Slow and steady. Not a bad plan for this A to Z blog challenge and a great plan for obtaining optimal health and fitness!
3Ps to optimal fitness regardless at where your starting point is inoles planning-preparing- and persisting.
The first part of the plan must be to realize that your mind can be the greatest ally or the greatest obstacle to making healthy lifestyle choices that can change your life.
Once you get your head into the plan, preparing for success and persisting until it becomes reality becomes much easier. Yes, there will still be obstacles and many of them in your own mind. Yet, once you are convinced that the negative choices of the past are no longer valid, you open doors to unlimited possibilities.
Take the time to put your plan into writing.
Writing down your plan makes it a concrete fact, gives you something to build upon and a way to evaluate what works and what doesn't.
With your plan on paper, prepare to set yourself up for success. To often a lack of planning and preparation is simply a plan to fail.
As hard as it may be to admit, we often begin lifestyle changes with the mindset that we will TRY making the changes and HOPING somehow it happens, rather than begin with a plan to succeed.
With a written plan have a look and write down the preparation you need to make it a success. Perhaps, cleaning out pantry and refrigerator of unhealthy choices and shopping for fresh whole foods. Setting up a workout schedule, joining up with a workout buddy, or contacting an accountability partner may be some forms of preparation you can take to be successful in reaching your level of optimal health and fitness.
Finally, Plan and prepare to be persistent. Adopt that bulldog tenacity to hang on to the dream and vision that you can reach your goal for an optimal lifestyle of health and fitness.
No someone else's idea of optimal health. YOUR vision for optimal health and fitness to enjoy life to the fullest at your optimal level.
Enjoy the success that comes from knowing that you are made for nothing but the best in life. That you have the strength and focus to plan, prepare, and persist against all obstacles (even those in your own mind!) And, that you have the power, strength, and determination to succeed each and every day of your life!
Beginning here and now!
O is for Optimal Health
Optimal Health & Fitness is YOURS!
Not your kid's, your husband's, your mother's or even your doctor's idea of optimal health and fitness.
Your idea of optimal health and fitness is yours.
Just as my optimal fitness is mine.
Even though we may have similar backgrounds, preferences, same height and weight, my optimal fitness will not be exactly the same as yours.
Nor will your optimal fitness be the same as mine.
An interesting idea that has been floating around in my head lately is that TODAY we are are experiencing the level of fitness that at some point in time we expected.
Hear me out on this, I'll use myself as an example and perhaps you will identify with a point or two, if not that is ok as well!
I believe for the past 50 plus years, I have experienced the level of health and fitness ( or lack of each) that I grew to expect. I was born a very tiny preemie and my mother and grandmother always shared stories of how the doctors told them to take me home for whatever time I had because they didn't expect me to live.
Growing up, I wasn't encouraged to push outside my comfort zone to try new things such as ice skating, roller skating or anything to 'physical' because I just 'wasn't meant to' do such things according to my mother and grandmother.
As one of those kids on the fringes in school, I was always the last chosen for gym 'team' activities and this further strengthened my 'I can't' mindset. Throughout high school I started dealing with gaining weight and family insisted it was 'about time' I put some weight on after being so tiny. Our whole family is obese and it is said repeated that it is just in our genes to be big...
So for my entire life I lie life expecting to not have the physical ability to try a new sport, to look forward to a future of getting older and fatter just like everyone else in the family. My daily choices of junk food, large portion sizes and inactivity were just that...
Choices that I made to live up to the (lack of) optimal fitness I and everyone else expected.
Several years ago, I began to question those choices and dare to believe that my optimal fitness could be better. I started exploring options and experimenting with various food plans and support options.
I started changing.
Thus far I have dropped from my highest weight of 276 pounds to 218 (as of the time of this post).
I am discovering that reaching my optimal health and fitness requires much more than simply making healthier food choices and getting some exercise.
Optimal fitness begins when you believe you can be more than you are right now. It begins when you decide to take charge of your life and challenge the limitations placed on your by yourself and those around you. Optimal health and fitness for tomorrow, next week and 5 years from now depends on the choices you and I make today to get outside our comfort zone and explore all options.
YOU are in charge of of what optimal health and fitness feels and looks like in your life.
Only you can make it happen.
There are plans, 'experts' and tools out there to assist you in the journey. Howevver, as always the journey is entirely up to you!
What does your ideal picture of optimal health look like?
What are you willing to do to make it happen?
NUTS! Call me a bit squirrely, but it really drives me nuts when life insists on rearranging my already shaky plans!
That's what happened with getting this post up yesterday. Family responsibilities and life just happened and before I knew it, another day had vanished!
But moving along with this blogging through the alphabet, I've worked my way up to the letter N which works well for a nutty topic!
Nuts are a wonderful addition to a healthy food plan. However they seem to have an undeserved reputation as a bad guy for weight loss.
Nuts are high in fats and therefore calories. However, this doesn't have to be a reason to banish them altogether. Adding a reasonable portion to your daily food plan provides health nutrients along with a healthy fat source.
Nuts provide a heart-healthy source of Omega-3 fatty acids along with essential fiber, and essential minerals such as magnesium and copper needed for healthy brain and nervous system function. The brain-like appearance of walnuts are a fun reminder that these nuts are often referred to as 'brain food'!
Go ahead and go a little nuts today! A handful of nuts makes a great mid-afternoon snack. Sprinkle chopped nuts on your salads or a greek yogurt fruit parfait! Just be sure to measure portions. One ounce of nuts average between 160-200 calories per ounce.
Here we are moving along in the A to Z blogging and I am spending time thinking that I need to be moving more to continue my quest for optimal health.
I feel like this gal in the picture, I've made some great progress in the past few weeks by getting my food choices on track and finding the right balance that works for me with the emphasis on a nutritarian style eating plan that is based on fresh vegetables (especially greens), beans, seeds,nuts, and whole grains.
But, I am also looking ahead at how far I have to go and find that view a bit overwhelming at times. I dream of huge goals like a hike from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail, yet find it hard some days to lace up my shoes and simply get out the house to walk around the block.
It is up to me to decide each day if I am willing to sit this day out on the sidelines or get up, shake the lead from my rear and get moving! While it would help to have a walking partner show up and give me a reason to get out the door that isn't happening. It is up to me to look within myself for the motivation to get moving!
My motivation is the need to increase energy and enjoy life without being tired of feeling tired physically, mentally and spiritually. To make the weight loss and healthy changes a true part of my new healthy lifestyle without having to focus on the 'how to make it happen' simply because the new habits have replaced the old sit on my duff ones!
Some of the obstacles in the way of that daily motivation we all search for are the myths standing in the way of losing weight and maintaining a healthy active lifestyle.
Myths that 'real exercise' involves hours in the gym or long sessions with a trainer who can tell you what to do right. Don't get me wrong, trainers are great and can certainly offer the insight and information we need to use all that intimidating equipment safely, but that is not the only path to exercise.
My plan to move more is to get back to those daily walks, play games with my 6-year old granddaughter such as tag, hide and seek and to keep trying get the hang of hula hoops! she can keep both the adult-sized hoop and hers moving at the same time! I have progressed from the hoop falling straight to the floor to making about three rotations before I lose it! I've decided for me, moving more needs to become a no-brainer and something I can have fun doing so I'll continue to explore options.
Another Myth to losing weight is the less you eat, the more you lose. NOT true! You must fuel your body to burn calories and I have found that what you fuel your body with makes a huge difference. In the past 6 weeks I have lost weight consistently and done so by NOT counting calories, or measuring portions! I have avoided processed foods, empty calories and instead been making 90% of my food choices from greens, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating until satisfied and paying attention to how my body feels.
Today, I challenge you to lace up your shoes and get moving! Make time for some fun in your day and review your own motivation for the pursuit of optimal health!
Well, it really does seem that this is the time to discuss my experience with lentils this week!
Having landed here on the letter L in the A to Z challenge, lentils fits the bill not only for the letter of the day, but as a perfect meal option for a meatless Monday menu!
My first experience in cooking lentils turned out especially well because it is the first meatless meal everyone enjoyed! Even my husband a die--hard meat and potato type of guy loved lentils as a meatless chili and bragged on the fact to his buddies at church this week!
Lentils are small flat beans or legumes that are available in several colors. It just happened that the bag I purchased was called 'confetti' because it was a mix of yellow, green, and brown. A 15 oz bag cost under $2 and made enough chili for four with leftovers.
I lightly sprayed the bottom of a large pot with cooking spray and added;
One large diced onion
Three large peeled and diced carrots
Three ribs of celery
One heaped tablespoon of minced garlic
Cook on medium heat until vegetables begin to soften being careful not to burn the garlic.
Once vegetables softened I added one large 32 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice and 32 oz of organic low sodium vegetable stock.
When liquid boils add lentils and a half teaspoon of crushed red pepper,a teaspoon of cumin.
Reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils and vegetables reach the desired softness (mine was ready in about 30 minutes) adjust seasons adding salt and pepper to taste and serve! This stood alone for myself but the rest of the family requests a side of cornbread for the next batch!
Lentils need no presoaking as other dried beans require and they cook up quickly!
Today's topic for this A to Z blog exercise was one that took no deliberation.
You might easily consider this the King of green vegetables once you do a bit of research!
When you talk about superfoods, kale is at the top of almost everyone's list once they find out just how much this amazing bunch of greens can do!
Since I've been following a food plan my family has dubbed my 'beans and greens' diet, I've lost over 20 pounds and experienced a tremendous increase in energy and mental focus. Eating a sizable portion of greens, including kale, at least once a day has, in my experience been a huge factor in my successful journey towards an optimal healthy lifestyle.
Kale, as well as it's close relatives such as broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts is possibly the number one weapon to flushing toxins from your system that could be preventing you from losing weight even though you are 'doing everything right' on traditional food plans!
At least, that seems to be true in my case. Adding Kale and other leafy greens to my food choices everyday has helped me consistently lose 2-4 pounds a week for the past 6 weeks. I am also NOT counting calories, tracking points, or measuring portions except in the very rare instances where I have indulged in a bit of meat.
Since adding a good-sized portion of greens at least once a day, I am never hungry and my evening cravings have disappeared.
The latest expert, that I have read who verify the health giving benefits of kale, especially for detoxifying, is Dr. Walter Crinnion. If you are not aware of the connection between toxicity
and weight gain, you should read his eye-opening book, Clean, Green, & Lean!
I'm sure you can find it on Amazon or even (as I did) at your local library.
Kale benefits include:
Kale has Isothiocyanates which not only aid in the detoxification process but has been shown to lower the risk for various types of cancer.
With over 45 identified flavonoids including quercetin and kaempferol, kale can provide major anti inflammatory and antioxidant benefits to lower the effects of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation that occurs from exposure to environmental toxins.
The carotenoid (lutein) found in kale helps promote healthy vision.
While it probably comes as no surprise that 1 cup of provides 100% of the recommended daily amounts of vitamins C,K, and A, kale also contains 2 grams of protein per cup!
Have you added kale to your menu lineup yet?
What are you waiting for?
Give it a try today-Your body will thank You!
Working through the alphabet with an eye towards optimal health, it just seemed logical to address juicing as the topic for the letter J...
Other considerations were jumping jacks and jicama. Jumping jacks while certainly one weapon in the exercise arsenal, are no favorite of mine and I know plenty of others that would agree.
As to jicama, I have yet to give it a try so really can't say too much about it although I suppose it could be used in a customized juice. Almost any fruit or vegetable can be juiced!
It seems juicing goes through cycles of popularity. I remember the first mention of juicing as far back as the 60's and then it seemed to drop off the radar for a while.
I have a juicer and juice occasionally. Some of my combinations have been great! Familiar citrus combinations and even carrot juice hae gotten the thumbs up from most family members. Green 'power juices'...not so much. While I like the green juices containing spinach, kale,celery, parsley and so on, the color is a turn off for the rest of the family and they won't even give it a sip!
There are tons of obvious health benefits to juices and fresh, in my opinion beats bottled any day. However, there are disadvantages to consider as well. The biggest disadvantage to fruit juices is the calorie load you can easily end up drinking! Did you know it takes 3-4 medium oranges to make a 6-8 oz glass of juice?
Most people would not dream of eating 3-4 whole oranges at one sitting but often grab a tall glass of juice containing 12-16 ounces without considering the sugar and calorie content. You can have less calories and sugar by having a combination of fruit and vegetables in your juice but calories can still quickly add up and you may find you need additional food to go along with that glass of juice to keep from feeling hungry.
Take a look at this glass of fruit. Oranges, kiwi, apple, banana... Once juiced, that glass might be 1/4 full. Minus fiber.... would you feel satisfied with 1/4 of a glass of juice for breakfast?
Take that same fruit toss it in a bowl topped with greek yogurt and a sprinkle of granola and you have a well rounded breakfast that gives you the energy and fiber to jump-start your day and will carry you through until lunch!
Juicing has its place but may not be the best option on a full-time basis or the substitute for a full meal. I still juice, however, my juicing is now done to supplement a meal or to use as a refreshing break. For me, the volume and benefits of fiber found in the whole foods is fitting in better with my overall food plan.
Blending fruits and vegetables in a processor is another option that does preserve the fiber content. Again overall calorie count should be considered. Fruit blends and smoothies can easily be considered a treat or dessert option and still allow you to enjoy them in moderation.
I'd love to hear your opinions on juicing! Do you juice daily? How much juice and what types of combinations do you prefer? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section!
Gold stars were some of my first incentives!
"If I make your workplace conducive to walking at lunch, or working out at some time during the day, or I get people to use the stairs more by creating incentives to do such, then people will start doing it naturally."
~Dr. Mehmet Oz ~
Changing a lifetime of habits that led to our not-so-healthy lives is not going to be accomplished overnight. I am the first to admit, I really wish simply thinking about it, dreaming about it and saying how much I want to enjoy optimal health and fitness could make it simply happen!
Truth is it takes work, motivation and commitment to those daily changes. To stay aware that it is the choice we make today that leads to the health we enjoy tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. To make changes we need incentives.
Everyone loves incentives. I still remember the excitement of a simple shiny gold star on my first school papers. Millions of dollars in goods and services are sold each year when the incentive of a bargain is offered.
To progress towards healthy lifestyle changes, we need incentives!
Incentives are rewards that encourage us to progress towards our lifestyle goals.
Long-term incentives may be the goal of losing weight for a class reunion, the desire to keep up with active grandkids or simply the desire to feel better overall.
However, these long-term incentives may be easily forgotten in the day to day decision making process.
Some type of incentive is needed that can be accomplished within shorter time spans. It may seem silly to some but, I still like the idea of 'reward stickers'! I have used such simple ideas as...
A silly smiley sticker in my daily calendar when I stick to my food plan or keep my commitment to daily exercise.
Or,watching my 'steps' add up on a pedometer and recording the tally each day to see if I've reached a personal record...
These smaller incentives are then 'traded up' for a bigger reward!
A week of consistent exercise ... new nail polish, or whatever (non-food item) makes you happy.
A #5 or #10 pound loss ... A manicure.
A month on track with food and exercise ... A new outfit!
Well, I'm sure you get the idea!
Of course, my ultimate incentive is to simply live an optimal lifestyle for years to come that is filled with energy, joy and good health!
What is your incentive for healthy living?
“Health is normal. The human body is a self-repairing, self-defending, self-healing marvel. Disease is relatively difficult to induce, considering the body's powerful immune system. However, this complicated and delicate machinery can be damaged if fed the wrong fuel during the formative years. ... Healthy living with nutritional excellence throughout life can slow the decline of aging. It can prevent the years and years of suffering in ill health that is so common today as people get older and become dependent on medical treatments, drugs, and surgery. Nutritional excellence is the only real fountain of youth.”
* Joel Fuhrman, Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right
I could have chosen to this post on holidays to stay within the alphabet theme. However without the health to enjoy the holidays, many find celebrations hard to handle.
I have come to believe that for the most part we have been taught that everyone has health problems that cannot be avoided when in fact, many of us could dramatically improve our health and wellness with an understanding of what our bodies need in the way of real nutritional support.
For the past month and a half, I've been following Dr Joel Furhman's Eat to Live food plan and have to admit, I am surprised at the huge difference it is making in how I am feeling mentally, and physically! The ever present fatigue and brain fog have improved 100% and unlike traditional weight loss diet plans, I can see myself staying on this food plan for life simply because it is making such a huge change.
Fatigue, weight gain, lack of focus, memory loss, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, decreased eyesight, none of these are 'normal' parts of the aging process but are brought about by our lack of knowledge in understanding that we can be grossly overweight and sadly undernourished to the point that our bodies self-destruct for lack of proper nutrition.
Join me as I continue to explore the difference that real foods make in obtaining optimal health!
While there is nothing surprising about the health benefits of gardening offers with fresh air and sunshine, it may surprise you that both the CDC
and National Institute of Health rank gardening as efficient as other aerobic
activities in helping to improve cardiovascular health. The National Institute of Health
believes in the benefits of gardening to the point of recommending 30-45 minutes of gardening five times per week to combat obesity, reduce stress, and reap other health benefits including cardio vascular fitness, improved sleep, better sex, and overall improved lifestyle. Scientific evidence can easily be found to support the cardiovascular benefits of gardening while improved attitude, moods, stress management, and overall joy of living is likely due to the holistic aspect of gardening that nurtures body, mind, and spirit.
You don’t need a lot of space, a big yard, or tons of fancy equipment to reap the health benefits gardening
offers. Simply the act of getting back to basics in having contact with earth, wind, and water is a huge step towards restoring your optimal health.
Growing your own vegetables is a great way to add more fresh produce to your menu without concern over unwanted pesticides. Bite into a vine ripe tomato still warm from the morning sun and you will never be satisfied with a tomato from the store, even if it carries an organic label.
Anyone can find a way to grow a few vegetables and flowers.
Container gardening is catching on across the nation and the web offers endless resources and information to get started. Optimal health and fitness involves balancing the health of body, mind, and spirit while learning to tune into what makes you tick and improves your health in all three areas.
This season, try it. Get your hands dirty and feel the wind and sun speak to you on several levels. Go ahead...
Garden for the health of it!