, can’t I actually apply it to other things in my life I am doing to contribute to my wellness?

My usual M.O. is to prepare a 12 week training plan to run a half marathon. My plan would include not only running 2 to 3 days per week, but also cross-training to include spinning, swimming, dance fitness and strength training. I waited to sign up for this race because I wanted to make sure I had the funds to travel. I chose a race that is over a thousand miles away from home so that I could run with my sister! This will be our first half marathon we have ever ran together. I have run shorter distance races with my sister, the most memorable race being the Krispy Kreme challenge. The Krispy Kreme challenge is a 5 mile run with a pitstop at mile 2.5 to chow down 12 donuts and you must finish the race in under one hour. YES, I actually made it in under one hour, but eating 12 donuts in one sitting is gross! It actually cured me of my love of donuts. Anyway, so here I go, off to Arizona to run a half with my sister after only 8 weeks of training. I am nervous because this past week I really didn’t run the long miles I intended to and I also didn’t really cross-train either.

So let’s get back to the thoughtful remark my daughter made, after I run this race, I will have run one and a half marathons which is 78.6 miles of racing (just half marathons). This number of miles doesn’t include the many other 5k’s and 10k’s I have completed. It also doesn’t include all the training miles I put in to compete in each of those races. I have been running since the early 2000s, so I guess this means I have almost 20 years of running under my belt.

So what else do I do that has accumulated over time to contribute to my wellness? I have changed my eating habits. I have spent numerous hours attending yoga classes and a number of hours dedicated towards meditation. I have joined spiritual groups that are christian and non-christian based. I have worked towards career growth and being a better mother, wife, and friend. I believe all of the hours, minutes, and seconds I have dedicated towards making myself a healthier person have all accumulated over time. I should take a moment to celebrate those victories no matter how small some of them are.

So what about you? Will you buy into this accumulation of wellness? Will you stop and think about some of your small victories? Are you practicing being present in every single day of your life? Are you looking back to yesterday and regretting something you ate, exercise you didn’t do, a communication exchange you had with one of your loved ones? Are you looking back to yesterday and thinking of anything that may have gone well? I think we should spend most of our time celebrating our achievements. We should recognize our areas of opportunities and then celebrate the actions we took to improve ourselves.

I know I am going to go to that race tomorrow and give it all I have! I plan to celebrate even the short 8 weeks I took to train, I did it! The training was not easy. Just like changing the types of food we put in our body is not easy. Remember, the things that are hard to achieve is the good stuff! Take some time and celebrate all of your victories related to your health and wellness! You deserve it! Be well my friends!

Series: Before I learned how to live healthily – the first diet – TOPS

I asked a friend of mine what she would like to see on this blog page. She mentioned that it might be interesting to learn about the many diets I have tried and the outcome. That topic seemed like a pretty good idea, especially this time of year when everyone is realigning their health goals.

When I was young, my mom joined the TOPS weight loss group. TOPS stands for “take off pounds sensibly”. My mom’s journey into weight loss with her TOPS group is where my journey of the weight loss world begins. It’s fair to say I was influenced at this time in my life by the way my mom was not only changing her lifestyle but also her diet and consequently our diet as well. My mom added brisk walking as an evening exercise and sometimes I would join her for her trip down to the corner and back, which I believe was about a mile and a half of walking. She also altered her diet and it seemed all the food in our home was now either a low fat or fat free food product (especially for those packaged products such as sour cream and yogurt). I remember eating a lot of “baked” potatoes (cooked in the microwave, of course, this was the 1980’s) with fat free sour cream and don’t forget the salsa.

Let’s be clear, I was not actually “dieting” in the 1980’s, I was a kid somewhere between the age of 8 and 13 years old. I was old enough to be aware my mom was trying to lose weight. My family had never eaten fat free anything up to that point in my life as far as I knew, so this new journey my mom was on was of interest to me and my siblings. We went from pouring vegetable oil in the bottom of the pan to cook our eggs to instead using PAM cooking spray. We starting using skim milk for our cereal. I believe all of the changes my mom made to her diet and activity level made a difference for her and she did lose weight.

Looking further into the fat free phenomenon, I learned more about why fat free foods became so popular and how it affected the American population. At this time, men (and women) were dying prematurely due to cardiovascular disease. Over consumption of fatty foods was one of the things researchers found correlated with being diagnosed with heart disease. U.S. Dietary guidelines were influenced as a result of this research. The dietary guidelines recommended less fat (ie. meat, eggs, and dairy) and more carbohydrates (ie. whole grains, vegetables, and fruit). The message many people received from these new guidelines is that fat (all types) is a killer and carbohydrates are our friend. A new era of fat free products were born. The article below explains a little more about how we (the population of America) actually became fatter and  more diabetic due to this new way of eating.

Why We Got Fatter During The Fat-Free Food Boom

Packaged fat-free foods typically contain more sugar than the fatty versions of the same food. Sugar may have been added in these products to compensate for the taste of having less fat. I think one of the reasons (and there are many) that I have an affinity for sugar rich foods certainly stems from this carb eating craze during an impressionable time in my life. Reducing the amount of foods with added sugar has definitely been a challenge for me over the years. Luckily, there’s not a shortage of low carb diets that were introduced in the late 90s’ and early 2000s’ that helped me reduce my sugar intake (at least for a short period of time).

Back to where this all started, my mom and TOPS. I think the benefit of the TOPS group my mom joined was having group support. The group met in a safe place and weighed in and shared recipes and helped one another if they were struggling and congratulated one another when they were doing well. I believe the group encouraged physical activity as a way to lose weight. These are all very positive things that seemed to have made a positive impact on my mom’s life while she was active in the group.

Today, I still believe that having someone to support you in your physical activity and weight loss goals is very important. Although, we don’t always find that support where we first look. It’s very natural to first look at your significant other and family members (kids even) for support when you are trying to be a healthier you. When we can’t find support at home, perhaps look to a friend at the office or gym. If you prefer a larger group, then there are plenty of groups out there to help support your goals. Think broadly, these groups can include: running groups, overeaters anonymous, TOPS, weight watchers, and other types of fitness peer support groups.

Remember to stay true to yourself when achieving your health goals, take care of you, Also, young eyes are watching you so be kind to yourself and avoid negative self talk. Love yourself no matter what! One bad day doesn’t have to be the end of a lot of really great days! Be well my friends and stay tuned for the next “diet” review.

 

 

 

 

Skipping Workouts! Activity Breaks to avoid “Death by Desk”! Hot Peaches!

Hey friends! So sorry I have disappeared for a couple of weeks! I’ve been busy working on myself and learning about how to be the best leader I can be!

I read this really interesting article today about what happens to your body when you skip the gym. My husband and I took a week off from our regular workouts last week. I know that from a strength training point of view, any new gains diminish quickly when you skip workouts for a period of time. The link to the article above explains that idea a bit more clearly. Basically, we all need a break from time to time. Be sure you listen to your body, it usually will tell you when it needs a break (ex. muscle soreness >72 hours, fatigue, illness).  Your body also tells you when you need to stop slacking (ex. you can’t sleep, mind is racing, stiffness from lack of exercise). Anyway if you’re interested in about gains and losses when skipping workouts you should click the link above and read more about it.

The next thing I read about, a friend of mine posted on social media, is a website where a guy is offering short exercise bouts throughout your work day to avoid “death by desk“. There is a ton of information and research now linking health problems with a sedentary lifestyle. Many of us whom have office jobs are at risk of developing early health problems due to our lack of moving around throughout the day. Since I’m not super fast about posting my activity breaks, click the “death by desk” link for additional ideas (probably much less embarrassing than what I am rooting for you to do :))!

And last but not least, HOT PEACHES! Yes, you heard me, HOT PEACHES! I can’t even explain to you how simply delicious HOT PEACHES are! It’s like a dessert like no other! We bought peaches over the summer and cut them off the pit and froze them. I thawed a bag in the fridge and decided to heat them up a little and add a little plain yogurt to them. That tastes pretty good, but even better is HOT PEACHES with raw whole oats poured over them. Mix them up and BAM you seriously have the yummiest snack ever! No sugar required! It’s sweet and delicious and makes you feel like you’re cheating, but you’re not! You’re just eating the yummiest thing ever!

Be well my friends and have the happiest of Holidays and New Year!

 

Exercise and eat well because it’s good for your mind, body and spirit

Ever since I was in middle school I wanted to be an active person. I wanted to play sports but wasn’t necessarily gifted in any of them, no matter, I still wanted to remain active. I didn’t care that I played on the “B” team for volleyball or that I had to be the “base” in cheerleading because I wasn’t tiny enough to be on the top of the pyramid or that in high school I always was placed in lane 1 or 6 for each race (this is where the slower swimmers swam). I also didn’t care that I wasn’t the best dancer at the studio or the best gymnast. I really only cared that I was able to participate in these activities. I knew I was never destined to be a super talented athlete and that was okay because I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment of participating in the sport.

When I first attended college, I attended a community college. I took a lot of dance, swimming, and fitness related courses because those are the subjects I was interested in. I took a group exercise fitness instructor course when I was 20. At this time in my life, I wasn’t the best student. Although I passed the fitness instructor course, I failed the certification test. I didn’t even buy the book for the class so it’s no wonder I didn’t pass the certification test. I still enjoyed being active at this time in my life and took up running, roller-blading, and gym going. I know “gym going” sounds a bit strange, but honestly I did not grow up with a family gym membership. Our family gym was outside in the fresh air riding our bikes and playing baseball in the side yard.

I wasn’t very consistent about staying active and having a good level of fitness through my twenties and early thirties, even though it added a lot of benefit to my life. When I’m active I feel better, look better and sleep better. My quality of life is better! Even knowing that it was always difficult for me to prioritize fitness in my life in the wake of kids, a job, a husband, and a household. It’s so much easier to skip a workout and do the dishes or grab some downtime with my husband while the kids are FINALLY sleeping!

I’ve learned over time that by taking the easier path I am actually doing myself a HUGE disservice. And it turns out that it’s not easier to skip the work out. If I skip the workout, I don’t sleep well which effects my work and my patience with my family and I feel like a blob and my clothes don’t fit and my mood is sour.

In my early thirties, I took that group exercise fitness course again. This time I studied hard and I passed! I’ve been teaching fitness classes ever since. I was not very healthy and definitely not very fit when I first started teaching classes. But year after year I have upped my game. I cross-train. I run, bike, lift weights, dance, swim, hike, and roller-blade.

Progress in the weight loss category had been slow and I never understood why until I began my graduate degree in Kinesiology. All this time, I’ve been working out and trying to lose weight and I couldn’t understand why my workouts weren’t allowing me to progress to that smaller pant size. Then one day in one of my classes all of us in the room found out that exercise alone does not guarantee you will lose weight!!! What? I’ve based my entire life and career on something that isn’t what I thought it was! So disappointing! I’ve been working out like a crazy woman to lose that last 5 pounds and found out that it’s really my habit of polishing my plate and then having seconds that was the problem!

I know it sounds ridiculous that I hadn’t come to the realization before. How did I not understand calories in vs. calories out? I truly believed that if I worked out most days and ate normally that I would lose weight. What I didn’t know or pay attention to was the fact that most likely I was eating more because I was burning more calories which meant I was at a net zero. I wasn’t gaining or losing either. It’s so common to not even realize that we eat more when we are exercising to make up for the calories burned.

Those that come to my fitness classes always ask me how they can get flat tummies or toned booties and if spot reduction is possible. They want to know that by attending my class that not only will they lose weight but that the weight will come off from the areas of their bodies that they see as flawed. When I tell them the hard truth, that weight loss will begin when they are thoughtful and careful about the food they eat in addition to the physical activity, they seem discouraged. And believe me, I understand that feeling! I can totally relate! Being mindful about the food we eat AND exercising seems like a LOT of things to tackle all at once.

I part with these words my friends, participate in physical activity and eat well because it’s good for your mind, body and spirit. Love yourself and nourish your body with the nutrients from the earth. Choose convenient foods carefully, a banana is just as easy as a bag of chips. A cheese-stick and an apple will provide you protein and energy to kick-start your day. Be kind to yourself through your wellness journey. I know we all don’t need to lose weight but we all should take care of bodies so that our quality of life as we age can be sound! Be well my friends!

A dozen donuts will do ya!

I used to absolutely LOVE donuts! Long johns, powdered, jelly filled, chocolate covered, glazed twists – I did not discriminate – I loved pretty much every flavor but plain! And let’s be honest, if a plain donut was the only kind left in the box, I’d eat it! I’m not quite sure what the draw is to donuts? Yeast, dough, sugar, frosting, sprinkles? I’m not sure if it really matters what drew me to them, what mattered most was how the heck was I going to kick my donut eating habit?

In an earlier post, I described an office environment (where I worked) that was quite toxic for me! I was very unhappy! Eating was one of the coping techniques I used to help alleviate all the stress at that job. This is the job where I ate two daily lunches and two dinners. And now that I think about it, pretty sure I was eating two breakfasts a day as well. I would often grab a donut on the way to work and then someone else would bring a box of donuts in for the staff! Didn’t all the dieting literature back in the early 2000’s talk about eating 6 small meals a day? So, it was within reason that I was eating two meals for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner (that equals six meals, right?!)! The key was SMALL meals, donuts are small, right?! You can see how easy it was for me to talk myself into eating whatever I wanted as long as it fell within the “guidelines” of the dieting literature, I was fine! Except I wasn’t fine and I kept putting on the pounds and outgrowing all of my clothes!

Fast forward! I eventually started getting back on track and I got a new job and I was able to drop at least 15 of the unwanted pounds I had gained at my toxic job. BUT! I still enjoyed eating donuts. My next job required quite a long drive. So it was easy enough to stop at the local Quality Dairy and pick up a couple of donuts before I headed out on my long commute. Donuts, coffee and a good book on tape (CD) for the plus one hour commute to and from work everyday!

My new job with the long commute was less stressful. I ate a little more healthily and less food as well. As I lost some of the weight, I became more active and started teaching fitness classes. I didn’t quite have the diet right, but I was improving my lifestyle bit by bit. I started running pretty regularly and signing up for 5 and 10k races. My son was a very good runner on his cross country and track team, so I spent a lot of time watching him run as well.

One year, I thought it would be fun to do a “fun run” with my son and some of my other family members. My sister, her daughter, my son, and I all signed up for the Krispy Kreme challenge, a February “race” in North Carolina. Seriously, donuts and running, what could be more fun and tasty? I was so excited for this event! I thought it would be great bonding time with my boy and it would be really fun to have my sister and niece join us! So we all traveled to North Carolina from either Michigan or Arizona and met up for this race.

THE CHALLENGE! So what is the Krispy Kreme challenge? It is a 5 mile run and 12 donuts! You run 2.5 miles, eat 12 donuts (glazed krispy kremes — 2400 calories), and finish the race with another 2.5 miles and you have to do all of this in under 60 minutes!!!! YES, we made it, we ate all the donuts and ran all 5 miles in just under 1 hour! I thought this race was going to be a piece of cake! I also didn’t think eating 12 donuts was going to be a big deal. I LOVED donuts!

The first 6 donuts went down quite easily! The trick is to NOT watch how others are eating! That is super gross! The 7th, 8th, and 9th donut were a bit tougher to swallow, but I got them down. For the 10th, 11th and 12th donuts, I smooshed them together like a sandwich and could barely choke them down! It took me about 9 minutes to eat the 12 donuts! Then I took off for the last 2.5 miles to try to make it to the finish line in under an hour! PHEW! I made it in about 56 minutes!

A quick calorie calculation: I ate 2400 calories and burned roughly 500 from the 5 mile run. This means I was up 1900 calories for the day! EEEK! And I didn’t eat anything of any value! We then proceeded to a lunch spot and downed some chicken wings, pizza, and I think soda too! I may have tried to squeeze a salad in as well, but on the day I was full of starch and sugar!!!!

I’m glad I did the Krispy Kreme challenge. It was nice to spend that time with my family! A great bonding experience for me and my son (did I mention I beat him in the race – this is the one and only time I’ll ever be able to say I beat him in a running race)! Also, I’m really not a huge fan of donuts anymore. After that race, I pretty much never craved donuts again. If my family wanted to get donuts during apple/cider season, I might eat one, but I definitely no longer seek donuts out on the daily!

I’m NOT suggesting you down 12 of anything you’re craving to try and kick your habit. I’m only suggesting that you find a way to challenge yourself to make a better choice.

Be well my friends! Until the next time!

Craving ice cream? Try this instead!

I hope you all are ready for Halloween tomorrow! Did you decide on what treat you might give the kiddo’s in your neighborhood? I haven’t bought the dark chocolate yet because honestly the less time this stuff is in my house, the better. I plan to grab a couple of bags of ghiradelli dark chocolates at lunch tomorrow.

I just went grocery shopping and passed by all the things I really want to stuff my face with and instead came home with a lot of healthy vegetables and fruit to fill my fridge. As I mentioned, I passed by all of the cookies, donuts, rice crispy treats, pies, cakes, and puddings. I was really craving a rice crispy treat, the ones from Whole Foods are HUGE and taste of vanilla and delicious sweetness. So once I got home and put all of the groceries away I decided I should probably have a snack.

I buy plain yogurt (no sugar added) and I always keep a couple of large containers of it on hand. The brand of yogurt I buy is pictured below, it is really creamy and delicious!

sevenstars-1

Organic red grapes are on sale now too! Did you know that red grapes are so sweet that you can almost trick yourself into thinking you are eating candy if you eat a handful in place of the sweets?

THIS RECIPE BELOW IS WHAT I JUST ATE AND I THOUGHT IT WAS EVERY BIT AS GOOD AS ICE CREAM! Try it!

  • 1 cup of plain yogurt
  • 1 bunch of red grapes (add a lot of grapes! these are your natural sweetener)
  • 2 Tbs of raw old fashioned rolled oats (not the quick oat variety)
  • 1 Tbs flaxmeal (you can skip this if you like)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Man oh man! I ate the whole bowl! So delicious! Try the recipe above and tell me what you think.

I will try to post another activity break tomorrow! I hope you all are well and are being kind to yourself! I have a good (long) post coming later this week. Be well my friends!

Puttin’ a “lid” on the CANDY BOWL

candybowlSo every year, the day before Halloween, we make a last minute trip to Walgreens to grab every last bag of candy on the shelf. Of course, our fingers are always crossed that there will still be some snickers and reese’s peanut butter cups waiting for us on the shelves. Every year we have gotten “lucky” and filled our basket with several bags of both. Naturally, we tell ourselves all this candy is for the trick-or-treaters, and we can afford to gobble up only 1 or 2 pieces for ourselves, because we don’t want to run out and have to turn the kids away. However, every year we have a plethora of candy left over. And our kids bring home a ton of candy too!

We tell our kids they can pick out 10 things from their overflowing bags and the rest we will take to work (which now creates the work CANDY BOWL). The kids get away with picking out 20+ items each and then a few extra pieces (like 20) are added to THE CANDY BOWL and the rest we take to work to share with our colleagues (the candy bowl is EVERYWHERE)! And oh by the way, all those left over snickers and reese’s peanut butter cups end up in our home CANDY BOWL too! I mean why not, we might need all those goodies in THE CANDY BOWL in the event of a massive sugar craving! And who wouldn’t have a sugar craving with an enormous, filled to the brim candy bowl chilling in the cupboard? Oh the temptation!

Does the scenario above ring true with any of you? Because this happens every year. We actually tell ourselves each year that we are going to buy less, eat less, and have the kids eat less too. But that darn candy (the sugar) just calls my name! I JUST CAN’T “UN-KNOW” THAT IT’S IN MY CUPBOARD CALLING MY NAME!!! Sooooo I EAT IT! And I EAT A LOT OF IT! And then I feel bad about eating it and in the past have always shamed myself for my candy bowl addiction. This year I’m making a new plan. Of course no more shaming! My health and wellness does not come from negativity! Only love for me today, please!

The pic below = me kissing the CANDY BOWL bye bye!!!

kisscandybowlbyebye

I have recognized what I’ve done in the past and how I want to move forward. From an intellectual standpoint, I understand why I don’t want to fill my body with the food that’s not on my list (Corn chip love and making a list). It took me several months to say “bye bye” to a lot of foods with added sugar. Not like I never eat sugar, or foods with added sugar, but they are not on my list, so I limit them because it doesn’t make me feel well. Intellectualizing is one thing, but that does nothing for me when the candy bowl is chilling in my cupboard and calling my name like a thousand times a second! So this year I’ve come up with another solution.

One of the things on my list is dark chocolate (72% or higher). Dark chocolate is a dessert for me, and I savor the small amount that I do eat (ie. not the entire bar in one sitting anymore). So where am I going with this? I don’t want to buy the usual snickers and reese’s this year. First, I only want to hand out something on my (good) list to the trick-or-treaters, but let’s get real, apples are lame AND the parents will throw them away anyway because they won’t know the source (the crazy health-nut up the street trying to treat us all with health food on Halloween!!!)! Second, I do not want that darn candy bowl lurking in my cupboard calling my name (did I mention I work from home?)! My hand will be in that bowl at a minimum of five times a day. Then I will research how many squats/lunges/sit-ups/long-runs I have to do to negate the calories!

PS. Mom if you’re reading this, I always let my kids keep and eat the apples you gave them on Halloween (and I never thought of you as the crazy lady on the street for handing out health food on Halloween)!!!

So this year I’ve decided to be the crazy lady up the street handing out dark chocolate (72%) squares. If I have some left over, I refuse to add it to THE CANDY BOWL. In fact this year, I’m skipping the candy bowl all together. I’ll leave the dark chocolate in the bags I buy it in. For any unopened bag, I plan to return it to the store. For the open bag, I will leave it in the cupboard and use as my dark chocolate treat when I feel the need. I appreciate the rich flavor of the dark chocolate and savor even just a square. I don’t go crazy with it, so it’s safe in my home and also as mentioned above it’s on my list.

As far as my kids go, we’ve already discussed that they can go trick-or-treating and they should have fun doing so. We are letting them keep 10 pieces this year (for real! no overages). They can eat their candy as quickly or slowly as they like. As for the rest, well what should we do? Any ideas, please leave me a comment. Having my husband take it to work doesn’t seem like a great option because it creates the CANDY BOWL scenario at work for his co-workers. I want people to be healthy and well and bringing them all the treats I don’t want my family to eat isn’t helping them be well.

Be well my friends! I hope you find a health”ier” treat to serve up to your trick-or-treaters this year and find a way to avoid the several hand dips a day in your candy bowl.

EXTRA THOUGHT – NOTE – a bit off topic: Cutting all foods out of your diet immediately that you love eating but aren’t good for you does not seem sustainable to me. Using sheer willpower to avoid eating unhealthy food is really hard. That sort of “CRASH” dieting has never worked for me. I’m suggesting alternatives to the way we always do things, to perhaps allow us to be a tiny bit healthier TODAY without being drastic about it. We will get there over time as we clean up our eating slowly over time (and maybe without noticing too much).

“Work” out – taking the stairs with style

Okay enjoy this activity break number 2! I am calling it “taking the stairs with style”. Many of you said, ummmm dancing in my cube at work, no thank you! Well I happen to know that the stairs are a pretty desolate place in most organizations with an elevator ;). Have fun with this! I don’t recommend actually watching this video whilst taking the stairs with style (LOL)! But find yourself some fun tunes and get yourself in gear!