Friday, December 26, 2014

2014: Food & Exercise

When it comes to food and exercise, I like to evaluate from time to time what does and doesn't work. Most times, I keep an old-fashioned pen and paper diary in which I record what I eat as well as how much I move and work out. Looking back at 2014, here are some things I noticed:

  • Starting the day with plenty of greens and some protein keeps me properly fueled and makes me eat better for the rest of the day. 
  • Eating during a smaller eating window makes me sleep better and makes weight maintenance a lot easier. I usually eat breakfast around 6 a.m. and eat my last meal around 2 p.m. In the afternoon/evening I enjoy herbal teas. About twice a week, I eat an early dinner around 5 p.m. 
  • Meal prep is key to eating well. Whenever I spend a few hours in the kitchen on the weekends to pre-cook and prep food for the week, we eat a lot better. 
  • Being “too perfect” backfired in the summer. I had gotten to a very low weight by May (looking back, a bit too low), and I believe that led to some not-so-good food choices during the summer. While gaining a few pounds was actually good, not making food choices that made me feel my best was not a good thing. Going forward, I will remember to balance my food choices consistently and will always focus on eating what makes me feel my best.
  • Eating healthy, simple, & delicious food consistently makes weight maintenance and feeling my best easy. For me, this includes lots of veggies, enough fat, and some protein for most meals. I also eat limited amounts of fruit as well as some dark chocolate on most days. 
  • Walking at least 10,000 steps a day makes me feel my best. However, I also reached my limits a few times when I had a few back-to-back weeks with 100,000+ steps, and my weak/permanently injured ankle let me know. More is not always better!
  • Barre classes help my low back - which has been bothering me for years - feel its best. If I take two classes a week, the pain is completely gone. 
  • Yoga and meditation are an important part of my workouts that I tend to skip when things get busy and stressful - right when they are most needed! I need to make sure to make them a priority! 
  • After very inconsistent weight workouts in the middle in the year, I got back to a more consistent weight lifting schedule, and it feels great. 
Finally, to feel my best, I have been working hard at slowing down and enjoying the “little things” every day. When the kid woke us up at 6 a.m., we made the most of it and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise as a family!

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Questions: How were your food choices and workouts in 2014? What worked? What didn’t work? Anything you’ll change in 2015?

Be well,

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Workouts at Home

I used to go to the gym every single day. For a while, it was convenient. We had a steeply discounted gym membership to a posh gym, and when the kid was little, my workouts were my “me time,” and it was nice to take a shower in peace and have the time to blow-dry my hair without interruptions while he enjoyed their fantastic play care center. I also took group exercise classes, yoga, had a weight lifting schedule, and used the stair masters, ellipticals, and treadmills. Plus, there was a heavenly steam room and a sauna, which I took advantage of whenever I could.

Daily workouts left me in pretty good shape. Although, looking back, I can definitely see that I often overtrained and was in the mindset that more is better. Therefore, I hardly ever gave my body the rest it deserved. Plus, I now seriously doubt all that steady state cardio was very beneficial...

A few years ago, the kid’s schedule became more and more packed, and going to the gym in the late afternoons/early evenings just didn’t work out anymore. We therefore decided to quit our membership as we hardly went anymore. So I had to find alternatives. At first, it wasn’t easy. One positive change that happened right away was that I focused more energy on daily, long walks. Whenever I had a few minutes I walked. I learned to really take advantage of all the extra “free minutes” here and there. I also scheduled longer walks. They are part of my agenda and just as important as other scheduled meetings.

While walks are great, I still needed to get my strength and flexibility workouts in. I take classes at a local yoga studio and at several barre studios in the area whenever I can, which isn’t as often as I’d like as with drive time, getting there early to get a spot, etc., it just isn’t a very convenient and efficient way to work out at this time in my life.

So I started doing more workouts at home again (something I had done years ago but stopped when the kid came along as there were just so many interruptions….). One thing I found is that, just like with walks, it’s important to get things done throughout the day, which is much less overwhelming than doing it all at once.

Typical Workouts At Home

Early morning - 4:30 a.m. 
Yoga practice, barre workout, or meditation - usually between 15 - 30 minutes

Lunch time workout (I’m usually at home for lunch)
Weights or core - usually 15 - 20 minutes

Yoga practice, meditation, or barre workout - anywhere between 15 and 60 minutes, depending on the day

Once a week

I don’t work out three times every day, but I often do. Overall, my workouts are a lot gentler than they were years ago when I went to the gym every day. Yet, I think I am in just as good shape and my body actually feels better than it did back then (I remember one particular year when I got one cold after another and also had constant foot pain in my weak/permanently injured ankle. Probably because I never allowed my body to completely heal…). Plus, now I focus more on meditation and gentle yoga practices, which are oh so good for body and mind… :)

Questions: What’s your exercise philosophy? Has it changed over the years? Do you work out at home? What does and doesn’t work for you when it comes to home workouts?

Be well,

Monday, December 8, 2014

Simple Avocado Dressing to Eat More Raw Veggies

Eating healthy foods does not have to be complicated. In fact, some of my favorite recipes have very few, simple ingredients.

I have been trying to eat more salads and raw vegetables lately as raw vegetables always make it easier for me to maintain my weight or lose a few pounds. And they are of course good for you. I have always liked salads and raw veggies but have been even more aware of the benefits of eating lots of raw veggies every day since doing my first Conscious Cleanse two years ago. One of my favorite salad dressings is a very simple avocado dressing.

Simple Avocado Dressing 

  • 1/2 small, ripe avocado
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (I buy a brand without added sugar) 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • salt & pepper to taste 
  1. Smash the avocado with a fork until smooth. 
  2. Add the rice vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and mix well.
This dressing is good with many different types of lettuce, and I have enjoyed it with arugula, mixed greens, Romaine lettuce, and more. The dressing also works well as a dip for raw veggies.

Life has been very busy, and I have felt overwhelmed on more than one occasion. I haven’t made time to exercise as much as I normally do, and that doesn’t help as it is my stress relief. So I scheduled my workouts for this week (2 yoga classes, 2 barre classes and daily long walks), and I am determined to stick to my schedule! One thing that always makes me feel better is time spent with my boys, and we had a great time on Thanksgiving and took some family pictures.

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Questions: Are you eating enough salads and raw vegetables? Do you find it harder to eat raw vegetables and salads in the winter? I always find it more challenging to eat raw vegetables and salads in the winter, and it doesn’t even get really cold here… But after a few weeks of not eating enough raw veggies and salads, I always crave them. I think a tasty salad dressing makes eating raw veggies much more enticing… Are you taking care of yourself this holiday season? 

Be well,