September 16, 2011
Tuesday is my day off. I teach exercise classes for a living so perhaps I should specify that Tuesday is my day off from exercise. Come Tuesday, the last thing I want to do is sweat. Unless, of course, I wake up to a morning like I did this past Tuesday. The sky was absolutely sparkling, the kind of day that calls you to come outside and dance with it. It was the kind of day that my friends and I compare to that September Tuesday a decade ago when the Towers fell. This past Tuesday was that kind of day.
So with no effort at all, I found myself on my bike riding around my town. Even people who hate to workout were outside. Not for exercise but rather for the joy of feeling the sun on our skin.
But that’s not what I want to write about today. I want to talk about the opposite kind of day- the day that feels the opposite. Whether it be some specific forecast like rain or even if it’s just basic dreariness, I want to talk about the day that pulls you back towards bed.
Let’s call them Downward Days.
On Downward Days you won’t be drawn outside. so you need to have a plan. Call it Willpower. Call it Precomittment. Call it Implementation Intention. Call it Routine. By any name, the important thing is to be ready for it in advance.
Here is what you can do to be sure you stick with your fitness routine during even the worst of wicked weather.
1. Let Me Count The Weighs- It used to be that experts sad you’d drive yourself crazy weighing in every day, considering fluid vassilations. Now they have found that those who weigh themselves every day, are more successful at losing it. If you keep track of it by writing it down, even better.
2. Watch For Your Symptoms- Notice when you are feeling low energy or frazzled and plan to be vigilant about healthy snacks to keep your blood sugar levels even and your energy even. Notice if you are not sleeping well and make plans to catch up on the zzzz’s. In other words, take care of yourself the way you’d take care of your toddler. If you notice yourself getting cranky, you may need to put yourself down for a little nap.
3. Keep Track- There are many online programs and apps that can help you be detailed (and therefore more successful)about your fitness/diet goals. Here are a few: LoseIt.com, FitBit.com, IdoneThis.com, HealthMonth.com, MyFitnessPal.com
4. Positive Procrastination- If you are a procrastinator like me you might try this little trick I use for things I do not want to do. I put something abborhent in the number one spot then add things like exercise below the top priority. Silly, but it works. I will do anything to avoid cleaning out the basement.
5.Reward Yourself-When you make it through those Downward Day workouts, be sure to treat yourself, whether it’s a manicure or a Starbucks caapucino (non-fat of course)
September 9, 2011
Do you remember that feeling from your childhood? Maybe it was the first night at sleep-away camp or when you moved to a new town. For me even the word homesickness conjures a pit in my stomach. My memories return to first grade where, for the first time ever, my twin sister, Pam and I, were separated and put into different classrooms. The teachers cited independence and individuality but all I know is that it felt like I’d been shipped to Mars.
Every morning for six weeks, I’d wait until Miss Garzcyck turned her back to write on the chalkboard, then I would dart out of the room and barge into Mrs. Stewart’s class next door and scoot into the seat with Pam(who was not missing me at all, by the way). I always hoped no one would notice and by then I was not crying any more. I was home.
Thirty years later, I am dealing with that feeling again, only this time with my son, who just shipped off to college last week. He is every bit as homesick as I was. The only difference is that he is nearly nineteen, not seven. I keep telling him it will pass but he cannot hear me. After 256 text messages, I sometimes feel like telling him what my father used to tell me when my tears started to flow: “Stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” And although my father is still not what I would refer to as emotionally sensitive, there was some basis to this advice.
Back when I was in first grade, after six weeks, Miss G finally had had enough and one morning she grabbed me before I could pass through the doorway. She drug me back into the cloakroom and gave my shoulders a shake (the little sister of paddling) and told me through gritted teeth that she had had enough and I had to return to my desk.
Which I did. And I never was homesick again in first grade.
But. I haven’t yet told him to dry up or else. Nor have I shaken him (although both ideas have occurred to me).
Here is what I tell him. I am aware that the world can be a horrible place. I do not have all the answers. And forgive me if I sound like a spiritual goofball since I am never more annoyed than when someone mentions God several times in one conversation or when they tell me how many special miracles God has preformed on their behalf. All I know is that when all else fails you, praying can help. It helps you breathe better.
And yes, it is easy to be sad. But. It is easier to be happy. How is he supposed to do that he asks me? I have no idea. But I do know that he can find something to be happy about even if it is just listening to his favorite song. Each of us ultimately, is in charge of our own head and now is as good as any time for him to decide to start finding things in life to enjoy, even if things never get better than right now.
But making a list of things that make you happy can help.
Here is my happy list for this month:
1. Our electricity coming back on after a few days of Hurricane Irene rain.
2. Biking with my friends, stopping at a nearby apple orchard to pick an apple from a tree, taking bites all the way around the apple, then throwing it over my shoulder.
3. Riding in a boat at sunset
4. Lying in bad, almost asleep, and looking out my bedroom window when there’s a full moon and watching the stars come out
5. Pulling into my driveway after a long road trip with four teenagers, then rolling on the front yard with our dog who is even happier than me.
6. Reading the last few pages of a really good book, reading fast while also wanting to read slowly so the book won’t end.
7. Finding a dollar in my coat pocket.
8. My kids looking for me so they can give me a kiss (this doesn’t happen often)
9. Getting a hand written letter from someone I love in the mailbox (this happens even less)
10. Getting a phone call where the first thing I hear is “We’ve got some good news for you!”
11. Getting an email from my favorite people
September 9, 2011
I’ve been trying to sit down and write this article for a week. Labor Day was the writing deadline I’d given myself. That was four days ago and unfortunately for you, my topic is How To get Back On Track. I never even intended to take the summer off from writing. I just kept not writing, today.
Now, two months of todays later, I’ve somehow finally resuscitated the part of my brain connecting my fitness ideas to my keyboard. I have no idea how.
Unfortunately for me, I am clueless when it comes to helping MYSELF. Of course, I can offer complete marathon-length discourses on how YOU can help YOURself. Does anyone sense some disconnect here?
Anyway, here are some excuses, I mean things, I’ve dealt with this rollercoaster summer, not particularly first-hand nor in any particular order: Biking, Surgery, Vermont, Adult Summer Camp, Paris, Cancer, College, Foreclosure, Praying, Swearing, Sweating, Crying, College, Dancing, Laughing, Falling Down, Getting Up, Drinking, (remember these are not in a particular order), Senior Year, Insomnia, Menopause.
Did I mention College. College College?
So if you, like me, have slipped into bad habits or let yourself off the hook day after day, whatever the reason, you still can recover momentum after a break.
Here is my top ten ways to do it:
1. Accountability- Start making yourself aware of all your fitness and dietary habits by tracking them. A few great internet options are MyFitnessPal.com or Lose It! App for smart phones. They are both thorough and quick and sobering as well as addictive! Also research has proven again and again that people who track their eating are the biggest losers, literally.
2. Organize you Morning the night before- Prepare everything the night before. Lay out your workout gear and pack your gym bag. Plan your meals and if possible, have them prepped and waiting for you.
3. Eat earlier. -Make your biggest meals early in the day. This will prevent you from pigging out at night and helps your metabolism burn those calories before hitting the hay.
4. Clear out the Crap- Why test your will power unneccesarily? If there is leftover pizza and that IS YOUR WEAKNESS THROW IT OUT! Half a sleeve of girl scout cookies? Ditch them. Don’t think, just pitch it. I used to have a girlfriend who would eat her fill of her restaurant dinner and as soon as she felt slightly full, she would pour pepper all over the remaining food on her plate. Crazy, but effective to prevent overeating.
5. Find A Workout Buddy- Even if it is your dog, commit to finding someone who is waiting for you at a preplanned time. If this doesn’t work, Hire a personal trainer. There’s nothing more motivating to get you out of bed than someone ringing your doorbell. And you lsing money if you don’t answer.
6. Set Goals- Pick a big event in your near future, a reunion or a birthday and set a weight loss goal. Or pick a road race and start training for it.
7. Stay Psyched- If you find yourself losing interest in staying on track, reward yourself with a massage or a new pair of running shoes. New lycra has magical powers that wear off after 3 washes.
8. Close the Kitchen- Pick a time where the kitchen is off limits. Turn out the lights, make a family service announcement. THE KITCHEN IS NOW CLOSED. If you can do this for one week you will notice that night-time eating is a habit that will recede if you stop heeding the call.
9. Aim for Daily Exercise- Of course there will be days where you miss it but if you aim for it every day and put it on your calendar you will at least end up with a solid 4 or 5 days of movement.
10.Give up the Booze- Getting on the wagon is the quickest way to lose the bloat. Not only will you save the extra calories,your willpower will be stronger to resist forbidden foods and your hunger will be more moderate.
Again, like I said, I am good at giving this advice. Good luck with your self.