Wednesday, July 31, 2013

More than Motivation

"It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them." --Benjamin Franklin

Back to THE popular topic: motivation.

Just when I thought all the "How do I stay motivated?" questions had ended, there has been a resurgence of them flooding Facebook. It seems to be cyclical. We manage to somehow work our way out of a rut, find a rhythm, sail along and then something goes wrong. Our mojo wanders off (or maybe gets hit from behind, hog tied and thrown into the back of a creepy white van*). And so the cycle begins again. 

I HAVE FOUND THE MIRACLE CURE! Just kidding. But I have made an observation...

It's really not about motivation at all. 

The cure for a lack of motivation is to make exercise and healthy eating a habit

It's Newton's First Law of Motion: Newton's First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force. (I never thought I'd be citing NASA in a blog post!)

Ok, so maybe Mr. Newton didn't have diet and exercise in mind when he discovered the laws of motion, but really... it pretty much fits.

You see, I went on a vacation last week. And "Maybe I'll do some push ups and stuff" turned into "This hiking is enough of a workout, and I need a break, anyway." And yes, the break from working out was good for my body. I hiked; I ran hills; I climbed steep embankments. And it became easy to not workout.

Then I returned home. I had things to do. I began thinking it was much more important for me to get the house back in order than to go to the gym. (And secretly I didn't want to go back to the gym-- mostly because it was something I "had" to do.)

My first workout back was b-r-u-t-a-l. Now, perhaps I should've eased myself back in a little bit more. But regardless... it was so hard. I do this nearly every day?! I asked myself, dumbfounded. How do I do something so hard every day?! It wasn't this hard a week ago. Was it?

The truth is, it was that hard a week ago... and it wasn't. It was so much harder to get my body moving again than it has been to keep it moving. I had developed a routine. Working out had become a habit-- as much a part of my day as eating and brushing my teeth. Enter relaxing vacation, exit training habit.

The moral of the story: Never take time off. NO!!! The moral of the story is that it's not as much about motivation as it is about doing. If I had waited until I felt like going back to the gym... well, I might still be sitting on the couch, watching marathon reruns of Criminal Minds. Just stop waiting until you feel like it. Put your shoes on and go do it!

*Ok, so maybe I've watched too many reruns of Criminal Minds.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Leave it ALL Behind

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” 
― Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

I spent some time this week on vacation. On a real vacation. My kind of vacation. The four of us got in the car, drove several hours far away from sea level, far away from the reach of cell phones, and we just left it all behind. Ok, maybe we didn't leave it all behind-- we had satellite television and internet. And we took our dogs. 

We just lived. Plans were made each night and then changed each morning, and then spontaneously changed as we drove. Normally, this is something that strikes fear in my little planner's heart. But there was no time limit. No "we need to be home by." No "we have to." We drove and took roads that ended in places unknown to us. We hiked on trails that looped back on themselves or up and over mountains for miles (and upon discovering that any of these trails could end in Maine, we turned back). We waded in clothes not meant for wading and resumed hikes in squishy shoes. We laughed. We joked. We breathed. 

And we argued, too. I mean, really; life is not a Hallmark Channel movie. And when you are only spending time with each other, it happens. But we forgave and moved on, too busy carrying a walking stick or an inner tube or a fishing pole or a skipping stone to carry a grudge. 

It felt amazing. To just be. Maybe you're a city person. Maybe you can't imagine time out in a buggy, dirty, smelly* outdoor setting. But maybe you should. Maybe you should schedule an appointment.

*On our trip up to the cabin the first night, windows down, my son asked, "What's that smell?!" "Trees and mountains and earth," I replied.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Confused About the Latest Fitness Info?

Written by the English Teacher

If you are like me, you get a little extremely confused about the articles online or in fitness magazines-- you know the ones like this:

In and of themselves, the articles aren't so bad. It's that, if you read fitness articles frequently, you'll notice that today's breaking fitness news often contradicts last month's latest research news. And that can leave a person:
  • eating low/no carbs one month and practically nothing but carbs the next month. 
  • stretching before exercise one month and not stretching the next.
  • lifting heavy weights for low reps one month and light weights, high reps the next.
So, what does a person do? Educate yourself about educating yourself. (Segue into English class.) When looking to see if research is reliable, check:
  1. The size of the study. A study done on a handful of people does not yield reliable results.
  2. For bias. An article posted on a website for runners could be biased towards running. 
  3. For credentials. Does the author who wrote the article really know what they are talking about, or are they just a blogger with an opinion (like me!)?
  4. For references. There should be a list of sources used that clearly show where the information discussed comes from.
  5. And double check. If the information contrasts with something you already know or have read, dig deeper. Google the topic; look for journals and publications by universities.
Check here for more official instructions on research.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

On Being Broken

"In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity."
-Albert Einstein

It came from out of nowhere. An unseen object traveling at such velocity that it blindsided me. I had been happily enjoying time with my family, when suddenly, WHAM! Shocked by the pain, I could only stand still in disbelief. It was only a small thing, but when a small piece of myself is injured, sometimes the injury has much larger and longer lasting repercussions. 

I carried on with life as usual. Sure the event continued to pain me a little, but not all the time, so it was really pretty easy to ignore. I went about my daily routines, adjusting only when I felt that little prick of pain-- a fresh reminder that I was not completely whole. It is surprising to me that at times I felt completely fine and at other times I felt a stab of memory at the unexpected event.

It has taken me quite awhile to realize that I am not healing on my own. This injury is too deep; one that can't be fixed with time or homemade remedies. I need the kind of care that only comes from a Physician, a Specialist who knows the body inside and out. One who can search deep into the places that I cannot see and find a solution that will cure the wound.

And so I humbled myself, admitted that I couldn't fix myself this time. Admitted that sometimes (most times) time does not heal all wounds. I sought out the help I needed. And am now on a path to recovery.

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I happen to have a broken finger, but as I was thinking about training and injuries and life, I was once again reminded how the physical so resembles the emotional/spiritual.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Unwritten (Until Now) Rules of Dieting*

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie." 
-Jim Davis

Relief: no high fructose corn syrup
1st ingredient: corn syrup (luckily it's NOT the high fructose kind)
  1. Anything with any of the following labels are healthy and can be consumed in large quantities with no ill effects (including weight gain): diet, light, lite, organic, fat free, trans-fat free (my personal favorite), no high fructose corn syrup, low sodium, cholesterol free.
  2. Frozen yogurt by definition is yogurt (healthy) that has been frozen (equally healthy) and therefore, is absolutely good for you and probably should be eaten daily. You know, it contains all those good-for-you active cultures.
  3. When consuming frozen yogurt, (obviously) any topping placed on yogurt is "free" = no calories/sugar/fat/etc. I feel I must add a caution: if buying said yogurt at one of those fancy pay-by-the-ounce yogurt shops, toppings are not FREE, monetarily speaking. So, bring your own bag of Oreos/roll of cookie dough to chunk up on top of your yogurt. 
  4. Broken chips, cookies or any other such broken pieces of food (see the next rule for halves) are calorie/fat/sugar free. UNLESS you purposely drop, throw, or otherwise molest (repeatedly) the bag of chips/cookies; in this case, you are clearly intervening in the natural laws of nature and calories/fat/sugar does in fact count, double, I think. 
  5. Cake, pie, and any other such food that can be sliced or divided, should be sliced or divided before being served. We all know that 2 halves are less than a whole. And in the case of dessert, 3 halves are equal to a whole. Or maybe it's 4 halves are equal to a whole. 
  6. As noted by the Jim Davis quote at the top of this post, vegetables are good for you. So, any dessert that has vegetables/fruit in it has shifted from the dessert (aka evil/completely unhealthy) category to the  vegetable/fruit (aka must eat) category.
  7. Pizza is completely healthy. Unless it has sausage or pepperoni on it. Then it has added fat. Turkey sausage/pepperoni is completely ok and recommended. Bacon is better. After all, bacon is Paleo. However, if you have not met your protein requirements for the day, then please do eat the sausage and pepperoni. As a matter of fact, you probably need the meat lovers pizza. 
  8. Everything "organic" is good for you and can be consumed in large quantities with no ill effects. I know, this is part of number 1, but I felt I had to elaborate on this one. Go to Whole Foods or any other similar health food store. You will find aisles and aisles of organic food that you probably thought were previously off limits. 
  9. Everything labeled "whole grain" should be consumed in large quantities. After all eating whole grains reduces the risk of many chronic diseases (as stated on
  10. Cheat days are a must. Following all of these diet rules can become very overwhelming, so don't forget to give your body a break from the strict eating. And sometimes multiple cheat days are required, especially if you have been good for a very long time. And of course, if you are having that visit from "Aunt Flo" then cheat days cannot be avoided, so just embrace a cheat week. Really. How can we women be expected to deal with cramps and foul moods with the aforementioned strict diet?!
See, "Whole Grain" = health food.
1st ingredient: whole grain corn

If you enjoyed this post, you will LOVE the upcoming "Unwritten Rules of Exercise."

*If you are not fluent in sarcasm, you will want to check out this post for real tips on how to eat healthy.