Tag Archives: holiday challenges

Wellness Quest: It’s the Little Things and the Big Things

We all know that getting our vitamins and nutrition through whole foods is the best way to go. For those of us who know we’re not doing as well as we could there are supplements. And then there are the little things we can do to improve the foods we do eat.

The Little Things

  • Adding Flax and Bran to everything. Why not? It adds some crunch to my yogurt and organic breakfast flakes.
  • Drinking filtered water. Pure water is hard to find sometimes, but my ZERO WATER filter system is always around. And I take it with me sometimes when I know I’m going to be at a hotel for a few days. Water that tastes like pool water isn’t very nice and it’s actually really bad for you.
  • Parking at the outside edge of the lot. Walk a bit more. (Buying groceries might be the exception, if you’ have a  lot to carry.)
  • Going for the lower-sugar alternative, always. But beware of artificial sweeteners as they may be worse for you than the sugar you are trying to avoid. (Yep, no more sugar-free gum, EVER!)
  • Buying organic produce and products when possible. Sure they are more expensive, but taking micro-doses of toxic chemicals out of your system is worth it.

The Big Things

  • One pint of ice cream isn’t going to wreck your health. 5 in a month might significantly impact it. If you’re going to binge on something sinful, make sure you commit to get back on your program. On frappacino may lead to your craving for another one tomorrow. If you slip down this slope, it might be best to never indulge in frappacinos.
  • Meats and fresh vegetables over grains and sweets. We never eat enough vegetables. And ORGANIC is the way to go here as well. Again, it’s worth the cost.
  • Watch for hidden sugar or even plain-sight sugar everywhere and reduce your consumption. I was in an organic grocery store last night with a craving for yogurt. I wanted to add my yogurt and oat bran mix back into my routine. But as I was browsing the endless varieties of “whole” “natural” “greek” “low-fat” “geuten free” yogurt I was hard pressed to find one without added sugar. And yes, pure cane sugar is better than corn syrup in theory, but it’s all sugar in the end. One “organic” brand of strawberry yogurt had 29 grams of sugar in one small cup! WHAT?
  • Get up and move, often. Yes, we sit too much. Yes, we don’t get enough exercise. Okay, so let’s use our fitbit/fuel/fitness tracker to actually motivate us to MOVE. In the course of my day I often move between two or three locations in my house. And I try to walk around a bit between large tasks. It’s always a good idea to exercise. The key is finding something you love to do. (For me that’s tennis and walking around a local lake with my tunes blazing.)

We’re all about finding the balance. It’s not ONE thing you do it’s a combination of all the LITTLE and BIG things you do. Add a few more good things and subtract a few of the bad things. Then do it again.

2/3 of the way through November without a major slip. (I did buy and devour some light salt organic popcorn last night, but it was a reasonable splurge.) Give yourself the break your body needs by eliminating the toxic chemicals in your diet. Lower your sugar intake. And get up the next day and keep going, regardless of your results or expectations.

Yesterday I settled on some kind of high-protein and low-sugar yogurt. It had 11 grams of sugar for a single serving. Then when I got home I added my oat bran and ate a half a serving. DELICIOUS!

It’s not about hitting your goals, it’s about living a healthier life, continuously.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

related posts:

image: adding the little things, john mcelhenney, cc 2104

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Weight Loss vs Wellness: Measuring the Circumference of the Moon

I remember distinctly the moment I learned to suck in my stomach. I was in 7th grade and heading back into the locker room from a football workout. I had taken off my pads and was in the customary half-shirt. And as I saw a cheerleader coming my direction down the hallway, I remember sucking in my gut, thinking, “There’s Betty.” She noticed me. She missed the sucking in part. A week later we were “going steady” whatever that means in 7th grade. I’m sure we kissed a bit.

As an adult male I still have this reaction when I see an attractive woman. I’m trying to notice when I do it, and see who or what triggered the response. One big awareness I came to, after watching my own reflection in a store window at the mall:

You can’t suck in your love handles.

I’m walking away from the old unconscious eater, and becoming a stronger, healthier, and eventually thinner person.

Crap. That’s where my shape gets it’s shape. From the front you don’t really notice my stomach, though it could be a lot slimmer, you notice my handles. I’m sure this is a similar conundrum that has plagued ladies for a long time.

So, part of this quest is about understanding my own body, my impressions of self, and how I talk to myself about body image and fitness. And while weight loss seems to be a natural goal of this program/site whatever I am doing here, my real focus is fitness and wellness. Oh, and love handle reduction.

I was talking to my brother yesterday about health and fitness. (He had a heart attack two years ago, and I was curious about his wellness and fitness activities.) He wanted to know how my weight loss was coming. I had to think about it.

“I don’t even know, right now. That’s not exactly my focus.”

“Oh,” he said. “It this restaurant okay for your diet?”

“Yes,” I said. “I can make better choices where ever I go. That’s really what I’m writing about. How to step towards my goals, rather than away from them. And understanding what’s going on in my thinking when I’m craving something sweet or salty, and trying to keep going for the healthy meal.”

And I’m still thinking about this question 10 hours later. “What is my diet? Am I on a diet?”

Here’s what I think I’m “on.”

  • Learning about my own psychology of cravings, snacking impulses, and when/why I make poor choices.
  • Uncovering resistances to exercise and removing them.
  • Exercising more frequently and upping the intensity as my body is ready for it.
  • Choosing the apple over the Triscuit every time.
  • Watching portions and overall intake at all times. I would eat until I was full. Now I try to leave a little room. “Room to not grow on.”
  • Eliminate unconscious sugar. When I eat a sweet or dessert I want to enjoy it. But sugar in my tortilla chip, no way.
  • Awareness of my energy and daily cadence. Often I will break with the program when I’m extremely tired or overly hungry.
  • Listening to my negative self talk and gently modifying the phrases to be loving and supportive, rather than hurtful or shameful.
  • Accepting exactly where I am, every day, and starting from there. No matter what I ate yesterday, or how many times I worked out, I can begin again each day with a YES attitude.
  • Focus on the health and wellness benefits of my program rather than focusing on weight loss.
  • Loving my love handles into smaller and smaller versions of themselves.
  • Getting to a point in my fitness where I don’t have to suck in my stomach, ever.
  • Taking the next step towards fitness and wellness, always.
I am learning about myself and why I eat certain foods and how those foods affect my body and make me feel.

I’m not on a quick weight loss plan. I know there are plenty more things I could do right this second to radically improve my weight loss program, but I’m trying to build a lifestyle and enjoy the journey. I could meet with a fitness coach, I could start with a trainer or life coach, I could get more serious about what I’m doing, but I’m not that serious about it. Well, I am, but my “way” is going to be more organic, more about me and my thinking. And of course, my eating and exercise are a huge part of that. Along the way I may ask questions of my friends who are trainers, fitness buffs, coaches, nutritionists, but I think I’m happy with my progress so far, regardless of my love handle measurement.

I am learning about myself and why I eat certain foods and how those foods affect my body and make me feel. I am learning how to control my sugar intake and overall calorie intake: never over eat, always feel my way through a meal, and when I’m satisfied stop eating. I do not ever need to be a member of “the clean plate club” of my childhood. And dessert, while a staple in my family of origin, is more of a rare treat in my life. And every day I can make better choices.

I’m walking away from the old unconscious eater, and becoming a stronger, healthier, and eventually thinner person. My plan is working perfectly. And the measurement today, is inside.

I didn’t get my love handles overnight, and I won’t reduce them in an overnight fast either.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

Most annual weight gain is due to the holiday feasts.Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 8.32.39 AM

 

And sugar intake has become a big problem for all of us.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 8.31.58 AM

References and Inspirations:

fitbytech-lovehandles

Reviewing, Releasing, and Resetting My Goals – Month One

I declare my misery over.
I am in the process of creating a new song of myself.

Oh, I’ve been putting off my “weigh-in” a bit to see if I can get a few pounds lighter before I report in. That’s silly. I’m not really tied to that outcome, but I am still emotionally connected to it as some measure of success. I mean, if you’re here on this journey with me, you want to see success, right? I know I do. But I’ve got a different spin I’m trying on myself, let’s see if I can unpack my first month of self-awareness.

Some wins right away.

  • Zero Halloween candy. Not even a taste. And it’ wasn’t a challenge once I set my mind back on track.
  • Heading into November, my birth month, and thanksgiving, and I know I’m on track to have my best Holiday season ever, because I’m still attacking my sugar intake with a vengeance.
  • Only two bloated moments in the entire month – both times I ate pizza, too much pizza btw.
  • Both times I slipped into a sugar/dessert coma I make a conscious choice to do so, and to observe myself in the process and the hours afterwards.
  • My attitude is shifting away from my cravings and emotional hunger, towards a positive refactoring of what I eat and when I eat it.
  • My energy has been solid all week. I’m learning how to regulate my pre-workout food so that I don’t “need” a sugary sports drink. (Yes, even evaporated cane sugar, is sugar.)
  • I have not bashed myself or my body for where we are on the path towards a healthier me. NOT ONCE.

It’s the last observation that I think is the most important discovery. I learned early in my life, that my weight gave me power. As a 7-year-old Texas football player, I was also just under the weight limits for our tiny-player league. With that extra advantage I was a freight train when they handed me the ball. I experienced success as an athlete very early, and a lot of it had to do with my fantastic body. I was not concerned about my “fat” body, an neither was the coach who walked me around spitting and trying to pee before the weigh-ins. To him I was a winning season.

I am turning this new process of discovery in to a winning season for myself. I am where I am, and I am getting more loving and more fit at the same time. Get it? It’s very hard for any of us to truly love our bodies. Even the amazingly fit are struggling with body image issues as well. If we could release the body image hurt inside us, we’d probably be a lot happier. Like yoga, releasing and uncoiling all those years of damaging self talk, and societal “thin” pressure, has wreaked havoc on our own internal monologues.  We are awful to ourselves. I’m stopping that completely. Done!

So even in my attempts to become more fit, more healthy, I am also accepting the challenge to being more loving towards my love handles. More accepting of all of this process. I have wins, I have slips, I am human. But I am happy with my steps back towards my goals, and every time I return to this blog, I am reaffirming my love of myself. By taking better care of our bodies we are giving ourselves the message that we love ourself. (Powerful, yet a bit woo woo, right?)

Let me look at a few of the areas where I missed, if only for examination, and not chastisement.

  • I had pizza with my kids twice. I could’ve given them pizza and had something else.
  • I still had my usual medium popcorn at three movies. No butter and water to drink, but I have a little info on what’s in movie popcorn…
  • A few times I let my hunger (aka blood sugar drop) get too fierce and I’ve made poorer choices than I would’ve had I been more aware of myself.
  • I jumped on the scale, two weeks in, expecting, hoping, praying for some continuation of my first 5 days of weight loss. (I’m still hesitating on my weigh-in, right now.)
  • I’ve had some late-night snack runs, and even while I was eating only tamari-salted almonds and honeycrisp apples, I know I was giving in to some craving, rather than listening for hunger.
  • I let my laziness con me into eating a sugar filled “organic” cereal when I ran out of my uber-healthy cereal.
  • I’m happy with me, but I’m dreading weighing myself.

Today is the start of the second lap on my renewed fitness and wellness program. I’m happy and content with what I’ve learned and where I’m heading. Two big holidays are right ahead, and I feel empowered rather than restricted by my choices away from sugar and stuffing myself.

As I love myself a bit more, I’m able to see how caring for my fitness is part of that relationship. The relationship between body and mind may be the core that I am strengthening in this process. Sure, we need to do core exercises too, but for me, the emotional healing is harder to address than the physical. We can all eat better and exercise more, and we can all make ourselves miserable.

I declare my misery over. I am in the process of creating a new song of myself. I am singing my own praises and basking in the glow of every success. And even the missed opportunities have lessons, maybe lessons that are rooted in deep and unconscious memories.

Here’s to a happy start for November, my birth month, where I typically get a surge of energy and clearer focus for the next year to come. This is MY month, baby, I’m here to take it.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

fitbytech-murray-hendrix

Bill Murray is a hero of self-acceptance, and my most memorable “brush with greatness.” And Jimi Hendrix and I share Nov. as our birth month. Let’s be more musical and loving towards ourselves and others.
–bill murray promo photo, creative commons usage