Sunday, March 23, 2014

Digging Deep to Find My Inner Superman

I am in the middle of a two week stretch of time where I feel as if there is NO way that I am going to be physically and mentally able to get everything done that needs to be done.  Work is always crazy, but we are in the midst of preparing for one of our state inspections that is happening at the end of next week which is always super stressful.  My daughter's birthday was last week which means over these two weeks we'll be having two extended family celebrations (one requiring a trip out of town), a family celebration on her actual birthday, a friend party, treats for school and overall jolliness on my part.  We have orchestra auditions, basketball tournament play-offs, track practice, two orthodontist appointments which include one child getting braces and PSSAs (Pennsylvania's standardized test) for both kids.  The end of next week culminates with an out-of-town concert and overnight stay with my daughter that was a Christmas gift (back in December this seemed like the perfect idea for the child who didn't have much on her wish list).  On top of all of that, several of my husband's chronic health conditions have chosen this time to flare up which has led to some medication adjustments which never EVER go smoothly as he is very sensitive to medication . . . DEEP BREATH.

I know that you can probably relate to having this high intensity stress at some point in your life.  Your list of stresses is probably a little different from mine, but the feeling is the same.  There is a constant burning sensation of worry in the pit of your stomach.  Your head feels as if it is going to explode.  Restful sleep is a something you hope for but never seem to achieve.  At times you know your blood pressure is sky high because you can hear your heart beating and feel the blood pumping through your veins.  You're irritable.  Your body feels heavy.  You wish you could climb into bed pull the covers over your head and hide until the stressful time passes. 

After barely surviving this first week, I was wondering how in the world I was going to make it through week two.  Even though I often think that I can do it all - the truth is that I am not Superman.  I can't hold the up the weight of the world with my own two hands!

Then I remembered something that I had picked up off a Clearance Rack awhile ago simply because it was $4 and I figured I would find a use for it someday.  Someday has arrived.

It's not time to crack under pressure.  It's not time to throw in the towel.  It's not time to curl up in the fetal position and sob uncontrollably.  It's time to dig deep and find my inner Superman.  DC Comics writer J. Michael Straczynski writes, "(Superman) stands for what we believe is the best within us: limitless strength tempered by compassion that can bear adversity and emerge stronger on the other side." 

I wore my Superman shirt all weekend and will wear it to bed every night this week to remind myself to face each day with limitless strength tempered by compassion.  I WILL get through this next week emerging stronger on the other side

Don't worry - I haven't completely lost it.  I'm doing more than dressing up in costume to get myself through the week:
1) Frequently reciting Galatians 6:9  "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
2) Starting each morning with a protein packed smoothie
3) Maintaining my exercise routine
4) Playing Pharrell Williams' song "Happy" whenever I need a quick pick-me-up!

But . . . if you do happen to see something strange flying through the sky, it could be . . . a bird? . . . a plane? . . . It's SUPER MOM!
He stands for what we believe is the best within us: limitless strength tempered by compassion, that can bear adversity and emerge stronger on the other side. He stands for what we all feel we would like to be able to stand for, when standing is hardest.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Battle Plan for My Workday Snack Attacks

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. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Did you March Fourth? Now what? (It's ok if you didn't, you still need to read this post!)

Did you March Fourth yesterday and take a healthy step forward?  How did it go?  Hopefully you found it simple and low-stress to add that one healthy goal to your day.

So often, people think that living a healthy lifestyle has to be this dramatic life change.  In my opinion, doing that only sets a majority of the average human beings up for failure.  I'm a mom, wife, daughter, sister, caregiver, boss, employee, volunteer, home owner and more!  I don't have the time, money, energy or even focus to make any kind of major change.  I've attempted it many times and have only been left with feelings of failure, frustration and total inadequacy.    I do have the time, money, energy and focus to make one small change, try one new thing or make one thought-filled healthy decision today and be really good at it.  That leaves me feeling successful, accomplished and like Super Woman!

I shifted to this mind-frame of taking small steps four years ago.  I slowly lost 50 pounds and have kept it off.  My blood pressure and cholesterol lowered and they are still down.  I felt better and had more energy and I still do.  Last week my son asked if he could run track this Spring.  Last night my daughter asked me if doing 100 jumping jacks would count toward our Family Fitness Challenge.  Life is not all rainbows and ponies and I still have bad days . . . but overall my physical, mental and emotional health is so much better!

Back to March Fourth . . . So you took that one small healthy step forward.  You drank water, ate fruit, did jumping jacks or gave out some random high-fives.  Now what?  The answer is so simple.
If you didn't March Fourth yesterday and now wish that you had, no regrets!  It's ok.  You just go on and March Fifth today.  March Fifth . . . Move Forward . . . Get Going . . . Go!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A March Fourth Challenge - Are you in?

Today is one of my favorite days of the year . . . March Fourth.  It is the only date on the calendar that is a command.  March Fourth . . . Move Forward . . . Get Moving . . . Go!!!

For those of you who made a New Year's Resolution and gave-up because you messed up after a few days or weeks - This is the perfect day to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and give it another try.

For those of you who have just plain given up on ever making a healthy lifestyle change because you just can't do it for whatever reason - you have no willpower, you're too weak, you don't like carrots, the calling of the couch is too strong - This is the perfect day to set those feelings aside and try one more time.

For those of you who think that you don't have time to make healthy choices in your life right now - you'll think about that later when your kids are grown, when your bills are paid off, when you're done with school - This is the perfect day to challenge yourself to make one healthy addition to your day.

Today is the perfect day to throw all of the doubt and guilt and anxiety and frustration and worry and indifference away.  You can make healthy choices in your life.  You can create change.  Start small.  One small step + one small step + one small step = a BIG change.

Here we go . . . 

Choose ONE goal below and challenge yourself to complete it TODAY:

1) Today I will drink THREE glasses of water.
2) Today I will do 25 jumping jacks (whether all at once or in 5 groups of 5).
3) Today I will eat ONE piece of fresh fruit.
4) Today I will high-five FIVE people that are not members of my family.

See one you like?  Now commit to doing it sometime between now and when you go to bed.  It won't take long and I know that you feel great when you have accomplished it.

Today is the day . . . Today is YOUR day.
March Fourth . . . Move Forward . . . Get Going . . . GO . . . a life filled with healthy choices waits for you!