Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

“Help! My Motivation Is Missing – How Can I Get It Back?”

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Getting your motivation back couldn’t be easier.

It’s simply a matter of “choosing between what you want NOW, and what you want MOST.”

Do you believe that?

I read that quote recently, somewhere, but since I can’t remember where, I’m unable to give the author credit.

Anyway, I get it.

Yet even if you get it, too, you may be hard pressed to believe it’s that easy, or actually put it into practice. Especially now, when we’re well into 2016, and all of those intentions made eight or so weeks ago are gone.

Here are three ideas to get you back on track.

  1. Identify what you want most, more than anything, when you think about your long-term health. Is it. . .
  • Permanent weight loss?
  • Eradication, avoidance, or management of disease?
  • Taking no or minimal medications?
  • Aging strong – the ability to do anything, anytime, anywhere?

Whatever “it” is that you want most, that’s your decision driver.

  • Do you want the extra cookie or your clothes to fit better?
  • Do you want to stay up an extra hour or be able to get up and exercise?
  • Do you want to load up on sugar, fat, salt, and preservatives, or eat to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence?

You decide what you want most. You act with intention. You get the outcome you want most.

  1. Create a “Jar of Awesome!”

Awesome Jar

Jar of Goodness 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wrote in my January enewsletter about the “Jar of Awesome”. Essentially, take a jar (a BIG one), label/decorate it with “Jar of Awesome” – or something close – on the outside. For the remainder of 2016, every time you do something awesome for your health, fitness, or nutrition – write it down on a slip of paper and feed it to the jar. At the end of each month (or the year, if you can wait that long), dump out the contents and review all of your awesome accomplishments. Bam! Instant motivator.

3. Use a visible tool that speaks to YOU and works for YOU.

Donna Calendar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my clients came to the studio last week with this calendar. She fills out a sheet for each week, recording all of the actions done to support improvement in the areas of her life she’s working on: exercise, meals, balance, blood sugar testing. She found this calendar at Walgreen’s, for heaven’s sake! It’s not fancy, it’s not expensive, it’s not high-tech. . .but she knew it would work for her, because it spoke to her through its simplicity.

And there you have it. Three ideas to help you in “choosing between what you want NOW, and what you want MOST.”

I hope this helps – let me know if and how. I’d love to know about your successes!

P.S. Did you enjoy this post? If so, please share on social media! [Follow me: Twitter @cathylemanrd]

 

 

(w)Ringing Excuses Out Of The Old Year, And Leaving Them Behind.

Friday, January 1st, 2016

As I write this missive in anticipation of the final day of 2015, I’m recalling the multitude of reasons people have shared with me throughout the year as to why they don’t take better care of themselves.

The litany of “yes but’s”, “if only’s”, and “I can’t’s” littering the previous 12 months is enough to goad any mere mortal doing my job into throwing up her hands in an act of despair and surrender.

Fortunately, I’m no mere mortal – or so I like to think.

My unwavering personal and professional belief is that every person has the ability to elevate their health from any level; and because I’ve seen it demonstrated time and again, I can say with 100 percent confidence and conviction that excuses be damned, it’s never too late to care!

I’ve had the inordinate privilege of walking the path of improved health and wellness with so many clients this past year, helping them slay excuses left and right, and I feel incredibly grateful for the lessons they’ve taught ME along the way.

Like, for example, the “Turkey Pan Process.”

One of my newer personal training clients told me about encouraging a friend who is considering engaging the services of a fitness professional (a friend who has long struggled with his weight, fitness and health) to work with someone who will hold him accountable and call him out on his excuses – something she feels is absolutely essential (and one of the main reasons she’s working with US) when undertaking the “turkey pan process.”

Which is this.

Say you’ve prepared a gorgeous turkey for your holiday meal, a turkey enjoyed immensely by all in attendance, a turkey designated “the best ever.” Yet once the festivities are over and you’re faced with the dregs of turkey cookery, are you thinking about how delicious that turkey was? Of course not!

You’re face-to-face with a cold roasting pan full of cold turkey juice. Blobs of grease. A layer of fat.
Charred turkey bits. In effect, your pan is A DISGUSTING MESS!

The mere thought of cleaning it is enough to make you want to toss the pan and simply purchase a replacement. But because it’s a family heirloom, something that HOLDS VALUE, no way could you do that. So you begin to clean.

You dump out the juice, scrape out the grease and the fat, dislodge the charred turkey bits. And as you begin to make your way through the sludge, you see it – a small, shiny twinkle of that beautiful heirloom roasting pan, winking at you through the diminishing turkey sludge, and it encourages you to keep scrubbing and cleaning and scraping, because in the end, what are you left with?

A shiny, sparkly, beautiful roasting pan that you take pride in tucking away until the next big turkey roasting occasion.

And as my client shared, to her, that’s what it’s like when starting back on the path to health. You have to dig and scrape and work your way through the sludge of an unhealthy body, scrubbing and cleaning until you begin to find that shiny bit of healthy – at which point you’re encouraged to KEEP GOING.

And finding that shiny bit of healthy doesn’t take that long, really, once you get over the hurdle of JUST STARTING.

However, if you let that myriad of excuses take over and lead the way, you don’t clean the roasting pan, and you’re unable to appreciate the beauty and value that pan brings to you and those gathered around your holiday table.

Think about that.

Is the value and beauty a HEALTHY YOU brings to the world buried in sludge?

As 2015 fades into a memory, I encourage you to skip the short-lived resolutions and instead, START THE “TURKEY PAN PROCESS”.

If one (or more) of these sounds like you, get out that scrub brush!
* Yes I could go for a walk, but I’m so out of shape.
* If only I had more time, I would cook.
* What’s the point in exercising and eating better, something’s going get me.
* I can’t exercise because I have a bad knee (ankle, elbow, wrist, etc.).
* I have to grab my breakfast where I get my coffee, I have no time in the morning to eat.

WISHING YOU A HAPPY, HEALTHY, SHINY 2016!

PUT MORE PLANTS ON YOUR PLATE.

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

It’s true I’m on a tirade against Pink Ribbons, but since I don’t envision them abating anytime soon, I’ve had a flash of insight as to where I feel they’d be most effective.

Wrapped around an enormous box of produce.

And that box of produce would be delivered to the front door of every person on the planet.

Indeed, fruits and vegetables are that powerful. For both protection against and as an aid in reducing the risk of recurrence of breast cancer, research continues to show the benefit of adding more phytochemicals to our diet. Where to find them? Produce!

According to Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a global perspective, a report produced by the World Cancer Research Fund together with the American Institute for Cancer Research; “evidence shows that most diets that are protective against cancer are mainly made up from foods of plant origin.” http://www.wcrf.org/int/research-we-fund/cancer-prevention-recommendations/plant-foods

That doesn’t mean you need to adopt a completely vegan or vegetarian diet, it simply means PUT MORE PLANTS ON YOUR PLATE.

Here’s how: fill 2/3 of your plate with non-starchy fruits and veggies, the remainder with lean protein (plant or animal-based) and complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, farro, etc.).

One way to get a jump on your daily intake is with the ubiquitous smoothie. While there are literally thousands of recipes on line, certainly enough to stress you out deciding which is “the best (read, healthiest) one”, trust me, the absolute best one you can choose to make is the one that you enjoy!

Six days per week I use my trusty Vitamix to whip up a smoothie. I like to include two fruits (I use dates (for sweetness) plus frozen blueberries or banana – and sometimes all three – crazy!), a large organic carrot, and a couple of handfuls of frozen kale (I buy Trader Joe’s pre-washed fresh and throw it in the freezer). This morning my supply of blueberries had dried up, presenting the perfect opportunity to add cocoa (3 tablespoons) and peanut butter (well, not exactly peanut butter, but certainly the flavor) to that lonely banana. It was soooo good.

SmoothieIngredients1SmoothieIngredients2Aim for AT LEAST 5 servings (1/2 – 1 cup = 1 serving) per day of a combo of fruit and veggies – but don’t be afraid to go OVER that number. Seriously.

Creating an environment INSIDE your body that is less hospitable to cancer is easy to do, completely free of side effects, and delicious.

Let’s wrap a pink ribbon around THAT.

I welcome your comments, and if you found this post helpful, please share!

P.S. Follow me on my new twitter account: @cathylemanrd

 

SEEING PINK? IT MUST BE OCTOBER.

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Oct 1 sunrise

Welcome to October.

31 days of drowning in countless shades of pink while enduring a seemingly inescapable barrage of awareness messages.

You know what I’m talking about.

Some of you have heard this from me on countless occasions, but for the uninitiated, I’ll go on record.

We don’t need more pink anything (I hate pink, btw).

We don’t need more awareness.

We do need actionable behaviors aimed at prevention.

I’ve made it my mission to blog for the entire month of October about the power of nutrition and fitness in fighting the breast cancer beast.

Let’s begin with a question, shall we?

What if we could reduce the incidence of breast cancer from one in eight women to one in eight hundred women through the use of proven preventive lifestyle behaviors, and then, at the time of diagnosis, connect those women to a nutrition and fitness expert who would create programs designed to support their individual treatment plan to encourage optimal treatment outcomes, strong recovery, and reduced risk of recurrence?

 

“3 Reasons to Elevate Your Health”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

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I’ve recently fallen in love with the word “elevate”.

Definition: “To lift up, to increase the level of, to make higher”.

It’s not that I just learned the word so it holds new-word novelty making me want to say it over and over and over; that word would be onomatopoeia, which I learned at a recent Toastmaster’s meeting and truly can’t stop saying.

It’s simply that I’ve realized how perfectly “elevate” fits with the work that I do – and it has me a little giddy.

I help people elevate their health.

Which isn’t as easy as it may sound. You see, people must be READY to want their health actually elevated. And that’s not always the case.

Some people need to be convinced that it’s a good idea to take care of themselves.

Those aren’t the clients I work with.

I’m known for saying, “I don’t want to convince you to look after your health – but I do want to help you once you’ve decided that you value your health AND that your health (and you) is worth valuing”.

That’s where the magic happens. When people come to the realization that their health IS PRECIOUS and they’re ready to do whatever it takes get and stay healthy – look. out.

So if you’re on the fence – not really sure if taking better care of yourself is worth it or not – here are 3 strongly compelling reasons why you may just want to say yes.

  1. You’ll stay out of health debt. We all know we must stay out of debt in order to stay financially fit. You know, money in the bank, zero balance on the credit cards, contribute to the retirement fund, spend less than we earn. All sound advice. And easily applicable to health. When you sock away health riches, you simply have a bigger reserve to draw from when (and believe me, we ALL have a when) you need it, thus keeping yourself out of health debt. Your energy, vitality, stamina, strength, reserve, and your ability to recover and withstand medical treatments all hinge on how nutritionally and physically healthy you are.
  • Tweak your diet to be sure you’re fueling versus filling.
  • Exercise weekly for at least the recommended 150 minutes.
  1. You’ll stop bouncing in and out of exercise and weight loss programs. When you do something drastic, such as an extreme (or even not-so-extreme) diet and fitness program, you will not be able to maintain that level of deprivation and restriction long-term. So you stop and then you start. Again. Over and over and over. If you’re not following a nutrition and fitness program that SUPPORTS vs. RULES your lifestyle, you’ll continue to yo-yo. And that means you won’t make progress, and you won’t keep yourself out of health debt.
  • Focus on what you can shave or swap from your current diet versus focusing on what you need to completely eliminate or avoid.
  • Find an exercise that you LOVE (yes, walking counts) and do THAT. Not a runner? Don’t run. Hate swimming? Don’t swim. Seriously.
  1. Your body will respond in kind. You know how when you forget to water your summer flower pots they seem to wilt before your eyes? The vibrancy of the petals is dulled, the leaves begin to crinkle, the stems lose their perk. What happens when you finally give them a big, healthy drink of water? They perk back up right before your eyes, gifting you with the joy of color, vibrancy and vitality. Same thing happens with your body. Give it what it needs on a regular basis and you will be rewarded with vibrancy and vitality – which makes you want to keep giving yourself what you actually need, which helps you stop bouncing in and out of extreme exercise and weight loss programs, which in turn feeds your health bank account and prevents health debt. See? Magic.
  • Remember to eat every 3-4 hours.
  • Move your body in physical activity every, single day.

“Keeping Your Fitness Edge As You Age”

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

At my personal training studio, we cater to the 40+ age group crowd. Yep, that’s our demographic and WE LOVE THEM!

If you’ve hit this milestone yourself, you may have noticed that the benefits you want from a workout have shifted pretty dramatically from simply losing weight and getting toned (not that it’s all THAT simple!) to any or all of the following:

  •  You want to FEEL better.
  •  You want to IMPROVE your balance.
  • You want RELIEF from low back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain.
  • You had a HEALTH SCARE and want to do all you can to position yourself to be physically and mentally STRONG, for whatever lies ahead.

These are all great motivators to get moving, yet now that you’re in that demographic group that we love, perhaps you’re wondering why it’s a little bit more difficult to actually do that.

A recent article on “Why Athletic Performance Declines As You Age” http://mashable.com/2015/07/07/aging-athletic-performance/ does a great job highlighting age-related changes and the body’s response to fitness. For example, as we age, our bodies don’t use oxygen as effectively, we experience age-related skeletal muscle limitations, and recovery following a workout can take longer.

But don’t you dare use this information as an excuse to sit on the sofa!

Here’s how you can actually keep your edge without going over it:

  • Train smarter, not harder.
  • Improve your sleep habits.
  • Plan your workouts for variety and recovery.
  • Actually take time to recover.
  • Add yoga and weightlifting as a way to cross train and maintain muscle mass and flexibility.
  • Engage in “active recovery”; i.e. swim or do an easy run on your days off.
  • Keep moving “outside” of your workout, hint, “Take the stairs!”

Hotel Stairs HIEP

“A Lunchtime Tale of Love, Hate, and Obsession”

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

It happens every, single, workday, Monday through Friday. LUNCH.

I LOVE lunch, especially the lunches I make for myself (nutritious, delicious, and FREE!). I’m definitely not a lunch skipper; I’ve got to be on top of my mental game for afternoon clients, meetings or speaking events. Low energy and blood sugar, and foggy, sluggish thinking don’t allow me to do my best work, and that’s a disservice to anyone who entrusts their health and wellbeing to me.

What I’m definitely NOT a fan of, however, is actually making my nutritious, delicious, free lunch every, single, day. Truth be told, I hate it. When I get home from my office, I only want to decompress, eat dinner, and spend a little time with my husband before heading off to my crazy-early bedtime. See? No space for lunch making.

With no private chef or housekeeper to make my noon meal, I had to get creative to solve my love/hate relationship with lunch. Here’s what I came up with; prep once, eat 5 times.

The solution is pure genius, and involves three of my obsessions. I’ve outlined my approach below – I’m certain it will work for you, too.

Obsession #1 – I’ve become obsessed with Snapware® http://snapware.com/, the GLASS version. I use two large rectangular containers,

IMG_1454

and on Sunday I pack them FULL of salad fixings. I haven’t measured the volume (the volume indicated on the bottom is in milliliters, which doesn’t translate well to cups of veggies), but I would say they easily hold 4-5 cups of chopped veggies. These two containers provide five generous salads, which means I only have to do all of that chopping ONCE!

Obsession #2 – A wide variety of fresh, “heavy-hitter” vegetables. I don’t want a salad that’s wimpy on quality nutrition, nor one that’s “just lettuce” – I’d be STARVING within 20 minutes of polishing it off!  Here’s a sample of what I typically include:

  • Carrots
  • Red or green onion
  • Fresh kale or spinach
  • Red pepper
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Red cabbage

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I top each salad with a sprinkle of raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and raisins. Heaven!

Obsession #3 – Homemade salad dressing, which is ALWAYS tastier (and better for you), than store-bought. I have a few I rotate through, but here’s my current fav; http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-miso-tahini-dressing-172942 (I use white miso). I make enough for the entire week – if there’s any left over, I take it home and use it up over the weekend.

What rounds out the meal is a good protein source, so I’ll add a week’s worth of hummus or bean-based soup. I also bring five pieces of fruit (typically oranges and apples), which serves as a sweet finish to my feast.

I also keep crackers and raw almonds stashed at the office; the crackers serve as a crunchy accompaniment to my salad, and the almonds are a satisfying side to my fruit.

Bring it ALL in on Monday, and essentially, you’re set for the week. So there you have it! My secret weapon in managing my love/hate lunch relationship. Pure genius.

“My VARI Happy Body”

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

I hate to sit.

If I could walk or run to every destination, every day, and only stand once I arrived, I’d be thrilled. Unfortunately time, distance, inclement weather, and the potential for countless awkward situations doesn’t allow that.

It turns out that sitting is a terrific thing to hate, because in case you haven’t heard, sitting has recently been labeled “The New Smoking”. http://www.runnersworld.com/health/sitting-is-the-new-smoking-even-for-runners.

I don’t know about you, but anything that keeps me chair-bound; extended periods of writing, responding to emails, etc., makes me feel awful. My energy slumps, my lower back tightens and stiffens, and it feels like all the benefits of my morning workout are draining away.

So I’m launching my own “campaign against sitting”, and kicked it off by purchasing the office tool I’ve been dying to own; a “VARIDESK”.

VARIDESK4

I’ve tried a number of different ways in the past to raise my computer in order to be able to stand and work – none of them were safe, none of them worked.

Luckily, the VARIDESK is both safe and effective. A height adjustable standing riser that comes already assembled, the VARIDESK sits on top of your existing desk and allows you to move from sitting to standing quickly and easily. I’ve used the VARIDESK for three days now, and haven’t sat in front of my computer once. When I did sit down, it was to actually hand-write something, but even that could be done on the keyboard support. I’m doing a lot of computer writing this week, so it’s the perfect time to really give it a good test drive.

VARIDESK3 VariDesk1

The positive? I don’t feel as fatigued at the end of the day, and my back and hips are less tight – I just feel more alive throughout the day, like all systems are GO! The negative? In order for my monitor to be at the correct height while I’m standing, I had to elevate it – see my book pile in the photo – which then requires adjusting the books if I sit down. But since I only sat down to work at my desk, not on my computer, that hasn’t been an issue, yet I could see how switching from standing to sitting frequently could cause it to be.

And finally, standing for long periods of time requires paying attention to posture – I’m learning how to stand without swaying toward the keyboard – but that’s simply awareness.

So there you have it. The declaration of my “campaign against sitting” is official – and I’m vari, vari happy to participate in the movement! STAND UP and join me, won’t you?

“Francene In The Kitchen!”

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

If you follow my NutriFit blogs and Facebook postings regularly, the declaration below will come as no surprise, as I unfailing lend my voice to the cause for cooking. For those of you new to my work, please join me in this most important cause!

“I believe everyone can benefit from preparing more home cooked meals and snacks.”

There, I said it.

And I said it knowing full well that:

  1. not everyone likes to cook
  2. not everyone knows HOW to cook
  3. not everyone is interested in learning to like or how to cook

Before you list all the reasons why more cooking will never happen in YOUR kitchen, let me clarify.

I’m not suggesting you spend ALL your time preparing home cooked meals, nor preparing every dish from scratch. I’m simply advocating for devoting MORE time to a practice that gives you more control over the nutritional content and overall healthfulness of the food you eat – two benefits that support efforts to eat better – and who doesn’t want THAT?

And while some of the latest “fad” recommendations for achieving a healthy lifestyle call for herculean efforts (often discouraging a person from even starting), a gentle nudge to spend a little more time in the kitchen feels attainable to the most rudimentary cooks.

To further encourage you, I’d like to share what one of my clients is discovering in her quest to cook at home more often.

First, a little background.

As a rule, Francene (permission granted to use her real name) and her husband eat their main meal at a restaurant – pretty much every, single day. Francene is a beginner cook, intimidated by meal preparation, and lacks confidence in her culinary skills – not the best skill set for retreating to the kitchen and whipping up a quick meal.

Through nutrition sessions based on education, encouragement and guidance to start small, Francene became determined to give cooking a try. As it turns out, she did more than merely try.

When we met following the Thanksgiving holiday, Francene shared the lineup of dishes she’d prepared over the long weekend, and completely blew me away. She prepared not one experimental dish – but five – and brought photos of her masterpieces to share (spaghetti photo missing, as is the cauliflower and sweet potato sides that accompanied the roasted chicken before it became soup).

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“Perky Salads!”

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“Pork Roast”

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“Roasted Veggies”

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“Chicken Noodle Soup”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Francene googled “beginner cook” recipes, and after finding several that looked appealing and called for familiar ingredients, she set to work simply following the directions – drawing on inspiration and encouragement provided during our nutrition sessions. How amazing is THAT?

At our meeting this week, Francene reported that she and her husband have eaten out only once in two weeks; which made me curious to learn what benefits she’s recognized from “eating in”.

  1. More time. It takes them ~2 hours to drive to a restaurant, order, wait for their food, eat, and drive home. That is NOT an unreasonable estimate, either.
  2. More energy. Says Francene, “It’s “tiring” to put the energy into going out; getting dressed and presentable,” vs. simply sitting down to the kitchen table.”

I hope Francene’s story has inspired you. Hopefully you see that home cooking doesn’t have to be elaborate, just simple, homey and nourishing – the best cooking there is.

So what are you waiting for? Get in that kitchen, and cook for a cause – your health. There’s none better!

 

2014 Holiday Season’s Eating & Exercise Challenge #1

Monday, December 1st, 2014

HolidayCheer

 

 

 

I tend to think of Thanksgiving as eating and exercise preparedness for the remainder of the holiday season, which typically wraps up (or hits a fever pitch) somewhere around New Year’s Eve. In other words, it sets the tone for the next five weeks.

Yep, we’re five Monday’s and four weekends away from 2015, unless you push your requisite January resolution off to Monday the 5th (January 1 lands on a Thursday), in which case you just bought yourself an extra weekend.

How did you manage the long Thanksgiving holiday? Did you stick as closely as you could to your typical exercise routine, or abandon it completely? Did you enjoy your favorite holiday foods and bypass those that weren’t appealing, or eat anything and everything simply in the spirit of Thanksgiving excess?

There’s a saying I’m quite fond of, “How you do anything, is how you do everything”.

I think it’s especially spot on when you apply it to eating and exercise. Consider the following. . .

If, regardless of what’s happening in your life you consistently do everything you can to take care of yourself – eat well, exercise regularly, get adequate rest and manage your stress – you’re likely to follow those practices week in and week out. A holiday (or string of them), vacation, tight work deadlines, sick kids or parents will simply present themselves as slices of your day to schedule your self-care around.

Conversely, if you eat well and exercise only when you’re dieting, trying to be healthier, or your schedule allows, you’ll repeatedly drag yourself out of an extended food and inactivity coma and fail to reach the level of consistency that confers vibrant good health and a strong, fit body.

My challenge (the first of several) to you as the holiday season heats up? Identify one thing, nutrition or fitness-wise, that you can do every day for the next week – then do that one thing, every day for the next week.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Eat 2 cups of vegetables.
  2. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier.
  3. Do 10 minutes of stretching.
  4. Eat out one less day than usual.

 

“Turkey Trotting”

Monday, November 17th, 2014

TurkeyTrotI can’t help it.

The holiday season is bearing down on us, and I simply have to write about the importance of keeping fitness top of mind.

Since Thanksgiving is first up in the holiday queue, let’s talk turkey trots, shall we? Specifically, let’s dispel the myths surrounding turkey trot events.

Before we get started, let me clarify.

A turkey trot is not a dance, an alcoholic beverage (that would be turkey “shot”), or code for a gastrointestinal problem of the genus meleagris.

But you know this, right? A turkey trot is a Thanksgiving Day (or somewhere close to it) run/walk event of varying distance. Come on, you know you want to do one, so read on and let me encourage you to actually sign up.

MYTHS

  • You must be an expert runner to participate.
  • You must be in tip top shape to participate.
  • You must wear a turkey outfit in order to participate.
  • Participating in a turkey trot negates every bite you put in your mouth at Thanksgiving dinner.

I’ll dispel these one by one.

  1. It’s perfectly acceptable to WALK a turkey trot. In fact, many races have both runner and walker registration. Likewise, it’s just as acceptable to “sorta” run a turkey trot. You can be a beginner, a weekend warrior, a runner “wannabe”. Just listen to your body so you don’t overdo it and injure yourself. Spending Thanksgiving at the urgent care may cause you to miss the pumpkin pie – and that’s just wrong.
  2. If you’ve spent the majority of your time since mid-August on the sofa, of course you’re not going to be super fit, but you’re at least willing to participate – and that’s fabulous! However, you may want to keep your enthusiasm in check, because now isn’t the best time to get caught up in the crowd frenzy and go for a PR. You want to feel accomplished and energized when you cross the finish line, not beat up and defeated.
  3. For some, turkey trotting in a turkey outfit is de rigueur, but when making your own decision, here are a couple of things to consider. Turkey outfits look toasty warm – a plus if the temperature is sliding south, not so great if it’s a mild day. They also look really cumbersome, and personally, I like unencumbered running. A “beakless” hat (easier to shove in your pocket if you overheat), plenty of layers, and a pair of gloves are both warm and practical. But hey, who ever said this event is about practicality? It could be rather fun to dress like a turkey. Just remember to not ACT like one, okay?
  4. This is perhaps the BIGGEST myth of all. You would have to run a ridiculously long turkey trot in order to cancel out every calorie from your delicious, once-per-year special meal. And even considering doing so begs the question – why? Run the turkey trot because you want to have fun, get some exercise and fresh air, and start (or uphold) a holiday tradition. Then join friends and family, enjoy their company and the revelry, and count your blessings. The BEST part of Thanksgiving Day.

 

Want To Reach Your Goal? ‘P’ On It.

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

2014 Half Mara1On September 7 I ran the Chicago Half Marathon, my fourth 13.1 mile race. In 2011 I ran my first Chicago half, and in 2013, due to an odd set of circumstances, I ran two; Chicago, as well as the Christie Clinic Half in Champaign, IL.

My hope is that in sharing a bit of my 2014 race journey here, you’ll find INSPIRATION to set and reach your own health goals – by ‘P’ing on them.

‘P’ersistence pays off, perfection doesn’t exist.

My goal – Three training runs per week; 3-5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, and a long run (distance determined by where I was in my training schedule) on Saturday or Sunday.

My reality – Some weeks those Tuesday and Thursday runs wouldn’t budge above 3 miles, as my work (or sleep) schedule left too little time to get in the full distance I aimed for.

‘P’ on it – Even on days when I knew my actual run would fall short of my goal, I ran. The P’ersistence and consistency of running week in and week out, regardless of the distance, is what continually moved me forward.

‘P’erspective determines outcome.

My goal – Head into each run feeling rested, strong and prepared to do the distance required.

My reality – On Sunday, July 6, 2014 my scheduled run was 9 miles. Two days earlier I’d run the Glen Ellyn “Freedom Four” 4 mile race – a hilly course that I look forward to every year. I ran it fast. Thanks to perfect weather and consistent training, I felt strong, the run felt effortless. Fast forward 48 hours to Sunday, where my run followed the beautiful Chicago lakefront. I HATED every, single, step. I never felt rested, I didn’t feel strong, and I slogged agonizingly through all 9 miles.

‘P’ on it – I could have quit, feeling like I wasn’t making progress, but that was simply my perspective, not the reality. In truth, I needed more recovery time, but I was tied to my training schedule and not listening to my body. Changing my ‘P’erspective reminded me there was a valid reason for my tortuous experience, which in the end I found strangely comforting.

Create “I’m ‘P’ossible” out of impossible.

My goal – Run 13.1 miles in under 2:20.

My reality – 13 miles is a LONG distance. The next time you drive 13 miles, pay attention to just how far it is! If before I signed up for my first half marathon I’d focused only on the total distance, I could easily have second guessed my ability. But I’d already run a 10 mile race that same year (what’s 3 more miles?!), and lots of people – including people I actually knew – ran 13 miles. Having a frame of reference helped.

‘P’ on it – I created “I’m ‘P’ossible” out of impossible. By taking an objective look, breaking the race down in my mind to one, single mile at a time, and consistently adding bit by bit each week, I knew I could do it – and that the timing would take care of itself.

 

 

 

“Travelling Without Unravelling Healthy Eating Habits”

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Out of all the reasons why I adore my clients, the fact that they are an adventurous bunch tops the list.

Whether for business or pleasure, they frequently hit the road chasing adventure and collecting new experiences. The downside? They’re inevitably thrown off their “healthy eating” game.

In my experience, there are three reasons for this:

  1. Limited access to healthier options.
  2. Out of their typical routine.
  3. Adopting an “I’m on vacation” or “What the he#%” mindset.

Being fresh off an end of summer get-away myself, I’ve shared a few of my away-from-home dining experiences, as well as tips for countering the issues listed above. Pack these ideas the next time you’re travelling – and wrap up your trip feeling as great as when you headed out.

Mine was absolutely a pleasure trip; destination, Breckenridge, CO. I was delighted to learn that locating restaurants with healthy options wasn’t nearly as challenging as I thought it might be, although my travelling companion and I had to be menu sleuths and actively seek them out. The operative word being “seek”, which leads me to my first tip.

___________________

Tip #1 – For options that fit your idea of healthy, you must do your homework. Read menus on-line, printed copies posted outside the actual restaurant, and peruse local restaurant guides for specific offerings. If you don’t see options that work with the way you want to eat, rather than compromise – keep looking!

Relish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first night in town, oxygen-deprived, peckish, and en route to an Asian restaurant, we stumbled upon “Relish” http://www.relishbreckenridge.com/, a local spot featuring Colorado inspired cuisine. The posted menu listed options too intriguing to pass up, so we scrapped the Asian plan. We will be forever grateful for that split-second decision.

Quinoa, marinated and grilled Portobello mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and yellow squash “pasta” atop an ample portion of garlicky chimichurri  – an Argentinian sauce – was not only an original blending of textures and flavor, but gorgeous to look at (we eat with our eyes first!).

Relish2

As for the starter, a salad of pea shoot leaves and tomatoes topped with fava bean puree, I couldn’t think of a better choice.

Paired with a spectacular glass of red wine, this was a very fine meal indeed with which to kick off our week – and it fit all of my specs for a healthy, “real-food” meal.

_________________________

Tip #2 – You’re already out of your typical routine, so if a “must-try” restaurant offers options that meet your food specs, but not your dining “clock-time” preferences, move them around! Confused? Read example below:

Warming Hut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Warming Hut” http://www.thewarminghutrestaurant.com/ completely warmed my heart (and palate). While we weren’t interested in the dinner menu options (reference Tip #2), the lunch menu, with its house-made Edamame and Quinoa Burger – sorry, forgot to snap a pic – got my attention. We visited this darling place at lunchtime on our last day, where upon our arrival we were met with such a packed restaurant, we decided to eat at the bar – always fun.

Not only was the burger delicious, the sweet potato fries accompanying it (of which I’m normally not a fan – not because they’re fried, rather, I prefer my fries “unsweet”) were impossible not to love – nor to stop eating until not a single one was left.

The best ending to this meal wasn’t even dessert, but the opportunity to meet and chat with the restaurant’s owner, Stacey – she warmed my heart, too.

______________________________

Tip #3 – Yes, you’re on vacation (or an expense account), but I’m pretty sure that it’s not as if you NEVER eat out. Eating out, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks is no longer an occasional indulgence, so treat vacation restaurant dining – and choices – like you would at home (except at home no one hands you a menu, I know). Be selective, make choices based on hunger level vs. your eyeballs, and save splurges (see “sweet potato fries” above) for a couple of occasions during your trip rather than daily – or more.

RootDown3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Airports may be the last place where hungry, health-minded travelers can expect to get a decent meal, but Denver International, and “RootDown DIA” http://flydenver.com/fooddetails?URI=tcm:8-645in particular, is hell-bent on changing that.

I swear this restaurant was created with me in mind;At Root Down we pride ourselves on striving to solve the ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma.’ We have created a dining spot where all dietary needs will be accommodated, including vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten free. . .”

See what I mean? If you know me, you totally get it.

Spied by my trusty travelling companion on the return leg of our trip (hint: Concourse C), this island of culinary treasures was a jewel in a sea of the same old chain restaurants. We were promptly and oh-so-courteously seated by superbly-trained staff, just after returning our rental car. . .at 8:50 a.m.

Like my predilection for “un-sweet” fries, I’m not always in the mood for a sweet breakfast, so the edamame hummus platter simply screamed “Order ME!”  If this choice strikes you as odd, I can assure you, hummus for breakfast is absolutely delicious – smeared atop a whole wheat English muffin, it happens to be one of my standard at-home favs.

RootDown2

Paired with Medjool dates, real, not canned olives, nan bread, arugula salad that I swiped from my travelling companion, and a killer cup of coffee (with soy milk, no less) this meal made me happy, happy, happy.

 RootDown1

So there you have it – a handful of ideas to help prevent you from throwing in the healthy towel crying, “What the he#%, give me the _________________________” (fill in with your favorite less-healthy menu choice).

 

If you stay focused on your goal – to arrive home feeling as good as you did when you left (if not better!), it truly can happen. . .deliciously.

 

Wishing you happy, safe, delectable travels.

 

“Irony Screaming in a Forest of Sugar-Sprinkled Trees”

Monday, July 28th, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-sugar-image18751962

 

Recently I attended an event where I chatted with a woman who (once she learned I was a dietitian) began lamenting the fact that she eats too much sugar, and sugar, as in “really, I should work on cutting it out of my diet”, became her sole conversational focus.

I could tell she was just getting warmed up when a distraction came along that abruptly ended her continuing to share how awful it (actually eating too much sugar) was for her, and I went on to mingle about elsewhere.

I’ve come to accept (and 100% expect) that once people learn what I do for a living – trust me, I’ve considered lying – the question inquiring which is the best diet, true confessions about junk food consumption, and general comments trending toward “I bet you never eat _____________ (fill in with your favorite demonized food)” are simply as common as conversations about the weather.

Now, I don’t doubt this woman truly believed she needed to pay more attention to her diet, surely she’s her own best monitoring system. And yet, I was absolutely incredulous when later I watched her LIGHT A CIGARETTE as she left the event.

Yep, you read that right. Not slurp from a 32 oz. “big gulp” soda or gnaw a chunk off a super-sized candy bar – but actually light up a cancer stick, I mean, cigarette.

When it comes to lifestyle behaviors, there’s not much that surprises me. I mean, I work with clients who have extremely unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. But the irony of this sight left me scratching my head.

I thought about it again this weekend, as I biked along the Illinois Prarie Path toward my favorite lake spot – cycling past streams and forests and trees. And while drinking in the view of those streams and forests and trees, here’s the conclusion I came to.

Without a doubt, this was your classic forest and trees experience.

Clearly this woman couldn’t see the forest for all of the sugary trees. And I desperately wished it had been appropriate to run after her and ask, ever so gently, “Um, the sugar you were telling me about? Do you think it would be possible to work on that later, after you’ve worked (really, really insanely, desperately, mind-crushingly hard) to stop smoking?”

But of course that wouldn’t have been appropriate. She wanted to know how to stop eating sugar – not stop smoking.

 

“Acting On Body Wisdom”

Monday, July 14th, 2014

If you’re familiar with the concept of mindfulness, you know that essentially it’s a commitment to paying attention; to our breathing, to our stress level, to our hunger and fullness cues, to the beauty that surrounds us – it’s a commitment to actually increasing our awareness of what’s happening in our own little world.

At its simplest, mindfulness is a way to “tune in”. And I’m all for it.

Many of my clients spend lots of time and energy actively ignoring the messages their body sends – or, tuning OUT. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a plea for more movement, less junk, or more solitude – their body’s honest wisdom is too honest, and they’re happy to dismiss it, thank you very much.

Yet, what happens when we do “tune in”, only to disregard the messages because they’re too real, too painful, too scary, too uncomfortable?

Sadly, what happens is more of the same.

The same unhealthy habits, unhealthy behaviors, and a dearth of self-care. We continue a slow, steady spiral into the abyss of unawareness, until our doctor, therapist, even a family member gently (or urgently) reminds us, “You need to take care of yourself”.

Given all of that, while I’m all for tuning in, I’m an even bigger fan of hearing, and then actually ACTING on those messages. That’s right. ACTING on them, not dismissing them.

For example, say your body sends a message that you’re “too” something; too tired, too stressed, too bored, too lonely.

When you ignore rather than act on that message, you become vulnerable, which in turn may lead you to engage in “too much” of exactly the things you’re trying to do less of; eat, drink, exercise (yes, too much is unhealthy), watch t.v., get drawn into Facebook drama.

How can you learn to tune in, and then make the move to ACT?

One way is to listen, really, really well, in order to get a crystal clear message.

Here’s one suggestion for practicing  just that. Recently, a friend recommended this book, “Listening Below The Noise” http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/listening-below-the-noise-anne-d-leclaire/1111740120?ean=9780061353369. The author, Anne LeClaire, declared two Mondays each month – for 17 years! – a day of silence.

Silence Book

I’m not suggesting you jump full-force into that practice, easing in is never a bad strategy, but I certainly think there’s merit in quieting our minds and our surroundings. We’re overdosing on noise and external stimulation, both of which make it close to impossible to listen, hear the message, then act.

Can you make a commitment to becoming more attuned to your body? If this book (which is on my summer travel reading list), or even this blog post help you head in that direction – I’m thrilled.

Shhhhh, what do you hear?

 

“Kissin’ Wears Out. Cookin’ Don’t.”

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Kissin Wears Out Cookin DontTo me, one of the most interesting finds in boxes of dusty old books are those small, plastic-spined cookbooks, compiled through contributions made from members of churches, groups and associations. Recently, while digging through a pile of those little cookbooks, this title, “Cook and Tell”. . .“Kissin’ Wears Out, Cookin’ Don’t” had me in stiches – once I got past the grammar, LOL!

What these compilations frequently lack in the way of “healthy” recipes, they more than make up for in their message and inspiration. Specifically, COOK.

Much to my consternation, but not surprise, way too many people (particularly those who are young), appear to have no idea how to feed themselves, outside of calling into service the microwave, drive through, or carry out.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. At a young age I learned from my mom and grandma not only how to cook, but bake (tricky!). That base education was furthered through four years of home economics classes, and while I took an extended hiatus from cooking when I moved out on my own, over the years I’ve brought it back with a vengeance.

The ability to feed yourself is the one reliable self-care effort you can always draw on. Like the cookbook title implies, certain things in life may lose their appeal – or breed contempt. But cooking is always new, interesting and fascinating – even on a small “grilled peanut butter sandwich” kind of scale. Now there. Doesn’t that just make you feel more self-sufficient?!

Or maybe look at it this way. If everything else falls apart, you can always make yourself a nice, big pot of soup. And some days, depending on your particular situation, soup may just win out over kissin’.

 

 

Countdown To Half Marathon – RECAP – Christie Clinic Half Marathon, Champaign, IL

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

This blog update is something like 6 weeks overdue – but I’ve finally written it! I feel like I can’t continue with new posts until I add this, so here goes.

I ran the race with my brother – so meeting up with him and his grandson (he’s old enough for that; I, on the other hand, am definitely NOT) at our hotel was great fun. And rather than fight the crowds and risk dining on food that left us wanting something delicious and fulfilling, I suggested we bring food and prep it in our hotel rooms. Mind you, we’ve stayed at this hotel before and it’s a laid back spot, complete with microwave and fridge. Simple to pack up a cooler and bring along our own delish/nutrish food. And that’s just what we did! Here I am, ready to heat up my pre-cooked whole wheat pasta. Simple and spectacular.

Hotel Room Gourmet

Hotel Room Gourmet

I realize this suggestion wouldn’t always be an option, but under these circumstances, it worked brilliantly! And because I do so many healthy cooking demonstrations at corporations all over the Chicago area, I’ve got this down to a science.

After a good night’s sleep, we were up and prepping for the big day. The weather was beyond cooperative – sunny and (eventually) warm, no rain or wind – perfect running conditions. I took it as my gift for slogging through all of the horrible winter weather training sessions. Thank you.

Start Line

Start Line

At the start line, complete with my warmer sleeves (best running-with-comfort invention, ever), I was ready to go (that’s my bro just in front of me). I always start slow, conserving my fuel and energy rather than burning through it up front – so after I hit somewhere around the first mile and a half, I fell in with a pacer group running a 10:07 pace. Initially I thought, “There’s no way this is 10:07, it’s too slow”, but somewhere around mile 8 I changed my mind; definitely a 10:07 mile pace. It was challenging to maintain that pace for an extended distance, because I don’t train that way. But it was a challenge I relished; I loved experiencing how my months of training paid me back, it was oh so gratifying.

I’m eternally grateful to Michelle (her name was scrawled on her bib) the pacer. I don’t know her, but I kept her in sight and my body within a few stride lengths. I held that pace until mile 11 when I broke from the pace pack and ran out ahead to finish in 2:11:40. I felt good throughout the run, and finished strong. All my training, good nutrition, and hard work paid off!

Now I’m on the hunt for a September half, and I’m already doing a few summer runs (have a 15k this weekend). Until then, I’ll keep you posted on my running adventures – and please share yours with me; I’d love to hear how good nutrition and consistent training help you meet your fitness goals.

Happy summer, happy running, everyone!

Victory!

Victory!

Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 2

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Tomorrow is the long-awaited, big, big day. I feel ready, I feel strong. I’m excited to be here. I’m honored to be here.

I know I’ll shed a few tears at the start line – especially when they play the national anthem. I’m assuming there will be a nod to Boston – no doubt tears will fall then. I got teary at the packet pickup when I purchased my Boston sticker – I’ll wear it proudly on my bib.

I can’t help but think how only two short weeks ago, thousands of runners felt the same excitement and anticipation, never once considering what was in store.

I’m running for me, for all those who can’t, and I’m running for Boston.

Bring it.

Boston Sticker

Boston Sticker

Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 3

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

48 hours from now, I will have completed my half marathon. I can’t believe it’s so close!

Essentially, I’m finished training – completely. At this point, there’s nothing else physically that I can do to get stronger, faster, or fitter. I follow a religious foot, Achilles, and calf stretching and strengthening routine that I’ll do tonight and tomorrow; can’t really ever overdo that, and it’s helpful, even in this final hour.

Today I walked 1/2 mile to warm up, then ran an easy two miles. By easy, I’m referring to intensity. I followed that up with a yoga class – it felt really good to fit in some extended total-body stretching. The instructor’s emphasis for today’s class was on stretching and opening the sides of the body; loved it! Yoga is a wonderful antidote to running and strength training, and I try to fit it in as often as I can – unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting it because my training has taken precedence. It’s ironic that we offer Vinyasa yoga for beginners here at the NutriFit studio http://www.eatwellgetstrong.com/yoga.html, but since I’m working when class is in session, I never get to reap the benefits. Too bad. . .it’s an awesome class!

A couple of days ago I was kicking around the idea of bringing food along so that once we check into our hotel we’re not held captive by over-priced, underwhelming restaurant food. It’s rare that food bothers my digestive system, but now would be a ridiculously horrible time for it to be one of those rare times. . .bringing my own food just makes more sense, especially since we’re driving. My brother likes the idea as well, so that sealed the deal and I decided to go for it.

In advance, I’ll cook up a big pot of whole wheat pasta (extremely difficult to find at a restaurant), saute’ veggies and vegan meatballs for me, and bring shrimp or chicken for my brother, nephew and husband. I’ll toss a huge salad of spinach, mushrooms, and strawberries, mix up my special olive oil-based dressing, and bring fruit and dark chocolate for dessert. When it’s time to eat, I’ll simply plug in the wok, heat the pasta and toppings, and serve up the rest. Cheap, delicious, nutritious, and smart. Well, except for the dish washing; bathtub? Nah. . .just kidding.

I’ll take pics and let you know how it works out in my post-run follow-up blog.

For now, here’s the recipe for the salad dressing – it’s divine!

VERSATILE VINAIGRETTE

1 tablespoon orange juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, smashed

½ teaspoon ground, black pepper

In a small glass jar, combine orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic and black pepper. Put the lid on the jar; shake contents vigorously until thoroughly mixed.

This salad is actually tossed with this dressing. Yum!

This salad is actually tossed with this dressing. Yum!

 

 

 

 

Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 5

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Taper week continues.

Today I ran the shortest distance that I have run in months – a mere 3 miles. I’m not saying “a mere 3 miles” to downplay how challenging running 3 miles truly is. . .it’s just that when you’ve been logging anywhere from 5 – 13 miles per run for the last few months, it truly becomes “a mere 3 miles.”

Tapering requires a huge amount of mental discipline and toughness; just like the actual training. I wrote a bit about this yesterday, when I lamented just how difficult it is to scale back on my workouts. Think about it. If someone has been religiously training their body to get stronger, pushing themselves a little bit further each week in order to tackle an endurance fitness event of any sort, once they get to that deadline, they’re going to be fit – really fit. Cardiovascularly fit. Muscularly fit. Mentally fit. They’ve been training themselves to GO, and to pull back in the final hours is just so counterintuitive.

But it’s smart.

So today, because I finished my workout earlier than I normally do, I was talking with one of the guys at the gym. He asked me about my Friday night meal, like what it may be. And I’ve actually been thinking about this. Restaurants, depending on what area of the country you’re in, can be completely hit or miss. Last year, at this same race, we unequivocally dined at a miss. Call me crazy, but I’m considering packing my electric wok, a cooler full of prepped ingredients, and cooking up dinner in the hotel room. Why not? I do healthy cooking demonstrations in all sorts of places – corporate conference rooms, exhibit halls, and hotel ballrooms to name a few. Why not a hotel room?

I’ll have to give it some more thought, but I can honestly say it’s one way to insure our pre-race meal is balanced, healthy, adequate, and perhaps most importantly, delicious. What do you think? Am I crazy?