Posted in Family, Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, People

Wellness Wednesday–Move Week

I have learned first hand over the last several days that healthy eating and moving don’t mix. If you follow my blog, you know that I closed on my new house at the end of September, approximately a month after the initial closing date was schedule. Although I started packing up and cleaning out the apartment in early August, there was still much to done as the movers arrived this past weekend!

moving

After the movers dropped our belongings off at the new house, there was now work to be done at both locations. With no vacations left for the year, that leaves me to do all of this in between full-time work hours, school drop off and pick up for my son. So needless to say, there has been no time to cook.

Thank God for the bag of apples I bought on my last trip to the grocery store!

Between Pizza Hut on Sunday, KFC on Monday, and  McDonalds on Tuesday I have eaten the most consecutively unhealthy than I have in a long time. An apple a day and a serving of greens to go with the chicken and mashed potatoes (with gravy)  from KFC has been the only healthy things to grace my stomach. Hopefully carrying boxes from the apartment to my truck to the house has worked off some of those calories.

However, we’re still not done. But I am not feeling good about these high calorie food selections I’ve been making. Wish I had been stocking up on healthy grab & go foods while I was stocking up on boxes to pack our stuff in.

Not that I’ll be moving any time soon, but if you have any cost-effective, healthy food ideas to get me through the rest of this week, please share them in the comments below. My waistline will appreciate it 🙂

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Fitness, Health, Inspiration, Lifestyle, People

Wellness Wednesday: Marathon Anyone???

Who in the world would want to run a 26 mile race? Quite a few people, judging from all the participants on my FB timeline with #freepmarathon in their posts. This past weekend, my birthday weekend, was the annual Detroit Free Press Marathon event.

detroit marathon

The first time I saw this event with my own eyes was on my birthday about 5 or 6 years ago. My husband had gotten me room at the Holiday Inn to enjoy a quiet night of writing. On check out day is when I saw the crowd of people and learned what was going on.

It wasn’t that day that I considered participating. That day came when I came across women in my personal circle, people at or near my fitness level making the decision to do it and training for the big day. A few of them accomplished their goal this year!

My father participated in a marathon once.  He trained hard for it. As a little girl watching him jump rope in our backyard and complete his Saturday morning with an impressive backward jog down our street, I didn’t know that’s what he was preparing for. Matter of fact, I don’t even know when he actually did it. He wasn’t the kind of dad that shared stuff like that with his kids. What I do remember him telling me years later was that one time was all he needed. Just to say he did it.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to train that hard to do something only one time. Then again, I could never fathom running 26 miles. Interestingly,  I have since learned that the event consists of more than 26 mile race. There are events for everyone at all fitness levels: full marathon, marathon relay (a team of 2-4 complete designated sections of the race), 1/2 marathon, 5K, and a Family Fun Run. There’s even a race for people with disabilities.

Now that’s something I can put on my bucket-list. What about you? Do you want to run a marathon (or some other race event)? What’s your plan to make it happen?

You know…you must have a plan, right?

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Caregivers, Caregiving, Encouragement, Family, Health, Inspiration, Lifestyle, People, Relationships, Travel, Women

No Time Like the Present

My longtime girlfriend has been living in Dallas, TX for at least 7 years. She relocated there after accepting a promotion with the company she’d been working for in our hometown.  Once down there, she met her current husband and they’ve since started a family. Dallas is clearly her home now. As most of her family is here in Michigan, she comes to visit once or twice a year. However, her time is usually consumed with family so I never get to spend much time with her.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to go visit her. Actually…I do.

Before I started visiting my husband on weekends he was out of town for work or attending a conference for my sorority, I was not really into traveling. The only trips that I took my children on was 5 hrs away to Chicago and across the bridge to Canada to enjoy an indoor waterpark. Traveling was not something I fit into my vacation or financial planning.

This past summer a friend invited my son to go on a trip to Disney World with her family. I didn’t want him to miss out on the opportunity but I was hesitant. First, he’d never been on a plane before. Second, he expressed fear about getting on a plane. So I decided that his first flight needed to be with me. Around this same time, I was on the brink of caregiver burnout and didn’t see a way to give myself a real break.

Lo and behold, the company I work for hosts an annual conference in Dallas that I always say that I’d like to attend. Why hadn’t? There was no good reason. So this year I took the opportunity to kill three birds with one stone: attend the conference, visit my friend, and take my son on his first flight.

Everything was awesome. That Dallas September heat was no joke but it was so good to be away from home. To be a guest in my friend’s home. To wake up on Saturday morning and not have to think about what I was going to cook for breakfast for myself or anyone else! My friend and her husband took good care of us.

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My son in the co-pilot seat

 

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A round of miniature golf in the hot Dallas son with my friend’s family
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Go-Kart racing
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Partial group family pic…my friend’s husband was MIA
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Taking a break from the conf. Enjoying a book in the pool
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My son getting his swim on
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Mom & Son chilling at the pool

The question that repeated through my head was, “Why’d it take you so long to do this?”

I have another girlfriend who’s been living in Atlanta for the last 7 yrs. Besides going down for her wedding five years ago, I haven’t been there for a real visit. After I visit family in Tennessee next year, Atlanta will be my next stop.

It’s funny how, in theory, we know that tomorrow is not promised. Still, we tend to live our lives like we have all the time in the world. My husband’s diagnosis with a life-threatening illness changed my perspective. Although  supporting him through this illness doesn’t allow me to a lot of time to do as much as I’d like, I still make a point to do as much as I can.

Is there anything you’re putting off for tomorrow that you need to be doing today? Share in the comments  below.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

 

Posted in Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Wellness Wednesday–Habits of Successfully Fit People

While compiling interesting articles for a monthly health and wellness newsletter I manage at work, I came across these 10 habits of successfully fit people. I immediately nodded my head in agreement upon reading number one because I knew this to be true. Year ago a friend from work was married to a fitness buff and I remember her rehashing his boring weekday meals–baked chicken, brown rice, and green beans. He splurged on the weekends but was faithful to his weekday meal. Ironically, another friend dating a similarly fit guy spoke of the same thing. Led me to quickly wonder why do I make this thing so hard.

Anyway, I’m glad to say that out of this list of 10, I’m good for more than 1/2! Read through it and let me know where you stand in the comments.

check list

 

1. They Tend to Stick to the Same “Daily Menu”

The majority of fit people say they eat virtually the same meals every day, mostly the same breakfast, same lunch, same dinner, and when it comes to snacks and beverages . . . well, you guessed it, very predictable food. To clarify, they did not suggest that they eat exactly the same entree for every meal, but they often chose from three, maybe four things that they like for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There are three possible reasons behind this shared habit among fitness professionals, individuals who have succeeded at taking off 100-plus pounds and keeping it off for years, and those who have been trim all their lives.

First, it allows “careful” eaters to predict their daily calorie allotment without much effort. Second, perhaps the most fit among us are entrenched in habit, including the habit of taste. Third, effortlessly fit folks are in tune with the energy and calorie needs of their bodies. When they find foods that deliver what they need and that they enjoy, why look further? Keep in mind, there’s a fine line between careful eating and disordered eating. The careful eater’s diet is a habit and not a matter of control or obsession.

2. They Eat Breakfast (My favorite meal of the day)

This one common characteristic is nearly universal in statistical studies of people who have achieved and maintained a large weight loss. Eighty percent of those who have been able to maintain a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for at least a year report that they always eat breakfast. Research has consistently shown that the people who successfully lose weight are the ones that wake up and eat! Furthermore, people who eat breakfast regularly have better vitamin and mineral status and eat fewer calories from fat. Experts agree that the majority of people who struggle with overeating are those who undereat during the first part of the day, specifically those who skip breakfast. So it seems that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!

Why does eating breakfast help people lose and ultimately maintain a healthier weight? One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast reduces hunger throughout the rest of the day, therefore decreasing the likelihood of overeating and making poor food choices at lunch.

3. They Drink Water (All day at work, Needs improvement outside of that)

Not soda. Not iced tea. Just plain old water. This is the biggie. Drinking enough water is a vital part of any conditioning program because it keeps your body functioning in homeostasis and aids every aspect of bodily function. Highly successful fit people drink at least six to eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day, plus more as needed during exercise. Note: It’s possible to drink too much water, which dilutes the body’s electrolytes (potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium). Don’t drink more than a gallon a day unless you’re also replenishing your electrolytes.

4. They Eat Small—And Often (Sort of, definitely not an over-eater, though)

Most people know that small, frequent meals are absolutely the only way to go. Why? Because when we go longer than 3 hours without eating, our levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise. And high cortisol levels signal the body to store fat in the abdominal region. Keep in mind too that people who skip meals have the highest cortisol levels of all!Eating small meals more often reduces cortisol levels, research suggests. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, people who ate six small meals a day for 2 weeks, as opposed to three large meals containing the same total number of calories, reduced their cortisol levels by more than 17 percent! They lost belly fat, too.

When you eat small, frequent meals long term, the body becomes efficient at keeping cortisol levels low, which helps both men and women reduce belly fat.

Eating throughout the day also makes you less tempted by the monster-size buckets ofpopcorn and supersize fries and drink containers that include triple and quadruple servings. Guided by their nutritional needs and deeply rooted habit to eat small meals throughout the day, the superfit stand steadfast, even in the face of a delicious, jumbo chocolate-chip muffin.

5. They Eat Whole Foods First

Successful fit people tend to eat mainly whole, unprocessed foods, including fruits, veggies, and whole grains (and products made from whole grains). Certainly they enjoy the occasional treat, but 80 percent of the time or more, their preference leads to whole foods.Whole, natural foods—apples, steel-cut oatmeal, broccoli, salads, brown rice—are what food researchers call low-density foods. That is, they take up a lot of room in your stomach because they contain lots of fiber, which satisfies hunger with few calories. High-density foods are the opposite; they are things like butter, oils, candy, or ice cream. Think about how much frosting you could pack into your stomach if you really tried. (Okay, don’t think about it—it’s too gross.) Eating mostly low-density foods is the easiest way to keep your weight in check without feeling hungry or like you’re depriving yourself.

6. They Know Their Foods (Maybe not exactly, but I am knowledgeable  of caloric content & serving size)

This characteristic is truly universal among fit people: They know, generally speaking, every food’s calories and approximate protein, carbohydrate, and fat content. It’s not a case of being idiot savants but rather of having an understanding, a knowledge of food that allows them to make an educated guess. Their assumptions are almost always spot-on. This gift affords them the skill of making better food choices on a moment’s notice.Just as important: They know what one serving of said food really looks like. You can show an effortlessly fit person a whole grain cracker, and even without looking at the label, he or she can accurately predict how many crackers count as one serving. It’s not a gift, actually. It’s a skill, and all habits are skills you can master.

This skill is easier to acquire than it sounds. A couple of weeks of label reading is all it takes. There are even apps for your phone and Web sites that provide this information quickly and for free.

7. They Eat Their Favorite Foods—Carefully (I eat my goodies infrequently)

Despite knowing everything about their foods and tending to stick to the same foods day in and day out, fit people rarely report eliminating foods. If it’s something they crave, they enjoy a little taste. They know that simply eliminating foods they absolutely love will only set them up to fail when the temptation is too great. Instead, successfully fit people know that it’s okay to indulge every once in a while. They savor those moments instead of sucking down the food as if they’re afraid it’s the only time they’ll ever see it again.

8. They Don’t Keep Red Zone Food in the House (The best change I made to my kitchen)

If you look in a successfully fit person’s fridge, pantry, or cupboards, you won’t typically find cookies, crackers, chips, chocolate, full-fat ice cream, or soda. Why? Because they don’t crave these things. They also know you can’t eat ’em if you don’t have ’em. Smart, right?

What’s interesting about these trim types is that they don’t have the same inner battle of healthy versus junkie foods that the average person who struggles with weight might have. They can walk past the aisle with chips and sodas and think nothing of it. Either they never developed the junk food habit or they kicked it.

9. They Close the Kitchen after Dinner

Unlike most Americans, successfully fit people eat their final meal at a reasonable hour, as opposed to eating dinner followed by a lavish 10:00 p.m. snack and another dessert. Most often they go to sleep, not hungry, but on an empty stomach. This allows them to wake up feeling thin, rested, and hungry for breakfast. It may take a little effort, but going to bed earlier and going to sleep without food awaiting digestion in your stomach keeps your body’s metabolism in a fat-burning state. Instead of digesting, which causes restless sleep, your body can focus on other things—like repairing cells!

10. They’re Resourceful and Politely Picky at Restaurants (Been doing this more often)

Successfully fit people find healthful alternatives to selections on any menu, from a five-star restaurant’s to Wendy’s. They know that it’s the food choices, not necessarily the restaurant choices, that help them to stay slim and healthy.They generally steer clear of fried meat, poultry, and fish. Instead, they order their protein broiled, steamed, stir-fried, or poached. They also speak up in restaurants, politely making special requests like asking that their dish be prepared with little or no butter or sauces and with dressings on the side.

 

Source: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/healthy-eating-habits

 

Posted in Fitness, Health, Lifestyle

Wellness Wednesday–Health Walks for Fitness & Fun

This past Saturday was the Detroit Heart Walk sponsored by the American Heart Association. As the chair of a Health Awareness committee through an Employee Resource Group of the company I work for, I created a team for the event. I must say, it was a struggle getting to the event as I partied hard with my sorority sisters the night before ( no drinking involved but lots of dancing), but I was so glad I did. Fond memories of yearly participation in such walks as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Sister Strut ( breast cancer), March of Dimes (for premature babies) came flooding back. Why did I stop participating, I can’t really say. Between my job and sorority, there’s always a team I can join. Even if there isn’t a team, I can always go solo. I’m sure to  run into someone I know right when I’m ready to play some music through my earbuds.

Health walks are great way to support worthy causes and get in a lot of steps. The heart walk yielded me approximately 5k steps at 3 miles. By the end of the day I hit my daily goal of 12k steps. If I didn’t have to pick my son up from camp on Sunday, I would have gone to the Kidney Foundation walk at the Detroit Zoo. I keep missing walking opportunities there. I must take advantage while I live so close (3 miles away).

These events are a lot of fun too. Sponsors provide bouncy houses for kids, face-painting, and other activities. At this walk I was super excited to get my jump rope on with my team. 

Had I arrived at my intended time, an hour before the walk was to begin, I could have participated in Bowkwa and/or Yoga, too. Activity coordinators do a great job making the event fun-filled for the whole family.

This was my first time leading a team and I did not do as well as I could have 😞. I met my individual goal of $100 and was $15 short of my team goal of $200. Considering I didn’t really solicit donations until the final hour, I won’t beat myself up too bad. But imagine how much I could have raised if I’d been diligent from the start six months ago. I won’t make that mistake again.

I plan to soak up some summer sun with more walks for health causes but I’m saving my next fundraiser endeavor for a cause newly dear to my heart, lung disease. The Lung Association sponsors a walk called Lung Force. It’ll take place in my hometown of Detroit in October 2017. Hmm, that’s actually not that far away from a fundraising perspective. I better get busy, huh?

What health walks do you support and why? I’d love to hear.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, Women

Wellness Wednesday–Loving the Skin You’re In

There’s a fine line between working to change your body and loving the skin you’re currently in. I’ve often wondered if these two ideas can coexist. I want to workout the most when I feel dissatisfied with the physical shape of my body. And the days when I engage in some good self-love talk…”Girl, you look hot in these jeans!” or “Girl, your legs are as toned as when you were 25!” I don’t press myself about going to the gym. In a world that perpetuates the myth that a woman body is supposed to not only carry and birth children into this world and go through the aging process without looking like it, more often than not is has been less of the latter.

However, thanks to my 41 years of living, I’m finally learning to merge the two together into a marriage that works for me. First, I know that the body is not meant to be sedentary. We are supposed to move every day. And not for the 30-60 minutes that fitness experts say because in actuality that is nothing in a 24 hr day! You know it’s true, too. There are times in my work day that I am comfortably planted in my chair doing my work or chatting through our IM system with a coworker when I should be standing up and moving my body while I work. After all, that is why I fought tooth and nail to get this standing workstation so I could do just that. But when everything you need is at your fingertips it takes great strength and resolve to get off of my butt and walk over to talk with a coworker in person or walk around for the sake of walking.

Second, I know that the shape of my body has more to do with what I put in my mouth and genetics than it does exercise. If I had better eating habits (less pastries, no late night eating of buttery popcorn while watching Scandal, and drinking 8-10 glasses of water), I’d easily be down 20lbs. Can I get a “Amen!” You know I’m right.

This is not a spiritually speaking post, but no where in the word of God does He describe beauty by the size of a woman’s waist and the numbers displaying on a scale. Our beauty is defined the purity of our hearts, being kind to others, loving and honoring our husbands,  taking care of our children, using the gifts that He gave us. All that 36-24-36 standard of beauty is from fallen man and we keep falling for it.

Excuse me, I digressed.

I’m not that different from most women. I get green with envy when I see women in my age with slamming bodies. But I remind myself that they are likely blessed with great genetics which neither of us can do anything about. And they probably don’t exercise any more than I do. Well…some do. Some also have surgery to create those fabulous bodies and keep that to themselves. Believe that!

When I’m finished with that I remind myself of how beautiful I am. I look down at my belly,  and instead of frowning, I smile. This is the same belly that housed two beautiful children for 9 months, both born by C-section  surgeries. And guess what, I survived those, surgeries. We take for granted that some women don’t so how dare I be mad about a scar or some loose skin??? Sure,my breast aren’t as firm or perky as they once were but they’re cancer free (hallelujah!) and look awesome in the right bra.

I don’t waste time browsing through clothes that won’t compliment my current figure. Talk about depressing. Instead I look for clothes that are flattering to my extra pounds, accentuating my toned legs and small frame. You can’t help but feel good in clothes that are cute and fit you right.

In the meantime, I will still exercise. Always will. Regular exercise is good for overall health.  It doesn’t have to happen in the gym either. Some of my favorite places to exercise include the staircase in my office building, in a Zumba or with a hula hoop in my living room. For you it might be in a pool, a ballroom or hustle class, or in a park. Whatever you choose, make sure you enjoy it. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Posted in Encouragement, Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, People, Relationships

Do You Without Apologies


Over the past year my daughter has lost nearly 40 lbs! For a long time she was beyond okay with her curvy figure. But when she decided that she wasn’t, her battle with the bulge that all of us go through began. Her first sincere attempt to lose weight was her senior  year of high school. My dad bought her a treadmill and, much to my dismay because of our downstairs neighbor, she would use it every morning at 5am. She increased her water intake, drank green tea, and carried healthy snacks with her to school. By the time prom came, she’d lost some significant pounds. Then came college. Yes, the freshmen 15 and then some. When she crossed a number on the scale she never thought she’d get to, she got serious. Enter weekly meal planning and prepping, 4-5 days at the gym, which included burning 1000 calories per workout. She still has a ways to go to reach her ultimate goal but there’s no stopping her now. It’s no longer about a special occasion but how she wants the live the rest of her life.

My sister, who is 7 years my junior is on her own fitness journey. According to her FB posts, she’s been regularly attending a cycling class and cutting back on guilty pleasure of a 16 oz of soda a day with her favorite potato chips, Ruffles. On the last day that I saw her for my son’s birthday, her weight loss was evident too.

While I’m genuinely happy for both of them, I can’t help but remember their reluctance to get on the fitness bandwagon with me about ten years ago. Though I’d been exercising since I had my daughter in 1995, that was the first time that I was committing time to the gym. Before then my fitness regimen included laps around the building at work, doing exercise videos over lunch in our building fitness center or at home.

At that time, however, my daughter was a cute, chunky teenager who liked the attention her thickness elicited from teenage boys. And my sister was a recent college graduate focused on preparing for her career. Neither of them had fitness on their minds.

Now, my daughter more than my sister, is always trying to get me on her bandwagon. She insists that I have time to go to the gym 4-5 days a week. She insists that I can discipline myself to prep my meals for the week like she does. She insists that I can burn 1000 calories in one workout. She insists that I can walk on 15 incline on the treadmill.

She may be right. However, if I don’t want to, it’s not going to happen. Just like when I wanted exercise to be a priority for her when it wasn’t. I’d share with her easy ways that she could exercise and be less sedentary, like walking the dog everyday, twice a day on weekends. But she wasn’t having any parts of that. Even now. Although she hits the gym 4-5 days a week, she still likes to lay around the house in her downtime when I’m the one who can’t sit still, always have to be doing something.

I’ve learned through our family fitness experience that everyone has different goals and priorities at different times in their lives. You can’t force yours on somebody else, nor can they force theirs on you. What my daughter can do with her time as a 22 yr old, single young woman and I can do with my time as a 41 year old, wife of an ill husband, mother of a 13 yr old boy, full-time employee, and a writer are two totally different things.

She and I have different priorities. As a young woman, her goal is to get her body tight and right to enjoy life as a 22 yr old. Mine is to lose the extra weight I’ve gained over the last 3 yrs since my husband took ill and still have time for things that are just as important to me like my writing and getting my house organized. While she doesn’t mind going to the gym 5 days a week, my desire is to be at home. Not driving from work, to my son’s school, to home, then back to the gym and back home. Just typing that exhausted me.

I crave any kind of simplicity in my life that I can get. Since the beginning of April, I have been exercising at home. Sometimes in the morning but over the last couple of days in the evening.  Lost about 4 lbs. It’s not a lot but I’m encouraged that the 3-4 times I got on the scale in the month of April, the numbers never increased! That’s a good thing.

Now I won’t be canceling my gym membership any time soon. It being only $10 a month is part of the reason. For now, I’m going to do what’s been working for me and I encourage you to do the same. Do what works for you and let others do what works for them.

P.S. One thing I did pick up from my daughter is tracking my progress on a visual board in my bedroom. I write down the days I exercise including what I did (i.e. circuit training, walking). The visual helps me to realize how much or how little I’ve done.  You can try or not…if you want to 🙂

Til next time,

Naturally Yours,

LA