Monday, December 28, 2009

Giveaway Winner & Week #13 To Do List

Well good afternoon everyone! I can’t believe we are only a few days from starting 2010. Where does the time go? Seriously, I blink and a year passes.

Well today is an exciting one here at Certifiably Fit because I’m announcing the winner to my first ever giveaway. I was glad to see so many people participate. I put everyone’s name in one of my Christmas hats and had my partner, Gina, pick the winner this morning. Well, I guess I’ll get on with it since I’m sure you are just as exciting. The winner of the Black & Decker Handy Steamer and Rice Cooker is…..

Lindsay’s comment was:  “Sounds like it was a good easy way to make healthy meals is always a plus!

Congratulations! Please email me at with your mailing address and your new steamer will be on its way to you.

Well now that is out of the way it’s time to get to regular Monday business, which is this week’s To Do List.

Week #13- Programming for the Healthy Adult (Yeah I realize last week I labeled the week number wrong….oops!)
•    Manual- pages 327-342
•    Workbook- pages 103-104
•    Master the Manual- pages 77-82
•    Audio- Chapter 11
•    Flashcards- Chapter 11

I’m happy to report that I surpassed my goal of 90% on the online review test from chapters 7-10. I only missed one question which means I got a 95%. So go me! Anyway, with the extra time I have on my hands I already have read this week’s chapter, completed the workbook, and wrote out my vocabulary. Got in about 2 hours of studying this morning and was able to get all of that done. I’m starting to see I am making it through the material much faster than the start. I think a lot of it is because the material keeps building upon past chapters.  I likely will do a big review of everything I have done so far since I will complete this week’s chapter pretty early.

I’m super excited to also report that I got a lot of fitness related gifts for Christmas, including new workout DVD’s, a ropeless jump rope, a book, and  the new Wii Active More Workouts.  Be looking for some reviews in the next few weeks as I start using these. Did any of you get fitness related gifts this year?

Well back to enjoying my 2 week vacation. Hope you all had a nice holiday last week and that your New Year’s celebrations go well later this week.

Quote of the Day:
“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Monday, December 21, 2009

Week #11 - Flexibility / Giveaway Reminder

Well happy Monday everyone!

Look at this two blog posts from me in two days…crazy huh! I’m on vacation until Jan 4th, which means you might see some more posts from me than normal since I will have some more free time on my hands. Got to love working for a university where everything shuts down for about two weeks! Even better is that I don’t have to use my vacation days for the time off…it is all considered holiday paid days.

Anyway, as always since it is Monday it is time to get to this week’s To Do List.

Week #12: Flexibility

  • Manual: Pages 305-322
  • Workbook: Pages 97-99
  • Master the Manual: Pages 71-76
  • Audio: Chapter 10
  • Flashcards: Chapter 10
  • Online Review Quiz: Chapters 7-10

Again this is kind of a short chapter. I was able to read the manual and complete the workbook this morning. I’m thinking by Wednesday I’ll be done with the chapter’s materials and will begin doing the review of chapters 7-10 for the online review quiz. I’m shooting for a 90% again on that. If you are keeping track every review quiz so far I have gotten a 90% on so I figured I would make that my goal this time too.

I have to say that I’m really proud of myself because here I am a little more than half way done with my study plan and I am still feeling very motivated. Something that is helping with that is since I started this blog and people have been reading my story, I have had several people contact me directly looking for assistance with their own health journey. That right there is keeping me motivated to get this certification even more, because I do want to help others enjoy better health like I am enjoying.

Before I finish up here, just a reminder. You have until Sunday to enter my first ever giveaway! Go here to learn more.

Well I’m going to get going so I can catch up with some chores around the house. Hope you all enjoy your day!

Quote of the day: 

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself “~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Ever Product Review & Giveaway - Black & Decker Handy Steamer and Rice Cooker

Well hello everyone! For those of you in the Northeast, I hope you are all surviving this winter storm that came through this weekend. I am pretty much snowed in, as they are still trying to clear campus from the snow. Good thing I having no where I need to be.

Anyway as promised here is my first ever giveaway/product review here at Certifiably Fit. I’m pretty excited about this and hopefully you are too!

Let’s get some business things out of the way before I get to the review.
  • The following product was provided without cost to me by
  • I was not compensated other than getting to keep the product after the review.

Ok business done! Now onto the review.

Product: Black & Decker Handy Steamer and Rice Cooker

Product features (Taken from the box):
  • 4-qt basket with built in egg holders
  • 5-cup rice bowl
  • Drip tray with built-in Flavor Scenter screen
  • Water reservoir
  • External water-fill inlet
  • Water window with water level indicator
  • 75- minute timer with signal bell and auto shut off
  • Power indicator light

My Experience:
I was able to choose the product I got to test and I picked this product because, as a site that is focused on healthy living, I felt a cooking appliance that allows the user to cook with a method that supports healthy eating would be a great idea. I already was steaming food prior to this but I was using other methods such as in pots on the stove top and using the microwave.  I also picked this model based on the fact that the appliance is small (I have a tiny apartment), and that I have had good experiences with Black & Decker products in the past.

Steaming food by the way has all kinds of health benefits like: cooking without added oil or fats & helps preserve some of the vitamins that are lost during other methods of cooking. If you want to read more about steaming food check out the following sites:

To test out this steamer for the review, I steam cooked some chicken, some brown rice, and some cauliflower. I have to say the food turned out great. This was my first time having steamed skinless chicken breast and I seasoned it prior to putting it in and also used the scenter screen with garlic and it turned out with great flavor and very moist. It took less time to cook the chicken than it does with my normal method of searing on the stove then baking for the rest of the time. The rice also turned out good and better than my stovetop version. Only complaint on the rice was it took about 20 mins longer than the stovetop method. Finally I used it to steam a head of fresh cauliflower. My partner and I both thought it turned out perfect and we both swear it tasted better than the way I normally prepare it.

Below are my pros and cons to this steamer based on my experience.       

  • Small design
  • Easy to clean (most parts can be cleaned in the dishwasher on the top-rack)
  • Not complicated to put together or use
  • Manual included suggested cook times for common foods that are steamed. For my tests they were pretty accurate.
  • Timer and auto shut off – always a plus when multi-tasking in the kitchen

  • Side handles to the top – You have to use pot holders so that you don’t chance getting burned when lifting off the top. A top handle probably would have been better to eliminate that risk. However, you use the top to set the basket on when done which you couldn’t do if the top handle was there unless it folded in flat.

Anyway, from the experience I would recommend this steamer to a small household that are looking to have a way to consistently steam foods. Also, is great for those who have smaller kitchens and are limited on storage space since it is fairly small.

The Giveaway:
So I was able to work a deal with the member of the promotions team at CSN Stores to be able to offer one of my readers this steamer. So here is what you need to do to enter to win.

  • Leave a comment on this post by noon on Sunday, Dec 27, 2009
  • To get additional entries (one additional entry per task)
    • Announce this giveaway on your blog and email me with the link to your post.
    • Start following me on twitter and announce this giveaway on your Twitter, use the tag #certifiablyfit
  • You must be in the US or Canada (sorry my international friends)

The winner will be drawn at random and will be announced on Monday, Dec 28th in my weekly To Do post.  If you have any questions feel free to email me at Good luck!

I would like to thank Jamie, the promotions team member at CSN Stores for working with me to provide this opportunity. I wanted to point out that once the order was placed the product was shipped super fast and came in without damage. Also, checking out their site, I noticed that their prices are pretty reasonable so I wouldn't be surprised if I do some ordering from them in the future, especially since they have such a wided range of products.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Changes to Physical Activity During My Journey to Better Health

Good afternoon!

I thought I would continue with my posts on the changes I have made on my journey to better health today by talking about physical activity. Like I did in the post about the nutritional changes I have made, I will break this post into the following: an overview of what I was doing prior to starting, what I started out doing, what tweaks I made along the way, what I currently am doing, and key learning points. Again, feel free to ask me any questions if something isn’t clear or you want more detail about something. 

  • Prior to Starting: Before I made the commitment to work towards my better health journey, I avoided physical activity in every way possible. I spent a lot of time sitting on the couch watching TV or surfing the web. Honestly, because I was in such poor condition health wise, even walking fairly short distances was difficult.
  • What I Started Out Doing: I started to add physical activity to my plan about 2 weeks into the journey. Since the weather at the time was cold since it was still winter, I began with doing Walk Away The Pounds DVD’s 3 days a week after work. You can see some the titles I used here.  The thing I liked about those DVD’s is that although they were challenging to me they weren’t so above my really poor fitness level that I couldn’t complete them. 
  • Tweaks I made along the way: There have been lots of changes that I have made throughout the journey. Once warmer weather was here during the first year, I switched from doing the DVD’s listed above to walking outside. I started with 30 mins a day and worked my way up to about 90 mins by the end of the summer. Here is a benefit to my job here, I’m off both June and July so I had much more time at my disposal to focus on getting workouts in. I also was trying to do more activity just by changing the way I did some everyday things like parking further from the store, taking the long way to the dumpster, etc. When the weather turned colder again, I switched back to doing the DVD’s. I had invested a little money into getting a couple of new DVD’s in the Walk Away The Pounds series to try to keep things fresh. I also was doing them about 5 times a week. By February, I was seeing that I was bored with doing the DVD’s. This is where cycling comes into play for me. I had gotten my Trek Hybrid Bike a few years before this and I had hardly used it. I kept thinking I wanted to have a stationary bike but I really didn’t have the funds to purchase one that would be good quality. I found an awesome deal on an indoor trainer   that I could attach my bike to that would allow me to use it like a stationary bike. So, I began riding 30 mins for 5 days a week. Once the weather got warmer that second spring, I started riding outside, and found I loved it! By the end of the summer I was riding 6 days a week for an hour. During that summer I also started to incorporate strength training by using dumbbells and resistance tubes and did that twice a week. Again the cold weather set in and I went back to indoor trainer and kept with my strength training. I started cycling outside once the weather got warmer and by the end of the third summer I was riding 6 days a week for anywhere from 12-18 miles at a time. Also during that summer, I was adding an hour walk in about 4 days a week in the evenings.    
  • What I’m doing now: Well I had a bike accident this past September that put an early end to my outdoor rides this year. (Note to self: taking a turn at 20 miles an hour when there is gravel, the road is wet from rain the night before, and your back tire is worn down is just asking for trouble!)  During my recovery, I switched over to my indoor trainer but it took about a month for me to really be able to do any strenuous workouts on it. I also was seeing that I was getting bored and a little frustrated with using the trainer during that time. So I knew it was time for a change up. I still wanted to stay in shape to cycle once the weather goes back to being warm but I also knew I needed to take a more balanced approach to my overall fitness. So currently I still ride on the indoor trainer, but I’m focusing on interval training when I do. I am also doing fewer sessions a week. To help balance out my fitness I have turned to doing workouts on my Wii, with their Active game, new DVD’s that are more challenging and more circuit training focused, and I have made my strength training sessions longer and more frequent. So far I am seeing changes and also seeing my overall fitness and strength changing for the better.
  • Key Learning Points:   I learned the following key things about physical activity that work for me: 
    • Starting slow was best for me and building up to higher levels of activity kept me challenged but kept me feeling like I was failing because I couldn’t do so many things in the beginning.
    • Riding my bike outside has been not only good for my physical fitness but is also good for my soul because it allows me to discover the beauty in nature in the areas I ride. 
    • Change, even though it makes me uncomfortable at times, is necessary to keep moving towards better fitness. 
    • The stronger I get the more confidence I gain.
    • I would much rather workout outside than inside.
So did you notice something about my progression with physical fitness? Maybe you didn’t pick up on it but I never once have stepped into a gym to workout. I even have a free membership to the campus gym because I’m an employee, but I have never gone there to work out.  There are a couple reasons for this. First, being that when my fitness level was so poor I was too embarrassed to go. Second, is I like doing things on my schedule and having all the tools I need at home takes away of the excuse the gym is closed. And finally, learning how to workout at home has taught me I can workout anywhere, including when I’m away for work or on vacation.

So maybe you are confused about my desire to be a personal trainer but I don’t workout in a gym. Well my plan is to ultimately start my own personal training business and train people from their homes. I will likely start with a part-time job at a gym while I still hold my current position, to get experience but eventually I will break out on my own.

Questions for you:
What does your fitness plan look like?
What changes have you made over your journey to better health?
Are you a gym person, workout from home, or a combo of both?

Quote of the Day: 
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Monday, December 14, 2009

Week #11- Strength Training Program Design

Well good morning everyone!

Hope you all had a great weekend. I can’t say the same considering I was dealing with a very frustrating work related situation yesterday. Let’s just say I was so angry I ended up going for a run at about 8pm. Oh did I mention I really don’t run! Crazy thing is this past summer I had attempted to get into running and I was struggling with my endurance to really do any distance. So either my endurance has improved due to changes I have made in the last few months in regards to working out or the anger was just fueling my abilities last night. It did help with the frustration so that may become something I use when I get really stressed out.  I will say this I am very happy that Friday will be my last day until Jan 4th.

Anyway, enough my work stress. It is Monday so that means To Do List time!
Week #11- Strength Training Program Design
•    Manual- Pages 267-302
•    Workbook- Pages 89-93
•    Master the Manual- Pages 65-70
•    Audio- Chapter 9
•    Flashcards – Chapter 9

Like I mentioned last week, Chapter 8 was really a short chapter. By Thursday morning I had all of the work for the week done. I contemplated moving right on the Chapter 9 then but decided to do a full review of what I have done so far instead. So that means Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I spent my study time reading all the previous chapters, reviewing my notes, and going through all the flashcards. I have to say the review was quite encouraging because the materials that were tough for me the first time around was much easier and actually made more sense.

Was glad to see my last post on using foods to help with moods was helpful for some. Just a note to some of the comments that were left, I do use light therapy in conjunction to a couple of other strategies.  The light I use can be found here. I have had this light for almost 3 years now and I absolutely love it. It has been very helpful for me.

Well I need to get to studying for the day so I’m going to get going. Stay tuned because sometime this week I will be running my first ever giveaway. Have a great week!

Question for you:
What do you do to help when you are frustrated or angry about something?

Quote of the Day:
“There are three secrets to managing. The first secret is have patience. The second is be patient. And the third most important secret is patience.” ~Chuck Tanner

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Managing Moods with Food Choices

As someone who battles each winter with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I am in constant search of strategies to manage my symptoms. This afternoon, while surfing the net like I often do, I came across a great article on food choices that can help your mood. Feel free to check it out here.

I thought I would take some time to talk about which of these I have been including in my daily diet. I’m a strong believer that nutrition can play an important role in managing depression, and a lot of times those who are battling with depression don’t realize that nutrition can help. They list 6 tips on things you should be doing that will help you feel good and 3 things you should avoid to help as well. Let’s break it down by each one listed in the article and I’ll talk about how these relate to what I include to help me.

1. Seek out foods rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid

  • Like the article states, folic acid is usually found in beans and greens & vitamin B12 is found in meats, fish, poultry, and dairy. All of these are found in my everyday diet throughout the year. The only one that I don’t eat is fish. So check on including foods with both for me.
2. Enjoy fruits and vegetables in a big way.
  • Prior to me starting my journey to better health I was really lacking veggies and fruits in my diet. Not surprisingly, my SAD symptoms were pretty bad back then. It’s good to know that a benefit from having several servings of both daily is helping my moods.
3. Eat selenium-rich foods every day
  • Whole grains, beans and legumes, lean meat, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, and seafood are all good sources of selenium. Interestingly enough, other than seafood, all of these appear in my diet as well. So it looks like I’m 3 for 3 so far.
4. Eat fish several times a week
  • Oh no here is one that I don’t do. But I’m just not a fish kind of girl. The article goes into a little more detail to point out that this suggestion is based on the fact that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in the particularly fatty fish, are thought to have a positive effect on mood. To make sure I’m consuming my omega-3’s I try to include other sources like walnuts and flaxseed. I also supplement with Fish Oil pills which are a source of Omega-3’s. I would prefer to get my nutrition needs met by foods, but in this case I just can’t bring myself to eat fish so I do supplement in hopes it helps.
5. Get a daily dose of vitamin D
  • So during the summer months this is not a big problem since I get outside everyday in the sun, but in the winter since I live in the Northeast this is hard for me to get from the sun since the intensity of the sun isn’t there to help produce vitamin D. They talk about our primary source of dietary vitamin D is in fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, breads, juices, and milk. Some of these are things I include but not in levels where it would provide me all the daily requirement, so again this is a place where I supplement. I found out in a blood test about a year ago that my levels where on the low side, on the suggestion of my doctor, I started to supplement. Since beginning supplementing, my level has come into the normal range.
6. Treat Yourself to 1 oz of Chocolate
  • Oh this is one I am practicing several times a week. I have a piece of 85% dark chocolate after lunch a couple times a week. And here I thought I was just treating myself! Good to know that my treat could be helping my moods during the winter.

So if you were keeping track I employ 5 out of the 6 suggestions. It was nice to see that I already have been doing what they were talking about in the article. I think that those 6 are things that are components of a healthy eating plan anyway.

Now on to the 3 things they list for limiting in your diet. Wonder how well I do in implementing those.

1. Reduce foods high in saturated fat

  • This shouldn’t be a surprise. I already do this. Again I think this is just a component of healthy eating anyway. A few weeks ago, when I posted about my little experiment about tracking my food for a couple days, I was happy to see I never was above the American Heat Association recommendations of 20 grams.
2. Limit alcohol carefully
  • I hardly ever drink alcohol so this one is fairly simple for me. I have several reasons I don’t drink very often, but the main one is that alcohol has little nutritional value and just doesn’t seem worth the calories.
3. Don’t go crazy with caffeine
  • At one point in my life I was constantly wired on caffeine. No wonder I had periods of insomnia! Now a days my caffeine intake is limited to a cup of coffee at breakfast and an occasional cup of hot tea. I have one rule with caffeine and that is not to drink it past 3pm.

Questions for you:
Are you doing the things listed above in your daily diet?
What other things are you doing to manage your moods with your nutrition choices?
What other strategies are you employing to help you manage and maintain good moods?

Quote of the Day:
"Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale." ~ Elsa Schiaparelli

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nutrition Changes I Made on My Journey to Better Health & Some Random News

Well hello everyone! So like I mentioned before, I am hoping to start blogging a little more often to give you more to read every week. I got a lot of good ideas from the comments and also after talking to some of my friends. I have lots of posts in mind so keep tuning in because I’ll be blogging about all kinds of fun healthy living topics. And maybe, just maybe I’ll start including some pictures…fun and exciting right?

I thought I would start with some of the nutritional changes I made on my journey towards better health. I will be featuring three other posts on the topics of changes that include physical activity, stress management, and emotional health in upcoming posts. Before I get into that, I want to point out that these are the things that worked for me and won’t necessarily work for everyone.  I have a strong belief that each of us need to find healthy eating plans that work for us and that it is not a one plan works for all kind of thing.

Continuing on…. I will give you an overview of what I was doing prior to starting, what I started out doing, what tweaks I made along the way, what I currently am doing, and key learning points. Feel free to ask me any questions if something isn’t clear or you want more detail about something.

  • Prior to Starting: Before I made the commitment to work towards my better health journey nutritionally I was clueless as to what was healthy and what wasn’t. Basically I ate what I thought tasted good and I ate a lot of it. I also didn’t eat for long stretches of time and would then eat a whole bunch in one sitting. I ate a lot of fast food, prepackaged meals, and hardly any whole foods.  

  • What I Started Out Doing: I started out following the South Beach Diet. This was a good program for me to start with because it had structure to it. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to count calories because I had found in the past that made me feel a little crazy about food.  It was my stepping stone into finding that I liked to learn about how food works in the body and other concepts of nutrition. I followed the plan very to the letter until I had lost about 60lbs. I was eating 6 times a day and was following their recommendations for how to structure meals and snacks and what serving sizes where.

  • Tweaks I made along the way: Like I mentioned above I followed the South Beach Diet for the first 60lbs I lost. As I started learning more about nutrition, through reading everything and anything nutrition related, I started to wonder if the reduced level of carbohydrates was really healthy. Also, my fitness level had increased to the point where I was starting to have symptoms of early muscle fatigue because of lack of adequate carbohydrate replenishment between workouts. So I started to cut back a bit on the amount of protein I was consuming and added in additional servings of whole and minimally refined sources of carbohydrates.  This took a bit of experimenting to find a balance that worked for me but eventually I figured it out. During the experimenting period the weight loss part of my journey stalled out a bit but it was a very important part of the journey because I actually learned what exactly works for my body.

  • What I’m doing now: Well I’m eating 6 times a day still, which I love because I rarely feel like I’m starving. I strive to find balance in each meal I have and use snacks to fill in the rest. I balance my main meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) to include a lean protein source, either a whole grain or starchy vegetable serving, at least one serving of non-starchy vegetables, and either a serving of dairy or a serving of fruit.   I still don’t count calories really but I do pay attention a little more than I did to start with. For example, I make snack selections that clock in between 100 -200 calories. I also know overall that breakfast clocks in as my highest calorie meal, followed by lunch, and then dinner. But to give you what my calorie intake is each day is not something I can do off the top of my head. As far as what I’m eating I try to eat mostly whole foods, avoid added sugars, avoid overly processed products, avoid trans-fats, watch my sodium intake, eat many servings of veggies and fruits a day, get at least 2 servings of nonfat or low fat dairy, and stick to lean protein sources both in the form of vegetarian choices and meats. I follow a 90-10 principle which means I eat how it is listed above no less then 90% of the time and the other 10% allows for occasional indulgences. A large majority of my food is stuff I cook myself but I do go out to eat occasionally. One of these days I’ll post what a typical day looks like to give you an idea of what my food intake looks like.

  • Key Learning Points:  I learned the following key things about nutrition that work for me:  
    • Eating 6 times a day. Having only a few hours between when I eat works really well at keeping me feeling satisfied all day long. I find I am rarely famished which makes it a lot easier to make rational and healthy choices.
    • Balancing meals helps me feel satisfied and keeps me on track with proper nutrient intake.
    • Experimenting, although slowed the weight loss part of the journey for some time, was an important process for me to learn how to trust my body to tell me what it needs. I still continue to experiment because I know as time goes on nutritional needs can change.
    • I can have an occasional indulgence and not get thrown off my healthy path. I just jump right back to clean eating and go on with my day. 
    • Through the process I found passion for being creative with my cooking skills. I can cook some pretty awesome meals that even my friends who don’t eat the healthiest love.   
Like I mentioned above finding a healthy eating plan is an individualized process, and in my opinion there is no set plan out there that works for everyone. I think that is why there is so much conflicting information out there about nutrition, especially when it comes to results of studies about different things that relate to nutrition. To develop my plan taking the time to learn about the different core concepts of nutrition, keeping up with health related research, and reading the personal stories of others has been helpful. Taking information I gathered there and then trying out different strategies out is how I have developed what works for me. Below are some links of places I gather health related information, including information on nutrition, to help you get started on collecting your own. Note that I’m not posting blogs, you can find those listed on the left under My Must Reads Blog Roll.

Questions for you:
What does your healthy eating plan look like?
Do you experiment with your eating to find what works for you?
Is there a website or book you think I might want to check out?

Some random news to share with you while I have your attention. I received the steamer that I mentioned in my post here  so get ready for me to post a review and run my first ever giveaway soon.

Also, I received in the mail today my giveaway win of VitaMuffins from over at Cranky Fitness .Once I get a chance to try them out I’ll review them for you here. Big thanks to the people over at Cranky Fitness and to VitaMuffins!

Quote of the Day:
“We must eat to live, and not live to eat.” ~ Henry Fieding 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Week #10 - Strength & Endurance & New Post Content Ideas

Good morning everyone! Hope that you all had a great weekend. Well it is Monday so you all know that means it’s To Do List time so let’s get to it.

Week # 10 – Strength & Endurance (Whoo Hoo I’m half way there!)
•    Manual – Pages 247-265
•    Workbook – Pages 81-86
•    Master the Manual – Pages 59-64
•    Audio – Chapter 8
•    Flashcards – Chapter 8

This is a fairly short chapter, which I found out yesterday when I was able to read it all in about 45 mins. Most of the chapters take me anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to read. I started the workbook pages this morning and am already half way through that and it is only Monday. I’m thinking that if I get through all the materials and feel confident I might start next week’s chapter early.

So I have been thinking about adding to the type of content I post here and posting more frequently so that you have more to read each week. So here are some thoughts on what I am thinking and I’m open to hear what you think.
•    My daily workouts
•    Fitness related products I am using and my pro/con lists to them
•    What I’m eating/ recipes of my homemade dishes
•    Hot news topics that are health/fitness/nutrition/emotional wellness related and my opinions on them

Questions for you:
•    From the list above which topics would you like to see?
•    Are there other topics you would like me to post about?

Well I should get going and get my day rolling. My count down is on to the end of the semester. In two weeks my students will be gone for winter break and that means I get a full two weeks off from work. I look forward to this break every year and am feeling the need for it right now.

Quote of the day:
Time And health are two precious assets that we don't recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted. ~ Denis Waitley

Friday, December 4, 2009

Emotional Battle Series: Battle #3: Managing the Emotions of Feeling like You Don’t Fit In

I think that a big desire we as humans have is to feel like we fit in with the world around us. It is in our nature to be social by forming relationships with others and ultimately grouping together to form smaller communities within our society structures. So what happens when you make a lot of changes to better your health and you begin to feel like you no longer fit into the community and the larger society structure around you?

This is one of those battles that I think probably derails a lot of us from the quest to better health and that is the reason that I think it is so important that it gets talked about. I think that this struggle happens because, like it or not, we as a society have trouble accepting and embracing people who are different than ourselves. For the purpose of this discussion when I refer to society I’m generally talking about the society of the United States, however some of this I think is global. From my observations, we are quick to ostracize those who are different and because of this we relay a message that being a true individual is not in your best interest. This can be seen clearly in all kinds of ways in our society through things like racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. I don’t think there is one person out there that hasn’t at one time or another felt like they . didn’t fit because of how others have reacted to things that made us different. I have much more I could say on this but I want to move forward.

On my journey, I have struggled with the emotions that come with feeling like I don’t fit in anymore because of the changes I have made to better my health. After several months into my journey, I started to feel like my new behaviors, thoughts about health, and my new lifestyle were so different from those around me. It has been one of those battles that is one I am still developing skills of coping with it but I feel like I have gotten much better at managing it as time has progressed.  Below are 4 lessons that have been key when it comes to me managing these feelings.

Lesson # 1: My feelings aren’t always the best predictor of reality.

Ok, so I hate to say it but sometimes reality and my feelings can be polar opposites. I’m not saying I’m crazy because it happens to all of us sometimes. Think about it for a moment…how many times have you felt like something was impossible but were able to do it? How often have you swore up and down you would never get over your feelings of hurt and loss when something goes wrong only to see months later that you are totally over it? How often have you sworn someone did something with malicious intent just to hurt you just to see later that it had nothing to do with you? Well when it comes to feeling like I wasn’t fitting in because of all the changes to my health sometimes it’s been my feelings not matching reality. I was fitting in, I just was overly focused on worrying about what others were thinking about my choices.

Lesson #2: It’s cool to not be normal when it comes to my approach to health

So it took some time for this one to sink in. I realized that what is classified as “normal” when it comes to approaching health in the United States is not an approach that leads to good health. The Standard American Diet (SAD….it sure is sad if you ask me) seems to be leading to all kinds of increases of poor health diseases and conditions. The lack of regular physical activity that also seems to be normal also doesn’t support good health either. Add in what is viewed as normal for sleep, stress management, and other factors that affect health and I am proud to say I’m not normal!

Lesson #3: Not everyone has my best interests in mind
In the beginning when I would get feedback about my new way of life it would totally throw me for a loop. When I would get feedback that seemed to be negative about my new choices I would feel like I was not fitting in. People have encouraged me to indulge in unhealthy foods, have called me too healthy, have made comments that I shouldn’t loose any more weight, have accused me of having food issues, called me boring because I go to bed at a decent hour, and many other similar comments. Took me a long time to realize but I started to see that most of these comments have been made because of the other person’s own guilt about their own choices. For example, several of those who made the comment I shouldn’t loose anymore weight are those who are overweight themselves.

Lesson #4: Those who really matter are those who accept my healthy lifestyle

During my journey I started dating again after having been in a long term relationship for several years. Boy, was that a whole experience in itself which I will post about at another time but I wanted to point out something I learned during those dating experiences that relates here. I dated several women who struggled with my healthy lifestyle. My healthy lifestyle was one thing I wasn’t open to negotiating. I recognized that once they couldn’t accept it or it was triggering their own issues with their health choices that our relationship was not going to progress.  It was realizing those relationships weren’t going to work that I recognized that those who really matter in my life are ones who accept my healthy lifestyle. Luckily, about a year I met someone who does accept my healthy lifestyle, and we have been together ever since.

Well I will leave you with the following question:
Do you ever feel like your healthy lifestyle triggers feelings of not fitting in and if so how do you manage it?

Quote of the Day:
“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” ~ Fanny Brice

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Exciting News!

Well I have some exciting news to share with you all. I’m going to be doing my first product review & giveaway soon!  Even though it’s going to be a little while before I will actually post the review and run the giveaway, I couldn’t wait to share the news. Yeah I’m one of those people who can’t keep exciting news a secret for too long. Ha Ha!

I have been working with Jamie, a member of the promotions department of to make this all happen.   In case you aren’t familiar CSN Stores it is based out of Boston and they have several online stores. When I was first contacted, I was given the choice to do a review & giveaway with one of three of their stores. Well considering I have the smallest apartment on the planet, I was not in need of dining room furniture or bar stools, but I can always make room for cookware.  Also, considering this is a health and fitness blog I thought it would be an easy tie in to review something from the cookware site and talk about how the product can be used to prepare healthy foods.

After browsing the site for a product that might be fun to try out to prepare healthy foods, I made the choice to review one of the steamer/rice cookers. I steam food and make brown rice and other grains all the time but I have never tried it with an appliance that is solely dedicated to doing it. So be ready in the near future to see my review of the one I picked, what meals I prepared to test it out, and some information on the benefits of steaming.  Also, be prepared to comment to have a chance to win one for yourself.  

Well I need to get back to resting since I'm under the weather today. Don’t forget tomorrow is Friday and that means a new post in my Emotional Battles Series will be posted. See you tomorrow!

Quote of the Day: 

“To ensure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” ~ William Londen

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vacation Update & Week #9 To Do List

Well good morning everyone! Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday last week. As I told you last week I was on vacation for the week, which was a much needed break for me. I limited my time online during the week too, which was also a much needed break. It was a little strange not being constantly connected to the internet but it provided some much needed time to do other things. I spent the week mostly at home, except on Thursday when I spent the holiday with my partner and her family in the Baltimore area.  I have to say that the week went very fast and I almost feel like I didn’t have a week off since here it is already Monday and I head back to work in a few hours.  Nice thing is that in less than a month I will be off on vacation again for two weeks when campus closes for winter break.

Ok enough about last week’s vacation update. It is after all Monday, which means it’s time for a To Do List! So let’s get to it.

Week #9 – Cardio Fitness & Exercise
•    Manual: Pages 213-245
•    Workbook: Pages 74-78
•    Master the Manual: Pages 51-58
•    Audio: Chapter 7
•    Flashcards: Chapter 7

Studying overall has been going very well for me. Now that I’m several weeks in I feel like study time is a natural part of my day. Even while I was on vacation last week I still stuck with my schedule of studying right after breakfast and then on some days there was studying in the later afternoon. I’m also finding that as I progress, that the material is reinforcing the previous chapters. I think that is a good indication that the materials are put together well. I always hate when you get a textbook where the progression doesn’t make sense and materials aren’t built upon. Because the materials are being built upon, it is making it easier for me to retain information from the earlier chapters. 

Here is another update on my progress. If you remember from last week’s To Do List there was a review quiz again. This time it was on chapters 5 & 6. I got a 90% again! So I have to say I’m doing quite well and I feel like I should be very well prepared for the certification test when I go to take it.

I also was able to figure out how I’m going to get my CPR/AED certification completed. I have been in contact with the police officer here on campus who can conduct the training. The problem was that we needed a few more people who were interested in the training to participate for him to be able to do it. I wasn’t having much luck in finding staff but luckily our outdoors student club has requested this training for January and I’m going to get to jump in on their training. I’m pretty excited that I got that figured out and I don’t have to go off campus.

Overall I feel like I’m right on track with getting my certification completed. I’m really glad that it is going so well and I really am looking forward to getting certified and attempting to find a part-time training job once I do.

Well I should get my day going so I’m going to end this post. Hope you all have a great week and you will see another installment of Emotional Battles on Friday.

Quote of the Day:
 “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” ~ Jim Rohn

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week # 8 - Testing and Evaluation / Vacation

Well what can I say, I’m a day late with my To Do List this week. Don’t fret though because I’m actually ahead of schedule this week already.  I’m off this week from work since a large majority of my students are home for the holiday. Yesterday I spent some quality time with my partner so I didn’t have a chance to post.  Well let’s get to the To Do List.

Week # 8 – Testing and Evaluation
•    Manual – Pages 169-208
•    Workbook – Pages 65-69
•    Master the Manual – Pages 39-50
•    Audio – Chapter 6
•    Flashcards – Chapter 6
•    Online Review – Chapters 5 & 6

Like I mentioned I’m already ahead of schedule because here it is Tuesday and I already have the chapter read, the workbook done, flash cards reviewed, and I’m working on the Master the Manual stuff already. I got started on this week’s chapter on Sunday because I had finished up the Health Screening chapter early because it was kind of short.  It also helps that I have had more free time in the past couple of days. It’s amazing what you can get done when you don’t have to go to work LOL!

Anyway, I’m going to keep this short because I’m trying to get away from the computer this week. It’s nice to take a break from the wonderful world of the internet every once in a while.  So, with keeping with that I’m going to skip this week’s Emotional Battles post and will just resume with that next week. Hope everyone enjoys the holiday on Thursday!

Quote of the Day: 
"Don't skip your vacations and breaks. Spend your breaks meditating, praying or reading. Don't bring work or your laptop with you on vacation." ~ Yasmeen Abdur-Rahman

Friday, November 20, 2009

Emotional Battles Series: Managing the Emotions of Saying No to Other People.

Happy Friday everyone! As you might remember from last Friday I am going to be doing a post every Friday on the emotional battles that I experienced throughout my journey to better health. For this week in honor of the start of the holiday season craziness, I thought it would be a good time to talk about managing the emotions of saying no to other people. 

Emotional Battle #2: Managing the Emotions of Saying No to Other People.

At one point in my life the word “no” was one that wasn’t used very often when it came to other people. I was a people pleaser to the fullest and whether it was being asked to do something as a favor, an extra project at work, or it was being offered food I would say yes. There were plenty of times I wanted to say no but I gave into that lovely emotion of guilt that would wash over me every time the thought of saying no popped into my head.  So what did all that yes saying get me? Seriously poor health! Physically, mentally, and emotionally I was not in a good place because I was always putting others needs or my perceived needs of others in front of mine. You know the old saying that you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first, and boy was I an example of the truth to that.

Throughout my journey to better health learning to say no and managing my emotional reaction to doing so has been one of the big reasons I believe I have been successful. I’m not just talking about saying no to food, I’m talking about saying no in lots of situations for the sake of my own well being. Heath to me is not just about the reading on the scale. It is a how I feel and perform emotionally, physically, and mentally. In order to feel and perform well in all of those aspects I need to be making sure that I’m taking care of my needs and to do so means making them a priority. Making my needs a priority means believing that I am worth it.

So let’s talk about a common situation that I have faced where saying no and managing the emotions of that come into play. I’m going to focus on one that involves food choices because I think this is one that we all struggle with when it comes to making choices that affect our health.

The Dreaded Social Food Situation:
I’m at a work social function where food dishes are being served  to celebrate a holiday, birthday, etc.

Honestly, these were challenging situations for me to manage in the beginning of my journey. There is or it is assumed that there is social pressure to eat at these functions. At the start of my journey I would find every way to get out of going so I wouldn’t have to face the situation. But in the end I wasn’t really learning how to manage anything. I was just avoiding things and not really making progress. After a while I realized that I needed to start attending these because they do play an important role in my professional career for networking proposes. So this is how I handle them.

I go into these situations focusing on having meaningful interactions with the people instead of focusing on the food.  Before I attend an event where food is being served I make up my mind if I’m going to eat anything or not. It took me a long time to realize that just because food is present doesn’t mean I have to eat it. In most cases where you are attending a social work event it is some kind of celebration (ie. birthday, holiday, etc). Just because there is reason to celebrate doesn’t mean that means you have to eat to be part of the celebration.

You may experience social pressure from some of the people attending to eat if you choose not to. This is where making yourself a priority and sticking to your choice is important. Sure the first few times you do this it will be challenging but every time you stick to your choice you will feel more confident. For me every time I was able to stick to my choice to not eat it made me feel strong and boosted my feeling of self-worth, which in turn made it easier to make myself a priority. Every time I ate out of guilt I didn’t feel so good about myself in the end but luckily I started to look at those moments as learning opportunities on how to manage them better in the future.

From my experience after you attend a few of these events where you have turned down eating at them people leave you alone about it and some others might even start to join you in not eating at the social functions. Most of the time, there are other people who want to not eat at these functions but eat anyway because they fear the social pressure. It only takes one person to be consistent with their choice to attend but not to eat to break the ice and help make it easier for everyone who wants to make that choice. After I had lost quite a bit of weight there where more and more people joining me in the not eating at a function like this. Remember sometimes it only takes one person to start a chain reaction that will result in a change in culture. I actually will get more comments now if I choice to eat because it has become common place for me to not eat at a social function like this. There will be a post later in this series that will go into more detail about that kind of experience. 

If I do make the choice to eat at these celebrations, I go in with some boundaries set for myself ahead of time. For me those boundaries normally mean I’m not trying everything available, limiting the portion size of those items I do choose, sticking to water as my beverage, and not allowing anyone to pressure me into eating something I don’t want to. I also make the deal with myself that if I’m going to eat there that I will go right back to clean eating at the next meal or snack. Making the choice to eat at these functions follows much like my 90-10 clean eating strategy, meaning I make the choice 90% of the time not to eat at these functions.

When it came to managing the guilt that I used to feel when in social food situations I started to use positive self talk when I noticed it would rear its ugly head. I would tell myself that no one gets irreversibly hurt by my decision not to eat or limited what I eat. That if I made the choice to put the perceived needs of others ahead of my need to take care of myself by eating that I was the one who would be hurt in the end cause it would keep me from improving my health. I also told myself that if someone was offended by my choice it was likely because of something that had nothing to do with me. For example, it was because they secretly wish they could make better choices. I also just reassured myself that I was important and worth having a life where I was healthy. Every time I was successful in sticking to my choices that I made a head of time I celebrated and congratulated myself so that I experienced the positive feeling of pride. Now that I have been on my journey for so long the guilt has faded and I rarely experience it. This is largely in part just because I have faced this situation so many times and know what to expect. Plus it helps that those who I interact with in these situations are now used to my behavior.
In addition to the situation above there are plenty of non-food situations where making a choice of saying no to other people can have a benefit to your health. How many of us over-schedule ourselves to the point we are super stressed out or end up running ourselves so hard we are exhausted?  I have so been there but I refuse to live like that anymore. Biggest tip I have to that is to avoid agreeing to take on any task, do a favor, or make a social commitment until you have taken some time to check your schedule and time to evaluate if taking it on will overextend you. I always buy myself time by responding with “Let me check my schedule and I’ll get back to you”. If the person doesn’t accept that and wants an answer on the spot I instantly say no. If I look at my schedule and see that saying yes to the situation is not going to overextend me and it is something I want to do then I agree if not I let the person know that I can’t. I experienced some guilt when I first began saying no to commitments but as I saw that my stress levels dropping because of a more manageable schedule I stopped worrying about it as much. Again those around you start to get used to your behavior and start accepting the fact you aren’t someone who agrees to everything.

If it is going to overextend you the best thing to do for your health is to say no. Keep in mind that you do no one, including yourself, any good by overextending yourself. I apply this not only in personal situations but also at work. The work situation was a little harder for me to get to the point where I learned to say no and that is because I was so worried that saying no would hurt my career. Interestingly enough, I feel like it has saved it. I was close to the point of burn out and if I continued the way I had been I likely would not be in my field anymore. Overall I am more productive now then I was when I was overscheduled. That is because I actually was able to take the time to make true progress on projects because I can focus on what I am working on and I’m not so tired so I don’t loose efficiency because of it.

Questions for you:
How do you manage social food situations like outlined above?
What kind of emotions do you experience when saying no to others and how do you handle them?
What things do you to make your health a priority?

Quote of the day: 
"He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away." ~ Raymond Hull  

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week 7 To Do List & Review of what I learned from the Nutrition Chapter

Happy Monday everyone!

Well as you know Monday’s are To Do list days so let’s get to that for this week.

Week 7: Health Screening (Holy crap I’m already on week 7! Where did the time go?)
  • Manual – Pages 149-167
  • Workbook – Pages 59-61
  • Master the Manual – Pages 33-38
  • Audio – Chapter 5
  • Flashcards – Chapter 5

Overall studying is going pretty well for me. I changed up my schedule a little so that I get an hour in the morning for studying and then I normally get another hour in after work in the afternoons. I made this switch because I find that studying in the morning is the best for me for retention and also for my attention span. I’m glad I made the switch because I am getting more accomplished study wise every day than before the switch.

Also some exciting news about studying, on last week’s to do list you may have noticed that I had an online quiz for the first 4 chapters scheduled. I am glad to report I scored a 90% on it! After reviewing the 3 questions I did miss I saw that they all were ones where I had debated between the answer I gave and the correct one. So I’m pretty excited to see that my approach to studying the materials is working and that I’m retaining it.

So let me fill you in on last week’s materials. As you might remember last week was the chapter on Nutrition. First off I have to say that so far this chapter was the easiest for me to get through so far. For the most part it was stuff I have been exposed to before with a little more detail to the information. They recommend that personal trainers refer to to assist in understanding basic guidelines. It was good to see that includes a recommendation about getting exercise daily. The rest of the chapter went into more specifics about the role that proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water play in the body. They also covered things like cholesterol, triglycerides, and heart disease. The thing that I read that I was very happy to see was that ACE trainers are suppose to discourage their clients from using supplementation to meet nutritional needs.

Also, I learned that coming up with meal plans does not fall into the scope of a personal trainer but they can make suggestions on strategies that clients can use to make healthier choices. For personalized meal plans I should be referring clients to Registered Dietitians or other qualified professionals. I will be comfortable with making suggestions about making healthier choices, especially since that’s what I already do when friends ask me for help with their nutrition. It’s interesting because a lot of the suggestions that where in the manual where ones I already have given out.

So after reading the chapter, I was curious how my nutrition stacked up against the recommendations of percentages for protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake. You would think I would have known how I stacked up but since during my journey I have never tracked my calories or the breakdown. That’s right people I don’t count my calories and until this weekend I really didn’t have a clue what my calorie range was. One of these days I’ll go into a detailed explanation on what I eat and why but I’ll save that for another time.

Anyway, I signed up with because I knew they had a pretty decent meal tracking system that was easy to use. Didn't hurt that their site is also free. I tracked my food on Friday through Sunday. And here is what I learned tracking.
  • Calorie range: 1885-1605
  • Carbohydrate percentage range per day: 48.2% - 53.6%
  • Protein percentage range per day: 22.5% - 23.8%
  • Fat percentage range per day: 23.3% - 29.2%
Ok, so here is what I learned based on the recommendations that were in my manual. I don’t always eat enough carbohydrates (especially considering my activity level), I eat a little too much protein, and I eat the right amount of fats. I agree with the carbohydrate outcome, and I can tell when I am consistently below what I likely need cause my endurance drops. Normally to correct that issue I just eat some more carbohydrates for a day or so. However, it probably would be a better idea for me just to adjust my carbohydrate level overall so that I didn’t experience that drop in endurance. Reading the materials this past week made me understand that a bit better, especially the part about the carbohydrate loading experiments that have been done in athletes.

Below are the percentages that they recommend.
  • Carbohydrates 55%-65% of daily intake
  • Protein: 12-20% of daily intake
  • Fats: 20-30% of daily intake
As far as the calorie range it probably is a little inaccurate as an overall range because my eating those three days was very clean. On average, I follow a 90-10 approach of clean eating but those 3 days it was what I consider very clean. And it is normal for me to have several meals in a row where eating is very clean followed by a meal or a snack of less than ideal eating and then back to very clean eating. Since I have been able to maintain my weight over for the past several weeks I’m thinking that I’m doing well in the calorie balance department.

Looking at my results compared to the recommendations, it was interesting to see where I can make some slight adjustments to fall within them. Seeing that I’m not too far off from them, I doubt it would be hard to do that. Also looking at the recommendations, I’m doing pretty well with their recommendations too. If anything I could stand to eat a little more grains in place of some of the milk products I consume and I would be right in line with what they recommend. Doing that would likely correct my carbohydrate level issue.

I also learned something really important for me personally with this three day experiment. I hate tracking calories and nutrients I eat, even when tracking with a very user friendly system! I don’t know how people do it for long term at all. But we all have to find ways that work for us for managing our nutrition and for some people it works. I found that it made me think about food too much and I just didn’t like feeling that way.

I will say this that is a pretty good site with a lot of good information on nutrition, fitness, and health in general. I browsed through their articles and found a lot of good resources. I also spent some time on their message boards and it was interesting to interact with the people on the site. I plan on continuing to stay active on the site with the message boards and to continue to read the information they have. I also had a member email me and we have agreed to be motivational buddies. She seems to have been on a similar journey as I am and she’s very close to her goal weight. I look forward to getting to know her better and seeing how our “buddy” relationship goes.

So here are a couple questions for you:
Do you track your food intake?
Does your intake match the recommendations listed above for % of breakdown?
What are your thoughts on the recommendations?

Quote of the day:
“Facts are to the mind what food is to the body” ~ Edmund Burke

Friday, November 13, 2009

Emotional Battles Series - Managing the Fear of Failure and Making the Commitment to Better Health

When I sat down to write about the emotions surrounding making big changes in your lifestyle I came to a realization. This is a very complex and huge topic in which I have a ton to share about. So instead of writing a super long post on the topic I have decided to break it down into several smaller posts which I will post over the next few weeks. Each Friday I will cover a different emotional battle I faced during my journey to better health and I will share the different strategies I used to overcome them. So welcome to the start of what I’m calling the Emotional Battles Series. Hope you enjoy and I look forward to hearing your comments.

So, let’s get started with this week’s topic! 

Emotional Battle #1: Managing the Fear of Failure and Making the Commitment to Better Health

Making the commitment to improve my health was the first of many battles I faced. I finally made the commitment on January 8, 2007 and began what has been one of the most important journeys I have been on in my whole life. It is the most important because it is one I will continue to be on for the remainder of my life and it is the one which has already changed my life more than any other experience I have had to date.

I’m a strong believer that if you want to make a commitment to better health you have to be ready to make that commitment otherwise it will result in just another failure towards better health. Why do I believe this? Because I can count over 20 attempts in which I failed and I can point to not being ready as being a big part of the reason why in all of those instances.

So what does it mean to be ready to make the commitment to better health? Well there are several things I believe that are needed to be ready but the one I’m going to concentrate on here is going to be the emotional readiness part of making the commitment.  For me being ready emotionally meant I had to work through my fear of failure.

I had this HUGE, and I mean HUGE fear, of failure. This was because of the many failed attempts prior. Each failure always had resulted in my health getting into worse shape than it was before the attempt so at that point I was convinced it was better to just not try so I didn’t make things worse. The thing I didn’t see at the time was not trying was still resulting in a progression of my bad health but it was just at a much slower speed.

What did I do to remove this fear as a roadblock to making the commitment? It took time and a shift in the way I viewed what I was committing to. Instead of looking at it as just a commitment to loosing weight I looked at it as working at committing to habits that would change my health status. I shifted from letting the number on the scale being the only measure I was going to keep track of to having several different measurements that I would look to for measures of progress (blood pressure, body measurements, blood test results, etc). I also was going to keep tabs on how I physically felt each day.

Once I shifted my focus from just weight loss to overall health improvement I was able to see that this was one commitment I had never made before. I had committed to loosing weight in the past but never a commitment to improved health. Meaning I had no previous history of failing which made the fear of failure to drop to a level that it no longer was a roadblock to making the commitment to it.

As you see above I didn’t say I eliminated the fear for failure completely to get to the point I could make the commitment. At that point, I couldn’t have eliminated it completely which was ok. Eliminating that fear in terms of this journey completely didn’t happen until later down the road. I will talk about that process in one of the later posts in this series.

So I leave you with the following question.
How have you made the fear of failure manageable enough to make the commitment to better health?

Quote of the Day: 
"No passion so effectually robs the mind of its powers of acting and reasoning as fear". ~ Edmund Burke

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Look for Certifiably Fit!

Well as you can see I did some updating on the look of the blog. I finally found some time to play around on Photoshop and created a custom title image. I added a more descriptive section with an intro on the blog and about me. I played around with the overall look and also added a couple of other things.

So now the question is do you like it? 
Feel free to leave me comments on what you like, what you don't, and what else you might want to see.

And I promise I'm working on that post I mentioned about emotions surrounding making changes to a healthy lifestyle...stay tuned!

Quote of the Day: 
"How things look on the outside of us depends on how things are on the inside of us". ~ Unknown

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 6 To Do List - Nurtition

Good morning everyone!

Well it’s Monday so that means its To Do List time, so let’s get to it.
Week #6: Chapter 4 – Nutrition
•    Manual – Pages 115-145
•    Workbook – Pages 47-56
•    Master the Manual – Pages 27-32
•    Audio – Chapter 4
•    Flash Cards – Chapter 4
•    Online Review – Chapters 1-4

So I have to say I’m very excited about this week’s chapter since it is the nutrition chapter. Throughout my journey to better health over the past few years learning about nutrition has been somewhat of a passion of mine.  I have spent countless hours reading about nutrition and the scientific studies that involve nutrition.  My current nutritional habits have been formed by implementing different strategies that I have learned about. It has been an interesting adventure to say the least because it has involved a lot of trial and error to get to this point where I feel like I have found what works best for me currently. I say currently because I realize as I continue to work towards an even higher level of fitness and as I age my nutritional needs will likely continue to change. I also say what works for me because I feel like nutrition is one of those things that needs to be individual and that works for one person won’t necessarily fit another person as well. I think there are some nutritional strategies that work overall such as eating whole fresh foods, avoiding overly processed and chemically enhanced foods, and avoiding added sugars.  It is the more specific things such as how many calories and the nutritional break down (fats, protein, carbohydrates) of someone’s  eating plan that needs to be individual. 

So, as I get into this chapter I’m interested in seeing what information I already know and what new information they will include.  I’m sure I’ll post sometime later this week about what I learn so that you can see what ACE is educating their personal trainers on.

As you can see this is also the week where I take the online quiz on the first 4 chapters of the manual. So that means sometime this week I will do a review of everything I have studied so far. I’m glad I’m going to do this cause I think it is a good time to review and see what I still need to review and what is sticking with me already.

Well it is time for me to get ready for work so I’m going to wrap this up. Stay tune for a post later this week on the topic of managing the emotional struggles of making the change to a healthier lifestyle. This post is actually one that is inspired from an interaction I recently had with someone I know who is  working towards her own health goals.

Quote of the Day: “If we're not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn't settle for junk food.” ~ Sally Edwards 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I feel Incredible! Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder

I am feeling incredible this morning and wanted to share that with everyone this morning. So why is feeling incredible on this particular day post worthy? Well keep reading and you will see!

If you have been paying attention in some of my other posts you will see I have mentioned I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and this is the season for my symptoms to begin surfacing. So for me to say I feel incredible right now is a pretty big deal for me.

So what is Season Affective Disorder you ask? Well check out WebMD’s Overview here.

I was diagnosed with SAD back in my early 20’s and it has been a learning process for me over the past ten years to find a way to manage the symptoms and still be a productive member of society during the colder months. Some years I have done better than others but I will say that the years I have struggled the most are the ones I have learned the most about managing it.

For example last year was a particular bad year for me in regards to my symptoms. So why was that? Well there were several factors that came into play. I was faced with some stressful situations in my personal life that I was not managing well. In not managing that stress, I was not taking care of myself in the ways I needed to during the season change which set me up for some full blown symptoms which are particularly hard for me to manage once they get into full swing. For me prevention of symptoms is far more effective than trying to get a handle on them once they are already a problem. I learned that lesson last year when I made the choice to finally address them in about mid-January when they were full blown for me by that time.

So what things work for me in managing my SAD symptoms? Below is my list of what I call my prevention/management plan. When I focus on following the 4 parts of the plan, especially at the start of fall I find that I am able to manage my symptoms so much better. (Disclaimer before I list this. I am not a doctor so in no way should you read this and assume that this will work for you in managing SAD or any other depression related illness. You should always consult you physician for information on developing a treatment plan.) 

  • Consistent Sleep Pattern: This is an important one for me. Not only is it important to make sure I am getting my full 8 hours a night but it is also important that my body get on a sleep schedule where I go to bed and get up at the same time everyday. This also is important to my light therapy schedule which I will talk about in a minute. I also make sure I’m not sleeping too much. That means no weekend sleeping in and very rarely do I allow myself a nap. 
  • Light Therapy: Starting the day following the time change in the fall I start using my light therapy box every morning until right before the Daylight Savings time change in Spring. Some years I am able to stop earlier and some years I will continue until the time change, it really just depends on how I’m feeling that year.  I started light therapy a few years ago and this treatment by far has helped me more than traditional medication and counseling did.  Want to know more about light therapy check this site out.
  • Eating Clean: So if you took time to read the WebMD site I listed above you saw one of the symptoms can be cravings for more carbohydrates. For me that is a symptom that I experience and at times if can be downright intense. My body is trying to increase my serotonin levels (one of those feel good neurotransmitters in the brain) and one of the ways that it tries to accomplish this is by encouraging me to eat simple carbohydrates. If I gave into these cravings every time I had them I would surely put on weight so knowing this I try to keep them at bay by eating as clean and consistent as I can. This means eating 6 times a day, focusing on whole foods, and balancing my carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat intake. Sure does a holiday cookie or piece of pie make its way in? Absolutely, but I just make sure I’m following the 90-10 approach. Which is focusing on 90% clean, 10% not so clean eating. 
  • Consistent Exercise: Getting active most days of the week has been really helpful for me in managing my symptoms. Not only does it get me up and moving for the day it also gives me the feel good boost that my body is craving. I workout 6 days a week every morning after breakfast. Working out in the colder months has been something I have had to work at getting into the habit of. During the warmer months my main form of exercise is riding my bike and when the weather gets colder I no longer do outdoor rides. Investing in my indoor trainer for the bike has been helpful but it’s not the same as riding outside for me. So to manage incorporating exercise indoors I have found that I needed variety. Sure I use my indoor trainer but I have added workout videos and now my Wii game. I tried just focusing on my indoor trainer but it just made me miss my outside rides so adding other things in helps me in not getting so sad about missing the warmer weather.

So did you notice that medications and traditional talk therapy are not part of my plan? Why is that? I have tried both of those in an attempt to manage my SAD but they just were not very effective for me. I know that they work for some people but for me the just didn’t. Interestingly enough, those two treatments are the ones that are used most often. My experience with medications was very scary because some of those I tried caused side effects that made me feel even more emotionally unstable, which in turn made my symptoms worse. Talk therapy just wasn’t something that helped in my case. It didn’t make it worse but it also didn’t help. I got frustrated with the fact that my doctor at the time really didn’t know what else to try other than keep changing my medications. This is where I took things into my own hands and did research on my own. This is how I learned about light therapy and lifestyle management as treatments for SAD.

So why is it that I’m feeling incredible today? Because I’m following my plan very consistently and I’m feeling as good as I do during the summer months. Compared to all the other fall seasons I feel like a completely different person. I feel like I have figured out the solution to an issue I have been battling with for a very long time and that makes me feel like I’m on top of the world.  

Quote of the day: 

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ~Robert H. Schuller

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday To Do List - Chapter 3 Finally!

Well it’s Monday so that means To Do List time!

Week #5: Chapter 3 ~ Biomechanics & Kinesiology
  • Manual – Chapter 3, Pages 65-112
  • Workbook – Chapter 3, Pages 35-44
  • Anatomy Book – Pages 172-184 & 214-220
  • Master the Manual – Chapter 3, Pages 21-26
  • Audio- Chapter 3
  • Flash Cards – Chapter 3

So as you can see I’m moving on to Chapter 3 finally. That Anatomy chapter was killer and I still feel like I could use more time with it but I feel like I got enough of it to move forward. Believe me I will still be reviewing the material until I get more comfortable with it. Chapter 3 looks pretty interesting because it’s going to go into the mechanics of movement. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it done this week and then I’ll only be one week behind on my original study plan.

Well I’m stuck at work right now so I’m going to cut this short. I’ll update you on my week off on working out on another day this week. I learned some interesting things with that, but it’s going to have to wait.

Quote of the Day:
“The first wealth is health” ~ Emerson 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yikes it's Tuesday!

Yikes it is already Tuesday which means I missed posting my Monday To Do list!

Anyway there is a good reason, and that is because I’m extending last week’s list to this week. The reason why? Well first off my brain is struggling to retain all this information about muscles. Second, last week was a bit crazy for me. I was sick for a couple days which resulted in me missing some work and then I injured my ankle. I’ll talk about my ankle a little later. Like I just mentioned I’m having trouble retaining the information about muscles. Some of it is sticking but let me just tell you there are a whole crap load of muscles that come into play for motion of the body. So as Sunday wrapped up I made the choice to stay on this material for at least the next week. Considering knowing muscles is important to the whole exercise program planning thing I really want to make sure I have a good grasp on it before I move forward.

 At first I was a little disappointed in myself for not being ready to move forward but after a nice little talk with myself about how the only deadline that is on me is the one’s I’m setting for myself I got over that.  I tend to drive myself hard so I get a little down on myself when I can’t meet an expectation I have set for myself.  I look at it this way, I am still making progress as long as I keep studying and it’s not like I just blew off the week’s assignments. Life happened and that is ok.

So onto my ankle. Well if you remember last week I pulled my calf muscle on the right leg because I was pushing myself too hard. Well I pushed myself to workout with it sore. Granted I dropped the intensity, but I still pushed myself to workout when I had an injury to my calf. So what happened? Well my left leg had to compensate for the right calf and it resulted in me pulling something in my left ankle.  I pulled it so bad that I could hardly walk for a couple days.  After all of that pain I made the choice to take at least the next week off from doing anything exercise related that uses my legs.  For several days I followed the RICE treatment. Meaning rest, ice, compression, and elevation. I also invested in an ankle brace and I have been wearing it constantly. I don’t have any pain anymore but the ankle feels unsteady so I will be wearing the brace for a while.  When I start working out on it again I’m going to start slow and I will be wearing the brace.  I’ll be honest this taking some time off is making me a little crazy. I really miss getting my sweat on and already feel like it is affecting my daily energy levels.

This whole ankle thing is teaching me a lot. First, I realize I really need to start listening to my body instead of trying to workout in pain. I know why I had been doing that though. I have that fear that if I miss a workout I will just stop working out all together which then I have the fear would lead to me gaining all the weight back and loose all the progress I have made with my fitness level.  I’m pretty sure the reason I got sick last week is because I was overworking myself too much lately and I ran my body into the ground. The other thing that it has taught me is that if I want to be a good Personal Trainer I need to be a better role model by taking care of injuries correctly, and not overworking myself. 

Well I should get going and get this day on track. I leave you with the following questions.

For those of you who have studied Anatomy, what things did you do to retain information about the names, insertions, and origins?

Have you ever gotten injured but ignored the signs and kept going until you injured yourself even more?

When you have to take some time off from working out because of an injury does it make you crazy?

Quote of the day:
“Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.” ~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, October 19, 2009

Week #4: To Do List, The Positives about Studying, & Ouch my Calf!

Wow this is a pretty late Monday post for me. There are several reasons but they aren’t too interesting so I’ll save you from them this time.  As always Monday’s post includes my To Do List for studying so let’s get that out of the way first.

Week #4: Human Anatomy Part #2 – Oct 19th-25th
•    Manual – Pages 45-63 - Rest of Chapter 2
•    Workbook – Pages 29-31 – Rest of Chapter 2
•    Master the Manual – Pages 9-20
•    Anatomy Book – Pages 35-171 & 200-213
•    Anatomy DVD
•    Audio – Chapter 2
•    Flash cards – Chapter 2

Yikes I got a lot of reading to do this week! This by far will be my most challenging week to get everything done.  Considering that right before I got to writing this post I was finishing up the last little bit of last week’s material by taking some quizzes on the different bones in the body I have a feeling that I’m likely going to have to extend this week’s To Do further than originally planned.  I’m not going to make that decision until I see where I am with things by mid week. If I got to extend this week I’ll be ok with that considering there is a lot of new material in this section that I have never been exposed to. I would rather add additional time then to end up missing questions on the certification test because I rushed.

Well as far as the first part of Human Anatomy it went pretty well. It was challenging the first read through of the material but after I went back and reviewed it a bit I feel like I got a handle on it. I know that I’m going to want to review it throughout my studying because I really want it to stick. Not too worried though cause there will be opportunities for me to test my comprehensive knowledge throughout my studying with the online study review quizzes. They are like mini-tests that combined a couple of chapters together.

I have to say this I’m starting to realize some changes I have made in my schedule that are things I have always wanted to try to do. The first one is that I admit that I watch way too much TV and now I’m watching a lot less, which is good. I still watch some but there is way less time with me just sitting here after work vegging out.  Prior to me starting this most nights during the week were spent staring at TV watching a lot of crap that I didn’t even care to just cause I didn’t have much else to do.

Another thing I like is that I actually feel like I’m being productive in my personal life other than just working out.  Now I am not knocking working out because I love it but I think it’s good that I feel like I’m accomplishing more than just physical gains in my strength.  Now my brain is getting a chance to make some gains as well. Having a structured program I’m following that allows me to test my knowledge retention has been good for me. I have been out of school for about 8 ½ years now and I didn’t realize how much I missed the structure of learning like this. Now that’s not to say I haven’t been learning in those 8 ½ years, but I haven’t had anything where my knowledge gets tested formally.  Since finishing school I have debated about going back for a Master’s several times but honestly the idea of getting back into a classroom doesn’t really appeal to me. I think that doing this Personal Training Certificate Study Program is just what I desired though because I do it on my own, at my own pace, and I don’t have all the unnecessary busy work that professors just love to assign.

 Something else that I have realized is that I’m procrastinating way less with things because I want to have time to study and not be stressed that I have something else I need to get done before I can get focused. This is huge for me because I swear if it is not work related I will procrastinate on it until the last second.  At work I will procrastinate occasionally but if it is something personal I will wait till the last possible second normally.

Ok switching gears a little bit now. So guess who is injured? Oh yeah that would be me! I pulled my calf muscle when I was doing my Wii Active workout this morning. Oh I failed to mention I have been doing the hard level the last couple workouts so I’m thinking I just bumped the intensity a little too soon.  I was in the middle and all of a sudden I got this strong tightness in my right calf. And what did I do? Oh yeah I kept going until I finished the workout. Yeah I’m an idiot sometimes!  Anyway, I’m going to take good care of it until it feels better.  Reminder to self: YOU ARE NOT SUPERWOMAN! It’s ok to work up to a higher level gradually.

Well I’m going to get going. It’s snack time and then there is some laundry calling my name to go fold it.

Quote of the day:
If you don't do what's best for your body, you're the one who comes up on the short end. ~ Julius Erving

Friday, October 16, 2009

2 Week Maintenance Update

So, I thought I would take an opportunity to talk a little bit about how maintenance is going for me. As some of you know I entered maintenance a little over 2 weeks ago once I received my results from the “Know Your Numbers” thing I went to at work. Check back to that post if you want more details.

Once I got those results I made the choice to stop attempting to loose weight and try to maintain where I am. The body fat percentage is really the number that made me make that choice because it is in a good range and I really don’t want to go too low since hopefully in the near future I’ll be looking to start a family and would really hate to find out my body fat was too low to conceive. The reading I got was 20.7 %, which if I round up, falls into low part of the healthy range for a fit woman in my age range. You can do some research and find that if a woman goes too low with her body fat she can loose her menstruation and it can affect her ability to conceive.

It is strange to say I’m in maintenance when my original goal weight I was working towards was 145lbs. I selected that weight because for my height it would put me at the upper limit of the normal range BMI for my height. Currently, according to BMI, I’m still considered overweight. However, it was explained to me that BMI isn’t always an accurate measure for everyone since it doesn’t take into account body composition. So for me in the last two weeks it has been a bit of a mental shift when I look at the scale’s reading. Before I was looking at my current weight as being so close to where I was suppose to be. Now I have been looking at it as where I need to stay because I’m at a healthy weight.

I’m happy to report over the 2 weeks I have been able to stay pretty consistent weight wise. Taking into consideration that my weight can fluctuate 1-2lbs from day to day I have been seeing my weight staying in the same range for the past two weeks. That’s right people I weigh everyday, but I have since the start. I am not one of those people who let the number have a huge effect on my mood for the day so I don’t find it to be an unhealthy behavior for me like some might. Prior to me trying to get healthy I never got on the scale because I was trying to stay in denial about my ever growing problem. I plan on getting on the scale everyday still because it’s going to be one of the ways I keep myself accountable. Plus, now it is such a habit for me to get on the thing every morning I think it would feel really strange not to. So I guess what I’m doing is working.

So what am I doing you ask? Well honestly it isn’t too different than what I had been doing the weeks before. I’m eating clean about 90% of the time and I’m getting in my workouts like always. I’m still focusing on my stress management plan, which means consistent sleep, taking time for myself everyday, talking things out, and getting in some “fun” every week. 

I know that changing my eating habit of 90-10 would lead to a backslide so I know I need to stay disciplined in that area. I think that because I lost the weight slowly (2yrs 10 months) that is to my advantage because I made changes gradually and took the time to really see what works for me nutritionally. I also have learned so much about the science behind nutrition that I also understand why I need to eat the way I do. I never made types of food off limits which has helped me in a lot of ways. I can still enjoy foods that might not fit the “healthy” category on occasion which really helped me get off the diet mindset and onto a lifestyle one instead. I think another big shift when it comes to food is that I admitted that I used food to cope with emotional crap in my life and worked towards finding other coping mechanisms for it. I’m sure in other posts I’ll go into my past a bit to talk about this further, but I’ll save that for another day.

As far as working out I’m following the plan I outlined in my post last week. The new routine is working well for me and I feel like I am becoming much more balanced with my fitness already. The craziest transformation for me over this journey is how I went from a very sedentary person to this very active person. I love working my body and being active. Heck, I’m to the point that when my rest day comes up I get a little sad because I know I’m not going to get all hot and sweaty that day. I might still get in a nice walk or another low level activity in that day but it just doesn’t give me the same rush I normally get. I love how I feel like I’m strong and I get excited when it’s time to bump up the resistance in my strength training. My activity level has really been something that those around me have been trying to get used to. They adjusted to my change in eating much easier than to my new activity level. I’m the one who is always trying to get my friends to do active things when we hang out, when before I was the one who was always suggesting very sedentary activities. Overall my friends are not very active so a lot of times they think I’m crazy but oh well I like my new crazy self!

Like I said above, the biggest change as been a mental one. It is kind of strange for me to look at myself in the mirror and think that I’m no longer trying to loose weight and that I’m in a healthy place. I have spent a large majority of my life being overweight and unhealthy that this new person I have become is a little bit of a stranger to me. I’m not going to lie there are still days when I look in the mirror and think that it is lying to me. Or I step on the scale and think it must be wrong. Those days happen less and less as time goes on but they still creep up. Those are the days I might break out the one pair of jeans and shirt I saved from my heaviest and try them on. Once I do that I snap out of thinking that the mirror or the scale is lying. I think that it’s just my mind sometimes hasn’t caught up to all the physical changes my body has gone through. Since going into maintenance, I now have had to shift from the thinking that I’m almost to my goal to I am there. I’m still in shock I made it because it takes a lot of conscience effort to say I’m there. I’m sure as time goes on that it will become automatic. Also, shifting from working towards the goal of losing weight to a goal of maintenance requires a different mindset.

Since I have went into maintenance I have shared that to several people in my life and their reactions have been interesting. Some have said they are really glad because they think I’m getting too thin. Some are really happy for me and have told me how inspirational I am. I find the getting too thin comment to be interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, I’m no where near what would be considered as too thin. Granted, with the fact that a majority of my country is overweight, I might appear as being thin but I fall into a healthy range and not even close to being underweight. Second, I look at those who are making that comment and I realize that they are all overweight themselves so to them I seem thin I guess. Which leads into my third thought that some of them say it out of their own insecurities and I say this because some of them are the ones who where saying I needed to stop loosing weight when I lost like 20lbs. Throughout it all I have been careful with how I take other’s comments because sometimes what they say is more about them than it really has to do with me. One of these days I’ll write about my thoughts on how our relationships with others can have an effect on our efforts to change to healthier habits, because I have a lot of thoughts on that.

Question: For those of you who are healthy or working towards it what kind of comments do you get from those in your life about the things you are doing to keep or work towards better health?

Well that is my maintenance update for now. I’m sure I’ll do these updates as time progresses. I think it will be interesting to see what other challenges I will face as I am working on maintaining my new healthy self.

Just a quick update on my studying before I go. This week has been pretty challenging. Even though it is just part one of human anatomy I feel like I have had a ton to learn. I finished up work with the Manual and the workbook. I’m going to be working on the Anatomy book stuff tonight and tomorrow and hopefully I’ll be ready to move on to the second part of this topic by Monday. This week also has been challenging because this weather (ie: rainy and just plain gray) has had an effect on my energy levels. When I get home I’m just feeling downright tired and that is when I do most of my studying. In a perfect world I would study in the morning hours but those are when I’m at work so that doesn’t work for me unless it is the weekend or I’m off. But I have been trying to work past the lower energy levels and still get in some good studying. I think it’s time for me to break out my light box for the winter season which will help with the energy thing because I’m starting to feel my Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms kicking in.

Alright people I got to get going. Hope you all enjoy your weekend.

Quote of the day:
Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day. ~ Jim Rohn