Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Health Challenge: What I'm learning


Things have continued to go well for me with my health goals.  I've been fortunate to have several "aha" moments along the way - most of which I already knew but have been great as a refresher.

1. I'm thriving off of inspiration around me.
I'm someone who loves moments when I'm inspired by someone else - usually people I don't even know, such as a stranger running down my street or a trainer at the gym.  Today I was at the gym and was watching the Swimming World Championships.  As I watched these amazing, healthy athletes sprint through the water, knowing how hard they've worked to be at the event, I thought "If they can do that, then I can give the stair climber at least 20 more minutes!"

2. There's nothing wrong with a little celebrity inspiration.
The other day I was reading a book and it said that for some people, having visual reminders of in shape celebrities is proven to motivate you to meet your fitness goals.  While it may sound bogus to some people, I find that it actually works for me.  Today I was watching In Her Shoes (one of my long time favorites) and was "wow-ing" over Cameron Diaz's arms and legs.  It reminded me that sticking to my push ups and lunges is totally worth it! (Photo Source)

3. Watch the salt!
I've always been someone who retains water fairly easy.  The past few days I've had really salty dinners and it's definitely shown.  Although it's temporary, being bloated isn't fun, especially during swimsuit season :).  I've learned I'd like to be more conscientious about this part of my diet.

4.  Starting my day with a workout is really powerful.
This week my biggest celebration was that I worked out every morning - 7 days in a row.  I was proud of myself for getting out of bed to start my day with a workout, and making it a priority.  The greatest benefit from my morning workouts is that it sets the tone for my day.  I always leave my workouts feeling so happy, calm, and accomplished, and that positive energy runs through my work day, helping me better combat stress.  I also love the feeling of leaving work knowing that the evening is wide open for me to fill with any activities I'd like, without feeling the guilt or burden of getting to the gym.  It's so liberating to feel that confidence and freedom.

5.  Small routines are awesome!
This month I've stuck to what I call "small routines" - routines in small doses that are realistic, achievable, and have a nice ROI in the end.  Two examples of this have been my Monday night outdoor yoga class, and my Saturday morning run.  Saying that I want to run and do yoga 4 days per week has never worked for me and I feel disappointed in the end.  I've felt proud of myself that I've been able to stick to my routines - collectively, these healthy habits add up!

6.  Getting rid of stuff really can quiet the mind.
On my plane ride home from Minnesota last week, I read a book called The Power of Less in one sitting.  It was SO great - I'll definitely be sharing more about it later.  One of my main take-a-ways was the idea of limiting your possessions in your work and home space, and getting rid of things that don't have a strong purpose or value in your life.  I have been spending the last few days going through drawers, recycling piles of mail and magazines, and more.  The author claims that having a cleaner and less cluttered space can bring you peace and thus keep you focused on your health and other priorities.  I believe it!

What are lessons you've learned through achieving your health goals?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Health Challenge Updates: Progress made!

As promised, I am sharing updates on the Summer Health Challenge!  It's been a few weeks and some great progress has been made:

1. My fabulous friends Sarah and Anna both decided to join the challenge with me.  They are awesome and I can't wait to hear about their updates along their way.  Anna has already emailed me to see how I'm doing, share her personal goals, and ask how she can keep me accountable - awesome!

2. I've already lost 4 lbs!  It feels great to know I'm already half way to my goal. 

3.  I've made a point of being more conscious about my eating habits.  I love thinking more critically about my eating decisions and putting my health and my cleanse-focused foods first!

4.  I'm loving running and yoga.  Tonight I did outdoor yoga (pictured above) and it was fabulous.  Yoga has become my weekly Monday routine.  Mondays can often be a bit stressful and overwhelming, and I've found that by doing yoga on Monday night I am able to re-center myself and set the tone for my week.  I feel empowered!

5.  Today I decided to splurge on a pick me up (so to speak) of a new, fun gym bag.  I'd been looking for a larger, casual bag that I could just throw my gym stuff into when working out.  My old gym bag was okay, but too small when it came to fitting work clothes, workout clothes, a towel, and accessories into one space!  Of course, I picked pink as my color :)  I figure that I will be even more motivated to go to the gym!


Stay tuned for more updates!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Health Challenge 2013!


Last Summer, I announced my Summer Health Challenge - an opportunity to use the Summer months as a season to capitalize on my health.  Summer is a beautiful time in Seattle and I (naturally) spend a lot more time outside moving around.  My friends and I make nearly all our play dates outside, and I'm always craving walks, checking out new parks, and reading on lawn chairs.  I'm also less likely to make excuses, such as "it's pouring rain and now I can't go on my run." :)

I am very excited to start my Challenge this month.  In June I was pretty inconsistent with my health - I felt like I was constantly treading water without any time to stop and recharge.  I had business travels, work events, and weddings nearly every weekend since April.  I also saw a slight creeping of the scale (which is not a crisis but a mood killer for me). 

Looking ahead, I know there are so many opportunities for me in the next few months.  I don't want to take beautiful days for granted or live with any regrets.  I want to use my time more intentionally, and learn how to make myself and my overall health a much larger priority.  In short, now is the time to capitalize!

So what does my 2010 Challenge look like?  

This year's plan will use a holistic approach to my wellness by taking a critical look at specific areas of my health that I'd like to improve.  I'll also be integrating elements that are proven, instant mood boosters for me.  The goal is to not do everything perfectly, but use a well-rounded approach to my health and not neglect any key elements.  If you'd like to join me this Summer (I really hope you do!) your Challenge can be the same (or completely different) as mine, depending on what your goals are.   Here is what I have in store...



MEASUREMENTS

I am going to use two measurements as a way to assess my progress with my body:

1) The scale - I am going to weigh myself on a regular basis, and record my weight once a week (probably on Mondays).  I find that I am most successful with weight loss when I weigh myself frequently (honestly every day) because I am more likely to notice and correct for small changes right away and it keeps me super motivated.  As far as a goal goes, I am hoping to lose 8 pounds this Summer, or however long it takes me to do so in a healthy way (ex: one pound a week).  My goal weight is based off what I call my "healthy, confident weight."  This is a size I've been before, where I feel truly confident and content.

2) Body measurements - Today I am going to take my measurements (I do this for my mid and upper thighs, arms, stomach, butt, and chest).  I will probably re-take my measurements once every 3 weeks or so.  Measurements are a fantastic way to track true progress.  While the scale is important, I find that my measurements are more valuable for me, as when I'm doing regular, muscle-building exercise, I tend to lose inches faster than pounds. 


NUTRITION

To jump start my weight loss success (nutrition wise), I am going to do a 21 day cleanse.  Do not worry - my version of a cleanse is not some insane juice diet, it's just a way of ridding my system of things that make me feel crappy for an extended period of time.  My personal cleanse was inspired years ago after reading Kathy Freston's 21 day cleanse in Quantum Wellness, where she recommends eliminating 5 things:
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Gluten
  • Animal Products

You are probably thinking (like me, when I read the book), "Yeah right! Those are my favorite 5 food groups!"  My cleanse is a modified version of the above, where I try to scale back as much as possible within those 5 areas, without eliminating anything completely:

I try to cut caffeine from my diet (almost entirely) because I sleep better and feel less anxious when it's out of my system.  I try to give up all sweets minus quality, dark chocolate (when I'm needing a little treat).  As far as alcohol goes, I try to cut back in general and drink beer on occasion (beer usually makes me feel really bloated and hinders my weight loss).  For gluten, I try to focus on healthy, whole grain carbs only and ditch junk food and crappy, starchy carbs that have no nutritional value.  Lastly, for animal products, I try to eliminate most animal products minus eggs, fish, and cheese (in moderation, on salads).   

The results?  In the past I have always lost at least 5 lbs during a cleanse and been able to keep the weight off for a long time.  It feels so good to "re-train" your body to know what it feels like to put good, healthy things into it, and conversely know how you feel when you re-introduce the old crappy stuff.  Moving forward, I'm a lot more careful and aware of what I consume.  In addition, I sleep better, have a steadier mood, and my skin looks great!

The other nutritional effort I'm going to make is going grocery shopping regularly so I can stock my fridge and pantry with lots of healthy options, and cook healthy meals and bring my lunch to work more often.  A win win for my wallet and waistline!


EXERCISE

My general plan with exercise is to simply keep my body moving whenever I can, whether that's going for a run, taking the stairs, or doing abs during commercial breaks.  I am a firm believer that the little things DO add up!  However, in particular, I hope to prioritize the following:

1. Yoga, Yoga, Yoga!
I've always said that when I look back at the my life and the times when I was the happiest and healthiest, I was doing yoga regularly.  Yoga is immensely helpful for my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being.  Since yoga helps me maintain my calm during the week, I am also more likely to make healthy decisions.  In addition to going to class, I also have gotten into a habit of stretching at home.  Having a yoga mat in the middle of my living room is a great visual reminder!

2. Running
Running is something I have a (sort of) love hate relationship with.  I can't think of one time I've ever regretted going for a run.  Like yoga, when I'm running regularly, I am always the happiest and in the best shape ever.  Yet, I somehow manage to convince myself out of running fairly often.  I think it's because it takes a lot of energy and if you get out of the habit of running, it's a pretty big struggle when you start back up again.  Lately I've been running on the weekends at Discovery Park, which is my favorite place in the city.  My hope with running this Summer is that I can keep it simple but consistent, such as going for one run a week.  Here are 6 reasons to start running that I found pretty convincing!

3. Strength and Interval Training
I don't plan on doing a rigorous weight training program this Summer, but I certainly hope to add strength training to my weekly routine whenever I can, since it's so important for our health.  I plan to try a few of my gym classes that integrate strength training and/or interval training.  I've also been enjoying running stairs lately, as an added cardio and toning bonus.

SLEEP

I simply need to make sleep a priority.  I've been doing a much better job of getting to bed earlier in recent weeks, and can already tell the difference.  When I don't get enough sleep, I am more likely to feel fatigued and make poor eating and exercise choices - there's really a ripple effect.  Hopefully I can stick to it!

OTHER HEALTHY EFFORTS!
  • Journaling and Blogging - these practices make me happy, so I hope to keep up with them regularly!
  • Reading - Like last Summer, I'm hoping to read a few great health and wellness books this Summer as a way to keep myself centered on my goals.  I'm currently reading The Places that Scare You, which was recommended to me by my friend Shawna.  I'll still be blogging about Slim for Life and using Jillian's book as a guiding post for my health this Summer.
  • Spend time with happy friends!  When things get busy, we sometimes forget how helpful it is to spend time with our friends that make us happy.  We also have friends that can be energy zappers that don't always make us feel good inside.  My plan is to schedule time with friends of mine who I have positive energy around - who understand me, make me laugh, and support me with my goals. 

HOLDING MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE

I am going to blog about my progress with the Summer Health Challenge here, and report my results at the end of the Summer.  I will also identify an accountability buddy who I can reach out to and who can encourage me.

I hope you will consider joining me in committing to your health this Summer, whatever that might look like for you.  It could be as simple as spending time outside, getting more sleep, or trying a new and healthy recipe once a week.  Please keep in touch!