Monday, September 19, 2011

Do you really want a change???

Just skip this blog... unless you really do want a change!!!!!

This summer, from the end of the school year in June, 2011, to today, September, 2011, I have lost 13lbs.  I must preface this by saying, prior to this I watched what I ate, most of you know I have been a regular exerciser, and I do feel like I was making healthy choices, BUT I had been stuck at my weight for several years with no progress what-so-ever!!  Hummm, have any of you ever felt this way??  One of my secret goals has been to get a body that could do bikini or fitness competitions.  Not those beefed up girls that look like men with frog legs ~ bikini good ~ ya know what I mean?  But at my age (and total lack of progress) I never dreamed it could really be possible (no I don't look that good... yet!).  Yet, suddenly, viola ~ progress!  What changed?  My willingness to listen to those who have done it~!!!! A good friend of mine who is a couple of years younger than me (40 something) had recently participated in a, yes, bikini competition.  She is one inch shorter than I and weighed pretty close to my "stuck" weight when she started to train.  And there she was participating in a bikini competition, and yes, she rocked it!  I couldn't imagine how she'd done it, so of course, me being me, I started asking her all kinds of questions!!  Not too long after that, I was added to a private fitness group on Facebook started by this friend of mine.  Well, this group consists of women of all ages, sizes, fitness levels, knowledge levels and they were and are willing to share, encourage, console, and cheer each other on in the journey to becoming healthier and fitter.  Not everyone has the secret wish to be competition ready, and that is fine.  We all have our own goals which, of course, should begin with being as healthy and strong as we can be for ourselves first, then our families next, and maybe even a fitness competition ~ ha ha!

So as I began to participate in this group, I would take in the amazing, FREE, information and advice so graciously shared with me.  And of course, me being me, I still did not want to change certain (a lot) of things that were suggested to me... I guess I'm really hard headed, and actually, looking back now it's really laugh out loud-able how hard headed I was (and probably still am).  The truth is you are not going to lose weight UNLESS YOU CHANGE YOUR EATING HABITS ~~ As I mentioned, I was pretty active, running, working out, etc., but the eating is KEY.  You must clean up your diet.  We call it "eating clean", and at first you think it's impossible to live without this or without that, but it IS possible, and you will feel 100% better than you do now, and you will lose those extra pounds that have crept up over the years!  The old adage (or maybe it's new) is "abs are made in the kitchen!"  And it absolutely could not be any more true!  So, with a balk here and a whine there to the suggestions given by the ladies, I slowly started to change the way I ate.  They were so patient with me....! You know what?  I started to see results which in an of itself was a complete miracle.  I had not budged below a certain number, my super skinny number (hee hee, we all have one of those, right?) in years!!  Then one day I got even lower, and on and on until at the end of summer I'd lost 13 lbs, and Mark said to me, "you looked really good in your bikini today."  I almost fell over!  This can happen to you too, gals.  It is possible, you really are not stuck ~ I promise!

First things first... some things I've learned and implemented.  NO processed crap.  It's not food, it's crap with NO nutritional value at all.  All of the processed crap you eat will leave you unsatisfied, and therefore hungrier, and thus in a vicious circle of not getting proper nutrition and eating more.  Get rid of white.  I've said this before, but it is so true, most white food is processed.  Yes, this includes sugar too!!  You are going to want to switch to brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes, yams, green leafy veggies, chicken, fish... think protein!  Oops, I'm getting ahead of myself, sorry.  So no processed "fake" food, period! 

Next thing, up your water intake.  Try to get in (I can feel it, some of you are going to balk here) at least 100 ounces of water a day, and if you can do a gallon, then for sure do it!!  Oh, I can hear you now ~ excuses as to why you can't do that.  You're actually saying out loud "that isn't healthy!"  You're reasoning that you have tea so that counts.  Thinking, I hate having to go potty all the time ~ no excuses ~ 100 ounces to 1 gallon ladies.  You will be absolutely amazed at the difference this will make in your energy, how full you feel, your skin, and more importantly how hydrated your muscles are.  This is important because if you are dehydrated your body will pull water from your muscles first in order to protect your vital organs.  This is bad because our muscles are what burns our fat.  If your muscles cannot burn fat properly because you haven't been drinking enough water, then your metabolism gets slower.  Slow metabolism is no bueno.  So drink up!  Start this right now, and think good thoughts about me every time you take a potty break ~ lol.

Next, log your food!!  This is another must do.  This has the potential to really making a difference in accomplishing your weight loss/fitness goals.  How can you make the necessary changes unless you know what you're consuming????  My favorite tool for this is  Once you start logging, it becomes quicker and easier because you can just click on recent foods and also add your own custom foods.  What I find works best for me, and I highly recommend this habit, is to log what you plan to eat for the day at the beginning of the day.  This sets you up mentally for not getting off track, it ensures that you have planned your meals for the day, and you don't have to have a computer with you or try to remember what you ate for that extra snack you didn't plan for. 

More changes ~~ (yikes).  You must eat enough calories, you must eat often, and you need to focus on the amount of protein consumed daily.  Let's start with eating enough calories.  Many of us tend to go for a very low cal diet for obvious reasons.  This is not good.  If you are not giving your body enough calories (fuel), then it will not let that fat go.  This can be a scary thing;  needing and wanting to lose weight, eat more?  Yes.  If you are one of those ladies on a very calorie restrictive diet, please up your calories to at least 1700 calories a day.  Yes really, 1700.  You will know what you're calorie intake is because you're going to be logging your food, and will track those calories for you!  I can tell you that myself and several of the ladies in the fitness group have jumped up in calories and seen good results because of it ~ it works.  If you are on the opposite end of this problem, and you over eat, fitday will let you know that too.  A calorie range of 1600-1800 daily is a good healthy amount.  Please try to cut down to that range.  The next tip is to eat often.  For many years I've had people tell me to eat 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 regular ones.  Well, I don't like to cook, and I've been lazy in the past about planning (very lazy).  This is where "you just have to change" comes in.  Once you get in the habit of preparing for the next day (and not just winging it), you will start to see results.  My daily meals go something like this:  A hardy protein smoothie (by hardy I mean I throw in a big scoop of protein powder .5 frozen banana, .25 cup milk, I use goat's milk or almond milk sometimes, ground flax, and sometimes natural peanut butter or honey).  This is around 7am while getting ready for work (and after I've exercised).  I also have my coffee with my shake.  If you prefer you can cook your breakfast, but I find this is what works best for me.  The key to this meal???  PROTEIN.  Get your protein in with each meal starting with breakfast!!!!  Oh and duh, you do have to eat breakfast.  Don't load up on just carbohydrates.  If you like cereal or oatmeal or fresh fruit (please don't tell me you're eating sugary cereal), add a couple of eggs.  Toast?  Have hard boiled eggs with it, and make sure it's a good hardy healthy bread with no added sugars or enriched flour in it ~ definitely no white bread or white bagels.  Yogurt is good too, but check the sugar!!  Greek yogurt is higher in protein, but watch the sugar, please.  Next I eat one of my 2 "lunches" that I've pack the night before, and this is somewhere between 10 and 11am depending on my schedule that day.  This 1st lunch is often .25 cup brown rice with 4 ounces of chicken or fish and veggies, or it may be a couple of meatloaf muffins (turkey), or if I am really really in a pinch it may just be a protein bar, or a couple hard boiled eggs with 3 ounces of yams or sweet potato.  The point is, it is something high in protein (about 25 - 30 grams of protein per meal).  The second lunch is the similar, contains 25 - 30 grams of protein, and that is around 12:30 or 1pm.  Keep in mind, it's one small starch (brown rice not to exceed .5 cup per day, sweet potato not to exceed 3 ounces, etc., with those meals). When I leave school, somewhere between 3 or 4pm I have a scoop of protein powder that I've packed in a shaker cup with just water.  I chug that down and I've just taken in about 26 grams of protein and only about 130 calories.  Do you see a pattern here (protein, protein, protein)?  You can also eat a small snack as well ~ I just find the scoop of protein to be easy and convenient.  For dinner, once again, I have a lean protein, chicken, fish, bison, turkey meatloaf, lean beef as a treat once in a while, or a salad with grilled chicken and lemon juice with olive oil and a teeny pinch of dressing for the salad... but with this meal, only veggies with it ~ no starches at dinner.  Have as many veggies as you like throughout the day.  If I am still hungry, I love a protein shake made with just water/ice at bedtime, or egg whites are good too at bedtime.  I know it seems odd to eat at bedtime, but if you're hungry your body needs the fuel.  So protein is very good to go to bed on.  You'll sleep like a baby!  So, in the example of my daily meals above, you may have noticed I eat a lot of protein.  This is the next thing you need to start doing.  Eat at least 120 grams of protein daily.  120-150 is a good range to be in on a daily basis.  Protein helps to build muscles.  Protein keeps you full longer.  Protein helps in keeping your blood sugars level.  When logging your food (again in fitday), it will track the protein grams you've consumed for the day, and it will also have a pie chart to see the quantities of protein, carbs, alcohol, and fat.  My goal for my pie is 40% protein (120-150 grams), and the fat and carbs in the 30% range.  Sometimes my fat intake is higher than my carbs... that is okay as long as you are using healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, flax, nuts, etc.  Good healthy fats are good for you and really do help in losing weight.  However, be careful because even though we must eat healthy fats, they are very caloric, so log them and stay within your calorie range.  I'm no cook, but I'm a fan of easy healthy recipes (emphasis on EASY).  Check out this website for some high protein, healthy meals and snacks,  I posted a link below as well (, and there are great recipes on that site, and you may also just google "recipes for clean eating" or something along those lines for more information. 

A very helpful tool (and yes I whined and complained about doing this too) is to measure and weigh your food.  That way you can log accurately so you can tweak and adjust your eating to have success.  I bought a cheap scale at Savemart, and of course, we all have measuring cups and spoons.  Just do it ladies, it works. 

Here we go and oh dear, this is a hard one for some of us ~ NO alcohol.  Totally empty calories and sugar from alcohol is not good for your body.  I know, many of you are saying (I've said it too), a glass of wine is good for my heart!  Maybe so, but it isn't good for your belly fat or your fanny.  If you want success, cut the alcohol.  This doesn't mean never have another drink.  It means cut the alcohol until you've reached your goal, then you may have an occasional drink.

Now, doing all of this tomorrow would be fantastic, but I imagine your head is spinning and you may be having a minor meltdown.  As I heard, learned and re-learned a lot of this information, little by little I bought in totally and just did it.  For today, start increasing your water consumption (100 ounces minimum).  Also, set up your fitday account.  It's free.  Then sit down and really think about how you can start to implement all of this information.  What really turned things around for me was an 8 week challenge that began July 15, and went to September 9.  It was a challenge where we all set our own personal goals, and encouraged one another along the journey.  This is when I really got serious, and the last 4 weeks of the challenge I was very very diligent.  The progress was amazing.  For the entire 8 weeks, I did not have ONE cheat day, not ONE cheat meal, not one beer or glass of wine...  So on the topic of cheating, if you totally deprive yourself, you will set yourself up for failure.  As you consider how you'd like to go forward with this advice, think about what you'd like to do considering "cheating."  Many ladies have a weekly cheat meal.  Did you hear that?  A cheat meal ~ not a cheat day!!  Too many cheat meals are not cheats, they are bad eating habits!!  I have had bites of dessert, or a little tiny something.  If you cannot handle that right now, then stay away from what triggers your poor eating choices.  Did you read that?  AVOID what triggers your poor eating choices.  I would think you should stay clear of your weaknesses until you no longer crave them because your tastes and body will start to crave the new clean food you are eating.  If you must, allow one cheat meal a week, yes, that's one meal a week.  See, along with the benefit of losing weight and getting fit, eating clean actually makes you FEEL better.  No more tummy aches, bloating, that uncomfortable feeling after you've eating something bad for you, or worse yet, jeans that keep getting tighter and tighter as the day or evening progresses.  Just wait, you'll see.  It is true.  You are going to feel great and energized.  So that covers a lot in regards to food.  I'd like to give you one of my favorite websites to go to for fantastic food choices ~  Look on the left hand column and click on "how to select over 100 WHfoods."  This site has a ton of great tips and healthy recipes too.  Start to use as many of these foods as you can, make sure you're getting in your 120-150 grams of protein a day, drink lots (100 ounces at least) of water every day, stay within a 1600-1800 calorie range by logging your food, and you will be on the right track for great success. 

I know you know you must be exercising.  Ladies, get out of bed an hour earlier if you "think" you don't have time (oh wow, I can really really hear you now!).  I know ~ I'm not a morning person either!!!  But if you want a change....  You have many options.  Walk or jog ~ it's free.  Find a nice hill in your neighborhood, and walk up it a couple few times!  All you need is time (get out of that bed).  Join, or start going to the gym you've been paying for for the past 3 years.  Here's an excuse, "I get bored" or "I don't know what to do once I'm there."  Okay, here's the answer ~ This link will help the very most beginner in lifting weights, or someone who's been lifting for years.  This program is free, and a video of every exercise is available so you know what to do and HOW to do it when you get to the gym ~ yep, NO excuses.  And ladies, you are not going to get bulky and man-like.  Just watch Jamie in the link above, she is far from man-like.  More muscle burns more fat!!  Another option is to do videos at home.  You can do push-ups ~ full blown push-ups, "girl" push-ups from your knees (I've seen boys do them too). Or even do push-ups standing up and leaning on counter tops.  You can do squats or lunges for legs, and you can also do abdominals all from home.  Google "work outs from home" and see what pops up. 

If you eat like like my friends have taught me to eat ~ eating clean, and you start to move your body, you will find, you are NOT stuck.  You will see progress.  You will feel amazing.  You will be strong.  You will be healthy.  And you will be confident.  I began this blog stating that in three months I lost 13 lbs.  It has taken me a few days to complete this writing, and I am down another 2 pounds.  So in three and a half months, I have lost 15 lbs.   Last night Mark said to me when I walked by, "Wow, your biceps are bulging!"  I, of course, responded by telling him not to tease me.  He then looked at me and said, "No, I'm serious.  I can totally see your biceps."  Then when I told him to check out my horseshoe triceps, he just laughed and said, "no horseshoe yet, babe."  lol.  I know this is a ton of information, and you may think it cannot be done.  But I promise, if I can do it, anyone can.  Eat clean and be healthy ~ I hope this has been more encouraging than overwhelming.  Please feel free to contact me via Facebook or email if you have any questions.  I would love to encourage you, and hopefully motivate you to better health.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A fitness trainer said what???

So I was Facebooking a friend of mine about protein smoothies, and she told me her trainer said if she drinks protein she would gain weight... this prompted me to blog and blog and blog on the topic.  I've touched on tummy trouble in this blog as well as many of us have had or are having issues with bloating and stomach problems.  Since I've changed my diet recently, my stomach issues have improved greatly.  And of course, most of us want to improve our health, fitness and often our appearance (weight) and this all falls together.  But before I wrote this to her, I first had to vent about a fitness trainer telling someone not to have protein if they want to lose weight!!  I still cannot believe it... seriously, no words...
So here you go ~~

If you are lifting weights and doing resistance training, you MUST eat protein to build and repair the muscles you are tearing down... My trainer, before I had to drop him so Jake could go (kids, hum), wanted me to have a liquid form of protein as soon as possible after our workouts to help with muscle repair, and I mean every time I left, he asked me if I was going to get my protein. You should shoot to eat your weight in protein grams daily!!!! I'll get to the stomach probs in a sec, but if you are eating 100 plus grams of protein a day, the other crap you eat will certainly be less. You will not be craving the crappy food you are currently addicted to (not being mean, but usually the problem is the eating) because you will be full on good lean protein. I like whey protein. I buy the inexpensive Body Fortress from Walmart. If you use 2 scoops, it is 270 calories and 52, yes, 52 grams of protein. However, that makes for a pretty thick shake, so I usually just do1 large scoop, so a little over 26 grams of protein per shake and only 135 calories. Now there is a Body Fortress Weight Gainer protein, so make sure you get the regular one ~ that one is for men trying to gain. I like a splash of the Pure Silk Coconut Milk, but I like the almond milk too. This is really just for a little flavor and texture. I fill the rest up with cold water to the 1 cup (or a little over) line of the blender. Then I add a little bit of crushed ice, 1/2 frozen banana (this gives the shake a texture like you've put ice cream in it), a blob (about a tablespoonful) of organic natural peanut butter (I just get the one from Costco), and I throw in about a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips. Sometimes I add blueberries too, or whatever I'm in the mood for. Today they were out of the chocolate Body Fortress, so I got the chocolate/peanut butter flavor, and it ROCKS! I've also had vanilla, and it is tastey too. But I am a chocolate lover, so I usually stick to that. I do not do the chocolate chips every time I have a shake, but I usually do at least one a day. But I also do not eat anything else sugary at all. I don't even use Ketchup anymore, and if you don't eat french fries, you don't need Ketchup! I find having one of these shakes as a snack after a workout, and sometimes as a meal replacement has really made a difference in my weight and eating habits. I am gaining muscle, and losing body fat.  I feel confident about how I look. I still have my areas that need improvement for sure, but I love how I feel, and I am seeing a big difference all around. Another great way to have this as a quick snack on the run is to put a scoop in a tuperware shaker cup (or whatever brand), and then just add cold water when you need it. If you have access to a few ice cubes that helps when you shake it. Is it as good as the chocolate chip one? Naw, but it is drinkable, and it WILL fill you up so you don't have anything bad.

Tummy trouble... I am convinced your tummy trouble will improve immensely if you change your eating. STOP eating anything processed. I rarely have bread. If I'm in a pinch I'll get a sandwich (whole wheat) at Subway, but I just don't eat bread anymore on any sort of regular basis. Stop eating mashed potatoes, pizza, ranch, white rice, pasta, white refined sugar, hash browns, fries, cereal, fried foods... anything with white flour or, you know, fake ~ don't eat it.  It may sound very restrictive if this is the way you're used to eating, but I promise, it feels so good to not eat this way I can't imagine going back. With that said... I do plan a "cheat" meal about once a week. Not a cheat weekend, not a cheat day, a single cheat meal. Lately it's been blueberry pancakes and bacon for Saturday morning breakfast. I have had it twice in the last month, and ate it guilt free. If you are going out to an Italian restaurant or Mexican food, then plan on eating a dish of your choice and enjoy it. But if you get in the clean eating habit, you will crave the healthier choice because you will know the difference of how it feels to not eat things that will bloat you up and make your stomach hurt, and in my case gave me gas and constipated me.

Some of my favorite things to eat now: Lara Bars!! Love them, totally natural, and delish! I eat one with a hard boiled egg to balance out the protein since they are a little high on the carbs (good carbs though). If you're drinking water like you should, this little snack will tide you over. Cesar salad "my way", romaine lettuce, chicken breast, easy croutons (ya I know, but I love it when they soak up the lemon), easy parmesan cheese, about 1/2 fresh lemon juice (or more~love lemons) mixed with a little olive oil if available poured over the salad. I get the dressing on the side and I use less than a teaspoonful. Seriously, I've had the waitress ask me if I ate any of the dressing. I boil 12 eggs every week so I have a good protein source handy at all times. One yolk a day is not going to hurt you, and even two is okay. I try to grill up enough chicken to last me a week for my lunches (actually Mark does the cooking ~ lol). I love to have chicken with 1/2 cup of brown rice, or some sweet potato, or in a salad. I love both of these meals with my favorite Tapatio hot sauce. If you like fish, then eat it too!! I do have some red meat because Mark is always making it, but I find I eat much smaller portions, and load up the plate with salad or veggies. I have one or two protein shakes a day. Think about eating smaller meals more often... I know this is stuff you probably already know, but if you make it a point to plan and stick to it, you really will notice a difference, both in weight and in how your stomach feels. I really surprised myself when I was trying to talk myself into stopping to get Yogart Beach the other day. But I kept thinking how my tummy would feel after I ate it. It just wasn't worth it.

Alcohol... this is a biggie. Totally empty calories, and the sugar in alcohol is BAD. Stop drinking! LOL ~ so over the 4th of July we were at the lake, and as part of my "cheat" I had some Bud Lite Lime (I love it). But typically, I do not drink now. I will, but I usually don't.

Water... I shoot for a gallon a day. I bought a Bubba Keg at Walmart ($8.97) and it holds 52oz. I drink two of these daily, and if you think about your protein shakes, you'll get in enough water. This has made a HUGE difference for me. I was never a water drinker, and I'm amazed I drank so little now that I'm in the habit of drinking this much. Believe it or not, I am thirsty now as I write this even after drinking that much.  I believe this helps my tummy to be flatter (along with all the stuff above).  But I wake up in the morning with a flat tummy.  I like that I'm no longer sleeping next to my stomach!  Aw, you know what I mean, don't you! LOL

I hope this helps and that you really give it a try...  I swear you will stop wanting that bad for you stuff when you start to really feel how good it feels to be healthier!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wow, now that was a struggle!! (UGH)!

Yesterday I had the worst run!!  Almost immediately I knew I was in trouble.  Once a week I run with a teacher I work with.  We will be running the Rock n River half marathon together in May.  Our run yesterday was a tiny bit over 6 miles, and we have done this particular route several times together with no problem, and additionally, I have done a 7.25 mile run a few times on my “long” weekend run problem free as well.  But we hadn’t gone two blocks before I started feeling more winded than usual.  As we continued into the 2nd mile, I told Veronica, “I hope I can do this!  I’m dying!”  Her response was, “If we have to walk, we will.”  That’s the beauty of having a good friend to run with (or walk with, or bike with, or workout in the gym with), but that’s a blog all in itself.  So, as I trudged along in the beginning of that 2nd mile, my legs started to feel like I was running though thick sand (heavy and fatigued), and I still couldn’t breathe well.  One word, MISERABLE, and nowhere near the end of the run!  As we started up that first hill, I was approaching a miniature mental panic attack.  What I mean is I was having this internal conversation with myself, “You can’t do this.  This is awful. You have to quit.” And on and on…  I was trying not to be too whiny in front of Veronica, but I couldn’t help it!!  Lol.  At one point probably at about 4 ½ miles and up a big hill, I finally said, “I do need to walk for a minute.”  So we walked the rest of the way up the hill, and finished up the run actually running (even though every step I wanted to stop).  I did start to feel a little better after I got though that initial wall (the first 4 plus miles – ha ha), but if Veronica hadn’t have been with me, I surely would have given up. 

I’m sharing this with you because sometimes this is just part of a fitness routine.  You hit a wall.  It may be a run.  It may be a swim.  It may be a weight workout.  Some days it’s just going to be harder.  Your body may not have gotten the proper fuel for that day.  You may be slightly dehydrated.  You may not have slept well.  You may be getting sick, or getting better from having been sick.  Whatever the reason, occassionally it happens.  When experiencing a wall, I’d like to encourage you to keep going.  Do not let this discourage you short term or long term.  Walls only happen every once in a while.  If you’ve set aside the time to do an hour workout at the gym, finish your workout.  Now obviously, if you are sick and weak from an illness then go home and go to bed.  But if it is just one of those “this is miserable” days, then bite your lip and finish the task.  If you’ve committed to do a run, finish it.  If you need an extra breather, then take that breather, but do your best to finish (even if you have to slow down to do it).  Why you ask?  For one, you will have such a since of accomplishment.  It was hard, but you got through it.  You are strong and capable.  All too often we have the tendency to give up when it gets tough.  And this goes for all areas of our lives.  But you persevered and were successful.  Secondly, getting though a really difficult work out makes the regular ones so much more pleasant.  Aside from my external and internal whining yesterday, I was also made aware of how much that temporary misery makes me appreciate a regular workout.  That is huge!  The third reason I am sharing this with you is to let you know this happens to everyone who works out regularly.  Fortunately, it doesn’t happen all the time, but everyone is prone to a "more than usual struggle" once in a while (aka: a wall).

Goal:  To accept and be thankful for unusually difficult workouts, and to persevere, get stronger, and accomplish what you’ve set out to do!! 


Sunday, February 13, 2011

The dreaded 4 letter word: DIET!!

I know, I know, you may be thinking of another 4 letter word when "diet" is mentioned.
But it's time to change your way of thinking.  Diet is simply the food we put into our bodies.  It does not mean starvation, suffering, deprivation, misery, depression or failure!  Got it?  Now that that is clear, let's talk about it.  What you choose to put into your body can make a HUGE difference in how you feel,  how you think, and yes, how you look.  The food you choose can fuel your body, or it can bog it down ~ literally (yuck).  I am not claiming to be an expert, but I can tell you what I've found works for me, and a few of the things I've learned in my years of natural "thinness" and my years (after 40) of having to think and work for it.  Let's talk pre-40's when I didn't think twice about what went into my mouth and stayed thin. Was it fun? Yep!  Eating anything you want is great ~ immediate satisfaction!  Did it always feel great?  No.  Eating whatever, aka, junk doesn't feel great.  Often it left me feeling lethargic, bloated, unmotivated and more importantly ~ craving more junk.  Yes, junk food (food with no nutritional value) is addictive.  As I mentioned in a previous post, hitting age 40 changed everything for me.  So whether you are currently thin or currently fluffy (the F word is not to be used here), it's time to start eating for the right reasons ~ no mindless eating ~ eating to fuel that wonderful body of yours for long term health!

First ~ you must start reading nutritional labels and ingredients, and there are a few items you should avoid, especially if they are listed in the first 5 items of the ingredients.  Avoid hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil (a trans fat, bad).  I am not going to go into all of the reasons to avoid these items.  The blog would go on forever, and again I'm not an expert.  So please do some simple research if you have more questions.  Next, avoid high fructose corn syrup.  Just another word for sugar, and high fructose corn syrup also has the tendency of making you crave more food, sugary food.  Next, and this is a hard one, do not purchase if it says enriched flour, or (an this is a kicker) enriched whole wheat flour.  Enriched means all of the natural vitamins and minerals from the whole grain wheat is removed and then they throw some vitamins in there to "enrich" it.  Why?  You should be getting the natural occurring nutrition, not some concocted supplements.  Look for 100% whole wheat flour ~ no "enriched."  Sugar ~ sugar in the first 5 ingredients is not a good thing.

White, don't bite!  Well, most of the time.  It seems like most white foods are not usually the best choice, so think twice before eating white food.  White flour, white refined sugar, white rice, are all foods to stay away from ~ obviously, this also means foods made with these ingredients (white bread, cake, cookies... you get the picture).  I also stay away from potatoes, ranch dressing, mayonnaise and creamy white sauces (and easy on the bananas).  Potatoes and bananas are high in starch and sugar and tend to raise blood glucose too much too quickly.
Most of the time, these foods types of food have been made with high fat ingredients, and are high in calories too.  If you are a lover of these types of foods, as I was, make minor adjustments to eliminate them from your diet.  You will adjust and not feel deprived.  Just do it slowly.  For example, I decided to use a spicy mustard as a condiment instead of mayonnaise (watch ketchup, sauces and marinades as they tend to be high in sugar - read the labels).  I love mayo, but I have found mustard alone is just as satisfying.  The foods mentioned above have a tendency of leaving you craving more of those types of food, and it becomes a vicious circle.  Once you get yourself out of that loop, you will be satisfied with the better choices you will be making because you are going to feel so much better (and look better too).  There are a few "whites" I do believe should be in your diet, and these are high in protein.  Cottage cheese (get the low or non fat) is a good source of protein.  I use cottage cheese in place of mayo in my tuna or chicken salad.  Don't say gross until you've tried it!!!  About 1/4 cup cottage cheese to a small single serving can of tuna, chicken or salmon with whatever you usually put in your tuna is fantastic.  I love it with avocado and Serrano chilies!!  A very high protein meal indeed, and that is the goal!  I also recommend Greek yogurt~!  This usually has about 12 to 16 grams of protein a serving (and the plain is white ~ ha).  The plain is terrific with fresh or fresh frozen organic blueberries from Costco (about 1/4 cup defrosted) and a little bit of Agave nectar, and you have yourself a high protein delicious treat.  Go ahead and get the flavored ones too, still high in protein!!  I do use half a frozen banana in my protein drink for texture and taste, just don't over-do bananas.  And I recommend a protein shake a day, especially after you've exercised.  I do use milk in my protein shake, but sometimes I'll go with almond milk or coconut milk instead of dairy (see the blog "So Sore" for the shake recipe).  Egg whites of course are high protein (and you can use the whole egg too), and I enjoy them scrambled with a little cottage cheese and hot sauce (Tapatio or Chalula).  Be sure to add lots of color to your healthy whites too.  Broccoli, red peppers, tomatoes, blue berries, strawberries, etc.  Eat your lean meat, chicken and fish and you will find you are very satisfied and not hungry.  You will be less bloated, and you will be putting food into your body that will compliment your workout routine. 

Please do not mistake all this talk of protein for no carbs.  You will get cranky and nutty if you eliminate carbs.  Just none of those white, refined, funky bad carbs!!  I try to eat only protein for dinner along with a big healthy salad or my favorite colorful veggies.  As much salad and veggies as you want is totally fine.  Just be sure not to put butter and blobs of salad dressing (which can be very high in sugar and fat) all over your salad and vegetables though.  I either put the dressing on the side and dip my fork into the dressing then the salad, or I use my favorite balsamic vinegar with a tad bit of olive oil.
When I have my complex carbs (100% whole wheat English muffin, or oatmeal, or brown rice, etc.) I do it early in the day.  When eating carbs, I try to limit each meal to 25 grams of carbohydrates ~ but try only protein later in the day. 

Another tip ~ do not eat standing up.  I catch myself reaching for something in the pantry or snack drawer and putting it in my mouth while working about the kitchen!!  This is mindless eating and Lord only knows how many calories we consume while doing this!!  Only eat standing up if you are cooking and you need to test something for a spice or whatnot.  NO MINDLESS EATING ~ careful of eating and watching TV too, same deal!  Sit down and enjoy your food!!

One last thought... if you are exercising, please make sure you are eating enough calories!!  If you do not, your body will hang onto the fat as it will be in survival mode.  I got to go to a trainer for about 3 months (oh how I miss him), and he bumped me up to 1700 calories a day.  You may want to talk to a professional on how many calories you need based on your activity level.  If you have no idea how many calories you're consuming a favorite site of mine is  This is a free calorie counter and will track your protein, carbs, fat and alcohol intake as well.  I suggest you commit to logging your food for at least a week.  This will really help you see where you can make changes.  Listen you your body.  It will help guide you.  Try to get off the 3 big meals way of thinking, and throw in some healthy snacks between breakfast lunch and dinner.  The trick is to not get to that starving place ~ that will lead to over eating.  Think about how you feel after you eat something.  Drink plenty of water, and then have some more.  Often dehydration disguises itself as hunger.

Now, if I did all this 100% of the time, I would really look great.  That layer of body fat that is currently plaguing me would be gone, gone, gone.  As it is, my kids think I've flipped my lid and am a total health freak nut.  But they are young and pre-40, so they aren't thinking about this yet ~ lol!!  Remember it is a process. Take one of the things mentioned in this blog and make it your new routine.  When it becomes 2nd nature, choose another tip, and then another until you've changed your way of thinking about your "diet."

Good luck and healthy choices!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let's Talk Running ~ read even if you don't run!

Let’s talk running!!
FIRST though, I must mention something pertaining to the last blog posted.   Treadmill walkers, DO NOT HANG ON TO THE TREADMILL during the workout.  Set the speed so you can do it hands free.  Thank you.  It’s been bothering me I didn’t say that to begin with!

So, back to running.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I can’t run.”  Seriously, they just blurt out, “I can’t run.”  I’d like to change your mind today.  Back in the day, when I thought I couldn’t run, I envisioned an elite athlete doing 4.2 minute miles for great distances.  This couldn’t be further from the truth for most people.  I believe if you are moving, you are benefiting your body (no matter the pace).  Now, obviously, if you’ve had a doctor tell you DO NOT run, please follow your doctor’s advice, do not run, and skip down to my blog on walking.  But if you (and really be honest about this) think you cannot run because you’ve tried it and it is too hard, please continue reading.  The reason you believe you cannot run is because you are starting out too fast.  I can almost guarantee this is the problem.  I was 33 when I began running “officially” as an adult.  I went out to Lake Murray in beautiful La Mesa CA., and I took off like I did when I was in jr. high at about a 7.5 minute pace.  Needless to say, within 3 minutes I was gasping for air wishing I would die or get over it!!  My dear friend at the time said, “For goodness sake, SLOW DOWN!!!!  You are not being chased by a mass murderer!”  I remember thinking, "slower?  Now there’s an idea."  It never occurred to me to just slow down.  Lesson number one, when you begin your new exercise routine running, go slow.  Even if you feel weird for running so slow, stay slow or go even a little bit slower.  It turned out my 33 year old non jr. high pace was about a 10 minute mile. It is not about how fast you are going; it is about how long you can sustain your pace.  If you are a beginner, I would suggest you set a goal such as, “I am going to run for 5 minutes (slowly) and then I will walk for 1 minute” and repeat.  If you think you can do 10 minutes without stopping (and you probably can if you are going slow enough) then try that.  Do this until you can run a mile without stopping.  In no time, you will be able to run a mile.  If you do this 3 days a week, I'd say in 2 weeks you will be successful with one mile.

Now that you are off on the right foot (no pun intended ~ ha ha), let’s talk about building up your distance.  To really see the cardiovascular benefits of running, you are going to need to be able to run for more than 5 or 10 minutes, or more than just one mile.  But when you can only run one mile, thinking about running 3 is overwhelming.  When you can only run 3 miles, thinking about running 9 is overwhelming, and on and on.  So don’t allow this mental image to hold you back.  It is actually very easy to build your distance.  First, pick a day you plan to commit to running every week.  You will be running on some of the other days too, but you need a day that is your running day.  I call this my "long" run day, and I do it on Saturday mornings.  So every Saturday I add one mile to my current distance depending on what my goal is (currently I plan on running the Rock n River half marathon,13.1 miles, on May 1, 2011).  I promise you will be able to add one mile a week (again, if you are a beginner and just trying to get down one mile, keep at one mile until you can complete it without walking).  If your "long" run is 2 miles, then your mid-week runs should only be one mile.  If you are at 4 miles "long", then do a couple 2 or a 3 mile mid-week runs.  Once you get to 5 or more miles on your long run day, then mid-week do 3 or 4 miles.  Another misconception is that you have to run every day.  Not true, especially when you start to log lots of miles.  It is important that you do not do long runs back to back, and once you get up beyond 5 miles, then I suggest you take a full day off before another run.  Take a walk if you'd like, or go to the gym, but allow some recovery time.  I run two or three days (usually 2) in addition to my “long run” day.  On my mid-week ~ or "short" days ~ I only run 2 to 4 miles depending on time, weather and various other life happenings.  And sometimes, I manage to skip and entire week before my next "long" run day ~ aghast ~ yes it's true, and it's okay!!  Don't beat yourself up if this happens.  Just go out next time and hit it.  You will be able to keep training.  Please do your best not to let this happen for more than a week.  It can be discouraging if too much time elapses, and you feel like you've gone backwards.  It's happened to all of us at one time or another and it stinks.

A favorite website of mine is  It allows you to plug in an address anywhere in the world (so you can still exercise while on vacation, no excuses), and it will give you the distance of your run.  I usually plot my run before I go, so I don't have to run any longer than necessary ~ ha ha!!  This site has the regular map view, and it also has a satellite view.  Satellite comes in handy when you have walking trails and such that don't show up on the regular map view.  If you are interested in training for a half marathon (do NOT shout "no way"), a great website is  You can also find a full marathon training schedule on this site and lots of other great information on running.  I never would have dreamed when I completed my first 3 miles that I would run a full marathon.  But I did, and it felt great to set that goal and accomplish it~!

Just a few of the wonderful benefits of running:
* Weight loss ~ great way to get to ideal body weight
* Maintains bone density (very important for all women over the age of 30, yes 30!)
* Improves cardiovascular health
* Lowers blood pressure
* Helps cholesterol levels ~ raises good, lowers bad
* Increases lung capasity
* Improves coordination
* Stress relief
* Confidence ~ sense of accomplishment
* Great legs baby!!

Okay, okay... obviously I think running is an awesome and fun way to stay fit.  I want to say one last thing.  Running will help you lose body fat, and the longer you can run (even if you run slow like me), the more fat you will burn.  Think about that tummy roll you want to say goodbye too when your run is difficult.  Think about that junk in your trunk (a little junk is okay, right? I sure hope so!).  You will have great running days, and you will have days when it feels like you've never run a day in your life.  Stick with it.  Stay focused on your goal.  Remember to always have good shoes (a whole other blog, but I will spare you today) and comfortable appropriate clothing.  If you have any questions, please ask me.  I am not an expert, but I will do my best to help you along and encourage you in your goal!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Walk away to fitness!

Sometimes if you're an active person, you may tend to think walking is not enough of a challenge for your workout.  Well, I have a challenge for you!  I'd like to start by telling you I love to run.  I am not a fast runner, but I do like to go out and do 3 to 6 leisurely miles, and I am also planning on doing the Rock n River half marathon in May (13.1 miles), and my second full marathon in October (26.2 miles).  I swore I'd never do another full marathon, but it's been 10 years and I've forgotten how hard it was ~ sort of like child birth, doesn't seem as hard as it is until you're doing it!  I am also addicted to bleachers!  I love the burn and the cardio challenge of going up and down the bleachers... this topic will be in a blog dedicated to just doing bleachers sometime in the future probably when it warms up.  Back to the challenge ~ treadmill ~ incline level 10 ~ speed 3.6 ~ duration 30 minutes.  Sounds easy enough?  Sure that's what I thought too!  The original suggestion to me was actually to do 30 to 45 minutes at level 12 to 15 incline!!  I said to myself, "piece of cake."  Not so fast!  If you want to feel the burn of your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes (butt), AND sweat like a pig, do this workout!!  I was definitely challenged.  My goal is to get up to level 12 for 30 minutes then longer (then to continue to up the incline).  First off let me say 3.6 may be too fast (or too slow) for you.  On a flat treadmill, I typically walk at 4.0 speed, but I do have longer legs than someone who is only 5.2.  So I would suggest taking your regular flat walking speed ~ your very brisk walking speed ~ and tone it down about 4 or 5 tenths.  As I mentioned, I went from my 4.0 speed down 4 tenths to a 3.6 speed.  So adjust according to your leg length and also your current fitness level.  It may be necessary to start at incline level 6 or 8 rather than 10 as well (but do try to stay at 6 or above for incline).  You DO WANT this workout to last for 30 minutes.  Don't cheat on the duration ~ the key is making your cardiovascular system stronger and to burn fat!!  I promise you, you will be challenged, and you will feel the burn in those beautiful toned legs of yours (envision your goal)!! 
A few tips that help me get through a challenging cardio workout are:  DO NOT WATCH YOUR TIME!  I take my sweatshirt or towel and cover the display.  If I can see that clock ticking, or I have glanced at the time on the wall before I start, I am toast mentally!  For some reason, I get this anxiety thing going on that I won't be able to go the entire time.  So avoid watching your clock/time.  I also have to use my ipod to keep my mind on something besides how hot I am, how my legs burn, how hard I am breathing, I can't go on... etc., etc.  Personally, I love listening to a book on my ipod (downloaded for free from the public library), or my favorite music play list.  When all else is failing, and I am struggling to continue, I think of a flat tummy, or smooth thighs. Remember during your walk to keep your tummy and core tight; this will help you achieve your flatter tummy and also support your lower back.
Okay, so you don't have access to a treadmill.  I still love to take outdoor walks, particularly with my doggies.  But I find I struggle keeping up a good pace.  I am naturally a brisk walker, but for some reason I do need to concentrate on pushing my speed to keep my heart really pumping.  How do you fix this?  Find the route with the most hills!!  Even if there is only one hill, do it several times.  Depending on the size of the hill and your fitness level, do it as many times as you can then set a goal to do it one more time.  When I lived in San Diego there was a decent (but not too long) hill near my house.  My girlfriend and I walked it five mornings a week, and we did that hill 4 or 5 times consecutively.  Whew, it was quite a workout, and it helped me train for my marathon on my non running days.  You will notice rather quickly, whether on the inclined treadmill or trekking up and down your neighborhood hill, your legs will soon be slimmed and toned.  Throw this routine in your workout plans a few times a week.  Remember to mix it up so your body is frequently surprised and not expecting the same old thing!
Happy walking!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's just a number...

Confession:  I have an overwhelming urge to weigh every morning.  And truthfully it is a rare occasion that I do not weigh everyday. 
Is this a good or bad thing?  I believe it depends on how you choose to let that number affect your mood, outlook, happiness, selfworth and on and on it goes.  Sometimes that number may keep you from taking that cookie in the lunchroom.  But have you thought of this?  Maybe that number is a little lower than you expected; does that mean you may say to yourself, "oh, now I CAN have that ice cream because I was down 3lbs!" Huh?  Be honest. The number, whether higher or lower than you'd like, is really just a number after all.  The focus in truth should be health, and health includes making good food choices in spite of the number.  Do not let the scale take away from how hard you've worked and the progress you really are making whether or not the scale says so!!  Additionally, as we begin to improve our eating habits, and (hopefully) begin to move and strengthen our bodies, sometimes that number takes a while to adjust.  I find this can be very discouraging.  I still get discouraged... that is a good reason why we shouldn't be stressing over that silly number on the scale!!  Health, that is what it's about.  The rest will follow. We didn't get unhealthy, overweight and sedentary in three weeks, so we probably aren't going to get to that healthy balance in only three weeks either.  It is a life style choice, and it will take time to get there.
There is a number you should be thinking about.  The circumference of your waist.  This is not about how you look in a bikini.  This really is about your health.  As women, a waist size of over 35" can lead to weight related health issues.  Another good rule to go by is to divide your height in inches in half.  Your waist should not be larger than that number.  I am 5'6" so my waist should be smaller than 33".  So ladies, please get out your tape measure, measure above your belly button and just below your ribs, and let it hang out ~ no sucking in.  Take note of that number and set your goal to decrease that figure.  Then just forget that stupid scale, eat lots of lean protein, bright veggies, skip bad carbs (you know what they are), keep moving, get stronger, and watch your waist shrink away to a healthy place.  Keep up the good work!