10 Ideas To Spring Into Action

I can’t wait to get outside after this looong winter!  The sun is finally shining, I hear the birds again and the snow is slowly melting!  It’s a great time to change up my workout and get outside. So here are my top ten ideas for taking things up a notch for this season:

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1.  Get yourself some new kicks!  Sneakers only last about 4-6 months.  If you can’t remember when you bought your sneakers, it’s probably time for new ones! I love the feeling of lacing up some new colorful sneakers and feeling cushiony new socks (I love my Thorlo’s!) under my feet.  It literally puts spring in my step!

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2.  Commit to an upcoming event.  Look around for a local 5K walk or run.  Maybe a Mudderella or Warrior Dash!  Having that deadline will give you a goal to strive towards.  Okay, you don’t have to get as muddy as we were, but you get the idea!

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3.  Get a friend or family member to exercise with you.  Exercising with a buddy makes it more fun, and makes you more likely to stick with it.  Commit to regular early morning walks or weekend tennis matches.

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4. If you’re still listening to December’s music, splurge on a new playlist!  I just created an 80’s playlist that really makes me move!  (I just posted it on my Facebook page if you want to check it out here).

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5. Try outdoor exercise!  If you’ve always wanted to try canoeing or hiking or even yoga on a paddleboard, you can start now and be ready for some real adventure by summer!  (You can tell from the three colliding canoes above that my family always makes these sports violent, as in jousting on canoes.)

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6.  Change up how you’re fueling your workout. Spring is a great time to overhaul your snacks. Try some different seasonal fruits and veggies in your smoothie, like fresh berries, spinach, and arugula.  Watch your juicing, though!  If you wouldn’t eat a banana, an apple and a pint of blueberries in one sitting (that’s a lot of food), why would you drink it?

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7.  Reward yourself!  Find an awesome summer top that you can reward yourself with, and post a picture of it in your kitchen so you’ll be inspired by it throughout the day.  Then buy it for yourself when you accomplish your goal.  For me, it’s absolutely anything from the Boston Proper catalogue!  (Oh, and always get the earrings, too!)

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8.  Get a fun new water bottle!  Let’s face it – drinking water isn’t the most exciting thing, but having a cute water bottle makes it just a little bit easier to stay hydrated!  The more you sweat, the more water you need to drink.  Keep it next to you all day long.

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9.  Take lessons in a new sport!  Tennis or golf lessons are great ways to get outside and meet new people.  And lessons make the sport so much more enjoyable (Sorry, Frank.  I saw this photo, and just had to put it in!)  Bonus:  What’s more fun than shopping for new tennis or golf clothes?

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10.  Plan an family outdoor adventure vacation!  Book the ultimate escapade for you and your family.  Hike one of the national parks, or ride horses at a dude ranch, or climb an island volcano.  I think I just talked myself into it!

Whatever you do, enjoy it!

 

 

Great Way To Chisel Off The Weight – Get “NEAT”

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Those last few stubborn pounds.  How many times have you lost them and put them back on again?  You can’t do much more – you get a lot of exercise, you eat pretty healthy, and you still have to fit in the rest of life, too.  But this tip is a no-brainer!  Chisel off the weight by getting NEAT!

What is NEAT?  NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.  It’s the movement you get in all day when you’re NOT at the gym.  It’s the stuff my mother always said to do; park the car at the furthest spot in the parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to your co-workers’ office instead of emailing or calling them.  You can get creative with this; drink lots of water every day and then use the furthest bathroom, dance to music while you make dinner (sure to embarrass your kids)!  And according to research from Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of Arizona, it adds up to a whopping 350 calories per day! Times 7 days a week, times 52 weeks per year:  that’s 36 pounds per year!  You can do that!

Here are some other easy ways to get in those extra steps:

  • Do yard work.
  • Clean the house.
  • When folding laundry, do a squat as you pick up each item.
  • Bring in the groceries one bag at a time.
  • Take the dog for a quick walk to the corner after dinner.
  • Walk to your friends’ house instead of calling.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator.
  • Stand or do lunges in place when you’re on the phone.
  • Get up off the couch every time there’s a commercial.
  • Walk up and down the stairs between TV shows.
  • Do ten squats every time you sit down at the desk or couch.

It all adds up!  Sure, it’s a little quirky, but for 36 pounds a year?  You can do that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Inspiring Workout I’ve Ever Seen

10514684_10152855161295435_4579993386483610974_nI am a gym rat and I’ve seen a lot of amazing athletes there.  I’ve seen one-arm pull-ups, jumps onto a Swiss ball, and dead-lifts that bent the bar.  But the workout that I’m thinking of was a few years ago.  I was feeling sorry for myself because I’d had tennis elbow surgery on my right arm, which rendered my right hand and fingers useless for the time being.  Due to Hurricane Irene, we had lost power for a week after the surgery, so I was doing everything one-handed and lefty.  Try putting on a bra with one hand.  Or cutting anything with a knife.  Or even opening mail.  Woe was me!  It was about the same time that a movie came out about the surfer whose arm had been bitten off by a shark, and previews showed her tucking her surfboard under her good arm, happily running back into the water.  I felt so sorry for myself, but there she was, a story of the triumph of the human spirit.  “Show-off,” I thought.  She was made me look bad, so I turned off the TV.  “No one is that good.”

During that time that I would stoically go to the gym and do whatever I could with one arm.  I had already done a year of physical therapy before the surgery, so I was used to the single-arm workouts, but I was in a full blown state of mental martyrdom after the surgery. “Unable to even hold a pen,” I would tell anyone who asked about the sling.  As I started my warmup, I saw an empty wheelchair, and nearby there was an older woman face down on the floor!  I thought she had fallen, but as I looked a little closer, I realized she was with a trainer, who was guiding her through a barely perceptible motion with her leg. The trainer counted, “Eight, come on, come on, nine.  That’s it.”  You could see the determination in her eyes, and you could see her leg shake as she lifted her foot just a few inches off the floor.  She was so proud when she got to 20!  Heck, I was proud of her, too.  And a little ashamed of myself.

When I thought of not just the physical strength, but the mental fortitude it took, I was blown away by her.  God only knows how she became wheelchair-bound, or what she had gone through just to get to this point.  I could only imagine that this was probably an improvement from wherever she was before.  Just think of her sustained determination: to make the appointment, arrange the ride, and then go out to a public gym to work out with a trainer!  Later the trainer helped her back into the wheelchair to do some more exercises, and she was still there when I left the gym.

There were a few lesson there for me.  The first was that I am only a victim if I choose to see it that way.  The other way to see it is that I was fortunate enough to have an excellent surgeon to restore proper function to my arm and hand.  I was also lucky enough to have a hand with five fingers that would work properly again one day; for me, this was only temporary.  The final lesson was never to underestimate the power of mental strength.  I will always remember that woman when I say to myself, “I can’t do that.”  The question really is, “What CAN I do?”  That’s where I’ll start.  That’s the only place to start.  And then I won’t quit.

The Kamikaze Dieter – Thoughts From One Who Survived

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‘Tis the season for binge dieting.  You know the drill:  throw out all the food, spend a fortune on exotic ingredients at the grocery store, and buckle in for the complete overhaul.  “Turn over a new leaf!”  “I’m never going to ….(fill in the blank)… again.”  “This is a new beginning.”  It hurts even to watch.  Why?  Because it’s like watching a kamikaze pilot strap himself in – they teach him how to fly, but not how to land.   That’s what it looks like to me now.  And I dread the inevitable crash when the cleanse/pills/detox/extreme diet is done, which should be right about now – January 24th or so.  As soon as the diet is over and you go back to the old eating habits, the weight comes right back on, and it should! Think about it:  if the diet works (most of them do in the short run), you will obviously lose weight if you stick to it religiously for the prescribed short period of time.  Therefore, the weight SHOULD come back on when you stop.  And in the end, I could be wrong, but you weren’t really doing it for such virtuous reasons as to “reset your metabolism,” or “fill your body seaweed extract.”  Down deep, you were really hoping that you’d lose weight and it would stay off, for once.  Think about how it is when you get a stomach bug – don’t you kind of hope you’re down a couple of pounds?  Or if you get a colonoscopy, the good news is that at least you’ve lost a little weight!  But the weight comes right back on again.  I know.  I’ve been there, done that.  And it just hurts to watch you do it, too.  Because, just like the kamikaze pilot, as soon as you’re done flying, you’re going to crash.   Because you haven’t learned how to land – how to eat under normal circumstances.  You haven’t incorporated any new habits into your daily life.

The key to lasting weight loss is to adopt new habits.  Automate as many foods choices as possible by making the food we eat habitual.  According to the book, “The Power Of Habit,” by Charles Duhigg (a book I highly recommend), 40% of what we do every day is automatic, ritualized, habitual.  That’s almost half of your day!  Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t even have to think about it?  If you could re-habituate some of the foods that you automatically grab during the course of the day?  You see, you don’t have to be on a strict diet to get results.  You’ll see results if you just make one healthy switch and stick to it.  My brother, who has now lost over 100 pounds, says he started by just not eating after dinner.  (Just think of what people usually eat after dinner!  It’s nothing healthy – EVER!  It’s always desserts or snacks.  Then eat mindless amounts of it in front of a TV!  Yikes!)  He saw results, and that built up his confidence to ….. add on another healthy habit! And another!  Think of it as building a portfolio of healthy habits that displace the old habits.

It’s not easy.  But it’s worth it.  You’re worth it!

Downton Abbey Gets It Right

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You might think, “What on earth does Downton Abbey have to do with health and fitness?”  Well, if you were listening closely, you may have heard the conversation last week between Isobel Crawley and Dr. Clarkson, regarding the “invention of a new drug called insulin.”  Well done, Downton Abbey writers!

Not many people are aware that insulin was invented in Canada in the 1920’s.  Until then, a diagnosis of diabetes was an imminent death sentence.  At the time, there were institutions in New York where people could send their children with the hope of extending their lives.  The doctors there experimented with severe restrictions of carbohydrates and calories. Some of the children actually starved to death, but with a diabetes diagnosis, it was their last chance.  My father, who was born in 1919, had Type 1 diabetes, and was one of the luckier patients there.  When insulin was invented and made available in the United States, it saved thousands of lives, including his, emptying out all of those institutions.  (Unfortunately, my father had what they called “brittle diabetes,” which spiked frequently and was difficult to control.  He suffered a debilitating stroke in 1963, and died from complications seven very long years later.)

His life, long illness and death factor strongly into why I am in the business of health and wellness, especially how the body processes sugar.  And it’s why I am so concerned about the amount of sugar people eat nowadays.  Overconsumption of sugar can cause illnesses ranging from type 2 diabetes to heart problems to dementia.  It’s in almost every box, can, or jar in the grocery store under various pseudonyms (high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, etc,), and it’s in everything from ketchup to crackers to marinades.

So what can you do?

Stick it to the man!  Start reading those labels!  Better yet, buy fresh foods that don’t even need labels. Keep your grocery shopping on the circumference of the store rather than down the aisles.  It’s not an easy adjustment to make, but it’s worth it.

“Your Move Fitness” – What’s It About?

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“Ask not what your doctor can do for you; ask what you can do for yourself.”

Most of today’s chronic illnesses are lifestyle-related, which means there’s a lot you can do to improve your health.  Of course your doctor can try to help you with pills or surgery, but if you continue with your old lifestyle patterns, the problems will likely persist or worsen.  Plus being sick is expensive!  Then there are the side-effects of the medication and/or complications from scarring.  So what can you do?  You can throw your hands in the air and accept your high blood pressure, bad knees, and shortness of breath, saying, “It stinks to get old.” or “It runs in my family.”

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… you can do everything you can to help yourself first.  You can take control of your own health, starting from wherever you are today.  Things can improve dramatically with the addition of just one healthy habit at a time. You don’t have to go “on a diet.”  If you just ate a healthier lunch every day, you’d see improvements.  Or if you walked 10,000 steps every day.  Or drank a gallon of water every day.  That success feels good!  Each healthy habit displaces an old bad habit, and builds confidence.  So you add another healthy habit.  And another.  Now you’re winning!    Before you know it, you’re in a different mindset.  You’re in the game now, and on the road to a healthier life.