The Skinny on Wellness

On Monday, I blogged about confidence and body image comparisons. I spent the better part of my childhood and early adulthood battling negative self-esteem. Life doesn’t always help; society promotes a certain look, peers can be cruel, and fashion is full of lies.

Of all of my flaws uniquenesses – from frizzy, curly hair and glasses to being nearly 6-feet tall – the one thing that I have allowed to give me the most grief is being overweight. I weighed 9.5 pounds when I was born. It’s like I was destined to be, well, big. But as a child and young adult, I viewed that negatively. My earliest memory of my weight was when I started wearing hand-me-down jeans from my brother. They were labeled “Husky” size and I recall that bothering me more than the fact that I was wearing boys jeans.

I was a relatively active child/young adult. I played a lot outside, rode my bike, swam, and even dabbled in community and school sports. However, I never considered myself athletic. I was too busy comparing myself to my oldest brother and sister, who didn’t require a special size of jeans, or to classmates who were shaped completely different than me.

I have more negative memories from middle school. In Physical Ed class, we were required to wear uniforms. I remember my teacher digging through a pile of “oversized” uniforms searching for one that fit me. I stood behind her office door as she tossed above-average sizes my way as I tried them on, praying the next one would fit. I also remember a similar incident when I made the basketball team. Everyone else had jersey with low numbers, but my number was 54 because I required the largest uniform.

Let me stop here for a second and say that I was not morbidly obese. I was only about 10-pounds overweight at the time, but I was also freakishly tall for my age. Again, I was a just… big.

In addition to my weight, I also started to realize how my body didn’t perform the same as my classmates. I remember during my freshman year, we had to perform agility and strength tests… and I could not do a chin up. Not. One. By my senior year, I had stopped all sports. I had gained around 15 more pounds, and was one of, if not the tallest girl in my class. My giant-ness consumed me. I was awkward, uncomfortable, and officially self-conscious in so many ways.

I went on to have equally awkward experiences in college. I went to the beach with friends and was horrified to wear a swimsuit; something that never bothered me during my childhood “husky” phase. I continued to gain weight, so I started crash diets and taking supplements. I ended up completely wrecking my metabolism, so much so that later in life, it completely wrecked me.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in my later 20s. At my heaviest, I weighed 70-pounds more than I did in high school, and could barely fit into a size 20. I would refer to my high school weight as “when I thought I was fat” and the only desire I had was to “be so skinny that I looked sick.” The way I viewed myself (and health in general) had become painfully distorted.

As my 30th birthday approached, I knew that I had to make lifestyle changes. Nothing else was working and I refused to allow myself to move into another pant size. I joined a weight loss program through work, that began to teach me about nutrition and portion sizes. The next decade of my life was spent undergoing more than just a positive physical change of losing 50-pounds. My thirties also brought about positive emotional and mental changes as well.

I still have to watch my weight — I always will, thanks to an under active thyroid, an aging body, a dislike of formal exercise, and an occasional mean sweet tooth! — but I no longer seem to struggle with it. I think I have finally learned to accept me for me. I have found confidence in my own skin, and have the wisdom to know that health isn’t, and never has been, about a body image.

Recently I had a conversation with my doctor. We both decided that, although there is room for improvement, things could be a lot worse. I’m only 11.5-pounds away from my goal weight, and I’m running 5Ks regularly. I drink 100-ounces of water a day, and I eat well-balanced whole-food meals, appropriately measured for portion control. I also keep a check on things like my blood pressure and stress levels. I’m making progress in truly becoming healthy. But it was my statement to her that she believes shows my biggest progress… “I’ll never be skinny, but I am going to do what I can to not gain weight.” In my quest to focus on not gaining, I actually started to lose weight.

Maybe that is how we should all approach life? Think about it; instead of pointing out someone’s flaws, we recognize their strengths; instead of dwelling on the bad days, we start counting our blessings; instead of verbalizing hate, we speak love; instead of  thinking the worst, we pursue the best. It could change attitudes and produce more positive outcome!

Being healthy is so much more than a weight, or a dress size, or how many jumping jacks that you can do. Total wellness includes intellectual health, emotional health, and even financial health. What is your current battle? Do you allow negative thoughts to distort your perspective? What will you choose to focus on today?

Beat the Heat: 5 Tips for Runners

A Guide to Running During the Summer Months

Here in North Carolina, it’s quite common for our summers to be very hot and humid. This summer in particular, we have had a record number of days over 90-degrees. It’s no secret that I love warm weather (And by warm weather, I mean that triple-digit temperatures makes me happy!) but even I struggle with enjoying outdoor workouts during this time of year. If you’re new to running, it’s usually the first week of consistently warm days that is the hardest, and makes you question if you want to continue running at all. PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP! Ask around and you will quickly learn that the most seasoned runners struggle in this kind of heat too. It’s harder on our bodies to adjust to warm weather, but with the right approach, you can beat the summer heat. Here are five quick tips that are sure to help.

1. Hydrate — Make sure that you’re drinking plenty of fluids. The recommended 64 oz of water per day won’t cut it. You’re going to need more. You’ll want more than just water. And you’ll need to drink more often than the day of a run. For me, I have found that during the summer months, I drink around 100 oz of water per day. Additionally, I drink a minimum of 16-20 oz of Nuun the night before a run, as well as immediately after a run. It is important to drink an electrolyte – Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium – replacement to replenish what is naturally lost when we sweat. I recommend Nuun because it has no sugar and no carbs. {Compared to Gatorade, which has over 20g(+) of sugar per serving!} Nuun is a gluten free, soy free, vegan, nonGMO, made in the USA tablet that you simply drop down into a bottle of water. The tablet immediately starts to dissolve, creating a fizzy, flavorful beverage. I love that Nuun is completely portable and can be adjusted to your liking. (I often break tablets in half and mix two flavors to customize my drink to the perfect taste.) If you’d like to learn more about Nuun, click here.

nuun1  nuun2

2. Clothing — I have known so many new runners who have rushed out to their local department store to buy running outfits. They’re excited to finally start running and want to look the part. I was guilty of it when I first started. How can you blame anyone? Have you seen some of the running clothes available? They’re so cute! But there’s a big mistake that many of us make: I didn’t like the way my legs looked in shorts, and I certainly wasn’t going to show off my jiggly arms! So, I bought clothes based on how much they covered and how well the outfit matched. What I ended up with was a dresser full of clothing that made me feel miserable during workouts. The material wasn’t moisture-wicking or cooling, and the capri pants were causing me to overheat. Did you know that when you run, you should dress for a 20-degree increase? That means, if it is 70 degrees outside… you should dress like it is 90! Although it was a struggle, I finally learned to put my self-consciousness aside and buy/wear clothing that is appropriate for summer workouts. Here’s a photo of a typical summer run outfit. It’s still cute, right?

clothes

I love the pop of color in my Nike shorts. Running shorts can be tricky. I highly suggest trying on several different styles to find the right fit for you. There are many different lengths and fits to choose from. In my three years of running with strangers, I can honestly tell you that I have never paid attention to anyone’s legs. Stop thinking that everyone will be paying attention to yours. They won’t. Do yourself a favor and buy shorts! They even make shorts with a skirt over them. I own two pair of those. Adorable, functional, and NOT form fitting. You have options!

The same goes for arms. I have never paid attention to, or even compared, others’ arms to mine. All it takes is wearing a tank top to one 90-degree run and you’ll fall in love. My favorite tank is this Brooks black and white geo print tank. The busy pattern camouflages and distracts, and is so much fun! This tank top is also quite long in length, which I love.

And friends, let’s not forget our feet! It is so very, very important to wear good socks to prevent blisters and provide support. I recommend Feetures! They’re a North Carolina-based, family-owned company that offers a lifetime warranty on their products. (Seriously… a lifetime warranty!) They’re the only sock that I wear in the summertime. I even recently wore them on vacation. I was the only person out of our group of six who did not get a single blister. Coincidence? Nope! That’s just how great Feetures! are. Click here to learn more about these great socks.

3. Sunscreen — It’s an easy oversight. When I first started running, I wanted to make sure that I had my earbuds, my cell phone, and my Garmin. Anything else was an afterthought. All it took was one 5K in early June to help me realize that there is more to summertime running than good music. I was sunburned! So now, before I even dress in my cute (yet weather-appropriate) outfit, I apply sunscreen. I personally use Banana Boat Sport 30SPF because it is water resistant… and I don’t sweat it off! I like to take the UltraMist in my bag for touch ups, especially since it also cools and refreshes.

sunscreen

4. Accessories — Sometimes, it’s the small things that can make all of the difference. Some of my favorite small items that help make summer running more bearable are:
A hat or visor
Sunglasses
Chapstick

accessories

And my all-time favorite accessory…. the Nathan Insulated Handheld water bottle. It slides right on my hand without the worry of having to grip it the entire run, and with one quick squeeze, I can have cold water at my fingertips. Literally. Nathan also makes waist paks, vests, and hydration belts, too. Check them out by clicking here.

nathan

5. Early Morning Workouts — Early birds will rejoice and night owls will cry, but the number one way to beat the summer heat is to get your run in as soon as the sun comes up. (Maybe even before, if you have a safe, well lit place to run.) Even on the hottest days, most morning temps are considerably cooler. For example, the highs for this week have been in the mid-90s but the morning lows have been around 68-degrees. Much better, right? You’ll have an easier run, and you’ll have your workout in before your day even gets started. Think of the extra time you’ll have in the afternoons, too!

If the thought of waking up early to get your run in is absolutely against everything you believe in… there’s always an indoor run on a treadmill. But where’s the fun in that? 😉

Are you new to running? Comment below if you’ve found these tips to be helpful. Are you a seasoned runner? We’d love for you to comment below with any additional tips that you may have to share. Happy Running!

 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I did not received compensation from, nor am I affiliated with any company listed. All products were purchased by me, including giveaways. Opinions expressed here are my own and were not influenced in any manner.

Go Red, for the Love of Your Heart!

Today is the Friday before the biggest game in professional [American] football. Typically, I would be decked out in my favorite team’s colors… not just because they’ve been in the Super Bowl the last two years, but because every Friday is Blue Friday to a 12. (Go Hawks!) This year, though, I’m wearing a different color and it has absolutely nothing to do with football.

While my Facebook feed has been inundated with turquoise and black or orange and blue today, a group of my friends and I decided to wear red. February 5, 2016 is National Wear Red Day – a campaign started by the American Heart Association to raise awareness for heart disease; particularly heart disease in women.

I spent the morning at the Go Red for Women breakfast, hosted by American Heart Association – Triad. I was invited by someone special, my friend Amy, who was named a 2016 Go Red Ambassador for Forsyth County after being nominated by Coach Stacie at Fleet Feet.

Those of you who are familiar with me know that I joined my local Fleet Feet in 2013 as a participant, and now am a Certified Mentor with them. I applied to become a mentor after I had the best experience with my own mentor during my first training program. The experience changed my life, and I promised myself that one day… I would pay it forward.

Amy’s story is pretty incredible. She is a spunky soul with an infectious smile. It is hard to believe that she was once so depressed that she couldn’t get out of bed. I met Amy during Fleet Feet’s Fall 2015 No Boundaries training program. I couldn’t help but to see a little bit of me in her. She doubted herself because, like me, she had zero experience running when she joined No Boundaries. I wasn’t sure what my body was capable of when I began running – I was 40lbs overweight with bad knees – and I knew she didn’t know what her body could do either. (She actually told me that she had never exercised before; she had not even played sports!) I remember struggling in the beginning, and I remember the turning point for me… the day that I accepted the title of “runner” …and I knew this was my opportunity to share my story with Amy in hopes of her having a similar a-ha moment. She would say at the beginning of practice, “I think I will walk today.” and I would reply, “No! Run with me.” What I didn’t realize during our months of training together was that it would all lead to today.

Heart disease has taken a toll on my family most of my life. My maternal grandfather died of a massive heart attack in his 50s, before I was born. My dad had two open heart surgeries only six months apart. My brother is an aortic dissection and stroke survivor. Many other family members suffer with cardiovascular problems like CHF or hypertension. And heart disease scares the daylights out of me. I worry for my family, and I worry for my own health.

Between family history, my turning 40 this year, and hearing the statistics this morning that 1 in 3 women die from heart disease, today has hit me pretty hard. Yes, today is a day of celebrating. I love that Amy has drastically reduced her risks of heart disease and can encourage others to do the same. I am beyond grateful that God allowed my father and brother to overcome their heart surgeries so that they can have opportunities to be advocates for heart health. But today is also a day of awakening. Ladies, we need to fight this together. Heart disease is 80% curable with proper diet, exercise, and screenings.

I am not here to body shame. I have been overweight my entire life and know all about the struggles with self-esteem. What I can’t reiterate enough, though, is that we have to get past our appearance! Let me explain. I get what people mean when they say to be confident no matter your shape. I understand that many factors play into obesity. But this isn’t about our outer image. This isn’t about looking good in your skinny jeans. This is about health! I don’t care what body type you are, you can still be at risk of heart disease. You can be a size 2 and appear healthy, but suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol. So please, no matter how confident you are in how you look, don’t neglect your heart health.

A woman’s heart is such an important organ. Think about it; not only is it the engine that runs our body but it’s the place that stores our dreams, often the director of our decisions, and the generator for all of the love that we give and receive. We have to treasure it! We need to treat it well so that we can change these alarming statistics.

Diet and exercise can seem overwhelming and time consuming, but heart health is quite simple. Follow these basic steps to help reduce your risk of heart disease:

1. Move. The goal is 4-5 times a week for 30 minutes. Can’t afford a gym membership or devote time to a Zumba class? No worries! All you have to do is take a brisk walk. If your schedule doesn’t allow 30 minutes, break it into two 15 minute walks. Take the stairs. Park at the back of the lot when you’re shopping. Just start moving more!

2. Make better choices with food. Don’t consider it a diet, just be conscious of what you’re putting in your body. Healthy food actually does taste good! You’ve seen some of my recipes here on my blog. They’re quick and easy. Eat more veggies. They’re a great substitution for chips. Want something sweet? Try fruit instead of cookies. Select food options with as little ingredients as possible. Watch your sodium intake. Drink plenty of water. Small changes make a big difference, so don’t feel like you have to take drastic measures.

3. Monitor your health. Seeing your doctor regularly allows them to monitor your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, etc. and assist you with keeping everything in check.

4. No smoking! If you smoke and need help stopping, there are many avenues available. You won’t have to attempt to stop alone.

Easy enough, right? Let’s promise to take heart disease seriously. Together we can encourage one another to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. To learn more about heart health, check out the American Heart Association website here. To learn more about Amy, click here. If you need encouragement, want to congratulate Amy on her journey, or just want to chat, please comment below. We would love to hear from you.

Congratulations, Amy!

Motivation Monday: New Year Edition

I’m staring a new series on my blog called #MotivationMonday. On the first Monday of each month, I’ll share some words of encouragement or a helpful hint that will hopefully help us (myself included) prepare for the next 30-ish days ahead. This Motivation Monday is extra-special. Not only is today the first Monday of the month… but it’s our first Monday of 2016.

New Year’s Resolutions often go hand-in-hand with health and fitness. The start of a new year seems like the perfect time to commit to losing weight, to staying fit, or to stop smoking. If you’ve declared a health resolution, your goals may already seem overwhelming today. Maybe you’ve set the bar too high, or just simply don’t know where to start. I understand. Let me share my juicing experience with you…

I have been curious about juicing for two years. A friend of mine introduced me to the idea while we were training for a 5K in December 2013. I often made comments about how sluggish I would feel during the run based on what I had eaten throughout the day. She told me to watch Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. (It’s a documentary about a 310lb man and his 60-day juicing journey.) I have to admit, it took me a while to watch it. Then it took me a while to process the thought of a 60-day all-juice lifestyle. I didn’t care how fat, sick, and nearly dead that I felt… 60 days seemed like a long time to commit to the change in my diet. Nearly a year later, in anticipation of my New Year’s Resolution for 2015, I started researching “how to juice”and learning about all that goes into it. Did you know that juicers can range upward to $500 depending on the model and brand? Yikes! If it was going to take 60-days, $500, and a lot of time to juice, I’d pass!

It wasn’t until I stumbled on an article on Women’s Health magazine online that I realized juicing doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing condition. There are ways to ease into juicing. The article suggested having a breakfast juice with a handful of almonds a couple of times a week instead of the usual cereal or yogurt. This helps juicing become a part of a normal routine, which in turn would hopefully prevent falling off the juicing wagon.

Organic raw juice bars are becoming more common. We recently had one open here in my little corner of NC. If you’re interested in juicing, I highly recommend searching your town for one. It’s a perfect way to try out juicing without investing a lot of time and money into it. Local juice bars also specialize in the right combinations of fruits and vegetable to ensure a great flavor of juice every time. Fresh juice is very alkalizing and detoxifying, and is beneficial without having to go on an extreme cleanse. The best part? Juicing is an easy way to focus on adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. The more you good food that you add, the less room there is for the bad.

So how does my rambling about juices motivate you? I’m hoping it will remind you to:

  1. …not be intimidated by other people’s journey. Allow their story to encourage you, but adapt your journey to your own goals. Be on a mission to live your life, not theirs!
  2. …not procrastinate. The worst thing you can do when you’re overwhelmed is delay your journey for more than a day. Don’t wait a year to seek opportunities. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
  3. …ask for assistance. If you want to try something but aren’t sure where to start, research to see if someone is already doing what you’re interested in doing. For those of you who have always wanted to try a 5K but aren’t sure how to start training, there are running groups in many towns. Consider support groups to help with smoking cessation. Reach out to the community for help!
  4. …ease into change. Don’t feel like you have to jump in feet first with no reservation. If you’re new to exercising, commit to walking twice a week. Want to stop drinking soda? Try adding one extra glass of water to your day until that becomes normal, then add more!

New Year’s Resolutions often fail because expectations are unrealistic. Don’t be a statistic this year. No matter what your goals are for 2016, even if they’re not health-related, know that they are attainable. Stay focused on your journey. Keep a steady pace toward your goals. Don’t try to get from A to Z without adding in the other letters. And lean on your community to help. This is just the beginning. You’ve got this!

Drop the Aspiring!

When I played sports in high school, I sprinted. Both in basketball and tennis, I had to cover a short distance in a short amount of time. Long-distance running was not in my vocabulary. And the thought of enjoying it never crossed my mind. A long-distance runner, to me, was someone like… Forrest Gump, who can effortlessly run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours just because. And to me, that was just crazy!

Now that I have gotten the urge to try the sport, I have been referring to myself as an aspiring runner; one who hopes to achieve the ability to run effortlessly. For whatever reason, I have set a pretty lofty goal for myself… because I am quickly finding out that it always takes effort, even for marathon runners.

Thursday night our No Boundaries class met for our second training session. The weather was miserable. There was a steady rain and it was 35 degrees. I joked that I was going to officially drop the aspiring from my title, since I was braving the weather to get in a mile of walk/jog intervals. The comments I received afterwards made me cry:

My friends encouraged me on Facebook.
My coach (who admitted that it was an effort on her part to be in the rain too) offered up praise for our commitment.
And the owner of Fleet Feet posted this… Wow! Just wow! I am so proud and happy to read and hear about the NoBo troopers that took to the steady rain and 35 degree temps last night. Way to go, guys! I couldn’t imagine worse running weather. Brings to mind a quote Emily gave me some time ago: “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” Proud to be associated with you!

And that made me think. Maybe I should drop the aspiring. Maybe my words are just as much of an obstacle as the rain. My goal is to BE a runner… and to NOT be the Forrest Gump kind. I need to always make the effort to stay focused on those goals. I need to continue to work hard and not let anything hold me back – including myself!

Today my friend Julie and I checked out The Color Run route. There are a lot of small hills, that seem like Mt Everest to me. But I still attempted my 2/1 intervals for the three miles. I still have a long way to go, but I no longer aspire to be a runner… I aspire to run better!

What are your goals? And what seems to be holding you back?

New Beginning with No Boundaries

It has been a while since I’ve blogged about running. Okay, so it has been a while since I’ve blogged, period. The sinus infection lingered longer than I had anticipated and the medications that I took to clear it up made me actually feel worse. I’m sure you guys didn’t miss my play-by-play action of every Couch-to 5K workout anyway. Thanks for sticking by me. I promise this blog is finally coming together… soon. 🙂

What I am here to share are two things:

1. If you are looking for a good, inexpensive training schedule, I highly recommend Couch-to-5K. I paid $1.99 for it in the app store and it is worth every penny. For the three weeks that I used it consistently, I saw significant improvements. Good stuff!

2. Yesterday I started No Boundaries, which is the beginner-level 5k training program with my local Fleet Feet. If you have never stepped foot into a Fleet Feet (no pun intended) you need to plan to go there soon. Fleet Feet specializes in shoe fittings. They were able to assess my gait and put me in a shoe that literally feels like I have clouds on my feet. They are incredibly comfortable, and quite stylish. I will have to sell the ol’ Nike Airs on eBay. They were a hideous fit and were causing some of my leg and hip pain.

The shoe fitting is awesome. But what I experienced yesterday was, like, awesomesauce. Our coach, Stacie, is a rockstar. She is full of knowledge and motivation. I have always said that I needed someone to push me to succeed, and Stacie is the one to do it.

Our program is slightly different from C25K. We actual seem to follow more of Hal Higdon’s approach. There were six groups to choose from: Runners, 4/1, 3/1, 2/1, 1/1, and Walkers. After my two-week hiatus, I thought I should start in the 1/1 group. The first number represents the number of minutes you will run, followed by a 1 minute walk. The goal was to repeat these intervals for the duration of our set distance. Last night’s distance was 1.5 miles. Surprisingly, the 1/1 was effortless. Yes… I just said that!! (Thank you C25K!) I actually ended up running a bit longer than a minute per interval. I felt really good and will likely move up to the 2/1 group on Thursday.

No Boundaries is much more than a running group, though. They offer stretch exercises, core strengthening, nutrition guides, health assessments, and more! If you’re have been thinking of running but don’t think you’re motivated enough to follow the C25K app alone, or if you are looking for guidance from a professional, please check out Fleet Feet’s website to see if there is a store near you. You’ll learn what types of fabrics are no good to wear, you’ll form healthy and safe habits, and you’ll make new friends! I can’t put into words what yesterday did for me… but I will try to express it throughout this journey. My goal is to limit my running blog posts so you aren’t overwhelmed with the topic but I’ve been told this will be a life-changing experience, so I do want to share some of it with you!

Happy running!

Meals and Snacks: January 16

Did you make a resolution to eat healthier this year? If you’re still struggling with what to eat, I thought it may be helpful if I shared a day of my meals with you. If this is helpful, I can occasionally post my meals and snacks so that you can get an idea of how, when, and what I eat throughout the day. Maybe it will be helpful to someone? I promise I won’t bombard you with daily (or even weekly) accounts of my intake, though. Feel free to email me if you have any nutrition questions. (No, I’m not a nutritionist or doctor. I do work for a hospital and have access to our resources, though. And no, I am not being paid to endorse these particular brands. These just happen to be what I buy and eat. You can substitute brands… just pay attention to the nutritional facts. They will vary.)

BREAKFAST:
MultiGrain Cheerios – 1.5 cups – 165 calories
Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk – 1 cup – 45 calories
9:30am – 210 calories

SNACK:
Strawberries (fresh) – 1 cup – 50 calories
Sargento’s Low Fat Mozerella Sting Cheese – 1 stick – 50 calories
11:30am – 100 calories

LUNCH:
Butterball Deep Fried Turkey (deli sliced) – 2 slices – 60 calories
Nature’s Own Whole Wheat Bread – 2 slices – 100 calories
Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon – 35 calories*
Tomato – 1 slice – 5 calories
Baby Carrots – 10 raw – 35 calories
1:30am – 235 calories

* I only put 1/3 of a serving (or 1 teaspoon) of mayo on my sandwich. I put the other teaspoons on my plate. I use this to dunk my carrots in. Before you judge me… think of how many people eat carrots and ranch dressing. Mayo is the base for ranch dressing! You are welcome to add some dry ranch powder to your mayo if you wish, but I just eat it plain. Try it before you knock it. 😉

SNACK:
Gala Apple – 1 medium – 80 calories
Peanut Butter Company’s White Chocolate Wonderful – 1 tablespoon – 90 calories
3:30am – 170 calories

DINNER:
Zucchini – 1 cup – 20 caloriesYellow Squash – 1 cup – 25 calories
Onion – 1/2 cup – 30 calories
Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons – 240 calories
Grilled Chicken – 4 ounces – 120 calories
6pm – 435 calories

DESSERT:
Skinny Cow Caramel Truffle – 1 bar – 100 calories

TOTAL:
1250 calories
*Note: this is on a day that I did not exercise. On days that I run or circuit train, I have a heartier lunch or additional snack, no more than 250 calories depending on the workout.

New Year, New Attitude

We have all created those New Year’s resolutions that are frustrating, and impossible to keep. Here are 10 simple steps that I ran across recently that can help you be healthier, happier, and satisfied with your life.

  • Know yourself better. Figure out what makes you feel energetic and significant.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.  There will always be someone richer, more attractive, smarter and more accomplished. Instead remember there are people that would trade places with you regardless of your situation.
  • Count your blessings. A few times a week, write down three things you are grateful for.  This is a powerful mood lifter.
  • Practice gratitude. Write a letter to someone who has made a positive impact in your life.
  • Take a brisk walk outside. Exercise is a natural mood lifter. Regularly breaking a sweat can be almost as effective in treating depression as taking medications.
  • Eat fish.   Omega-3 fatty acids have significant positive effects on brain health. They can lower incidences of depression and suicide.
  • Get adequate sleep. Seven to eight hours is essential to a strong immune system.
  • Strengthen relationships. Studies link a strong social life with increased happiness. People who have four or more close friends are more likely to describe themselves as happy.
  • Join an organization or club. Interacting with like-minded people provides some of life’s greatest joys.
  • Help others. If you made a list of the times you felt most happy, chances are some of them would connect to helping others. Many studies show that giving of one’s time, talent and money to others is one of the most effective ways to boost happiness.

Healthy Dining Out

We live in such a fast-paced society.  Families are always rushing to activities, appointments, commitments, meetings, etc.  Lunch time consists of eating at our desk or meeting at a local diner with potential clients.

Eating out has become a normal part of our lives to save time, multitask or because we are just too tired to cook at home.  Most of us try to be health conscious and make the best food choices possible.  Here are a few tips for dining out that will keep you on track to a healthier lifestyle.

  • If you are going to a restaurant that you are already familiar with, go ahead and choose what you will eat ahead of time.  This will keep you from making a quick last minute decision that will result in high calorie choices.
  • Drink a full glass of water before eating your meal.  This helps your digestive system process your meal and you will eat less because you feel full.
  • Try to avoid “all you can eat” buffets.  It is too easy to lose track of what you have eaten.
  • If dining with a group, order first.  You will be less likely to be influenced by what your companions order.
  • Order salad dressings on the side.  Dip your fork into the dressing first and then into your salad.  This will allow the flavor without the extra calories.
  • Choose whole grains over white breads.
  • When ordering meat or fish, ask for grilled or broiled.
  • When ordering a sandwich, replace the mayo with mustard.  Mustard has very few calories and will provide flavor to your meal.
  • Tomato based sauces have fewer calories than creamy sauces.
  • Slow down and enjoy your meal and the company you’re with!  When you eat slowly, your body is better equipped to tell you when you’ve had enough.  Ask the server to remove your plate so you don’t keep munching.

No Boundaries

I did it!! I just signed up for the No Boundaries 5K Training at my local Fleet Feet. I’m so excited!

I have participated in many charity 5Ks over the past 5 years. I’ve never had the intention of running them. I would occasionally jog but I was primarily there to have a leisurely stroll with friends, while raising awareness and funds for the nonprofit hosting the event.

For the last 12 months, I have had an unsettling desire to become a runner. Yes, me… the girl who once said I’d only run if something was chasing me. Since my dad’s heart attack, I’ve looked for ways to become healthier internally. Of course, losing a few pounds on my outward appearance would be nice too, but I really want my heart to be in top shape. In all the research, and in all of the prayers, the only answer I only received one answer — RUN! Of course, I laughed it off the first few months. Me, a runner? I have bad knees. I don’t have the time. I’m not disciplined enough. I can’t find good running shoes at an affordable price. You name it, I had an excuse.

Recently, I acquired a brand new pair of Nike Air Max Ultras – a $160 pair of shoes – for a mere $45. How? Long story… but in a nutshell, there is an undisciplined teenaged boy who isn’t getting to play basketball because he can’t keep his grades up. His parents were so serious about not letting him play until he did better academically, that they sold his new kicks. I was the lucky recipient.

I also have a friend who committed to running. She has done so well that, on her third 5K this weekend, she finished 3rd in her class with a under a 9-minute mile. She looks great and has become a huge source of inspiration for me. She invited me to join her in The Color Run this coming March. I accepted the challenge, then panicked.

I have become a terrible abuser of my time. I have gotten slack about prioritizing. How would I ever get caught up to her speed by March? What have I gotten myself into?

In a random conversation with my hairstylist… she brought up the training sessions at Fleet Feet. I had no idea that literally, around the corner from work, was a company who specializes in training runners. This is exactly what I need. A coach, and fellow beginning runners, to run alongside me and encourage me… in a location that is extremely convenient to me, at a time that is perfect for my schedule. Hallelujah!!

Could it be? My dream of becoming a runner – a full-fledged, determined, goal-oriented, healthy-hearted runner – are literally withing my reach now? This is big.

I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions. But I am one for grabbing at every chance to change, re-evaluate things, and if need be… start over. 2013 is that for me. A chance to be more more positive, healthier, stronger, and more focused. It’s time to take charge of my schedule again. It’s time to prioritize life. This training will help me, in every aspect. No restrictions. No regrets. No boundaries!