When I posted last week about my new blog over at You'd Be So Pretty If, I guess I wasn't very clear, was I? I've been getting lots of emails from readers, asking me if I'll still be updating here at Fit In Real Life. The short answer is no, but you'll be able to access old Fit In Real Life posts over at You'd Be So Pretty If.
My apologies for being unclear! I hope you'll come over and read me in my new location.
Last week, I mentioned that Fit In Real Life would be undergoing a big change. I want to thank all of you who've faithfully read and commented on my adventures in maintaining the weight I lost as Shape magazine's 2007 Weight-Loss Diary columnist. I've learned so much from all of you and I've appreciated everything that you've shared with me -- both here and privately. That's why I hope you'll all join me in my new venture at You'd Be So Pretty If...
There, I'll be blogging about body image and the example we set for the girls in our lives -- and for each other. We'll still be talking about eating, exercise and living a healthy lifestyle, of course. But we'll also be talking about reaching a place of peace with our bodies and about knowing that our decisions and comments -- the way we treat our bodies -- have an effect on our daughters, our nieces, our little sisters, our neighbors and each other.
I'm excited about this new chapter and I look forward to seeing you there!
Since this is a holiday and technically, I shouldn't be at my desk, I figured I'd just stop in for a moment to wish you all a healthy and happy 2009. While I'm not a huge fan of resolutions, I hope you've all had some time to reflect on where you've been, where you're going and how you're going to get there. For me, reflection, planning and intention are huge parts of my commitment to taking the best care I can of the body I've got.
Next week, a big change is coming to Fit In Real Life. I hope you'll all join me as I kick off a new journey. In the meantime, happy New Year to all!
I got a new pedometer for Christmas and I'm now addicted to wearing it everywhere. Really.
"Mom, you're not wearing that thing out, are you?" my daughter asked as we headed out for a day of post-Christmas shopping. It does look a little dorky, I'll admit, so I compromised by pulling my sweater down over it.
Dorky or not, I'm having lots of fun with the thing -- and annoying everybody by asking them, "What's my step count up to?" as I lift up the hem of my shirt. The good news is that it's pretty easy to reach my goal of 10,000 daily steps on the days I walk or work out. But I took a day off from working out yesterday and saw that my daily count plummeted to a mere 4,900 (in my defense, I worked at my computer most of the day, so not a lot of stepping there).
I'm sure I'll get tired of monitoring my steps eventually, but for now, it's a great visual reminder that little changes add up. The first day I wore it, I was about 200 steps from my goal and my son said, "You're not going to make it."
"Oh yeah?" I countered. "Watch this."
A mere 10 laps or so around the kitchen island later and I was easily over goal. He laughed at my antics, but my heart was pounding from that little burst of intensity.
It's coming: The onslaught of delectable holiday treats. Right now, there's a plate of "stained glass cookies" that my daughter made last night sitting on my kitchen island. I can virtually guarantee that my neighbor will soon be stopping by with the delicious homemade chocolate peanut-butter balls that she makes every year. And later today, my kitchen will be humming with the production of raisin squares, brownies, cookies and a traditional Scottish steak-and-kidney pie (yes, some family traditions are a bit disgusting...).
In the past, I'd have simply given up and surrendered to the temptations of the season -- no matter what they were. But now, my stay-healthy strategy is simple and effective:
1. If it's not special, skip it. I save my splurges for the things that really come along once a year. Brownies? No way -- I can get those any old time. Homemade chocolate peanut-butter balls? Sign me up!
2. Savor the traditions. Sure, that steak-and-kidney pie is just about one of the most unhealthy foods on the planet. But my Scottish grandmother made it every year, as did my mother. Though they're long gone, one bite brings them both right back to the table for me.
3. Pump it up. Though time is short right now, I still get in my workout -- even if it's dancing around the kitchen to funky Christmas tunes or letting my dog chase me around the island at top speed (really, that could be my daily workout -- he never gets tired of it).
4. Remember the protein.A nice pumpkin pie protein shake makes a great breakfast and makes it easy to get some protein in to counteract the crash that comes from eating too many fatty treats.
5. Leave the leftovers. I'm not hosting this holiday, so all treats will be left behind for the hostess and her family to enjoy. Not having to face down leftover cookies makes it much easier to avoid overindulging.
6. Relax (or as my 12-year-old would say, "Chillax"). The holidays are all about family and friends. Who wants to spend them worrying about every bite?
I won't be blogging on Thursday, so I'll simply say Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. May you all enjoy a wonderful time with those who are dear to you.
Melissa Kirdzik, the dietitian who helped me shed 26 pounds during my year as Shape magazine's Weight-Loss Diary columnist, returns today to talk about the importance of small steps. Take it away, Melissa:
MK: I read a very interesting article in the Feb. 2008 issue of Better Nutrition. It talked about a Journal of the American Medical Association review of 26 studies focusing on the benefits of using pedometers. According to the article, "Study subjects who used pedometers increased their activity level by almost 30 percent, had a significant drop in body mass index, and lowered their systolic blood pressure by almost four points [a two-point drop in systolic blood pressure is associated with a 10 percent reduction in risk of death from stroke]. Most adults take between 4,500 and 6,500 steps per day, and adults who take fewer than 5,000 steps per day are considered sedentary."
Very interesting, don't you think? It's commonly recommended that adults aim for 10,000 steps per day for a healthy activity level.
If you find yourself overwhelmed during the holiday season -- or any other -- and just can't seem to find an hour block to get to the gym, it's OK. Invest in a $5 pedometer and see just how many steps you can really fit in during your day. You'll be amazed at all the opportunities to sneak them in. If 10,000 steps seems unreasonable, then start off by trying to double your normal distance and work up from there.
How many miles will you be walking? Steps per mile will vary depending on stride length, but typically, it's about 2,000 to 2,500 steps per mile. Next time you're on the treadmill, count your steps for one-tenth of a mile and multiply by 10 to get your specific number.
Thanks, Melissa, for stopping by with this great reminder that little moves add up!
Ever feel that nagging sense of fear and foreboding that something mysterious is lurking nearby, waiting to jump out and get you when you least expect it? I've been been trying to shake off that feeling for the last few days, but I've finally figured out what it is.
It's my to-do list.
I don't know if it was the shorter holiday prep time that results from a late Thanksgiving or just my own general lack of enthusiasm this year, but I haven't been as well organized as I normally am for the holidays. This year, I have cards that haven't been sent (if you're wondering where yours is, it's coming), presents that haven't been bought and I'm not even ready to think about wrapping. But as my daughter reminded me yesterday, "Just 10 days until Christmas, Mom."
I think that's when I really felt the stress starting to build. But what pushed me over the edge was when she said, "What do you want for Christmas this year, Mom?"
I sang my standard, "My two front teeth" answer, which always infuriates her. But then I stopped to really think about it. What do I want for Christmas? Let's dream a moment, shall we?
I'd love a personal chef who'd prepare healthy meals and snacks that everyone will eat (including lunches for the kids!), so that I never have to think about cooking again. Or grocery shopping.
I'd love a personal trainer who would come to me whenever I'm ready. Someone I could call after looking over my schedule in the morning and say, "I've got an opening at 11:45. Be here then."
I'd love a personal stylist who would shop for affordable clothes that look great on MY body and put together outfits I could wear for various occasions. No more closet conundrums!
I'd love a hair and make-up artist who'd stop by every morning and make me look my best while I listen to my iPod and contemplate the meaning of everything.
I'd love a party planner who could put together a nice evening for family and friends, during which I can just sit back and enjoy the company of those I love.
Sigh...what a nice dream list! But alas, a dream.
Still, I can use my dream list to figure out what it is I really want: Good health. To take good care of myself and my family. Time to spend with family and friends. To feel good and look good every day. And in the end, those are gifts I can give to myself through the decisions I make each day and the priorities I set.
My January issue of Shape magazine -- featuring Aury Wallington, the 2009 Weight-Loss Diary columnist -- arrived in the mail recently and as I read her story, I reflected on my own weight-loss journey. Getting to goal weight with the support of my expert team was a tough, but well-worth-doing endeavor. Not for the number on the scale, mind you, but for what I learned about the importance of taking care of myself. Truthfully, life feels so much better when your body feels good and is operating on all cylinders. I'm sure that anyone who has ever faced a health problem -- or watched a family member face one -- knows just what I mean.
In the year-and-a-half since I reached goal weight, I've learned a few ugly truths about keeping the weight off. One, it's not about expensive gym memberships, fancy diet foods or any of the other "trappings" of the weight-loss industry. It's about commitment, pure and simple. Two, it requires a certain selfishness and by that, I mean I've learned that I have to make my commitment to healthy living (making time to exercise, planning and preparing healthy meals, etc.) a priority. It sounds simple, but it's an extremely difficult mental shift for many women, who are used to putting the needs of family, job, community, etc. before their own. Not only is it hard for me, but there's a lot of guilt involved, too.
All of this is exactly the reason why I just want to give Oprah Winfrey a giant hug. I know people have mixed feelings about her, but when I read her story, in which she chronicles her feelings about getting back up to 200 pounds, I just wanted to let her know that I understand. Because I do.
It's easy for life to get in the way of our best intentions. And for women, it seems, it's easy for our obligations, our guilt and our "shoulds" to get in the way of doing what's best for us. Will that ever change? I don't know that it will for me. But I'm aware of it now and when I feel myself slipping down the spiral of taking care of everyone but myself, I know it's time to put me first -- even for just a half-hour.
No, I'm not talking protein in this post -- though both chicken and egg are great sources. Instead, I'm talking about the age-old concept of what comes first, particularly when it comes to healthy habits. See, I've noticed something...when I'm working out regularly, it's easy to stick to healthy foods. And when I'm eating healthy foods, it somehow feels easier to stick to a regular workout plan.
So the question I'm asking today is -- which comes first?
With holiday stress upon me and work deadlines pressing -- including the final copy edit on my book -- I've abandoned a few of my healthy habits and my body is feeling the difference. I'm not sleeping well, I'm tired and some might even say I'm cranky. I didn't mean for it to happen. But a missed workout here and an extra cookie there and all of a sudden, I'm feeling blech. Still, that's the beauty of knowing what my body feels like at top form -- I know immediately when something's off.
I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to answer the chicken-and-egg question, but I started the morning with a healthy breakfast and -- with the book manuscript out the door -- I'm about to leave for a fitness class. I guess in the end it doesn't matter what comes first. It only matters that I remember the value of taking care of my health.
Today, I'm thinking about food -- specifically, about eating anything I want without giving a thought to anything other than the fact that I want it. Still with me? That was a little confusing, I know. Let me try to explain.
I witnessed an interesting experiment of sorts here yesterday. After almost five long years of various orthodontic treatments, my 12-year-old daughter had her braces removed (I can't stop staring at her gorgeous smile, but that's another story...). As we checked out at the doctor's office, the receptionist handed her a congratulatory bag filled with the "forbidden fruit" of orthodontic patients -- Tootsie Rolls, Starburst, gum, M&Ms and other assorted sticky, hard treats. I wish I'd taken a picture of the way her eyes lit up when she saw that bag and realized that her days of denying herself were over.
She'd broken into it already by the time we got in the car and she happily gorged on the way home. But she soon abandoned the bag and said, "That stuff's kind of gross."
The whole experience got me thinking about the concept of forbidden foods, and how denying ourselves what we want can really backfire. I had a similar experience at the end of writing the Weight-Loss Diary column for Shape magazine. After 12 months of healthy eating, tough gym workouts, monthly weigh-ins and photos, I just didn't want to think about any of it anymore. I wanted to eat whatever I wanted, when I wanted.
So I did. And guess what? I soon found myself thinking, "This stuff's kind of gross."
Over time, I've realized that I feel better when I stick to the healthy eating habits I learned during my Shape year. But now, I've incorporated the flexibility and freedom to fully enjoy a treat when I want it. No more forbidden foods means no more fixation on them, too. Staying at a healthy weight is a much more intuitive process when I simply listen to what my body is telling me. Watching my daughter experience that bag of candy was a great reminder that sometimes, when we repeatedly tell ourselves we can't have something, we want it all the more -- even if we don't want it.