Thanksgiving Day Plan – to stay on track for your health goals, that is.

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time of family gatherings and lots of good (even if not so healthy) foods, many of which are long time comforts for you.  Thanksgiving is also a time of gratitude, a day to be thankful for all that you have in life, not a day to beat yourself up over an extra helping of grandma’s best pie; she made just for you. With those thoughts in mind let’s set some guidelines.

First, do practice moderation. Thanksgiving naps happen for a reason. Aim to keep your portion sizes reasonable and go back for seconds only after you have given yourself time to determine whether you really want seconds or not. Watch the beverages, remember they are calories, too. That also goes for the snacks you consume as you are making all the goodies for dinner. Many of us unconsciously consume calories as we taste, snack, visit, and gather. Try to pay attention to what you put in your mouth. Be pro-active bring a healthy food item to snack on or contribute to the family meal. At least you’ll have one great healthy choice. Eat something small before you meet up with the group. This way you will not be famished, which can lead to overeating.

Second, suggest something active after the meal. Start a new thanksgiving tradition and go for a walk after the big meal. Engage the children in your gathering in a game of hide-n-seek or tag. Do not forget the importance of dish washing. All that cooking and cleaning do burn calories, just do not consume the same amount in snacking while you are completing these tasks, defeats the purpose of your sparkling dish rack. Get others to help clean and you will create bonding time, as well. Play games. Games like charades, twister, gestures, and others allow you to use your brain and your body, plus they are hilarious to watch and play. All that laughing does wonders for your health!

Third, relax and enjoy your day. For many of us Thanksgiving is a time to rest and rejuvenate. Keep in mind the spirit of the day and enjoy it. Stay present in the moment of the day and you will find that watching portions, snacking, and fun are all taken care of. You just have remember to stay focused.

How Will You Give Thanks This Season?

The season of giving thanks for the abundance we have is upon us.  How will you be celebrating what you are thankful for this year?  

You could:

Take a walk in the woods. Listen to the silence and notice the peace which surrounds you. We are lucky to live in an area that allows us to get into nature easily. The Superior Municipal Forest off 28th street, Wisconsin Point, Pattison Park, Amnicon Falls, and more are available within minutes.  Beware of hunters!

Collect fallen leaves and write what you are thankful for on them. This is a wonderful  activity I do with my children. After collecting leaves I write what each is thankful for, then paste them to a “tree trunk” made of construction paper.  Their Thankful Trees become our decorations for the season. It is a wonderful way to help children understand the abundance which surrounds them and to talk with them about what is meaningful in life.

Make a list. Write down all the things you are thankful for and say thank you. If you can tell the people responsible for the items on your list. If not say thank you out loud – no one has to hear but say it and feel it.

Get out and do a Turkey Trot, a Christmas Fun Run, or another active event for charity.  This is a great chance to feel your own strength, give thanks for it, and help others in the process. Not to mention the friendship and camaraderie you gain and can give thanks for as you build relationships in your life.

When cooking meals for those who will share your spaces this holiday season, create healthy meals and do so with love and enjoyment. As Kahlil Gibran states in The Prophet, “For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.”  Give thanks for your friends and family by cooking healthy foods for them.

Watch the snow fall.  I know snow means winter has arrived, but without winter we would not have spring.  As the days turn colder we move within ourselves.  Think about the amazing task it must be to create snow, and so much.  Think about how beautiful the land looks when covered by a blanket of white.  Think about how quiet it is after snowing – to me it is always more quiet.  Enjoy the quiet and give thanks that you are able to watch this moment.

I know I’ve been a bit more philosophical this time, but I do believe we are surrounded by abundance if we chose to look.  Even in these times of economic crisis, crazy politics, and uncertainties we are surrounded by beauty and in beauty we find abundance for the spirit. It takes us to realize the abundance in our lives and through activity and rest we are better able to see what surrounds us, feel what moves us, and give thanks for what we do have in our lives.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

The Art of Being

The art of being. The ability to just let the flow and rhythm of your world take over. Times when we are able to let everything but we are working on in this moment go when the world has aligned for us. Times when we just be.

To focus on one thing at a time. To just be and in being it is enough; doing exactly what you should be doing in this moment. Keep in mind your body has its own best interests at heart. Gobbling down extra chocolate cupcakes? I won’t say wrong, but I would examine motives: am I being present to this moment or hiding from another?

The mind likes to be active and can spin out of control finding all sorts of forgotten things, like where that thing I lost two years ago must be hiding. When we slow our minds we are better able to connect with our higher selves, to listen to our bodies, and have more clarity about what we are doing and why.  Life becomes vivid.

To get started try to remember a time when you were totally caught up in the moment.  Were you dancing, walking, gardening, doing dishes, playing with children, what were you doing the last time you completely lost track of time?  Remember how that felt.  Do you remember the bliss of just being?  If a moment eludes you don’t worry.  For many we are so driven, focused, or have been taught idleness is wrong we try hard to avoid it and instead stay busy.

The easiest way I know to slow my mind is movement. I find a simple activity I can do while staying conscious of my breathing, like walking. With each step I step mindfully. In other words, I am focused on where and how I place my foot, how the movement feels in my body.  Step one I inhale, step two exhale, and repeat the pattern. If I get lost in thought, I just come back to the pattern of stepping and breathing. Try this for 2 min, 5, or 50.

Once you have the basic feeling of staying mindful transfer this technique to other activities, such as housekeeping, playing, or sitting. This is a time to keep your mind clear so TV, radio, and other distractions are not the point. The point is to go inside yourself so you can listen to your thoughts, feelings, and needs better. Those things take us out of ourselves and distract us.

There you have it, at the beginning of the holiday season, the art of doing nothing and permission, should you need it, to just be.

Planning and Goal Setting For Fitness Success

Goals take planning. Many people have begun the journey to better health and have taken the challenge to begin exercising.  It is important to put into perspective what you are trying to accomplish.

First, look at where you are. What is it about where you are that you want to change? Is this something you can do easily? Why or why not? What might hold you back? How will you deal with those obstacles? Are you ready to change? Remember the saying: The pain of staying the same must be greater than the pain of change. It will be uncomfortable, hard, and time consuming, but if it matters to you it will be worth it. Who are you changing for? Write down the answers to the above questions. This will help cement the process you are about to begin. If you feel you are up to a challenge ask a friend to ask them and provide your answers, truthful answers, back to your buddy. An outside observer may offer fresh perspective on where you are and where you want to go. Please, make sure the person you pick to hear your inner thoughts genuinely supports your efforts.

Next, decide on a time line. How long will it take you to complete? What amount of time are you willing to commit to this experience? What is the priority level of this goal? Again, write down the answers. As you review your list, are you being realistic about your goal? Do you feel you are ready to take this goal on? Do you have adequate support? Do you need help from someone else: ie, family member, friend, professional? Who are your support people?

Finally, you must decide how you are going to tackle your goals? Will you do them together? Do they fit? For example: I want to become more healthy and eat better. These two goals fit together and help me accomplish both. On the other hand, if I want to learn a new computer program and how to paint, I may be better off tackling one goal at a time due to the intensity of each. Ask again: “am I being realistic about my goals?” “my time commitments?” and “my desire to reach this goal and put effort behind accomplishing it.” Remember if it was easy you would have already done it.

Once your list is done it is time to prioritize your goals. It typically takes twenty-one days to create a new habit so it is a good idea to take on one goal per quarter, or for three months at a time. Not that you won’t continue once you have begun, but giving yourself three months to really focus will allow you to create healthy habits, break the old ones, and account for setbacks, which will happen. Once you have chosen four goals to accomplish this year (less if they are very intensive) it is time to plan.

You will want to examine time commitments throughout the year, such as vacations, conferences, graduations, births, things you know are coming up and have the potential to throw you off. Then examine your daily commitments and decide how you will fit your new lifestyle activities into your existing lifestyle. Finally, map out the next year based on your large goals, followed by the smaller goals you will use to measure your success by. In the end change is a difficult practice, but we call it practice for a reason: if you do not practice you will never get your new habits down!

Celebrating Fitness Success

If you have completed an event this summer which had you focused and motivated but seem to have lost your umph. Take a load off. It may be time to honor the fact that you reached a goal.

Jumping Star

In our society we have a tendency to blow off our accomplishments and move right to the next thing. Take a moment to feel pride in a job well done – no negative comments allowed here. Just bask in the glory of finishing a project.

This moment can be 5 minutes or 5 days. That’s the beauty of moments they are defined by you. Chances are you’ll know how long is long enough and move back into workouts shortly. If you find yourself still not motivated it may be time to look for another event, find a workout buddy, or hire a trainer to get you back on track.

Now is the time to look at your time, distance, overall performance of the event and decide where you were weak and where you were strong. Not for judgment but as goals for next year. This activity can also be just what is needed to fire up your motivation again.

Staying Motivated To Exercise

Staying motivated to exercise can be a challenge. Last week my kids started school and this week they all start soccer. Just thinking about the running makes me tired, and its only going to become more intense in the next few weeks. So I have to be ready to keep exercising or I’ll never reach my goals. Here are some ideas to keep you motivated, too.

Schedule your exercise just like you would any other appointment. This will help you begin to see your workouts as another part of your day instead of something extra you have to do.

Find a workout buddy – I don’t always get to workout with my two favorite workout friends but just chatting about it re-energizes me to keep going.

Write down your fitness goals. This can help create more concrete ideas surrounding what you want and what you are willing to do to get it. Once you’ve written it down cut out pictures that help you visualize your goals. Paste your goal sheets everywhere you’ll see them each day – the car, office, your closet, bathroom, on the fridge – you get the picture.

Commit to yourself. You are worth the time and effort. Delegate household chores where you can and drop to-do items that are not necessary. Sometimes we just do things because we always have or think we need to. It may be that it is an old need and is no longer serving you now. Take an honest look at your schedule and clean it up to create time for the things you really want in your life now.

5 Ways to Find More Me Time

As you begin to take more time for yourself it can be hard to chose what to do without feeling guilt or even shame and selfish. So here are some ideas to help you take time for you and drop the negative feelings that may have long standing places in your psyche. Remember when you feel good you will pass those feelings onto to those you love.

1) Wake up slowly – read, drink a cup of coffee or tea, enjoy the quiet of your home before any chaos of getting ready for a school or work day. It doesn’t have to be a long period just quiet.
2) Do Yoga – or simple stretches and tune into your body and how it feels in the moment
3) Exercise – even if its just taking the dog for a walk
4) Hike – or get out in nature and follow her rhythms. I like to kayak or float this time of year and let the water be the guide to my speed. I make a conscious choice to go only as fast as the river flows.
5) Take a bath or spend some time at your private “home spa” – pick some treatments you would like at the day spa and do them at home in the privacy (and quiet) of your own home.

Letting Go of Perfect

Many of us begin our fitness path with an ideal. We have a vision of what we want to look like, achieve, and accomplish. Sometimes these goals which were so inspiring to begin with begin to weigh us down. Soon they become the albatross that doesn’t let us go and we no longer enjoy.

I was hiking last weekend with my family in the mountains of Colorado. We were taking a somewhat difficult climb for our three small children but figured they could make it to the high lake with plenty of breaks. At first all went as planned, but soon the “how much longer” and “I’m too tired to move” became a constant creating stress for all within hearing distance. Was it my 4-year-olds fault he was bored of this multi-hour walk (we have completed others just fie) or my 6-year-olds fault she preferred the flowers in front of her to the lake we couldn’t see yet? No!

Looking back the only problem was that we didn’t honor the beauty right in front of us because we were too focused on the goal. Along the trail there was much to be discovered and had we been less focused on the end result and more focused on the process we could’ve have seen it.

The lesson in it all was this: having a destination (goal) is good however you should also find the beauty along the road (the process of reaching your goal). As it was we never made it to the lake but were able to learn this lesson halfway in. On the return trip we spend much more time checking out flowers, waterfalls, rocks, mud-puddles, and views!

20 Things to Do This Summer

Summer time is the perfect time to get outside and get active. Here are some ideas on what to do to keep moving toward your perfect health.

  1. Go for a walk – fast enough but you can still check out the flowers
  2. Grab a friend and run
  3. Take a bike ride
  4. Hike a new trail
  5. Backpack and camp
    or just camp any old way – tent, RV, or car
  6. Water ski or wakeboard
  7. Go fishing
  8. Climb a tree
  9. Walk a round of golf
  10. Kayak or canoe
  11. Enter an event – find local 5k, 10k, triathlons, and other races – even if you are on vacation!
  12. Build a fort
  13. Climb trees
  14. Plant a garden – or participate in a community garden. You could also help a neighbor weed, plant, and harvest.
  15. Push mow your grass
  16. Play flashlight tag
  17. Catch fireflies
  18. Swim
  19. Join the kids on the playground and play just as hard
  20. And most of all … make sure to laugh, smile, and enjoy yourself

Health is More Than Just Physical

As I enjoy a much needed summer break I thought I would focus on wellness this week. Being healthy isn’t just about being physically fit. In fact, that is only part of the equation.

Being healthy has many layers. Wellness can be thought of as a wheel (think pie – sorry to be using food but it works!) encompassing such things as career, relationships, and culture (the slices). It is important to examine each area to understand where you may be losing energy and in need of better balance (one slice is huge and the others slivers)

Although, my background deals mainly with physical health I can’t ignore the impact the other areas of wellness have played in my personal training clients’ success or failures.

Do you feel out of balance in any areas of your life? Have you thought about how they might be effecting your efforts to be more physically healthy? For example: Do they impact your food choices, your exercise habits, or your motivation and confidence levels?

After noticing how these imbalances are effecting you can you see ways to change and stop patterns of behavior? Sometimes just noticing can be so powerful the choice to changes becomes easy. Other times it may be incredibly difficult to change even though it becomes obvious you are self-defeating the hard work you are doing (or have done) to live more healthy.

Take some time today to notice the impact other areas of your life may be having on your physical health. In our next posting we’ll look at ways to bring better balance to life.