Category: Motivation & Mindset

I Am Willing

So, I’m reading my latest book, the one I have to hide from my children. (Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop) And the second chapter is called “I Am Willing.” And as I’m reading it I’m thinking it’s ok, nothing great, I’m not sure how I’m going to like this book….

By the end of the chapter I’m struck by that one phrase- I’m willing. It’s been running through my head all day. It really does come down to that. Motivation, commitment, discipline, getting things done. Are you willing?

It reminds me of a tough-love article I read awhile back. A personal trainer went on a rant about how people want this and want that and complain when nothing happens or they don’t get results. He knew, no matter who it was talking, that his answer would be the same. His basic response was: you’re not willing to do what you need to do to get there. Whatever your level of fitness, whatever your goals, you have to be willing to do what it takes to get there. And don’t fool yourself if you’re not.

It was a little dose of tough love that I needed. And it made me think. I was frustrated by being at a weight loss plateau. Frustrated and complaining and venting and reading articles about breaking that plateau. But I wasn’t doing what it would take to do that. If I wanted different results, I had to try something different. And I wasn’t willing to do that then. So I kept doing what I was doing, but I stopped complaining. That little article shut me up. If I wasn’t willing to do something, I had to quit whining.

And I’ve stayed there for a while….knowing my results weren’t exactly what I wanted, but not really ready to step it up. But in the back of my head, I still wanted more.

Before we set out to do something I think we have to ask ourselves that question- am I willing? Am I willing to do what it takes to get there?

We can all do hard things. But are we willing? Are we willing to do hard things to get what we want?

I think it’s important to consider in lots of areas of life, but I’m thinking here about fitness goals. I’m doing this program now that’s pretty intense. The workout intense-ness is in my comfort zone. I like to be pushed, I like hard workouts, I want to come out of it feeling like I just did something hard. The nutrition intense-ness has been outside my comfort zone. I have specifically said I would not give certain things up, even if it meant I wouldn’t get the results I wanted. I have considered timed nutrition and counting macros and that more intense nutrition stuff in the past, and you know what? It came down to the fact that I was not willing to do what needed to be done to get those results.

Well, now I am willing. I am willing to get up at 4:30 in the morning. I am willing to eat before I workout even though I really don’t like to eat before workouts. I am willing to food shop and prep so I have meals ready to eat every 2-3 hours. I am ready to eat vegetables at all hours and breakfasts that feel more like dinners like a crazy person. I am willing to go to bed early. I am willing to pass up cookies and ice cream. I am willing to drink seltzer while my friends drink beer and wine. I am willing to pack my own food for a Super Bowl party. I am willing to eat fruit instead of cake on my daughter’s birthday.

I have not always been willing. And I may not always be willing- at least not to this extent. There was a time I wasn’t willing to go for a walk, let alone run, hike, or do mountain climbers. There was a time I wasn’t willing to give up International Delights in my coffee. Or a pint of Haagen-Dazs on a Sunday night. There was a time I said I wasn’t a morning person. There was a time where I was doing most of what I’m doing now, but I wasn’t willing to go that extra mile with my nutrition.

And that’s all ok. What’s not ok is getting frustrated with ourselves because we’re not where we want to be. Step back and think about what you want. Think about what you have to do to get there. Then think about what you are willing to do.

I have been all along the spectrum, from complaining when my husband wanted to go for a walk around the block to going for a 9-mile hike with him. And I’m not saying you have to do timed nutrition. Or hour long workouts. Or wake up at 4:30 in the morning. I’m saying know where you’re at. And if where you’re at is eating crap and not exercising and not taking care of your body like you know you should, then think about what you can do to snap out of that place.

Maybe where you’re at is willing to do some exercise, but nothing crazy. Willing to eat a little better, but still have your treats too. Willing to take some steps, but not willing to change too much. And that’s fine! Just know where you are and be honest with yourself. You’re going to have to do something. Nothing works unless you do. You can try different things and you can jump on bandwagons, but until you’re ready to put the work in, nothing is going to work for you. There are no miracles when it comes to taking charge of your health.

So think of what you want and think about what your are willing to do. Be honest with yourself about what your goals are and what you are willing to do to get them. If that doesn’t match up, you need to rethink things.

Because there is also “I am not willing.” Or “I am unwilling.”

Sometimes it is what we are unwilling to do or unwilling to accept that will motivate us. Like being unwilling to wake up and dread getting dressed because your pants don’t fit. When I used to feel silly for letting my weight get me down, or not wanting to get dressed to go somewhere because I just felt so uncomfortable in my own skin, my husband made that profound statement. “It’s hard to get out of bed when you know your pants don’t fit.” Like it or not, our physical bodies and how we feel in them can really affect how we feel overall.

Maybe it’s when we’re not willing to stay where we are, that we know we’re ready for change.

Sometimes what we’re willing to do is enough. Sometimes we know that we need to be willing to do more. And sometimes being unwilling is what will finally motivate us.

What are you willing to do?

Personal Development Books

I love reading. I have loved reading since I was little. And I love all kinds of books- serious, dark, scary, funny, romantic. Fiction and nonfiction. I have also grown to love personal development books. I know people think those books (call them “self-help,” call them stupid, call them trite, call them whatever you want) are silly or weird or just plain stupid. And I know people make fun of them. But I really like them! And I kinda sorta think everybody should read them.

I think personal development books can offer us so much- even if your life is perfect and you’re bursting with happiness. Even if you wake with a song in your heart and drift off to peaceful sleep with a smile on your face each day. Even if you’re living the life of your dreams….Or, even if you couldn’t care less about dreams and fluffy stuff like that. There doesn’t have to be something wrong to read a “self-help” book. We could all use a little time for self-reflection, maybe a little inspiration.

I think there’s value to reading these kinds of books, just like I think there’s value in taking classes, trying something new, doing something you’ve never done before. Lots of life experiences- good or bad- expand us. Expand our minds, our thinking, our perspective. And sometimes doing something new, even if you think it’s silly, can add to your life experience. There are lots of ways to do this, but not all of those ways are as easily accessible as reading a book. Reading a book that has a positive message or can help us think of things in a new way or helps us find something out about ourselves is a good thing. It certainly isn’t a bad thing.

These books, the good ones, usually make you feel pretty good too. They’re positive. It’s a little mental/emotional/spiritual pick-me-up. They can be very motivating- to do whatever. To pursue something you’ve always dreamed of, to find a job that brings you more happiness, to do a race, to organize your home, to wake up earlier, to be more productive, to be better with money, to be more decisive, to be more confident, to love your life the way it is more or to make a change. Or they can just be a nice positive thing to add into your day.

If you have never read one of these kinds of books, you should give one a try. Look at it as an act of self-care. Or a break from reality. Or just something you do because it’s good for you, like eating vegetables.

I try to read 15 minutes of “personal development” a day. It started out feeling like a chore, something I did because I felt like I should. I think I just started with the wrong books. Once I found a book I loved, though, it became something I enjoyed. Pick something not too heavy, something that won’t make you feel the opposite of how you want it to make you feel. Something that won’t dredge up things you don’t want to dredge up or get too deep. Just a nice something to add to your day.

I also changed when I read it. I used to read it at night. My personal development book replaced the fiction I usually read at night. I didn’t like that either. I don’t want to think too much before bed. I want to turn my brain off. And I missed my fiction! I missed having a book that totally sucked me in and kept me up at night reading. (Some personal development books can suck you in like that, but I find most I can put down and look forward to reading tomorrow.)

So I started reading it in the morning (I know that sounds crazy, even to me it sounds a little crazy). I already get up early to exercise before my kids get up; I’d read after my workout while I drank my water. Ten or fifteen minutes, and it’s a nice way to start the day. I get to read my fluff before bed and I still get some time to read something that’s helping me live life. Making me feel better. Inspiring me. Making me think. Motivating me.

Another way to get some of this positivity into your day is to listen to something positive. There are audiobooks, so you can listen instead of read, and podcasts. I listen to podcasts while I clean sometimes. They can really change your mood, just like listening to music, but with more intention.

So, I just bought these two books yesterday. I had a gift card to Barnes & Noble 🙂 I haven’t read them yet, so I can’t tell you what I think yet. But I’m excited to read them! I just love Shaun T. I love his workouts, I love his motivation, I love his story. I feel like he genuinely cares about people. And the other book is one I’ve been hearing about. It’s supposed to be very good, and has been on my list for a while. Even if it doesn’t transform my life by 8AM, I’m sure it will inspire me in some way.

I just finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and loved it. It had a real focus on creativity, and doing what you love, and not being afraid of what other people think. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero is one of my favorites. It is flat out fun to read. She is very funny, very down-to-earth. I felt like she was one of my friends. She kind of reminds me of one of my college friends- some of her adventures and her no-nonsense way of saying things 🙂

Even the books I haven’t loved have given me something to take away from it. I read 12 Week Year and while I liked it, it was a little too high maintenance for where I was at. It required too much diving in, too much work. But I did learn a lot from it. It helped me think about what I really want to do, about goal setting, about being more concrete about what I want in life. Sometimes we just don’t think about the big picture because we’re caught up in the day-to-day, not necessarily being “present” or “in the moment” but just busy and feeling like a hamster in a wheel. Sometimes we don’t even think about what we really want.

I’m happy- I love my life. But I am at a kind of crossroads and I want to think about what I really want as I move forward in life. Before life pushes me along, maybe in a direction in which I don’t necessarily want to be going.

For “fun” I’m reading Game of Thrones. I remember before I had kids I would try to read classics. I read new books, too, but I would try to read classics and “good” books. I still think there’s value to reading those books, but in the throes of motherhood I knew I needed to lighten things up a bit….A teacher friend had once asked me what I was reading and when I told her she said, “Sheesh. No wonder you’re depressed.” I had been telling her about some sad stuff going on in my life then, and how I was having trouble not letting it weigh on me all the time. She had a point- maybe I couldn’t fix the stuff that was going on in my life. But reading The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy probably wasn’t helping my outlook on things.

So, I am a total reading dork. I love good books, I love fluff, I love personal development. I also love the library. And bookstores. And talking about books. And hearing what books other people are reading….Books of all kinds can change your world. And I’m happy I’ve made the commitment to reading something with the specific purpose of growing as a person. I think it’s when we become stuck or stagnant or stop evolving that we can get in trouble in this world. We should always be growing.

Have you read a personal development before? I’d love to hear what you have read!

My Dad

My father passed away in November. I originally wrote this post on Wednesday, November 29th. I wrote it and shared it with my health and fitness accountability group on Facebook. Writing it helped me process the grief. Writing specifically about one aspect of my dad’s life and one aspect of my relationship with him helped me process some of my grief. I was sad and I cried the whole time, but it wasn’t plunging me into what this all meant to my whole life.

One of the good things (for me) about having a blog (even if it is a neglected blog) is that it is a place to write. I love writing, but before I created this blog I rarely wrote anything. So it’s an outlet for me. Sometimes I type away like mad on my computer and then it just sits there. I never publish it. But having this blog gave me an outlet that morning, when I couldn’t sleep. When I was in bed and my mind was racing. It gave me a constructive way to talk about my dad, without getting too personal. A place to share some things about him without delving into all that he means to me. Even if I knew I wasn’t going to share it- yet or maybe ever- on this blog. I shared it only in the safe space of my little group.

I share it here now because losing my father has had a huge impact on my life. On my “journey.” I feel like I’m baby stepping out of the surreal, underwater feeling that has been the last few months. Part of moving forward will be wrapping myself up in nutrition and exercise. (Could be worse, right?!) I think my dad would get a kick out of hearing me talk about what I’m about to get myself into next….

Here’s what I wrote and shared with my group back in November:

 

“My father passed away on Monday night (November 27th). He was very sick, diagnosed with cancer on September 25th and things seemed to progress so quickly. But the way he died, and the quickness of the actual end, was unexpected.

 

I write about this here because up until the few months before his diagnosis he was an amazingly healthy and active man. And he inspired me to be healthy. He set a wonderful example for his children and grandchildren.

 

His fitness was a bit like a bell curve. He had that time in the middle of his life when he was less active, consumed by the responsibilities of work and commuting from Rockland County, NY to Brooklyn for 34 years. But even during those years he was health conscious. I remember him eating wheat germ and drinking apple cider vinegar in the ‘80s, when neither of those was a “thing.”

 

My dad was a conservative business man. You wouldn’t look at him and guess he was a health nut. But he was always open to vitamins and holistic stuff, never a sucker for fads but knowing there were real options out there to optimize health.

 

My love of nutrition is definitely inspired by him. Sometimes I feel like my father when I mix up my kefir and granola and berries. Every morning he would fix his “concoction.” The ingredients varied but mostly it was oats, cinnamon, nuts (when my kids weren’t around), berries. He ate salmon twice a week. I first heard about flaxseed from him and he heard about kefir from me and started eating it too.

 

He ran when he was younger, walked and hiked a ton when he was older. Just a few years ago my dad, my brother, my husband, my son and I hiked the Billy Goat Trail in Maryland. It was a challenging 9-mile hike and he impressed us all. There was a little bit of rock scrambling involved and we worried but he was fine.

 

And my dad loved golf. He would golf 4 times a week most weeks when he and my mom were in Florida. He shot an 81 when he was 81. He got a hole in one a few years ago. More often than not he would walk the course. Golf brought him great joy and as he got sicker missing it was one of his biggest concerns.

 

My sister Liz has been a big part of me finding a love for exercise and she told a great story about my dad the other day. She went to Rockland Lake to go for a run, started out and felt like she didn’t really have it in her that day. My dad drove by her and waved. She knew he was going to park and walk the hills by the golf course there. And if he could go do that, then she could go finish her run. It ended up being one of her best runs ever.

 

My dad would always ask me about what I was doing. And he always had something positive to say about my workouts or my running. He always showed interest and encouraged me. He also made me want to do better. I wanted to make him proud.

 

And maybe before I found my love of exercise as an adult, it was my dad who planted the seed when I was a child. Some of my favorite memories of him are from our hikes at Bear Mountain or our walks at Rockland Lake.

 

I have been wanting to write about my dad on here for a long time and just never did. I wanted to write about how he inspired my love for health and fitness, nutrition and exercise. I wanted to tell you about his daily walks, his golf games, his regular trips to the gym. How even in those middle years when he didn’t have the luxury to golf all the time, my siblings and I might catch him doing push-ups and sit-ups in his room. I wanted to tell you that he always took the stairs at work, I want to say it was 6 flights. He would never brag about his golf, he would never tell anyone he was doing daily exercises in his room. But he was there carving out his own healthy routines, all along.

 

I don’t want to pour my heart out here. I could go on and on about my father, about the wonderful man he was and will continue to be in our hearts and memories. About the gentleman he was, the strength he had, his brilliance, his humility, his incredible sense of humor that brings a smile to my face right now as I think about it. He gave me so many gifts- especially the love of books and words that I have passed on to my own children. He was a wonderful dad and a wonderful Poppop to my kids.

 

But I mostly wanted to write about him here to share his inspiration for living a healthy life. He was so strong and healthy and active the last ten years of his life. I want to be healthy so I can grow older strong and active and healthy. People would look at him and say, “he’s in great shape!” 

 

His level of health before sickness made it harder to see him as he weakened. And I know it made it harder for him. So while I’m sad we said good-bye sooner than expected, I’m glad he was spared some of the physical decline that would be inevitable.

 

The question on that Monday when I drove my mom and my dad to the emergency room wasn’t “Is it time to let go?” It was “Do we give the treatment another shot or do we call hospice?” But things unfolded differently than anyone expected. I can’t overthink why. I can’t wish I knew better or saw it coming or said a better good-bye. I can go through this with my family, I can know he’s always with me, and I can try to live a life that would make him proud. I’m lucky I had a dad that made me want to be a better person.”

The Best Time to Workout

What’s the best time of day to workout? Ok, get ready to be annoyed. It’s the time of day when you’re most likely to workout.

I’m sorry. I know that’s not the answer you really want. But I think it’s true, partly because of experience and partly because of research. (Not like the conducting experiments or gathering data kind of research, just the reading articles on what I consider reliable websites kind of research.) I, at different times since I started exercising, have sought out the best time of day to work out. Like, when are you most likely to get the best results? The most bang for your buck? And, while my research hasn’t been exhaustive, I have come to the conclusion that there’s no one right answer.

Some people advocate exercising first thing in the morning. You’re in a fasted state, you’ll burn off stuff already in your body (glycogen I think?), that kind of thing. You might burn off more fat. I’ve also read that late afternoon is really the optimal time to workout– energy wise, performance wise. Hormone levels might be at a more optimal level in the afternoon, too. I haven’t read that nighttime is ideal, but I bet someone out there says that it is.

The answer I gave above- the time of day when you’re most likely to workout is the time of day when you’re most likely to workout- isn’t my favorite answer for me either. But I’ve accepted it as the truth.

I think the real best time of day for me, as far as how good a workout I get, how I feel during and after, when I have the most energy, is mid-morning. In a perfect world I’d wake up, ease into my day, have breakfast and coffee. Then I’d either relax with my kids and husband or do some chores around the house (though I guess in a really perfect world I wouldn’t be doing chores ever, would I?). About an hour and a half to two hours after I finished eating, I’d exercise. This does happen once in a while, and it really is when I feel best. But it doesn’t happen a lot.

The reality right now is that my time is not really my own. I can’t exercise at that time of day because it just doesn’t work. I have things to do, places to be, other people’s schedules to consider. So I wake up early. Now I’m sure some of you are saying, “I can’t exercise in the morning. That’s not happening. I’m not a morning person.” I said the same things. I didn’t think I could ever do it. I didn’t think it would happen. I am so not a morning person. If anything I’m a night owl….A night owl who has grudgingly become more of a morning person. Thanks to #1- kids and #2- really wanting to exercise and knowing if it didn’t happen then it might never happen.

I think the morning is probably the best time for most people for the same reasons it works for me. Once it’s done you can move on with your day. If you don’t do it first thing there’s a good chance something will crop up during the day that prevents you from doing it. Or you’ll be too tired to do it. You’ll also get that good feeling early, and what a great way to start your day. But it does take some getting used to.

When I first started exercising I did it at night. (Back then I would think I could never do it in the morning, now I look back and think how did I ever do it at night?!) It was what worked for me then. I had an infant I was breastfeeding, who was still waking up a few times a night to eat, plus three other kids, ages 3, 5, and 7. I was so tired and needed that sleep in the morning. Night time was the only time I could get it done. I’d put Danny to bed around 7:00, then the other kids, and exercise in the living room, before Danny woke up for his first nighttime feeding.

There was a period of time between those nighttime workouts and when I started working out in the morning when I had to accept and deal with a more difficult truth. I had to workout whenever I could, and that would change day to day. I would have much rather have had a set time, a schedule, a routine. But things were hectic, mornings were unreliable (usually due to a child or two or three or four who had made it to my bed or lured me to their bed sometime during the night). I was so tired at night, and the kids were staying up later. I had to accept the need for a more flexible mindset. It irked me, but that’s where I was at that time. This transition period might ultimately have made it easier for me to embrace the idea of morning workouts.

So I’d encourage every one to consider morning workouts. Even if you’re not a “morning person.” No birds are pulling my blankets back as I awake feeling refreshed and perky and ready for a fantastic day. Looking radiant of course. There’s lots of hitting snooze and internal dialogue, some of which I can’t repeat here for fear my children might read this. But it happens. Most days. I’m tired and cold and puffy-eyed and crazy-haired and feeling rather grumpy most days. But by the time the warm-up is over I’m usually feeling closer to human and by the time the whole thing is over I’m often feeling like a superhero. A pleasant, life-loving superhero. (Until I try to wake up my middle schooler anyway)

Wherever you are at right now, make it a priority. That’s the most important thing. My crazy-runner-husband used to say all the time, “You have to make it a priority.” And I used to roll my eyes and curse under my breath. But that idea must have nestled somewhere in my brain and eventually manifested itself. Because here I am telling anyone who will listen to make it a priority. It just has to be. And it might be tough at first, but keep at it and one day it will really be like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Just something that’s part of your day. Often one of the best parts of your day.

Have you found your ideal time? Are you struggling to make time for exercise? I’d love to hear from you! Sometimes just venting or chatting about something can help you process things and make things click 🙂

 

Clean Eating Groups

I am loving the January feeling of this January. Sometimes I get a little case of the post-Christmas blues. My parents leave for Florida right after Christmas and it will be months before I see them again. The festiveness of the season is over. The rushing around and busy-ness is behind us (and it’s a relief, but also a little sad). We’ll see family and friends less again….

But not this year. This year I am all-in to this January thing. Goal setting, vision boards, resolutions, oh my!

 

I am energized, still plugging away at goal setting. (Is it this hard for everyone?!) I made a Google calendar and generally mapped out my time so I feel more purposeful and with direction during each day. I joined a vision board group on Facebook. I started a new personal development book. The Beachbody Health Bet started this past Monday and I started a new workout program- Core de Force. I’m finishing up Body Beast, a program I’ve been wanting to do for ages and have absolutely loved. So I am all geared up. Plus, now I am running a clean eating group with my team. It starts Monday!

What is a clean eating group? you might be wondering. In general, our clean eating groups are private groups on Facebook. We provide some information on clean eating, as well as a meal plan for the week, complete with recipes and a grocery list. During the week, participants are asked to post what they’re eating. And we are all committed to eating clean for the course of the group, usually 5 or 7 days. Basically, no white flour, no white sugar, no processed foods, no alcohol. Hey, it’s only 5 days! Hopefully you’ll continue with clean eating when the group is over, but knowing that it’s only 5 days can make it easier to take this step. After the 5 days, you can decide how “strict” you’re going to be. If you really commit to the group, it can help keep you accountable. You are more likely to stick to the guidelines if you’re feeling committed to the group. What will keep you committed? Motivation, support, inspiration. Maybe even a little guilt! I’d feel guilty eating something that wasn’t allowed. I can do that for 5 days. It can be motivating and inspiring to see what everyone else is eating, too.

What can happen in just 5-7 days? You’d be amazed. Depending on your regular diet before the group started, you might detox. By the end of the group you’ll have reduced your cravings, probably lost some weight, learned a few things about clean eating. It can help you with brand new goals, or help you commit to goals from which you’ve strayed. It might even change your life. Clean eating has changed mine! You would be amazed at what a difference it makes. Clearer skin, more energy, better moods, clearer thinking. And the effects can spill over to people in your life, too!

What makes a clean eating group great? The best clean eating groups are the ones with the most participation. When you really post what you eat, you have a better chance of success with your own goals. It’s like keeping a food journal (shown in studies to be effective in losing weight) that other people can see. People who are like-minded and there to support you and cheer you on. There’s a cycle to it; you post and inspire someone and they post and inspire someone. When the group gets on a roll, it’s easier to stick to your goals and succeed.  Some people might feel uncomfortable posting at first. Maybe they’re shy, maybe they feel silly posting what they’re eating, maybe they’re intimidated by other people in the group who post gorgeous, exotic, super-healthy meals on fancy plates. If you can get past the initial discomfort, you’ll start to feel the camaraderie. I’ve come out of some groups feeling like I’d made some new friends. And it’s uplifting to see someone else doing well!

Why join a clean eating group? If you’re looking to learn more about clean eating or get some new ideas, a clean eating group would be a great place for you. It’s also a good way to lose to a few pounds, get back on track after a bad spell of eating (like after the holidays!), or kick some bad habits. Some people join just to learn what clean eating is, some want new recipes and food ideas, some want to stop drinking soda (for example) and need some support.

Why am I especially excited for this clean eating group? Because it’s January! There’s a feeling of freshness and renewal and energy. I’m also excited for the timing with my fitness goals. I really want to commit more stringently to the eating plan that comes with Core de Force. I was not so stringent with Body Beast, and it makes a big difference in your results. When I am part of a clean eating group, I always make better food choices and I always learn something. I also lose a pound or two or three! I feel like I’m feeling so energized and other people are, too; this group is bound to be great.

If you’d like to give it a try, comment here! Or visit me over on Facebook and send me a message. It’s not too late to join!

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe it’s been about a month since I posted 🙁

 

December kinda kicked my ass this year.

Kids home sick from school, a nasty case of strep throat, my mom’s birthday, and of course Christmas with all the fun things that come with it…going to see the Nutcracker, two Christmas concerts and a Christmas play, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the day after Christmas with family we don’t see on Christmas.

We also decided to take a little road trip to Arlington, VA to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and niece. We drove down on Wednesday (the drive was torture- 6 hours of volume and traffic) and just got home today. We went sightseeing in DC and spent a lot of quality time with them. It always amazes me how close my kids are with my Virginia family. They all enjoy each other so much. In between sightseeing and out-and-about stuff, there was painting and jewelry making, games, cooking, watching movies, walking the dog, going in the hot tub. It was a non-stop party. We even stayed up past midnight last night! Unfortunately, we also have two new cases of strep and some general colds and crustiness. Ugh. Who else but family would welcome a germy family of six for four days in December?

That was a ton of fun, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m just feeling like tomorrow might really be my January 1st. No workout today, no food shopping, no prepping for the week ahead. We picked up a pizza on the way home and I scratched out a meal plan somewhere in New Jersey. Luckily we made it home in about 4 hours, but we’re all still wiped out. We have enough milk to get through breakfast, so I’m just looking forward to a shower and pjs.

But I am so excited for the new year. And I don’t think I have ever been this excited for January. The fall is a busy time of year, and then from Thanksgiving to Christmas things just pick up speed. The week between Christmas and New Year’s feels like a limbo land. The bulk of the craziness is over but you can’t really settle back into routine. New Year’s Eve is coming, the kids are off from school, the house is still crazy from Christmas, there’s still more family stuff going on…I will be so happy to do a big, normal food shopping and settle in for a little winter downtime.

I’m also itching to get at some planning and organizing. I have a new planner and calendar I haven’t touched yet, and hope to sit down tomorrow to work on those. (I’m sure organized people have this done already!) I have been reading up on and practicing setting goals and that kind of stuff. I feel the excitement of a new year and a chance to refresh and recommit. In my wonderings I stumbled across the idea of a bullet journal. It sounds like something I need to explore….Have you ever heard of a bullet journal?

I’m also looking forward to settling down to my regular workouts and nutrition. Too many “treats” have me feeling pretty gross. Time to reboot!

I am a week behind in Body Beast. I was supposed to finish up on Saturday, the 7th, but being sick and the holidays and then being away have me off schedule. The timing had been perfect as I was going to start Core de Force on the 9th as my program for the Beachbody Health Bet. But, things aren’t always perfect and don’t always go as planned. I’ll have to overlap the two for a week or so. I am excited to complete Body Beast, and even more excited to get going with Core de Force! I think it will be a nice change. The Health Bet couldn’t come at a better time. I love the added accountability and motivation.

Are you hatching plans for 2017? Making resolutions? I’d love to hear some!

December: New Month, New Goals

December doesn’t seem like a really good time to set goals for some reason, does it? It’s a busy month. Lots of shopping, running around, decorating, baking, socializing, class parties, winter concerts, etc….

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And you don’t need a new month to set goals. I love that I have learned (and really believe) that any day can be a fresh start, a good day to start anew, a time to set goals. That said, there’s something about a new month, a new year, a Monday, that feels like a fresh start. So, don’t let a Tuesday or March or the 4th of the month keep you from making a new start, but take advantage of those days that just feel like a natural time for it.

I’ve been in a goal setting frame of mind lately. I think it’s an area I neglect. I don’t really set goals, and if I do they’re usually vague. A vague idea of what I want to do. But a lot of the reading I’ve done lately, and things I’ve listened to in podcasts and stuff, has emphasized the importance of clarity. It makes sense to me. So it’s an area I’ve chosen to work on…

This month’s goals are…

  1. To set goals (haha!). Clear ones.
  2. Run 2-3 times a week.
  3. Decorate more for Christmas.
  4. Enjoy the season and avoid the stress.
  5. Read books that will help me grow (at least 10 minutes each day)

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#1 Well, I talked about goal setting. I want to really work on the vision I have for my life. I’m not sure where I’m going. Does this sound crazy? I’m 41; shouldn’t I know? This might be because I’m approaching a time of transition in my life. Next year my youngest will go to kindergarten. Full-day kindergarten. I feel like a phase in my life is coming to a close. (I will not cry right now, I will not cry right now, I will not cry right now) So this raises some questions. What will I do? Will I go back to work? I don’t want to go back to teaching full-time, not yet at least, maybe not ever. I don’t want to get into too much detail here, but this is on my mind. I need to figure out what I want so I can better go about making it happen. I think having a bigger picture kind of goal will help me with goal setting in the different aspects of my life.

#2 I think I need to run more. I love my at-home workouts and I will never give them up. They are my base. They make me feel good, I enjoy them, and they get me the best physical results. But running is good for me in other ways. Mostly it’s good for me because it gets me outside. There are benefits to exercising outside that you just can’t get at home. Fresh air and sunshine are so good for us; even when it’s cold air and clouded sunshine. So I’ll be happy to roll out of bed and go work out in my living room on all those cold winter mornings. But I know I need to get out for it too sometimes. I have house-cat tendencies and I need to make sure I don’t become a full-on hermit sometimes 🙂

#3 This is not to impress anyone but my children. I am low maintenance when it comes to holidays and home decorating. But my children love decorations! I have overheard several conversations over the years between kids about what kinds of decorations kids have at their house. Danny, he’s 4, was especially disappointed at Halloween time. He brought it up again yesterday, and I said, “Well, we put out some pumpkins….And a scarecrow.” The pumpkins are the size of baseballs and they were plopped lamely on the mantle. The scarecrow is about a foot tall and I stuck him behind the piles of crap on the dining room table. I felt guilty even as I said it. So, I have decided to up my game this year to make them happy. They are also easy to please and very appreciative, so I know it won’t take a killer light show or anything.

#4 Again, this one is inspired by my little ones. I don’t want to be stressed or overtired this holiday season, because I hate when I get snappy with them at happy times. I also want to watch Frosty with them and bake with them and have fun with it all.

#5 This is a topic for another day. But I think reading books that are thought-provoking and/or positive and/or encouraging can only be good. Some people might find the idea too touchy-feely or silly or whatever. But I think it’s important to put time into developing as a person. Reading or listening to positive stuff with this intention is an easy step in the right direction.

I’m sure more goals will pop up as I go along, but this is my new month mindset for today.

What are your goals for December?

Do you set goals for yourself?

28-Day Plank Challenge

Have you seen challenges everywhere? Especially plank challenges and squat challenges? I have and I have never done one! I’ve been most intrigued by the plank challenge, but never actually went ahead and did it even though my belly is in need of the most attention. To put it nicely.

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A few weeks ago a friend mentioned doing a plank challenge and I thought it would be a fun thing to try for the first time on my Facebook page! What better way to honor my trouble spot? It will be a tribute to my core, the core I can get so cranky about. Maybe it will be just what my poor core needs….

So I’ve been looking around online at different challenges to get ideas, and I put together my own schedule. My very own 28-Day Plank Challenge. I decided to go with the basic forearm plank to keep it simple. There are a lot of plank options out there, and I think trying out different ones could be a fun way to try them out and focus on strengthening different areas of the core. For now, though, I want to focus on one exercise. I also went with 28 days instead of 30 or 31 because I’m a nerd and I like to finish up on a Sunday, not some crazy day like Tuesday.

We will start at 20 seconds. If you have not been doing planks regularly, or have never done one, this might be a long time. You can shorten the length of time and/or modify the plank by doing it on your knees. If you have been doing planks this might seem too easy. You can always modify if the times don’t seem right for you. We can adjust the schedule- add or subtract seconds here and there- so that it works for where you and your core are at 🙂

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We start Monday, May 30th!!! Each day I’ll post an accountability post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/stayathomefit. All you have to do is comment on that post to let us know you did your plank. We’ll encourage each other through the 4 weeks, and hopefully share our progress!

How do you do a plank with proper form? You can watch a quick video from Fitness magazine here. Do pay attention to form- I don’t want anyone to get hurt! And of course if you have any back issues or injuries that put you at risk for injury modify or consult your doctor first!!

What are the benefits of doing a plank? It’s a wonderful way to strengthen your core, but also your upper and lower body. It can increase your flexibility, improve your posture, and have a positive effect on your mood! I’m excited about all of those things! I hope you’ll join us 🙂

 

 

Progress & Pictures

I just did something that makes me feel a little like a crazy person, like I’m a little unhinged from reality…I posted before and after pictures on my Stay at Home Fit Facebook page.

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This was hard for many reasons- I hate pictures of myself, always have. I just hate them- I’m not very photogenic, they make me more self-conscious, blah blah blah. All of this coaching stuff has gotten me to confront my discomfort for sure. Sweaty selfies are still painful, but I know they’re important. They hold me accountable. People who are supporting me (and maybe whom I’m motivating) might be motivated by actually seeing me going through the motions. So I get it and that’s why I do it, and I think- you know what? It’s probably really good for me too.

Half-naked pictures though in the dead of winter? Ugh. Takes it to a whole new level. But I felt like I owed it to some people to share my progress. There’s one person in particular who is in my head- she’s encouraged me, and her comments have inspired me too- inspired me to take better care of myself- eat better, workout harder, really commit to what I’m doing. I felt like I owed it to her to show her my physical progress. If I saw someone post on and off for 8 weeks about this great new program, when it was over I’d want some kind of conclusion I think. Like, “So? What happened?”

Well, this is what happened…

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I have mixed feelings to be honest. And it’s hard to share some of it- I feel vulnerable. I also want to be positive and have a good attitude, but part of me is just sick of my damn belly. Yes, I love my belly- it was home to 4 beautiful children, it’s mine, it’s healthy, I’m strong and all that. All that is true. And I think the last 3 years have been a turning point in my health and fitness because of a change of mindset- I went from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be strong and fit. I am also a thousand times more confident than I’ve ever been, at any time in my life. All that said, it kinda sucks when you work out consistently and eat really healthy and you still have a muffin top.

I have progressed- I am proud of my body and I feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t dread getting dressed like I used to….I just have this trouble spot. The better part of me just wants to be patient and knows that if I keep doing what I’m doing I’ll continue to progress. I think part of the reason my middle is lagging behind the rest of me is that the belly is often the last part to go. I think it’s also because I never in my life worked my core. I have no muscle memory in there. Never having been fit or in shape means I have a lot more work to do. Also, it’s my body type. I’m an apple, if you like the whole fruit thing.

Your body is part of who you are, like it or not. For most of us, our physical selves affect our mental and emotional selves. Number one, it’s healthier to be fit, to lose weight (especially weight around our middle, like my pet), to exercise and eat healthy, of course. But feeling good about ourselves is important too. We don’t have to be skinny, or look like a supermodel, or aspire to some unrealistic airbrushed body type, but as my husband once said, “It’s hard to get out of bed when your pants don’t fit.” It’s nice to feel comfortable with your physical self, it’s nice to fit comfortably in your clothes.

Part of me was afraid to share because I feel like some people might be like, “she does all this work and looks like that? why bother?” I can’t worry about that. I can tell you I am proud of the glimmer of abs on the horizon. For the first time in my life I am seeing the beginnings of definition. I can also tell you that my body has transformed over the last 3 years- from the outside and the inside. My legs are strong and muscular, I have biceps, my upper body is strong and looks strong. I am healthier. I am no longer plagued by stomach trouble like i was almost my whole life, I feel a thousand times better, I have more energy. The most wonderful part is the mental and emotional part, though. That has meant the most to me.

Overall, I think before and after pictures are so helpful as part of your fitness journey. They are motivating and they are a better gauge of progress than the scale. That little bugger is temperamental, and we have all heard how muscle weighs more than fat and all that. I think taking “before” pictures before beginning a workout program really gets you in the right mindset, too. I know it sucks taking them. I know you feel ridiculous (and maybe like a crazy person) taking them. But I also know that they serve a useful purpose, and you might look back at them one day and feel a great sense of accomplishment.

So what next? I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I love my workouts and I love my clean eating. And after my next round of Hammer & Chisel I’m going to share some new pictures and we’ll see what happens. Either way, i’m going to focus on the positives and be kind to myself about all those things that bug me.

Finishing a Workout Program

Yesterday was the last day of Les Mills Pump for me! I love finishing a workout program. There is a real feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. I’m proud of myself! It was hard; some of these workouts are an hour long. I struggled through some of them, and there were some days I didn’t want to start.

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Les Mills Pump is a 13-week program, so it’s been part of my life for a while now. Finishing a program is kind of a big deal. If you’re like me, you can probably think back to lots of fitness programs or diets or workout fads you started and didn’t finish.  And I think that might be part of the magic of Beachbody. You commit to a program, and something about the way it’s all mapped out helps you succeed. When you succeed, you feel good, you can see and feel results, and you are motivated to continue. When you commit to a program, see it through  to the end, and complete it you feel so good. You feel proud of yourself. I love this quote about self-esteem and I think it’s so true.

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I am proud of who I am as a person, and I’m proud of various things I’ve done in my life. I’m proud of being a stay-at-home-mom. But there are few things I see the finish of day-to-day as a stay-at-home mom. I’m not handing in a project by a deadline or getting an A in a class. I’m tremendously proud of my children, and I have feelings of satisfaction when my children do something, but it’s pride and awe of them and who they are and joy at being the one who gets to watch these moments. I feel good about stuff, and I love being home with them. There’s nothing I’d rather do. But sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the needs and desires of your family, and feel a little lost (as an individual) in the shuffle.

When I finish a tough workout I feel proud of myself. It’s a great way to start the day. And the feeling I get when I finish a whole program is amazing….

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I beat myself up about my tendency to start things and not finish them. I also hate the quote, “It’s the thought that counts” because I have terrible follow-through. I’m scatter-brained at home, I write notes to people and don’t send them, I have gifts meant for people from three years ago in my closet…Follow-through is not my strong suit. But I finished Les Mills Pump. And Insanity, and Piyo, and P90X3, and Chalean Extreme, and every other Beachbody program I’ve started. I stick to it and I am so proud of that. I’ve made a commitment to my health and well-being and I haven’t given up, I’ve made changes for life.

This program was great and I definitely feel stronger than I ever have. I did an Insanity workout on one of my cardio days and I could do more than I used to be able to do, and do some of the moves that I really used to struggle with.

I also run faster. When I run up a hill I feel like my quads and hamstrings are powering me up…I feel them engage and think of my workouts! A few years ago I don’t think I knew what a quad was 🙂

I see the glimmer of abs on the horizon, too…my stomach is definitely my most difficult area. I am an apple for sure, and it is very frustrating. I am trying to be patient, but I’ll admit I have days where I get just plain pissed off that my middle isn’t further along. This program definiltey gave them a nudge in the right direction, though. I can see a little bit of definition.

My “core” also feels stronger. I can keep my lower back pressed to the floor during crunches, which I could never really do before. I think having a complete lack of muscle in my core is what’s making it take so long…I think I had so far to go to build any muscle that it made doing the exercises difficult and made for some slow progress. I know if I keep up the clean eating, and stay consistent with my exercise, I’ll see more results. I just have to watch that I don’t get impatient and sabotage my hard work with crappy eating! I’m so good so much of the time, but I still struggle with stress eating sometimes!

So there is a great feeling of satisfaction that comes with completing one of these programs. It’s also exciting! And it’s fun. I loved Les Mills Pump. I am soooo excited to start my next program: Hammer & Chisel. I feel like a little kid over these programs sometimes. I can’t wait for it to start!

Between now and then I will be busy with the wonderful Christmas season. I’ll play around with some workouts I haven’t done in a while or have been wanting to try. I’ll definitely throw a few Pump workouts in there to stay on top of the gains I’ve made. I’ll eat clean hopefully 80% of the time and enjoy the other 20% without feeling too guilty!

What are you going to do to stay on track during the holidays?