lose weight

Making Your Goals Attainable: A Real-Life Example of an Action Plan

On a previous post, I shared how I walk clients through the process of creating a SMART Action Plan.  To read that post, CLICK HERE.

Goals Concept

So many times we make promises to ourselves:

  • “I need to lose weight.”
  • “I want to start eating healthier.”
  • “I need to get organized.”
  • “I need a new job.”

The problem is that we fail to be specific enough or assign a timeline for getting things accomplished.  A perfect example of putting something off because of lack of an action plan is my desire to obtain my Personal Training certification.  I have been thinking about getting this certification for at least 5 or 6 years, and yet, here I sit with no certification.  I even bought the study books and materials for a nationally accredited certification about 4 years ago, and I think I made it about 6 pages into the manual before I tossed it aside.

My failure to achieve my goal boils down to a lack of a SMART Action Plan, the most important step being that I didn’t assign a timeline.  “One day” is not a specific timeline.  In order to achieve your goals, you have to have a realistic, specific timeline to achieve those goals.  I decided it was time to give myself a taste of my own medicine and put an Action Plan in place!

GOAL:  Obtain Personal Training certification
DEADLINE:  By Thanksgiving  (November 28)
START DATE: August 28
*13 weeks to achieve goal*

STEPS:
1.  Study
Personal Trainer Manual and Workbook  (18 chapters; 2 chapters per week for 9 weeks)
Program Design Handbook  (4 sections; 2 sections per week for 2 weeks)
Anatomy Workbook  (1 week)
2.  Practice Test and Re-visit problem areas  (1 week)
3.  CPR certification  (deadline:  November 1)
4.  Take Final Exam for certification  (may take place in December, depending on test dates available; absolute deadline of January 1st)

By assigning deadlines and dates, as well as being specific about the steps to achieve my goal, I can now hold myself accountable and keep myself on track to meet that goal.  Reaching the goal is no longer a “one day” type of goal, but should be attained by the end of the year.

Given that I am already working on a goal of losing weight (and I’m a third of the way to my goal on my progress), a second goal of achieving this certification is probably my limit for now.  Another reason folks tend to get frustrated and give up on goals is because they overwhelm themselves by trying to accomplish too many things at one time.  In order to be successful in achieving your goals, you should only start one action plan at a time, and limit yourself to 2-3 major goals at one time.  Because I have already been working on losing weight for about 6 weeks and am successfully sticking to my action plan, I feel confident in adding another goal at this time.  However, deciding to work on this certification at the same time that I was starting my action plan for losing weight would not have been a smart choice, as I probably would have abandoned one (or both) goals.

I have put my action plan out there for two reasons: 1) to show that, even I as the Coach, need to practice what I preach (and yes, I make mistakes too), and 2) to hold myself more accountable by putting it in writing (not to mention putting it out there for an audience who can also keep me accountable).  Additionally, I have written out these steps and posted them in a location in my house where I will see the Action Plan every day (it’s harder to play “out of sight, out of mind” when it’s staring you right in the face on a regular basis).

What goals have you not achieved because you failed to be specific and assign a timeline?

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A Mother’s Challenge: Fourth Time’s a Charm!

So…as you probably noticed, I fell off the wagon.  For those struggling to get started, you should know that I had three starts and fails before I FINALLY began to stick with it.  I tried to start with the Les Mills Combat program (from Beachbody) at the beginning of May – lasted about a week.  Tried to get it going again in mid-May – failed again.  Made my own program with a calendar and everything in June – fell off after about 2 weeks.  Then we got married and went on vacation, and, well, you know how that goes (can we say “pig out”).

FINALLY, my husband (that’s still so weird to say) and I got serious around July 10.  We had a weigh-in, and we posted our respective weights on the calendar that we keep on the fridge.  It took a couple of days to really get in gear, but I’d say what really helped was using an app on my phone to track our food intake and exercise.  Though I know that tracking is what has given me success before, I think I was reluctant because I wasn’t sure how to figure in breastfeeding (well, pumping, in my case), and I didn’t want my supply to suffer.  But after two months of failing to stick to a plan, I decided to bite the bullet and start tracking.  (I should also mention here that Bella turned 6 months old on July 10, and due to finally sleeping through the night as of July 1, she was down to only 5 feedings a day.  I was pumping almost twice what she needed in a day, so I was freezing 6-12 ounces per day.  Additionally, I had a deep freezer full of milk should my supply suffer, so I became less concerned about supply issues.)  Just in case, through research I found out how, indeed, to add in breastfeeding to allow for more calories each day.

For the first couple of weeks, I ran in the mornings before Blaine went to work, so that he could be at home with Bella.  Getting my body used to counting calories was rough, as I had been just eating whenever I got hungry all through my pregnancy and had probably even increased how much I was eating as I was nursing and pumping.  But I was down to pumping only 4 times a day (and has decreased to 3 times a day within the past couple of weeks or so, soon to be down to only two times per day), so I probably didn’t need as many calories as I once did.  Tracking food, exercise, and pumping via MyFitnessPal helped tremendously in staying on track.  It was also helpful that Blaine was tracking his food and exercise, as well.  It’s always easier with a buddy!

In the past couple of weeks or so, I changed up my routine a little.  Instead of leaving Bella at home while I went running, I started taking Bella and Paisley (our Shih Tzu) with me on a power walk for 45-60 minutes.  Once back from the power walk, I started doing about 15-20 minutes of strength training exercises: squats, arms with dumbbells, crunches, etc.  I have noticed the biggest difference in weight loss, energy, and controlling my appetite since changing up my routine.  I have now lost a total of 4.5 lbs since July 10, and about a half inch each from my waist, hips, and thighs!

Here are pics of my progress thus far.  The changes are subtle, but overall I can that I’ve gone from having “rolls” to just being a little flabby.  The biggest noticeable difference is that my stomach is finally shrinking – yay!

May 2013 vs August 2013

For those still struggling out there, just don’t give up.  Just because you pooped out once doesn’t mean you’ll poop out every time.  Sometimes it just takes some practice before you really get serious.    😉

Portion Control: Size It Up

choosemyplate logo

Portions have become greatly distorted in American culture.  In fact, many would argue that oversized portions are the root cause of our obesity epidemic.  Not only are we as a society more overweight than ever, we are now facing alarmingly increasing prevalence in diabetes, heart disease, and other lifestyle-related diseases.  If portion sizes are truly a causing factor, then we must attack the weight management issue with portion control.  But what is a “portion” anyway?

A “portion” is the amount of food you put on your plate.  Unfortunately, most Americans fill large plates with extra large portions.  Instead, we should be following standard dietary guidelines for serving sizes.  Recommended serving sizes are as follows:

  • MEAT – 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards or palm of your hand
  • GRAINS – 1 cup, or about the size of your fist
  • FRUITS AND VEGETABLES – ½ cup (size of a lightbulb) to 1 cup (size of a baseball)
  • FATS AND SWEETS – sparingly, or about the size of a poker chip or small pack of dental floss

(for additional info on standard serving sizes, visit WebMD.com or MayoClinic.com)

 Knowing about serving sizes is a start, but that knowledge is not always practical and is often forgotten in everyday life.  So here are some additional tips to help you in your efforts to reign in your portion sizes:

1. Read labels.

You may be surprised to find out that a serving size of your favorite chips or crackers is only about 16 pieces (which, let’s face it, is about a handful).  When preparing your meals and snacks, only put on your plate or in your bowl the recommended serving size on the package…and then put it away.  Once your bowl or plate is empty, stop eating.  Learn your serving sizes and stick to them.

2. Use smaller plates, especially when eating pasta.
Keeping in mind that a serving size of pasta is about the size of your fist, think about how many portions you are piling onto a typical American dinner plate.  Yikes!  So next time you have pasta for dinner, downsize to those smaller plates that are probably just taking up space in your cabinet.  Though you are eating a smaller portion, the plate will still look full, and therefore will deceive your eyes (and your stomach) into thinking you are eating more than you actually are.

3. Rearrange your plate.
Try this approach to filling your plate: ½ vegetables, ¼ meat, ¼ grains.  Unfortunately, we as Americans probably do 1/3 of each of the above – or, even worse, skip the vegetables altogether.  By rearranging your plate, you will be more apt to get those 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, while also getting closer to the lower recommended serving sizes for meats and grains.

4. Prepare more meals at home.
People tend to eat less when they prepare meals at home versus eating out.  You will also likely prepare the meals in a healthier fashion.  Either way, you will be consuming less calories than fast food or even restaurant food.

5. Separate your leftovers into mini meals.
One of the main excuses for grabbing lunch or dinner on-the-go is convenience.  So once you finish dinner at home, go ahead and separate the leftovers into smaller containers – little mini meals ready to grab and take to work (or throw in the microwave for dinner the next night).

6. When eating out, cut it in half.
If you must eat out, remember that the portions are going to be very large and full of extra calories.  When your food arrives at the table, go ahead and request a to-go box.  Divide your meal at least in half – eat half now, take the rest home.  Not only will you not feel so stuffed that you later regret it, but you automatically have your next lunch or dinner ready to grab and go the next day.

Weight management can be as simple as starting with better portion control.  As with anything new, this process will take some practice before mastering, but it is easy enough for anyone to try – anytime, anywhere.   Portion control is really just being mindful of the amount you put on your plate, and has nothing to do with starving yourself or restricting calories; simply reprogram yourself to the recommended servings for each food group.  Also know that, when it comes to fruits and vegetables, you can really never go wrong, so eat up!  The key to your size is in your portion sizes.

A Mother’s Challenge: Rear in Gear, Day 16

Well…..I promised you “real”.

I was better with cardio this week – got out for a walk with the dog and stroller (we are quite a sight) 4 times.  But I was TERRIBLE at keeping up with my Challenge exercises – only did them twice.  As a result, I’ve not seen any change in my measurements and have actually gained 2 pounds.  *sad face*

I have been very diligent about continuing to eat healthy, however, and though it may just be my imagination, I swear my body looks tighter – even if my measurements say otherwise.  I also feel stronger.  Sure, those 20 pushups still kick my tail, but my joints don’t hurt as bad and I don’t feel like I’m auditioning for a Rice Crispies commercial every time I move.  memorial day family pic

So here’s where we’re at:
Today is a rest day, but since I’ve rested quite a bit this past week, I’m going to try to do my Challenge exercises today.  And since Coach is home today, I can probably either get out for a family walk around the neighborhood, or possibly even go for a solo run (which is desperately needed).  I have completed through Day 10 on my Challenge exercises, so I will pick up with Day 11.  I have been tracking which days I complete, so that when I do miss days, I can jump back in where I left off.

I know many people would get to the point where I am and would say, “Oh well.  I’m so off track that I’ll just skip out on the rest of the month and start over next month.”  NOOOOOO, I say!  Just keep track as I have and jump back in when you get motivated (or well, or find that free time) again.  Time doesn’t matter.  Just DO IT.  No one is keeping track but you.  All that matters is that you are trying, that you are moving, and that you are working towards being healthy again.  Need a little more of a pep talk?  Read my article, “Just ‘Start'”.

Here’s to another week!

A Mother’s Challenge: Rear in Gear, Day 9

spring-reminder-get-in-shape-seasonal-ecards-someecards

Any progress is good progress I suppose, so we’ll take it.

As of yesterday, I had some small changes in the following measurements:
WAIST – 31.5″ (down 1/2″)
HIPS – 40.75″ (down 1/4″)
CHEST – 35″ (UP 1″! ) – haha!  Thanks Mommy Milk!
*Weight did not change*

My body has always followed a certain progression in both gaining and losing weight.  When I gain, it begins in hips and thighs, then arms and other areas, and lastly my tummy.  When I lose, it’s pretty much in reverse, so I have to lose the tummy before my body will let go of fat from other areas.  I have to keep reminding myself of this fact as I trudge onward, because I am, indeed, seeing progress in my waistline.

I have thus far done pretty well with keeping up with Challenge exercises, but have been TERRIBLE at doing any cardio.  Note to self: get on that!

Anyone else still with me on the Rear in Gear Challenge?  How are YOU doing?

A Mother’s Challenge: Rear in Gear, Day 7

black for exercise

At the close of the first week, I have to say it’s been a roller coaster.  Some days I was gung-ho, full of energy, and ready to take on the world.  Other days I struggled just to get my Challenge exercises done, let alone anything else.  I have managed to keep up with the Challenge exercises, but I have only done cardio a couple of times – and that was just walking or some calisthenics.

Squats and crunches are getting easier.  My 30-second plank today was surprising OK.  Push-ups can suck it!  Even breaking them down into 2 sets of 9, I was STRUGGLING by 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the second set.  AND I wasn’t even doing a full, true push-up – I was on my knees! Clearly I’ve got some work to do on my upper body strength.  I don’t suppose it could be this extra 20 pounds I’m carrying around!

Tomorrow is weigh-in and measurement check.  I have to say I’ve cheated a little already on both (I have no patience to wait), and there has been one area of progress.  I suppose ANY progress is good at this point, so we’ll take it.  The rest of you will have to wait until I do the “official” check and post tomorrow.

In the meantime, I know some people are dying over these squats.  My legs have admittedly always been my strongest muscle group, and I mean by a long shot.  Squats haven’t gotten to me yet (notice I said YET – let’s talk again when I’m doing 100+ per day), but I have also been changing it up, doing some different types each day, and breaking them down into smaller sets.

I made a video of suggested variations to help all of you out there:

How are you guys doing at the close of Week One?

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