You Can Get Fit!

Posts Tagged ‘productivity

So, I went away for a while. Weeks became months. And I was ashamed to write this post….. because it had been so long.

But I chose to face my shame and show up here again. In the past three months, I have been in a major car accident (luckily I was driving a safe car and made it out only with whiplash) and in the hospital only to have major surgery to correct a problem that had been building up more than I knew. Suffice it to say…… I am much, much healthier now. It’s a change I should have made a long time ago.

But having dodged two major medical bullets during the month of March (the hospitalization and the car crash were within 9 days of each other), my life’s purpose is starting to become more clear. There’s still quite a bit of fog, but a few things are obvious:

  • The little annoyances? They’re just little. Driving through traffic… things like that? In the big picture, who cares. Running out of walnuts for a recipe? Eh, use pecans. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Good friends are priceless. See them as often as you can. You don’t know where you will be tomorrow.
  • Life is too short to waste time. I’ve been selling things I don’t care about and clearing my life of clutter, and I make a living teaching private sessions at a Pilates studio. Very gratifying. Once upon a time, I wasted my life in Corporate America…..
  • There is a bigger purpose for me out there. No, I’m not getting all woo-woo New-Agey or religious on you, but I have some big projects in mind. On a smaller scale, I help with organization of my community band and have coordinated a few social events–creating a sense of community (sorely lacking these days). I also have a few larger-scale ideas…
  • And much, much more! (said in best infomercial voice)

Aside from deep thoughts and finding gratifying work…


I made a veggie salad composed of sushi ingredients!

And we painted part of our kitchen purple!

I’ve been trying a lot of interesting healthy recipes. Some hits, some misses… but that’s the point of trying, right? I’ll let you know of some of the good ones!

‘Til then, folks… stay healthy!

Hey, Snowflakes!

(Or, maybe I shouldn’t call you snowflakes. I want snowflakes to go away. Ever since I moved here 8 years ago, I have learned that snow slows down life, and keeps me from doing what I want and need to do. Perhaps there’s a lesson for me, here… but I refuse to slow down.)

In the past 2 days, we’ve gotten probably 5 inches of snow at our house. So far… it’s been manageable… but I must say I’m looking forward to Wednesday, when it’s supposed to warm up enough that things will melt (since hardly any roads get plowed around here). I have to get back to my January goal of running 50 miles–the gym treadmill gets the job done, but it’s psychologically a lot harder!

Which brings me to today’s topic:

Did you make resolutions? And how are they holding up?

I think I mentioned earlier that I’m not a resolution fan, but I did set a goal for myself to run 50 miles during January. Note the specificity: I didn’t say that I want to be a better runner or that I want to run more, but I set a specific mileage goal.

And that’s what I’m here to tell you today. Specificity of goals helps you achieve your goals. Want to improve your diet? Rather than saying “I’ll eat more fruits and vegetables”, aim to eat 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Want to start working out more? Rather than telling yourself “I’m going to go to the gym more often”, make a goal to go to the gym 4 days a week. Get the picture? Whatever your goal is for lifestyle improvement, there’s a way to make it more specific.

Which, in turn, makes you ultimately more successful! Good stuff!

Keep up the great work!

Hi, Friends.

I’m typically not much of a Wednesday poster, but inspiration struck (duck and cover!) and I totally felt the need to get this out to you.

While driving yesterday, I realized how much time I’d lost this past week wallowing over this freak vocal cord nerve injury. And before that, I’d probably done the same over the hip surgery that didn’t go well (in 2010) and had to be redone, plus some.

But why waste time crying over things out of our control? None of us are getting any younger.

It’s fine to feel sorry for ourselves, true. And I’ve found that sometimes, the current path just seems so unbearable that I just can’t find focus and have to chill out. But either to ourselves or others, it just becomes the broken record after a while. And just like a broken record, it continues on the same useless pathway. At some point, we have to pack up and move on as best we can.

Which is what I have done and have continued to do. And you know what? This approach has shown me opportunities I never would’ve imagined, if I’d been left to continue along my same road.

OK, so the Leprechaun of Ideas doesn’t jump onto your shoulder at 2pm every afternoon. (I wish! But then, we’d all be rich.) This takes some brainpower. But think of it this way: you’re developing awesome critical thinking skills!

Case In Point 1: prior to my first hip surgery (April 2010), I was running a fitness business with two corporate clients and a few private clients as well as teaching fitness classes for 4-5 gyms. I wanted to expand my business, but I didn’t have time to think about how to do that, or to do it at all… despite being married to an MBA in marketing. Surgery #1 led to complications and Surgery #2. After the requisite feeling sorry for myself, I got going and put my brain to work. I talked to other instructors. I did some marketing (and learned what does and doesn’t work in this area and field). I hired more contractors. I expanded my business to include other types of classes. I even tried a second business (which… didn’t work, but it was a great learning experience!). I now proudly call myself a small business owner!

When I was getting ready to teach again (that is, working for others), I almost didn’t want to let previous employers know I was available. I preferred having the time to strategize for myself! (Though, gotta say that I do like the steady income stream that I get from bigger companies.)

Case In Point 2: My current struggle. Just when I literally got my feet under me to teach again (and also got a college class to teach in the fall), I have a timeline of potentially three months until I can talk again. This hit me from out of nowhere–I didn’t anticipate this sort of limitation when I was dreaming up projects to take me into the end of the year and going forward.

But life has a way of throwing us curveballs, doesn’t it? And again… we can’t stand still while it blows past us. To me, that just isn’t living!

So, during the next few (loooonnngggg) months, other than non-work-related stuff such as improving my piano playing and cleaning up the jungle that is my backyard, I’ve come up with four work-related projects that don’t require speaking:

1. Getting my body back to the strength that it was before Hip Surgery #1 (which was the best shape of my life other than torn hip cartilage)

2. Make a new trifold brochure for my business, now that I offer Zumba classes, which may get me more corporate business (and plan a guerrilla marketing attack for the beginning of the year!!!)

3. Keep going on the….. (book) that I write in spurts. Since I’m oh-so-experienced in rehab (plus 500-hour Pilates certified), I’ve been working on a… document, in laymans’ terms, to help people recover from injury using Pilates-based exercise. I need to redouble efforts.

4. Lower priority, but script videos. I intend to create a YouTube channel of short videos that, once again, use Pilates-based exercise to help people reduce pain in various parts of their body. Big goal of mine in life is to help the world feel better without pharmaceuticals! (Ironic, given my masters’ degree in pharmaceutical chemistry…)

See? It takes a little bit of the gerbil running in that mental wheel, but you can come up with some fruitful projects that will get you toward your life/career goals, despite current limitations. (Try to make your projects meaningful, rather than, say, learning Swahili. Unless you are absolutely taken by the Swahili language, and by all means, go for it!)

Maybe by the end of allllll of this… I won’t need or want to go back to working for the man at all. Now, wouldn’t that be a hoot? Having had illnesses and injuries that supposedly take me out of work for a combined few years, but during that time, I end up generating a successful income stream. That would be amazing, and it’s my goal.

I encourage all of you to share this with anyone who’s going through a rough time in life! Any rough patch can be turned around… and can lead you into more exciting territory!!

Hi, everyone! It’s SUNNY!!! Hey, that’s great cause for celebration around here!!! (and cause for a ton of exclamation points, apparently.)

Today I’m talking about goals. Goals give me a reason to live. Otherwise, I’m just floatin’ around in the same-old, same-old day-to-day. One day doesn’t feel any different from the next. When I have a goal, I’m taking actual steps, making progress toward something BIG! 🙂 (Or something smaller. Whatever floats your boat. But, progress is good!)

Anyway, with another decade coming up in a few (about 3) years for me, I created a list of 40 “things” I want to have done by the time I’m 40.. just over 3 years from now. I’m going for more meaningful goals, things that will actually change me in a good way, not just “watch every John Cusack movie”.

And, I’m going to share them with you in four parts. Point being, you get to know me better, and–inspiration! Set your own goals and change your life!!!

In no particular order…

Goals 1-10
1. Create my own fundraising event I think it would not only make me feel good to donate to my charity of choice, but overseeing everything would grow my business skills.

2. Go three days (or more?) without laptop, phone, or TV Not too tough for me, as long as the weather’s OK and I can get outdoors enough. But I challenge many of you to do this! Go and actually read a book!!

3. Read at least 5 books on the “controversial and banned” list Speaking of books… I’ve been trying to read a handful of “outside the box” books to get me to think differently. I’m setting this goal (which I think is a pretty low bar) to read more controversial material.

4. Spend Christmas overseas Something we’ve been wanting to do for a few years, since Christmas in the US has little meaning for us. We’re thinking of hitting the Christmas markets in Germany.

5. Read Les Miserables in French I took a fair amount of French in college, and I still retain a decent amount of what I learned (I seem to be pretty good with languages). Almost 10 years ago, I bought a copy of Les Mis in French. I’m determined to read it (dictionary at my side).

6. Serve/volunteer at a soup kitchen Easy enough to do, but I’ve never done it. I feel that I need this experience.

7. Take an ethnic cooking class Of course, I cook all the time. But I cook my variation of ethnic dishes. I’d love to learn from someone native to the region. (I have a Groupon for an African cooking class in downtown Seattle that I’m going to use in the next few months.)

8. Be part of a flash mob (thinking of trying to create my own—Pilates?) OK, this one’s kind of superficial. But it just looks fun! I don’t know how I’d find out about other people’s mobs, but I might try to randomly create a Pilates class that other people could join, out in the park, over the two days of summer we have up here.

9. Make a loan A small contribution that can make a huge difference. I can’t believe I haven’t started researching this…

10. Successfully grow and eat a vegetable This is something I’ve (half-heartedly) tried and failed a number of times!!! This time, I will conquer you, Gardening. I’d love to not have to pay for some of my produce.

So, I’d say these are pretty reasonable mountains to climb in the next 3 years… I have 30 more that I’ll reveal over the coming weeks. For now… what are your goals?

meeting our target!

Earlier this week, I had a Facebook chat with a friend and her brother about healthy habits. My friend is big into fitness like I am, and luckily, she’s been rubbing off on her brother: her brother quit smoking about 1 1/2 months ago. I’ve never been a smoker, but from what I’ve heard, it’s a tough habit to kick! I congratulated him on this change.

However, he started berating himself on not getting to the gym often enough. And I told him to stop that nonsense!

Stopping smoking is a big habit change for the better. (So if you’re there, way to go!) Assuming you don’t add another bad habit to compensate, give it a few months to take hold. Then you’re golden with Behavior #1! Once you feel confident with your new-found healthy behavior, you have the mental strength to tackle another–because you’ve done it once!

Little by little, your healthy habits will add up to a new, healthy you! And by adding your new behaviors individually, rather than tackling them all at once, your lifestyle change won’t feel so intimidating at the outset.

My lifestyle change for this month (that I admit I’ve repeated several times, shame) is eating a minimum of 5 fruit and vegetable servings each day. I’ve made it five days so far, successfully! Join me with your goal, and post in the comments below! Together, we can do it!

I am in love with Joe.

Perhaps you are, too. It’s all right; I’m willing to share him. He is dark and liquid, and perhaps you take him with cream and sugar. All I know is that he really gets my mornings (and afternoons… and evenings…) jump-started.

And the best thing about Joe – or other caffeine sources – is that studies have shown that as long as you don’t consume it too excessively, caffeine can actually enhance your workout performance! Now, that’s great news! Caffeine decreases our perceived exertion, and it makes higher-intensity work feel easier.

Unfortunately for those of us who are regular users, these effects are not as pronounced if you drink at least 2-3 cups of coffee per day, or a 6-pack of Coke every day. If you drink less frequently, you will reap more stimulatory rewards.

Infrequent consumers will also be at less risk of high blood pressure, jitteriness, sleep deprivation, and the dreaded caffeine withdrawal symptoms. We’ve all had a coworker who decides to quit their coffee cold-turkey, right? (Yikes! Seriously, don’t be that person.) They’re irritable, headachy, tired, grumpy, and often restart their coffee habit in a matter of days.

So there you have it—a vice that is beneficial! Whoda thunk? (I’m even so addicted that I posted a coffee smoothie recipe a few days ago! Ha!)

So, you work all day, you take the kids back and forth to school, you have to make sure the kids (and you) are fed, not to mention helping them with their homework, maybe sleep, and—what’s this about your doctor recommending exercise for 30 or more minutes every day? Huh? Just when you had your routine down pat… sort of…

The author Robert Maurer uses the Japanese technique of kaizen—taking infinitely tiny steps—to reach your goal, in his book One Small Step Can Change Your Life. It may seem silly at first, but the theory is that by breaking a large, scary task down into bite-sized pieces, it eliminates a lot of the fear. It’s a lot easier to think about writing one paragraph of a book (or even one sentence!) than it is to terrify yourself with the daunting task of The Great American Novel in one sitting.

Early in his book, Dr. Maurer relates the story of a patient in the above situation—given the exercise prescription of 30 minutes a day, which was overwhelming considering her crazy life situation at the time. Maurer suggested, instead, that she start out by marching 1 minute per day in front of her television. (You’re saying, “what? She’ll never get any health benefits that way.” Consider that she would’ve given up, otherwise.) Ends up that on her follow-up visit, instead of having given up, she was still marching enthusiastically, wanting to know what else she could do. The changes were doable, fun, and exciting! Little by little, her healthcare team added small chunks on to her workout routine, and within a few months, this patient was indeed exercising 30 minutes per day.

It may have taken this woman a few months to get to the 30-minute-per-day goal, but otherwise, it’s unlikely she would’ve gotten there at all.

How can you apply the concept of kaizen to your workout routine, or to your life? You may already be working out 30 minutes per day, but maybe you’ve been promising yourself to “start lifting weights”. Maybe, instead of a full-body weight session three times a week, you promise to complete two sets of one exercise, one or two times a week. That’s easy enough, right? A few weeks later, once that becomes routine, I’m sure you’ll want to add more exercises to your routine. (Ask me for suggestions!) And you’ll just start building your way to success!

Are you ready? I am!

(Did you guys enjoy the holiday? This blog did!)

As a society, we’ve become more and more email-reliant. American obesity is on the rise. Coincidence?

I say, take small steps to fight back! How often do you get up during the workday and actually walk around? (Believe me, it actually feels great to get away from the computer, both mentally and physically.) You might say, “No biggie, I’m just going 100 feet down the hall,” but it’s our little habits that add up to big changes!

Do you work in an office building with multiple floors? Try taking the stairs sometimes. After a while, it’ll become a habit, and the stairs will become second-nature.

Are there multiple restrooms in your office? If you have the time, why not walk to a more distant one now and then? (You’ll also have people wondering about you. 😉 )

And—probably most important in my book—if you need to chat with a coworker, put down that keyboard and actually physically go to them and chat. The benefits here are twofold. First, you’ll get some movement into your day. Second, I feel that most conversations are so much more effective when handled face-to-face. You burn a few calories, and you improve office morale at the same time!

Besides, I know that if I get up for a short walk even once every hour or two, I feel so much more refreshed and cheerful than if I’m stuck in a chair in front of a computer the entire day. I know which version of me I’d want to work with…

And you’ll become that perpetually-cheerful coworker who never fails to put a smile (or smirk) on everyone’s face!

If you’re like I was when I first (or second, or third) started my healthy lifestyle change, I was afraid of making the complete overhaul. You know how it goes: “if I commit to dieting, how can I go and have drinks with the girls on Thursdays, and have pizza with my friends on Saturdays?” And then, you end up rationalizing yourself out of the whole thing, because it’s not worth giving up your social obligations.

I hear you. Social time is important to squeeze in these days, and you shouldn’t give it up! Thing is, your healthy changes and your social time – even if you have daily social outings – don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Here’s the deal: if you commit to changing one meal a day to something healthier, you’re already better off than you were before, right?

So, let’s say that your office goes out to lunch every day, and you don’t want to suddenly turn into the hermit. Fair enough. Maybe your first step is to create a healthy breakfast option for yourself, but you have to do it every day, seven days a week. You are worth committing to a healthy habit, right?

So now, you’ve been eating your healthy breakfast for a couple of weeks, and you’re feeling great. Maybe you’ve even lost a few pounds – fantastic! And this is how it often works: your progress inspires you to do more. So you don’t want to give up your social workplace lunches, but you want to take this a step farther. How about changing your dinners to be healthy? Even if you want to have one “bad” night, 6 out of 7 is wonderful!

You see where this is going? It all snowballs! Eventually, you might start choosing healthier options off of the menu when you go out for work lunches. When you start to see success, you just wanna see more!

I’m not saying it will all come easily. Yes, temptations are everywhere. But rather than going cold-turkey, this is a great way to ease your body, mind, and social schedule into a healthier eating lifestyle.

I’ve had this approach work wonders for me! Anyone else want to share their stories?

Have you ever had a day, an hour, a moment that you were having so much fun, you didn’t want it to end? Wouldn’t it be great to experience a lot of these moments? (Oh, and best yet, if we could get paid for them!)

I’ve been reading a lot of goal-setting blogs and books recently, including Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. Ferrazi’s focus is more on networking, but he writes a great chapter on goals and finding your mission in life.

You might be thinking by now—wait, isn’t this a health and wellness blog? But think about it: if we aren’t mentally fulfilled, it’s hard to get started on improving our physical health. I believe the body and mind together need to be healthy!

That said, how do we “find our dreams”? I’m still working on fine-tuning my own, and I’m afraid to say that you won’t read a book, wake up tomorrow morning, and find instant clarity. But here are some things to get you started:

First, try to let go of any expectations of what you “should” be doing. Several of my college classmates grew up in families of physicians, so it was expected that they would earn an M.D. as well—even if they were not interested in pursuing medicine. Yet, there they were, sitting next to me in organic chemistry class. Sometimes, even if you excel in a field, if you dread the work, maybe it’s not work you should pursue.

Now that you’ve cleared any expectations from your mind, sit in a quiet place with your favorite writing implement and a piece of paper. Write down anything that comes to mind that excites you, no matter how silly it may seem. Include in that list any activity (remember, we’re including the abstract and ridiculous) in which you’ve totally lost track of time.

After you’ve been writing for half an hour or so, look back over your list. Do you notice any themes? Any common threads? Hey, you’re hopefully closer to identifying your passion!

Now, go for it! Do you have any contacts or friends in that field that you can talk to, about how to get started? In the end, their advice might fine-tune your route slightly off your initial path, but you will undoubtedly learn a lot along the way. And whatever you do, it’s far better than sitting around with unrealized dreams! (Yes… even the silly ones.)

So, what are the dreams that you are pursuing? I’d love to hear about them!

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