Exercise: A 4 Letter Word

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to say. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

6. Exercise. Some of you may be so far in denial, that you question what that even is. I block out exercise sometimes. I go in stages where I do wonderfully, and then I will get slammed with some physical ailment (could be a cold with a hacking cough), that will put a crashing halt to my routine. I love routine, and right now, I’m searching everywhere for the one I lost a while back. Isn’t there someone, somewhere, that can do it for me instead? It goes back to the time thing again, exercise takes time, so if you can’t find the time, then make the time. If you wrote down all your necessary tasks, including sleep, and the time allotted, there would probably be some time to fit in a few sit-ups, push-ups, or some yoga. You would probably be surprised. Simple. Instead of watching your favourite television show, go for a walk. Yah, that’ll work.

nike free run light green shoesYes, exercise. It’s a four letter word for those of us with weight and other challenges. At the moment, I too dislike the word. It’s exhausting just thinking about it, and how to find the time. What? There’s that all too familiar excuse of not having any time. Time will not drop into our laps, we have to plan for it, just like everything else we do in our daily lives.

It’s pretty repetitious, don’t you think? I believe awareness and/ or planning have reared their ugly heads over and over again. My son and I were sharing conversation and laughing, and he said to me, “Suck it up Princess”. This is such an appropriate saying for those of us basking in our sorrows. In other words, get over it. Quit whining, sniveling, and thinking up excuses. No one else can do this for us…although that would be delightful. The sooner we all realize that everything going on inside of us, is because of how we react and cope with life, the sooner we can get ourselves on a better track.

None of us are as stupid as we let ourselves believe and lead others to believe. Others are aware of our ‘poor me’ stories and the excuses we dream up. Nobody is fooling anybody. Now that we’ve established that…

I am not a huge fan of outdoor activities or having to go to the gym for a workout. I like exercise I can do at home with minimal equipment, like maybe a yoga mat. All you need for the following videos; approximately a 6X4 foot space and maybe a yoga mat, especially if you have pets, and I like to wear runners for extra padding and support.

My favourite exercise videos:

Hip Hop Abs

  • combination hip hop dance moves and exercise
  • focuses on abs the entire workout
  • low impact
  • extremely effective
  • lots of fun

Yoga workouts

  • so important for health and prevention of injuries
  • provide stretching, balance, strength, endurance
  • fantastic stress relief
  • love yoga!

Tae Bo

  • low impact workouts
  • provide strength, endurance, balance
  • low intensity
  • fun and challenging

Insanity

  • just like it sounds
  • an all-round workout
  • uses your own body weight for resistance
  • can easily alternate low/ high impact
  • extremely challenging

Buns of Steel

  • intense workout for thighs and buns
  • low impact
  • just feels good

Other:

Walking/ hiking

  • thoroughly enjoy walking
  • when I say hiking, I mean walking with more of a challenge, not scaling a mountain
  • fresh air is always good for us and being out in nature can be very relaxing and meditative

Treadmill

  • love the treadmill, plug in the tunes and get lost in my thoughts
  • all-year-round workout
  • change the intensity as you want

The only reason for exercising, is to be healthier. Move past the idea that we do it for weight loss, or to tone our muscles, and make it simple. Do it for the bigger picture, the long-lasting picture, your health. By not focusing on individual issues with our bodies and how we need to change them, we release the negativity, thereby allowing positive changes to happen. Remember, what we focus on, is usually what we get more of. The choice is yours, negative or positive.

 

Any other suggestions? Comments are welcomed and encouraged!

Have You Got The Time?

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to say. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

5. The amount of time it takes to prepare fresh food daily, is mind blowing. The daily routine becomes much longer, albeit a healthier one. You are standing and moving about while slicing and dicing, and not being a couch potato. I attempted this a while back, making huge salads (to last a few days), and preparing mostly vegetables for meals. It literally sucked up my days. I don’t enjoy cooking at the best of times–just ask my guy–but this was ridiculous. I ended up wanting to do anything else but prepare food. Honestly, when will ‘They’ come up with a pill, that covers all your nutritional needs and fills you up? I’m sure I would still have an occasional treat, and my green tea lattes, but I definitely am not a ‘live to eat’ girl. I am an ‘eat to live’ girl. On a positive note, the four days that I completely cut out sugar, white flour, white rice, anything processed, my energy level went through the roof. A hill that might have noticeably increased my breathing, had no effect at all. That lasted a good few weeks, even though I added back a few things to my diet. Why then, since I felt so divine, am I not continuing? Well, that is a good question, isn’t it?

Take some time to write down all your activities, and the time it takes to complete them. Include the hours you sleep, how long it takes you to dress in the morning, and be honest when it comes to how long you sit on the couch. There are 168 hours in one week. If you break it down, I guarantee that there will be some time that could be freed up to pursue healthier activities, like making a salad.

If accomplishments are to be made, then efficient use of time is important. There are many new advances that seem to suck up our time, ways of procrastinating until we are cramming to get something done. What is last on the agenda? Our health. Not for everyone, but for a lot of us. Who wants to be chopping vegetables for a salad when they could be playing their favorite game on the computer, or watching their favorite television show. It’s easier to ignore our troubled minds and our fat, out-of-shape bodies, when we can have some fun with just the tap of a finger.

I’ve said before how much I dislike cooking, partly emotional, built up over years, and the lack of excitement over food. I’m alone for a week and am using this time to re-introduce a routine, which includes making myself decent meals and snacks to eat. I kid you not, end of the second day, and I’m mulling over in my head, a plan to have nachos one night as a treat. What the heck do I need a treat for? Why does it have to be something so dripping in fat? (I make them with ground beef, jalapenos, and lots of cheese.) I must have been thinking about it for a good hour, until I had my broccoli and cauliflower in sesame ginger sauce. It was delicious, as always, and I was completed satiated with no more thoughts of ‘pigging out’.

Awareness has definitely given me insight that I choose not to ignore. Until I’d eaten, I couldn’t believe how my mind was working overtime. Yes, nachos are good, but would have been more trouble to make than my veggie dinner. Day three, so far so good. I have a plan for dinner and am determined to follow through.

Planning, planning, and more planning. For me, the planning is the fun part.

  • Sit down with your recipe books, a notepad, pencil, and some ideas on what your favourite foods are; chicken, beef, pasta, etc. Go over them in detail, look for lower fat, lower calorie, and generally ‘healthy’ meals. Almost any recipe can be adapted to fit your needs. Obviously you can google a ton of recipes as well.
  • When making your list, group the food items according to the grocery store aisles. Gather any coupons or fliers. Check out the sales and plan accordingly. Start with the coupons, google recipes with those particular items.
  • Check out the preparation and cooking times because if you’re like me, shorter is better. Some foods such as salads, there is no getting away from the washing and chopping, so increase the portions while you’re at it. I find cutting up a head of broccoli/ cauliflower and keeping it in a bowl seems to make it last longer, and it’s easy to grab a handful. Adding extra vegetables to any meal and cutting back on the sauces/ gravies is a great option to lower fat and calories.
  • If you feel overwhelmed at this point, ask a friend to help with the planning. Sometimes it’s simpler, for someone outside of your ‘mind’, to make the bigger decisions. Two can make it a lot more fun!
  • Get out your food processor (huge time-saver, and one of the best purchases I’ve made), to help with the chopping and grating. Grated salads taste better because all the flavours blend together and the texture makes for easy chewing. I put seeds and nuts in as well. Anything that has a tendency to go mushy, like cucumber or peppers, chop up and put in a separate bowl. Any veggies for a soup or stew can be whizzed through, and you will have uniform slices that will cook more evenly and be pleasing to the eye.
  • There is nothing wrong with leftovers. Choose three healthy meals for the week and double them up. Make enough to put some in the freezer for lunches or dinners.
  • If you are not feeling up to snuff for the week ahead, don’t buy a ton of fresh produce as it will end up rotting in your fridge. Been there, done that more times than I care to admit. Waste of food, waste of money. You can always take an extra trip to the store if you perk up.

The book that had me spending all my time washing and chopping was ‘Eat To Live’ by Joel Fuhrman. Love this book! There are a few recipes that having me shaking my head, just awful. Then there are a few recipes that are absolutely out of this world, delicious. Personal opinion. Eating this way is very healthy and really lacking in nothing. A lot of time is taken up with preparation, something I don’t have the patience for, and with the truckloads of produce, it was a little expensive. However, this eating style had me feeling my best ever.

Get your family/ significant other involved in the process. With all the ingredients needed for that large salad, do all the washing and chopping together on the weekend in preparation for the week. I just purchased the book ‘Mason Jar Salads and more’ by Julia Mirabella; wonderful, appetizing, and efficient plans for salads and other lunches to grab on your way out the door to work.

Check out this ingenious idea for organizing crock-pot meals: a whole month’s worth of meals via crock-pot freezer cooking. Maybe when my guy returns, we can get started on this.

Make a genuine effort to cook healthier meals and snacks. If you have kids, show some interest in the whole process and be a good role model for them. Get them involved (if they’ll let you). All this planning will leave you with much more free time to engage in all those mindless activities, only now, you won’t feel guilty.

Any other suggestions? Comments are welcomed and encouraged!

Can You Afford It?

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to say. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

4. It can be expensive, the fruit and vegetable isle. Low income presents a huge problem. Depending on our location, we could grow our own gardens, freeze and can the food for winter. That is time consuming, and if someone has a long commute, or has to work two jobs, when would they have time to garden? Or could they have a garden, if they lived in an apartment building, in the middle of a busy city? Would there be enough fresh food to sufficiently feed a family of four or more? It seems that there is always a sacrifice of one thing for another. Depends on what you most want, what is most important to you. It’s the ‘get out of your head’ thing again. New study confirms that eating healthy does indeed cost more…  Even if we eat healthy food, we still aren’t getting all the nutrients required; enter supplements. Even a really good multivitamin is not going to help meet those needs. If you are going to take supplements, choose ones that will address your individuality. –and yes, supplements add an extra monthly expense. Yay!

money jarI consider myself a very organized individual. However, when it comes to being a savvy, grocery store shopper, I’m severely lacking. Maybe it stems from my issues with food, (not an excuse, just an observation).

So, I know I should be checking the paper for sales and clipping coupons, because it is a great way to save some money. Now that doesn’t mean that you buy all the stuff that’s on sale, a large portion of which is unhealthy. If you check regularly, you will probably find a bit of a pattern with the sales and then you can plan ahead. Coupons may have a use by date that is further away, increasing your planning time.

Planning ahead is key for saving your hard earned pennies, on food. I’m a planner; doesn’t mean I always follow through. In my case, as in most, that is indicative of an emotional crutch preventing forward motion; similar to a rubber band that allows you to take a few steps forward, but then pulls you back before you are successful. I like to call it a ‘work in progress’. Planning involves spending some time, perusing recipes, meal plans, scanning sales, clipping coupons, having a file system and making lists. The idea is to then take your list to the store.

Without this plan in place, I generally shop once a week and pick up extras as needed. Using up all perishables will ensure you savings; you are not wasting the food or your money. Again, meal planning is essential to know what you will or won’t need in the week/ weeks to come. I love looking through recipes, and if you’re like me, the simpler they are the more chance you will use them. Making lists is a favorite pass time, but then what? It really is productive if you can follow a weekly meal plan, honest! I have done it before, and noticed that it even saves time when it comes to cooking. Knowing what your meal will be each day of the week, prevents the hunched stance and glazed eye stare, while releasing all the cold air from the fridge.

Buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season, and grown locally if possible. If the produce is readily available, then it should be cheaper. Farmer’s markets are great for in season produce. Note: not everyone has the funds for organic, but don’t worry, regular produce will still give you vitamins and minerals. Yes, there is the issue with pesticides and such, but if you don’t have the money, you don’t have the money.

When you hit the grocery store, make sure you buy ONLY what is on your list. Huge savings there! I don’t think it’s fun, but some people enjoy wandering up and down each aisle, browsing at all the new stuff. If you want to save money, keep your head down, your list in front of you, and make sure you have eaten prior to going to the store. Wanting to try some new things? Check out some new recipes, make your list, and purchase the new items. No brainer.

Why Are Food Prices So High? –This was written March 2012, but there’s probably not much change.

Another option; grow your own veggies. There are some very unique and space-saving ways to have a garden. I love the idea of a container garden; does not mean I have one. This is another area that I love to dream about and plan, but that’s where it stops. Maybe one day. The rest of my family all grow stuff in their gardens; what happened to me? FYI: I’m always here if you need someone to plan, strategize and organize your future container garden. I’ll even draw out the plans for you with lovely descriptive paragraphs on the veggies and how they should be arranged and what they should be planted next too. I researched and designed a six by six foot veggie garden with companion planting and it was amazing! I think I still have the drawings…lol.

Bottom line, start with one or two pots, see what happens. You will never know until you do it. Every little bit counts towards some savings, and you know you are growing organic. Bonus!

There is so much information out there on container gardening, and some very unique designs that could be lots of fun. Here are a couple links to get you started.

Vegetable Container Gardening; Getting Started

Container Gardening For Vegetables

The Great Global Food Gap  –This is just fun to see what other people are eating. You may even notice that you are eating healthier than some. Boost to the ego!

What I’ve learned about supplements:

Some individuals’ bodies do not absorb certain vitamins and minerals as easily as others. There could be a physical ailment that works against absorption. The diet simply may be lacking. When it comes to vitamins/ supplements, I believe that we are all individual. We are all unique in what our own bodies need. Yes, there are the general vitamins such as vitamin C, D, and iron, that we all might need a little extra of. I’ve been taking iron supplements for over twenty years, being borderline anemic, due to other crap. Luckily, iron is not too expensive. If you have a deficiency, then it’s important to address that.

In general, those who might want to add some supplements to their diets are:

Vitamins/ supplements come in all different shapes and sizes. How quickly they dissolve in your stomach acids, will give you an idea of their potency and effectiveness. If absorption doesn’t take place in the proper area, then how beneficial are they? Probably a waste of your money. Buy a couple different brands of multivitamins, some apple cider vinegar, and you’ve got yourself a home test. Apple cider vinegar somewhat resembles the stomach acids with regards to breakdown times. Add a vitamin to a small cup of vinegar, and time it to see how long it takes the vitamin to dissolve. Shaklee brand has come out on top with this test, being broken down quickly and therefore absorbed in the most effective area of the body.

Shaklee Vitalizer Multivitamin Review… I chose this one as I am a fan of Shaklee products, but there are others as well that rank high on the list.

If you have a reasonably well-balanced diet and no blatant deficiencies, keep spending your money on the healthy food you are eating. It is better to purchase healthy food, cook with limited salt, fat, etc., than to spend money on vitamins/ supplements in an attempt to reap amazing benefits from them. They are only meant to be used as a complement to regular diets, not a replacement. That also goes for all the meal replacement shakes and bars, while in a pinch they can satiate, but real food simply can not be replaced.

Knowledge is always power. It gives you options and the ability to make choices for the health of your body and mind.

 Any other suggestions? Comments are welcomed and encouraged!