Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Winter Blahs

Unfortunately it is not that easy for us humans during the winter months.  Weather and darkness have set my momentum back some and I am trying to look on the bright side.  Here are the challenges and accomplishments of winter so far:

CON: Snow has either closed or severely prevented my ability to get to the gym for over 2 weeks.
PRO: I have made the effort on the days I could and got in efficient and productive workouts.

CON: I crave carbs and sugar almost constantly in a survivalist desire to stay warm.
PRO: Even if what I am eating isn't the healthiest it is homemade and not processed.

CON: The numbers on the scale are ticking down slower.
PRO: So far they are not ticking up.

It has been an insane couple of weeks in the Boston area and while it seems like an eternity it really has only been a couple of weeks.  Winter shows no sign of letting up though so I have to learn how to take advantage of the clear days when I can and keep the food to acceptable amounts on the days I am trapped inside.

Anyone have any good tips for getting through the winter blues?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

40 Days of Giving: Boston Strong

Are you a runner?  A Bostonian? A hard working Mom? Have you or someone you love struggled through the difficulties of cancer?  Or, God forbid, have you lost someone to this terrible disease? Were you born in Jersey, but ended up a loyal Red Sox fan? Do you have a few dollars to spare?

If you answered yes to any of these questions I encourage you to make a donation to my friend Susan as she trains to run this year's Boston Marathon.  Susan, you see, can answer yes to all of them and for those reasons she is training during a cold harsh winter to make a huge difference.

Susan is running Boston for her first time as part of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute's Marathon Challenge Team.  Every dollar raised goes to research, so even if you do not live in the Boston area you can rest assured that this money is helping people struggling with cancer all over the world.  And those of you that are local know the incredible work that DF does and continues to do with funding like this.

Susan is not only my close friend, but she is a great role model for this blog.  Susan will be 41 when she runs in April and she ran her first marathon just a few years back in her 30's.  She trains hard and smart and is an inspiration to challenge what you think you can do and take that extra step to do more.

No donation is too small and if you do have the means and donate please let me know in the comments or privately as I would love to thank you personally.  Good luck Susan and thanks!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

40 Days of Giving

I read War & Peace last fall (I like to bring that up whenever possible) and one of the themes we discussed in our class was the difference between being a good person and being a not bad person.  For my 20's and 30's I had been perfectly fine with being a not bad person: I worked, I paid my own bills (mostly on time), I voted, paid taxes and never was in trouble.  In my 40's I feel I can start to be more actively good, I am stable and have small amounts of the 2 things that help most -- time and money.

This week, to celebrate Martin Luther King Day, I began my 40 Days of Giving by dropping off a big bag of feminine hygiene products at the Women's Lunch Place.  The WLP is a Boston landmark that has been providing food and services to homeless women for over 30 years.  Why feminine hygiene products you might ask? This article made the rounds on Facebook last week and it really struck me how little I comprehend the plight of the homeless when I could be so shocked by such a basic need.

So I took a very small step in reaching to a friend at WLP and offering to start bringing monthly donations of these less donated items.  If you are in the Boston area and would like to help, I would be thrilled to increase my donation:

  1. When you are buying your own tampons or pads, pick up an extra and give it to me whenever you see me next.  Since I will be making regular donations there is no need to make a special trip, just bring them along the next time we have drinks or book group or whatever.
  2. Have a coupon for a brand you don't use? I'll take those too.
  3. See a good sale (or any sale really this week there were no sales) leave a comment here on the blog or email me directly.

When I think about helping people I am always most moved by tangible things, money is awesome and necessary, but the idea of providing direct services to those who need it most is wonderful.

40 Days of Giving will also include posts on Volunteer time (I will be posting some volunteer opportunities if you want to join me for a public service date) and some Fundraising pages for friends who are raising money for important causes.  So keep an eye out!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Let's Get Personal...Training!

When I joined the Y in August one of the benefits was a free 2 hour "Getting Started" Personal Training package.  The idea was to get you familiar with the gym, learn how to use the equipment and hopefully inspire you to pay for personal training moving forward.

I tucked that benefit into the back of my mind.  There was no way I was letting a trainer see me in the shape I was in back then and I knew enough to get started on my own.  As I improved I figured I would save this free training for my 2nd big goal/post-holiday kick off.  I stuck to the plan and last night I had my first hour long session.

The session was half conversation and half work.  The trainer, a young guy named Matt who was really super friendly in a genuine way, was impressed by what I had accomplished on my own, seemed to really understand what my next goal was and was realistic about what I could do.

I then had to do an assessment which involved the following: 500M rowing (easy), 40 Squats with perfect form (harder), 20 Sit-ups (I did 10), 10 Push-ups (I did modified) and 10 Pull-ups (I did 5 assisted).  Matt assured me I was among the average of folks he sees, but it still struck me as a reality check.

I am proud of what I have done the past 5 months, I know I have made some amazing strides.  My clothes are 2 sizes smaller, airplane seats are actually roomy and my friends and family continue to tell me how great I look.  I am stronger and fitter, but I am far from strong and fit.  Matt seems confident I can get there, this is the next goal.  I will redo that assessment each month until I can do all those things in perfect form in above average time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Make Healthy Memories

We tend to focus on bad habits, but habits can be a very very good thing.  By starting this blog and my healthier lifestyle with my 40 Day Challenges in Exercise and Veggies I really built some good habits that I have managed to maintain for over 5 months and helped get me through the holidays.

Sticking to a gym routine that has organized landmarks in it, like a regularly scheduled class or a repeated block of pool time, allows me to have healthy memories that make planning the next week very easy.  When I think, "what did I do last Tuesday night?" the answer is always the same, I went to Zumba.

Same with food, when I think back about what I ate for the past 5 months, most of it was healthy so coming up with a healthy idea for dinner isn't nearly as hard as it used to be.

You have to find a balance between routine and a rut, you don't want to make everything so predictable you get bored and stop, but a few solid habits will keep you going.  Do you have healthy habits that keep you on track?  Please share them in the comments, thanks!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Holidays 0, Me -7

OK, so technically I have 1 more holiday festivity left to get through, it is tomorrow and I am hosting it.  It involves a good deal of cheese.  For most though, the holidays are over. 

If you remember, I hit a weight loss goal on the Friday before Thanksgiving week and my next goal was to not gain any weight back over the holidays (*NIH estimates the average American gains 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Years -- I was never average).  I am happy to report that since November 20th I have lost 7 pounds.

I monitored my weight over those 7 weeks and had some ups and downs, but the official weigh in today is 7 pounds down.  I'll take it.

Never once during the holidays did I feel deprived of anything, I ate what I wanted, took part in lots of festivities, exercised when I could and tried to slip in healthy meals whenever possible.

What was most reassuring this week was my ability to get back into a good schedule of eating healthy and working out after a 2 week vacation over Christmas.  It is so easy to fracture good habits and it takes so long to re-cultivate them that often giving up is the path of least resistance.

I don't feel that desire to slack at all right now and it is kind of amazing!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's is Just Another Day

People attach a lot of significance to New Year's Day and while it is certainly a good reminder of the passage of time and an easy day to remember to change the batteries in your smoke detectors, it really is just another day.  Sure you throw out one calendar and hang another, but don't fret over those pesky resolutions.

I am not saying you don't need to have goals and such planned for the year, but you don't miss out on goal setting if you wait until after the holiday hubbub to set them.  And nowhere does it state you have to set them in blood and never adjust them as you go through the year.

I am a firm believer in achievable goals and on reassessing them as you go.  I have plenty of goals for 2015 in my little brain, but I am not going to bore you with them, some of them are silly and some private.

I did complete a goal I had set for the end of 2014 when I swam a mile on December 30th.  I was psyched about that, but I had set that goal in September.  I never would have set that goal way back last January since I didn't have a pool to swim in and I had no idea I would be swimming for fitness.

Lots of people use New Years to jump start a healthy lifestyle and if you are one of them then congratulations, but if you don't get to the gym until April (or August as I did in 2014) that doesn't mean your year is a failure.  New Year's is just another day....