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Reflections on 2012: Stepping in the Right Direction

It’s been several months since I’ve blogged.  Before you give me the mandatory forty lashes with a wet noodle (as my fourth grade teacher used to threaten), let me explain.  At the end of May, I quit my job as a personal trainer at the gym where I worked, and I moved into a position at a chiropractor’s office.  I am the physiotherapist there, and I am loving it!  The professional atmosphere is a perfect fit for me, I am constantly busy and running around, and I’m still working hands on in the health and wellness industry.  That being said, since this blog was set up with my clients in mind, and I no longer have any official “clients,” I put my blog on the back burner.  However, I did want to write a post in reflection on this past year since I had previously posted about some 2012 New Year’s resolutions.  Additionally, I feel like I have learned and grown so much in the areas of health and fitness in this past year, that I wanted to organize my thoughts into a post.

First of all, let me review my three 2012 New Year’s resolutions for you.  I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, but all of these things were tangible goals that I had for the year, and they sort of just happened to come about at the beginning of last year.  

My first goal was not exactly health and wellness related, unless you’re counting spiritual health.  I decided to read through the entire Bible in a year.  Now, I’ve been a follower of Jesus since I was four years old, so I’ve read the whole Bible, but never had I read the entire Bible in a year.  I had started a plan before, got overwhelmed, and quit.  This time though, I was determined to set a tangible, achievable goal that would help me reestablish a daily quiet time with the Lord.  Some days, I’ll admit, I buzzed through my reading, shut my Bible, and didn’t think too long or hard about what I had just read.  Other times though, I took my time and really digested what I had read.  This was, by far, the best goal I’ve ever made for myself, and the time that I spent in the Word really changed my life.  I saw and felt my attitude improve.  I was more joyful.  I took myself less seriously.  I stressed less.  Within a couple of months, I really felt I had established a routine of setting aside time to be with the Lord in His Word every day.  This year, I’m not reading through the entire Bible specifically, but I am spending fifteen minutes each day in meditation.  I’m learning to “be still, and know that [He] is God.”  I am living in the moment–even if only for fifteen minutes.  God and I are chatting together again.  I missed the closeness that we used to have, and I am loving communing with Him again.  He is, after all, my very Best Friend.

My second New Year’s resolution was to complete a triathlon.  A few months into 2012, I decided to make that even more specific and complete an Olympic distance tri.  My last blog post delineated the details of the actual race experience, but I never realized how much the training would change my life.  My body responded so well to actually switching up my routine.  I really learned the value of quality over quantity in my training.  I stopped stressing about the number of miles I logged in my running journal for each week, and focused on getting stronger and increasing my ability to swim and bike well.  I did a lot of things that were hard for me.  

You see, I use to run and occasionally lift weights.  I couldn’t consider anything but running an actual workout.  When I finally got over that, boy did I see some huge fitness gains!  I got leaner and stronger this year, and it wasn’t because I did more training.  In fact, I did a lot less–and I stopped stressing about that!

This leads into my third 2012 New Year’s resolution.  This may seem silly, but I resolved to do a full, unassisted pull-up.  Yep, I’m a certified personal trainer, and I can’t do a pull-up.  Unfortunately, I have not quite achieved this goal, but I am better than I used to be!  In fact, I just started doing a modified version of P90X, and I think I may hit my pull-up goal sooner rather than later.  The positive side to this not-yet-achieved goal is that I am much stronger than I used to be–so long, skinny fat college years!  I’m coming into the very best shape of my life thanks to consistent time in the weight room and a much healthier diet.

I’ve been working on changing my nutrition ever since I graduated from college almost three years ago.  Right after college, I gained almost ten pounds as I started a full-time desk job and an injury kept me from running for almost two months.  Combine that with my love of cooking and baking, and I was a disaster!  Thankfully, within a few months, I shed those extra post-college pounds and returned to my normal weight.  

I continued to lose a few pounds leading up to my wedding one year after college.  This was due, mostly, to being very busy (thus, eating less) combined with an amped up running schedule and consistent weight training.  However, I really started to learn a lot more about nutrition after my wedding.  In that next year, I studied nutrition a lot on my own and learned a ton.  Then, I became obsessive about food and nutrition as I started my career in personal training.  I worried about it way too much, and that backfired on me.  

In 2012, I was gradually able to stop obsessing about nutrition and found a, dare I say it, more sane and sensible approach.  🙂  I started eating food for energy and for what it could do for my body as fuel.  

For example, I stopped eating pretty much all gluten at lunch time because I found it made me very tired in the afternoon, and I always wanted to take a nap.  I noticed that I didn’t feel that same “afternoon slump” if I focused more on protein, fruit, and veggies at lunch.  I ended up making much healthier choices for lunch not because it was the right thing to do, but because it made me feel so good.  

Also, my teaching schedule dictates working well into the evening.  I am often not home before 8 p.m.  That means that my husband and I don’t get to eat dinner before 8:30 most nights of the week.  Rather than stressing out about how that could make me gain weight, I simply cooked a dinner focusing on protein, healthy fats, and veggies.  I didn’t get reflux eating close to bedtime, and I didn’t gain weight–my two biggest fears about such a late dinner.

Additionally, I stopped stressing out about treats.  When I wanted one, I had one.  Like my half cup of Hagen-Daas on Friday nights–it’s still a must.  Most of the time, it wasn’t a big treat but just enough to feel satisfied.  It was amazing what I even wanted for a treat after that.  Only dark, dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate since dark chocolate left me satiated and milk chocolate left me craving more.  Candy?  Yuck.  Most of the time, it just sounded gross and way too sweet.  Of course, when candy was completely off limits, it always sounded good.  And soda?  I didn’t even really like it anymore.  Sparkling water was my new soda.  Although, if any of those things did sound good, I wasn’t worried about having a little.

So there you have it–my 2012 New Year’s resolutions and their results, plus what I learned about nutrition along the way.  Overall, the biggest things I have learned when it comes to health and wellness are eating for life and fuel, focusing on quality over quantity in my training, and weight training consistently.  I have seen enormous gains in my fitness as a result, and, while the scale has stayed pretty much the same, I’m a size smaller on the top and the bottom and can see muscle definition that I never could see before.

Hopefully my musings have been at least a little helpful to someone, somewhere, and hopefully it saves someone from learning things the hard way, like I’ve done lots of times.  Best wishes to you in 2013 for a healthier you!  Even little improvements each day are positive steps to be proud of.  Here’s to your health, each sane and sensible step of the way.

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New Series!! What to Cook for the Hate-to Cook!

I’m really excited to be launching a new series on my blog this summer.  It’s called “What to Cook for the Hate-to Cook.”  Recently, I was talking with someone about weekend plans, and somehow in the conversation I heard this statement: “I hate to cook.  I just hate it.”  Wow, that’s so sad! was my first thought.  How could anyone hate to cook?  It’s relaxing.  It’s artistic.  Heck, it’s delicious!  

The next day I was out for my run and my mind was running faster than my legs as usual.  I was thinking about this comment, and finally it hit me.  I hate to decorate.  I just hate it.  Everyone thinks I would love it because most women seem to, but I don’t.  There a few reasons why.  For one, I know how I want it to look, and when it doesn’t come out looking that way, I feel frustrated because I can’t fix it.  Secondly, it’s expensive.  Gee willikers…the things you hang on your walls can sure add up!  Thirdly, it’s time consuming.  I would so much rather spend the weekend in yoga classes or out on my bike or running on a dirt trail than shopping for things to decorate with or, even worse, taking the time to hang them (and need I even mention the occasional purchase from Ikea that needs to be assembled?!?!).

So there you have it.  I hate to decorate.  If money was no object, I’d pay someone else to do it hands down.  So why did I think someone else could unjustifiably hate cooking with the same ardent passion I feel for decorating?  After all, if you take the time to cook and it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would, but you know how you want it to taste, isn’t that frustrating?  Can’t cooking be so incredibly expensive when a SmartOnes frozen dinner is probably no more than $2?  And certainly cooking can be very time consuming!  (Who wants to spend all day on a meal that gets consumed in fifteen minutes?)

That’s when I got the idea to launch a new series on my site: what to cook for the “hate-to” cook.  There are crazy people like me who just love to cook and find it incredibly enjoyable, relaxing, and possibly even therapeutic.  I’m here for you, Ms. Hate-to Cook.  I’ve got your back here (and if you want to come paint my downstairs this weekend in exchange for a freezer full of meals, I’m all for it).  

Stay tuned for easy, inexpensive meals that you can whip up in a flash (and clean up even faster).  I’ll be using ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry so your grocery shopping trips are even quicker than ever.  And did I mention that we’ll be making some healthy food as well?  That’s right!  Even a quick meal can be very nutritious.

Here’s to you, Hate-to Cook!  We’re in this together.