Healthy Lifestyle

A Mother’s Challenge: Rear in Gear, Day 5

Life happens, and before you know it, several days pass.  Already on Day Five – how did that happen?!

Day Two went well – a little tough on the squats, but still went well enough that I felt the need to do some extra arm exercises afterwards.  Day Three, my brother and his girlfriend came to visit, so I had to find time to squeeze in my exercises.  Additionally, the extra time on the planks and (sadly) the extra two pushups began to get tough.  Lord help me – if 12 pushups are hard, how in the h-e-double hockey sticks am I going to 50 by the end of the month?!?!

Remember when I said this would be real?  So, on Day Three, I totally pigged out on two hot dogs, a hamburger, and cake and ice cream that night.  I also had the first beer that I’ve had since the end of last July – yes, almost a year ago!  Day Four – didn’t even do it.  We stayed up too late the night before, all slept in that morning, and then I decided to entertain my guests…..and go out to eat…..and sit on my butt. So today – Day Five – is supposed to be a rest day, but since I inadvertently (or quite intentionally, LOL) made yesterday a rest day, I will be doing my Day Four exercises today.  Additionally, I need to make up a day of cardio, so I really need to do two doses of cardio someday this week.  Will it be today?  Who knows.  I live nap-to-nap with little Bella, so it just depends on if we are having a good napping day or a poor napping day to whether or not I get things done.  (And then I decided to take some time to actually get on my computer and hash out this post, so there goes some time I could have been using for exercise………)

I also need to get to the store.  I am running out food – not only my healthy options, but really any options at all!  So there’s that.

This is the real life of a mom.  I know you other moms out there get it – I just have to say it out loud to remind myself sometimes, hahaha!  And at the end of the day, I get to look at this precious face:

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In case you are just tuning in, you can download the June Challenge here: June 2013 Rear in Gear Challenge

A Mother’s Challenge: Rear in Gear, Day 1

Day One wasn’t too bad.  In fact, the exercises took about 10 minutes and left me wanting more…..so I did some arms with light dumbbells just for good measure.  🙂

In taking my measurements, I was pleased to find that I have lost one inch off of my waist since I last measured on May 14.  Other measurements have stayed the same and look like this:
Chest – 34″
Arms – 11.25″
Waist – 32″
Hips – 41″
Thighs – 24″
Weight – 136.6 lbs

For those joining me on this challenge, I will share little tips along the way of what works for me.  For example, doing 50 squats in a row is not only hard, but it’s boring.  I like to mix it up, so my 50 squats today looked like this:
10 – wide stance
10 – parallel (regular) stance
10 – wide stance with functional arms (touch down with squat as if picking something up, then stretch them up overhead as you rise)
10 – parallel stance with 10 lb dumbbells at my sides
10 – wide stance with 10 lb dumbbells down in front of my torso

Eating has gone well today.  Since I can’t really count calories so much, my goal is to put “clean fuel” in my body by really reading labels and choosing foods that are low in sugar and sodium, high in protein and fiber, and consist of the “good” fats.  Additionally, I am trying to stay away from processed foods when possible.  For me, convenience is key, so I have to keep ready-to-eat snacks handy that I can just grab and eat.  Some of my new faves are almonds and sunflower kernels (unsalted), Crunchmaster’s Multi-Grain Crisps (they are Gluten Free, low sodium, and all natural), apples with peanut butter, and cheddar cheese (slices or cubes).  I have also found that I need some protein and fat in my snacks in order to feel fulfilled (read: not full like I ate a meal, but satisfied enough to hold me over until the next meal or snack).  Fresh fruits and veggies are always good choices, but I have to take the time when I bring them home from the store to go ahead and wash them and/or cut them up and get them ready to grab and go, or I won’t take the time to do it when snack times come around.

I’ll leave you today with one of my new favorite snacks – my Bananaberry Smoothie, made with Greek yogurt.  It’s delicious and nutritious!

bananaberry smoothie recipe

A Mother’s Challenge: Get Your Rear in Gear!

Pre-preggo VS After-preggo (resized)

We have all heard a million “before-and-after” success stories of weight loss, but no one ever hears, “I failed….miserably.”  In fact, as I began preparing to get back in shape myself, I debated withholding my story until I had actually lost weight, so I could proudly boast my accomplishment.  I mean, who wants to put a story of failure out there?  Doesn’t everyone want to be like Jared from Subway, showing horrible “before” pictures only after we have amazing “after” pictures to show alongside it?

As I struggled to get started and workout consistently in May, I finally decided that I would be willing to risk falling on my face for all to see because that’s REAL.  In real life, we start and stop fitness programs and health kicks over and over.  Some win, but many lose this battle.  As someone who has always been an active person, I have never understood this struggle more than I do now as a new mom.

Sadly, I have been this weight (135 lbs) twice before – about a year out from graduating college and when I lost my dad and my job in summer/fall of 2008.  (I should insert here that I am barely 5’2″ – probably closer to 5’1 and 3/4″ to be exact – and my comfort zone for weight is usually between 112-118.  That being said, I am about 20 lbs overweight right now.  I know that doesn’t sound like much, but on a petite 5’2″ frame, there’s not many places to hide an extra 20 lbs….just saying.)  However, the weight distribution this time is so foreign to me, as I now have a belly and boobs – two things I have never had to contend with before.  I’m a girl who primarily gains “junk in the trunk” when putting on weight, which is a little easier to hide with the right clothing.  However, I’m at a loss with this belly, which looks like I might still be about 20 weeks pregnant.

Not only do I now have all of this weight in weird places, I am probably the most out of shape I’ve ever been in my life.  Prior to getting pregnant last summer, I had started a little running group and I ran maybe 3-4 times per week on average.  During the pregnancy, I tried to stay active by going for power walks through the neighborhood.  However, the preeclampsia and bed rest during those last few weeks, followed by C-section and preeclampsia recovery, really took its toll on my body.  Additionally, I have the added challenge of just finding the time to exercise, as I have an infant that needs to be fed and entertained constantly.  Normally when I get serious and have an intervention with myself, I do restrict calories in addition to exercising and making healthy choices with eating.  However, this intervention is particularly challenging because I am the primary food source for my baby girl, so calorie restriction is not an option.

This struggle will be real.  This fight will be open and candid.  I may come out looking better than ever…..or I may fall flat on my face with failure.  But either way, I hope that other moms out there can relate.  Maybe they (or you) will join in with me, or maybe I will just motivate folks to start their own fitness challenge.  My goal is simply to say, “Hey, I get it.  It’s hard – really hard.”  And for all of you who think that petite folks such as myself never have to work at this, you are so wrong.  I am not one of the blessed ones who can eat anything and everything and not gain weight.  When you see me in good shape, I have worked hard through healthy eating and regular exercise to achieve that figure.

So here goes nothing.  Won’t you join me?

June 2013 Rear in Gear Challenge (downloadable calendar of exercises for June 2013)

Collage for FB

Take Action with a SMART Action Plan

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE “TAKE ACTION” WORKSHEET

During a recent coaching session, a client told me that she feels she is being called to help people.  She was reading and soaking up information like a sponge, but really had no direction or focus for how she was going to help people.  During our session, I uncovered that she is passionate about growing herbs and herbal healing.  As she talked about this passion, her eyes lit up, and she was very animated and excited as she went on to tell me that a great grandmother had actually been known in her community as a natural and herbal healing specialist.  By the time we finished her session, we had mapped out an action plan that had specific focus, a time frame to complete a knowledge path for said focus, and her next steps for getting involved in community groups with this focus.

The hardest part of reaching your goals is getting started.  People are often so overwhelmed with the idea of the process that they often just never start.  In order to be successful with any action plan – business or personal – your plan must be S.M.A.R.T. :

S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Achieveable/Actionable
R – Revise for Relevance
T – Timely

SPECIFIC
A goal must be specific in order to measure success.  If you just say, “I want to lose weight”, your expectation is so broad that you will never know if you reached the finish line.  However, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you can set up smaller goals along the way until you reach the 20 pounds.  Now you have focus to your goal and can ultimately measure success.  In the example above, my client started out wanting to “help people”, but by the time we were finished with her session, she had focused her passion into a specific goal of helping others learn about herbal healing.

MEASUREABLE
How will you measure success of your goal?  You should be able to break down your goal into smaller steps along the way by which you can measure continuous achievement.  If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you may decide that you are going to work for losing one pound per week until that goal is achieved.  In the case of my client, we set some milestones for knowledge of her focus area: attending workshops, going to community classes, and ultimately getting a nationally-recognized certification.

ATTAINABLE/ACTIONABLE
Have you made your goal specific and measureable enough to actually carry it out?  Do you have the resources, including both skill and will, to achieve the goal?  Some people miss the first two steps, and by doing so, set themselves up for failure before they’ve even begun.  Any goal worth achieving is worth having a plan to achieve that goal.  You can’t just jump into it and think you are going to get somewhere.  Take the time to map it out – you will thank yourself later.  Without deciding first that you will strive to lose “x” amount of weight per week by “ABC” actions, you will never reach that 20-pound mark for weight loss.  In the case of my client wanting to help others, she had no end result for which she was working and probably would have floundered about trying to find her place in this world of helping/healing.  By sitting down and talking through the steps of a SMART Action Plan, we were able to give her measureable and achieveable pieces for which to strive and by which to measure success once completed.

REVISE FOR RELEVANCE
You may find along your journey a new direction or insight that takes you on a different path than originally planned – and THAT IS OK.  It doesn’t mean you have failed the original goal.  It just means that the original goal is no longer relevant to where you are at this point in your life.  How many people do you know that are still working in the career field of their college major ten or fifteen years later?  My guess is not many.  We all go to college with one passion or idea of where we want to go in life, but as we experience all that life has to offer, we can often be pulled in another direction.  Such is the case with any goal, so stay open and flexible so that you can revise your plan along the way to stay relevant.  My client may find along her journey to becoming a specialist on herbal healing that she has another passion that is even stronger than her one for herbal healing – and that is OK.  She will just need to revise her plan a little to accommodate the new focus in her life.

TIMELY
Without a time-bound point of completion, how will you ever know if you’ve crossed the finish line?  Choose a realistic time frame by which you would like to complete your goal, which is ultimately just another aspect of measurement.  By choosing a time frame, you are holding yourself accountable to actually getting the goal completed – even if you realize the time frame you have set for yourself needs to be revised along the way (in either direction – shorter or longer).  Choose a time that is relatively soon so that you will have a sense of urgency and motivation to actually get the job done, but that is far enough away that it gives you a realistic time frame for completion.  You will not lose 20 pounds safely in one month, but maybe you can lose 20 pounds in 3-5 months.  Again, stay open and flexible to revise your time along the way if need be, and don’t consider yourself a failure if it looks like it might take a little longer than originally planned.  As long as you are making progress in the right direction, you are successful.

I have a worksheet that I use with my clients in our initial consultation that walks them through a SMART Action Plan.  This “Take Action” worksheet aids in taking a large, non-specific goal that may seem overwhelming to tackle and breaks it down into a Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely Action Plan.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE “TAKE ACTION” WORKSHEET

Just “Start”

Like 99% of the American population, I’m sure you’ve got a long mental “to do” list when it comes to improving your life.

“I need to get more organized.”

“I need to start exercising.”

“I need to start eating healthier.”

“I need to start spending more time with my family.”

And the list goes on…..

The problem is that we TALK about these things ALL THE TIME.  We always have that mental list of things we “need to do”- and yet, we’re not getting it done.

For most, it’s because it seems like SO MUCH that even just the THOUGHT of doing makes us tired.  You ever watch “Hoarders” and think “How in the world did these people get to this point?”  The truth is, it wasn’t what they DID, it’s what they DIDN’T do.  If you are a regular watcher, like I am, you know that most of these people had some life situation that was sort of the pivotal point – and things went downhill from there.  A loved one died, the person lost his/her job, a divorce occurred – SOMETHING happened that caused that person to shut down, and he/she just stopped doing.  The “stuff” he/she has accumulated  – as crazy as it sounds – was a comfort. When something very dear to you is ripped away, you try to hold onto anything – and everything – you can, because that’s the only thing you CAN control.

Fortunately, most of us are not in the “hoarders” category, but we still feel like we live in a world of chaos.  We feel overwhelmed by trying to balance work and home, and somehow we’ve let things get away from us – little by little – until the “to do” list has become a mile long.  But the mere thought of even attempting to tackle that list seems too much to wrap our minds around, and so we just DON’T DO.

You know that old phrase “one step at a time”?  As crazy as it sounds, that is honestly all it takes – ONE STEP.  Pick a place – any place – and just START.  I know you’re probably sitting there saying “that’s easier said than done”.  But honestly, it’s not as hard as you think it is.  Maybe today you choose that pile of mail that’s been piling up on the table.  Chances are half of it need to be thrown out, but you just haven’t taken the time to do so.  Maybe tomorrow you choose the coffee table.  I know you think that one thing can’t make that much of a difference, but amazingly, it does. It adds up over time, and after a couple of weeks, maybe that entire living room is done…and you can move on to the next room.

I didn’t say it would be easy.  You will have to muster up courage, patience, and a little focus and determination.  But just like starting a new exercise routine, it will become easier as time goes on – and you will be amazed at the results you are starting to see.  I think of clutter like the “fat” of your house – you got a little lazy and complacent and your house put on a few pounds!  But ignoring those pounds won’t make them go away; they will only continue to accrue if you don’t take action.

So as you try to decide where to start on your list of things to improve in your life, don’t get overwhelmed with how many things you need to work on.  Just pick ONE.  My suggestion is pick the ONE thing that has the greatest effect on your life right now, and start making daily time for that one thing everyday.  Maybe you choose to start exercising – so make 20 minutes everyday to start walking.  Maybe you choose to start eating healthy, but before you overhaul your entire kitchen, just choose one area to focus on – such as taking a multivitamin, cutting down on your potato chip habit, or eating one fruit a day more than what you currently eat (which, sadly, might mean eating ONE fruit a day for many people – but again, it’s a start).  The bottom line is: JUST START.  And take it one step at a time.