Sunday, April 9, 2017

Discovering Motivation in the Moment

Boyce Park

Saturday morning was a warm sunny day in Pittsburgh.  The weeks before had been chilly and rainy.  That motivated me to get out for a run to enjoy the weather.

A group of friends and I are registered to run the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay in a couple of weeks.  My leg of the race is 4.2 miles - a mile farther than I normally run.  The need to train so I don't let down my friends motivated me to get out for a run.

Over these past few weeks I have watched several of the senior citizens that I help care for at work continue to physically decline.  I constantly hear our Physical Therapist talk about how they stopped coming to exercise and the impact that that sedentary lifestyle has had on their health.  My fear of becoming like them motivated me to get out for a run.

I parked my car and began to run along the hilly road that winds through Boyce Park.  A little over a mile into my run, my legs started to ache and I felt tired.  I was ready to turn around and head back to my car.  All of the reasons why I was out for a run came to mind.  They were very valid reasons to continue, but I wasn't feeling it today.  Forget the three miles, I was just going to do two.  My motivation was gone.

It was then that I rounded a bend and saw them.  An elderly man and woman.  Bundled up in winter coats with hats and gloves.  He with a cane and her bent over a walker.  Moving at a slow pace.  Each step purposeful.  Each step obviously coming with pain and difficulty.  Wow - if they could be out pushing themselves to keep moving, how in the world could I let myself stop short of the goal that I had set for myself?  If they could do it, so could I.

I picked up my pace and caught up with them.  They were just adorable.  Talking to each other while continuing to move forward step by step.

I couldn't help myself.  I had to say something.

"What an inspiration you are to me," I said as I ran past.  "Keep going!  You're doing great!"

They looked at me and smiled.

I suddenly had a surge of energy and pushed myself to run through my walking intervals until I came to a hill and started to walk.  I could sense a car coming up behind me and then realized that it was slowing down.  It was the elderly couple.  The driver's side window was down.

"We finished our lap.  Time to finish yours!  Keep going," the gentleman said to me as his wife waved at me from the passenger side.

My motivation had returned.  I smiled and waved as the car disappeared over the hill.

I spent the next mile thinking about the absolutely adorable couple.  I could tell that they both were in pain as they walked along the road.  Yet, they hadn't stayed home.  They didn't quit because it was too hard or because they were tired.  They kept going and kept pushing themselves to take one step at a time.  Which is exactly what I did as I wrapped up a three mile run that had almost become two.

I have several big picture motivators, goals and fears that keep me moving day after day.  But sometimes the big picture isn't good enough.  It's easy to tell myself that I will focus on that tomorrow while choosing to do something else.  Running into that couple reminded me to look around me for a smaller dose of motivation to keep myself moving.  The beauty of the environment.  A favorite song with a great memory attached to it that is on my playlist that pushes me to run.  A friend who is expecting me.  A couple who inspires me to keep moving because they are moving.  I am surrounded by motivating people and situations just waiting to be discovered and push me towards success!
Making my way up the hill at Boyce Park.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

It Turns Out We were All Afraid of the Spin Bike

 
The Spin Classroom at my YMCA

While I like to try new things, I am far from the most daring person you will ever meet.  Rarely will I try anything for the first time by myself.  I ran my first 5k with my brother-in-law.  My best friend Amy and I went to our first Zumba class together.  Zip-lining was tackled with my sister's firm promise that she would be flinging herself down the mountain right behind me. 

One thing that I have been wanting to try for years is a Spin Class.  I would walk past the Spin Classroom at the YMCA and hear the pounding music and see the class full of people with wet hair and sweat pouring off their faces and my heart would start to pound.  There are a few Spin Bikes in the gym scattered among the treadmills and elliptical machines, but I would just give them a fearful glance as I finished a run. 

How could something as simple as a bike be so scary?  The seat is small.  No way my big bottom will fit on that little seat.  There are straps on the pedals.  What if I can't get them off and then I am stuck there - how embarrassing!  Various knobs are all over the place and what in the world are all of those numbers on that little screen?  Plus, I always see people peddling and standing.  How in the world am I going to stand and pedal?  I'll last like ten seconds.  No way.

One evening I ran into my co-worker Elaine at the Y.  She told me that she had just come out of a Spin Class and asked if I had ever tried one.  When I told her no, she invited me to join her sometime.  I shared with her that I had always wanted to try a Spin Class and that I would love to join her some evening. 

I managed to avoid actually going to Spin Class for about a year.  There was always a valid reason why I could not meet her for a class.

Then, Elaine called my bluff. 

I was sharing with my co-workers at our Morning Meeting about March Fourth.  Encouraging them to set a goal, try something new, do something for their health.  Elaine piped up - "This year Lisa is marching forth by trying a Spin Class with me on Wednesday."  WHAT?!?!  Everyone was looking at me.  How could I say no when I was encouraging them to take action?  "I'll see you on Wednesday, Elaine!" came out of my mouth.

Wednesday night I met Elaine at the Y at 6PM - fifteen minutes before class started (It is important to arrive early because bikes fill-up quick and once they are filled you are out of luck!).  I was literally shaking.  Elaine introduced me to the instructor who got me set up on the bike.  She moved the seat up and down and backwards and forward until she felt it was just right.  Then she adjusted the handle bars.  GULP - Next she strapped my feet into the peddles and had me start peddling.  My heart was pounding and I suddenly got really hot.  She instructed me on what the numbers on the screen meant.  Finally, she reviewed the Spinning lingo that I would need to understand in order to follow along - seated climb, standing flat, resistance, jumps  (Check out http://blog.mioglobal.com/spinning-glossary/ for a description of Spinning lingo.).  At that point, she deemed me ready to roll and walked away leaving me strapped to the bike gripping the handlebars for dear life and trying my best to maintain my balance.

Next thing I knew the lights went out and the music turned up.  For 45 minutes I sat.  I stood.  I pedaled fast.  I cranked up the resistance and slowly pushed those pedals forward.  Sweat was pouring down my face.  And then . . . it was over. 

Elaine and I after my first Spin Class
I LOVED it!  The 45 minutes flew by.  I pedaled while sitting and standing, going up hills and rolling along the flats.  I had no problem keeping up with the instructor.  Best of all - I never fell off the bike!  It was fantastic!  My mind was blown.  My fear was conquered.  I survived my first Spin Class.  Wow!  I was so thankful that Elaine had invited me and then pushed me to follow through with my yes.

The next day I felt great.  My legs and bottom were a little sore - just enough to remind myself that I had worked hard the night before rising victorious over my fear.  I told a few of my friends about how much I enjoyed the Spin Class and what a fantastic workout it was.  Several of their responses shocked me.  It turns out that I wasn't the only one afraid of the Spin Bike!  They told me that they had always wanted to try a Spin Class, but didn't want to go by themselves or were too nervous.  Really???  I honestly thought that I was the only one who had a fear of the bike.

So I invited them to join me in class with Elaine the following Wednesday, and two of my friends showed up!  By the end of class Spinning had two more admirers - both Nicole and Amy conquered their fear of the bike.

Nicole and Amy joining in on the fun!
Lessons learned:
* Never be afraid to voice fear about something because you're most likely not the only one.
* Conquering a fear is much easier and more fun with friends.
* Spinning is fun!


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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Re-Visiting my Snack Attack Prevention Plan

My stress levels are rising.  Home life and work life are busier than ever.  My stress eating habit is wanting to rear it's ugly head!  Before things get out of hand, I thought it would be helpful for me to re-visit the Snack Attack Prevention Plan I set up for myself:

I admit it . . . I'm a stress eater.  When my stress levels go up, my willpower goes down.  The past month at work has been high stress.  It took me a few weeks to recognize it, but my willpower was plummeting.  The new habits that I had developed over the past several years seemed to just disappear.  Looking at my desk one day, I counted four food wrappers.  FOUR!  Wow!  That was the moment that I realized I needed to get my act together.  I was in a fierce battle with the Snack Attack Monster and I needed a plan. 
   
Re-Commit to Living Healthy
On my drive home that night, I turned the radio off and spent some time thinking.  I needed to admit to myself that I was slipping into some old habits.  I love snacking.  I love pretzels and chips and gummy candies.  So when someone leaves a box filled with small bags of Doritos in our Employee Lounge, of course I am going to grab one.   When I step into my co-workers office and she offers me a handful of gummy worms, of course I'm going to say yes.  When I'm sitting at my desk at the end of the day and my stomach is gurgling, of course I'm going to go the vending machine.  Really?  No!  I'm going to walk past the breakroom, graciously decline the offer and come to work prepared with healthy snacks.  Why?  Because I want to feel good, have energy, live long and not put back on the weight I've lost.  

That evening I got out two index cards and wrote down the scripture and quote that started me on my journey of healthy living:
Let us not grow weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9  
 
No one can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
Maria Robinson
The next day I posted them by my computer as a visual reminder of my commitment to live healthy.
   
Re-Charge Breakfast
The time between when my alarm goes off and when I need to be pulling out of the driveway always goes so fast!  I found that I was often grabbing a granola bar or the dreaded Pop Tart as I ran out the door to satisfy my morning hunger.  Neither are very filling.  So by 9AM my stomach is rumbling and I'm wanting something to eat. 

I had always wanted to try making smoothies for breakfast.  My hesitation came from seeing recipes that call for protein powder and not knowing exactly what that involves.  Talking with my friend Dana - a dietitian - eased my fear of the unknown.  She said that for my purposes there were plenty of ways to naturally add protein to the smoothies through bananas, yogurt, peanut butter and even pureed pumpkin!  (Note from my friend Dana after reading this blog entry - "Neither bananas nor pumpkin are high in protein but they def add bulk, fiber and other nutrients that will keep you satisfied until you need a mid-morning snack."  I want to make sure I'm sharing correct information.)

Well-educated and very enthusiastic, I dug our blender out of the basement, bought a variety of ingredients and been have been whipping up healthy, tasty and filling breakfast smoothies all week,  YUMMY!  I have to admit that I have been surprised that they truly are filling.  My stomach did not rumble in the morning all week! 

The only possible downside to the smoothies is that they do take a little longer to prepare than simply grabbing a granola bar.  However, I'm a great multi-tasker (I did almost put the chopped garlic in the blender instead of the crockpot yesterday, but I caught myself just in time!) and my husband hasn't minded cleaning up my mess - especially since I've been leaving him his very own smoothie!

Re-New My Relationship with Water
Over the past couple of weeks I realized that I have gotten away from drinking water at work.  The cup that I had always carried around the Center with me sat dry and empty on the corner of my desk.  This week I made a conscious effort to fill it up every morning on my way to our daily meeting and then carry it with me throughout the day.  One of my favorite features of the Adult Day Center where I work is the door ice and water dispensers on the fridge.  I do like ice cold water - it fills me up and wakes me up!

My battle plan is in place.  It was that simple.  I'm RE-COMMITTED, RE-CHARGED and RE-NEWED!  Workday Snack Attacks don't stand a chance against this girl. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Marching Forth: Know the Journey will not be Perfect

My plan had been to share a tip everyday this week leading up to March Fourth.  Here we are on Thursday night at 10:40PM and I am tired.  I've been up since 5AM, worked all day and just got home from a meeting.  I want nothing more than to crawl into bed.  But this blog post is looming over my head.  I seriously thought about telling myself to forget it,  No one would miss it.

But then I realized what a perfect topic to share!  We often plan out our lives having everything pictured in our mind of exactly how it will go.  Then when we miss something or mess up or life simply gets in the way we are very quick to throw our hands up and give up.

Those are the times that we need to dig deep and not give up.  We need to keep our focus on the goal and keep going.  So what we missed a couple days of exercise - let's head back to the gym.  So what I went to bed before hitting the 10,000 step mark on my FitBit - I'll try again tomorrow.  So what I mindlessly ate three cookies during our staff meeting - I'll make wiser choices starting right now.

It's important that we forgive ourselves, pick ourselves up and continue Marching Forth towards a healthier life.

Now I'm off to bed!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Marching Forth: Put it on Your Calendar

A few weeks ago our Pastor preached about finding balance in your life.  He must have been talking directly to me as finding balance is my lifelong battle.  How in the world does one fit everything in that needs to be done and remain sane?

He gave us four practical tips.  One of them stuck out to me.  It's one that I have been practicing, but hearing it again was a good reminder.

BE PURPOSEFUL WITH YOUR CALENDAR.

Pastor was speaking mainly about purposefully setting dates on your calendar with your spouse and time with your family, but I believe that the same applies to taking care of ourselves.  I can talk all I want about going to the gym or registering for this race or trying a new recipe.  I'm much more likely to do it if I put it on my calendar.  

I have a weekly calendar that I post on one of our kitchen cabinets.  I list all of our activities for the week and our meals.  When I put my workouts or plans to run, my family expects me to go.  I don't have to worry about what they're doing - they know that is my time.  Having it on the calendar prevents me from scheduling something else at that same time.  I also find myself saying to myself, "I'm too tire to run today, but it's on the calendar."  It's as if I don't want to let the calendar down!  That's the people pleaser coming out in me, but it works!  I get up and go!  

Being purposeful about your calendar doesn't have to have anything to do with exercise.  If you want to paint or write more - schedule yourself blocks of time to do that. If you want to de-clutter your house, schedule yourself for 20 minutes a day, one drawer a day, two hours a week - whatever will work for you.  If you want to call your best friend more often, set a weekly date to talk on the phone.  

As my dad always says, plan you work and work your plan!  Putting your goals on your calendar helps you to achieve them!
March Fourth is a great day to march towards a life of living with purpose, a life lived with intention!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Marching Forth: Create a Circle of Support

Five days away from one of my favorite days of the year and I have another idea for you of how you can March Forth into a healthier life - create a circle of support.  What does that mean?  Tell someone that you want to make some healthy changes in your life.  Telling someone will do two things:

1) The physical action of stating a goal out loud is powerful.  It makes it real.  It is no longer an abstract thought floating around your mind.  Your goal is now out there. You're no longer just thinking about maybe trying a spinning class.  You're not simply contemplating quitting smoking.   You're no longer considering running a 5k.  You've stated that you're going to do it.

2) Whoever you tell will be able to hold you accountable and encourage you on your journey.  Heading to the vending machine at work?  Dana knows you're trying to eat healthier and is going to stop you before you buy a King-sized Snickers.  Thinking about taking a nap instead of going to Zumba?  Amy is meeting you there so you can't skip!  Feeling discouraged because your week hasn't gone as planned?  Meg is there to listen, pick you up off the ground and get you back on track.

Telling one person is fantastic, but I encourage you to tell several.  I picture it in my mind as my friends standing around me in a tight circle holding hands.  If I lean to the left there will be people there to keep me from falling.  If I lean to the right there will be people there to keep me on my feet.  Any direction that I stumble or start to fall, my circle of support will be there to catch me.

Pick the members of your circle of support wisely.  You want friends and family in your circle who will be positive, encouraging and supportive of your journey.  Not someone who will put you down or burst your bubble of enthusiasm.  Your circle should be filled with your best cheerleaders.

On March Fourth, consider setting the goal to create a Circle of Support as you March Forth into a healthier life!




My Incredible Circle of Support

Monday, February 27, 2017

Marching Forth: Taking the Longest Route

I grew up spending several nights a week in a dance studio.  Exercise to me meant leg warmers and an hour or more of dancing around.  Exercise was following along with my Jane Fonda workout tape played on the VCR.  I remember being so excited when the Heart and Sole Aerobics Studio opened up in our local strip mall.  That first summer I went everyday.

The older I got the less time I had to "exercise."  I felt that there wasn't time to take an entire hour out of my day to drive to a gym and take a class.  Welcome to my twenties and my kids were born.  Hitting my thirties, my husband began to battle numerous health problems and I found myself to be a working parent and caregiving spouse.  After awhile, thoughts of exercising or working out never even entered my mind.

Then my weight began to climb.  My stress level was through the roof.  My blood pressure and cholesterol were battling for first place to see who could be my biggest health problem.  My doctor (and my mom) began to bug me about exercising.  I mentally dug out my old speech - "There was no time to take a class.  That would take an hour or more.  I can't do it.  I don't have time.  Plus, I'm way too tired."

One day my friend Jane, a Physical Therapist, told me something that really hit home.  Exercise is simply defined as increased movement. You mean I don't have to join a gym or sign-up for a class?  You mean I don't have to spend an entire hour-and-a-half of my day sweating and then have to take a second shower?  This is incredible!
 Exercise is   
   increased   
  movement. 
So seven years ago I began to see how I could add movement to my day.  Parking at the far end of the grocery store parking lot.  Parking at the opposite end of the mall from the store I need to go to.  Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  Walking to talk with a co-worker rather than call on the phone.  Taking the longest route possible to get from point A to B.  Walking to the park located a street over instead of driving.  

I quickly began to discover that I physically felt better and had some more pep in my step.  I went from not moving much at all to seeing how much I could move in a day.  I began to take walks during lunch or after dinner.  My amount of movement kept building more and more.  Those small steps taken to increase my movement led to running 5ks, taking a weekly Zumba class and hitting the gym with my kids - all things that I still do today seven years later.  But I started with that small step of simply trying to move a little bit more every day.

Are you stuck in the I-don't-have-time rut?  Are you so tired by the end of the day that you can't move?  At the same time, are you ready to make a change and live a healthier life, but are struggling to do so?

Here is a great way to March Forth toward a healthier life - re-define exercise.  Commit to increasing your movement during the day.  It is a fun and easy way to start. The possibilities are endless of what you can do!
I will park at the far end of the grocery store parking lot.
I will use the restroom at the far end of the hallway.  
I will take the stairs to my fourth floor office in the morning instead of the elevator.
  

Remember - you got this!  Take it one small step at a time.
Happy March Fourth!
Lisa