Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh Holy Diet Plans...

One step into Target will confirm it: while the calendar may say October 31, Christmas is upon us. As a self-professed Christmas fanatic, I am partially filled with glee. As a tired and hype-weary parent, however, this kind of fills me with dread. Okay, not dread. Just overwhelming fatigue.

I love Christmas, but what I don't love is all the emphasis on FOOD! The commercials have already begun, reminding us of all the food we loved as a child and how much fun we will have eating it again. And then, faster than you can say Black Friday, the next commercial chastises us for gaining so much weight and tries to sell us a quick weight loss gimmick.

But are they really gimmicks? I'm not a fan at all of frozen packaged meals or unrealistic expectations for weight loss, but there are some valuable lessons to be learned from programs like Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, and Weight Watchers. I've known people who have had great success on these plans, and those who have just added it to a long list of failed attempts to manage their weight. The difference? The winners learned from the programs they chose, and the losers expected the plan to do the work for them.

You can learn the lessons and be a holiday weight loss winner, too. Check out these tips for holiday weight gain prevention and put them into action now! Why wait until January? Get out there and get healthy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

GetFitPod: A new adventure!

Whew! It's only been a week but it seems like a lifetime. Having a baby does that to you: makes time and space stand still while you try to get your bearings. Luckily, my bearings were close by and all of the people who told me that it's easier the second time around were right. I probably just jinxed my entire life by saying that! :)

Anyway, these days health and wellness are paramount in my mind, just on a different plane.  I'm starving all the time and have no clue how many calories I'm eating. My mom and friends are making meals for us, which I am devouring like I've just escaped from a refugee camp. I am not getting any exercise to speak of since I had a c-section, but I don't have the energy to do anything anyway. So far my biggest bout of activity was a trip to the grocery store yesterday, and I had to take a nap when I got home!

Priorities change after you have a baby. It happened last time, when I was adamant that I would immediately launch a weight loss campaign immediately after leaving the hospital and....didn't, and it happened this time, when I packed away my maternity clothes and filled my closet with stuff I thought I would be motivated to wear. Um, no. I'm still in my jammies.

But, a new adventure looms: I am so incredibly excited to be part of the launch of the new GetFitPod website. I've spoken of GetFitPod before, when I sang the praises of its former owner, Skip Orem. Now it's been turned over to Coach Jonathan Tilley, who asked me to be the site's first GFP Hero! I'll be blogging for the next six months on my journey from my current state (dough-like and slovenly) to the Rock-n-Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon in March. In addition to my role in the site, it has a whole new look and lots of new extras. Check it out today and download a workout for yourself. I love this site, have used it for years, and am so so so excited to officially be part of it. Jonathan, thanks for asking me to join the fun and for giving me an extra motivation to get back into shape! My first entry publishes tomorrow so read it, fools!

Have a great day. I'm going to go take a nap. Or maybe have a snack. Maybe I'll just put a snack next to the bed so I can eat in my sleep. And hopefully later I can get out there and get healthy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Get it Started Workout

I am a little superstitious about my workouts on big, significant days. The first workout of the year has to be really awesome. My birthday better start off with a great one, too, because it kicks off my own personal New Year's Day! Any time I am embarking on something new, I want to launch it with a cleansing, therapeutic, and super-energizing workout. It's my thing. So, as today is the last day of my fit pregnancy, it was my "Get it Started" workout, maternity style. Meaning, heart rate low, energy high!

I could not have asked for more beautiful weather. High 50s, clear blue skies, really gorgeous. I only had time for about a two-mile walk, but it was enough to get out there and feel the energy of the day. Knowing that for the immediate future most of my runs will include a baby in a stroller, and thus no headphones, I set out for a walk with some really loud music.

My Get it Started playlist:

Duh, "Let's Get it Started," by the Black Eyed Peas 
Then, Smash Mouth: "Then the Morning Comes"
"Suddenly I See," by KT Tunstall 
"Walking on Sunshine," by, don't hate me, Aly & AJ
"Invincible," by Ok Go. Sooooo hard not to run when this song is on!
And no new chapter can begin without hearing R.E.M. and, "It's the End of the World As We Know It" 

.....and I feel fiiiine. 

Better than fine, actually. I feel awesome. When I got back home, I had gone through a roller coaster of emotions: sadness that this pregnancy is almost over, trepidation at the road ahead, excitement over finally seeing what this little munchkin is like, and laughter over just how much more amazing my journey is about to become. 

My Get it Started workout is in the books and now this new chapter can start! Do you have a new chapter starting in your life? Kick it off with a Get it Started workout to make sure it is positive, high-energy, and started in a healthy frame of mind. And then, you know the rest: get out there and get healthy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Like Mother, Like Baby

I've been cleaning out the desk drawers in my office as I prepare for my permanent maternity leave, and today I found a list I made back when I had my first son of similarities between mothers and babies in those first few weeks of getting to know each other. It seemed suitable that I would be reminded of those things just a couple of days out from having my second baby.

On the list of things mothers and babies had in common...

1. They're both on a liquid diet: Baby on milk and mom on coffee to stay awake!

2. Poop is a big deal. Sorry guys, but it's true. They won't let anyone go home from the hospital until everyone has pooped!

3. Both bodies are adjusting to new settings, but get different responses. While little toots and burps from one elicit adoring coos from the people around them, the same things coming from mom aren't quite as cute. :(

4. Both probably have poop somewhere on their body and don't realize it. And likely don't much care anymore.

5. They're both wearing their jammies most of the time.

I can tell from the list that I had intended to come up with five more ways that mothers and babies are alike, but must have fallen asleep. I was a new mother after all! But it's nice to know that even in that hazy and altered state I had the capacity to grab a pen and jot down something I thought might be funny later. It gives me hope for next week!

Since then, I've realized a few more ways that mothers and babies are alike. Both are facing a brave new world, both have unlimited potential, and both will come to rely on each other for sources of inspiration, challenge, and accountability. We can apply this kind of thinking to all sorts of goals, wellness and otherwise. Are you a newbie? Search within yourself today for something new - it can be as simple as trying a new speed on the treadmill or switching from flavored yogurt to plain - and approach it with the attitude of a newborn. Just so we're clear, that would be one that is open to learning about the world around them, not crying until someone gives you what you want. :)

To all of the ladies having babies this month, of which I know at least three, look for ways you and your baby are alike (beyond poop) and look at wellness through new eyes.

And then, get out there and get healthy! :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pregnancy Fitness: The Extras

Wow, one more week and I will not be pregnant anymore. It's hard to imagine because I've been pregnant pretty much all year, so everything that's happened this year has had the background music of "something extra." Either extra worry, extra excitement, extra caution, or any of the other little things that pop up in my head and remind me that my actions don't just affect me right now. But after five short, busy days, that little extra will be defined in new ways.  Much cuter ones!

I've been very "extra" this time around. For one, I've been extra healthy. It has been such a great experience to keep exercising and focused on nutrition because I didn't do that last time and really regretted it. I ran for 30 weeks, worked out for 38, and have consistently eaten clean throughout, albeit with more chocolate chip cookies and gelato than I would normally eat! But, relaxing the rules has been easy, which took me by surprise.

Moderation is not usually my friend. I love being strict, regimented, and "perfect" with my nutrition. It's like a personal challenge every day and I enjoy shooting for "healthier than yesterday." In the wrong hands that kind of thinking can be dangerous, but ending the day feeling like I really nailed my nutrition is really satisfying for me. So when I try to use moderation, I get cranky and annoyed because it just feels opposite from my instincts. But being pregnant has changed that. I think because I knew pregnancy was a temporary state, it's been easier for me to divert from my usually very straight path and wander around a little. I've been extra laid back, which is not the norm for me. So not the norm for me. So very very very much different for me. But it's been kinda fun and I've only felt about 65% bad about the cookies. :)

In a week, my path will straighten again, and I'll go back to Usual Heather. I'm looking forward to the reunion. Vacation eating has been fun at times, but I've been craving my old ways: extreme workouts, super-power nutrition, and everything that comes along with it. Yeah, I'm talking about my body. I want my strong, kinda-chiseled, single-digit body back. Call me shallow but it's true. I don't always like being extra.

Each pregnancy is unique and should be celebrated for the experience that it is. This has been a great one! I'm very excited to meet this new little man and be his mom! But I'm also excited to reunite with myself.

Oh, there's one other little extra that I've found this time around: extra bravery. I quit my day job and decided to go full-hog into wellness coaching and personal training. :) :) :) It's a risk, but one that feels right. I've got lots of fun projects in store that I can't wait to share with you, and I am so so so excited to find out where this path goes. It likely won't be straight, but I feel very much pulled along it and so far the universe seems to agree. I hope you'll travel with me! And buy stuff from me! :)

Okay, I'm just rambling now. A new chapter looms and I'm peeking ahead at the pages. I'm sure there is mystery, intrigue, adventure, and comedy in store, all read in the context of a greater collection of stories, one of which being the last nine months and where they have led me. So fuel up, stretch out, and get ready for a new adventure!

I'm sick of eating cookies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not Buying It: Messages to Junk Food Marketers

Super thanks to my friend Kim for sending me the link to the Prevention Institute's "Not Buying It" petition to protest the marketing of junk food to kids. We all know that marketers will say whatever they need to say to sell their message. I know it because I've worked as marketer for years and I know how many hours I've spent trying to come up with the catchy message that is going to convince my audience to buy what I've got. There are good causes and bad, and marketers who work for all of them. It's our job as parents and adults to figure out which ones are telling us the truth.

We can all remember sitting in front of the television on Saturday mornings watching commercials for toys, ThunderCats, and nutritious breakfast cereal!

What we likely don't remember is how fast our brains were aborbing those messages about the role of food in our lives. I know I personally considered myself to be abused and neglected by my mean, uncaring mother because she never bought Lucky Charms or Froot Loops, instead forcing my sister and me to to eat Cheerios or Rice Chex. Of course, I later went on to eat a dinner of Cocoa Puffs for an entire semester in college just out of spite.  I'm pretty sure I was not the winner of that little battle.

Anyway, marketing junk food to kids is nothing new, it's just become a bigger problem. Our rapidly rising obesity rate alone makes the issue more urgent, and the huge increase in marketing channels makes monitoring the different ways that kids are advertised to an overwhelming task for parents. Junk food companies sponsor school programs, pose as non-profit organizations, and develop video games based on the characters that they created to market their product. And, they make their packages very, very tricky to decipher.

Luckily, there are more and more resources out there to help. The Prevention Institute's website offers tips, tools, and information for parents who want to make their Saturday mornings (and the other ones too) healthier for their families. Check out their informative online publications, and study up on the opposition: the companies that have your kid in their marketing crossfire.

Companies have every right to market their products, but we also have the right to reject them. The Prevention Institute wants the government to have stricter regulations on what companies can do and say to send their messages. I've signed the petition and support their cause, but it doesn't look that that will happen anytime soon, so I encourage you not to wait. Start making change happen now by NOT BUYING IT.

Get out there and get healthy by getting SMART about food and what those colorful boxes placed at kid-eye level are really saying!  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Every Family Has a Kid Who Won't Eat

You know that scene in "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie reminisces that every family has a kid who won't eat? I have one of those. I posted this article on my Facebook page (like me like me like me) the other day in gratitude for its great tips for getting kids to eat healthier foods and my gratitude was sincere - I'm losing my touch!  I've got everything I need to raise a healthy child: the know-how, the commitment, even the willingness to secretly mix pureed vegetables into his food. But I'm missing one vital ingredient: a child who will actually eat.

My kid is very health-concious, and I love that. He always wants to know whether what we're eating is good for us. But lately, that information seems to just be "good to know," cause when it comes to actually eating, he pretty much hates everything.

Not just the healthy food, either. The list of what he will eat has dwindled down to the point where it's become a family joke. He says he hates it, and we say, but of course! You hate everything! If it were up to him, he'd live on bagels and cream cheese for the rest of his life. It is very tempting to let him do it.

Blueberries are too juicy. Blackberries aren't juicy enough. Strawberries make him cough. Peaches are just plain yucky.  Oh, and don't even mention vegetables. That's an Oscar-worthy performance.  Even pizza and hamburgers get an upturned nose. This week he is eating apples, but only apple halves, not slices.

I still think these tips for raising healthy kids are spot on, and I've used them to great effect in the past:

1. Include kids in grocery shopping and meal preparation. We're all more aggreeable when we get to vote! My son and I often bake muffins on the weekends for school snacks and it's really fun. Of course, then he won't eat them but he does a great job of leading me to believe he will.

2. Don't use food as a reward. This is a BIGGIE. Food is fuel for our bodies, not a reward. It is so so so hard to not promise a cookie for good behavior or go out for frozen yogurt to reward a job well-done, but this is a very slippery slope. We still eat cookies and frozen yogurt at my house, but not because we deserve them.  Instead, reward with small splurges like dollar bin items, trips to fun playgrounds, or family experiences.

3. Don't restrict food groups. So many people think that I deprive my child of sweets or candy because I am a clean eating fanatic. Well, it's true that we don't eat these things frequently because they're just plain crap. But, there are no forbidden foods in our house. Instead, I try to be very frank about what foods are good for us and what are not, set standards, and remind that there is a time and a place for everything, and the time for dessert is not every day. That being said, I do not buy candy or stock my pantry with sweets!  We will come across those things at parties, restaurants, and other places and that's where I'd rather have them stay!

Until then, I'm managing what I can: the quality of the three things he will eat is the best I can buy, and I am relying on that old-school parenting perspective that when a kid is hungry enough, he will eat what you give him. Even if it is something as offensive and cruel as strawberries. I know, I should be locked up!

I'll be glad when this phase of kid-power-over-mom is over. Until then, get out there and get healthy...even if your kid fights you hand over fork.