Category Archives: Fitness

Healthy Holiday Survival Guide!

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It is Christmastime, the busiest time of the year! As you have probably noticed, I have been crazy busy the last few months, and have unfortunately neglected this blog more than I’d like. I am hoping that over the next several weeks, and into the new year, I will be able to focus more on writing new tips, tricks, recipes, reviews, and motivation for everyone to enjoy!

With everything we try to accomplish in the fall/winter months, sometimes we can sometimes neglect ourselves. We try to eat on the go, not always making the best choices. We tell ourselves we don’t have time for exercise, because there is just too much to do! We think, “Oh…it’s the holidays. I will just enjoy it and not worry about what I eat! I’ll start in January.” Lots and lots of excuses… Here is the way I see it. Yes, we are busy. Yes we want to enjoy our holidays. I think there is a way to find a middle ground. Here are a few suggestions for surviving the holidays, while still taking care of your health.

– Find ways to fit movement in when you can. If you have 5 minutes, do some squats or lunges. Later, if you have 5 more minutes, do more! Before you know it, you will have done 100 squats in a day. You can also take a quick walk around your neighborhood and look at Christmas lights, or spend some time playing outside (or inside if you have a Wii, for example) with the kids in your life. The key is to do what you can, when you can. Make YOU a priority.

– Take snacks with you! Always have a little something with you, in your car or your bag. That way, if you are out Christmas shopping or running errands, you won’t need to go through the drive thru. Measure out some almonds or air popped popcorn into plastic bags. Carry protein bars (make sure they are low in calories and sugar). Find healthy, pre-portioned snacks. Carry a banana or an apple with you. There are a lot of options, and it is better to be overprepared than underprepared!

– If you do get caught somewhere without snacks and need to eat something quickly, it is okay to grab fast food once in a while. Just make the right choices. Get a chicken breast sandwich (no mayo), and remove part (or all) of the bread. Get a salad, but be careful of high fat toppings and dressings. Skip the fries! I know. I love fries. They are my weakness. This is why I do not order them! That is a slippery slope right there! There are so many calories, fat grams, and general unhealthiness in those types of foods. If you do a little research and study the menu, you can find better choices in a pinch.

– When you are attending a holiday event, don’t stress out about what you are eating! You can enjoy yourself, just proceed with caution. Some suggest that you eat beforehand. That is a great suggestion if you really don’t want to eat at a holiday party. Personally, I like to enjoy the things my family cooks that I can only get once a year. I just do it in moderation. If you are attending a potluck, bring salad, or another healthy dish. That way you know there will be at least one healthy item at the meal, and you will know exactly what is in it. Fill half of your plate with vegetables. Then look at all of the food, and decided what you REALLY want. Get a couple of bites of each of those things, so that you are still enjoying the meal, but not going overboard. I feel so much better and have so much more energy when I don’t overindulge. I am able to enjoy events so much more when I eat this way, and I don’t feel deprived.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful! If you’re anything like me, you will find that the holidays are so much more enjoyable when you make good choices. You can have fun with family and friends, enjoy holiday meals, and still have energy left at the end of the day. You can go into the new year feeling great about yourself, instead of being full of regret. Who knows? You may even lose a couple of pounds! It may sound crazy, but it is absolutely possible. Don’t wait for January 1 to become a healthier you. Start now!

Running to Remember…

Twelve years ago today, I was on my college campus, just minutes after I heard the news of the terrorist attacks. I stood in the student union and watched the footage of the first plane hitting, then the second. Everyone crowded around the televisions in shock and disbelief. Could this really happen on our soil? This was the land of the free, the home of the brave. If something like this could happen here, what would happen next? What were we supposed to do now? That day, my friends and I did the only thing we knew how to do. We got together and prayed. None of us really knew what to say, but we spoke from our hearts, crying out to God in sorrow, confusion, and fear.

In the days, weeks, months, even years that followed, we tried to process this event. We all came together and remembered. Even if we didn’t know someone who was directly affected by the attacks, we were all affected. We all lost something that day. Twelve years have passed, and we all remember where we were when we heard the news, and what we did next.

Just a few days ago, I was able to reflect in a new way. I participated in the Run to Remember, a 5K and 10K race held to honor those who were lost that day, twelve years ago. It was my first 10K, something I had spent months training for, but it was profound in so many other ways. The event opened with a presentation of the colors, followed by the National Anthem. Then the statistics were read. We reflected on how many adults, children, and first responders were lost. We heard how many children were left without parents, how many people were injured, how many were still affected by post traumatic stress disorder. They were haunting numbers, just as large as I remembered. Then, we were led in prayer. Just like all those years ago, we prayed for God to watch over those who lost someone…to watch over us all, and to help us remember.

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The race began. Once I crossed the start line, it was not unlike other races I had participated in..until I caught up to the firefighters. Two firefighters ran in full gear. The heat was blistering, and they ran the entire 6.2 miles. I ran with them, slightly in front, or behind them for the majority of the race. It was truly an honor to be running alongside them. Along the course, there were firefighters standing to the side, cheering us on, and thanking us for participating. It was incredibly humbling to have a firefighter thank us for running in a race. They risk their lives every day, running into danger when others run out, yet they were thanking us for running on a course. I can’t quite describe what that was like.

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After we crossed the finish line, there was a memorial. There was a color guard and firefighters in full uniform stationed outside. We were given a flag to place inside the memorial. There was a space for each person we lost in the attacks, printed with their name. We were to place the flag beside the name, and write down the name so that we could go online to read that person’s biography. We have all heard the numbers, but to see thousands of names and thousands of flags was staggering. We placed our flags there and left the memorial. Suddenly, the fact that I was standing in the same city where I heard the news, just miles from my school, just hit me. Tears came to my eyes and I spent a moment reflecting…remembering. To take something that I have truly come to love, that has changed my life, and make it a part of this beautiful tribute was something I will never forget.

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What’s on my running playlist? 7-15-13

Hey everyone! Sorry I am late on posting this! I had a little injury last week and the doctor suggested I temporarily change my run/walk intervals. I dialed it back a little, and I am feeling much better! I am learning that I have to take these things seriously in order to stay healthy and keep moving forward in my training. My long run this week was 4.36 miles at a 13 min/mile pace. Not too bad considering! Here are the next five songs on my running playlist!

Love Won’t Leave You
Avalon

Viva La Vida
Coldplay

Take You at Your Word
Avalon

Trash Day
Butch Walker

Here’s to Never Growing Up
Avril Lavigne

Well that was quite a mixture! I hope you are finding these interesting! Let me know what songs you have on your workout playlist!

What’s on my running playlist? 6-25-13

Today was my long run day (5.97 miles, 12.1 min/mile). 10K training is progressing a lot more quickly than I expected. I am feeling confident (most of the time) that I will be prepared for my first 10K in a few months!

Now it’s time to share the next five songs from my running playlist!

Gunpowder & Lead
Miranda Lambert

Walk Like an Egyptian
The Bangles

Loud
Big & Rich
(This one is a favorite!)

Redneck Woman
Gretchen Wilson

Synthesizers
Butch Walker

What’s on your workout playlist? I’m always looking for new songs! Leave me a message in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter!

What’s on my running playlist? 6-18-13

Today was my long run day (4.6 miles, 12.3 min/mile), so it’s time for me to share 5 more songs from my playlist! I put my phone on shuffle and randomly selected the first 5 songs.

Butch Walker
Uncomfortably Numb

P!nk
So What

P!nk
Good Old Days

Britney Spears
Piece of Me

Britney Spears
Toy Soldier

What did we learn from this? I really like running to P!nk and Britney! I swear I have more music than that.

I also wanted to recommend a website I discovered when looking for workout music. It is called Run Hundred, and they have thousands of song suggestions. You can sort them by genre, BPM, etc. It will take give you the song information, a brief clip, and links to purchase the song on iTunes or Amazon. You do have to sign up with your email address, but I haven’t received more than 1-2 emails per week with suggested songs. I hope you enjoy! Check it out at http://www.runhundred.com/.

That’s all for now! I’d love to hear what songs you like to run or work out to. Please leave a comment, or let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

I have no affiliation with Run Hundred and all opinions are my own.

What’s on My Running Playlist?

Today was my long run (5.56 miles at 12.1 min/mile, y’all!), and I thought I might share with you some of the songs on my running playlist. My only requirements for good running songs are that they have to be fast, and they have to be catchy. That makes for a very eclectic playlist! I have a ton of songs on my list, so I’m thinking I will post five songs a week. Here are the first five, in no particular order!

Kelly Clarkson
I Do Not Hook Up

Britney Spears
Outrageous

BarlowGirl
Clothes

Blake Shelton
Cotton Pickin’ Time

Jason Aldean
She’s Country

That’s all for this week! Check back next week for more music!

The Finish Line…?

In the past few weeks, I experienced two major events in my health and fitness journey. I finished my first 5K, and I reached my goal weight. I crossed a finish line of sorts, for both. At the same time, I feel like both were more of a beginning than an end.

As many of you know, I was not a runner until recently. It was something I thought I never could do…never wanted to do, and yet on March 16, 2013, I ran my first 5K. I not only ran most of it, but I achieved a personal best time. I know in my heart that this was only the beginning of my journey as a runner. Where it will take me, I’m not sure, but I know there are many training runs and many more races in my future.

Today was the final “official” weigh-in of my weight loss journey. I not only met, but exceeded my goal. In total, I have lost 116.6 pounds in 14 months. When I started, deep down, I’m not sure I thought I would finish. It has only been in the last few months that I realized, “Hey! I’m going to finish this thing!” The truth is, I will never be “finished.” I did reach my goal, and closed that particular chapter in my journey…but this is only the beginning of a new chapter. Now I move into a new phase of my life. I enter maintenance mode, where I will learn how to tweak my eating and exercise. I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited. I certainly know how to lose weight. I’ve done it more times than I can count. Keeping it off will be a whole new challenge for me…one that I am really excited to take on.

As for this blog, I have a lot of ideas for this new chapter. I look forward to sharing what I learn each step of the way. I am beyond grateful to God for the change in my heart and mind that brought me here, and to all of you for your prayers, support, and encouragement. I am excited to experience all the new adventures God has in store for me, and take all of you along. If you have any questions, suggestions for future posts, or if you just need some support, you know where to find me! Off to the starting line…ready, set, go!

My first 5K!

No more “I can’t…”

Being over a year and over 100 pounds into this journey, one would think I was close to being finished.  The truth is, I am just beginning.  First, I will give you a little bit of back story.  When I was growing up, I was always confident in my academic ability.  Athletic ability?  Not so much.  I said a lot of “I can’t…”and “I’m not…”   Deep down, I knew I couldn’t do it, so I just didn’t try very hard.  I was too afraid of getting embarrassed in front of everyone, and I knew I would fail anyway, so why bother to try?  This of course led to years and years of sedentary life, and…well…you know how that story goes.

Flash forward to last year, when I started this journey.  Step by step, I began to believe in myself again.  I got stronger, I got more confident, and I felt like I could accomplish so much more than I ever thought possible.  Even after all of that, I still caught myself saying “I can’t.”

“I can’t run.”  “I’m not a runner.”  I would see people running 5Ks, half marathons, or marathons and think, “I wish I could do that.”  Several months ago, I tried running, but it was just as difficult as I thought I would be, so I gave up.  I still looked at all of those runners and wished I was one of them, but time passed, and I didn’t think about it quite as much.  A few weeks ago, I thought about it again.  I decided I wanted to do a 5K.  “I’ll have to walk it.  I can’t run.”  Suddenly I realized something.  Years and years of saying “I can’t,” was what led me to becoming over 100 pounds overweight.  I decided then and there that I would stop saying I couldn’t do things.  I would at least try.  If I failed, at least I would know that I had given it my best effort.  So, I am now on week three of the Couch to 5K program.  I ran for three minutes straight at a 5.0 today.  When you consider the fact that several months ago, I could barely run for a minute at a time without feeling like I would fall off of the treadmill, I think that’s progress.  I am going to do that 5K, and I am going to run at least part of it.  I’m not putting pressure on myself, but I’m doing my best.  That is definitely the girl I want to be.  I like her.  I think she’s got potential.

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Healthy Travel Tips

With the holidays coming up, many of us are going on vacations to visit family and friends.  It can be difficult to stay healthy while traveling, but it is definitely possible!  Here are some tips to help you stay on track.

  • The kids’ meal is your friend, but make sure it is a healthy one.  Unfortunately, a lot of kids’ meals can be pretty unhealthy, but restaurants are coming around.  For example, at a bakery in Disneyland, I chose a kids’ meal that had a small turkey sandwich and apple slices.
Here is the kids’ meal at Jolly Holiday Bakery in Disneyland. Yes, I ate a cookie. We will get to that tip next.
  • On a vacation, allow yourself treats.  On my last trip, I allowed myself one treat per day.  I enjoyed my vacation and didn’t feel deprived.  The rest of the day, I ate a lot of lean proteins, fruit and veggies.
This is the fruit plate at the River Belle Terrace at Disneyland. It was HUGE.
  • When eating at a buffet, fill your plate with vegetables.  If you can, bring your own salad dressing.  If not, salad bars often have balsamic vinegar you can top your salad with.
I made this salad at a buffet, topped with balsamic vinegar.
  • If the restaurant doesn’t have a salad bar, do they have a sandwich toppings bar? I once made a salad out of the lettuce, tomato and pickles I found there.  (Find more tips on eating in a restaurant here:  http://healthybeautifulblessed.com/tips-for-eating-in-a-restaurant/ )
  • Make sure you get some kind of movement in each day.  Listening to Jillian Michaels’ podcast, I got a couple of tips.  You can bring exercise DVDs with you if you have a laptop or DVD player to watch them on.  Use water bottles as weights, or bring resistance bands with you.  If you can’t bring anything with you, do squats, lunges, running in place, planks, pushups, etc.  These exercises take up very little space and don’t require any equipment.  I actually did some of these exercises standing in line for Black Friday!
  • STAY HYDRATED.  This is a good tip any time, but when we’re traveling, it can be easy to forget.  Always bring water with you.
  • Be creative!  Find interesting ways to get exercise and healthy foods.  Planning these things on a trip can be fun.  Enjoy your vacation, and do the best you can.

Below are some tips I was given on Facebook.  Please feel free to add your own in the comments!

Fitfluential Facebook Group

  • Crystal C. – I like to seek out a grocery store at my destination so I can have fresh food and veggies on hand while out sightseeing.
  • Tamara G. – Always book a hotel with a decent fitness centre. Many have very good ones. Check it out in advance!
  •  Kim U. – Bring along favorite snacks that may be hard to find and/or prepare.
  •  Emily R.B. – I do both bringing non-perishables like almonds and other snacks, as well as getting to a store as soon as possible to stock my room. I can’t always afford the fitness centers (last place I stayed was $25 a day, yikes!), so I bring my laptop and a couple DVDs, and just work out in my room.
  •  Aims Ca – Find bloggers in the area and see where they work out. Try something new. I had not swam for years but I did a couple times on trips this summer.
  •  Arlene H. – Plan to do active things during your trip … like a day hike to explore the area.
  •  Gina P. – Plan, plan, plan. Have a plan A and a backup or two. Think about what excuses or barriers you might come up with and have a plan to counter them. Find workouts online that use body weight for resistance — some are even designed for small spaces like hotel rooms — and plan to do those early. Check for good walking areas around where you are staying using Google maps. Look for ways to work it into your trip and have fun.
  •  Jen H. M. – I packed my food scale on a recent vacation so that I could continue measuring portions. We also hit the grocery story right after picking up our rental car (on a recent trip) so that we would have healthy snacks rather than stopping to grab junk food.

My Facebook Friends

  • Jamie P. – Bring healthy snacks & drinks.
  • Elizabeth T. – I would say to tell people to shop where they know!
  • Jackie R. – Offer to bring a dish. If you’re traveling pick something that travels well and that can be served without heating up. If you aren’t traveling far, offer to bring a healthy version of a favorite not so healthy dish.