Thursday, June 30, 2011

Great News About Your Health!

I have some great news!

Last week I attended a workshop on the seven benchmarks of creating an effective corporate wellness plan so I can try to make my office wellness program a little (okay a lot) more legit.  As the board president of a non-profit worksite wellness organization (check us out at Working Well, Inc), I kinda feel like the program I implement for my coworkers needs to be top-notch. So I went.

Two slides really stood out to me. To give credit where it is due, these are from a national worksite wellness organization called WELCOA: the Wellness Council of America
 Here's the first one. 

One of my favorite Daily Doses is encouraging people to be their own healthcare plan. When we think about what we can do to control health care costs, how much thought goes into changing our own behavior to make ourselves less expensive to insure? Take a look at how much of our health care costs are determined by high-risk lifestyle choices. Choices. Just to make that part clear. :)

And here's the second one.

So what's the good news?  Here you go: today, you can lift that burdensome yoke of excuses off of your shoulders and live free from them. You're free! Get out there and become your own health care. Get out there and get healthy!

And, oh yeah, if you're not sure where to start, I can help with that. :)
I hear about genetics a lot.  Hell, I've used genetics as an excuse for my own weight gain and slow metabolism, when in reality I became fat by eating too much and screwed up my metabolism with fad yo-yo dieting!  It's true that our bodies have a set point but it's not as much a role as we think.  The vast majority of what determines our health is our health behaviors. Again, our choices. Take a look at where genetics falls: 20%. And even more surprising, access to healthcare is only 10% of health determinants.  We blame genetics and lack of access to resources for a lot of what ails us, but in reality, the choices we make determine the majority of how well our bodies function.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Food: Not a Recreational Sport

People have been telling me lately that since I am preggo (officially half way! woo hoo!) I should "relax" and "let go" and loosen the nutritional purse strings a little bit. But since when has incubating another life, which by the way is completely dependent on you for nourishment, been a good time to develop a heavy hand with the chocolate syrup?  If anything, it's time for increased attention to the quality of nutrition!

Now, okay: I can't profess to being a perfect eater 24/7 nor can I deny that I can be rightfully accused of taking nutrition a little too seriously at times. I have my diversions like anyone else (three birthday celebrations in one week will do that to you!) but 90% of the time, while I'm eating more than I did before I wasn't pregnant, the quality of the food is still the same. 

Here's how I keep it clean:

1. A good half of my plate is veggies and/or fruit at almost every meal.
2. I keep the meat to lean turkey and skinless grilled or baked chicken.
3. I keep my dairy to non-fat or low-fat unsweetened greek yogurt.
4. I keep the grains to 100% whole grain 100% of the time, period.

Everything that doesn't fall into one of those categories...well, I just don't eat much of that stuff! That's the 10%.

I appreciate the sentiment but from where I stand, eating healthfully and knowing I am getting a great bang for my nutritional buck is fun. Food is not a recreational sport. It's FUEL for our bodies so we can run, jump, play, work, and have fun!  So no worries: I'm cool.

Good nutrition is an every day thing, and it's the kind of thing that gets better every day. Give it a try: get out there and get healthy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fitness: You get what you expect!

A couple of athletes here locally have been training for The Death Race, and I've been following their training thanks to the video updates of their workouts uploaded by their gym, Boot Camps to Go.  The Death Race is held each year in Vermont and is so named because it's supposed to be insanely hard not just physically but mentally as well.  It's an adventure race with obstacles like navigating a barbed-wire forest in the dark, assembling your own transportation after searching for the individual components in a murky pond, carrying a portion of your body weight up a mountain only to be faced with logic puzzles to complete at the top, and memorizing facts, figures, and objects so you can recreate them at a later time. It requires participants to be prepared for and willing to try just about anything and is proud of its 10% average completion rate. I usually roll my eyes at the "we're so tough" mentality of some endurance athletes (usually the ones I am trying to convince myself I am not jealous of) but I have to admit, I can't wait to hear how they do and what they encounter. They've been working very hard and I admire them! Go Megan and Ricky!

I love to tough it out with something that is trying to beat me; the sense of accomplishment after achieving something really brutal is beyond euphoric. It reminds me that difficulty is relative, and we can all do more than we think.

Every single time - every single time - I have set out to accomplish something new in health or fitness I have been met with the reality that I can do way more than I thought. We all can, including you.  It's just a matter of what you decide will happen.

My Daily Dose today was about how success favors the prepared mind. If Megan and Ricky hadn't prepared themselves for the Death Race, their chance of completion would be dismal. The same type of focus can be applied to the things we do every day to prepare ourselves for even the most minimal health success.

Here's what I'm saying: expect fitness to be impossible and it will be. Expect eating healthy to be a chore and it will feel like one. Expect your life to be adverse to a healthier routine and guess what?  You will never get your act together.

The reverse is true as well!  But you already knew that.

A whole world of amazing is waiting for you, and the golden ticket gets placed in your hand as soon as you start assuming you can achieve it. It's not always easy, but it's a lot easier when you expect the best. I'm on pins and needles to hear how the Death Race goes, and I expect to be thoroughly motivated to get out there and kick some fitness butt when I do! 

Get out there and get healthy...and start expecting it to be awesome!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Birthday Fun!

Today is my birthday!Woot! I have the best birthday because its right smack dab in the middle of the year, so it's the perfect time to:
1) buy myself gifts
2) re-asses my goals

First the gift part. My birthday present to myself is to FINALLY register for my WellCoaches Wellness Coach certification exam. It's expensive, yo! And since we live debt-free I have been saving my pennies so I could have it and this time next month I should be certified to mess with people's heads.  Well, related to their health and wellness goals anyway. :)

Now the goals part. I always see my birthday as a mid-year New Year's Day just for me (and my lifelong friend Cathy who has the same birthday as me. Happy birthday, Cathy!).  So for the next 365 days I have a few things in mind that I want embrace:

1) Live the 95210 philosophy. 9 hours of sleep a night, 5 servings of fruits or veggies a day, 2 hours or less screen time, 1 hour of exercise, and 0 sugary drinks every day.  Nine hours of sleep might be next to impossible once my bambino makes his arrival but hey, it's a goal. :)

2) Clean and Lean living. Over the past year my husband and I have made some serious strides towards the true American dream: living within our means and free from debt. We're there now, and it's mighty fine. I'd love to see this be a constant in our lives and not participate in the national pastime of debt wading. Come live Clean and Lean with me!

3) Plyometrics. I want to become a plyometric phenomenon. Enough said.

A few other birthday side notes:

yes I have already eaten cake (my lovely co-worker and friend made a clean eating cake for me!)

yes I have already eaten ice cream (all natural, thankyouverymuch)

yes I will have more of both later.

Have a fantabulous Healthy Heather's Birthday and as always...get out there and GET HEALTHY!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Eat Simple Challenge: Days 4, 5, and 6

So I totally dropped off the planet and didn't post anything else about the Eat Simple Challenge. It was a very busy weekend! But I still did Days 4, 5, and 6, which were about looking for packaged foods in my diet that I can eliminate. Since most of the packaged foods I eat are bread or yogurt, that's pretty simple. I can make both of those myself. How about you?  Were you surprised by the number of packages you opened, or did you feel like you were doing a pretty good job eating clean?  I'd love to hear about your experience.

Now, will I actually make my own bread and yogurt? Yes and no. My husband said, after reading about our naan being on the list of packaged foods, "please don't get rid of our naan. I love our naan."  LOL  So we'll keep that. But the rest of my bread I can definitely make at least once a week.  Yogurt is really just a casualty of convenience and cost-effectiveness. I have a yogurt maker and have made my own, but I haven't found that it is cost-effective (or time efficient) considering that I like really thick Greek-style yogurt. Chobani is just fine with me!

The challenge was a great one for awareness. I am definitely more tuned in to the packages I open each day, and when I did my weekly shopping at the grocery I was proud of how clean my buggy was. Over the past month I have gotten right back on my regular routine of eating lots of veggies and few packaged foods.  Take that, pregnancy appetite!  

Oh, and the result? Awesomeness all around.  Almost every time I've started seeing muscle definition, it's a direct result of eating spinach. Popeye was right!  After just one week of eating more vegetables, my muscles are back out and I feel like myself again. 

Give it a try! Eat simple: chuck the packages, eat lots of veggies, and tell me if you don't feel great as a result. It's really easy...just get out there and get healthy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eat Simple Challenge: Day Three (and when to buy organic)

It's Day Three of the Eat Simple Challenge and I am still keeping tabs on my package-opened ratio when I eat. Yesterday I did pretty much the same as Day One except I added:
  • Olive-oil Mayonnaise. I know, it's a pregnancy thing.
  • A package of Naan that I use for pizza crust.

Obviously I can do without mayonnaise and I can make my own pizza crust!  I'm realizing that for the most part, the packages I open are mostly based on convenience. With a little time in the kitchen, I can easily eliminate these. Hmmmm....a flip-down tv in my kitchen permanently tuned to HGTV sounds good about now. :)

As you're thinking about the pros and cons of tossing packaged foods and eating more produce, consider this update from the Environmental Working Group's 2011 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides. How many of the fruits and veggies on the Dirty Dozen list are faves of your family? Print it out and bring it with you the next time you shop so you can be aware of when to spring for organic produce!

And as always, get out there and get healthy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eat Simple Challenge: Day Two

A weekend at the beach.
Parents in town.
Father's Day.
My birthday (woot).
Two restaurant lunches for work.
In-laws in town.

Those are all opportunities for nutritional haywire, and that's just June!  Next month there's the 4th of July picnics, a work trip out of town, and vacation!  Egads, it's worse than the holidays! Needless to say, I've been making a plan for eating clean and healthy despite all of these distractions!

Okay, it's Day Two of the Eat Simple Challenge! How is it going? Here's my list of packages I opened yesterday.

Toufayan Low-Carb Wrap (twice)
Arnold's 100% Whole Grain Bread
Chobani Low-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
A gallon of milk
Publix Greenwise Vanilla Protein Powder

Not too bad! Technically, I could make my own bread and yogurt. I have a breadmaker and a yogurt maker and both are easy to make. So there are a couple of candidates for package elimination right there.

On to Day Two: more data collection. As you record your packaged foods today, think about possible alternatives to what you've opened. Be creative!

And get out there and get healthy! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Eat Simple Challenge: Join me!

Last week, as I was reveling in the good vibes I was getting from my Veggie Challenge (eating a veggie-based meal every day for a week to reacclimate my tastebuds) I realized something really cool: I had only opened a small handful of packages in order to eat. My wraps come in a package, as does my yogurt and a slice of sandwich bread, but everything else was straight from the earth. Berries, veggies, eggs, crackers, etc. It was an awesome feeling and it made me wonder if I could open even fewer packages the next day and eat even closer to the ground.

So here's my challenge: three days of tracking package usage and three days of reducing package usage. Six days total, starting today. I'm going to keep it really simple:

Days 1, 2, and 3: Write down the packages you open in order to eat. This includes boxes, wrappers, packets, vacuum seals, plastic lids, etc. No judgment here, we're just collecting information.  At the end of Day 3, take a look at your list and ask yourself whether there are any packages you could eliminate. Taking the food out of the package does not count! LOL The goal is to reduce the amount of food you eat that originated in a package of some sort.

I am not including unwrapping meat, as I don't think any of us are raising our own livestock, or peeling stickers off of fruit. The focus is reducing the amount of food processed to increase its flavor, shelf-life, or appearance.

Days 4, 5, and 6: Each day, work on removing those packaged items from your list. This may be difficult, as so much of our daily nutrition revolves around convenience. But remember, you can always do more than you think. Be creative and try new foods!  At the end of Day 6, take a look at the progress you made.

The goal here is awareness, and a side benefit would be some actual change. We may find that after three days of not eating that packaged food, we don't even miss it!  I'm looking forward to the challenge and I hope you will join me!

I'll be tracking it on my Facebook fan page so check for updates!  Now get out there and get healthy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rear-end Mirrors

You know how it seems like some women are just never happy with how they look even though they look perfectly fine to everyone else? Yeah, I've been that woman. Seriously, who hasn't? Our eyes are not calibrated for reality when we're looking at ourselves (or our children, for that matter). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in most cases women drop themselves like a hot potato.

I left negative self-talk in 2010 because it was just bringing me down and making me feel, well, pathetic.  I don't like feeling pathetic so I stopped.  Since I've stopped using my obviously malfunctioning mirror as a gauge for my self-esteem, I've realized how much of how I feel about myself is related to how active I am. When I'm working out and eating well, I feel like a bombshell. When I can't get to the gym or have a few days of haphazard nutrition, I feel more like a bomb.  No rocket science there. It's virtually the same body either way, but it's a lot easier to feel positive and confident about it when I am taking an active role in making it stronger.

Well, that all reversed itself on me last weekend. I've been working out consistently throughout my pregnancy, but I haven't been feeling very bombshellish. I've tried to remind myself that it's time to stop being so selfish and suck it up because it's just temporary and seriously, get a grip, how shallow can I be? It worked for a while but I still felt larger than life.

Then on Saturday I came home from my 5 mile run, high on endorphins. I was so thrilled that I had such a great workout that I didn't think twice when my son wanted to take pictures of me. As I flipped through them I was caught off-guard.  I wasn't seeing a mushy, over-stuffed, sloth of a person. I saw someone who looked pretty darn awesome for five months pregnant and just back from a run. In fact, I felt so great about it that I uploaded them to my Facebook page.

It was nice to have that reversal of perspective. I was immediately able to appreciate the level of fitness I have been able to maintain and be proud of it. I had gotten caught up in self-pity over what I felt I had to give up but realized I hadn't given up anything. I had gained the best gift of all: a strong body that can maintain fitness throughout pregnancy, a husband who showers me with compliments no matter how hard I make it for him to do so, and a son who wants to take my picture.

Cue the sheepish grin. I guess I have it pretty good afterall.  Remember folks, a lot of fitness is mental, and the messages we send ourselves resonate loud and clear. Don't be afraid to look in your rear-view mirror: believe the nice things people tell you and look for a few of them yourself.

In other words, get out there and get healthy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Intentional Health: MY (long) Story

Most people assume that fitness comes naturally to me, and that I have always been fit. Not the case. An interest in fitness and a desire to be in a state of streamlined health has always been with me, but not the intentional actions that led to that goal.  

As a kid I always thought I was fat, which of course I was not. I would run with my dad, go on crazy diets, and do TV workouts in my living room to lose weight. It never really worked because I didn't have the nutritional habits to use as a foundation for my efforts, and I just didn't have any real weight to lose!  In college I got on the serious fitness kick spending every available moment lifting weights, running, and swimming, but my nutrition still wasn't there and again, I floundered.  It was frustrating and angering. Eventually, shortly after I got married, I gave up. I figured after that many years of working so hard to transform my body into my vision for myself, it just wasn't going to happen.  I actually conceded defeat. It was a divorce of sorts, because I truly loved fitness and exercise and how I felt when I was in that zone. But I felt betrayed by the lifestyle I had given so much of my energy to. I had loved it and it didn't love me back.  Fitness just wasn't that into me.

I don't remember how much time went by, but it wasn't long before I found myself about 40 lbs heavier. Then 10 more. Eventually I was a size 14, heading into a 16, and standing in a store trying to buy clothes and feeling completely defeated. This wasn't the life I wanted. I was tired, bitter, uncomfortable, and most of all I was living apart from my true self.  I had let anger and failure consume me to the point that I didn't even recognize myself; I knew things had to change. No, I had to change.  So I did.

Somehow I found a website called, and I was engulfed in a community of women just like me. Once I decided to start intentionally changing my life it became easier to stay motivated but what really started to come out was my love for motivating. In fact, I got so much joy from helping and seeing others achieve their weight loss goals that not only did it fuel my own weight loss, it was the beginning of my path as a wellness coach.  People began to email and ask me to help them; other women reached out and asked me to be their coach and their source for accountability.  I also met one of my best friends, who has been a sincere blessing in my life.  As a result of my reaching out and intentionally changing my life, I was even featured in First for Women Magazine for my eventual weight loss of about 55 pounds. I thought I had done it - I lost the weight, reconnected with myself, and found a new life passion.  But there was so much more.

Oh, there was more!  I had barely scratched the surface of the power of intentional health. I didn't do anything magical to lose 55 pounds, just intentionally ate less and moved around more (that's not to say it was easy: it took three years because of yo-yoing, gaining some back, and learning some lessons the hard way).  The magic started when I realized that was just step one. I thought, if I could lose weight, keep it off, and motivate others to do the same, what else could I do?

I was a woman on a mission. I got a trainer who introduced me to clean eating and started fine-tuning. I was in great shape and really living in flow. Then, I got pregnant and gained 75 lbs. In January 2006 I took a deep breath and did it all again. I lost the weight again, I had the epiphany again, I learned the lessons again.  That's when I turned into Healthy Heather.  

I'm now a triathlete, half-marathoner, Ultimate Fitness Challenge finisher, Certified Personal Trainer, and just weeks away from earning my Certified Wellness Coach designation.  But I'm not living my dream. I'm living my reality: the reality I finally reached out and snatched back into my life because it was MINE dammit and I was sick of letting it sit on a shelf because I got my nose out of joint over life not being fair.  I didn't win the genetic lottery and wasn't born into a naturally lean and athletic body. I made one of my own, and it didn't happen by accident.

I did it on purpose. I did it intentionally.  You can too.

Now get out there and get healthy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Intentional Health: Tracking Progress!

One of my favorite bosses once said something that stuck with me: you can manage what you can measure. He was talking about marketing campaigns, but it applies to so much more. Since this week is all about intentional wellness, what better way is there to intentionally live healthy than to collect and track data?  For today we're going to let the answer be, "none!" :)

There are plenty of ways that we could get all compulsive about our health, micromanaging it down to the point where we're so stressed that we forget that being healthier is supposed to make us happier. I don't recommend that. Instead, let's focus on two of the biggies: what goes in and what goes out. I'm talking about calories, just so we're clear.

First, the calories that go in. For years I collected stacks of little spiral notebooks where I had logged my meals, and then I found and started logging my meals online. Way easier. Keeping a food journal is not only a proven technique for permanent weight loss management, but it provides both data and accountability, two of the other tools in my healthy tool chest.  When I find myself out of synch, I check the log and look for clues. Have I been eating the same thing for too long? Have I been eating out more often? Or even worse, are there are few days in a row when I *gulp* haven't written anything down? If you're accurate in your log, you should have the data you need to solve the mystery and get back on track. I'll also refer back to it to see what I'm doing right. When I want to go back to a place where I remember feeling better, I flip (or click) back to that date and check to see what my fuel was like back then. I'll give you a hint: it's usually spinach.  Planning and logging your food is a great way to use intention to have a healthy day.

Second, the calories that come out. Yesterday I gave you the formula for determining how many calories you need to take in and/or burn to lose or maintain weight, but my favorite tool for tracking this is my GoWearFit.  I seriously love this thing. I bought it a year ago and while I haven't been wearing it since I've been pregnant, I am planning to pop that sucker on the second this baby is out. Not only does it track your calorie burn and provide tons of awesome data for you to manage it, it also reveals your sleep patterns, breaks down your macronutrients, and more. Once you enter in your meals, it tells you whether you're on a weight gain or loss trend. Seriously, it cannot be easier.  Get one.

Living intentionally well simply means doing something every day to move closer to health. Recording the actions you take to do just that.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get healthy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Intentional Health: Eating for Function

This week is about intentional health: doing things on purpose to make yourself healthier.  Yesterday we talked about functional exercises, and today it's all about functional food.

Laurel Blackburn, one of my favorite trainers and owner of Boot Camps to Go, introduced me to the concept of functional eating years ago, whether she realizes it or not. She simply had to say the words in a lunch and learn presentation and my brain clicked. I fell in love with the concept of eating with intention: eating food that was chosen because of the way it performs in my body, not based on what sounds good at the time. It made perfect sense and I've done it ever since.

Since I've been pregnant, my functional eating has been more about survival (and supressing homicidal urges) than athletic performance. But, now that I am past the first trimester eating-bread-all-day-to-stay-upright phase, it's getting a lot easier to go back to my normal diet of vegetables, fruit, and lean protein. Thus, my veggie challenge from last week, which has been going great by the way. I've been eating one veggie meal every day for a week with the intention of getting my taste buds reacclimated to them.  Now, I crave tomatoes and spinach again just like the good old days!  Well, almost. :)

So how do you eat with intention?  Well, first take a look at your energy needs throughout the day: When do you exercise? Morning, noon, evening? Plan your high-energy and high-glycemic foods (bananas are a good example) for right before those times and limit them the rest of the day when your body just doesn't have a practical need for them. When do you feel tired during the day?  Plan a well-balanced snack (a good ratio of carbs, protein, and healthy fat) to boost your energy and keep you satiated until your next pit stop.  One of my favorites is plain greek yogurt with fresh blueberries and an ounce of chopped walnuts or slivered almonds mixed in.

Second, take a look at your fitness goals. Do you want to build muscle? Eat more protein after a workout.  Do you need energy stores for an endurance workout?  Make sure you're getting plenty of carbs and electrolytes.  A runner has different food needs than a weight lifter, and a multi-sport athlete will eat differently than a yoga devotee.  One plate does not suit all!

Finally, take a look at your daily calorie expenditure and determine the proper amount of fuel (calories/food) that your body needs. If you're trying to lose weight, subtract about 500 calories a day to create a deficit.  If you want to maintain, shoot to break even.  Plan for contingencies: if you know you have a party on the weekend and you'll likely go over your alloted calories, plan a slight deficit throughout the week or a big workout that day to burn them off.  It's all about planning and eating with the intention of staying healthy.  Here's a formula to help you figure out your magic number.

The point here is to think before you eat. Ask yourself whether what you're about to eat will get you to your next destination. And, if you're not sure, head to the library and check out YOU: On a Diet by Drs. Oz and Roizen. It's chock full of great info on how food works.

Intentional eating is fun and rewarding. So get out there and be healthy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Intentional Health: Exercise with a Purpose!

It's been said that successful people don't wait for things to happen to them, they happen to things.  I like to think of this as good old fashioned doing things on purpose.  Specifically, doing things on purpose to benefit YOU!  In case you haven't caught on, I'm talking about getting healthy. :P  This week is about intentional health.

Intention is something I talk about a lot around the holidays because it is one of the four tools in my healthy toolchest.  Unless you're doing something intentionally every day to achieve your wellness goal, you're only going to experience a mediocre level of achievement. Since we're all busy and need to get the biggest bang for our healthy minute, I don't see any purpose in not giving each one of them the full effort.

Today we'll focus on intentional exercise: choosing a workout that is going to be the best fit for what you want to do in life. Exercising for function is just smart, and it makes exercise a lot more rewarding because you're not only working towards getting healthier overall, but you're preparing your body for something else you want to do.  For example, if you have a hiking trip coming up and don't want to be winded, you should intentionally do exercise that mimics that activity. Walk outside or on a treadmill on varying inclines and terrains, do step-ups to strengthen your legs and mimic climbing a hill or over a ledge, and gradually increase your distance and intensity over time. As a result, your lungs, legs, and cardiovascular system will be ready for your trip and you'll be healthier overall.  Exercise with a purpose. Intentional health.

For me, one of the hardest parts of living in my pregnant body is letting go of my beautiful, sculpted arms. I knew my midsection would go, of course, and my legs and bum as well.  It just goes with the territory of storing fat for the little one. But my arms too?  Really?  I've worked so hard on them, it would be nice if I could keep the guns looking lean and mean a little bit longer! I've turned to intentional exercise: I'm swimming three times a week, doing compound upper body exercises in the gym, and purposely looking for ways I can challenge my arms without lifting too much weight.

A good way to find out if your workout is intentional is to channel the curiosity of a four-year-old child and start asking why. Even little kids know that even the most mundane chores are more fun (and bearable) when there is a purpose. If you're not sure what exercise would be the most intentional for your life goals, inquire with a certified personal trainer (like mio).

Health is more fun when you do it on purpose. Now get out there and be healthy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Your Health: It's Your Choice

Health, just like happiness, is a choice.  Not only the behaviors associated with acheiving the outcome of a healthy body, but also the pure essence of being healthy.  That's great news, because we get to make that choice every day!

There are so many parts of our day that we can't always control, but we can control what we choose when we have the option.  Sometimes, being healthy is as simple as just reaching out and choosing it!  Okay, it might not always be the most fun choice, but it is always there for us, secretly hoping we pick it to play on our team.

Think you don't have time to exercise with a job and kids and everything else?  That's a choice.  Thousands of people every day set their alarms early to get up and exercise before their busy day starts because they choose to be healthy.  You can do it, too. If you're tired, go to bed earlier. It's a choice.

Think you're sabotaged at work when everyone wants to go out for Chinese food at lunch?  That's a choice. I've brought my brown bag to many a restaurant to eat my healthy fare without missing out on the company of my friends because I choose to be healthy.  They return to work needing a nap. I feel incredible. It's a choice.

Think that birthday cake you'll be facing this weekend is just making it too hard to stick to a calorie budget?  Yep, that's a choice too!  Trust me, that cake will be long gone (and making someone else feel crummy) by the time you're enjoying the payoff of choosing health.  Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.

Every choice we make brings us closer to or further from our goals. I really don't think there is such a thing as standing still; in my eyes, inaction takes us away from progress.  Now, that's not to say that it's realistic to think that every choice we make will be the healthy one.  We are humans, after all.  But, it's important to remember that regardless of the outcome, we choose it.

As you go through your day, keep a mental tally of your choices.  Are you choosing to unhealthify some perfectly good-for-you food?  Are you choosing to make deliberate changes in your life?

It's a powerful tool, these choices. We can literally determine the course of our day (and tomorrows) just by choosing to be healthier than we were yesterday. Take hold of that power and weild it!

Get out there and be healthy!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Veggie Pros

So after my confession - and the response I got - about having such a hard time eating veggies these days, my stubborness has kicked in. Darn it, I love vegetables! Not only are they delicious, they're so good for us, easy to prepare, and right there for us to enjoy. I love filling my plate with bright colors and knowing that every bite I take is doing something great for my body.  So I made it a challenge: eat vegetables for one meal every day for a week, starting TODAY.  I'm making a huge salad for dinner and I am going to love it!

It's a choice.

I was choosing to let my whiny pregnant self call the shots, but the muscular, strong, vibrant, vegetable lover inside of me was withering in response. That's not cool. I'm making a different choice and turning the tables.

When it comes to making tough choices, I turn to decisional balance, a logic tool I use in wellness coaching to shed light on motivators that may be in the wings, waiting for a moment to shine.  Some ways to use decisional balance are to list the pros and cons of each choice, visualize yourself living in each choice and experiencing the emotions that result, and simply asking yourself to list reasons why not to make the change. It's pretty difficult to find enough reasons why not to eat vegetables to justify actually not doing it! 

I made my pros and cons, and my con list had just one reason: overcoming my tastebuds. Dude, I've done that so many times and had amazing feedback as a result that I know I can knock it out in no time and I will feel incredible as a result. So, the decision is clear: I want to eat vegetables...I just need to do it long enough to remember why.

Veggies for one meal for a week. Here we go!  If you're struggling with making healthy choices, simply apply some logic.  When you see your reasons why you should stay unhealthy written on paper, they seem pretty lame. Don't be lame.

Get out there and be healthy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Eeenie Meenie Miney Moe: Choices

This week is about the choices we make between the healthy path and the not so healthy path.  I'm reminded of this daily, mostly because I rant on and on all the time to people about how health is a choice and the vast majority of the health issues we deal with are the result of our own stupid decisions.

But also because I have also been working extra hard to make healthy choices.

Pregnancy appetites are rough, yo!  I've waddled into a very gray area of health lately. Technically, the food I am eating is healthy.  It's mostly organic, definitely all natural, and my calories are more or less prudent for an active pregnant woman (it's hard to tell if I am eating too much or too little these days).  But my diet has been sooo bread-heavy, and a lot of it has been bars. Sugar bars. Clif bars, granola bars, fig bars...if it's held together with honey, I am all over it.  It's been driving me batty!  I haven't had a vegetable in months and it's really wearing on me.

As someone who just a few months ago lived almost exclusively on vegetables, fruit, chicken, and oatmeal, this is new territory. I can't even look at a piece of chicken these days...unless it is covered in cheese and wrapped in a tortilla!

So I am making choices. My sweetened Chobani yogurt is now plain and sweetened with blueberries.  My granola bars are back to being oatmeal with walnuts.  I haven't made sweet potato fries in two days.  Two days!  I'm having to be very strict with my tastebuds and sweet tooth and they are not happy about it not one little bit no siree.

These are choices I make today, but also for the future. I want a healthy baby, and I want a healthy me. I want to be able to keep running, lifting weights, and swimming all the way to the end.   So when I face a case of the grumpy pants about the whole deal, I remind myself:

Health is a choice, and the choice is mine. I choose it today so I will have a choice later.

Are the decisions you make each day towards health or away from it?

Towards your goals or away from them?

Are you limiting your choices in the future because you choose the path of least resistance today?

Make healthy choices with me...or risk the resentment and wrath of a pregnant woman who wants a fig bar. I'm looking at you!

Go out there and be healthy!