Monday, August 20, 2012

Trudging Along versus Staying the Course

It's more than mindset, but it certainly starts there.  I'm talking about living an empowered healthy life style.  It isn't enough to just change my mind about things, I have to make actual changes.  Yet, it certainly does start with a change of mind, doesn't it?

Last week was a crazy week, even for our house. I have been studying almost round the clock for an exercise physiology course I've been taking for a year.  It is a multidisciplinary course and involves anatomy which, it turns out, is very hard for me.  I had to take the final (and only) exam on Thursday so I spent the week before brushing up on a year's worth of learning. I studied late into the evening every night, every nap time and early every morning.  I carried a flashcard flip book around the house with me and reviewed points while I folded laundry.  I neglected the housework and exercise.

Predictably, I lost zero pounds this week.  I gained zero too, which I liked, but I was reminded once again that this weight loss/getting in shape project is a big one and it requires focus.  It's a little ironic that I took my eye of the ball in regard to exercise to pass a class about . . . well . . exercise!  I know, know, know I need to keep laying down that lean muscle if I want to build up my metabolism and yet it was so easy to forgo it because I "needed" to study.  In reality, I'd have probably done just as well, if not better, if I had skipped an hour a day of study to exercise.  We all know the mental health benefits of exercise, right?  But the allure of "sit on your bottom" is always lurking just around the corner.

Yes, I was just trudging along.  Trudging along, pretending to be on the path but really not keeping my word 100%.  And ironically, reading about exercise while I did it.  How funny is that?

One good thing did come out it (aside from passing the course, thank you very much); all that review on exercise did remind me that overweight individuals really need to get 60 minutes a day of exercise (at a moderate intensity), not 30 minutes like most adults.  I had actually lost sight of that somewhere.  So this week, I have reorganized my life to get in 60 minutes a day.  It's coming straight out of my "sit on your bottom" time.  I am back - staying the course; I'll leave the trudging to someone else.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


A few days ago, I had a meet-up at the Y with a friend I met on-line through my favorite weight-loss website, SparkPeople.  I have been "on" the site for over 3 years, and she is my very first "Spark Friend" I've met in person.

We didn't spend a lot of time gabbing; instead, we headed straight for the Cardio Theater and a 40 minute stint on the elliptical machines.  I am amazed at what a difference it made to have Sarah there; I really wanted to work harder and it all seemed less painful somehow!  We will be meeting up again!

This experience reminded me that support really is important. Finding ways to look forward to exercise, or to get myself there even if I think I don't want to helps.  Having friends who are working toward similar goals is uniting. Knowing I am not alone keeps me motivated.

After a busy summer of traveling and softball mom-ing, I am ready to get back to the school of fitness.  The support I have lined up for myself is this:
  • Text my friend Colleen every day when I get to the gym (or later if it's not a gym day)
  • I will send my regular support partner, Will, my ACE fitness plan model by next week so he can help me stay accountable
  • Get together with Sarah at least once a week if she's willing
  • Enjoy that walk to and from school with my little ones; they think fitness is just part of life!
  • Encourage my girls in making their own fitness plans so we can encourage each other
  • Talk to dear hubby about each of our exercise and rehab goals
What support systems are helping you reach your goals?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

5 Cooking Tips I Borrowed from the Brits

Seeing all this London in the Olympics has me reminiscing about England and "my" Brits.  I love the culinary experience of travel and I really loved what my UK friends have taught me about cooking.  It was hard, but I managed to cull it to my top 5 tips:

Electric Kettles:  Why wait for the water to boil?  Just plug in the kettle and get your hot water fast and efficiently.  I use mine all the time for cooking, and less often for tea.  I can't believe I had to go overseas to learn this; they are only a few dollars in "big box" stores.

Salted Lemons:  They are called "Preserved Lemons" or pickled lemons in the US, I can find them in my African section of the local grocery or at the near-by Middle-Eastern grocery but you can also buy them on-line.  One lemon diced fine adds a wonderful flavor to cous-cous, salad and numerous other dishes.  Part pickle, part fruit -- it has endless uses.  

Love the Lamb:  I was a "lamb hater" until I stayed with some beautiful cooks in Manchester. They served a roasted lamb that was so delicious.  And you truly have not tasted Shepherd's Pie until you have it with freshly ground lamb.

A Good Curry:  The English love their curries.  It was quite surprising to me as I had stereotyped the English as bland-eaters.  Their love of the slow-heat is inspiring and I have tried quite a few more curries as a result of my British buds.

Fish Pie:  I know, it sounds awful.  It is like shepherd's pie but with the addition of boiled eggs (yes, really) and spinach. I first tried it based on a recipe by the British chef Jamie Oliver but a friend visiting from England last year revolutionized it for us.  He added Chorizo to the mix and our love of the fantastic fish pie was realized.  

Fish makes me think of Fish and Chips.  I am not a fan of pub food, mostly, but I do like The Ploughmans.  It was actually the inspiration for "the snack plate" I make for our Littles.  It's lighter and fruitier than a Ploughman's, and I cut everything bite sized, but it is their absolute favorite.

So maybe that's really 6 things.
Wait, 7:

There is always time for tea.  Tea in England taught me to slow my pace and sit down and savor the day -- before jumping up and resuming my normal dashing around!  :)

So what are your "borrowed from the Brits" favorites?  

Friday, August 3, 2012

An Apple a Day - Friday Tips, Tricks and Inspiration

I have neglected this blog lately; the reason is simple -- I had a big "no" in my head to the whole weight loss process.  I am still losing weight-- down 17 pounds in the last few months -- but occasionally I have a little tantrum about it.  You see, my belief is that I should lose 2 or 3 pounds a week and I don't like it when it's a half a pound a week.  Isn't that ridiculous?  It's so sneaky though -- I don't even notice I'm thinking it right away.  Now I've awakened and it is what it is; I'm staying the course until I get there!

Now for the news.  Some years ago, a study discovered an apple a day really is good for your health, especially your heart.  Now it looks like 2 apples is even better, especially if you're a woman.  My kids eat an apple a day; I guess I will start following their excellent example!  Your Friday tip is to make sure you are getting those 5 or more servings of fruit and veggies every day because I'm betting similar research on another fruit or vegetable would yield similar results!

Your trick of the day is to clean up your environment to protect your weight loss efforts.  FYI, that now might extend to avoiding food ads both in print and on TV.  If you look at photos of food it actually make does make you hungry.  Ghrelin is the hunger stimulating hormone.  A recent study confirms what we already guessed:  Ghrelin levels increase simply by seeing the foods and then you can no longer rely on your body signals!  Will power is the worst way to control weight, so definitely we can benefit by controlling our environment!

Now for your inspiration, I bring you London 2012!  Whenever I start thinking I'm not up to my little 300 calorie burn for the day, I just spend a few minutes watching the athletes who train 8 hours (or more) each and every day in order to be the world's best for a little while.  The dedication and discipline of this group of athletes is truly inspiring.

Have a wonderful weekend!