Dealing with stressors

One of the biggest triggers for poor choices in my life is stress.  The stress of things I cannot control or simply don’t know how to deal with.  Being a bit of a control freak I really can’t stress to you how much it stresses me out, pun intended.  So the challenge is figuring out how to manage that stress without downing a carton of ice cream or a bowl of mashed potatoes.  I know I have already posted about stress before, but in my life this is something I know helps me if I revisit my management tools frequently.  Here are some options that may just help you:

  1. Exercise or physical activity- are you really surprised by me saying this?  I releases all kinds of good feelings and allows you to work some of the anger and or stress out.  I like running and punching my punching bag personally and no I don’t picture anyone’s face the act of punching and the impact is what helps me.
  2. Visualization- take a look at some pictures of an old and favorite period of time or vacation and allow yourself to really remember that place in time with all of your senses.  If it’s the beach think about the smells, sounds, the feeling of the warm sand or cool sand on your feet.  Maybe even pull out some shells or rocks that you picked up and use them to help you remember.
  3. Watch your favorite show- I am a big fan of several TV shows and I have a few favorite movies that always bring me comfort.  I have seen The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Bridget Jone’s Diary, Die Hard, and Something About Mary a billion times.  I love them, laugh at the same spots every time, and much to everyone’s dismay can quote them.  In my teen years it was Clueless and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (shout out to Hollie, Brandy, Bryan, Michelle, and Natalie there).  “I’m immortal I can do anything” “oh yeah clap” and yes I own that movie…
  4. Gosh darnit some positive self talk- seriously do some self talk to work your way through what is going on reminding yourself of your self worth no matter what is going on (think Stuart Smalley and see a past blog of mine).
  5. VENT- find a good friend that will just listen, you know the ones that don’t just offer solutions, but know you just need to get it out.  If you don’t have an actual person try a journal.
  6. Road trip/staycation/walk away- sometimes compromise cannot happen because the other person refuses to compromise or sees no need to change.  If that is the case find some time away from them so you don’t lose it on them.. Trust me it won’t make it any better to just yell and scream all the time.  If you did it once and it didn’t work, it won’t work the next time you want to either.
  7. Play with your pet/kid/grandkid- I have some nephew type people that I can use to distract me if needed, but mostly I use my cat.  She has a bear that she uses for cardio exercise and I just got her a red dot to chase.  She’s 14 so it just lasts for a bit, but it is still funny as heck!
  8. Practice letting it go- this means over and over you may have to work on forgiveness.  No one in this life is perfect so it takes practice to do this.  It is not a one time thing.
  9. Pamper yourself- take some time out for you, get your nails done, hair done, a massage, or go fishing/play a round of golf.  Whatever it is that you enjoy but don’t get to do often go for it once and awhile, it is okay.
  10. Get a treat- if you won’t binge go for the occasional ice cream cone, frozen yogurt, or alcoholic beverage.  It’s okay to have the occasional treat, just remember to do it sensibly and don’t make it the number one thing you go for.  (If you can’t control that, then stay away from those things.  I personally choose to go for greek yogurt rather than ice cream, because I have self control issues with ice cream.  Beer on the other hand, is not an issue so I do enjoy a beer now and then.)

The point is, don’t hold on to your stress and allow it to eat you up and encourage self destruction.  Stress can also cause you to become bitter and angry, which will push people out of your life.  Stress also affects us physically, people that live in stress filled situations are more likely to be sick and have a hard time recovering from illness.  They tend to be heavier, have poor sleep, poor nutrition, and will wear themselves out both physically and mentally.  Take care of yourself, you deserve happiness, joy, and peace.

Sunday food prep and motivation for the week.

I got my food prep done FINALLY, it took a bit longer today just because I was working around trying not to disturb the whole house with my Ninja blender (it’s super loud and powerful).  Anyway, for my lunch meal this week I decided to go mostly veggie again.  I liked how light it was last week and this week will already be in the high 90-100 range in Vegas so cold lunches sound good to me.  So I got a few chicken breasts and cooked them in the pan on the stove top with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some seasonings.  I chopped them up and put them on top of a big bunch of baby spring salad mix that I got.  I set about a cup aside in a baggie that I will use later to make a smoothie for my lunch on Friday.  I added some other chopped up veggies and cut some extras for snacking and then threw some chopped almonds on top of the salad.  The only thing missing is some peppers, I was totally out and forgot to grab more, so I may add some tomorrow.  I also cooked up some tricolored quinoa, I have only had the regular so I thought I would try this and add some to my salad for a boost of protein.

The other thing I made was the quinoa protein bars and this time I did it with dates like the recipe actually calls for.  For the quinoa I had the tricolored on hand so that is what I used so it was very pretty.  I must say that the prunes were easier to work with and I had to add a little moisture to the dates to get them to ball up like I needed.  I also decided to forgo the chocolate covering (sorry but that is way too much work for me), but I recently bought some double chocolate hemp protein powder and added that to it so it will be very chocolately.  Here’s the base recipe, I have found you can use it and just modify a bit here and there for yourself, next time I might try dried apricots with it. Quinoa protein bars

In my career I have been blessed to be able to have jobs where I am able to help support, guide, and teach people to become healthier.  Whether it had to do with helping them attain recovery from an addiction or like now to take control their health so they can have more quality to their life.  When I need motivation or inspiration I look at them.  I mean who knows better what it is like to feel hopeless than an addict.  In fact it is the very act of inspiring hope that helps someone to start moving towards change.  The thing I have noticed is that many times we expect change to happen quickly.  It’s said that the addicted mind thinks “I want what I want when I want it”.  In my observation that is true more and more for many people addict or not.  Just look at our commercials for faster cable and internet or the desire to have a car that goes from 0 to 60 in seconds.  Hello! Why do those things matter?

Here’s my suggestion to you…it’s great to have goals, but perhaps we should not forget to look at the seemingly small changes.  We should be grateful for the small improvements that we see in our health as well as the big.  My post yesterday talked about numbers beyond the ones you see on the scale and their importance.  Besides that think about this, if you start exercising and eating healthier you get to LIVE A MORE QUALITY LIFE.  What could be better than that?  To be able to keep my independence as long as possible by taking care of my body, that is my inspiration and motivation. What is your inspiration to keep going when you want to stop?

Health by the numbers (it’s not about the scale)

I know that I am not the only one who has struggled with letting that nasty little (or big) number on the scale rule me.  I still probably focus on it more than I should and I am working on that.  However I must say that one thing I have noticed time after time is that this nasty number seems to cause the opposite of what one would hope it would. 

How many people do you think (including yourself?) let that number on the scale make you feel dejected/depressed/frustrated/hopeless?  I am afraid it is probably a high number just based on observation on social media, TV, radio, work, and the gym.  Why oh why do we let a number control us that way?!?!?!

It’s because most of us start working out and eating healthy with the sole desire or main focus of losing weight.  Losing weight is not a bad thing at all and can for many people mean better health, but it is not the only number that should be focused on.  There are several numbers that should be looked at to judge if working out and diet change is making an impact for you.  Don’t forget when you first start making changes it make take a bit for the number on the scale to change, so here are other things to consider.

  • A1C– if you have never heard of this it is a number that helps with medical determination on whether or not you are diabetic/prediabetic.  It’s one of the tests that you should have done by your doctor that looks at your blood sugar.  Knowing this number gives you a lot of power to help intervene on a disease that can impact every system/organ in your body.  Diabetes, while most definitely manageable is very serious.
  • Waist circumference- for a man you want to have it 40 inches or less and for a woman 35 or less.  Higher than that places you at greater risk for developing obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. 
  • LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides– the basics are that we produce cholesterol naturally so in general we don’t need to add any through our foods, at least when it comes to LDL or bad cholesterol.  The LDL increases the plaque in our veins and puts at risk for heart attack and stroke.  HDL on the other hand is what we want because it actually helps to clear the plaque in our system helping our hearts.  Triglycerides should not be high because it is linked to heart disease. 
  • Size on  your clothes- the size that you wear might change a little because of a change to a healthier lifestyle.  
  • Body fat vs muscle- the scale may not reflect a change when you start to lose fat because you are gaining muscle.  Here’s the thing you shouldn’t forget, we need to have a certain amount of fat on our bodies to be healthy.  The American Council on Exercise has specific recommendations based on both gender and whether you are an athlete or not.  

Just some things to consider when you might wonder if all the work you are doing is worthwhile.  Here are some links to get more detailed information from some actual fitness and nutrition experts (they say it way better than I do). WebMD body fat measurement CDC healthy weight assessing Mayo clinic cholesterol levels
On that note, look I am starting to get some guns, LOL!

Self care night

I’m taking a night to do some self care, believe it or not I spent most of the evening working on a puzzle.  It’s kind of nice to go back to some old destressers to help you feel calm.  I will see you all tomorrow, I hope you find some ways to take care of yourself and destress, in fact here is a nice picture to help, enjoy!

The real key to making change, self worth

One thing you can tell by the title of my blog is that I was fat and now I am not, but that is only part of the story.  I was overweight there is no doubt, but I was also very unhappy about some key things in my life.  I definitely had moments of happiness and things that brought me joy, but underneath I was depressed.  I believe that one of the things that helped me to get up and get active was that I started looking at those things and building my courage to do something about it.

I was always that girl in school that was boy crazy and would have given anything to find a boyfriend or have the boy I liked like me back.  It never seemed to happen for me though, and in retrospect I think for a good reason.  As friendly and outgoing as I was or tried to be, again I was unhappy.  I was eating to numb myself from the things that made me unhappy even when I couldn’t put my finger on what.  Then I think it was related to feeling like I didn’t really fit in and a fear that I was easily forgettable or overlooked.

Here is what I am learning on my journey that is about me and not necessarily fitness or nutrition related.  I am worthy of the best that I can be and I deserve good things in my life.  Sounds very simple I know, but that knowledge and belief is very empowering.  I always believed this about others, but practicing it with myself was a harder thing. I had and have many people in my life that tried to tell me that, yet I had a hard time believing it.  It wasn’t until I started to believe it and practice it that I saw a change in my life.

Now that I know and believe this it helps me to make better choices for myself.  Rather than just sitting around I find myself getting up frequently at home (in the past I would sit for hours on end rarely getting up).  I find that I will decide to go to the gym after work too and that I will forgo some of the treats at the office.  It doesn’t make me better than anyone else, it just makes me a better me.  If you want to make a change look at the relationship you have with yourself if you don’t feel good about yourself no amount of weight loss will be enough.  I am almost there, finding who I am outside this identity that I developed over the years as a fat girl and then a fat woman.  I am so much more than that and so are you.  What about you, do you struggle with this?  Have you overcome it, if so how?

***Okay separate from the post I wanted to include a link to this article about Stevia, I know that people are looking for alternatives to artificial sweeteners and to sugar itself.  This article presents the truth about the current forms of Stevia that are available on the market.  Please consider it good food for thought. Food girl investigates Stevia: Good or Bad?

Running is a mental exercise.

Today, for the first time in a while I got out and hit the road running.  I have been running lately, but it’s all been treadmill and that is distinctly different.  I had a reluctance I think because the last time I ran outside was when I did a 5k in December and shortly after it I twerked my knee and couldn’t do much of anything for about a month.  I have been increasing how much I run at the gym in length and frequency so I decided to give it a try today.  It was a process for me to get out there though and while I was running a few things occurred to me:

  • I had to really psych myself up to get out and try it I knew I couldn’t let past experience or feelings of fear stop me.
  • I had to remind myself I have done it before and I can do it again.
  • I had to keep focus on the fact that as I kept going it would feel better and the pain I was feeling was not pain that indicated injury it was pain that means I need to do it more.
  • I had to push myself to get to the point of no return (that point you hit when you can’t turn around because it would take longer to walk home than you have time).
  • Posture is important and a stitch in your side is a painful reminder of that and breathing.
  • I still love running and felt better for having done it.

In my head the whole time I focused on encouraging myself to make it.  I did my best impression of a trainer “keep it up!”,  “make sure you are breathing”, “push yourself”, “enjoy the challenge”, “move it!”, and “give me a little bit more you are almost there!”.  Don’ t get me wrong I LOVE running, it is freeing, challenging, and leaves you feeling good about yourself for being able to do it.  Just some times when you have had a set back it takes effort to push forward.  I found that I was talking to the negotiator the night before saying things to myself like “you can just work out after work”, “what if the weather isn’t nice enough”, “what if it is too hot”, and “you might be too tired”. 

This isn’t the only time it takes effort when making lifestyle changes.  But, I had experience and knew the potential outcome and the positives it gives me to run.  I pulled from some old tricks that helped me with the negotiator in the past.  I packed my bag the night before (eliminating an excuse), shared with my boyfriend that I was going to do it (accountability), and used positive self talk.  By the end of the run I was physically exhausted, but felt mentally stronger for it.  Yes, running is definitely a mental exercise.

So tell me is there a time when you needed to do something similar?  Have you ever had to be your own trainer/encourager/supporter? 

Food prep Monday and current playlist

I am lucky to get this done tonight I am exhausted from this weekend and going down to Fremont Street here.  It was a blast and I highly recommend it for people watching, catching some good bands, group electric slide dancing, and seeing people like Darth Vader and Fidel Castro.

 

It was a busy day yesterday for sure and even though I went and ran around all night and even went dancing with my boyfriend I went to the gym yesterday morning and worked my butt off!!  I ended up with something like 16000+ steps for the night.  Didn’t really counter the amount of calories in the drinks and fries, but hey we gotta live every once and awhile.

So today even though I am dragging my tail for sure I did a minimal workout.  I hadn’t been able to use my punching bag for a bit due to the super strong winds and dust (yayy April in Vegas) so I strapped on the gloves and went to town for a bit punching away.  I also took my yoga mat and my music and did some ab, leg, arm, and core work.  Since I rocked the burpees yesterday I decided to chill on those today.  I was able to do a 2:40min plank today upping my time by 10 seconds. 

For my food prep today before I worked out I put some organic hormone free chicken breasts in the oven.  I topped them with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil and some Italian seasonings and some seasoning that I got from my Foodie Pen Pal!  I also incorporated some stuff into my trail mix that I got from her, it’s yummy stuff!  Anyway back to the chicken I put in on some organic baby greens (kale, arugula, etc.) threw in the last of my couscous and a bunch of veggies.  I also added a tiny bit of cheese and some almonds.  I added that because it’s important to cover the three macronutrients, fat, complex carbohydrates, and protein, BAM balanced meal!  Part of the veggies will accompany me for snacks along with some hummus (no home made today will have to pick some up).  Finally I got some Larbars to snack on for tomorrow and Friday, my long work days.  Other than possibly making a smoothie for Friday I am set for the week.  Of course I also thought about checking out some detox recipes to make on Thursday when I get a short day at work.  

Prep for the weeks lunches and snacks, not pictured Greek Yogurt and hummus.

Finally as promised a few song selections from my workout playlist (it’s getting very long, which is good because I love variety).  I have recently added these songs:

  • Magic- BOB
  • Club Can’t Handle Me- Flo Rida
  • Titanium- I AM
  • Boogie Wonderland- Earth, Wind, and Fire
  • Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough- Michael Jackson
  • Good Feeling- Flo Rida

That is all for today, I am ready to crash so I can make it through tomorrow and I am doing my best to get offline by 8 pm a few days a week and not even get online on others.  I figure I really need to find a balance and this is one controllable way to do it…so I will see you Wednesday when I jump back on this thing!

Sunday updates!!!

Just a quick note today.  I haven’t blogged as much the last few days for a few reasons, but mostly because I am taking some much needed time off.  The time off however doesn’t mean time off from working out!!!  In fact I have hit the gym each day (it’s only been since Friday, but still).  It has felt great to work myself hard and work out some stress and anxiety. 

I have accomplished a few new things at the gym that I am ecstatic about!  For one I am able to get on the pull up bar and actually lift myself up ever so slightly about 5 times before I drop.  I love being able to see and feel the progress and in fact my “bat” wings are shrinking a tiny bit.  I am not expecting miracles here, but it is nice to see.  Secondly, I have been doing some changes with my jogging on the treadmill by doing 1 minute intervals.  With doing this I have been able to work myself up to a faster pace then I have ever done.  It leaves the legs feeling like jelly, but it feels oh so good! 

I have alluded to, but not really said that I have gained back some of my weight. To be honest I was waiting to see if it is muscle gain or fat gain.  I think what is going on would be better described as a plateau, I stopped pushing myself for a bit. Let’s face it, if you don’t sweat it wasn’t a work out and there were a few of those going on.  So I am doing what every expert I read suggests and changing up my workouts, increasing the resistance, and logging my food intake.  I want to get a good picture of what is going on so I can increase the muscle and keep that fat down.  Either way, I know with the results I am seeing that my strength is increasing and I LOVE IT!!!

On to the food prep, I haven’t done any, LOL!  I am actually off work tomorrow and will work on it then I have in my head pretty much what I am going to do, I just gotta make it.  So that is just a quick little blurb for today.  Tomorrow I will update the food prep and update you on some new songs that I have on my play list.  Have a great Sunday and go outside to enjoy it!

Did you know, random facts from my random brain

As I am doing research and learning about fitness and nutrition there are a few interesting facts that I have learned along the way.  Now, keep in mind scientific research does change things as we go along and we are starting to learn more and more about how the body and brain work.  So as I am learning I figured I might share a few of these things.

  • Banana’s while being nutrient dense do fill you up and provide the same sugar crash as a cookie.  It has more nutrients so in my humble opinion is still a better choice, but check out this page and graphic for a better explanation. bananas vs cookies
  • PCOS or Polysystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that is found in as many as 11 million women in the US and is the number one cause of infertility.  It has a variety of signs and symptoms including weight gain or obesity in particular around the waist.  Among the treatments for it are lifestyle changes aka healthy eating and exercise.  Interestingly you should also limit the amount of processed foods and foods with added sugar.  For more info on this and how it can affect you as a woman check out this link Women’s Health Gov- PCOS
  • Quinoa is not a grain, that’s right everyone thinks it is, but it is not.  It is called the Mother of All Grains, but it is actually a vegetable and more closely related to Swiss chard and Kale.  It is also one of the few pseudo cereals or vegetables that is a complete protein.  Quinoa can be added to so many dishes and eaten in place of rice or other grains.
  • Cha cha cha chia!  Chia seeds at the store are in fact the same seeds they put in chia pets.  Turns out besides growing funky heads they are a seed that has a high amount of Omega 3’s, fiber, and protein.  Grab some and throw them in a bowl of oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt to boost your health.
  • We need fat in our diet!  Seriously folks it is an important macronutrient and helps our body to function the way we need it to and process the other foods that we eat.  It is healthy fats that we need so you do need to be aware of what type of fats you are taking in.  Again, if your doctor prescribes a different diet of course follow the person that knows more about your specific needs.
  •  Exercise provides you with the following “happy hormones” endorphins, serotonin, estrogen, and my personal favorite dopamine.  So if you wonder to yourself, why would someone run a marathon or do a ton of burpees, or squats it could be because it helps them to feel better. 

There are a ton of other things, but these are the ones that come to mind for me.  I hope to continue to share more and more with you as I learn and I hope you enjoy random facts, because I am good at that (it’s a family trait).  Have a great weekend y’all!

Barriers to success

What blocks you from success in your goals in fitness and in life?  There are a few things that can get in the way and the biggest one is us, more specifically our thinking.  It’s a shock I know, to think that we might be the biggest thing to get in the way of the things that we want the most.  But what do I mean by our thinking being the thing that gets in the way?  Right now I have been talking with people about the stages of grief and it occurred to me that some of the stages are very similar to signs of relapse. 

Denial, I don’t really have an issue or I can’t make the changes that need to happen.  We deny the need or the possibility that we can change because we have a hard time believing we can.  I know in my own experience I didn’t even comprehend how heavy I had gotten and how much it impacted my life once I became an adult.  I think in many ways I had become complacent and bought into the impossibility of change. 

Bargaining, that idea that I will start the diet or exercise plan tomorrow.  It never seems like the right time to make change, even once we start to recognize it needs to be made.  I know that even on certain days I made a bargain with myself that I would work out extra hard tomorrow if I got to go and eat out with friends today.  Or I would splurge a little and say to myself I can work it off later today.  I am pretty sure that bargaining, or as a patient I know calls it the negotiator, played a role in me stopping at the drive thru to get ice cream after the gym.

Anger, stay with me on this one because it’s important, anger is an easy go to emotion to show to others.  I know during one point of my journey I realized that I was angry about many things.  One thing that I was angry about was I let myself get to over 200lbs.  Another thing was that there are other people that can eat all the things I want to eat and not get heavy like I did.  Believe me I know that by no means was it the fault of anyone else. 

Rationalization, a close friend and relative of bargaining, while not necessarily a part of the stages of grief it’s definitely a part of relapse.  Again reasoning out why now is not the time or that I deserve a reward for accomplishing my goal.  Another area that I am sure was related to that drive thru stop after the gym.  It’s also how we excuse going out and eating a ton more because we worked out really hard that day.  Umm…yeah you probably didn’t work out enough to earn the triple cheeseburger heart attack on a bun with the side of fries and diet soda. 

The biggest way we torpedo ourselves is letting fear take hold, a fear of failure or of success.  I think it’s the fear of the unknown or the fear of even if I am successful will I be able to maintain that success.  Fear can keep us from even exploring or trying for our goals.  This I am sure, is different for each individual and working through this kind of thought process takes effort and sometimes professional support. 

I think that the most important part of this is looking at these skewed thoughts and emotions so that you can address them.  I have been honest in my postings that I think a subtle message for me was that I didn’t deserve that potential change and/or happiness. Recognize that you deserve as much happiness as those around you.  Recognize that happiness comes from not only becoming healthier and more fit (weight loss is a bonus), but also from becoming more comfortable with ourselves.  Happiness actually comes from many things in life, however that is a discussion for another time. 🙂

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