5 reasons why I went to the gym today instead of taking a nap.

No really, I did go to the gym despite the intense desire to remain at home and cuddle under some covers for a bit.  I actually said to my boyfriend, “maybe I will just skip the gym today”, he said “why?”.  Frankly I couldn’t come up with a good answer so I changed and went.  I was still drained, even up to the point that I was on some cardio equipment and starting (I went with the elliptical today).  So really, what made me go to the gym (I love my boyfriend, but really it wasn’t just his question and I don’t want him to get a big head).  Here are the top 5 reasons that I go to the gym.

  1. Past experience has taught me that no matter how tired I am I will have more energy afterwards.  Without fail I start to get a bit more energy and am able to do what I need through the day when I go.
  2. I have this goal of doing a pull up and I know that I have to work on upper body strength to get there.  You may be tired of hearing it, but I really want to do this.
  3. I have about 100 lbs of reasons to do this, I don’t want to go back to where I was so move forward I must. (Sorry channeled Yoda for a second.)
  4. I like to eat and if I am going to keep from having to do the calorie count thing I should really stay active while I work out my portion issues.
  5. It is a part of how I manage my stress and mental health.  Chalk part of it up to the endorphins, adrenalin, serotonin, and dopamine I get from it I’m sure.  Another big part is that of all the things I cannot control I can for the most part control or should I say greatly influence how well my body performs and deals physically with life’s challenges.   

So today (and many other days believe me) that is why I ended up at the gym.  Having a bit of a stressful week will drain you and maybe even depress you, but if you focus on why you are doing the things that are healthy for you and just push through you might just feel good about it in the end.

On a totally unrelated note, tried Spaghetti Squash today instead of pasta with a dish, YUMMO!  We baked it in the oven for about 90 minutes at 375 after you slice it in half and pull the seeds out then put it face down on a cookie sheet.  Basically you leave it in until it is tender and can be poked with a fork.  I am thinking that I will make one tomorrow to take for my lunches along with some more black bean burgers.  I am trying some different seasonings with the burgers and if it comes out yummy I will post a recipe here.  I also have an idea for a protein packed smoothie using full fat greek yogurt, almond butter, and a few other things to add some fruits and veggies.  If it tastes good (I’ll have some others help taste test too) then I will pass along that recipe as well. 

In the mean time, tell me what helps you to go and exercise on those days that you don’t want to?  Any tips or tricks you can share?

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A recipe I found on a new website (new to me) called Fit Bottomed Grils

 I really want to try this, maybe this week I can?  I think it would be great to have my own protein bars to snack on, and now I have a food processor!
How to Make Homemade Protein Bars: The Nutrition Bar Formula that Ended my PowerBar Addiction

Self care night

Had a long week and am very tired so in an effort to model self care (also just because I am tired) I am not posting tonight beyond this.  I hope you have a great day and in case I don’t make it on this weekend have a great and blessed weekend.

SERENITY NOW!!! *in my best Kramer or Frank Costanza voice*

I was trying to decide what to post today and one thing kept going through my head, the Serenity Prayer.  Many people who know me know that for a living for the past 13 years I have dealt with individuals that deal with mental illness and substance abuse.  As a result of this and some other personal things I won’t go into I have become pretty familiar with this prayer.

While today I wasn’t probably quite as successful as I would hope on holding on to this prayer I know there are days that my mood and my attitude have been worse.  For me I display addiction and self destruction  through overeating, I mean overeating as in I am completely bloated and full but still stuffing my mouth full of any kind of chocolate, starchy, fried fatty goodness I can find.  I did knowingly eat more than I should have and chose the options that were a bit less healthy (chocolate and peanut butter eggs why must you taunt me this time of year???).  But overall I held fast to this thought: No matter what I do the things around me that are happening are not mine to hold nor mine to control.  It’s hard to see the people you love go through things that they can’t control and know nothing you can do will end or stop or fix it.

Isn’t it amazing how even when we see issues coming, fully realize it will happen it somehow still stops us in our tracks?  We can have someone around us be very ill, terminal even, and yet that moment that we hear they are dead it’s still hits like a ton of bricks.  I’ve seen it over and over and experienced it myself.  So where or how does this prayer fit in?  It’s a reminder that when we try to control the uncontrollable we spend energy that most of us really need to survive; emotional energy and physical energy both.  Here is the prayer and I want you to read it carefully, because most of us know the short version, but the full version is so much more beautiful.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

I know that not everyone believes in God, that is your choice and I am sure you have your reasons I don’t want to argue that.  Focus on this “living one day at a time, enjoying on moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace”, WOW!  And “taking this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it (let’s face even though I think I should be the queen of the world I am clearly not cut out for it) trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will, that I may be reasonably happy in this life”.  In other words, help me to enjoy the days as they come and not focus on MAKING things perfect, but accepting that things (WE) are imperfect so that I can find peace and happiness.  When we mess up our focus and try to control things, or fix things, be perfect all the time, or get back at people we give up our peace and happiness.

What a relief to know and to accept that this is not our job!  A relief that means I don’t have to seek out things to MAKE me “happy”.  Addiction at it’s root is a desire to numb ourselves from something, life, people, the past, days that end in Y, whatever.  The message in this prayer is that I no longer need to do that, I can focus on today and doing “the next right thing”  I can accept that hardships are a part of life.  I can realize that the fried fatty goodness I smell driving past McBurgerQueensBox really won’t make me feel better and won’t fix the problems in my life or those around me.  Comfort foods only provide comfort in the moments between when we eat them and then regret them.  The same is true for shopping, relationships, drugs, alcohol, you name it we (I) can over do it. 

So that is my peace for now, for today, for this moment knowing that I don’t have to try and control everything. Recognizing I don’t really want to control it anyway, and that I need wisdom and courage to do what I can and know the difference.  I can’t control hurt and pain, but I can control what I choose to put into my body.  I can control my efforts to be healthier, the outcomes maybe I can’t control because illness is a part of that, but I can get the wisdom to know the difference.  I hope you have a great night and a great Friday and here is a little bit of humor for the evening.

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to spare???

It’s coming for us, believe it or not (if you have snow on the ground you might not believe it) Summer is almost here! *Dun Dun Dun*  Seriously in a few more months we will start to feel the heat.  Here in Vegas we are already getting in the 80’s.  So with the heat coming let’s review some of the reasons why it’s important to stay hydrated and what to stay hydrated with. Let me throw out my disclaimer and get it out of the way, shall we?  I am not a doctor or any type of physician or nurse.  I am also not a dietician so if you have specific medical needs in regard to water intake, please refer to them for help.  For ways to contact them check out my disclaimers page where I have some links.

Now to get on with it, when we get thirsty there are a great deal of people that reach for a variety of fluids.  They go for the “ades”, soda, coffee, and juices in an effort to quench their thirst.  It’s not that these are the worst choices in the world and despite what Mayor Bloomburg feels free choice comes in here.  The problem becomes when we choose these options and leave out water completely.  So here are a few tips or thoughts to ponder before reaching for that drink.

  1. Soda, “ades”, juices, some coffee and tea drinks some with a ton of added sugars.  Honestly although I might not completely agree with the approach of the Mayor of New York I hope he brought some awareness to how much extra sugar we drink.  You want to lose weight take a look at the labels on your drinks, you might just be drinking your caloric intake away.
  2. Kidney health is impacted by what we take into our bodies.  If you have compromised kidneys many of those fluids are high in sodium as well as sugar.  Let’s face it we really don’t need to add more sodium to our diets.  Again your medical professionals are a good place to go here for some guidance.
  3. There are a lot of health benefits to water.  It is thought that it can help with issues of inflammation by lubricating and cushioning joints.  It helps us to keep our body temperature normal; protects our spinal column and other sensitive tissues; and it well *ahem* keeps things flowing in our waste disposal. (CDC on water)
  4. It helps to prevent dehydration, which is no laughing matter.  If you are drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks, caffeine is a diuretic so really you are more likely to pee out more fluids than you can take in.  In mild cases of dehydration you will start to feel energy loss or tired and sleepy (funny that is when most of us turn to caffeine).  You might also feel an intense thirst and a dry sticky mouth.  On the worse side you stop sweating, peeing, being able to cry, become delirious, run a fever, and oh yeah you can DIE. (Mayo clinic on dehydration.)

So the next logical question is how much should I drink?  Maybe not the written or old spoken rule of 64 ounces a day.  Really how much you drink depends on body weight, activity level, environment, and any medical conditions.  A general rule (I picked this up from my nutrition peeps) is .5-1 ounce a day per pound of body weight.  Again this could vary and shouldn’t be done all at once.  *IMPORTANT*  If you have specific medical needs, medications, or conditions it could be different for you as well.  So please check with your doctor first, dietitian, or certified trainer.

From personal experience I can also tell you moving to a different environment will change things too.  You have to be aware of how it may make it different.  I grew up in a very humid environment and moved to a desert.  I was used to feeling the sweat as a signal that I needed water.  Well in the desert where there is very little humidity the sweat evaporates quickly.  I let myself get dehydrated a bit much before I caught on.  I had to change up my workouts and be much more mindful as a result.

So the question of the night is, if you don’t drink much water why and how might you change that?  If you have changed it maybe you can give some tips on how you did it.  For me it started off with adding lemon.  Now I seriously have to get off of here, because writing this has made me really thirsty, LOL!

Motivation Monday!!

So what motivates you?  I must admit that there were many things that worked together to get me going when I started working out regularly.  As time kept going I found that I really enjoyed working out.  I remember the first time I was able to jog on the treadmill for a full 60 minutes.  Oh my goodness the endorphin rush was wonderful!  Aside from the physical exercise giving me that I think that there was a fair amount of hormones going on because I had just broken through a barrier and pushed myself more than I ever thought possible. 

As time went on I saw myself beat more and more of those barriers.  I am sure that more than one person at the gym has noticed me jumping and doing fist pumps in the air while mouthing “YES!”.  If it’s out there on the internet I haven’t seen it yet ha!  Another frequent motivator I mentioned a few posts ago was the feedback I got from others.  I will also admit being able to wear a lower size of clothing was inspiring as well.

Here is my question to you, is there one thing maybe one activity that you would love to be able to achieve?  Something you see others doing and wish that you could do as well?  For me one of those things was jogging, it seemed to me that the people I saw had a freedom I didn’t so I worked for it.  Once I moved out here where there are mountains, I found a new goal.  To hike to high peaks and look down onto the valley; it’s hard to not be inspired by this.  I can’t tell you how breath taking the view from the mountains is.

Here’s my suggestion to you, find what inspires you and go for it!  You never know if you can make it unless you try to go for your goal.  I don’t know if I will ever make a full marathon or even a half, but I want to try.  I don’t know if I will make it to the peak of Mt. Charleston, but I want to try.  I figure along the way I may just achieve some other things I wasn’t sure I could ever do.  Other not as major goals I have mentioned, doing a pull up and doing a handstand.  Every day I am getting closer to the pull up; in fact this weekend on Sunday I was able to do 3 sets of 7 dips and had a witness that I actually moved too!  I will keep going for it and someday will be able to do that pull up. So what star are you going to shoot for?

PS  I have decided that since Tuesday’s I work until 8 pm that I will not be posting on Tuesdays.  It’s a part of self care to have a night unplugged and I am tempted to go completely unplugged and even avoid Facebook *GASP*!  Anyway see you on Wednesday!

Sunday food prep…

It’s that time again, every weekend a part of staying on track with things is to prepare some of your food ahead of time.  Now I am blessed in that most nights I have help and dinner is done before I get home, but to stay on track during the week I work hard by putting some things together on the weekend.  Today I did do most of it on Sunday; the only thing I did yesterday was make some quinoa.

Because I am really busy I find that I have to do prep kind of through out the day, but believe me doing it all at once is much easier.  In fact right now I have a bunch of chicken on the grill for the family for dinner, while I have my mixture for black bean burgers in the freezer setting up.  I may end up frying them or putting them in the oven I am not sure yet.  So far it looks gross, but smells good.  I loosely followed some recipes I found on line and kind of winged it.  I put mushrooms, carrot, green pepper, onion, celery, quinoa, crackers (ran out of bread crumbs), and black beans all together in my processor and *blend blend* here they are.  I plan on having it with the black rice I made for the week.  I may throw a little bit of tomatoes in the rice just for kicks.  To add to it there is the always present greek yogurt, cut up veggies, and later I will be picking up some Kind bars.  I am considering making a smoothie tomorrow to take with me on Tuesday when I work until 8 pm.  I find that I get to feeling like I am starving by the time I get home if I don’t get a good snack in the late afternoon.  If the black bean burgers don’t pan out, I guess I will be eating some black bean crumble with my rice.  That or if it tastes awful I might have to go pick up some other chicken and cook it tomorrow.  *Fingers crossed here*

For the rest of the family (nephew type people) that are home for spring break I made some breakfast quinoa bars, it’s a slightly modified recipe from the Lean Green Bean Quinoa breakfast bars

I hope you all have a great week this week time to get a bit of rest (I swear I haven’t sat all day) and watch my zombies soon.  Feel free to share anything you all do to prep for the week too.

*Update, the burgers don’t taste too bad, need a little more flavoring next time maybe some salt too.  One of the nephew types liked them too.

Getting rid of excuses and getting active!

My journey started a few years ago now, to be honest I tried a few times in my life to get going and get exercising.  It would work, but I was never good at sticking to it.  So with some encouragement of some friends I started with a real goal of losing weight.  I had a friend, Kelly, who was very encouraging and wanted to lose some weight herself so we decided to go to the gym together.  

1. Workout first then go home and if you go to a gym make it one that is really close.

Being the queen of excuses and rationalizing I started figuring out that I had to really do something different with my thinking if I was going to make a significant change.  I was always going to be tired after work and not really going to feel like working out.  After all when you get off of work the one thing you want to do is go home, right?  So I started taking my workout clothes to work with me and changing there.  If I go home, I won’t leave for much of anything.  So I eliminated an excuse by going straight to the gym after work.

2. Workout with a friend, make a commitment, and add accountability.

To keep the habit of working out going I started going with a friend.  When she couldn’t go I would take a book or watch TV on the treadmill or elliptical.  To be honest for a while there were friends that stopped going, but were supposed to meet me there and out of total commitment and not wanting to disappoint I kept going in case.  Seriously this was a way I could use guilt to my favor.

3. Open your eyes and look at your plate.

Then I started to look at how much I was eating and the quality of what I was eating.  For example, I used to start my morning off with a brown sugar pop tart and a diet cola (yikes right?).  Then I started looking at the label and discovered something interesting.  A serving size is actually one pop tart NOT THE WHOLE PACKAGE!!!  I found this website Calorie King (thanks again Kelly) and was able to see that I could eat that package of pop tarts or get LESS calories for 10 oz of sirloin steak.  Seriously pop tarts vs steak, no contest here it’s the steak.  This was like a huge awakening for me, realizing that I was choosing some high calorie junk foods over some really good foods I enjoyed.

4. Add vegetables, fiber, and water.

I was eating pretty much simple starchy carbohydrates and a lot of them.  They are my biggest downfall still if I let them.  I started figuring out that they were adding calories and very little bang for my buck when it came to nutrition.  So I switched things up and decreased how much and eventually switched to whole grains and whole wheat.  I also ate very little vegetables, well to be honest I liked very few.  I decided to start eating them until I liked them and guess what?  It worked, I have a few texture issues with some foods that have taken longer (mushrooms, onions, olives) but I love them now.  I am still adding some veggies because I am a work in progress.

5. Add variety to the workouts.

I workout outside as much as possible, even if it is just a walk.  I take stuff with me to work and jog at lunch until the 90+ degree weather hits and it’s just not safe.  I hike when I can as well at one of our local mountain ranges.

6. Find encouragement from others to supplement your own.

I admit it felt great to be able to post pictures of the “new” me on Facebook and get feedback about how great I was looking.  Even more fun was hearing the phrase “where’s the other half of you?” more than a few times when I went back home for a visit.  I knew I was changing and was working on really seeing it, but hearing it from others helped me to start to see it even more.

7. Recognize your self defeating behaviors, admit them, and stop them.

More than once I would get done at the gym and then hit the drive thru for a diet soda and an ice cream cone.  When I finally admitted it and said the words out loud to someone I realized how insane it was.  Really, burn off the calories and then eat some more?  Eventually I even came to realize that I have little control with ice cream.  So as of today I haven’t touched it since last October, just my choice.  The more I looked at my choices and whether they got me from where I was to where I want to be, the more I have had to change some things.  

8. I changed my thinking.

I started to think more, react less (emotional eater here), and remind myself that eating ______ won’t change the situation or how I feel.  I started realizing that I regret not being active more than I regret being active.  And I started really enjoying how it feels to be able to jog and do other things I always wanted, but never felt I could.
 
These are a few things that I feel like really helped me and perhaps they will help you.  Now seriously on to something so super exciting for me!  I was able to do 3 sets of 5 dips on the pull up machine and get this…they were noticeable dips!!!!  Honestly for me this is super exciting because I am seeing how I am getting closer to my goal of a pull up.  I think I need some gloves though because I tried hanging from the machine and nearly gave myself blisters.  I was able to hang for a count of 15 before I fell, which was totally awesome too.  Needless to say my workouts are paying off when it comes to building strength!  Okay well that is all for now.  Tomorrow some Sunday food prep stuff.  I need to go read up on quinoa protein bar recipes, I am going to try them tomorrow.  I also plan on trying to make black bean burgers too (a texture issue I am working past).

I will conquer you yet!!!

 

Working out at work, what?!?!

That’s right, there are no longer any excuses (well if you want to make them you will) there are ways to work out at the office.  Of course we all have different types of settings we work in and you might have to adapt things, but there are many different things you can do to stay active during the day.  This means even people who have a lot of obligations or family can still make the time to take care of themselves.

Currently the recommendations by the CDC are that adults get approximately 150 minutes of exercise a week.  This can be interpreted a few ways, but figure 30 minutes a day most days of the week of exercise.  This should be a combination of aerobic and resistance training.  So what can be done while at the office you ask?  Here’s a few ideas to get you headed in the right direction.
  
1. Using a table or counter get into push up position, make sure to keep your back straight and your body aligned, and do a push up.  Do them in the same amount of repetitions as you might if you were doing “regular” ones.  This is a great way to start if you are unsure about doing push ups on the ground.

2. Stand up and then sit down, no really just don’t sit all the way down on the chair.  Do a squat (remember to keep proper form) over your chair.  This is really good for people that aren’t very practiced at squats.

3. Find the nearest stairwell and get going.  If your knees will allow it just plug in some music or grab a friend and start going up and down the stairs a few minutes at a time.  Even if you are pretty fit, the stairs can really get your heart pumping and you breathing harder.

4. Stand up and do some knee lifts 10-20 reps and kick it up a notch and add some arms to do some tricep curls.

5. Bring some resistance bands to work and use them for either arms or legs.

6. Do lunges down the hall or across the room (give your coworkers a laugh).

7. Sit on the edge of your chair lift your legs up and do some scissors.

8. Take a water bottle hold it in both hands, sit at the edge of your chair with your feel firmly planted.  Keeping your lower body still turn your upper body from side to side.  This will work your abs and your arms.

9. Use a water bottle to do bicep or tricep curls.

10. Get up and walk at a quick pace, just move!

There are a few sites I found pretty easily using Google to get some of these and some are from experience.  It’s really about just getting up and moving instead of sitting all day.  Here are a few websites that I looked at and one had hilarious graphics that I found to be entertaining if nothing else.

Now on to the rest of the good stuff; I have recently added a few new songs to my playlist.  I added Titanium, the Greatest Hit’s of Will Smith (I am still deciding on my favorite, but I love Summertime for a cool down), and Talk Dirty to Me by Poison.

Finally I want to celebrate a little because today when I was walking at lunch I discovered something.  The park I was at had some fitness equipment so I decided to see how I was doing with a pull up.  OMG I was able to hang on the bar and move ever so slightly!  I am sure no one looking at me (who I am sure thought I was a nut for the cheesy grin alone) could really tell, but I felt it.  Not to mention that in the past I would have not even been able to hang on the bar much less move!  I did some hanging crunches as well to get a little extra burn.  So psyched that I am making some progress!  I will tackle you yet pull ups!!  On that note tomorrow I will share a bit more about my personal experience and ways I kicked some of my excuses to get into action.

That’s the bar next time I will try and work my way across, that would be a first!

 

Surviving the end of work week…

It has been a long week and there is still one day left!  Fridays, while a favorite day, are a long work day for me (my second longest, but it feels longer because it delays the start of my weekend).  One of the things I have found about Friday is that if I don’t prepare it will trip me up EVERY TIME when it comes to eating.  I will end up running to the cafeteria or the store and from there it is a toss up if I go healthy or not.  In fact it’s a toss up whether I will choose water (the healthier choice) or soda (don’t get me started on the artificial sweeteners) or coffee (read Starbucks here).  

   
I don’t always splurge this big, but you get what I mean…

So for this Friday, here’s my plan.  I already have my lunch, it’s a healthy mix of chicken breast, quinoa, and veggies with a bit of olive oil for a healthy fat.  I am taking my trail mix (granola, banana, dried unsweetened cranberries, and almonds), some carrots, and some greek yogurt.  I have a bottle of water to fill and refill, and I will have coffee, I refuse to give up my coffee.  Breakfast will be oatmeal with a bit of the granola tossed in.

I also know that I haven’t exercised too much this week.  I honestly had a few days where my body said, I am tired and need rest.  So I listened to my body and rested those days.  As a result I have decided that I am going to take my sneakers to work and at least go walk in the park near the office for a part of my lunch.  A nice break for my mind and my body!

So do you have any days that you know because of work or other obligations prove to be tough to stay eating healthy or being active?  What are some things that you do to help you stay on track during your hectic times?  Tomorrow I will post a few ideas on some exercises you can try during the workday and a few “new” songs that I have added to my workout list.
 

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