The previous rules for eating have addressed the QUALITY of the food you eat, which is of primary importance, but now let’s take a look at QUANTITY. I would hope at this point that everyone knows that small meals regularly throughout the day are the key to sustained weight loss and maintenance. Study after study has proven that the metabolism is happiest when the digestive system gets nourishment every three to four hours. Notice I said nourishment, not food. There is a lot of “food” out there that is toxic and of no nutritional value. It will be immediately stored as fat. (See previous articles in this series)
Hold out your hand in front of you, palm up… now say hello to your new best diet buddy. It beats counting calories and weighing food on a scale. Why? Because it’s yours, that’s why.
See your palm? That’s how much meat stacked an inch high you get to have for one meal. Now spread out your fingers, your whole hand represents a great estimate for the size of your salad. Add as many veggies on top as you can. Oh yeah, add another palm full of veggies for good measure.
Portion control doesn’t have to involve calories. If you are a numbers person, by all means count away. For most folks it’s a pain and confusing, and no one has time for that. Have you ever measured your food or used a scale to weigh it? Unless you are a fitness competitor, there is no reason to get that analytical. Food is your friend. Eat it, don’t measure it. Eyeball the appropriate size based on your hand, save the rest for leftovers. It works!
This is going to take some adjustment for some of you. Its OK to gasp in horror at how much smaller your hand is than your meal. Trust me, it takes a little getting used to. Picture your 10 oz. steak. Now look at the palm of your hand. Ouch. Therein lies the key to the obesity epidemic in our country.
The bottom line is that your body can only handle processing so much food at one time. It is individual for all of us, which is why the hand is so…well…handy!
Other considerations to take when determining portion size for you:
1. Don’t use the calories burned during a workout to justify how much food you then get to consume. The body doesn’t work like that and it is a game you will never win. If you are looking to lose weight, replenish with good quality protein and carbohydrate within 45 minutes of a workout. Use your hand as your guide. That’s it. You are replenished and anything extra later on that day will not be used for recovery. (Warning: high endurance or intense strength athletes need more.)
2. There is such thing as too much of a good thing. I can keep up with a 200+ pound guy eating sushi, a relatively healthy choice, right? Yep, until appetizer and six different types of rolls were demolished. Just because it is healthy, doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want.
3. Check labels and stay within portion sizes. It is easy to get carried away with a bag of chips designed for 3 people. We have all done it. Read what the actual portion size is, remove it from the box or bag, put it back where you found it and eat what is on your plate. Still hungry? Of course, because it probably contained no protein and very little fiber, choose wisely and eat one serving at a time.
4. Slow down and give your body a chance to keep up. Sometimes our eyes are much bigger than our stomach and we are conditioned to think in a certain way about quantities. Stick to the serving suggestions and eat slow enough to let the body have a chance to signal fullness to the brain. Once you change your perception of how much is “normal,” the stomach follows.
5. Use smaller plates, bowls, cups, and spoons. We are very visual and if the plate looks empty, we will immediately feel deprived. If the plate looks full, we perceive abundance. The coffee cup is the perfect example. Some of the coffee cups in my house hold 2.5 cups of coffee. Be aware of what you are using to eat with and off of.
True weight loss and maintenance is math and science. It is also an art. Finding what works for you takes trial and error, and lots of practice. No one is perfect all the time, but following the rules guarantees long-term success. Get to know your body, and its response to food choices and quantities. Your meal plans and serving sizes shouldn’t look like anyone else’s, because at the end of the day, you are one very special person. Cheers!
Eat Clean. You have heard it said, and read an article or two, but what does that mean? To many it seems like there is no room for fun, however if you are serious about changing your body from the inside out, your food choices at each meal are the key.
When a person ingests food, the body immediately begins a cascade of chemical reactions designed to break down the food (or food-like substance) into nutrients that can be absorbed and utilized by the body to nourish and repair each cell in the body. The human body fights to stay in a chemical balance called homeostasis at all times. Each time a cell dies, it needs to be eliminated quickly and replaced with a new one. It happens all day long, every moment of your life, and your nutrition plays almost 100 percent at how effectively the cells can regenerate.
Check out Jerny’s previous Rules For Eating articles here:
Quick fact: When cells die faster than they are repaired, it is called “aging.” In addition, dead cells oxidate and create toxic byproducts that need to be eliminated immediately. They are sent through the blood stream, where they can attach to other dead cells and create an ugly buildup and actually become rancid (acidic). This is why the pH levels of the blood are so vital in health and disease prevention! Metabolic acidosis is the number one cause of all lifestyle related disease and cancer.
So where does diet come in? Anything that your body has no use for (that does not nourish or provide energy) must be eliminated quickly. If it cannot be eliminated right away, it will be stored in the fat cells. As we age, we build up more and more fat to protect us from the toxins, and our fat does a wonderful job as a safe harbor for all the junk we ingest. The more ‘food like’ substances with little or no nutritional value that we take in, the more likely we are to be carrying around extra pounds. Even if it seems like you don’t eat a lot.
Eating clean burning fuels, full of nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals provide our bodies with the tools necessary to “clean up” the garbage and eliminate it safely. Healthy forms of protein provide our cells with what they need to repair and replace what has been damaged and lost. Adaptogens, anti-oxidants, trace minerals, and vitamins (in the correct forms and amounts), keep our systems functioning at optimal levels, balance our blood pH, and strengthen our immune systems. Clean, whole, organic, nutrient dense foods should be our primary source of nutrition at each meal. That way, when we do indulge in toxic laden treats, our bodies will be able to cope and adapt quickly to the stress response, and keep our bodies in the beautiful, harmonious balance they were designed to be in.
Your clean fuel list includes:
- Organic cheese, eggs, and meat that has been raised cage free whenever possible.
- Organic, locally grown, fresh fruits and veggies. Substitute frozen or freeze your own when necessary.
- Nuts and nut butters from reputable sources
- Fish that is wild caught only (if it says farmed, put it back!)
- Whole grains, brown rice, sweet potatoes as primary carbohydrate sources. If you have a gluten sensitivity, rice and sweet potatoes are your best bet
- Nutritional supplements from companies that are GMO, gluten, soy free, and pure organic certified.
- Organic wine as your alcohol choice. In moderation of course!
Yes, you will pay more at the grocery store, but if you add up the cost of prescription medications, and healthcare insurance premiums and deductibles, it becomes quite clear that you are the economic winner over a lifetime.
One of the most common mistakes I see in American eating behavior is our impatience with food. Let’s face it, as a society, patience is not a strong point. Many will argue that our inability to wait has spawned thousands of products and services that fuel our need for speed in all areas of our lives, and some of them have been a wonderful addition to our lives. Take our cell phones, for example.
Our bodies, however, haven’t gotten the memo. If you want to increase your health, lose weight, manage stress, sleep better, and enjoy a more fulfilling life, I recommend slowing down. As a high energy, over-achiever myself, I can assure you that there is some value in creating time for things that matter. Like most behavior change, it is a work in progress, but well worth the focused effort.
When not to wait: As a general rule, we tend to wait until we are famished to prepare and eat our meal. Poor meal choices are most commonly caused by our lack of preparation and not eating often enough throughout the day. This results in eating the wrong foods too quickly, and many times without even tasting them. Getting too hungry sends out stress signals, which raises cortisol and leads to a cascade of digestive distress and weight gain. If this is a regular habit, my guess is you are struggling with an expanding waist line. The rule of thumb here is to eat every 3 to 4 hours. They don’t have to be full meals, but they definitely have to involve protein, phytonutrients and fiber. If you get into the habit of eating regularly throughout the day, you can be assured of making better choices and not over consuming your meal and beverages.
When to wait: Below is a list of suggestions on how to increase satisfaction and decrease digestive distress, fatigue and weight gain. Although these exercises may take some practice, the results are well worth it!
1. Sit down when you eat. The body digests food better in a relaxed state. Leave the multi-tasking alone and have a seat!
2. Before digging in, take a moment to say thanks. Take the extra second to pay homage to the blessing. There are people starving all over the world, including right here in the US. Appreciation is good for digestion.
3. Drink a glass of water before consuming anything. Begin while preparing your meal, and finish the glass within the first couple bites. This will reduce the “starving” feeling, and decrease your need to drink a high calorie beverage quickly because you are thirsty.
4. Breathe between bites. Finish what is in your mouth (that’s just good manners) and take a moment to swallow. Take a deep breath and then reach for that next mouthful.
5. Make it special. Take smaller bites. Actually take the moment to chew slowly and TASTE the food. Europeans aren’t “fat,” because eating is an “experience.” I also recommend using nice dishes, an attractive table setting and good company wherever possible.
6. Stop before you are stuffed. The body will turn hunger signals off when it is satisfied, however, there is a delay in the response time. The above suggestions will help assist you in becoming more aware of when the body has had its fill. Over-consuming also triggers a stress response that leads to a cascade of hormonal changes and signal the body to store fat.
Each person should walk away from a meal happy and satisfied. There is no such thing as indigestion and heart burn with folks who follow the above recommendations on a regular basis. We are all busy, but with some planning and some focus, it is possible to create better eating habits that lead to a new appreciation for food, and the miracle of digestion. Try sitting back and relaxing through your next meal. You will be amazed at how much less you eat, and how much better you feel for the next several hours!
Making the resolution to “lose weight” or change your diet in 2014? Jump on board! There are hundreds of diet plans out there to choose from. Most of them are fads, backed up with little science and a whole lot of marketing. There are also some super programs out there focused on educating you on how to make real, lasting, healthful changes. So how do you know the difference?
While it is true that in order to see change, you need to make change, it is your willingness to make permanent change that leads to long term success. Let’s face it, that’s what you really want, right?
With the above concept in mind, my 5th rule for eating is this: Don’t go to new extremes, rather… you should eliminate any extreme behaviors you are currently practicing.
Eating an entire box of Girl Scout cookies is extreme. Drinking alcohol until you black-out is extreme. Finishing a bag of chips, single handedly, that has 11 servings in it is extreme. You can rationalize this behavior until you are blue, but the reality of the situation is that our body is not designed to handle any of those three examples.
The human body is a finely tuned machine. It will use what it needs as fuel, and the rest will be stored as fat. If you are deficient in nutrients, it will send a signal to the brain to eat. If it does not receive the signal that the deficiency has been satisfied, it will not turn off the signal. Over-eating, or over-drinking anything causes stress on the body. It is only designed to manage a relatively small amount of consumption at any one time. Eating excessively causes a cascade of chemical (hormonal) reactions to occur, and the end result is always fat storage.
The same is true in dieting. Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. Eliminating entire food groups is never a good idea unless… you are severely allergic or you have been diagnosed with a medical condition that warrants avoidance of these foods. Lactose and Gluten are specific examples. Those with food sensitivities (that have been evaluated by a qualified professional) will be given specific recommendations. Dr. Atkins is dead, so you didn’t get your advice from him, just a marketing company that would love for you to buy the food (see my last column…rule #4).
Extreme calorie restriction for any longer than 48 hours is a major no-no. You may have fantastic short term results, but the health risks can be long lasting and/or permanent. You will most likely gain all the weight back and more because your body has now been trained to store fat for emergency situations. None of us need any help in that department. Not only did you set yourself up to fail, you also shortchanged yourself on vital nutrients that are important to everyday function. No matter how much juice you drank, it doesn’t replace food. This style of dieting is not only ineffective; it can be downright dangerous for those with pre-existing medical conditions.
So what is a good plan? Here is a bullet list of what to look for when seeking the “diet” that is right for you.
- The recommended food and beverages are pure food, and the labels are very clear on what it is you are eating.
- There is a support system in place. You can call or email a question and receive a quick response, and there is an emotionally supportive group to help with the difficulty that behavior change invariably brings.
- You are encouraged to eat the appropriate amounts for your needs and size. A 250 pound man should not be following the same plan as a 150 pound woman.
- It should be comprehensive. The plan should mention that exercise is an important component to ensure long term results.
- It should be easy to follow and understand.
- If products are included, they should be high quality protein from non-GMO sources, and free from artificial sweeteners. Vitamins should be reputable and manufactured in the US.
- The company should have a strong, healthy history. Due diligence is required when researching even more well-known businesses. The diet industry is not held to high standards and “buyer beware” is appropriate here.
- It should work! Most plans will come with a money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied, don’t give up. Return for a refund and find something that works better for you.
The bottom line: There are more programs and resources than ever to ensure your success. Finding what works for you isn’t difficult. The behavior change that will be required long term is a little tougher to stick with so it has to be doable. Avoid extremes, find what works, and stick to it!
Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels! Cheers to more energy, better health, and smaller sizes!
I realize that this seems to be a no-brainer, but I am uncomfortable with how many people do not understand what is going into their bodies. If you are going to eat packaged foods, please, for goodness sake, take a moment to read what is in it!
Time and time again, people complain to me that they watch what they eat, but still can’t lose weight…
“Ok,” I say, “let’s go through your diet and take a look.”
Sure enough, packaged and processed junk that does not belong in the human body is marketed as healthy and even the most conscious among us, grab for it. Every day, millions of Americans eat items that look like food, but are merely “food-like.” All of the nutrients have been eliminated, and toxic junk has been added to “preserve freshness” or “enhance flavor.” As if they are doing us some kind of favor…
Serving size and servings per package: before you go any further, check to be sure that you are accurately assessing nutritional information. For example, a serving of boxed cereal is ¾ of a cup. Do yourself a favor and grab a measuring cup, pour out ¾ and put it in the bowl you are going to eat from. Does that look like the size you normally eat? One of my favorites is Gatorade or other sports drinks and soda. The bottle we grab at the convenience store is 2.5 servings per container. How much do you normally drink? Less than half the bottle? Didn’t think so… Multiply the nutrition facts by 2.5, there you have it.
Fat: Not the evil we were taught to believe unless its “trans-fats”. This is the yucky stuff that was developed in a factory using low quality oils (read rancid) that have been hydrogenated (extra hydrogen was added.) Companies are now required to label it, because it is SO dangerous, but they can get away with saying it has zero if it is less than one gram per serving size. Note serving size and ingredient list! No amount of Trans Fat is ok! Saturated fat depends on what it is derived from. Coconut, yes! Animal product…not so much. Unsaturated fat, also be aware…soybean, sunflower, safflower, and corn oils can all be toxic to your body in the manufactured form.
Cholesterol: Also not the bad guy in the big picture of heart disease. Animals produce it and that means you produce it. Trigycerides in your system and Trans Fats in the diet, increase production. If it is a plant based food, there is no Cholesterol, so it will always say zero. That doesn’t mean the food is healthy to eat, however. See a clinical nutritionist for details if Cholesterol is a concern for you.
Sodium: Holy moly, salt is convenient, and cheap, and therefore in all packaged foods. The salt used in preserving packaged items is the least valuable to your body because it is bleached and processed. Although there are questions about the relationship between high blood pressure and sodium intake, it is always wise to err on the side of caution and steer clear of high sodium foods.
Potassium: An important electrolyte that is required in the human body, along with many others, to help conduct the electrical charges of the heart and nervous system, and control blood pressure. (It is found most widely in fresh fruits and vegetables, which obviously won’t have a label.) Of course, since it is important to keep a vital ratio of potassium and sodium, it makes sense that the current labeling laws would include it.
Carbohydrate: You are looking for a sugar to fiber ratio here. Preferably, more fiber and less sugar will ensure a good glycemic index. Complex carbohydrates break down into sugar, so the protein and fiber content is very important! Sugar, in excess, in any form, can cause problems. Americans typically eat 10 times more than the human body needs on any given day. And we wonder why we are fat? A good rule of thumb is any serving that has more than 10-15 grams of sugar should be avoided. The only exception to this would be directly after intense or long duration bout of exercise. P.S. sugar is in everything!
Protein: Let’s just say that for the most part, protein is your friend. It is rare to over-consume it from packaged foods. Steer clear of soy based protein, it has most likely been genetically modified, and the fillers are from animal parts that you just don’t want to ingest…EW! The protein to carbohydrate ratio is important for those trying to manage insulin response, and because protein is the building blocks of healthy cells, it’s definitely a winner at dinner. Just check the ingredients to see where the heck the protein is coming from.
The vitamin percentages: The government is still using outdated RDA requirements based on a 2000 calorie a day diet. Honestly? There is no proof that this is accurate information, or that the nutrition is actually bio-available. Processing itself kills most of the nutrition, but if there is something you need to fortify or avoid, then check the label and act accordingly.
Ingredients: Here is the motherload of information you need to be aware of. Read it, and weep. Can you pronounce it? The amount of poison that can enter your body, legally, is astounding. Thank God, for the liver, and the kidneys, that have to sort through all that stuff and get it to a safe place (your fat cells), so you don’t die immediately. Packaged foods need to last a long time on a shelf and still taste good. Billions of dollars have been spent to ensure that the consumer has a pleasant taste experience upon ingesting, so companies have developed thousands of ingredients that ensure you buy the product again and again. I challenge each one of you that read this information, to take some time to google search the stuff you can’t pronounce. Better yet, have your kids do it!
Bottom line: real food should perish. It was once alive, that is what makes it food. Don’t be fooled by the package that says it’s healthy. Do your research. Know what you are eating and how much. Be responsible for knowing, because the government and the large food industries, would probably prefer you just dig right in!
Number one reason people make poor food choices? Drumroll please…… Lack of time. Does this come as a surprise to anyone? Of course not! We are busy, busy, busy! Food is an afterthought. More often than not, we decide what to eat once we are hungry, and then look for a convenient “fix” so that we can move on with our day.
Yes, quantity of food is important, but that does not minimize the significance of quality. Healthy food will always be in short supply when you are stuck in traffic, at the office, your kids’ practices, in a meeting, or waiting in line. By the time we get to eat, we are “starving” and grab the wrong thing simply because it is available.
These situations happen daily and they take their toll on our health as Americans. We put more thought into the type of gas we put in our cars than we do fuel for our bodies. (We even purchase them at the same place…gross!)
The following is an action plan and prevention tips. Carve out some time each week to plan your meals and snacks in advance. You should know exactly what you are going to eat and when you are going to eat it when you wake up in the morning. In this way, you are prepared for the day ahead…mentally and physically!
1. Use an hour on the weekend to cut up fresh fruits and veggies for the day. Pre-make salads and throw enough meat on the BBQ, or in the oven, for lots of leftovers for sandwiches and stir fry’s later in the week. This will cut way down on the processed junk you eat “in a pinch.”
2. Pre-pack food in appropriate portion sizes. Tupperware containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes for every member of the family. Get into the habit of “grab and go” with healthy choices.
3. Invest in coolers! Bringing a small cooler of snacks and meals filled with healthy options to work with you may get you some snide comments from co-workers…that is until they see your waistline shrinking. Purchase a medium sized cooler to keep in the trunk of your car for quick stops during commutes or kids practices to load up on produce, and fresh protein options. Keep a large cooler available for car trips, kids games, or long days away from home so you won’t be so tempted to eat take out, or garbage from the gas station.
4. Eat every 3-4 hours. Schedule it! Never let yourself get starving. It is impossible to make healthy choices once you are that hungry. Also, the human digestive machine works most efficiently when fed at regular intervals. Small meals regularly throughout the day should be a daily habit that keeps metabolism moving, energy levels consistent, and mental clarity and focus in check.
Notice that by creating a plan, you not only save time during the week, but also money. Do the math…it’s a win/win!
The celebration at your house is over. You:
A. Start cleaning up, munching as you go on all the left over goodies, and wrapping up the remains to be eaten later, saving the best stuff in your private stash.
B. Hand leftovers to friends and family as they walk out the door, wrap up the fresh stuff, and toss the junk in the garbage.
C. Finish every last goody that night so you won’t be “tempted”
D. Let it sit out and throw it all away in the morning.
As ridiculous as some of those answers sound, we can find ourselves somewhere among them. Is there a correct answer? It serves to show us that our lifelong beliefs about food (which were shaped by our parents and their parents) affect the way we view the value of food. Many of us were brought up by our post-depression era parents who loathed wastefulness. We are bringing up our children with those same messages…“There are children starving in India,” “Waste not, want not”, “Clean your plate”, and the dreaded,“No dessert until you finish your dinner.”
Things have changed. We live a fast paced life, with very little home cooking. We eat and feed our kids what is convenient. Out of a bag, or the freezer, or a box…We eat too fast and we eat too much. The biggest problem I am seeing with the rise of childhood obesity is parents who make their children eat food that they should not even be consuming in the first place.
“Aha!” I thought. This is exactly why our kids are among the unhealthiest in the world. There has to be some kind of solution. Our kids are addicted to sugar and processed foods. Why? Because sometimes as parents, it is easier to offer them out of convenience or a method of bribery, and then insist they finish all of it, even though little tummies fill up fast.
With all of the chemicals, additives, and unhealthy ingredients, it is similar to handing someone you love a bottle of poison and saying, “Make sure you finish all of it.” Think about it.
The health implications are severe. Read the statistics. We are an unhealthy population, spending millions of dollars on diseases that are totally preventable. It starts in the home. Throw away the garbage and keep the fresh stuff plentiful and available. Trust me, it will all get eaten when you don’t default to chips!
Tips for healthy eating and reducing waste:
1. Don’t buy so much junk to begin with. Offer fresher, healthier alternatives. Don’t be afraid to clean out the pantry and pitch the junk!
2. Do not, under any circumstances, force feed a child food that most health professionals would agree is “poison.”
3. Limit your opportunities for junk. Just say, “No thanks,” when someone hands you the leftover cake to take!
4. Don’t finish it yourself, just to satisfy your urge to not be wasteful. Pizza crust really doesn’t taste that good! You can save hundreds of calories a day with this tip.
5. Learn to throw garbage where it belongs…in the garbage!!!
Oh, and those starving people in India? They are still starving.
-Volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter once a month.
-Adopt a child overseas and send a monthly donation.
-Get the family involved in community outreach events.
-Sponsor a family for the holidays.
If you are really concerned about starving people, there are thousands of ways to help. Eating all the left over birthday cake isn’t one of them.
Eating shouldn’t be complicated! There is so much information available on what to eat, when to eat, what not to eat, cleanse, don’t cleanse, what celebrities do, what your neighbor does…it’s overwhelming. Confusion is understandable, but it is also avoidable.
This series will focus on the reality of the diet (which is not a dirty four letter word, but a basic necessity of life.)
Introducing “Rules for Eating” exclusively for Smart Fem subscribers:
Rule #1 Spend more money on food.
Yes, I just said that. I find it sad that we spend more on a purse or a pair of shoes than on groceries, don’t you? Our basic fundamental need for nutrition is superseded by our desire to obtain inanimate objects and fun. Think about it. Last time I checked, being healthy IS fun, and all your clothes look great, regardless of where you buy them.
Your physical health and well-being is directly impacted by your dietary choices. Period. Spending more on organic, healthy, all-natural products, and less money on eating out, crap from vending machines, and alcohol at the local bar equals better health.
Whine all you want about the price of healthy food or high quality nutritional supplements, after you have examined your monthly expenses on entertainment and luxury items. If your priorities are backwards, you really aren’t in a position to cry about your health, your weight, or your dress size.
We are the only nation in the world that spends an average of 10% or less of our income on food. As the highest priority in life after clean drinking water, why is it that we grab the first thing that looks like food and shove it in our mouth without ever tasting it or reading a label to see what it actually is?
The obesity epidemic is a problem. Our problem. The top three deadly diseases are totally avoidable. Your healthcare costs are rising in direct relation to the way this country eats. Take a good, hard look at how your money is spent. Re-allocate funds, and redirect your priorities. Feeding your family garbage so that you can afford the $400/month car payment just ain’t right.
When I was a freshman in high school, I skipped my last class of the day to watch the boys’ swim team practice. I spent hours and hours in the comfort of the humidity watching the strength and the power and sleekness of the male swimmer. When I was a sophomore, I volunteered to become a “flasher” for the boys’ gymnastics team. This meant I sat at the judges table in posted the scores. I was as close to the action as you could get. Gymnastics: the art of physical perfection.
My junior and senior years were spent as a student athletic trainer for the football team. Every game I spent on the sidelines, and every afternoon, in the locker room taping ankles, nursing injuries, and cultivating a passion.
I never dated any of the guys on those teams! I am quite certain none of them even noticed me. I was madly in love with athletics, not the athletes, to be honest.
I went away to college and studied the human body. The more I learned, the more I craved to learn. To this day, I can’t get enough. It does not really matter what sport, or at what level, it is about movement. It is poetry and it is science. There is no limit to human potential.
Everyday I hear excuses why someone can’t do something. I have been the cheerleader, the coach, and the slave master, but it is the people out there “just doing it” that are the inspiration, really. Everyday I see someone go beyond any expectation they started with. Everyday I witness the transformation that happens from getting off the couch and moving. The option is to grow old, and soft, and weak, and sad.
Thirty two years ago, a little 14 year old girl could not take her eyes off the swimmers. Human movement captivates me to this day. Follow your passion, see where it takes you! For me, it has taken me to places that level the playing field and I think that’s what I love most.
It’s not about what you look like. It’s not about what you have. It’s not about who you know. It’s about what you can do. It’s about hard work, commitment, and understanding that discomfort is a part of the game sometimes. The discomfort makes us tough, and strong, and enviable. It’s about reaching potential. Everyone gets to be a winner; all you have to do is get up.
Move, dear public, just move!
Well it is officially time to set a new goal!
My fitness has always been a priority for me. It is important for me to set an example as a fitness professional, but it also important for me to take good care of myself so that I can take good care of others. For the last five years, however, my fitness program has been centered around doing what it takes to manage pain and chronic fatigue. Eating right and exercising at lower intensity levels were required in order to combat chronic adrenal fatigue that was brought on by the emotional and physical toll of the harsh reality of life. To compound the struggle, I was also diagnosed with skin cancer earlier this year and I am plagued by cervical spine degeneration and cranky SI joint.
Throughout all of this, I knew exactly what I had to do to stay on my feet and working to support my family. I had to give up teaching group exercise, training for half marathons, and anything that required heavy lifting. I learned how to back off and rest. It was not an easy lesson for my hyperactive personality, but it was critical to my healing process. I did a lot of walking, structural strength in the weight room, and stretch/release work in order to come back strong.
The excellent news is that I can feel my strength and energy returning. I began teaching group cycle again after a three year break and each class brings a renewed love for the format, power in my legs, and an intense desire to get outside and ride. I am running again, too! I am slow and it is not for very long, but I finish with a big smile on my face because the joy is back and the pain is minimal in comparison to what I have dealt with in the past. I am swimming again. It is a time of peace and meditation for me and the movement keeps my neck loose and my shoulders strong. I am not going very far or fast yet, but I feel like a million bucks for the rest of the day after a swim.
Today I decided to sign up for a half iron-man triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.2 mile run). It has been on my bucket list for years. I need the motivation. I feel healthy enough now to take on the volume and intensity of training that will be required. I have a training partner committing to do it with me. We have five months to train. We are not trying to set any records or place in our age groups, we just want to do something different and train for a goal…just because. We are going to laugh our way through the saddle soreness, blisters, and freezing cold water temperatures. Most of all, its just going to be a heck of a lot of fun to get out in the fresh air and breathe again.
I think it is important to understand that life has a way of getting in the way of your dreams. That is okay, as long as you do not give up on them just because it gets a little complicated. Patience is the biggest gift that has come with the turbulence of the last half decade. Rolling with the punches and learning to adapt to the situation are valuable skills that hopefully will now assist me in the adventure of the next several months as I ramp up the workload and juggle responsibilities. I have been granted a wonderful opportunity to share that with others. I saw people working so hard and seeing awesome results. It was so hard not to be jealous of them. I kept reminding myself that my day would come.
It is my turn now and my hope is that others will join me.
To those of you who need rest, take it. Be patient and allow the body to heal. Fill it with healthy things that nourish, slow down and breathe, take days off, and know you will come back stronger for it.
Wherever you are in your fitness adventure, embrace it fully and smile, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Originally posted on www.mindbodyunlimited.com