Sunday, January 29, 2017

I Know Me

Over the past several days I have found myself repeatedly saying "I know me."

I know that as soon as I sit down in the evening I am going to fall asleep.

I know that if I eat one Swedish Fish and I am sitting near an open bag of Swedish Fish, I am going to have a difficult time controlling myself.

I know that if I tell my friend Amy that I will be at Zumba and she is going to be at Zumba then I'm going to show up at Zumba regardless of how tired I am.

I know that when I am feeling grouchy, my best move is to lock myself in my room for awhile because otherwise - watch out family!

It recently dawned on me the power in that statement.  I KNOW ME.  When I pause long enough to remember that, I am way more successful at making healthy and positive life choices.  When I don't, I am more likely to make poor choices.  I also don't pay attention to what is going on around me and think it is fair to say that I don't enjoy life as much.

Let me dive a little deeper to help explain that.

Zumba.  Here is what I know - I know that by 7PM I am exhausted.  I've been up since 5AM, I've spent the day literally locked in a room with my staff and 30 people with Dementia.  I've carpooled my kids around town, cooked dinner and done about 10 other random things.  By 7PM it sounds like the best idea in the world to put on my PJ's, sit on the couch and fall asleep. However, I also know that I feel healthier, less stressed and more energized when I include exercise into my day.  I know that I love to dance and that I love the Zumba class I attend.  And most of all I know that I love hanging out with my friend Amy whom I don't get to see as often as I'd like.  So, I KNOW that if I make plans to meet Amy at Zumba than I am going to show up at Zumba.  SUCCESS!

Let's look at one more:

Swedish Fish.  Here is what I know - I know that I LOVE Swedish Fish and can easily eat an entire bag by myself.  I know that because I've done it before.  I also know that I am a mindless eater.  If there are snacks in front of me I'm going to eat and eat and eat without giving a second thought to how much I am eating.  I know that if I eat one I'm going to crave more and that I have trouble controlling myself when there is an open bag within reach; therefore, I am thinking of nothing else but how much I want another fish.  I know that my days at work are very busy and my best strategy to eating lunch is to pack lots of healthy snacks that I can grab throughout the day - apple slices, carrot sticks, string cheese, pretzels.  Yesterday at work I walked into a meeting to find piles of candy, including bags of Swedish Fish, in the middle of the table - a great strategy to boost the mood in a late Friday afternoon meeting.  However, for me, I knew that I had not done a good job packing my lunch that day and therefore had not eaten and would not be able to eat until after the meeting.  I knew that if I sat near the Swedish Fish it would all be over.  My mind would be focused solely on those fish and I would most likely end up eating a lot of Swedish Fish.  So, I made the conscious choice to sit at that far end of the table in the seat farthest away from the pile of candy.  SUCCESS!  I sat through the meeting focused on the subject at hand and didn't madly consume the entire pile of candy.

That sounds so complicated, but the thought process takes only a few seconds.  What has stuck out at me over these past few days is that the process is taking less and less time.  I used to wrestle with these thoughts and struggle to make the healthy choice.  Now, I am still aware that I am making the choice, but it is much easier and feels more natural.  Trust me, there have been many times that I have either made a poor choice without giving it any thought or still made a poor choice after thinking about what I was doing, but I forgive myself and try again the next day.

Do you know you?  Do you know what triggers a poor choice or what areas of your life you need to really think about what you are doing before you do it?  It will feel difficult and unnatural at first to make yourself pause before you act, but overtime habits and cravings can change.  I'm proof of that!

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Don't Give Up! 3 Tips to Keeping Your New Year's Resolution

It's about this time of the year that people start bailing on their New Year's Resolutions.  In fact, according to the University of Scranton's research, only 8% of people who make a resolution actually keep it.  Before you throw out your goal, your hopes, your dreams for a new and different year, take a second to read this . . .

I started every year as one of the 92% who never keep their resolutions.  The new year would kick-off and I'd feel motivated and enthusiastic.  This was the year that I was going to make drastic changes in my life.  Eat healthier.  Lose weight.  Help others.  Get organized.  Make my bed everyday.  Never yell at my kids again.  By the end of January real life would creep in and I'd stumble and then fall flat on my face.  Forget that resolution!  I'd be mad at myself for a few days, but then life would go on and I'd forget about any desire to improve myself.

The streak ended in 2010.  That year I was one of those 8%.  I kept my New Year's Resolution and my life would never be the same.  I resolved to complete a 5k.  Coming from someone who had never run even the shortest of distances that was a pretty daring goal to set.  Amazingly, on April 10, 2010 I completed my first 5k.  Since then I have set and kept my New Year's Resolutions every year.  How does that happen?  I do three simple things.

1. I set SMART Resolutions.  
My resolutions were always vague and unrealistic.  I will be healthier this year!  What exactly does that mean?  I will not yell at my kids this year.  Really?  You don't think they're going to push you to your limits at least once in the next 12 hours let alone 12 months?  I will lose 50 pounds this year.  Is that possible?  Yes - for some people.  But I know myself.  The minute the scale shows a gain I will feel defeated and bow out.  

In 2010, my resolution was a SMART one.  I will run a 5k this year.  It's specific.  You can read that sentence and know exactly what I'm aiming to do with no explanation.  It's measurable.  I either complete 3.1 miles or I don't.  It's achievable.  3.1 miles isn't that far (Though at the time it felt like I was asking myself to run around the world!).  I could accomplish that without killing myself.  It's realistic.  Looking at my life at the time and the training needed to achieve this goal, I felt that I could handle it.  I also had several friends who ran and were great examples to me that I could do this.  It's timely.  I had one year to complete it.  Or once I picked a race - until April 10th.  

2. I Share my Resolutions with others.
Sharing your Resolutions with others allows them to cheer you on when times get tough, celebrate with you and hold you accountable.  When I keep things to myself, negative self-talk fills my mind. "You can't do this."  "You're crazy."  "You know you're going to fail."  I have a small group of trusted friends and family whom I share EVERYTHING with about my resolutions.  They've listened to me whine.  They've jumped up and down with me to celebrate victories.  They've caught me sneaking into the Break Room tip toeing towards the vending machines and called me out on it, 
Back in 2010, I told everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - about my goal of completing a 5k.  That is actually what kept me going.  There were several times during my training that I wanted to quit and one key moment when the race first started that I was ready to head to the car.  Each time I thought of how many people I had told (Why had I posted my goal on Facebook?!?) and how embarrassing it would be to have to say that I quit.  

3. I Stick to it even when I fall.
This is probably the MOST important.  No one is perfect.  Life is not always fair.  There are going to be mountains to climb and valleys to cross.  When I mess up or miss a step, the key is for me to pick myself up and keep going.  Even if that means going back and starting again.  

When I was training for that first 5k, I had a string of three weeks when I couldn't get the training in on Tuesdays.  I was ready to give up.  My mom asked me why I would quit after already putting so much time and heart into training.  The only answer I could come up with was the missing check marks on the paper.  I had messed up "the plan" and now I was off schedule.  When my mom pointed out the ridiculousness of quitting because of a few missing check marks, I knew that couldn't quit.  Who really cares that I had missed three Tuesdays?  No one!

So what if you didn't reach 10,000 steps for the past two days.  Your child was sick.  You had a big report to complete at work.  That doesn't justify quitting.

So you ate an entire pizza after a really bad day.  What happened to you really stinks and deserved a pity party, but now you start fresh and get back on track with that clean eating.

So you paid your gas bill a day late.  Hey, everything else has been paid on time and you are doing a great job.  Next month, you'll get that bill paid on time.

Whenever we stumble there is a key moment when we literally ask ourselves - am I going to quit or am I going to stick to it?  The easy answer is to say I quit and fall back into old habits.  The hard answer.  The brave answer.  The smart answer is to push on.

So here we are nearing the end of January.  Did you tell yourself this year would be different and have found that it's not?  Have you been struggling to keep your resolution and have been thinking of giving up?  Maybe you never even made one because, "Why bother?  You know you won't keep it."

It's never too late to set a goal.  January 1 is only a date on the calendar.  You can make a New Year's Resolution on January 1st, January 22nd or even May 3rd.  It's all about you and how you want to live your life.  What decisions do you want to make?  How do you feel about your life right now?  If you want to change than you can do that starting today.

If you are ready to give up, I urge you to hang in there.  Look at your resolution.  Is it SMART?  If not - you can adjust it.  Have you shared your goal with anyone?  If not, call or text someone right now and ask for support.  Do you need to dig in your heels and stick to it even if you've already fallen?  You can do it!!

It's been seven years since I first kept my New Year's Resolution.  I still make a couple every year and I still follow these three steps.  If I can do it, I know that you can, too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I have to confess that my taking a few weeks off of nagging . . . I mean encouraging . . . my kids to exercise while they got used to the school year has turned into four months.  That's horrible.  I could add that I received a promotion at work which required more of my time and energy.  And my daughter has been swamped with homework (I have to point out my immense pride in her academics!) literally spending hours each night sitting at her desk.  Oh yeah - and then there were the holidays.

No.  None of those are good excuses.  But it happened and now we will move on.

That is much easier said than done when you are talking about my fourteen year-old.  I just know that she is going to end up being a hostage negotiator or a defense attorney.  She has the ability to debate and negotiate until I am ready to rip my hair out.  These past few weeks I have started strong with my quest to get her to join me at that gym, but have ended up throwing my hands in the air and heading out the door with my son in tow eager to continue training for the upcoming tennis season, leaving my daughter at home to lay in bed or sit at her desk.

Not tonight.  I came prepared for the battle with something I knew (ok - hoped) would be easy, quick and fun enough to make her want to give it a try.

I presented her with an ABC Workout.  I took the alphabet and assigned each letter an activity (I made this one easy enough that I knew she could complete it without too much trouble taking into consideration that she hadn't seriously exercised in several months.).  All we had to do was spell our names, middle names included.  Easy???  Absolutely!

After putting our dinner in the oven, the three of us put on an extra layer and headed out to our backyard on this 40 degree January evening.  I grabbed the equipment we have in the house - a set of five and eight pound weights, our 10 pound kettlebell and a jumprope - for us to use, but we could have easily done this with no equipment at all.

And . . . .

We had a great time!  It only took us 20 minutes to each spell our name.  I broke a bit of a sweat, but not much.  The important thing to me was that my daughter completed it and enjoyed it.  We all laughed as we realized that my son ended up doing a TON of jumping jacks and that running up to the top of the driveway in the dark is kind of scary.
ABC Workout!
When we were done, my daughter commented that I should leave her the sheet with the exercises and she could do it on her own.  She then rattled off the names of her favorite musicians and bands whom she could do the workout to spell their names.  YES!!!

The great thing about this workout is that you can adapt it to fit the fitness level and age of your kids (or you!) making it as hard or easy as you want.  And you can easily change it up by assigning the exercises to different letters or spelling out different words or sentences.  In the future, I'll suggest that my kids and I spell out more than just one thing or use this workout in conjunction with something else like running.

Here is the list that we used tonight (but I can't stress enough that you can use whatever exercises YOU want!):

A = 15 kettlebell swings               N = 20 jumping jacks
B = 10 squats                                O = 10 squats
C = 10 lunges (5 per leg)              P = 20 high knees (10 per knee)
D = 20 high knees (10 per knee)  Q = 15 kettlebell swings
E = 12 bicep curls                         R = 12 bicep curls
F = 12 shoulder presses                S = 12 shoulder presses
G = 12 tricep presses                    T = 12 tricep presses
H = 10 mountain climbers            U = 10 mountain climbers
I = 20 weighted ab twists              V = 20 weighted ab twists
J = Run up & down the driveway W = 20 jumping jacks
K = 20 jumping jacks                   X = 20 jumping jacks
L = 20 jump ropes                        Y = 30 second wall sit
M = 30 second plank                    Z = 10 squats

Hopefully this is the first night of getting my daughter moving again.  I always say that the hard part about exercising isn't starting - it's starting again (and sometimes again and again).  This time I plan to make getting back on track as easy as ABC!