Are you a little concerned that your good work to date will get derailed this holiday season? Don’t despair, healthy living does not mean total deprivation. It does, however, require a few strategies to keep you on the right track.  Here are a few ways you can limit temptations over the holidays:
  1. Drink up. (Water…that is!) You’d be surprised at the difference dehydration can make. It’s often mistaken for hunger. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind.  You know how there’s a reason for product placement at the grocery store? Do your own “marketing” at home by removing food or snacks not healthy for your family. Out of sight, out of mind.
  3. Keep a log so you can identify triggers and are realistic about input/output. Most folks overestimate calories burned and underestimate calories consumed. Keep it real.
  4. Know your limit. Can you indulge a little? Or does one bit turn into the entire bag/box? If the latter is the case, then that means no sugar should pass your lips. So be it. Is it difficult to eat out if you see or smell dessert or French fries? If so, skip it for now. Honor thyself. If you CAN indulge a little, go for it. Enjoy it, savor it, and then add some extra workout time. It’s all good.
  5. Good fats help resist the sugar urge. As does protein. Eat up.
  6. Create a bit of crazy. Visualization, that is. If sugar is still tempting you, imagine your sugar free life and the healthy/energetic/lean self you’ll be sporting! SEE it, claim it, then make the choice that aligns with that vision.
  7. Change your habits…or people around you. We talked about this one before. If you eat mindlessly while watching TV, don’t let yourself watch TV unless you are on the elliptical. Or, avoid that “friend” who eats junk food in front of you daily while you nurture your self goals.
  8. Lead the way. Influence your friends and be the change you want to be. Cook healthy, commit to exercise. Healthy habits beget other healthy habits.
  9. Commit publically. With your friends, family, online. Ask to be held accountable. It works!
  10. Take a nap! This is a goal every weekend (for me). It doesn’t always occur, but when it does, it’s soooo sweet! I find I want sugar when I’m tired. Not to mention I get a little bit grumpy when I’m in need of more zzzz’s.
Last, it’s not about being perfect, but choosing to make better decisions, more frequently, and more consistently over time. Becoming healthier is a journey.  And tomorrow always brings a new day.    That’s awesome.  So next time you are faced with that fork in the road, ask yourself, “What have I got to gain?”
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Until next time, choose fit, be strong. And, laugh often.
~Lisa
 
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By now, you’ve seen and heard plenty about the impact of your social environment and how you can catch obesity and other unhealthy habits from your friends and fam.  The half full cup view on this is true, too. You can “catch” good health and fitness, as well.  Turns out you can reap benefits whether your social network is in close physical proximity or virtual. Cool, huh? 
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Do you remember the professors several years back who spread the word about the quality of your social sphere on health?  If your network has bad habits (eating, drinking, little sleep, excessive TV/gaming, overweight or smoking)…chances are you have those same habits.
If you have a second, check the studies out. Compelling stuff.  
 
 
So… unhealthy behavior is quite communicable. According to the studies, your chance of becoming obese increases:

 

  • 57 % when one of your friends is obese
  • 40 % chance if it’s one of your siblings, and
  • 37 % if it’s your spouse.  

But hey, before you start looking around…remember the flip side. Because health and behavior are linked so closely, that means that any health state connected to habitual behaviors is communicable. (Big sigh, right?!)  Even more good news: social connections can also improve your health. Think about how effective support groups are, right?  People who hang around others who think positively also tend to think positively. You can lose weight, gain energy, and get fit together just as easily.

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Those closest to us have the most impact, but even a distant contact can have a nice impact. 
 
Now, before you go ditching those less than perfect around you, remember having friends (al Beit even the unhealthy ones) will still add happiness and longevity to your life.  In that case, why don’t YOU have a positive impact on them?  Your fitness and health decisions will have the ripple effect through your whole social circle, eventually coming right back to you in the form of increased social support.  I have to smile when my college son teases me and buys gluten free products because information I’ve shared over the years sunk in. (Yay) When he was taking nutrition, he said it was a breeze because he’d picked up so much information through osmosis. I <heart> that.
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Next time you’re digging deep for a reason to go to the gym, or  or pack a lunch instead of hitting the drive-thru, this may be a perspective to consider. Even if you’re not hugely motivated to make a healthy choice for yourself, you may be a little more willing to do it for the sake of the people you care about — or even for those you don’t know. According to the studies, your actions are influencing 1000 people. That’s huge. Take charge of your health and improve the world one healthy habit at a time.
 
To my fit friends who inspire or motivate me to eat clean, run, lift, train harder, or get to bed sooner: THANK you. You guys are the BOMB!
 
Choose fit. Laugh often, be contagious.
 
~Lisa
 

 

“Pay attention to your intuition. Listen to your heart. Speak your mind. Love yourself so that you can love others. Smile.” ~Nishan Panwar

In parts I & II of the blog series, “Be Your Best You”, we talked about nourishment of the mind with a little down time and last week we talimageked about nourishment of the body through exercise, nutrition, hydration, and sleep. Today’s blog, Part III, is about strengthening the soul through self-love, love of others, spirituality and laughter.

The first ingredient of soul care is self-love. It’s natural to take care of other people/things we love…but to trul y love others we have to love ourselves first. The Golden Rule tells us to “love your neighbor as you love yourself”. Self-love isn’t being arrogant or getting our way, but it does require knowing our boundaries, being kind to ourselves (learning how to say no), and honoring our values. When we live from a place of self-love, the world mirrors compassion and love back to us.

Once we learn to love ourselves, we may offer a better self to those around us. Loving others is ingredient number two. It lowers risks of chronic diseases, stress, and brings emotional happiness. When we do acts of kindness through service, it connects us to those we serve and gives us a kind of satisfaction that self-interest cannot provide.
Ingredient number three is spirituality, or connecting to something bigger than ourselves. Mainstream science has proven that we are wired to believe. So, not only are we built to connect, the more we connect and develop our spiritual selves through meditation, prayer or other means, the healthier and happier we live.

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” ~Victor Borge

The last ingredient to nurturing the soul is laughter. Laughter releases tension and relaxes us. Physiologically, it benefits the body like a light workout by increasing blood flow, boosting energy, burning calories and aiding sleep. In other words, it’s time to get silly. When laughter is shared, it bonds people together increasing intimacy. Best of all, it’s fun and free.

Self-love, loving others, spirituality, and laughter are four key ingredients to strengthen your soul. What’s holding you back from loving yourself in a way that inspires and brings forth beauty? Be patient with the process and allow it to unfold. You will find you are ready to compete again, but stronger and better.

 

Carpe diem!

~Lisa

 

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later
have to find time for illness.” ~Edward Stanley

We know our best self requires a strong foundation of mind, body and soul. Sometimes life’s pace throws us off course and before we know it, we aren’t functioning optimally. When performance suffers in athletics, it is recommended to ease up on training, step back and focus on rebuilding and strengthening the core, the body’s foundation. After that, athletes return to the training program at hand, but stronger and better. Last week, we discussed nourishing the mind by slowing down and “taking 5” to reboot our brains. Continuing the dialogue of becoming your best you, today’s topic is nourishment of the physical body through exercise, nutrition, hydration, and sleep.

Exercise: Sitting is the new smoking. What? Yeah, our lives of convenience are taking a toll on our health. The studies are in. Daily movement is tres importante. Activity trackers are great tools to remind us how long our butt’s been in a chair by monitoring steps, workouts, sleep, etc. Find your fit because one size does not fit all. Do what you enjoy most so you’ll keep doing it. Yes, it’s important to get resistance training in. But that can come in different forms, as does cardio and flexibility. The high intensity intervals we suggested in last week’s blog (go hard, take a breather, go hard, rest, etc.) works well with cardio and lifting weights. Try Tabata. Increase your strength, stamina and mind at the same time. So be like Nike and just do it (repeatedly)!

Nutrition: Eat real, whole, fresh foods. Hippocrates was right. Food IS thy medicine. What we eat provides much more than fuel. It affects our immune system, plays a role in hormone regulation, intestinal health, and impacts a myriad of diseases. The most important action item we can do in this arena is to take back control of cooking. You don’t have to be a chef or spend much time in the kitchen. There are many healthy recipe options to choose from. Focus on foods in season, eat local, and look up recipes on Pinterest. Involve the family and eat mindfully. Turn the TV off and don’t be swayed by the high cost of cheap food.

“Water is the only drink for a wise man.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Hydration: Henry knew that water is integral to our health. In fact, more than half a person’s body is made up of water, so even mild dehydration can compromise the efficiency of most bodily functions, including boosting resting metabolism. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Drink up and reap the benefits of good hydration: lower blood pressure, flushing of toxins, reduction of allergy/asthma symptoms, speedier joint and tissue repair, boosts in mood and energy, and of course weight loss/weight maintenance.

Sleep: Surveys are increasingly noting that most Americans are getting less than 6 hours a night, while 7-9 are better numbers. Like water, sleep deficiency contributes to many health issues like weight gain, high blood pressure, decreased immune function, impaired memory, and higher levels of inflammation which are linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. On the performance side, improving our sleep quality and quantity will increase creativity, work and athletic performance. ‘Nuff said, sleep matters!

The great thing about nourishing our body through the areas above is that WE can reclaim control ourselves. That’s awesome. Optimal living at our fingertips.

Today is a great day to re-commit. Then compete. I’ll see you at the finish line (yawn) after I take a nap!

~Lisa

(blog posted by Compete Every Day)

7 day

“Love yourself first and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

Society seems to prize busyness. Being “on” at all times has become an expectation. Kudos to those who are focused, have a plan, and busy are working it. You possess the necessary ingredients for goal achievement! Being too busy, however, has a cost. Ironically, it negatively impacts the very success we are trying to achieve. If we go down the busy path too long taking care of the kids, the job, the home, relationships, etc., exhaustion creeps in. We wear down our nervous system and dampen our ability to be our most productive self. Racing from point A to point B, we produce and we provide. We are “on” at all the right times. However, the more externally we focus and the larger our “to-do” lists grow, the more inefficient (& unhealthy) we become. It is necessary then, to become our best self, we must slow down and nourish ourselves in mind, body and soul. To be our best self, we need to step back and rebuild our foundation. Today’s topic is nourishment of the mind through downtime. A little bit of nuttin’, honey.

You might think being idle is nuts, a waste of time. But, taking a few minutes of “nothing” can add up to a whole lot of something. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and that, my friends, brings a slew of healthy benefits.

See, when we’re too busy, nothing new can come to mind. Creativity is dampened. Science has proven, however, that if we carve a little “mind space” we reap some cool benefits. Unstructured time allows for a process of incubation which is where our best ideas and solutions can come from. Not convinced to take a time out yet? The Energy Project study found that associates who took “time outs” increased their creative capacity in a huge way and enjoyed a greater level of health and mental well-being. Overwork has the opposite effect; less engagement, feeling worn out, a significant decrease in creativity/problem resolution, making mistakes, and so on.

High intensity intervals (HIIT) isn’t just effective in workouts, it’s an effective work/life strategy. Intense periods of focus should be balanced by time (breaks) allowing for rest and renewal. Short breaks boost digestion, lower the heart rate, increase work capacity, and elevate moods. So, go ahead, take a break. Observe how “energy management” can aid time management. Close the door. Turn off the phone. Or, step outside. Be still for 5-10 minutes a couple times each day. It may take a little getting used to, but the more you do less, the better you will be.

By making ourselves our own wellness mission, we can do better in serving others AND achieving our goals. Nourishing the self is essential to health, happiness and well-being.

Take 5 to renew. Then compete, better. Every day.

Choose fit. Be still. Live strong.7 day

~Lisa Read More →

It’s soooo easy to lose focus these days. With all our technological tools, productivity apps, and lifestyles of convenience, we’d be a bunch of smooth, focused goal-achieving machines, right?  Masters of our universes. Yet the reality is that it’s far too easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. Social status updates, emails, texts, twitter,  checking the stock exchange or game scores, and 24/7 availability make it ever-so-easy  to lose focus on what matters most: our friends & family, our health, career goals, and co-creating our universe.  Life happens. But if we’re not careful, we find ourselves caught in a costly conundrum and we miss our mojo.

Sometimes it’s something big—like a relationship ending, the loss of a job, the death of a friend, or an investment gone bad that initiates the detour.  For many of us, it’s nothing big—just the small, incremental creep of exponential external stimuli. We know when this happens. We feel it. We feel run down. Negative thoughts creep in. We find ourselves in reactive mode, out of control, and depressed. Along with this, our immunity drops. Darn it, our mojo is missing! Our actions are not aligned with our goals.

To get it back, try following these three steps:

  1. Start with the end in mind. Remind yourself of your goals, and then start small. Do you have action steps and know the next steps to take? If not, this could be what’s throwing you off. (Actions should be Specific/Measurable/Attainable/Realistic/Timeframe = SMART.) Post your goals and next 3 action steps where you see them. Consider them first thing each morning and again before bed. Allow a few minutes of quiet time each day.  Vison boards might be helpful—or post it notes.  Do your friends and family know your goals? Share them and enlist their support.
  2. Identify the distractions and know what breaks you down. While I ‘m not a fan of dwelling in the past, noting distractions is important in order to set necessary boundaries—especially with technology. Limit the # of times you check your email or phone. (For example, limit email to 3 times a day for X minutes and initiate “phone free periods”. There are apps to help you manage!) Resist the technology urge and remember a distracted reactive state of mind leads to rushing, carelessness, and loss of focus. Figure out what distractions to give up and set limits on those that are essential.
  3. Consider excuses, and then be nice to yourself. Some of our biggest obstacles lie in our heads. Attitude IS everything and the mind can be a powerful friend– or foe. The good news is: that’s in your control, however it may take practice. Like Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” Find a mantra to help and replace negative thoughts. J Focus on the things you do right and forgive yourself for the things done wrong. Then get back on track and recommit.

Remember, the great thing about this wonderful life is that every day brings an opportunity to begin again. And, when you say yes to one thing, you say no to something else. Choose your yeses and you’ll find your focus.  It will feel good. Then, hellooooo mojo!

Until next time, choose your fit. Live strong. Laugh often.

(blog written for Compete Every Day )

What have you got to lose?

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -W. Churchill

Isn’t it funny how we expect life’s journey to be a linear line…except we know it’s really full of detours, closed doors, or rain? S..tuff happens. It’s easy to fall off the wagon and get off course. It happens to the best of us. That’s life. And that’s okay. It’s not failure; not yet. The only real mistake we make is to stop trying. “If you fall down seven times, stand up eight.” In other words, you find out who you truly are and what you are capable of in cloudy weather. We build character through perseverance– which is, quite simply, the art of trying again…and again. Mister “C” summed it up nicely, didn’t he?

I’ve been sucker punched many a time in life. You too, right? Things happened that knocked me to my knees. Then, the obstacles seemed so…BIG. “We are moving (four states away at age 16).” “Your dad died this morning.” “6-7% of individuals with your type of AML are alive after 10 years.” Infidelity and divorce in the midst of chemo. Seeking energy, normalcy and laughter with 3 &5 year olds when chemo ravages your body. In the midst of those times, they seemed awful. Looking back, each of those challenges provided wonderful silver linings, laughter, and love. Would I want to repeat them? Um, no. Was I fearless? Heck no. I fell. I feared. I skinned my knees. Yet Winston would be proud—I became a master stumbler, repeatedly.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

If a door closes, expect an open window. Or consider, perhaps, another door. In other words, the key to opening a door is to keep on knocking– excitedly, expectantly. Sometimes a solution appears when we relax our idea of what life “should” be and view detours not as “bad” but as opportunities to knock on a different door. We might be surprised to discover that a setback is a wonderful opportunity–one we would have missed had we given up. The key is to keep moving and keep looking for ways to reach your goal. “A body at motion stays in motion” in physics and in life…for every step takes us somewhere.

Winston Churchill says to stumble from failure to failure. A lot. The next time life throws a curve ball, take a deep breath, dust off your skinned knees and get back up. But don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop going. Keep on knocking and trust your abilities. Try again.

Consider every day “race” day. And compete. For you. For your health. For your family. For your community.

Simply, compete. And remember, life isn’t about avoiding the storms, but learning how to dance (or stumble) in the rain.

(My blog initially posted by  Compete Every Day…a great online business providing inspirational athletic wear and fashion attire. Be sure to check them out and sign up for their emails!)

Be fit. Live Strong. Laugh often. And, smile.

Lisa

 

 

 

I like mantras and affirmations. Let’s face it. Life happens. And there are times we all go through that just straight up “suck egg” (a polite term one of my friend’s uses). Ironically, it’s in these lousy times that we learn the most about ourselves and receive some of life’s greatest rewards. During tough times, it can be hard to think about anything other than what’s going on. Whether you are going through a tough time or want more focus on a positive result, mantras can provide powerful changes in thought, word and deed!

How does the mind/body connection work? Well, in a nutshell, attitude matters. You get what you expect. Most important, however, is the fact that happiness is a choice. It doesn’t mean that “suck egg” won’t happen. It does mean, however, that you have complete control on how you handle what life throws your way.

I’ve had multiple “suck egg” situations in life. One of the biggest was the “c” experience. Would I have opted for cancer for the life learnings I got out of it? Nooooo, thank you! To help get through it, however, I used multiple mantras. One I spoke repeatedly was, “I choose LIFE” and “My body is strong, healthy, and free and clear of disease.” I said these out loud every morning, driving my car, at quite times, before bed, while getting chemo, while puking my guts up, or while feeding my little ones when I was nauseous. Spoken words are powerful. And, energy flows where focus goes.

Mantras are not new. They are a cornerstone in meditation, prayer, goal achievement, competition, and in life in general. Mentally, they work as affirmations of one’s own higher consciousness and divinity, which can work to replace limiting beliefs. On a physical level, the repetition of mantras has multiple effects creating energy patterns and vibrations.

On a spiritual level, the repetition of sacred mantras helps us to remember and strengthen their connection to the divine within. It soothes the mind and body, allowing for a greater expression of spirit. Personally, I like the repetition of a mantra to tame and disarm my ego…which is often the very thing placing limits on my desires.compete every

Mantras are not new. They have been used for thousands of years because they are extremely powerful and effective. Ready to give it a try?

Peruse the internet. Find the statements that resonate with you. Write them down. Post them in visible places. Speak your mantras out loud. Find sites that motivate you. One of my favorites is Compete Every Day. This company produces limited run Athletic and fashion wear with bold, powerful mantras. They have wonderful newsletters and Facebook quotes. Plus, you should see this week’s “Athlete of the Week”!

Go ahead, give it a try. What have you got to gain?