Mid Week Motivator- Exercising to Show Our Bodies Tough Love

In continuing the theme for this month on loving our bodies, I want to talk about exercising. My habit of exercising did not come naturally. I was the kid in PE class who always straggled behind all the rest. My daydreaming ways kept from being any good on any team sport. Honestly it still is though my skills in Ultimate Frisbee have greatly improved of late. As I stated above, exercise has become a habit for me.

 

As we all know exercise is key in losing weight and maintaining. There is no getting off or stopping once the goal is reached. It was not a something I would chose to do. Partly because I was not sure of what to do and partly out of laziness. Just as with food, it is important to have a healthy attitude towards working out.

 

As with anything else it will take practice. Practice of getting into the habit, practice in doing the actual exercises. Yep, it takes practice. Putting your body through these moves means doing something new and different. That first time out you will not do a perfect push up or run a mile in ten minutes. That will come later.

 

It is an investment in your life. Just as how you perceive your body and what you eat is an investment. Exercising is an investment. Figuring out what you like to do or need to do can take a bit of time. Depending on what you are wanting to do.

 

When I started out I met up with a friend at a local park. This helped me to develop my habit of exercising daily. Knowing that someone is waiting for you and using their time to work out with you is a great motivator. At first I went because I knew my friend was there but over time I began to show up for myself. It became important for me to show up each and every day.

 

I made it an important part of my day. Working out became part of my daily schedule. An important appointment I had with myself. I had (and still do) my tough days where I just do not want to do it. Where I am still sore from the workout the day before. But it is worth it to do it. What can you delay or do to ensure you have the time to workout? Take a hard look at your schedule.

 

Something else I have learned is that not every workout has to be an hour long. You can still get in a great work out in less time. Either is means focusing on one part of the body instead of a whole body work out. In other words you can make it work with your schedule. Either alone or with friends.

 

Exercise helps to reduce stress. It has helped to let go of things going on in my life. Which in turn has given me a healthier outlook on my life. I also sleep better. Not only do I get to sleep so much easier, I also sleep so much better. I truly feel better rested and ready for the day. I think better and just feel better overall.

 

It gives you a break from the day. As I stated above, exercise helps me with stress. But it also allows you to be away from the omnipresence of technology in today’s world. Turn off your phone and take a break.

 

You can try new things. You don’t have to love all kinds of exercise but it falls into the category of trying out new things. There are so many ways to get healthy that are fun. You can do almost any type of exercise to keep healthy. There is no need to get bored. When running became boring for me I added running hills and am about to finish a 30 day crossfit at home challenge. I may try a 30 day yoga challenge next.

 

Investing in your body in this way is also showing love to yourself. Loving my body from accepting it for what it is and all that it does is the most healthy thing I can do. I am loving my body in all the ways I care for it. This does not guarantee that by eating well and exercising I will always have good health. It does however mean I will have a better, fuller life now. And that is so precious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mid Week Motivator- Getting The Diet Back On Track

I do not know about the rest you but this past week has wrecked havoc on my diet. I was out of my usual routine which to led poor food choices and my exercise routine being interrupted was part of this. I own that I basically gave up and indulged more than usual. By the Thursday after Easter I had reached my limit on chocolate! Not only was there Easter candy but treats given to me for administrative assistants day and I ATE IT ALL. Even as I ate the last chocolate truffle I reconized that I did not feel well. I was not sick to my stomach but I felt tired. A tired feeling I had not experienced since I have begun this journey to health. It was not only this previous week but the weeks leading up to this moment that gave me pause. I had become rather loose with what I have been eating and those results were starting to show.

 

I have maintained my weight since I met my goal weight. There have been fluctuations lately some of my pants have felt a bit tighter than they have in the past. I know this is nothing new for a lot of us out there. I can tell myself that how I ate is really not so terrible. In some aspects it really is not however allowing for these few poor choices can lead to more poor choices. I do not want to go back to being the fat girl. I need a healthy fear of the old me coming back and take action. So I had to step and back and face facts. I was being lazy, something I am far too prone to do. It was easier to give in to temptation, to tell myself that this cookie, cake, ice cream was justified. After all I had worked out that day, the calories will just melt away! It can be too easy to continue down this road.

 

The question becomes how can it be stopped. I can only speak for myself and what I can do. I can give advice and tips but please keep in mind this is what has worked for me in the past. I am also single and do not have a family who desires certain kinds of food. What am I going to do to get back on track? Go back to what worked for me in the past.

 

Walk away from the food spread out for the meeting. This was my downfall the other week.. I did not bring my lunch or snack to work and indulged in the bagels and muffins laid out.

 

Say no to gifts of candy- this can be hard, especially when you know that they are giving them to you out of love. I can accept them but perhaps give them away to someone else. It is not the gift givers fault that I had not told them I was abstaining from sweets or at least pulling back.

 

Not buying my trigger foods and snacks. I have been bad about this lately. Telling myself those lies of “Its frozen yogurt.” as I help myself to another scoop. Going to go back to my old staple of frozen fruit and abstaining from desert more often. I have done it before, I can do it again. Often my other favorite alternative is to chew gum with ice cubes.

 

Not eating past 7pm. This is doable however it takes planning. It will mean preparing meals ahead and not eating snacks socially. The last time I did this I did not have as many evening obligations. It is not easy but this can also be done. 

 

Asking myself why I am eating. Especially when I am not hungry and eating away. The usual answer is boredom. So the antidote to that would be to engage myself in an activity or get away from what it is that is driving me to eat. The only good thing is that most of the food I keep in my house is rather healthy. However too much of anything can become a bad thing.

 

I  do not have a weightloss goal this time around,other than having my pants feel less tight around the waist. I want to avoid having to purchase new clothes because my old ones are too tight to wear any longer. I simply do not have the funds or patience to do so at this time.

I am not trying to advocate that this is for everyone, and I realize that my view of eating badly may not seem so bad to another person. I can see the slippery, downward slope of these last few weeks. If I am not vigilant then I will find myself right back where this journey began. I do not want that to happen.

The wonderful thing is, it is possible to get back into eating better. Yes it can take time and energy, however anything worth doing will do that. It is important to not allow a few poor choices to continue for more poor choices.

 

How have you gotten back on your diet after getting off course? When did you realize you had gotten off track ?

 

 

 

Mid Week Motivator- Bored and Burntout

Last week I discussed how I wanted to improve both my attitdude towards and doing pushups. It’s such an essential exercise and as I pointed there are many benefits to doing them. I am working on this still and in a few weeks will give you an update. Today though I want to talk about running. Something that since I finished my first half marathon I have not done as often.

 

After the race I was burnt out and rather bored with running. The race was tougher than I expected and it took a bigger toll on me than I first realized. In the weeks since I have done more tonal workouts and when I do run its back to laps around the park track. I began to realize I was also gaining weight. Running as much as I had previously had help keep my weight in check. Not running as much I noticed my clothes becoming a bit tighter. I had to get back out there and on those days I am unable to run I need to add more cardio to my routine.

 

First I needed to regain the love for running that I had developed over the past few years. The first thing I did to do this was delete all my fitness apps from my phone. Yep, got rid of them. I decided to stop timing my runs. Then I decided I did not want to run such long distances, no more than three or four miles per run. Since I know the area where I have been doing my training well I do not need a gps to know the distance I ran. The first few times I went out there without the apps something amazing happened! I enjoyed my run! I did not over analyze it or berate myself for walking too much or not having a fast enough pace. I just enjoyed it. Using the songs that come up on my ipod nano to decide how each part of my run would go.

 

Of course if I decide to train for another race I will download those types of apps again but right now it is not needed. Just getting out there and enjoying my run is enough for me. On those days when I just bored of running only I stick with the park. There I can do different things without worrying about getting run over by oncoming traffic. Some things I enjoy doing is to run backwards for a while, this makes things interesting and little kids thinks its hysterical. Another thing I will do for a lap or during a lap what I call side skipping. I am sure there is real name for this but that is what I call it and it is a fun way to break up a run. Other times I add lunges, pushups, step ups and situps to a lap.

 

There are many ways to have fun with running, like the day I was enjoying running on a trail and came upon a snake! I ran so fast away from that thing and continued to look over my shoulder to make sure that it was not chasing me! I have seen too low budget creature movies it would seem.

 

I find I am no longer bored or burned out on running and find it fun. I look forward to my runs towards the end of the day, when it is cool and breezy out. Just the sound of my breath, my feet on the ground and road or park trail ahead of me. It feels amazing to enjoy it again.

 

How have you gotten yourself out of the bored and burn out mindset?

 

 

Mid Week Motivator- Sweet Rewards

I had another post ready to go for this week’s midweek motivator. Then I got this in the mail yesterday! image This past February I ran my first half marathon in the Miami Marathon. At the finish line there were no more medals and they mailed me mine. I have already posted about this previously in a post tilted No Medal, No Problem ( I apologize for no link but I have had issues trying to put one in and it became too frustrating to continue.)

What I want to say with this is rewards can be unexpected in this process of becoming healthy. Sometimes they come later than we want but the rewards do come. Keep moving, keep going. What I kept saying to myself during the race was “Keep moving forward”. This can be applied to  all aspects of life. Keep moving forward, the  sweet rewards will come!

Learning How To Eat For My New Body

Disclaimer- I am not a dietician, doctor or therapist. This is my personal story

Note: This is a repost, it has been edited and updated. It has been two years since I began my journey to health. I have maintained my weight, eating habits and exercise routine.

The other part to getting healthy is diet. Which means food. Because this aspect of the whole thing is far more complex I am going to divide it up into two parts. The first part will be how I ate while I was losing weight and how I eat today. In part two I will touch on the more mental aspect of my relationship with food.

Food is necessary. That goes without saying. We need it to live. It gives us the energy we need to live our lives. Much of it tastes good, in fact too good. I love sugar. I love eating. Which was the problem. I needed an attitude adjustment, to understand that food has a purpose besides pleasure. 

This is another area where I thought I would need money. Again I was proved wrong. While it can sometimes cost more to buy healthier food, it is possible on a limited budget. I did not follow any commercial diet plan. What follows is the diet that worked for me.

First, I utilized a free app to help me keep track of my calorie intake, My Fitness Pal. This was so helpful in staying within my calorie goals. It also helps to calculate how much you burn off with your exercise program. I learned a lot about portion sizes and how much I should actually be eating. This was huge for me. How many times had I gulped down a bottle of soda with out realizing that it was meant for two people and not one?! Too many to count.

I stopped eating after 7pm ( when I could help it). This allowed food to digest properly before I would go to sleep. Also I was just a little bit hungry. Not because I was starving myself. I was learning how to eat for the body I wanted. Learning what was in front of me was enough.

Drastically eliminating the amount of sugar in diet helped tremendously. The only sugar in my diet was from fruits and vegetables I ate. Do not ask me how I did not eat desert. This alone was a miracle and I am not exaggerating on this. There were some nights I would sit there craving something and chewing ice with gum really helped me get through those times. When watermelon season came around, I chopped a whole watermelon and put it in the freezer (seriously, it becomes like an Italian ice!). I used to obsess about desert, having something ( usually chocolate) in the house.  Over time I have reintroduced other goodies such as frozen yogurt or cookies. I try not to have both in the house at the same time. This is something that helps me to stay on track.

This way of eating is a permanent change and not temporary. I needed to let go of bad habits
( more on that in the next post) to do this.

While I was losing weight, I was taking in 1500 calories a day and with my workouts burning much of that off. Just as with the workouts, I surprised myself by not giving in to temptation. It was not until my birthday in March that anything sweet touched my lips. Let me tell you, when I was eating my birthday cake I was in ecstasy in devouring the icing! But it was enough. I did not take the cake home with me as I usually would. I did not go out trolling for a sugar fix. This was truly from God.

The only thing I was drinking during this time was water and lots of it. I became obsessed with staying hydrated. It still is the only thing I tend to drink during the day, except for my daily cup of coffee. I may not add sugar to my coffee but that I could not cut out. I also discovered lemon flavored Vitamin Water, which I would also freeze and drink as a treat. I like cold, sweet things, can you tell?

Breakfast is usually oatmeal and over time I added things to it like a sliced banana, almonds or dried fruit. While I was in the midst of the weight loss I would have a mid morning snack. I tended to want to eat more in morning since my workouts would be later in the day. Lunch always included a yogurt or a salad or a half a sandwich. Something full of vitamins that would give me plenty of energy.

Dinner was a smaller, smarter portion of what my sister had cooked. I used smaller plates, carefully measuring out my portion. The benefit of working out so late and then eating is burning up all those calories.

It helped me to eat the same things day in and out. To not have those foods that I would be tempted to eat. It was over a year before I ever set foot down the cake mix aisle in the grocery store. Even looking at a package of low-fat cookies is a danger zone for me.

Cleaning out the cupboards and fridge of anything that can derail any attempt is key. This can be hard because so much of what we buy is stuff we enjoy and have spent a lot of money on it. I  also don’t have a husband or children to think of either, so that made it easier for me too.

It means saying no to food offered during social and work situations. This is why planning ahead is so important. The times I did not  plan well lead to not so great decisions. Another benefit to planning ahead is saving money. Carrying around a healthy alternative for that afternoon snack or bringing lunch to work.

The best part about pulling back so much from sugar? It was learning how wonderful so many things taste. I never realized how sweet carrots were and this has become my favorite thing to eat. The day I added peanut butter to my diet was such a happy day! I indulge in sweets but I’m careful to not keep it in my house. I just know I can not have it too accessible. More on this in the next post.

I understand better how to eat and that food is not just a source of pleasure but fuel. For those times that I plan to indulge, I work out harder.

It helped too that those around me were conscience of my new food choices and encouraging in their own ways. Again, you can not do this alone and having some one alongside you or cheering you on is so helpful!

What changes have you made to get away from bad unhealthy habits? Disclaimer I am not a dietician, doctor or therapist- this is my personal story.

A Walk in The Park

This is a repost from my Blogger account. I’m not a doctor, therapist or dietician. this is  my journey on less weight loss and maintenance

As I wrote about in my previous post, Jackson*( no he is not a certifed trainer, just someone who knows a lot about fitness). and I agreed to meet Monday through Friday at a park near his house for one hour. I was nervous the first as I did not know what to expect and thinking back on it now, I don’t think he did either. The most exercise I had been doing of late was ten to fifteen minutes of dancing around my room. I had managed to find an old pair of shorts and dusted off my sneakers. The sun was bright and I could smell the layers of sunscreen I had slathered on just minutes beforehand. Nervously I crunched the water bottle in my hand as I waited for him to come. I was early, I’m always early, especially when I am nervous or trying something new.

That first day was not bad, seeing we were still figuring out how this would work. Jackson* needed to see where I was at. He handed be one pound weights to hold and off we went around the park. Side Note: He asked me to buy three pound weights at one point and I thought I had since the box said 3 pounds only to discover they were 1.5 wrist weights equaling three pounds. This was something that greatly amused him and myself! The weights were to help with resistance and I used them up until 3 pounds. They were helpful for me but decide for yourself in using them during your runs or walks. His pace was faster than mine and more than once I had to jog a few steps to keep up. At one point he asked if I was walking slowly on purpose. I managed to say no while panting for breath. He grinned and then walked faster.It amused him to make me run. To my surprise (and his too I’m sure) , I showed up enthusiastically the next day. Then I kept showing up and the poor guy was stuck with me five afternoons a week!

The kind of exercises we did were not fancy or complicated. They were simple things I had learned long ago in PE and had since forgotten. My body knew what to do, often the harder part was in deciding I was going to do them. I learned I had to decided what it was I wanted to do each day before I got to the park. Getting past those mental barriers of “I can’t ” and changing them into “I can.” As I grew in confidence in what I could accomplish this became less so but let me tell you, sometimes there is a fierce battle going on in my brain. The angel and the devil on each side, one wanting to quit. The other side not wanting to quit. Also I had to learn to ignore the other people in the park and focus. Face it, so many exercises are just plain silly looking while doing the body good. You know what else, people are so into their own little worlds that really most of them are not even looking or caring about you over there doing squats.

Our routine evolved over the next few months.What follows is what we ended up doing for the most part. We began with a few laps around the park, in the beginning lots of fast paced walking with spurts of running and or jogging.
( We ended up modifying as I developed issues with my right knee not too long after starting by adding military lifts or punches to help get my heart rate up). Along certain points we would stop and do different kinds of exercise, push ups on the back of a bench, assisted squats, sit ups and bicycles. Some I preferred over others, assisted squats and later regular squats were my least favorite to do. So of course he made me do more of those
( especially since I would try to half- ass them).

It was better for me to not keep track of time. Not knowing how much longer I had out there helped me to work harder. It was better for me to be ignorant of time because otherwise that would of been my focus instead of the workout.

Soon we were running and or jogging more than walking. Then back to walking. Then back to jogging and so on it went. He knew how to push me, usually with cajoling and other times with simply stating this is what we are going to do. For the most part I was willing and I did have my moments of rebelliousness as he called them.

One day he asked if I was breathing. There was complete lack of air in my lungs, so of course I nodded yes. Then he taught me how to breath in a rhythm with my steps. This was a revelation for me. I tried to recall if any of my PE Teachers ever taught us to breath. Perhaps I had been daydreaming ( as I still often do) but I could not. Not long after,with his coaxing I finally ran one lap around the park without stopping. I still cherish that moment. That’s when I knew I could do more. More importantly wanted to do more.

He loaned me a stationary bike for me to use at night and on weekends. I was doing two a days for a while, days at the park, evenings and weekends on the bike. This was my life for a few months, it was my main focus. I was determined. Some would say that was too much. Some would of quit once their knee began to kill them as mine did. Once the weight began to drop off and I became stronger, the pain in my knee subsided.

After a few months, Jackson* was there less and less until I was on my own. In fact he had started to help another friend and he started working with the both of us, poor guy was exhausted! I showed up in the beginning because I knew he would be showing up. It was not long until I was showing up for myself. I had succeeded in my first goal, I could get up a flight of stairs without losing my breath. Then my goal became to run more laps around the park ( about less than half a mile around). Then I decided I wanted to run a half marathon.
We had begun meeting in January, by summer I had met my weight goal and began to train. Something I have done unofficially, clocking in at just under two hours at the same park where it all began. I hope to enter a race officially by the end of this year.

Update: I later discovered my measurement of the park was incorrect, so this first half was closer to a 12k. I ran my official half in February of this year clocking in at 3 hours 22 min. You can read about it here http://lindaconnelly.WordPress./and-let-us-run-with-perseverance

I outgrew that park and began to seek out new parks. I go back every now and again just as a tune up. Jackson* gave me the tools and push I needed. I learned so much from him about exercise and persistence. He taught me that you do not need to join a gym to get healthy and to have confidence in myself. Lessons that I have applied to other aspects in my life. I still workout in a park, because that is where I like to go and seriously how can free be beat?! I am forever thankful for God placing Jackson* in my life.

As a side note, let me add this about many of my encouragers along the way. Many of whom came from the park I went to everyday. This park is located in not the greatest of neighborhoods and these people who could have been mean or harsh with me were not. They cheered me on, a few of them approaching me to help them too. So many friends and members of my family were there for me in big ways and small. All of it helped me. Support is key, there is no way to do this on your own.

I want to hear from you out there, any questions or stories of your own?

*Name has been changed per request

Disclaimer- I am not a therapist, dietitian or personal trainer- this is my personal experience

The Exercises-

Please check with your doctor and take into account any old injuries you may have before pursuing any exercise plan.

Last Year

Nothing fancy, just a lot stuff to build up muscle and stamina.

Properly stretch out, warm up and drink plenty of water.

You must walk before you run, this is not a stroll, you want to get your heart rate

For a time I was not able to run due to my knee, I learned how to do punches instead. There are other ways to get your heart rate up

Push ups, first on the back of a park bench and later on the ground. Then Squats, then back to push ups. Doing three sets of each.

Then at the next spot stopping to do sit ups (50 or more) then bicycles or scissors ( doing reps of 40) then another set of sit ups and another set of either bicycles or scissors

The park is about half mile around, two and a quarter laps is a mile. I started with 4 laps  and soon was running 10 laps a day.

Stationary bike- Depending on how I felt the day’s workout went I would do from thirty min to an hour at a good pace and playing with the resistance.

I would also do another set of sit ups and push ups

As time went on I learned how to play more with what I wanted to do or accomplish that day.

Today

I have cut back my running to three or four times a week ( running from 3 to 5 miles) and I take a day to rest

Earlier this year I started P90x and have incorporated a lot of that into my workouts in the park too.

Find something you enjoy or can do with others. Most of all try to have fun!

Update: I have gotten into yoga in the last year and find it challenging and fun! Since the marathon this year I have not run as much distance, opting for sprints and working on my speed and strengthening exercises.  but I still get out there, five to six days a week.