Friday, May 28, 2010

Reflections from the Graveyard

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When I ride my bike outside part of my route includes riding through a graveyard. People always look at me weird when I share this information. For me it’s not creepy at all and I look at it as visiting all the graves that have no visitors. Part of the reason I started to ride through was because the lack of traffic makes it the perfect place for me to do speed work.


So yesterday, while I was out for my early morning ride, my mind started wandering. I was looking at the dates on the tombstones and saw a wide range between those who lived long lives and those who didn’t and it got wondering what the difference in lifestyles was between them. How many of them died early because they didn’t take care of their health? How many of them lived full, productive, and happy lives because they did take care of themselves?

I really believe that my journey to better health has added more years between now and the time I will be only a memory in the lives of those who know me.  My hope is that I will be one of ones who lived a full, productive, and happy life because I took good care of myself.

I think from this point forward every time I ride through the graveyard I will give myself a pat on the back because every ride I take is one more step I have taken to live a healthier life.

Quote of the Day: “Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.” ~ Goethe

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Call for Healthy Journey Success Stories

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Good afternoon everyone!

Are you a Healthy Journey Success Story? I'm looking to interview those of you who have changed your health status for the better. So whether you have met your goal weight, changed your fitness level, met a physical fitness challenge, or even conquered an emotional battle I want to hear from you! I'm looking to start a post series here on CertifiablyFit that features success stories of those who have embraced healthy living. So this post is a call for submissions for that series. Send me an email at certifiablyfit@gmail.com if you are interested in being interviewed and having your story featured.

Look forward to hearing everyone's story!

Quote of the Day: "There is no delight in owning anything unshared." ~ Seneca

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Business Trips – Healthy Style

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Well I am finally home after having to be away for a couple days for work. I’ll be honest traveling for work always throws a couple challenges at me when it comes to staying on track with my healthy lifestyle. They throw food at you like you haven’t eaten in months and there are many hours spent sitting in a chair participating to back to back training sessions. Also, there is not much free time in the evening hours to fit in any physical activity or time to just distress from the day. Networking with colleagues is strongly pushed after training hours, which can lead to late nights as well.  
Healthy Business Travel is About Finding Balance


When I first began on my journey to better health I felt prey to these challenges and found myself off track for those couple days I was away. I ate with little regard to how much or the nutritional content (or lack of nutritional content) of food. I didn’t worry about getting workouts in either. Honestly, I just let the trip be an excuse to revert to old habits of poor eating, no physical activity, and threw my stress management plan out the window. The result was spending those days feeling pretty crappy. Oh and the guilt it would create when I returned would eat at me for weeks following.

It only took a couple of experiences like this before I recognized that I had to find a better way to manage these situations. If I could create a plan to manage my everyday life, there had to be a way to create a plan for business trips that would keep me on track.  So that is exactly what I set out to do. After a couple of trips I was able to create a plan that works pretty well for me. Now when I have to travel for work, I am able to stay on track fairly easy.

Since I know I’m not the only one that has health goals and is required to travel for work, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my tips for staying on track.

Business Travel – Healthy Style Tips

Scope out the Hotel Accommodations
I don’t normally get to pick the hotel I stay at because normally it is arranged by either my boss or by those who are hosting the training I’m attending, but I do get ample notice to which hotel I will be staying at. One of the first things I do is to check out the hotel’s website to see what I’m likely working with. Information I gather: Is there a fitness center?, Is there an in room micro-fridge?, Is there a pool?, Is the area surrounding walking/running friendly?, Are there restaurants near that I can eat healthy at nearby for meals that are not provided?   
Personalize Your Schedule
Another thing I get ahead of time is the schedule of what my schedule is for the days I’m in training. I take the schedule and use it as the base of a personalized schedule I create for the trip. I schedule in my workout times, sleep times, relaxation time, networking time, etc. into my personalized schedule. Once I have it all typed out I print it and make sure it is in my business notebook. Doing this ahead of time sets me up to be ready to use my time wisely and not waste opportunities to take care of myself.    
Healthify Your Packing List
Before I pack for the trip I actually write down a packing list so I make sure I don’t forget anything. I start with all the basics first like clothing, toiletries, computer, and business notebook/planner. Then I look at the accommodation information I collected earlier and determine what I need to bring with me to workout, relax, and stay on track nutritionally. This list normally includes things like workout clothing and shoes, workout DVD’s, resistance bands, healthy snacks, my heart rate monitor, a book, and my Ipod. Sure it makes me look like I’m packing to be away much longer than I will be, but I can’t complain that I don’t have what I need.
My Fitness/Healthy Snack Stash from my Latest Trip

Be Sensible with Food Choices
If your trip is anything like mine, normally are you are pretty much surrounded by massive quantities of catered foods throughout the time you are away. A majority of times these food choices are pretty unhealthy with a very limited selection of healthy options. For me, I follow the healthiest option approach. Meaning I try to select what I’m eating by trying to determine the healthiest option available. I keep an eye on my portions as well. Sure it might turn out to be a choice I won’t always make when I was at home, but my goal here is to do the best I can. When it comes to pre-scheduled snack times I evaluate if I’m hungry or not first. Just because they are providing snack time doesn’t mean you have to eat if you don’t need to. If I am hungry and the snack choices are pretty unhealthy then I dip into my personal snack stash.     
Stand Out From the Crowd
This one means being prepared to handle some peer pressure when it comes to certain things that you choose to do to stay on track. Some of the common things I deal with are pressure to indulge in poor food choices and to go out afterward to have drinks. You already are normally dealing with some of these issues when you are not traveling, don’t let the fact you aren’t in familiar environments derail you. Just use the same skills you use when you are on your home turf to deal with this. Keep in mind a lot of times when you are getting pressured about things like this it typically is because the person is trying to feel better about their poor choices.

Resources for Health Business Travel
Healthy Travel Network
Don't let business travel derail your fitness goals
Staying Healthy On The Road
Workout Tips for Business Travel

Quote of the Day: “Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.” ~ Julie Andrews

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Winner to the ‘Don't Drink ___, Drink WAT-AAH!’ Giveaway

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And the Winner to the ‘Don't Drink ___, Drink WAT-AAH!’ Giveaway is….

GINA from THE CANDID RD  who left the following comment:
“Very cool!!! I didn't know about this, thanks for the info. I liked the DON'T DRINK JUNK ad :) I will certainly post about it on my next post. I will try to remember to e-mail you!!”

Gina, please send me your shipping address through email at certifiablyfit@gmail.com and I’ll have the company send you your prize!

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Coming up this week will be a post about staying on track with your health goals when traveling on business.  I’ll be traveling for work for a couple days early next week so I figured it would be fitting to post my tips. So stay tuned!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Quote of the day:  "The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become." ~ Jim Rohn

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Love/Hate Relationship with The Biggest Loser

15 comments
Yes I watch this show. And yes, I have watched every single season and probably will watch it until they take it off the air. Sometimes people are surprised to learn that about me because I am the poster girl for focusing on a holistic approach to health and I am constantly putting out the message that focusing on just weight loss is like thinking the puzzle is complete with huge pieces missing.

So why the heck have I never missed an episode of a show that is a weight loss competition that is notorious for such a huge focus on pulling big weight loss numbers each week to stay in the competition?  Main reason is that I have learned a lot from watching it. Not only things that have been important for my own journey, but I feel like by watching it I’m learning things I can use when I start training people as a Personal Trainer. Don’t worry I don’t plan on yelling obscenities like a crazy person like Bob & Jillian do! I believe you can be assertive without having to resort to this kind of behavior.  

When BL first aired I was heavier than most of the females that were on the show.  I sat and watched the first couple seasons dreaming about what it would be like to drop all the excess weight I was carrying, yet I was on a yo-yo roller-coaster during most of that time. Even though I found the show to be inspiring at times, I also found it intimidating because when ever I would attempt to work on my weight I never would come close to loosing those big numbers you see on the show. This is one of the negative influences I think that this show has because it creates pretty unrealistic expectations for it’s viewers about weight loss. Just took me a while to realize that what you see on the show is pretty hard to replicate in real life unless you plan on putting life on hold and do nothing but workout for hours a day. I know that, as I start training clients, that there are going to be some who are fans of the show who are going to have these unrealistic expectations about working with a trainer. I plan on talking about having realistic expectations right up front to try and avoid having them fall into the trap of feeling like failures if they aren’t seeing “Biggest Loser” results.



Once I got on my own path to better health I continued to watch and found it inspiring but not because of the numbers on the scale that I saw the contestants pulling. I found inspiration through watching them complete the physical challenges, workout like machines, and watching them make emotional breakthroughs. The emotional breakthroughs where very interesting and very important to my own understanding that there are big emotional components to why I put on excess weight. As I watched each season, I found myself relating to the contestants because I was making some very similar breakthroughs myself. I watched how the trainers would push the contestants to confront their emotional demons and help them over the hurdles that came with opening up. My dream about wanting to be a Personal Trainer started to grow because of watching these moments. Let me just put it out there that I question some of the training tactics I have seen and in no way want to be just like Bob or Jillian. They both have some good qualities as trainers but there are just some things I personally don’t agree with.

Now that I’m in the weight maintenance portion of my health journey I really find myself getting more emotional when the seasons come down to the last couple of episodes. For example, the episode from this week the contestants each sat down and watched a video that was of clips of their journey so far, including a message each one of them taped for themselves when they first started out. I’ll be honest I cried through most of that. Why? Because, just like them, it is pretty overwhelming to recognize just how much hard work you have to put into changing your life like that. I get very reflective on my own journey watching those moments and I cry not because I’m sad but because I am so proud of myself that the emotions just flood out of my body as tears.    

As my fitness has improved over the years I have also used the show to steal some of the workout exercises that you see contestants using. Now granted I research them before trying them so I learn what the proper form is so I didn’t injure myself.  Mostly, things you see them doing with free weights and little equipment since I don’t use a gym to work out in.  I also have a couple of the workout DVD’s that have the Biggest Loser title on them as well as a number of Jillian Michaels' titles.

There are plenty of things I hate about the show as well. Here is a list of some of them.
  • The concept of the game where the faster you loose the more you are rewarded by getting to stay on the show. Yeah I do realize it is the main focus on the show, doesn’t mean I have to like it. I think it almost encourages doing some really questionable things to drop weight fast both with contestants and to the at home viewer. 
  • The whole game play drama that occurs between contestants.
  • The way they cut to commercials to try and create short cliff hanger drama. Thank you DVR for helping me just skip this!
  • Product placements
  • The temptations where eating crap could potentially earn you a reward
  • The way that the trainers yell obscenities in an effort to be assertive
  • Lack of coverage on the nutrition plans that the contestants are following
  • Not addressing how they are training these individuals without causing over-training syndrome. I suspect that many of them suffer from over-training problems and we aren’t informed about it. There are signs though because I think back to some who have suffered from injuries over the years.
Questions for You
Do you watch BL? If so what are your thoughts on it?
If you don’t watch it are you not watching it because of some of the reasons I hate it?


Oh and before I let you go don’t forget about my ‘Don't Drink ___, Drink WAT-AAH!’ Giveaway. You have until tomorrow @ 11:59pm to enter.

Quote of the Day: “All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?” ~ Nicholas Johnson

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Have You Ever Considered Personalizing Your Plan?

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So there has been something on my mind lately as I read the many blogs that outline the personal weight loss/health journeys. I see those who seem to be struggling the most seem to be trying to follow some pre-fabricated plan that they found somewhere strictly to the way it was written. They may have had some initial success in moving towards their goals but then all of a sudden they stall out and feel like they are failing. Oh I have been there and boy did I struggle as I tried to follow a plan perfectly. It took me a long time to recognize that the big reason that most plans out there weren’t working for me was because they weren’t designed personally for me. 

When I began this journey to better health I approached trying to change my eating by following a fairly popular diet book’s eating plan. I even followed it for quiet a while and had some success on it, but as my health status changed, the food plan wasn’t meeting the needs of the person I was becoming. Did it give me the structure and some basic nutritional information I was in need of when I was 248lbs, non-active, and suffering from a plethora of health issues? Sure did, but as I changed my needs changed and the program wasn’t fitting anymore. I think this is where a lot of people get stuck, frustrated, and ultimately go back to the habits that got them to where they were before they started the plan. 

So what did I do to avoid this crash and burn that I had fallen pray to many times in the past? I started personalizing my eating plan to fit my new needs and as I kept making progress I kept making changes. Even though I’m in weight maintenance now, I still modify my nutrition from time to time because my body is still changing in terms of fitness and, even though I would love to stop it, I am getting older which means changes to my body as well. I recognize that as my body is changing my nutritional needs are constantly changing. I learned if you don’t change your nutrition to match the needs of your body you are going to stall out on moving towards better health. Psst....guess what? This works for workout plans and other plans you might be following to reach health goals too!

My Motto for the health plan I follow

Basic Steps for Personalizing Your Plan

Take Some Baseline Measurements
Before you go making a bunch of changes to your plan it is important to have a way to measure your progress. Examples of measurements you might want to take are: weight, body fat percentage, body part measurements, standard blood tests, blood pressure, resting heart rate, etc. If you are personalizing your workout plan, you probably want to include some fitness tests as well.
Take a Look at Your Current Plan
Sit down and list what parts of your current plan are working and which ones aren’t. Good rule of thumb I follow is that if there is a part that I struggle consistently with it likely needs to be modified in some way so I put it in the not working list. Also, if it something I hate doing, even though I don’t struggle with completing it I put it in the not working list.
Translate the Not Working List
So you have this list but does that mean you just eliminate those parts? It’s not that easy. You need to remember that those things were likely part of the original plan for a reason. They normally are tools to get your body to respond in a certain way. Now it is time for you to sit down and try to figure out what those responses are. If you get stuck with figuring out the reason you can do a little research to figure it out. If you are following a plan in a book re-read it, you can likely figure it out. You also can gather the information by consulting professionals such as a Registered Dietitian in the case of a nutrition based plan or a Personal Trainer if it is a fitness plan.  The internet is also another good source to try and research this, but make sure you are consulting credible sources.
Research Alternatives
So you figured out why those parts that were not working for you were part of the original plan. Now it is time to research alternative ways to get the body responses that those tasks were addressing. Yes, this can be time consuming but I’m telling you it’s important to the process. Find a couple of different alternatives because, if after you try one out and it doesn’t seem to work for you, then you have some new ones to fall back on without having to go through the research process again. When researching, consulting with a Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer, or other professional can be very helpful. 
Make Changes Slowly
As much as you might be tempted to want to jump in head first and change everything that isn’t working overnight DON’T! When you make too many changes at once you are more than likely going to overwhelm your body and it’s going to revolt. Also, you aren’t going to be able to really assess which changes are working effectively and which ones aren’t.  When I am at this stage I concentrate on one change at a time. Once the new change seems to be working and is becoming routine I move on to the next one. Be open to experimenting!
Track & Evaluate Progress
For me this means keeping track of changes in the baseline measurements. I check some of them every 6-8 weeks to see if their have been positive changes in them. For blood tests I have them checked when recommended by my doctor. If I’m not seeing any changes or I see things sliding in a direction I’m not comfortable with I go back and start the process again.  Some people find a daily food and exercise journal works for them for tracking. They then conduct an evaluation of the results every week. Personally, I can’t do that because it makes me get too obsessed with the whole process, so I stick to longer periods in between recording and the evaluation of information. Remember that the whole point of this process is to find a plan that is personally tailored to you so you need to find what works best for you.

Resources for Personalizing Your Plan
How to Design Your Own Diet
How to Personalize Your Fitness Program
The American Dietetic Association
Find an ACE-certified Personal Trainer


Oh and if you missed my  ‘Don't Drink ___, Drink WAT-AAH!’ Giveaway post on Saturday check it out. You have until this Friday @ 11:59pm to enter.

Quote of the Day: “A fool is a man who never tried an experiment in his life.” ~ Erasmus Darwin

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hi My Name is Erica and I’m a Recovering Food Addict.

8 comments
This morning I went out on a walk because I had a bit on my mind and walks always provide me the perfect opportunity to reflect. I spend my 45 minute walk thinking about something that I experienced yesterday when I was working on my post about my mom’s eating disorder. A couple of paragraphs in I had to stop because it was starting to bring up some pretty strong emotions that I wasn’t prepared to work through at that moment. This flood of emotions started to trigger me to want to just shove crap in my mouth. Did I give into those desires to eat a bunch of crap.....Nope! Yay for me! One more trigging moment overcome out of the many I have in the past few years. Do I always overcome the moment and avoid the damaging behavior of my food addiction? No, but I have way more moments I do now then I did in the past.

See during my journey to better health I recognized pretty early that I had a huge problem with using food as my way of handling emotions. I used food to not only manage negative emotions, but also to manage the positive ones too. Much like an alcoholic or a drug addict uses alcohol or drugs to numb themselves from their realities, I used food to check out from life. The most challenging part of dealing with my addiction is that I can’t just give up my drug of choice like traditional addicts can. I have to eat to live, so food has to be part of my life. 
Source


I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment when I stepped over from normal behavior eating to destructive eating behaviors, but I can see that it developed when I was fairly young. I can remember my food binging behavior really started to pick up when I started to earn a decent amount of allowance and my parents allowed me to use it to buy snack foods when ever we were out. This increase in binging behavior also coincided with the emotional turmoil that is part of adolescence. There were many nights I spent in the privacy of my bedroom over stuffing myself with massive amounts of crap as a teen.

When I went off to college this private binging behavior continued and my eating patterns and nutrition of my food changed pretty drastically. When I was growing up my parents did a pretty good job about providing fairly healthy meals for our main meals. I always ate breakfast, I took a packed lunch that was pretty balanced, and dinner was balanced and was always eaten as a family at the table. One thing that I feel was missing was that I was never really taught anything about nutrition. My parents did a good job of providing healthy meals, but they never explained why we were eating what we were. Once I was out on my own making my own food choices in college I went a bit crazy with food. I also became much less active because I no longer was participating in the physical activities I did when I was in High School. I started putting on weight at an alarming rate in college. I had started college out around 150lbs and graduated from college weighing in at about 220lbs.

Post college, things didn’t get much better for my eating habits. I continued to binge eat my way through my transition into the working world, through several jobs, through several moves around the country, and through some pretty unhealthy relationships. I really felt sometimes that food was my only friend, the only one who was there consistently for me through it all. Little did I know that my unhealthy relationship with food was really slowly killing me and robbing me of my ability to live the life I really wanted.    

I would love to tell you that once I realized all of this that I just woke up one day and just stopped using food as my emotional crutch.  I would love to tell you that once I got to a healthy weight that I was cured. Truth is that I wake up everyday knowing that I’m going to have to fight against this demon that lives inside me, the one that tries to convince me that food is my only friend. Don’t let that truth make you feel hopeless if you struggle with the same demon though. The whole reason I made the choice to write about my struggle with this is to show that it can be managed and there is hope of gaining some control over it. Each day I successfully manage it the easier it becomes for me to stay healthy.

Below are some of the strategies I use to keep my addiction under control.  Keep in mind that these are things that work for me, meaning if you try them they may or may not work for you. My suggestion for anyone that feels they are battling with a food addiction or other disordered eating issues is to seek medical assistance from a qualified health professional.  

Permission to Feel
This might seem like a strange permission to have to give to yourself, but for someone like me it is critical to my ability to manage this. For some unknown reason I learned to automatically shut off my emotions, both positive and negative ones, by burying them down inside. Food was my way of being able to take an emotion and to shove it away. I now tell myself when I feel an emotion coming on that it is ok to actually feel it and experience it. For example, I used to think that crying would make me a weak person, so I wouldn’t because I would distract myself from the urge by eating. Once I started to allow myself to cry when I felt it I started to see that it takes much more strength to allow myself to cry and to experience the feelings.
Staying in Touch With My Emotional State
Staying in the moment and taking the time to assess how I’m feeling has been extremely helpful in being prepared to deal with a trigger to destructive eating. Knowing my emotional state helps me recognize when I’m more susceptible to being triggered and knowing that helps me avoid situations that may be just too challenging for me to cope with at that time.
Make Taking Care of Myself a Priority
This means getting proper sleep, getting my workouts in, eating healthy & consistently, and managing my stress levels. I know when I start slipping with taking care of myself I’m just opening myself to vulnerability to slipping into destructive eating patterns.
Forgive, Assess, & Learn from Slips
Like I said in the very beginning of this post, there are times I still slip up and give into destructive eating. So, when this happens I make the choice to forgive myself because not doing so just means carrying guilt that will just fuel the continuation of the destructive behavior. Once I forgive, I assess what triggered the behavior, what I ate, how I felt, and other components of the event. I make it a goal for myself to learn what I can from each slip to help strengthen my ability to deal with future triggering moments.  Not going to lie, the forgive part of this is the hardest part but the most important.
When Triggered Reach Out
Reaching out to my support system during moments where I recognize I am feeling triggered is also very helpful. Just talking to someone about the emotions that I’m feeling about the event that triggers the desire to eat crap helps. I don’t even normally talk about the fact it is making me feel like eating crap, I just talk about the event. For example, let’s say something at work goes wrong, I will then talk to my partner about what is going wrong and how it is making me feel emotionally. Once I talk about it I no longer feel like I need to shove down the feelings so the urge to eat crap disappears.

Wow this turned out to be a pretty lengthy post! If you read this far I’m pretty impressed. My post on my mom will be coming but I have a feeling its going to take me some time to get through writing it. I'm going to take my time on it, but I promise it will get posted once I'm done.

Anyway, if you want more information about food addictions and binge eating disorder check out the following links:

Binge-eating disorder
Binge Eating Disorder - Frequently Asked Questions
Food Addicts In Recovery Anonymous
Mental Health and Food Addiction

Oh and if you missed my ‘Don't Drink ___, Drink WAT-AAH!’ Giveaway post on Saturday check it out. You have until this Friday @ 11:59pm to enter.

Quote of the day: “You do anything long enough to escape the habit of living until the escape becomes the habit.” ~ David Ryan

Saturday, May 8, 2010

‘Don't Drink ___, Drink WAT-AAH!’ Giveaway

10 comments
Hello my loyal readers! I have a pretty exciting giveaway to announce. I have been approached by Engelman & Co. out of NYC to help promote their ‘Don't Drink ___, Drink WAT-AAH!’ campaign. It's been created to encourage people - especially kids - to avoid sugar and sodas and to drink their first functional bottled water called Wat-ahh.

Considering that making the switch from drinking sugar filled beverages to water was one of the first changes I made on my health journey and I feel it plays a huge role in my ability to be successful on my journey, I was more than willing to take a look at the ‘Don't Drink ___, Drink WAT-AAH!’ campaign. Honestly, anything that is promoting a healthy change like this to kids is awesome in my book.

So here are the details of the giveaway. I’m going to randomly pick one lucky entry (US residents only) and announce the winner on Saturday, May 15th to receive a free mixed case filled with WAT-AAH! + WAT-AAH! goodies (stickers, tattoos, pencils etc...)




To enter to win you need to:
  • Go to the Wat-ahh website and take a look around and leave a comment on this post about which of the Wat-ahh Ads do you like best and why.
For additional entries (1 extra entry for each one)
  • Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect (check the left hand column for the follow button). Then leave a comment letting me know you are following.
  • Post about this giveaway and link back here on your blog. Email me at certifiablyfit@gmail.com once your post is up.
  • Follow me on Twitter and then start following Wat-ahh.  Then tweet about this giveaway with tag #certifiablyfit.
  • Friend me on Facebook and then “Like” Wat-haa . Send me a message on facebook once you have.
Deadline for all entries is Friday, May 14th @ 11:59pm. Good Luck!
(Dear FTC: I received no compensation to promote this product or to write this post)

Quote of the Day: Water is life's mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water. ~Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In the News & Personal Diet Pill Story

15 comments
Have you seen this article yet? Health Guru Says He Was Almost Killed by His Own Diet Product

Just another reminder that you need to be careful out there on your quest to better health. I think it is human nature to want to find short cuts to things.  When it comes to health, short cuts seem to carry a lot more risk than benefits in my opinion. This article highlights that even so claimed "Health Gurus" try some really crazy things in their quest for better health.

Source


I have a pretty scary memory from my younger years that has done a good job of keeping me from slipping back into the "short cut" trap. I was about 15 when I went on a diet at the urging of my mother. Let me point out that at the time I was actually in the healthy weight range back then, but my mom was worried I was getting too big. (I'm going to do a post one of these days on the topic of my mom because she has battled with an eating disorder since she was a teen and continues to struggle with it and that has had a pretty big impact on my own relationship with food and body image.)

Anyway, during this diet I snuck into my mom's cabinet where she kept all kinds of diet pills and took a bottle. She had so many different ones in there that I knew she wouldn't even notice a bottle missing. I took them for a couple days the way the bottle prescribed and felt like they were working, so I made the genius choice to take double one morning. BIG MISTAKE!    

I felt pretty weird so I claimed that I was sick and my parents let me stay home from school. I didn't tell them that I had taken the pills because I didn't want to get in trouble for taking them in the first place. They went off to work and I was home alone. I seriously thought that I was going to die. I laid on the floor and felt like my heart was going to burst every time I moved. Luckily, in a few hours I felt normal again. That situation made me swear off diet pills or another other weird concoctions my mom used for weight loss.  

Questions for You:
  • What are your thoughts on the article?
  • Do you have any scary short cut stories?
Quote of the Day: "There is no substitute for hard work." ~ Thomas Alva Edison

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why Yes, I Am One of Those Annoying Morning People....But I Wasn’t Always One.

9 comments
Ready to think I’m crazy? Maybe you already think I am, if that is the case this will just help confirm it. LOL! Well if crazy is what it takes to support my healthy lifestyle then I say crazy is a title I am proud to wear.

Anyway, I get out of bed 4 hours before I have to be in at work in the morning. And on weekends I’m out of bed at the same exact time I am during the week. Here is the kicker....I normally wake up before the alarm is set for 5am, refreshed and ready to start the day. 


This was not always the case for me. I was known for staying up late and struggling to get out of bed in the morning. Back then I was thankful my “commute” to work was all of 30 seconds. I would peel myself out of bed with about 40 minutes to eat, shower, dress, and stumble over to my office. Some mornings it was closer to 20 minutes if I played the snooze button game with myself.  I would always feel rushed and be still half asleep for a good part of the morning. Thank goodness college students are notorious for being late sleepers, because if I had to have one of those meaningful conversations with them about their behavior I would have made no sense.

As I was progressing with my journey towards better health, I realized that there had to be a better way to structure my life so I didn’t feel so rushed in the morning. I didn’t know it at the time, but making the choice to change my sleep patterns so I could get up early would bring many benefits to my life.

Some of the Benefits I Experience from Getting Up Early

  • I have time to cook and eat a nice healthy breakfast.
  • I also have time to pack a mid-morning snack to take with me to work.
  • I get my workout for the day finished before I have a chance to get distracted by other time commitments.
  • I get a chance to watch the news in the morning, which means I’m much more in tune with what is happening in the world around me.
  • I walk into work feeling relaxed and ready to actually work.
  • I finally am taking time for myself every day.
  • I don’t feel like I’m sleeping all my weekend hours away.
  • I am accomplishing so much more in my personal life than I ever did before. 

So Just What The Heck Am I Doing In Those 4 Hours Before Work?
  • Cooking and eating breakfast – I’m a hot breakfast girl so that means cooking is involved
  • Studying for an hour for my Lifestyle & Weight Management Certification
  • Getting in an hour workout
  • Checking email, Facebook, blogs, etc.
  • Watching the local morning news & some of the Today Show
  • Showering and getting ready for work
  • Packing my mid-morning snack (I get to take lunch at home so I don’t have to worry about packing that)
How I Get the Sleep I Need and I Am Still Be Able To Get Up Early
Below are some rules I try to follow. Sure there are some times that the rules get broken, but just like my other healthy choices it is about being as consistent as possible. If I had to guess I’m at about a 90% compliance rate but it took time to work up to that. It takes real discipline to fight that urge to have sleep patterns like most Americans do but it is totally worth it in my opinion. I added the rules over a period of months because I found that trying to change too much at once lead to me making no real progress.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every day (days off included)
  • I don’t sleep more than 8 hours. Any more than that and I end up feeling more tired.
  • I make sure I get at least 7 hours. Less than that and I end up cranky.
  • I don’t use the snooze button on my alarm. I set it for the time I want to get up and I just do it.
  • If I choose to take a nap in the afternoon I limit the time to no more than 30 minutes.
  • I don’t watch TV, read, or use my computer in bed.

Resources on Sleep Health
Sleep Habits: More Important Than You Think
The Better Sleep Council 
10 tips for better sleep

Questions for You:
  • Are you an early riser or a night owl?
  • If you want to be an early riser what is keeping you from doing so?
  • If you made the transition what tips do you have for someone who is looking to be an early riser?

Quote of the Day: “Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” ~ Thomas Dekker

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My First Interview on Another Blog

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Hey everyone! I have some exciting news to share with you all. I was approached last week to do an interview about my health journey. The interview was just posted on the blog Slim Shoppin' as part of the Weight Loss Superstar features that they have over there. So if you are interested in knowing more about my personal journey to better health click here.

Exercise Keeps Me From Killing People and Other Stress Management Strategies I Find Useful.

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 Nice title huh? Ha Ha!

Recently my stress level has sky rocketed because of some things occurring at work. Some of it is just the normal increase because the semester is about to be over, but there are a couple of other things happening that are adding to it. I wish I could vent on here about it all, but for the sake of professionalism and for the fact I want to stay employed I’ll just have to keep it to myself. Check out the quote of the day and it might give you a clue as to the core issue I am in an uproar over right now.

A few years ago, when I wasn’t so healthy, this level of stress probably would have had me head right into a huge eating binge that would last for weeks and I would have gone on a stress fueled rage rampage that would have left people crying in its wake. Yeah I tended to be quite a force to be reckoned with when I was not managing my stress well.  Now that I’m on a healthy path, stress management has become one of the many things I focus on. Good thing because making people cry and abusing myself with food were not doing anything for my image. Ha Ha!

So what strategies do I find helpful in managing stress? 

Exercise
Like the title mentioned working out is one that I use quite frequently to manage stress. Not only is this one that helps me by preventing the effects of everyday stress, but it is a HUGE help when my stress levels rise drastically. Seriously, there is nothing better then getting a good sweat on when I feel like punching people. (I swear I’m not violent at all, but seriously there are times that my mind tries to convince me that punching people would solve the problem LOL!) I’m not the only one that has found that exercise helps with stress. Check out the links below for more references to exercise helping stress.

Exercise: Rev up your routine to reduce stress
Managing Stress With Regular Exercise
Phys Ed: Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious

Talking it Out
Pre-healthy journey I was one of those people who held everything in. I never wanted to talk about how I felt or wanted to reach out to other people. No wonder I would go on rage rampages! Now I open up a lot more and talk things out. I reach out to my partner, close friends, and sometimes family when I’m feeling stressed out. Sometimes just having someone listening can take the stress level down several levels. When it is work related, I open up to my supervisor and talk to him about how I’m feeling about the situation. Luckily, I have a supervisor who is very open to hearing me out. Even if he doesn’t have the power to change the situation, just knowing he is willing to listen is helpful.

Eating Healthy
Even though when my stress levels rise I want to say hell with healthy eating, I know that doing so is just going to add additional stress on my body. Prior to this journey, I never really had any idea of just how much food can affect my mood. I have become much more in tune with this and keep it in mind when I am feeling stressed out. Sure, I want to reach for a bunch of junk but now I reach for healthy foods knowing it won’t make me feel worse.  Check out the sites below if you are interested in learning more about nutrition and its connection to mood and stress reduction.

Good Nutrition: How to Combat Stress with Good Nutrition
Nutrition and Stress
Stress Nutrition

Get Out and Play
This one is pretty important for me when my work stress is pretty high. I have the unique situation where I live where I work. Although there are a lot of benefits to that, when work is stressing me out it can feel like I live in a prison. To help feeling like that I make it a point to get away and go out and something fun. Even if it is only for a couple hours, getting out of my apartment and participating in an event helps take my mind off of what is stressing me. For example, this weekend I went to a local festival and enjoyed doing some fun activities. 


At the festival getting my fortune: " Misfortune does not daunt you."
How fitting? 

And how can you be stressed when everyone is dressed like this?


Questions for You:
What things do you do when you are stressed to help manage it?
What is your favorite workout to do when stressed out?
What fun activities do you like to do when you just need a break?


Quote of the Day: "The golden rule for every business man is this: 'Put yourself in your customer's place.' "~Orison Swett Marden