Archive for December, 2010

changes for 2011

On March 7, 2010, I started this blog, not really sure where it was going. I just knew I had a lot of stuff to put out there that I had learned along the way (and was continuing to learn) and that I was sure there were others who it would help.

Since then, I have published 299 posts (today’s is #300!), most of which were content.

I had no idea how much time and energy it takes to blog every day long-term. Whew!

In an effort to reallocate time a bit, I have decided to stop the insanity known as blogging every day.

I am planning to post three weekdays per week, and maintain the Saturday recipe feature and Sunday link roundup feature, though I might move one or both to a different day.

What will be new around here? Nichol (who gave us a guest post here) is going to contribute each Wednesday on her ongoing life transformation. I told her she could lay out whatever she wanted β€” food, exercise, smoking, finances, struggles, successes, plateaus β€” to give a somewhat real-time account of change in progress. I am excited about this and think it will be a great addition πŸ™‚

I also have a few other guest posts lined up. If you have an interest/knowledge/passion for any aspect of health or fitness (chemicals, organics, food in general, exercise, other medical stuff β€” sky’s the limit) and /or have a story of change that you would like to share, please contact me at heather at secondchancefit dot com and we’ll work out a plan.

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Have a great New Year’s Eve, however you decide to spend it, and I’ll see you on the flip side!

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resolutions!

It’s that time of year! Many people are making their New Year’s resolutions, in hopes of making positive change in 2011. Are you one of them?

A few tips:

  • Make your resolution(s) attainable.
  • Make a concrete plan for attaining them.
  • Make few enough of them that you can give enough attention to each.
  • Give each of them a “why” β€” if you have solid reasons for wanting to adjust behaviors, it sometimes helps to keep them.
  • If you are looking to stop a habit, find something(s) to replace it with.
  • If you have a long-term goal, break it down into smaller goals.

I will make resolutions at New Year’s sometimes, but I’m of the mindset that if I want to change something, I’ll just do it then β€” no need to wait.

Things I’m kicking around in my head for 2011 (might be too many for me):

  • sugar-free for January β€” I’ve done this before (as part of a contest) and I felt much better (and it completely killed sweets cravings by the end of the month).
  • dairy-free for January β€” there are so many chemicals in milk (and therefore milk products) … So I’m going to see how a month without dairy goes. At this point, I eat cheese and occasionally ice cream or yogurt (frozen or otherwise), which shouldn’t be too difficult, but there are milk derivatives in a lot of stuff. That’s OK. It’ll help me move towards what I’d really like to do, which is eat more food the way it came from the earth. (Milk is also food for baby cows and wasn’t meant for human consumption…)
  • grow my training business β€” the nitty-gritty details of this will stay on the down-low for now, but they include landing some public speaking engagements, drawing in more training clients, running a successful boot camp, and writing an e-book.
  • get my 5K time back down to 30 minutes β€” because of funky post-chemo body issues, this might not actually be possible. Only one way to find out.
  • talk to an out-of-town friend or family member once a week β€” I still have a few good friends back east, and I have family all over. I am hit-or-miss with keeping in touch with folks, but if I can be in touch with at least one person each week, that will make connections stronger.
  • clean out the house β€” there is still too much stuff in my house. The goal is to have less. I have a fair amount of stuff that is sell-able, but I loathe shipping. Perhaps I’ll see what I can unload locally…
  • read more books β€” between teaching, starting/maintaining a business, starting/maintaining this blog, exercising regularly, plus the usual life events, I don’t always have time just to chill. I used to read a lot. I am going to scale back a bit in various arenas to have more time to read.

Problem with that list is that it’s long and is likely to spread me a little too thin trying to get it all done (which is ironic, since part of the list is to chill more). So I’m not sure.

Do you make resolutions? Do you keep them? What’s up for you in the coming year?

how do you spend your time β€” or in other words: how are you spending your life?

This post really hit on something I’ve been thinking about lately.

When asked, most people will say that the most important things in their lives are family, health, maybe friends. But how many people live their lives according to those priorities?

To me, this was the most thought-provoking snippet from the above link:

He then said something that was eye-opening. He said, β€œPretend the time you have in a day is made up of 10 units. How many of those units do you devote to work?”

I said, β€œEight.”

He nodded. Then, β€œHow many on your relationship?”

I said, after a long (and humbling) pause, β€œOne.”

He said, β€œI don’t think so.”

And that’s when I broke down in tears.

I am guilty of this as well, though I’m getting a bit better at it. (I don’t spend 80% of my day devoted to work on most days, either.) The Big Man and I are spending more time together. I spend time with friends (some more than others, though that’s not all on my shoulders). I have maintained long-distance friendships with people who I moved away from over seven years ago.

The person I most often cheat out of time is myself.

After slacking off from the gym for a couple of weeks (various useless excuses), I’ve been back on the proverbial wagon for about a week now, and it feels great! Some of that is the general good feeling that accompanies exercise, and some of it is that exercise is me-time, and that had been missing.

For myself, me-time needs to be in a consciously-chosen activity. Reading a book. Exercising. Even cleaning, depending on circumstances. But plopping down with the laptop and surfing doesn’t usually make me feel like I’ve taken time out for myself to recharge. What about you?

How do you spend your days? Does the way you spend your time match what your priorities are?

change inspires change

It has been my experience that cleaning up one area of life inspires both more cleaning up in that area (to a degree previously not thought possible or likely) and cleaning up in other areas.

For example:

I started cleaning up my eating (very slowly!) a long time ago. Then I tacked on going to the gym. But at that point, most of my eating was still garbage and I mostly just read a book on a stationary bike at the gym. It was change, and I was losing some weight and feeling a little better, but it was not much.

Then I started going to spin and to another butt-whooping class at the gym. That raised the intensity, which raised results, which inspired better eating and eventually some weight-lifting. It all spiraled on itself, but it was a good spiral. (Usually when we hear/talk about life events spiraling, we’re talking about a downward spiral. Not so in this case.)

And then it became time to get my finances under control. And my life in general.

I moved to Arizona and did a better job with finances (which, admittedly, was still not the best, but improvement…).

Fast forward to now, seven years after I moved to Arizona. I eat well almost all the time, I exercise on a regular basis almost all the time β€” and I feel the repercussions of both when I don’t β€” our financial house is in pretty good shape, other aspects of life are more or less in order. There is always room for improvement, but my life all around is vastly different than it was when I moved here and prior.

I am seeing this pattern in others who started with one of the big three β€” eating, exercise, finance β€” and have gradually expanded to other realms.

I think that making significant changes requires you to be thoughtful about what you’re doing and why. It leads to some introspection, which bleeds into your whole life.

For example:

“I noticed that I eat when I’m stressed out” will probably eventually lead you to noticing when you’re eating, which gives you some insight about when you’re stressed and why. That might sound stupid, but we are often unaware of how things affect us. So you decide not to eat when you’re stressed but need to substitute another activity, so you decide to go for walks instead. You also decide to try to reduce your stress load so you need coping mechanisms less frequently. You see how it snowballs?

Have you experienced this? If not, do you think it could happen to you?

craving sweets? imagine eating them…

I read this article from National Geographic and saved it … and soon thereafter read another article on the same thing, and then another. I don’t recall if all three were talking about the same study (probably), but it resonates well with me.

The gist was this: study participants who were asked to imagine eating a lot of M&Ms ate fewer of them when presented with a bowl than study participants who were asked to imagine eating just a few or none.

Clarification: they were not asked to imagine M&Ms β€” they were asked to imagine eating M&Ms. There is a huge difference there.

Those running the experiment believe this in part has to do with habituation, where your taste buds aren’t nearly as excited about the fourth bite of something as they were the first.

I think it also ties in with all the science behind effective visualizations. I am a big fan of these β€” they have helped me change myself β€” but I know that many people think it’s bunk. I encourage you to open your mind and try it and see what happens. Let go for a couple of weeks and believe that it might actually work. It costs no money and very little time, so you have little to lose and everything to gain…

The mind does more than we give it credit for, I think. Really β€” how often do you eat something because it looks good or smells good or you just want it? That’s not eating from a hunger cue, that’s eating from a mental cue. If we only ate when we were hungry (and stopped when we were sated), our bodies (in general) would look a lot different.

So if you’re going to use yourself as a subject in this experiment, the key is to imagine eating whatever it is in as much vivid detail as possible β€” how it looks, feels in your hand, feels in your mouth, smells, tastes. You’re not just imagining the food itself β€” that will increase desire.Β You want to simulate eating it.

Try it and report back.

other people’s handiwork

I hope everyone’s weekend has been at least pleasant, if not fabulous. I admit that I am a bit relieved that Christmas is over β€” so much hype in so many arenas, so much Too Much β€” too much stuff, too much food, too much alcohol, too much stress, too much to do. I believe it is possible to have an amazing holiday without the excess … but for now, I am in the minority.

Stepping off the soapbox … the three links today are all really quite good. I hope you like them πŸ™‚

Get Motivated! 11 Ideas That Really Work from No Meat Athlete: A different-than-the-usual-fare list of suggestions to help you get motivated to be up and moving, or moving more, or moving faster, depending on where you are right now. Do any of these look like they’ll work for you?

Treat Yourself Like A Toddler from The Happiness Project: A short post with a brilliant way to make sure that you take care of yourself.

Easy Holiday Planning from A Weight Lifted: Actually, the bulk of this post is good advice for year-round self-care.

the demise of the best-laid plans

I am taking off from writing for Friday and Saturday, so today’s post is my last opportunity to pass along some holiday wisdom.

Christmas-themed merchandise has been in stores for months, lights have been up and music playing for weeks, and tips, hints, and advice has filled the blog-o-sphere.

Soon, good people, it will be over.

Here’s the rub: it needs to happen before it passes.

For many people, Christmas is similar to a wedding: an insane amount of planning goes into it, an insane amount of money is spent on it, everyone has a role they are supposed to fill, and if everyone remembers their lines, then it will be picture-perfect.

Except this is real life, and, just like at weddings, sometimes there are people involved who we might be jollier without.

Depending on who you will be spending time with, this weekend might not be something you’re looking forward to.

If you have stressed yourself out preparing, you’re more likely to feel entitled to the day(s) going the way you want. It’s too late to change the weeks of stressing out, but you could choose to relax these last few days…

When things don’t go the way they’re supposed to (yes, when β€” how often do things all go according to plan?), take a deep breath and remember what’s important.

Is having the toddler in cute clothes more important than having the toddler happy? Will pointing out the downfalls of your teenager make him/her suddenly realize the errors of their ways? (Does it work on you?) Will criticizing your mom’s/wife’s/aunt’s roast/cookies/eggnog make it better?

Consider that all of the people around you are indeed actually people. They all have thoughts, opinions, and feelings that might not match yours. It doesn’t make them stupid (most of the time πŸ˜‰ ). Let the little stuff go.

If you can truly just remind yourself that it’s not important, your day will be happier and less stressful (as will that of those around you). If you are constantly noticing and/or pointing out things that are a problem for whatever reason, the whole day becomes negative and tedious.

There is so much touting of “the spirit of the season.” But the people we’re related to who we’re spending the most time with are the ones who are possibly the most difficult to be charitable with.

‘Tis the season πŸ™‚

Have a peaceful, joyful weekend. I’ll be back with some links on Sunday and content on Monday, by which time there will be less than a week of 2010 left. Crazy!

Merry Christmas πŸ™‚

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