Monthly Archives: July 2009

Little Efforts Can Lead to Big Changes

I wrote last week about pulling something in my hip and how important it was to rest and recover from injuries. As it turned out, a second doctor’s visit revealed that my little injury was actually more severe than I originally thought. The pain wasn’t really subsiding, which is understandable in retrospect when I learned I had dislocated my hip.

Still, I have become so accustomed to physical activity and daily exercise that I thought I’d go crazy without it. (The sheer irony of that from me—a former “professional couch potato”—is priceless.)

So I had to implement some creative strategies to get in some “light exercise” while not totally disregarding my doctor’s orders of rest and recovery.

I realized that interspersed with the physical therapy treatments I received, I could do some things around the house that could actually constitute physical activity. And even though they weren’t horribly taxing, I figured that they had to burn some calories, right? So a little internet research (via the Yahoo! Health) revealed the following:

  • Taking care of a child for an hour burns 184 calories
  • Vigorous cleaning for an hour burns 184 calories
  • Light cleaning for an hour, 153 calories
  • Cooking, standing or sitting for 30 minutes, 62 calories
  • Grocery shopping for an hour, 141 calories
  • Ironing for 30 minutes, 70 calories
  • Personal grooming for 30 minutes, 62 calories
  • Scrubbing floors for 30 minutes, 117 calories
  • Sweeping for 30 minutes, 123 calories

It was so amazing to me that I had burned so many calories by just doing the things I needed to get done. (I wonder how many calories you burn cleaning out a closet?)

So many people talk to me about not having the time to work out. I admit, it takes a lot of effort to find the time to stop your life and work up a sweat. Who knew you could do both without stepping foot into a gym?

The important thing is that you have worked up a sweat. There is no rule book that says you have to have dumbbells in your hands while you do it. Remember this is a lifestyle change. Just being active is a start. Who knows, after you finish the dishes and head to the grocery store you just might park at the back of the lot and get a few extra steps in.

Even small efforts often lead to big changes. If you actually finish all the things you need to get done you might even surprise yourself by having the and energy to head to the gym.


Rest and Recovery

I’ve got a full calendar from now until the end of the year. A lot of exciting things are coming up and I feel the pressure to really be at my best. That includes my best spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and…yes, physically.

So I stepped up my workout routine somewhat to combat the pressure and ended up hurting myself. It’s not a fatal blow by any means, but I have pulled something in my hip area and it makes running and general working out very painful if not close to impossible.

Still I was determined NOT to let this injury get me down. I decided I would “push through the pain” and persevere in order to be in top shape for all the appearances and obligations I’ve got coming up. Each time I forced myself the pain intensified. I quickly became frustrated and threw my hands up in the air to God and said, “Why now God? Of all the times…why now?

Then a scripture came to mind from Matthew 11:28, about rest. And I picked up my version of The Message and read it. It said, “Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.”

I think most resources on good health and fitness would say that in order for our bodies to begin to repair itself, it needs nutrients from good foods and it needs rest. And most of us don’t consciously think about the importance of resting. It’s essential.

And sometimes I think God allows things to happen in our lives to get our attention and allow us the time to refocus on the priorities we should have and to get some rest.

The past few days have been frustrating to not be able to keep the agenda I wanted in relation to my workout routine. But the rest from working out has afforded me the time to focus on other important things. And today I am feeling better. My body is already feeling stronger. And after a day or two of rest and healing I have a feeling that I will be even better prepared to handle the crazy months that lie ahead.


Lasting Weight Loss

What’s the key to lasting weight loss? I get that question a lot. Truth is, there’s no easy answer.

I guess if there was 95% of those who lose weight wouldn’t gain it back like statistics say. And the Journal of the American Medical Association says that more than 56% of American adults are considered overweight or obese. So clearly being overweight is a national epidemic and losing the weight and keeping it off is a major challenge.

I’ve learned so much from my Biggest Loser trainer, Jillian Michaels. I respect her and value her opinion. And she has a very definite opinion about the key to lasting weight loss. Because I benefited so much from her influence on my life, I thought I’d share some of it with you.

Jillian believes that we must view “fitness” as an empowerment tool. If we can get that perspective and truly believe it and embrace it, then half the battle is won.

According to Jillian, being physically fit transcends into every aspect of life. And I know that to be true from personal experience. But she also believes that the key to success for those who lose the weight and then continue to keep it off is exploring and conquering their “demons”—in other words the issues that contributed to the problem to begin with.

She encouraged me to face my issues head on and deal with them. To ask some tough questions and not back down from the answers, no matter how unpleasant they were.

Once I did, my perspective change. My faith in myself increased. My awareness of the value God places on me skyrocketed. And the results started to manifest themselves.

Having said that, I’ll be the first to admit keeping the weight off isn’t easy. It’s an everyday choice to fight the battle. But it’s so worth it. Something Jillian encouraged me (and others) to do is to keep a journal. I have found that writing down my thoughts and feelings is so beneficial and I encourage others to do the same.

Writing down your thoughts in this way serves as a record of your trials and victories and allows you to go back and reflect on the struggles and the successes. But it also helps to put issues and concerns into a tangible and manageable perspective.

Jillian suggests that a good place to start in writing is to detail any negative thoughts you have about yourself and why you haven’t been able to overcome those issues to achieve your goals. She says we all need to learn to let go of those negative and unpleasant thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Addressing these things is a way to keep things in perspective and stay strong in the battle to keep the weight off.

Like I said, it’s an ongoing process. I’ve shared before that on The Biggest Loser, I wore a T-shirt that had my personal motto on it: “To Finish What I Started…For Once.” But with long-term weight loss and maintenance (or really any commitment we make in life) it’s more important to not think that once you achieve the goal you have set for yourself that you are done and can “check the box.”

I know I’ll never be finished. I have determined within myself to “Continue What I Started…Forever.” It’s something we all have to commit to do to ensure the long lasting results we want.


Some Good Habits Are Caught More Than Taught

It’s gratifying to watch your children make good decisions regardless of the subject. But because of all that I have been through over the past couple of years in relation to my weight, nutrition and health it’s especially important to me when I see visible, tangible evidence that the life I am living in front of them now is making a difference.

What leads me to share this realization was a birthday pool party we attended for my son Noah’s buddy Caleb. About 20 kids, and their parents, convened at the community pool for a fun time of playing and swimming. Kids seem to have endless energy even in the staggering hot days of summer. Even though the pool water wasn’t cool, it was still refreshing.

As I focused special attention on my 17-month-old son Jaxon and my husband Mike kept his eyes on Noah doing cannonball jumps with his friends, I took in a deep sigh and let it out. I was feeling reflective.

Now I will be the first to admit that losing nearly 100 pounds doesn’t qualify me as a swimsuit model. I will never be that. But I am not letting life pass me by because of self-consciousness anymore. I was thoroughly able to enjoy a wonderful afternoon at a pool party with my family and friends. And that’s a great realization.

After the swimming part of the festivities was over we all moved under the covered pavilion for the gift opening and refreshments. THIS is where my pride over my kids’ decisions kicked in. And this is when I realized that so much of what we do as adults and parents is “caught” rather than “taught.”

I talk a lot around our home about healthy food choices. It’s become a way of life for us. But when faced with all the sugary sweet juices and drinks that were available to the party I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if Noah had opted for a can of soda or a packet of some sweet-cherry-burst juicy drink.

But I watched as he made his drink selection. He rifled through the cooler filled with all those temptations and retrieved—of all things—a bottle of water! I was thrilled. Because I know that water replenishes the body and there’s just no better choice when it comes to beverages. Drinking water is something that we do a lot around our house. And it was neat to see that it’s become not only a habit for him; but now it is actually a preference.

Not long after that beaming-with-pride moment for my eldest, the hostess of the party brought me a small bowl of ice cream for the baby. However, I also had brought a little bowl of oranges which I had sitting on the table.

Now I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if Jaxon had lunged for the ice cream. But instead, he passed up the ice cream in favor of the oranges. A wise choice for a 17-month-old. And again I was proud. Sure, he’s tasted ice cream before. (I always say—life isn’t prison it’s OK to enjoy a treat once in a while.) But because fruit is our “sweet treat of choice” at home he has decided that a nice little bowl of oranges is his preference to a bowl of ice cream.

I know these two examples may seem simple. But one of the things I most want to do is to set an example for my kids that will enable them to make better choices than I previously had all my life; and it seems like that’s happening. Children are sponges. They soak up the good and the bad. And this was evidence to me that sometimes good habits are caught  more than taught.

I didn’t force my kids to pick the healthier options. They chose them on their own. It was a great accountability for me to keep on doing the right thing in front of these two little sets of eyes who don’t miss a thing!


When You’ve Just Gotta Get a Fast Food Fix

I don’t think it would be inaccurate to call America a “fast food nation.” In fact, I’ve read statistics that say that everyday 1-in-4 Americans eat fast food. That’s just amazing to me!

In today’s economy, we would all benefit from eating at home and wisely selecting the menus for our families. However, sometimes you are on the road like I am frequently, and you really do have to dine out. Unfortunately, when you find yourself in that situation—fast food—is the cheapest option. But far from the healthiest.

So I rely on the motto “education is power.” If you, as a consumer, educate yourself and plan a little ahead of time you can make better choices. And to the credit of fast food restaurants, some of them have actually modified their menus to be healthier or at the very least have begun offering less detrimental options. (For example, I learned early on during my time on The Biggest Loser that Subway offers a “Fresh Fit” menu that offers many wonderful options.)

Did you know that California, New York City and a good number of other states have passed laws requiring chain restaurants to post nutritional details? Similar legislation was introduced in my home state of Florida this year, but went nowhere. So now the topic is headed to Washington DC, where similar laws would set national standards. So don’t be afraid to ask to see that information prior to ordering.

Health Magazine polled the nation’s 100 largest fast-food chains and then based on the information it gathered, released its list of America’s Top Ten Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants. (You can read about the findings on Health.com.)

I wasn’t surprised at some of them. For example, Panera Bread was #1. They offer a wide variety and whole grain bread options as well as half-size portions of soups, salads and sandwiches.

If you love Mexican food, Chipotle came in at #6. They won high praise for fresh ingredients and commitment to organic options.

But here’s a shocker: McDonald’s came in at the #8 spot. I mention them because there’s a McDonald’s on every corner and it’s good to know that it is possible make better choices when visiting there if it’s your only option.

For example, instead of fries you can order apple dippers. They also offer low-fat milk or fruit juice instead of soda. And a safe bet instead of a burger is a grilled chicken sandwich or snack wraps; both are relatively low-cal options (just skip the mayo).

As a recap, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind when you have to dine out fast-food-style:

  • Ask for the nutritional information so you can make the best choice possible.
  • Drink water with your meal instead of soda. It will make you feel fuller and offers zero calories.
  • Choose grilled or broiled food options.
  • Ask for a salad or fruit cup instead of fries. And when you select a salad, get one with lots of greens.
  • If you’ve just got to have an ice cream fix, try frozen yogurt instead. It will give you the same sensation at a fraction of the calories.

With today’s busy lifestyles, we’ve all got to make compromises somewhere. And sometimes it means we can’t plan a succulent, healthy family meal. Sometimes we do have to grab a quick bite to eat on the road.

But remember, success in losing or maintaining your weight really is about smart choices. It’s not about starving yourself, eating only grapefruit or running everything through a power juicer. Think about portion control and about what wholesome foods you want to put into your body.

The results will be well worth the effort.