When Should I Speak Up?

When you change your lifestyle, or at least any significant part of it, and it yields good results, you want to shout it out from the rooftops. You want to tell everyone and anyone what you’re doing, because you want them to find the same success that you have found.

So when is a good time to volunteer (unprovoked) information about all you’ve been doing, and all that someone else could be doing?

Almost never.

I would say never, but there are always exceptions tucked in dark corners, so I’ll say almost never to leave room for exceptions.

Do you remember yourself, back before you started to make changes? If you had spent a meal with someone, and they critiqued the food and your eating the entire meal, would that have changed what you ate? My money’s on NO. But it would have made you resent the person and perhaps do what you could to avoid eating with them again.

You become “that person.”

I’m sure there are things now that people could preach at you about that you’re just not ready or wanting to change. Everyone has different priorities.

For example: on Thanksgiving, I didn’t eat any turkey or gravy. Everyone there already knew I’m vegetarian, and no one — including me — said anything about it. I also didn’t eat any dessert. When offered, I said, “No thank you. I’m skipping sugar this weekend.”

Was there anything on the table I could have commented on? Um, yes. Probably everything. But we didn’t gather at Thanksgiving to eat a well-balanced healthy meal and discuss the merits of doing so. We gathered to be together on what has become a holiday spent with family.

If anyone had asked my thoughts on any of the dishes, I surely would have answered them carefully but honestly. (Carefully because someone in the room prepared each dish. It would be rude to cut them down, especially in front of everyone else.) If anyone had asked why I was skipping sugar, I would have told them. (Empty calories were a reason, but I had bigger reasons. Everyone just assumed I was “being good.”)

But no one asked. So I didn’t volunteer. And it’s OK. If people want to talk about it, I can talk for hours 🙂 But only by request.

The other piece is: if people ask me how I do what I do, then of course, I’ll tell them. I start in not too much detail and allow room for questions. It’s easy to launch into a soliloquy, but that’s typically not what people are looking for.

Again, it serves you well to tread lightly in many areas, and I don’t usually argue much when people say, “I could never [do anything healthy].” Of course they can. They haven’t chosen to do it yet. But it’s not likely that me pounding them over the head (with what amounts to guilt and shame) is going to change their life — or our conversation, or our relationship — for the better.

If you’ve made an obvious body transformation, people will ask if they want to know.

Everyone is on their own path. Let them.

Lost My Focus

Wednesday is here again! And so is Nichol!

The original goal of this year long project was to run one mile everyday.

Somehow, that original goal morphed into something else and I abandoned it for different forms of exercise. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not great.

I’m pretty sure it happened when I began to get bored and tired. And now I’m starting to become resentful, which I definitely don’t want to happen. So I’ve gone back to the basics.

By the time you read this, I will have 34 days of miles left. And that’s what I am going to do. Back to the original plan of running one mile every day. With four exceptions (my last four class nights of the semester), which makes it essentially 30 days of genuine mile a day.

I’m going to get bored again, but I’ll take bored of exercise over resentful of exercise any day.

I’m still definitely looking forward to not having an obligation to fulfill and start working out again for the pure joy of physical exertion.

That being said, I am also a person who likes to have goals to achieve and I’m already planning my attack for the next year. We can get into that the week before the new year, but as for right now? I’m going to eat some mozzarella balls that I bought at Sprouts because they are insane, in a totally good way.

Tri for Fun

Because my most recent race was in the midst of breast cancer awareness, I didn’t post about it when it was timely.

It was my fourth triathlon, my first in San Diego.

I would love to tell you about how fun it was, but honestly, it wasn’t fun.

I raced at the end of a week of vacation (that’s how the schedule worked out — I didn’t plan it that way). My body didn’t feel good.

And the morning of the race, it was cold and raining.

All three previous races were in the Phoenix area and it was at least warm if not hot, and the skies certainly were clear. So I’m used to getting out of the water, getting on my bike, and being dry within a mile.

This time, not so much.

Because of the nature of racing (it’s exercise), once I got moving in the water, I wasn’t cold any more, but I was wet.

Anyway, it happens. Not every race is going to be a great race. That’s OK.

Compared to my previous races (and not compared to other racers), my swim time was OK, my bike time was OK, and my run time was slow slow slow, even for me.

I am, in general, a slow racer. I am completely at peace with this. I would like to make myself faster, and typically, I do, but it’s really just to beat myself. I don’t anticipate hitting the medal stand any time in the next 50 years, after which point, I might win my age group by virtue of being the only one in it 😉

I could work to make myself more competitive, but I don’t want to. I do triathlon for fun. The amount of training that I put into it is all that I want to put into it. As soon as the training schedule becomes more rigid or time-consuming, it’s work, not play, and I don’t want to do that.

If my desire to make it work and be competitive changes, well, then I’ll change my course. Until then, it’s just a dip, a spin, and a stroll.

Do you do anything for fun where you reject others’ encouragement to be competitive?

Tips for Using Cardio Machines

Yesterday, I went to the gym and did what I affectionately call the Cardio Sampler. I did 10 to 15 minutes on each of the elliptical, the stair climber, the rower, and the treadmill. (Since I go to spin between one and three times per week, I skipped the stationary bikes.)

So many people pound away on some of these machines, looking for various results, but have issues that will significantly hinder their progress. Let me help you not be one of those people!

On the treadmill, elliptical, and especially the stair climber — let go of the rails! You want your weight to be on your legs. The more weight you take off your legs, the less effective using the machine is.

“But I can’t go as fast when I don’t lean.” That’s exactly the point.

Also, leaning takes away some of the balance component. Maintaining balance uses your core, so hanging on or leaning robs you of the opportunity to work your core a bit and to strengthen your balance skills. (Yes, balance is a skill.)

Go only as fast as you can without holding on.

The exception is the elliptical machine with arms that move. Grab on and use them! Often, people will just hold on. Instead, pump your arms and legs. You’ll need to increase the difficulty level, as pushing and pulling with your arms will take some of the work away from your legs, and, as we’ve already established, you don’t want that. This is one way to get a full-body cardio workout.

One final note: when you use the treadmill, make sure always to have at least a tiny bit of incline. Your calves are worked differently since your walking surface is moving. Some incline helps to re-engage the calves.

If you’re going to bother to go to the gym, you might as well use good form, make it hard, and get the most out of your time.

Now go do it!

Thanksgiving Tips

A friend was celebrating a weight loss milestone, which got me to thinking: I know a lot of people who are successfully taking weight off. I wonder how much they’ve done all together.

So I posted a Facebook query:

I have lost 15 pounds since [The Kid] was born. Another friend is celebrating a weight loss milestone. I know a few other friends who have been shedding pounds for a few months or a few years. Can we get a cumulative total here? Any of you who want to chime in (whether I’m aware of your fat loss path or not), please do!

23 people commented; 22 commented about weight loss. Achievements ranged from 10 to 91 pounds.

Cumulative total, including the 15 I’ve taken off: 726 pounds!

I hope that the timing of the post (and of this post) helps those 22 people to remember how hard they’ve worked to get where they are, and that they can enjoy a delicious meal tomorrow without consuming two days’ worth of calories at one meal.

And now, I hope you remember, too!

I have seen a smattering of posts talking about revving up, getting ready, etc. for blind overindulgence tomorrow. It’s as if people don’t feel like they’re getting their holiday’s worth if they aren’t uncomfortable and/or sick at the end of the meal.

If you “need” to wear special pants, feel bloated and disgusting, etc., then no tips to help curb overeating will help — you want to overeat.

I used to be like that. For a long time. I get it.

I’m also glad I’m not like that any more. Will this be the year you say, “I’m not like that any more”? The year you realize you can enjoy the meal without pain?

If you’re looking for some practical in-the-trenches tips, check out Jenn’s post here. She is in the midst of an amazing body transformation journey that is so exciting to witness!

If you’re looking for more psychological tips, read on.

The first one, actually, is the same: the day is not just about food. Surely, there will be at least one person at the dinner table who you like? Make Thanksgiving about them 🙂 Seriously, though, I hope there is at least some piece of this holiday that you are looking forward to that isn’t food. If not, perhaps this is the year to come up with one. Start a new tradition.

Give thanks for your body … and then mean it by fueling it properly. Overeating — especially on most of the foods that are commonly available — is stressful for your body, in addition to the weight that is likely to creep on.

Eat mindfully. Notice how the food looks and smells. Feel it in your mouth. Notice how it tastes. Pay attention to it. You could eat three bites of something slowly in the same amount of time that you eat twice as many quickly. Slow down and savor.

Food stops tasting as good after the first couple of bites — our taste buds get sated. So, combining this tidbit with the previous — take just a few bites and really enjoy them, before the novelty of their taste wears off.

Stop when you are full. Seriously. If dinner is over and you are full, don’t eat dessert yet. Wait an hour or two or three and then have a slice of pie. Afraid the vultures will eat it all? Take a slice and hoard it until later 😉

It will take you a long time to work off a lot of extra calories. Way longer than it will take you to consume them. Consider if it’s worth the extra workout time (or running a reasonable calorie deficit for the next week or more), if you’re looking not to gain weight.

After dinner, go for a walk. It doesn’t need to be fast and furious. This isn’t a “get the heart rate up!” kind of walk — just be out and moving around. And since you have planned the walk ahead of time, be mindful while you’re eating that you need to be mobile when the meal is over (not “in a while, when I can move again”). Use it as an opportunity to connect with others who go for a walk with you, or as a time to escape from the insanity for a bit.

Enjoy your meals! Enjoy the holiday! Be thankful in real, concrete ways, for whatever it is that you’re thankful for.

Oops…. I did it again

This is Wednesday right? Nichol is scheduled to work…let’s see if she shows up.

I’m here! Which is opposite of last week but my excuse is totally valid. I was playing Xbox!

That was a joke.

I was crazy sick. Which is also not an excuse because I got sick around 2:30 Wednesday morning and I usually write this between Sunday and Tuesday, but let’s just go with it, okay?

This semester is winding down and I could not be happier. It has been so difficult to make sure I get a decent workout in everyday, but some days (like 12 hour intern days or 14 hour school days) it sucks. A lot.

I will be officially done by the 1st if December and then I can kill the rest of this year, which is exciting. I re-started Couch to 5K, but I just can’t commit and finish. I’m so tired!

The plan is to alternate one mile runs and strength training a la P90X until the 31st. Then January starts, pressure is off, and I can have a normal routine that fits into my schedule and is no longer an obligation or a chore. I am ready to start enjoying my workouts again.

Off to put the finishing touches on my last paper of the semester and enjoy four days of relaxation.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

I’m Making A Quilt for Christmas

I’ve decided to make a quilt for myself for Christmas. I have the following patches that I am carefully piecing together:

  • old (pre-cancer, post-college) eating habits
  • new (post-baby) eating habits
  • new (post-baby) schedule/time available
  • old recipes
  • new recipes
  • old exercise habits (spin! lifting, swim-bike-run)
  • new exercise habits (more at home, more time-efficient)

Some of those pieces are tattered and need to be patched before I can set them in place. Some of them are completely theoretical and need to be measured and cut still. Some of them are already stitched together.

But I know what the quilt looks like when it’s done. It’s a healthy, balanced life where I and the others in my house are well-nourished.

This is not something that will be easy to put together, but I know it’s possible! Change IS possible! I know, for the most part, what I need to do to make this happen.

It is my Christmas gift to myself.

So, on Christmas, my pre-pregnancy clothes all will fit (I’m into about half of my pants right now). My energy will be higher. I will be on my way to my pre-pregnancy strength (and from there, onto pre-chemo strength). I will be looking for a new 5K personal record in 2013. I will be back on the path that chemo both interrupted and fueled.

What are you giving yourself for Christmas?

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