Category Archives: Health

A Never Ending Journey

I started my journey into health and fitness in high school.  I began by running weekly in the neighborhood with my friend to get some exercise and eventually joined a gym with my family and began taking fitness classes.

Playing = Exercise

Before this I remained active just by being a kid: I played tag, roller bladed, rode my bike with friends, and jumped on the trampoline.  Until I reached 14 or 15, exercise didn’t exist in my mind, I simply played.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unfortunately, as I aged, my playfulness decreased.  Gone were the days of flashlight tag with the neighbors and endless nights jumping on the trampoline or making up dance routines in my basement.  Enter the days of binge drinking, partying, and ‘clubbing’.   Things change and so did my idea of exercise.

College

Boozing

Exercise then became something that I had to do to be healthy.  Since I wasn’t nearly as active as I was being a kid, I had to make sure I remained active by going to the gym.  I enjoyed working out (and still do!) and it became a passion of mine.

A Never Ending Journey

My exercise journey has evolved over the years.  It’s a never ending journey, really.  Even when I think I’ve “got it all figured out”, I learn something new that completely changes my point of view and I feel like I am back at square one.

For example, when I was around 20 and 21 years old, I thought training like a Figure or Fitness Competitor was the end all be all of training.  However, my obsessive way of life completely diminished my quality of life.  I realized that having goals that were only based on how I looked rather than how I felt was not something that was going to work for me.

Aesthetic Goals VS Healthy Goals

There have been times where my sole purpose of exercising was to have a “hot body” and to be thin.  And when that is my only reason for exercising, I begin to loath it.  I begin to see it as a way of saying to myself that I am not good enough and that I need to continually bust my butt to look better until I look “perfect”.

My Turning Point

My turning point was when I dropped out of training for a figure competition.  My life became all about my looks and trying to get “skinny” and “lean”. Living a life only thinking about myself and what I look like physically made me miserable.  I was hard on myself.  I lost sight of what really mattered in this life.

It was a huge lesson.  I think it was something I had to attempt to see that it was not the route I was going to keep going down in this journey.  It was a sign that I had to reevaluate my goals and figure out what was important to me.  It was when I realized that my fitness journey has no end, it’s a never ending journey and I will continue to learn.

Self Acceptance

You don’t see me writing posts in this blog about being on a diet or trying a new plan to lose weight or “tone up”.  That is not who I am anymore.  I don’t strive to be skinny.  I now strive to be accepting of myself. And let me tell you, striving for self acceptance takes a lot more work and soul searching than striving to be thin ever did.  It’s easy to let thoughts of losing weight take over.  It’s more difficult (yet more rewarding) to have thoughts of working on self acceptance.

See the Bigger Picture

Source

I currently exercise because I love it.  Exercise helps me in life and makes me feel good.  It’s the number one reason I do it.  I sleep great, I have a ton of energy, and exercise increases my self esteem, which in turn helps me with self acceptance.  I also feel like it makes me a more positive person and improves my outlook on life.

Exercising to Feel Good

Exercise does help me maintain a healthy weight, but that’s it. It doesn’t aid in self obsession to be something I am not. I am not a size 2 and nor will I ever be.  Some people find it of great importance to be thin.  I don’t.  I find it important to be healthy and to accept my body.  I find it important to work on other aspects of myself, not just my physical body. I will not spend my time forcing my body to be a size that it is not.

My journey will continue and I will yet again learn things that make me reevaluate my current views.  But this is the beauty of life and the beauty of health and fitness: it does not end. It’s a process and it’s something that you have to continually work at to evolve, learn, and grow.

Question:

Why do you currently exercise?

A First Time

Well look what we have here….It’s FRIDAY! Yay! I’m ready for a couple of days off from work, how about you?

Workin’ it Out

Today’s workout included 30 minutes on my elliptical at home and a 25 minute walk with my dogs.  I’ve been putting the elliptical that Andy and I purchased in the fall to good use these past few weeks! I’ve been hopping on every other day or so right when I wake up. I take this time to watch the Today Show or some other news program and get my day started.  It’s been nice, actually!

Ellipticising!

At work I also taught a 45-minute Turbo Kick class.  Out of all the classes I teach each week, this one is by far the toughest.  It’s not only tough physically (definitely whips my booty!) but also mentally. I have to constantly think about what move is coming up next and when to cue it. This class also takes a ton of prep work, especially in the beginning.  But once you get the main moves down, new rounds don’t take too long to learn.  It’s all worth it!

Turbo Kick

But I really enjoy the mental challenge, it’s fun!  I’ve been teaching for about 7 years and I feel like I am always learning ways to improve my instruction.  I actually think I enjoy teaching now better than I used to.  It’s just a fun job!

Practicing Turbo Kick in the living room

Rest Days

I mentioned on Tuesday that I was really tired and possibly needed an extra rest day this weekend.  Well as the week went on I felt like I caught my second wind! I’ve been full of energy and slept really well last night.  So I may not have to take tomorrow off from exercise after all.  I most always take Sundays off though.  It’s all about listening in to your body and how you are feeling.

A  First Time

Yesterday I did something for the first time that I had been scared to do…I donated blood to the Red Cross!

I’ve considered giving blood quite a few times but have not done it due to being afraid of needles.  My fear is completely irrational because each time I get a shot at the doctor’s office, it doesn’t hurt.  But right before I’m about to get the shot I’m all full of nerves!

I even have a tattoo, which is the king of all needles.  To be honest, getting a tattoo hurt, but it was not horrible pain and it was quick (I have a butterfly on my stomach…along with the other millions of others who thought this idea was cute!) So why have I been putting off donating blood for a good cause?

The Red Cross came to my workplace and I decided that it was time to get over this fear and give for a good cause.  I prepared myself by a pep talk in my mind reminding myself that it’s not excruciating pain and that I need to take deep breaths and relax.  My technique payed off because I remained cool as a cucumber!

Some of the perks I found to giving blood were:

  • You get a ‘mini’ physical. I got my blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and hemoglobin levels (iron) checked.  That alone would have a co-payment in the doctor’s office.  This was all free.
  • You get snacks. I’m a sucker for free food.  After giving blood I enjoyed a cup of apple juice and a Nature’s Valley granola bar.  I was happy!
  • Not Working! I got to be doing something at work that wasn’t work and still get paid.  That’s always nice! Plus, I got to lay down and relax.  It was a nice break!
  • You feel good about helping others. Nothing beats the feeling you get when you do something for others.  This makes it all worth it!

Free Snacks? Yes Please!

And honestly, it doesn’t hurt. It feels uncomfortable at most, but even that is going above what it feels like.  I was not in pain at all.  I’m officially over my fear of giving blood and will definitely do it again in the future!

Click here to find out how to donate in your area! I recommend it if you are eligible!

Weekend Plans

Andy is out of town visiting friends in North Carolina and so my weekend is pretty laid back.  Pizza Friday will be happening though, I’m not ashamed to order a whole large pizza by myself 😉

I have my good friend Sam’s wedding shower tomorrow, which I am looking forward to! I might also be getting together with Andy’s mom and sister-in-law, Lindsay, for a girl’s day on Sunday.  Those plans are still in the works!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Question:

Have you ever given blood before?

Vitamins and Rest Days

Good Morning!

I hope you had a great weekend.  I really didn’t do much, but I’m always a big fan of weekends like that! I spent time relaxing with Andy, watching movies, eating (I had two Dairy Queen blizzards this weekend!), and getting some errands done.  All and all, a good weekend!  Now, it’s back to the grind!

Workout

Today’s workout was a mix of cardio and weights.  Ever since I saw Elizabeth Hasselback’s workout, I’ve been wanting to get more creative with my own exercise routine.

Unfortunately, time for my own workouts is limited due to my teaching schedule at work, but I can make due! Tuesdays and Thursdays are when I take about an hour for myself to exercise before or after work.  I only teach one class on these days (and both days are non-cardio classes), so it makes it easier to do my own thing.

Last week’s workout looked like this.  Today’s workout included the following:

Cardio and Stretching:

  • Stretched Legs: 15 minutes (See this site for stretching ideas for hips/legs stretches.  Great for runners!)
  • 1.5 mile run: 15 minutes, speed varying from 5.5-8.0 MPH

Weight Circuit #1, repeated 2x

  • Pull Ups: 10 reps
  • Push Ups: 10, on toes
  • Kettle bell one-leg dead lift: 10 reps on each leg

Cardio:

  • AMT, level 4: 5 minutes

Weight Circuit #2, repeated 2x

  • See Saw Shoulder Press: 15 each arm
  • Two arm row for upper back (machine): 10 reps
  • Walking Lunges with Overhead Shoulder lift (holding a medicine ball): 20 reps

This workout took 55 minutes (including my 15 minutes of stretching).  The workout was nice, but I was a bit tired today.  I see a good couple of days of rest from exercise in my future! Plus, I need new running shoes, I can tell that mine are quite worn.

Rest Days

What I’ve come to realize about exercise is that not every day is going to be the best workout. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body, especially when you feel more tired than usual.

Sure, there will be some days when you just feel like being lazy and not working out (and that’s ok!), but other times it’s a different kind of tired.  A tired where your body could benefit from some good rest.  I will most likely take the weekend off, depending on how I feel the rest of the week.  I most always take at least one day off though.

How often do you take rest days?

Vitamins and Supplements

Andy and I stocked up on some vitamins and supplements this weekend.  I take my vitamins and supplements pretty much every day.  I rarely forget.  It’s become a habit of mine, like eating breakfast (which I also rarely forget! My stomach won’t let me 😉 )

I honestly do feel better when I take my vitamins regularly.  Now, my feeling good could be from a number of things, such as getting enough sleep (I almost always get 8 hours), eating nutritious foods, and exercise.  But I also feel like the vitamins do play a role.

Here are the vitamins and supplements I take daily:

  • Multivitamin, I use a brand called Alive by Nature’s Made

Multivitamin

  • Vitamin D, 1,000 I.U (I use a generic brand of this right now, but I’ve also used these gummies by Rainbow Light, which are fun!)
  • Fish Oil, at least 1,000g of EPA/DHA combined, which is 3 capsules in the brand that I use, which is Barleans.  I love this brand!

Barleans

Occasionally I take a greens supplement. Andy and I just stocked up on Amazing Grass this past weekend.  I love the chocolate flavor.  It’s not sweet by any means, more of a natural cocoa flavor, but I enjoy it. I drink it with water or I’ve mixed it in yogurt.

Amazing Grass

Alright, time to get to work! Have a great day everyone!

Questions:

Do you take any vitamins or supplements daily? If so, what kind?

Non-fitness related question: Did you watch the Bachelor? What did you think of his choice? I was all for Emily, but I’m second guessing the chemistry they have…but I wish them the best! I see Ashely is the new bachelorette though! I think that’s a great choice!

Ashley the new Bachelorette!

What is Normal Eating?

What the heck is normal eating!?

I think that the definition of normal eating is completely skewed.  And words like “diet” and “restriction” have become the norm.  We always want to be leaner, fitter, and thinner.

We want our bones to show or our 6-pack to be visible. So called “health” magazines seem to preach having “willpower” and eliminating “bad” foods from our diet.  Or they are coming up with strategies to eat less and restrict. Normal eating has become lost and I don’t think many of us know what it is anymore.

I spent some time googling the internet for some possible answers and stumbled upon a few good explanations of what others think normal eating is.

I found this by a woman named Karly Randolph Pitman,

I eat foods that make me feel good. I like a steak every now and then. A pizza is a favorite treat. I love colorful salads. Risotto is my idea of heaven. These things make me feel good, so I eat them. Sugar makes me depressed and wacks me out. Fried eggs give me the willies. Too many fake foods—think lots of processing and packaging—make me feel icky. So I usually abstain.

I eat what I really want. What I want to eat today may be different tomorrow. What I want in the winter may be different than what I crave in the summer. How nice that I can choose; that I don’t have to eat the same four things from a “good foods” list over and over again. Right now I’m in a raw fruit and vegetable phase, stemming from the heat wave we’re currently experiencing. But as the weather cools I crave warm, cooked vegetables and hearty soups. A few weeks ago, when my baby was going through a growth spurt (I’m a nursing mother), I had a hankering for nuts and nut butter. I followed my craving, got a spoon, and dove into the almond butter, without any guilt, shame, remorse or thoughts of calories.

I enjoy my food. I love food. I always have. And I’ve come to glory in that, rather than feel ashamed by it. Who started the lie, anyway, that women shouldn’t have an appetite? I’ve always had a hearty appetite, especially when I’m exercising regularly and nursing, as I am now. I have no qualms about getting a second helping, rather than undereating to be socially acceptable.

Ellyn Satter had this to say,

“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should.

Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.

Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good.

Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.

Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more.

Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.”

My Definition of Normal Eating

To me, normal eating means the following:

Eating what I enjoy and truly want

Honoring my cravings, not eating what I “think I should be eating” or what is the “right choice”

Being mindful that I am getting enough nutritious foods

Eating a variety of foods, not the same “safe foods” day in and day out

Not counting calories or being a slave to the food scale.  I know that my appetite is different each day

Listening to my hunger cues and feelings of fullness

Understanding that I eat for other reasons other than hunger and giving myself permission to do so

Not going on an all out- binge because I “blew it” by eating too many cookies or ice cream.  It’s being able to stop and move on.

Not restricting when I feel I ate too much the day before by eating too little or exercising too much

Not having unrealistic expectations for my body

Not being afraid of food

Above all, normal eating is truly enjoying each meal, whether alone or with others

Question:

What is YOUR definition of normal eating?

Why Not to Skimp on Sleep!

I had a wonderful night’s sleep last night, which felt amazing considering I was lacking on some good ‘shut eye’ from my weekend!  I can really feel a difference in how my body feels when I get enough sleep vs. not getting enough. On average I get 8-10 hours of sleep a night.  I love to sleep! I go to bed between 9 and 10pm and wake up between 6 and 7am.

Here are 6 reasons to NOT skimp on sleep!

Source

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:

  1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
  2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
  3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
  4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

Some common causes of poor sleep or insomnia:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression or other mental health issues
  • Anorexia or being underweight
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Menopause
  • Age
  • Medication
  • Drug abuse

Tips on Getting Better Sleep

  • Create a better sleep environment
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Get stress and anxiety under control
  • Learn how to get back to sleep
  • Optimize your sleep schedule
  • Improve your diet
  • Get regular Exercise

Click here to read these in more detail

What works for me:

I have never had issues with sleeping (knock on wood!) and I can fall asleep easily every night.

I attribute this with always having a regular sleep schedule. Even when I was younger in high school and college, I always knew getting enough sleep was important and would go to bed at a decent time. I have NEVER pulled an ‘all nighter’ when studying. I definitely used time management to set aside time for school work without it hurting my sleep.

I have also been exercising regularly for a long time and I think that helps with falling asleep, as well as eating a healthy diet and eating enough.

When I do notice I am having a difficult time sleeping I know that it’s most likely due to stress and I try and nip that in the butt as soon as I can and actually make a plan to deal with the stress rather than let it keep eating at me and my sleep.

Breakfast

This morning I jumped right back into my normal routine after my weekend of fun.  It was not as hard as I thought it would be!  I took the pups on our morning stroll and enjoyed the nice weather before it gets in the 90s this afternoon.

For breakfast I had a big ol’ bowl of cereal with fresh strawberries and almond milk.  This combination never gets old!

Fresh Strawberries

Tuesday's Breakfast

I tried a new cereal, which was like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I loved it!

Yumm!

Workout

Today was a cardio day to kick off my workout week.  I had four days off from the gym due to traveling, which was a nice break and I felt a lot more energized today!

I started with 40 minutes on the Arc Trainer and finished with 15 minutes of walking on the treadmill at an 8% incline.

Dinner

I have some chicken cooking in the crock pot today to make shredded chicken tacos tonight.  I can’t wait! I am always in the mood for mexican food!

This morning I roasted up some broccoli and red potatoes to have on the side with my tacos.  I seasoned em’ up with salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and drizzled with a tbsp of olive oil.  I baked them at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Broccoli + Red Potatoes

Pre Roasted Veggies

Roasted veggies

Wedding Pics!

Here are a few more pictures from this weekend’s wedding fun!

College Friends!

Some of my best friends from college, we all keep in tough regularly!

Dancing!

Eating Chocolate like a lady 😉

The Bride and Groom had a chocolate fountain, which was amazing.  I had a number of goodies dipped in chocolate including strawberries, marshmellows, rice crispy treats, and pretzels.

Questions:

How much sleep do you typically get each night?

Do you have a regular sleep schedule?

What would you dip into the chocolate fountain?