Monday, July 25, 2011

The Club Meeting

You never know what you'll find in a hotel gym. I forgot my hat today, a cardinal sin for me, so anyone who found me there was subjected to not only my morning face but also my morning hair. People think having a pixie cut is super-easy and low-maintenance, but in reality you end up waking up with a mohawk, which I tried to flatten with water before heading downstairs for a nice stroll on the treadmill. I was moderately successful but I still looked really bad.

Today I found someone who happily talked my ear off as much as I talked to her about exercise, fitness, and being "that person," who brings their own food everywhere. She was in the military, so carrying her insulated lunch bag was a little more difficult than mine, which I just store in the office fridge or leave in my car with a bunch of ice.

It was a nice reminder that people are out there every day doing what it takes to maintain (or achieve) great levels of health, even if it means toting around an insulated lunch bag during military drills. I got to meet another member of the great community of wellness, and we had a little club meeting right there in the gym, which was the perfect start for my day.

Inspirations to be healthy can be found just about anywhere, in people who emulate great behaviors and in people who remind you of what you don't want to do. Look around today and see what inspirations are around you, and soak them in.  Be part of the community, and call a club meeting of your own!
In other words, get out there and get healthy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

With a little help from my friends.

I know how shallow and petty it is to complain about the minor physical limitations of my body while it is in the process of undergoing the important business of growing and incubating another person, but I still do.  I have a feeling I'm not the only one who has marveled at the awe-inspiring magic of the whole thing while also griping about how nice the grass is on the other side of the fence.

We always want what we can't have, don't we? 

Yeah, I'm still eating healthfully and exercising five days a week, but I miss my extreme workouts. When I was complaining about feeling "blobby" to a friend yesterday, she reframed my reflection in a wonderful way, reminding me of my love for a challenge and that after the baby is born, I will get to embark on one of my all-time favorites: achieving my maximum genetic potential as an athlete. It was the pick me up that I needed and it helped today be a much better morning.

I had a great workout today, really fabulous. I walked/ran on the treadmill, did some lunges and deadlifts, some chest/shoulder work, and some crazy bicep curls that had me reveling in the old days of my workouts with Captain Awesome. I left feeling incredible.  Thanks for making that possible, Carole!

Another friend asked me earlier this week what color I felt like at that moment.  In a nanosecond I knew it was yellow.  To me, yellow means vibrant, energetic, full of sunshine and smiles.  At the same time, it is calming and serene. I'm a great place right now where I get to live on both sides of the fence: I have a massive source of energy within me holding a pep rally every day for some really incredible things about to happen in my life, and at the same time I have a calming smile on my heart because I am completely at peace with all of it. This is new territory. I'm not used to being at peace. I'm a problem-solver, and this doesn't feel like a problem.  It feels like I am finally where I should have been all my life.

These revelations, brought on with a little help from some wonderful friends, snapped me out of my blobbyness and into reality. I am a lucky, lucky girl.  I might be walking now, but my heart is running, and that's enough for me.

Walk, run, jump, leap - just get out there and get healthy. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Iron Chef? Nah. Just well-stocked.

Okay so on Tuesday I said I’d be back on Wednesday but I was wrong. Wednesday was too busy! So I hope you didn’t collapse into a crying heap of disappointment when that happened. :)

At least once a week someone is amazed at my food preparation process and asks me how I manage to do it. I’m always at a loss for words (or at least helpful ones) because honestly, I manage to do it by just doing it! Preparing food for the week ahead saves me time and money. I don’t have much of either so it’s a priority to max them out! I will post the actual steps I take but I want to include pictures, so it might be a couple weeks before I can get to that. For now, just some handy tips.

1. Plan it out in advance. Not just what you’re going to eat for dinner, but also breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Sit down with your or or food journal and enter it in so you know that your calories and macronutrients are where you want them to be. Make a detailed list and stick to it.

2. Look for ways to buy in bulk. Healthy food can be expensive, but I manage that by eating pretty much the same things every day. Remember, food is fuel, so it doesn’t have to be exciting.

3. Invest in storage containers. I have little casserole dishes for egg white scrambles, plastic bins for fruit and salads, and snack size ziplocks for almonds and salad toppers. I know plastic is evil and I shouldn’t use it, so I am working towards more glass containers. But in the meantime, Ziplock and Glad are my friends.

4. Buy a cooler and don’t be afraid to fill it up and tote it around with you. A big one for traveling, little insulated bags for the office, even diaper bags work well!

5. Set aside an hour or so to do food prep each weekend. I usually do mine on Sunday and get breakfast, lunch, and snacks squared away for myself and kiddo. Hubs is on his own.

The perks to advance food prep are pretty obvious. I know I enjoy not being a frazzled mess in the mornings trying to figure out what I am eating or feeling like I am stuck with something I don’t really want because I didn’t plan ahead. But also, you’re more likely to skip some baked item or vending machine snack when you have a bag full of good, clean, fresh food that will make you feel loads better.

Success favors the prepared mind, and having a stash of your own food takes such a load off of navigating good nutrition. It’s well worth the time spent, and soon I’ll share my personal process for getting it all squared away.

Until then, let me know what you like to pack and bring with you! And as always, get out there and get healthy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hello Third Trimester! Let's go running!

Hungry. I am so hungry! I’ve hit the third trimester and I am H-U-N-G-R-Y! And tired. But mostly hungry.

So I am eating! Naturally there’s a bit of a gap between what I crave (sweets upon sweets) and what I know I should be eating (not sweets). So, I am eating fruits and veggies that are naturally sweet…and making a few stops at the frozen yogurt place for when I just can’t take it anymore. I figure I’m at about an 85/15 split of uber-healthy and healthier-than-candy so it’s all good.

I might feel like a bulldozer in a bagel shop but in reality, my nutrition plan is pretty sound:

Banana pre-workout

Egg whites (and one egg) in a pita along with a smoothie (strawberries, blueberries, a little OJ, some water, and a scoop of protein powder) for breakfast

My big ginormous salad for lunch: spinach, romaine, grilled chicken, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, and a little feta tossed with a tablespoon or so of Annie’s Papaya Poppy Seed dressing for lunch

Snacks including carrots and a Horizons Organic Colby cheese stick, an organic apple with peanut butter, and some turkey, spinach, cucumber, tomato, and mustard in a wrap, along with some almonds.

Dinner varies: turkey burger, grilled chicken, healthified pizza, and one of these days we really will get around to grilling fish like we always want to!

When I am not eating I am exercising, and while I am exercising I am wondering: “should I still be exercising like this?” A trip to my doc today confirmed that I’m in the clear: I can continue to run, swim, elliptical, and lift weights until I decide to stop. That will make the strange looks and sometimes outright chastising I get from spectators a little easier to take. It’s amazing some of the myths people honestly believe about pregnancy. But, as hard as it may be to wrap our heads around, exercise is actually GOOD for pregnant women (and everyone else) and as long as you have no health concerns, moderate exercise is safe until your doctor or you pull the plug on it.

The intensity of my workouts have scaled back quite a bit but a typical week is full of energy:

• Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I call “Gym and Swim.” That means I hit the gym in the morning for some low-impact cardio on the elliptical (and History Detectives on PBS) or run (okay, shuffle) on the treadmill and then strength training with my trainer. I’m still running the gambit and exercising all muscle groups, just modifying things a tad. I’m pretty sure last week was the end of real push-ups for a while…and no it wasn’t because my stomach hit the floor first!

• Tuesday I walk with my running group! We recently switched to walking to accommodate some injuries, and this is a perfect workout for me right now.

• Thursday I rest. And yes I still feel like a slacker about it.

• Saturday I run! And by run, I mean shuffle along the street for 5 miles or so, alternating three minutes of running with one minute of walking. It keeps me sane.

I feel good, I look good, and most of all, the baby is perfect. I’ve surpassed my goal of running through the first six months and now I am just curious to see how long I can go! It’s been a really wonderful pregnancy and I am so thrilled to have maintained my fitness throughout.

Okay, enough baby talk. I’ll be back tomorrow with answers to some questions I’ve been getting about preparing and packing food, and the social stigma that goes along with it. In the meantime, get out there and get healthy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Crooked Path to Wellness

In an ideal world, we would all proceed happily down a path to wellness unencumbered by temptation, fatigue, budget restraints, travel food, and feeders. We'd arrive at our new and improved destination lighter, stronger, and healthier with a smile and in record time!  But, we all know that isn't exactly the case. In the course of any given week we face meals in restaurants, social events with tempting food, and the late-night munchies.  Losing weight is hard, yo.

That's why some people choose to have a "cheat day" built into their nutrition plan. I hate this idea. In fact, when a cheat day is included, I might as well go back to calling it a diet because that's what it is.  I'm known for preaching that a cheat day only cheats you, and I stand by that.  Here's why: if you're eating well, getting rest, exercising vigorously, and living a positive and healthy life, you shouldn't need (and likely won't want) to cheat. 

But that's not to say that every day is a nutritional fairy tale.  Yep, I'm going to ask you to change your perspective again. :)

Cheat, just like the word diet, is a negative word that implies that we are in such a desperate state that we have no alternative but to hide in secret and sabotage our efforts. When people cheat, it is because they don't have the confidence that they can succeed otherwise.  When we cheat, we are saying, "I can't do this on my own."  Why would we say such mean things to ourselves when we're in the process of doing something so amazing?

Remember, we're not on a diet anymore, we're changing our nutrition. And yes, on that nutrition path are some diversions. There are times when we wander off the path and explore a diversion, some of which are well worth it (your absolute favorite dessert, for example) and some of which are not (eating something sugary just because it's there).  Here's the difference between and cheat and a diversion:

A cheat is a negative message that tells us we can't handle our weight and wellness on our own.

A diversion is a positive message sent in the confidence that we have the skill set to keep the portion manageable and return to our regularly scheduled programming.

The difference to your brain is enormous.

I'll agree, sometimes there is nothing better than that rebellious feeling you have when you throw caution to the wind and say, to hell with it, make mine a double-scoop!  It feels great!  But trust me, it feels even better to know that the choice to do so can be a positive one.

You can manage your weight and wellness with confidence.  You don't need to cheat on yourself. You deserve better than that.

Positive self-talk is more powerful than we know. Just saying one positive message to yourself activates your brain to be happier and more optimistic. Try it today. Stop cheating, start winning, and get out there and get healthy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Watch Yo' Mouth! Why I hate the word "diet."

Diet is a four-letter word.

In order to spell, "diet" you have to start with, "die".

The diet starts Monday!

What else do we say to show our dismay with being on a diet?  It might be one of the most loathed words in our language, and for good reason. It conjures up images of deprivation, sacrifice, punishment, and happy people all around us gleefully eating things we're not allowed to eat because we're on a &*^%$ing DIET. >:/

I used to get called out for using the word diet.  "You're not fat," people would accuse. I'd try to explain that my "diet" was just my nutritional plan, not necessarily a scheme to lose weight.  We all have a diet - it's the menu of food we have planned for the day. But that word carries so much negativity with it that eventually I just stopped using it.  Now, I refer to my "nutrition."

I like it much better! Not only does "nutrition" have a happier sound, it equates to balance in my mind.  "Diet" means the scales are being tipped out of my favor.  "Nutrition" puts the power to choose back into my hands, where I like it. 

Think about this:

What happens as soon as we go on a diet?  We want whatever isn't on the diet!  But what happens when we simply change our nutrition?  Instead of being shackled by the rules of our diet, we're making choices.  What a huge difference!

What happens as soon as we got off of a diet?  We gain the weight back.  What happens when we go off of nutrition?  We die. Honestly, do we ever go off of nutrition?  No! We do nutrition all day, every day. It's just what we choose to be part of it that makes us feel like we need that bad four-letter word.

Try this today - instead of vowing to go on another diet, promise yourself to just change your nutrition.  Walk around in that for a while and see which one you like better.  And if you need help changing your nutrition, let me know.  I'm all over that stuff.

Change your words, change your mind, change your life.  And get out there and get healthy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Case of the Missing Sweet Tea

I'm born and raised in the south, where sweet tea might as well be part of the state constitution. It's sold by the gallon, gulped and slurped through straws in styrofoam go-cups, and practically poured into baby bottles.  So naturally, I hear all the time from people who want to lose weight that, "I'll never be able to give up my sweet tea." 

I just nod and smile because I've been there and thought the same thing. I've never been a sweet tea drinker myself (I blame that on my midwestern parents) but diet soda?  We used to go steady. I'd go through four cans of Diet Vanilla Coke in the course of one football game (that's what kept me from eating chips, dip, wings, and pigs in a blanket).  Eventually, though, I wised up to the damage of artificial sweeteners and weaned myself off. Now I've been soda free for going on five years. *applause!*

Sugar, whether it is real or artificial, has a death grip on our country. I'm not exaggerating too much - we're learning more and more about the role that sugar plays in obesity and disease. So it's imperative that we start creating strategies for getting off sugar and retraining our tastebuds to appreciate food and drinks without it.  I help people create these strategies all the time, and nothing makes me happier than two recent events that had me smiling from ear to ear.

The first was my incredibly handsome and witty husband. I've been systematically lowering our sugar intake for years, but he continued to drink his coffee with loads of artificial sweetener. I felt like such a hypocrite buying it at the store and would want to hide it under other groceries in case I saw someone I knew. But, he's an adult and it's his coffee so whatver.  Well, a couple of weeks ago he stirred up his coffee, took a sip, and made a face. Looking at his mug with an upturned lip he said, "I just can't drink this stuff anymore. It tastes way too sweet!"  Then he wanted to know why I was smiling so much. I filled him in on some exciting news - his taste buds were changing. Enough sugar had started to be eliminated from our nutrition that his taste buds were actually changing. I had a very hard time not doing the happy dance right there. 

Then last week a friend who is on her way to becoming a Wellness Without Pity success story (13 lbs down, yahoo!) confided that what she thought was the impossible, giving up sweet tea, was happening. On a road trip, she ordered sweet tea thinking she would splurge and treat herself. The shock of the sweetness was too much and she simply couldn't drink it. Again I couldn't contain my smile. Just a few months ago she had stood before me and adamantly sworn that she would not, could not, absolutely positively had no intentions of giving up her sweet tea, ever.

Well, until her tastebuds changed.  Now she just plain doesn't care for it.

I'm estatic over these two cases.  To me, it's proof that deliberate behavior change can achieve more than we ever dreamed possible in our nutrition if we just give it a try.  I've been there. I have a sweet tooth, too. But I don't live with the paralysis of thinking I am destined to a life of obesity because of it.

Give your tastebuds a fighting chance against sugar.  I promise you 100% they can and will change if you give them time. If you need help, let me know.  I love to do the happy dance.

Now get out there and get healthy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Step into the Spotlight: the WwoP 2012 Calendar!

Ever imagine yourself as a pin-up?  Here's your chance!

I am thrilled to announce a fun challenge for all of us and a new Wellness Without Pity product to help make your 2012 healthier than ever: a calendar!

What, you don't think calendars are fun and exciting?  Well, when you use your calendar the way I use mine, it becomes your best friend. I hang mine on my pantry door and put a sticker on each day that is healthy and active.  As the month progresses, and my stickers smile back at me, I am not only motivated to keep up my good work, I'm able to notice trends and patterns when I am...not so healthy. It's been a fabulous tool for my weight maintenance and training goals, so I've decided to make one of my own, starring YOU!

Each month of the Wellness Without Pity 2012 calendar will feature fitness tips, recipes, and a success story about someone (you) who has increased their health in a dramatic way through clean eating and exercise.  That could be you!  Here's what you have to do to be considered:

1. Set a wellness goal to accomplish by September 15, 2011.  It could be related to weight loss, training for an event like a 5k, reducing your dependence on medication, etc.  Post a comment on this entry with a description of your goal and email heather (at) wellnesswithoutpity (dot) com a "before" picture to announce your candidacy!

2. Get to work accomplishing your goal!  Clean up your diet, get moving, and get it done! 

3. By September 15, email your results and an "after" picture, along with a short account of your experience.  Brag away!

I'll announce the winners in late September and, naturally, open my website for advance orders of the calendar.  I'm sure you'll want to buy one for all of your friends and family for Christmas this year. :)

I'm pumped and I hope you are too!  So, tell me - what's your goal?

Get out there and get healthy!