Wednesday, January 22, 2014


As I was watching The Biggest Loser's Makeover episode last night (still love that show!), there was one topic that the contestants brought up over and over and over again in their individual interviews  - TIME for themselves.  Everyone talked about how grateful they were to have the opportunity to take these past four months and spend TIME working on themselves.  Unlike the contestants on The Biggest Loser, I've never had four months that I could set aside to focus solely on myself - and I most likely never will. 

TIME is one of the things that I've always struggled with in life.  How do I get everything done that needs to be done in my life and still find TIME to take care of me?  My attitude used to be - I don't have TIME to take care of myself because my family and my job comes first.  They have to come before me.  I'm the one juggling all of the balls in the air.  If I drop one everything will fall a part.

While wrestling with TIME is still a struggle that rears it's ugly head, I began to understand TIME several years ago.  The problem isn't that I don't have TIME, the problem is the choices I make with the TIME I have.

I realized that I don't need big chunks of TIME to make life changes and do "healthy things." I could make several small changes that don't take much TIME at all.  The good news is that I have the power of choice over my TIME and by focusing on making small changes it was easier to be successful in making positive choices and maintaining changes.

During these past four years of working toward living a healthier lifestyle, some of the changes that needed to be made were very obvious like not drinking multiple cans of pop a day.  I can't imagine how much TIME I've saved by no longer spending part of my afternoon digging around my purse, my desk and even my car looking for one more quarter for the vending machine at work!  Now I drink water all the time.  I've found that the extremely cold ice water hitting my throat wakes me up much faster than a sugary dose of caffeine! 

Other changes have been fun like torturing my children by seeing how far away I can park from the entrance of Target.  I actually save TIME by not driving up and down every row multiple times hoping that a parking space right next to the door will magically open up!  Some changes took some TIME to get used to like learning how to shake off Mom Guilt when my daughter stood by the door and cried as I dashed to my car for my weekly Zumba class.  What she didn't understand was that she was actually gaining TIME with me because rather than collapsing on the couch and falling asleep while she watched TV, I returned home wide awake ready to read a book or play a game.

Change doesn't happen over night.  For me, living a healthy lifestyle has been a journey . . . four years and counting!  No matter how many times I begged God to add a couple of extra hours to my day so that I could get everything done, the number of hours in a day never changed. What has changed is what I am doing with those twenty-four hours.  I've learned that I can choose to sit on the couch and doze off or I can ask my daughter to go for a walk.  I can choose to pick up that 24-pack of pop at the grocery store or I can fill up my cup with ice water.  I can choose to eat four pieces of pizza and spend my evening in the bathroom or I can eat two and have a tomato cucumber salad on the side and be ready to roll for some family TIME. 

I am happy for The Biggest Loser contestants and the TIME that they got to spend focusing on themselves.  I have the same amount of TIME.  Mine is just spread out!  The choice of how I spend that TIME is up to me.  I just need to make those choices count!


Monday, January 20, 2014

3 Reasons EVERYONE should Run/Walk at least ONE 5k

Whether you WALK or RUN, a 5k is . . .

1) . . . able to be DONE!

I believe it is important to set ourselves up for success, not failure.  Completing 3.1 miles is an achievable goal.  Some people may be able to walk out their front door and go for 3.1 miles without getting winded even if they don't exercise on a regular basis (How annoying are they?!?).  For others - like me - it's takes a little bit of preparation.  When I first decided to complete a 5k, I was terrified.  3.1 miles felt like a million miles!  After following a simple 15-week Couch to 5k training program I was able to cross the finish line.  At 5k's you see people of all fitness levels.  Those who appear to sprint the course finishing in 15 minutes.  Those who jog or do run/walk intervals.  Those who walk at a more leisurely pace.  The important thing is not the time on the clock, but the simple fact that everyone crosses the same finish line.  No matter what fitness level you are at today, with some preparation you WILL be able to do it!
2) . . . lots of FUN!

I can honestly say that I have never seen a grumpy person at a 5k.  Everyone is always so happy!  Smiling.  Cheering for each other.  Celebrating.  Laughing.  Whether it is sunny or freezing or raining . . . everyone is happy!  You see goofy groups in tu-tus and moments of great victory and hi-fives galore! What better place to be than one that when you get in your car to go home you find yourself sitting there with a goofy smile on your face?  I could go on and on with all of the scientific lingo about running increasing endorphins and stuff, but bottom line - a 5k is a happy place.  What a great environment to take your family or get together with a group of friends.  Trust me - you WILL have FUN!

3) . . . a great way to make a DONATION!

Just about every 5k is a fundraiser for a charity.  There are local events raising money for a school, food pantry or member of the community where you are running or walking with under a hundred people to several hundred.  There are also events in larger cities or national events like Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure where you are running or walking with thousands. What a fantastic way to give back to your community while doing something great for yourself, too.  Crossing the finish line is your gift to you.  Your entry fee is your gift to that great charity.

What's stopping you?  Give one a try!
Spring will be here before you know it and Spring is a season where you will be able to find 5k's being held all around you.  Take some time to consider giving a 5k a try - it's do-able, promises to be a fun experience and makes a difference in your community!  You can find a local 5k by searching online.  Now that a 5k is on your mind, I'm sure you will notice signs  popping up around your community or you'll start hear people talking about them.  If, like me, completing that 5k will take a little prep work simply search the Internet for a couch to 5k training program.  You can do it!  Who knows - once you try one you my find that you are hooked!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Family Fitness BINGO!

I feel as if I am constantly fighting a battle to get my family off the couch, away from their electronics and on the move.  Eating healthy is an entirely different battle - one that frustrates me to my core!  As a result, I am always on the look out for creative fun ways to get my family active and eating healthier.  Inspiration struck after reading the January Challenge for my Moms Run This Town group (Thanks to our great leader - Melanie Fleming!) . . . Family Fitness BINGO!

 Simple, Fun, and as inexpensive as I wanted to make it!  The goal: Keep you family moving and thinking, at least a little bit, about making healthy choices.  Here is how it works:

1) Create individualized BINGO cards for each member of your family.  Post them somewhere in your home where they will seen often. 

In my family we are all at very different fitness levels so there are activities on each card that can be done as an individual, but also ones that can be done together.  For example, my son JJ is currently playing in two basketball leagues.  There are squares on his card that say "Have 2 basketball practices in 1 day."  My daughter Ellie is much less active.  There are squares on her card that say "March in place during the commercials of 1 TV show."  My husband Jamison and my cards have activities that match the kids - "Shoot free throws with JJ" and "Kick a ball with Ellie."   There are also family squares such as "walk around the block."  I included healthy eating on the cards, too - "Eat fresh fruit," "Drink water ALL day" and "Have carrots for a snack."  It did not take me long to create the cards.

Close-up of Ellie's card.
I posted my family's cards on the side of a kitchen cabinet.

2) Come up with prizes.
This is where you can make this as free or expensive as you want.  My family is on a tight budget so I actually spent more time thinking about the prizes then creating the cards. 
Normally, I try not to use food as a reward, but in this case I am.  My family LOVES ice cream!  My husband and I had talked about not wanting to have ice cream in the house that much seeing as it is such a HUGE temptation for everybody, so an ice cream treat is the perfect reward.  I made coupons redeemable for one ice cream treat.  When you get your first BINGO, you will get an ice cream coupon.  (I bought the ice cream at the grocery yesterday.  It is wrapped in a bag and hidden in the back of the freezer.  No cheating Jamison!)  I did not keep this prize a secret.
I also created a prize for when my family covers half of their cards to help keep them motivated throughout the entire month.  Each of them have special things that they enjoy that we don't do often due to our tight budget.   For Ellie, I stopped at our favorite frozen yogurt place and got a $5 gift card.  JJ loves Little Caesar's Hot-n-Ready Pizza so I got him a $5 gift card to Little Caesar's for a pizza to share.  Jamison loves Chinese food so I got him a $10 gift card to our local Chinese restaurant where he can treat himself to fried rice for lunch.  These gift cards and a homemade certificate of accomplishment are in individual sealed envelopes that can't be open until the goal is achieved.  (I have to confess that as I am typing this I am cringing a little bit - my prizes are not that healthy!)
Finally - the GRAND PRIZE!  I am SO excited for this one.  If all FOUR of us can cover our BINGO cards by the end of the game, we are going to play LASER TAG!!  I have a fourth sealed envelope that already has the money set aside with money for 6 people (The kids can each bring a friend.) to play laser tag, hit the arcade and get a snack from the snack bar. This will be a HUGE treat for my tight-budget-living-family (and hopefully I am correct that none of them read my blog - otherwise I just blew it.)!   

There is so much room to be creative with your prizes.  They can be free - play your favorite board game, watch the movie of your choice, winner picks the dinner menu.  Completely non-food related - a manicure, new socks (This one may sound silly, but JJ is constantly asking for a new color of Elite Basketball socks!), trip to a movie.  It's up to you how you want to organize the prizes.  It's also up to you if you want to keep the prizes a secret or let your family know what they are working toward.  My family is driven by the anticipation of not knowing what is in those envelopes!
3) Determine your time frame.
I am giving my family four weeks plus one day to completely fill their BINGO cards - January 4th thru February 1st.  That's 29 days to complete 24 activities so there is obviously room for missed days.  I think we can handle that!
4) Introduce the BINGO Game and the rules to your family.
The rules are simple:
1. Complete all 24 activities on your BINGO card within the given time frame.
2. You can only check off one square a day even if you do more than one activity.
3. The fact the you already crossed off a square should not stop you from completing an activity listed in another square on that same day (Ellie tried to find a loophole and not eat the cut-up apple I gave her with dinner since she had already crossed of "Eat Fresh Fruit" when she ate an orange with her lunch.).
All that is left to do is dive in and have fun.  Your enthusiasm and dedication to the project will set the tone or you entire family. 
If all goes as I think it will, you'll hear us shouting BINGO I'll be sharing pictures from Extreme Laser Storm in four weeks!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Goals for 2014

I have taken time to really think about what I want to accomplish this year and have decided on several goals:

1) I will run 500 miles in 2014.
2) I will participate in 10 charity runs in 2014.
3) I will get back to being able to run the entire 5k by April 3, 2014.
4) I will eat at least five piece of fresh fruit a week.
5) I will complete the 90-Day Writing Challenge.
6) I will empty out our storage unit by July 1, 2014.

It seems like a lot when I write it down, but I know I can achieve these goals. Here's to 2014!