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   
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!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Marching Forth: Small Steps Take You the Farthest

My favorite day of the year will be in here in a week - March Fourth!  It is the only date on the calendar that is a command.  Move forward.  Get moving.  March Forth.

By now, for a majority of people, their New Year's Resolutions have fallen to the wayside (Only 8% of people who make a resolution actually keep it.).  Why is that?  I feel it is because a lot of people set completely unrealistic goals for themselves.   They set goals that are too big.

Over the past year I have become involved in several Quality Improvement projects at work.  In fact, I'm proud to say that my Team has won awards for our projects.  What I have observed about why our projects have done well is that we focus on making small changes.  When those small changes are completed successfully, we end up with big results overtime.  These big results have great impact changing the lives of the people whom we are serving.  Groups that have taken HUGE leaps looking for BIG results often fall short because the jump is too big - the project is too complicated, too difficult or unable to be maintained.
Can I pause to brag?  Here are a few members of my Team
from Community LIFE when we won the 2016
UPMC President's Award for Quality Improvement.
The same idea can apply to our lives.  When we set a small goal and achieve it successfully we are encouraged to set another small goal.  When we accomplish that one successfully we are pumped up even more and are ready to aim at conquering another goal.  This can go on and on until we see a BIG change in our lives.  Someone who aims for a big result right away is going to get frustrated or bored and give-up.  
~Lao Tzu
Marching Forth.  You can't start marching until you take that first step.  You can't make a change in your life until you decide to make that first change - Not drinking pop this week.  Skipping your morning smoke break this morning.  Walking around the block one time today.  When you achieve that, you march on to your next goal.  Or if you don't achieve it you forgive yourself and try again.

If I was able to have two of me and we stood side by side at the starting line of a 5k race and one of me took off sprinting while the other me took off at my normal pace, who do you think is going to finish the race first?  The me who took off at my normal pace.  You know why?  Because the me who took off sprinting is going to tire out quickly and either end of walking or collapsing on the side because I'm too tired to finish.  Small steps.  Moving forward one at a time at a pace that is appropriate for me.  Those small steps will get me a lot farther than the person who leaps from the starting line.

New Year's is long gone.  The re-birth and freshness of Spring is right around the corner.  This is the perfect time to decide to make a healthy change in your life.  I started seven years ago simply by running from one mailbox to the next on my suburban neighborhood street (that tells you how small my goals initially were - 50 feet!).  

Over the next five days, I'm going to share with you five ideas of way that you can March Forth and kick-start a journey of marching right into a healthier life.  You can do it,  You can achieve your health goals - one step at a time.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dinner Party Potatoes

I spend my days with about 80 senior citizens managing an Adult Day Health Center.  One of my favorite things to do is to sit and talk with them.  They have some of the best life stories.  Each one unique and with a lesson to share.

I've been spending time with one lady who was a housewife most of her life.  In the 1960's and 70's, her husband was a businessman and he would often entertain co-workers or clients in their home.  I can tell from the expression on her face that she loved being the hostess at those dinner parties.  She describes to me in great detail the meals that she would prepare and how her guests would love them.  Most of the recipes she recites from memory.

One dish she talks about often are her Dinner Party Potatoes.  I relate them to the Cheezy Potatoes that I often make.  The difference is that her recipe contains fresh ingredients.  Instead of frozen hashbrowns, she boiled ten potatoes and then shredded them.  Instead of canned soup and sour cream, she used cream.

I decided to write down her recipe and make her Dinner Party Potatoes for my family today.  They were so good!  I could tell such a difference in the texture and taste.  My family enjoyed them, too.  Surprisingly, it didn't take much more time to make these potatoes.  It did take me longer to prepare them, but they cooked for a shorter period of time so it evened itself out.  I'm not an expert to say which potatoes are "better for you," but I've always thought that fresher is better.  I'll definitely be making these again!  And I can't wait to see what dish she tells me about next!
Dinner Party Potatoes
Dinner Party Potatoes
10 potatoes
1 small onion
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 stick butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 pint half & half cream
Boil the potatoes with the skin on until soft (about 20 minutes)
Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them easily.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Remove the potato skins, optional
Shred the potatoes
Dice the onion, add to the potatoes
Add 1 cup of the cheese to the potatoes
Season with salt & pepper to taste
Place the potato mixture in a greased 9X13 pan
Cut the butter into cubes and place on top of the potatoes
Cover with the remaining cheese
Pour the half & half over the potatoes
Bake uncovered for 40 minutes