Surround Yourself…

advice and encouragement

This is a quote from Dave Ramsey who is the author of Financial Peace University and is a major force in learning how to get and live debt free. He is a guru in the financial field. But it’s tough love and not for the faint of heart…along with Gail Vaz-Oxlade, they are two of the best resources for applicable financial (and many life) lessons.

I find this quote so applicable to life in general. Have you ever had the experience of being in a great mood, then after spending time with “happiness suckers” feeling dragged down and tired. I’m still trying to find a way to be stronger than those people. Sometimes it’s easy – you just don’t hang around them. Other times it may be co-workers, family members or other people who you can’t avoid spending time with.

I think this is one of the reasons that I love exercise classes. More often than not you are with a group of like-minded people, and if you have a regular group you build relationships that encourage and support one another. You see each other grow and can support each other as you reach new physical, and often emotional, heights. You become accountable to one another when you haven’t shown up in a while. And possibly one of the greatest motivators is increasing the “happiness” factor! Exercise may wear you down and tire you out, but I have never met a person who wasn’t in a better mood post-workout then before they started.

If you aren’t finding that in your group class – branch out. See what other opportunities there are out there. Try a new exercise modality, join a running group, karate dojo, tai chi class, boot camp… The opportunities are there and they are worth it!

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Breakfast of a Wannabe Champion

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This is how I’m starting my morning (well after my hot water and lemon) how about you? Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. For me it also sets the tone for my day. If I have started off well with a hearty nutritious breakfast than I, personally, am more likely to be successful. If I start the morning with a muffin or Danish, even a bowl of cereal, I’m heading for a horrible day. Mood wise, energy wise and I know that most of my choices to follow will be crappy as well.

I hear some people complain they can’t eat first thing in the morning. Breakfast literally means to “break the fast”  if you aren’t hungry within an hour of waking, odds are you’ve eaten too close to bed time. Sometimes I will push past that hour. It will usually be in regards to a scheduled workout time but that’s a personal choice and I know how my body reacts to different foods around different types of exercise. I’ll be touching on that later this week.

For now, here’s a bit of advice. Start your day with a big glass of water and/or a hot water with lemon. Your body has been working hard while you sleep to detoxify so let’s help it out by flushing the system. The lemon and hot water are a great way to support your liver function. Give yourself an hour before hitting the caffeine, and try to go black! There is evidence leaning towards black coffee helping boost metabolism and athletic performance. If you don’t drink coffee-don’t start! But if you do, try to ditch the sugar and dairy.

Here’s hoping you all find a way to Get Movin today!

Happy June!

This morning my oldest daughter came to me and said, “I don’t know what it is about a new month, but I just love when I have a fresh calendar page!”. What can I say, the girl comes by it honestly. As I’ve talked about in the past I love the opportunity that a new month brings. Awhile back I recommended picking one thing to focus on each month. You can refresh your memory, or check it out for the first time in this post here.

For June I am focusing on planning and actually scheduling my workouts. As I’ve mentioned before I work shifts and now that I’m back to commuting my time is even more precious. I have big plans for the month of July so between that and life getting away from me some days, it is extra important that I make a plan. I was reviewing the goals I had set in a past post and things have been adjusted a little. But that needs to be part of our life. We have to be flexible and open to change, as long as that change isn’t one that completely derails us from a long-term plan.

Here is a picture of my calendar. Nothing fancy, it is written in pencil. I have my scheduled shifts written (the “D” and “N”s) and I’ve used Get Movin’s schedule for the next 8 weeks and picked the classes that best suit my schedule. I’ve also included my runs and TRX workouts.

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It’s written in pencil because on some days there are two options. With overtime shifts that pop up I have to be able to change things sometimes. For example – I can run on the treadmill at work and bring my TRX so those are an option depending on the workout I may miss. I also am being very conscious of my sleep requirements. There may be days when my “wellness” routine is actually sleeping instead of a workout. I work 14 hour night shifts with a 2+ hour round trip commute. Four of those in a row, means that my body can get fairly run down. I’ve suffered burn out before – without knowing it until it was in my rearview mirror. Now I know the signs and how to avoid it, and I will at all costs. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Just that I am more conscious of how I need to take care of myself. And what was it G.I. Joe always said: “Knowing is half the battle!”

I’ll also be planning our families meals for the month. Even more focused will be my own. We’ll be having our family sit-down tomorrow to discuss the month ahead. Perhaps I’ll share that later in the week!

Think about incorporating one simple thing into your month. Increasing your water, if you haven’t already done that. Checking out the seasonal fruits and veggies that will be starting to appear before long. Getting out and walking a new trail or going for a bike ride. Picking up a sketch book and pencil and sketching the flowers you find. There is nothing like drawing nature to make you focus on all the intricacies and fine details you will often miss in a hurried day.

Enjoy the sunshine and summer evenings that are here to stay….at least for a while!

Fat free and low fat translation!

So…I apologize for the verbage, but, it essentially rings true. Keep this in mind and keep as many poisons out of your body as possible!

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To make a product “fat-free” or “low-fat” the fat has to be removed from the item. But without the fat, where is the flavour? Along comes science, to add sugars and chemicals to “enhance” flavour and texture.

Remember…fat doesn’t make you fat – sugar does! It’s your body’s conversion of sugar that creates the visceral fat that is stored around our waistlines. This is exactly the kind that you want to avoid!

This is an overly simplified account. There are many other things to take into consideration, including the source of fats, but remember this:

Eat as close to a natural food source as possible, with as little human interaction (and intervention) as possible. One of the best places to see this in action is with peanut butter. The next time you are considering picking up that low-fat version, take a look side by side between the ingredients list of it and its natural counterpart. I can’t tell you what you’ll find on the ingredient list of a low or fat-free version of peanut butter, however the natural peanut butter I’ve got memorized: peanuts! People say they don’t have time to read the ingredient list on everything, imagine if there was only one thing on the list how much time you’ll save 🙂

Gluten Free? So what!!

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Ok…I’m about to go on a tangent…

A “Gluten free” label DOES NOT mean OK, Gluten free DOES NOT mean safe to consume, Gluten Free DOES NOT mean healthy.

Is there a place for a gluten free diet? Absolutely!! If you have Celiac’s, gluten is the equivalent of sugar to a diabetic. It can and will cause permanent and possibly, irreversible damage. If you have a gluten sensitivity, absolutely! Avoid it, to avoid inflammation in your gut, in your skin, in your organs, wherever the symptoms present. We want to avoid inflammation within our bodies, and if you know the source than by all means follow through on avoidance (This is obviously a little more involved, if you are cutting items out of your diet, ensure that it is with the guidance of someone who has training in how to support your nutritional needs.) That being said a gluten free product does not guarantee a healthy product.

Companies know how to market their product. They spend billions on it. Gluten free is one of the hot catch phrases right now and it’s getting lots of media attention so you can bet if a product is “gluten free” it will be getting that tag slapped on it, and if it can be reformulated to be made gluten free it will be. Is it nice to be able to have a brownie once and awhile? Sure! But I would hazard a guess, from the evidence I have seen and people I have talked to, that many assume that if it is a gluten free brownie this somehow makes it “healthier”. It’s still a brownie. And, these are still Cocoa Pebbles. Now – it may be obvious to some, that cocoa pebbles  are not really a “healthy” choice, but there are some people that willingly trust the marketing companies, and looking at the nutrition label vs the ingredient list, they think that this is a healthier choice then say, oatmeal.  Cocoa pebbles are still loaded with an unhealthy amount of sugar, and no real vitamins and minerals except for those with which it has been “enriched” (another word to look out for, but I’ll save that tangent for another day!). It’s not “food” – it’s a “food-product”. Be aware of labels and catch phrases. Don’t get suckered in to thinking something is healthier because of a what is on the package or the store where it is purchased (cough cough Whole Foods cough cough).

Off my soapbox now! Enjoy your Sunday breakfast! My kids are eating Vector I’m sure – not a healthy choice necessarily – the difference is – I’m aware of it. My choices aren’t always the best, but the key is I am making a conscious and knowledgeable choice. I have to deal with the outcome, don’t let others control the choices you make (not even me!). Become knowledgeable, so that every decision you make, is made consciously and with an awareness on what the outcomes may be. Eat your Cocoa Pebbles if you choose to, not because marketing told you it was a good choice.

Planning for the season(s)!

I’ve posted a few times about how important it is to plan for your meals. Over the past few years my family – ok – my husband and I (the kids get dragged along for the ride as they cannot yet get themselves to the grocery store!) have become more and more aware of the foods that we are choosing to eat.

As I’ve gotten further into my nutritional studies it would seem that our choices have gotten smaller and smaller. But really – were all the “foods” we were consuming before, and admittedly, sometimes still do, truly “food”. Absolutely not. There have been times that I had to close one of my text books because all the information out there, really can be overwhelming. I think there were even times my children were tempted to hide my books! So how does this affect our food choices especially in relation to the “seasons”?

Where we live in Southern Ontario, depending on the season, can really limit in many ways our access to fresh fruits and vegetables. But, we have advantages that those who have lived in this area for generations before us didn’t necessarily have. If they could survive on what the earth provided, it leads me to question, why can’t my family? I have been greatly inspired by “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. I will touch more on this book and the idea of becoming a “locavore” in some future posts. If you are looking to start somewhere, or gather ideas, this is definitely a great read.

So – “Seasonal Planning” what exactly does that mean? Well, the first step is becoming aware of the what is available (in your geographical) area each season. This is a great web site here to learn about what is seasonally available where you live. For us it means opening the calendar and marking that in June we will be planning on going strawberry picking and prepping to freeze and make jam, enough to hopefully last us until next June, or at least well through the winter. I canned my own salsa last year, so this year I will be planting those ingredients that I will be using lots of in that recipe. Romas, jalapenos, garlic, onion, bell peppers and cilantro. We will be hitting the blueberry patches at the end of July and ensuring we make time for cherry picking in June. I love beets, so I will be planting those several times throughout the summer as to ensure an ongoing supply. I know plucked from my own garden I can feel free to eat them with the skin on and enjoy them in all their sweet goodness. I am also hoping to try garlic this year. One of the things I am most looking forward to very soon is fresh, local asparagus. I can’t wait to cook some on the BBQ or in the oven. I hope to be able to stock up well on this fine vegetable as it’s season really is so short. What it stands for to me though – is the beginning. It is the beginning of the season of fresh fruits and vegetables. A season that can pass all too quickly sometimes. Soon our raspberry canes will be sprouting, and it will be interesting to see how much garden space they will be taking over this year. It’s always interesting to see if any tomato plants grow themselves from last years seeds, left behind in the garden. Each year I learn something new, I look forward to sharing with you what lessons I learn this season.