Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You ate WHAT?

I fell off the healthy eating bandwagon last Saturday. My sister and I spent the day shopping and supporting the economy and along the way, I wreaked havoc with my nutrition.
Here’s how the day went.

9 a.m. Oatmeal with a sliced banana. Starts out innocent enough.
11-ish New shoes! Must celebrate with a raspberry white chocolate scone and a mocha. With whipped cream.
1:00 Stopped for gas on the way to the outlet mall and I needed a snack. Gas stations provide dreadful choices so I end up with a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Gawd.
3-ish. Late lunch at a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant. Ate a dripping-in-butter grilled cheese sandwich, chips and a chocolate chip cookie. (Hey. The cookie came the meal so I had to eat it. Don’t judge me.)
7-ish Glass of wine. Probably the healthiest thing I had all day.
9-ish Leftover Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo eaten cold and standing up in front of the refrigerator. Oh, and another glass of wine.
10-ish (This is where it gets really ugly.) Several handfuls of chocolate chips, a few Wheat Thins and another glass of wine.

Oh, the humanity.

So the next morning, as God is my witness, I woke up thinking about those chocolate chips and I was tempted to finish them off. With absolutely herculean effort, I resisted and worked out instead. And by the time I got home, I was back in control. The chocolate chips will live for another day.

So what is the moral of the story?
a.     Don’t mix nutrition with Kate Spade.
b.     Blame it all on your sister. She’s such an enabler.
c.      Just surrender. You can return those new size 4 jeans.
d.     Kick it to the curb and move on.

I choose d.
I refuse to beat myself up about a shopping/eating spree. It happened, it’s over and I’m back on track. Real food, lots of fruits and veggies, consistent exercise.
Maybe before I go shopping next time, I’ll make a plan to avoid getting hungry and eating everything in sight. I can’t say it won’t ever happen again, but having a plan might help me  avoid the chocolate chips.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Case for Morning Exercise

That's a.m. not p.m.
   I consider myself a morning person. However, I define morning as that time period before lunch and AFTER I’ve had my coffee. In my opinion, the 5:30 a.m. Jazzercize class isn’t morning, it’s the middle of the night. 
   So when my alarm went off last Wednesday at 5 a.m., I wanted to shut it off, roll over and go back to sleep. The only thing that got me out of bed was this blog…and the prospect of being mocked by those I had told I was going to be there. You know who you are!

   Once I was actually out of bed and on my way, it wasn’t so bad. And when I drove into the parking lot, I was surprised by the number of cars. Yes, people actually do this. On purpose.
   What makes them roll out of bed when it’s dark and cold and head for the gym? Andrea takes the 5:30 a.m. class because she has small children and it’s the only time she can squeeze in a workout. Alan has learned if he waits until later, something else intervenes and he doesn’t get it done. And Candy?
   “I like to cross it off the list first thing in the morning. I don’t have to wear makeup,” she said. “And the people in this class are awesome.”
  What are the benefits of early morning exercise?
·            Studies suggest consistent early morning exercise improves sleep. And according to the American Council on Exercise, feeling rested helps control appetite. So working up a sweat early in the day might help you lose weight AND cure insomnia. Boom!
·      Early morning exercisers get it done. No worries about other obligations crowding out your afternoon or evening appointment at the gym.
·      It sets the tone for the day. I have to admit, I felt energized!
·      One more benefit…I actually had a glass of wine after work while I fixed dinner and watched the news. Nice.

I might even try it again some day. Or, I might shut off the alarm, roll over and go back to sleep. :)
The early birds.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love Your Heart!

This is what 34 years of Jazzercise looks like!
     Vicki will never forget a Jazzercise class she taught more than a decade ago. She was leading a routine to a Cher song, when she had the sensation of something flicking her chest from the inside. That was only the beginning.
     Over the next two months, the veteran Jazzercise instructor experienced a feeling that would come and go.
     “It was like something tumbling around in my chest, like a big fish flopping around on land,” she said.
     Eventually, Vicki ended up in the hospital for a stress test. After only two minutes, she was yanked off the treadmill, her heart racing. She was experiencing ventricular tachycardia, or V-tach, a condition that can be life-threatening. In the waiting room her family was told she would need heart surgery or she would die.
      In addition to teaching Jazzercise for 34 years, Vicki is an instructor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she teaches anatomy to future medical students. With her fitness and medical training, Vicki recognized the severity of her situation. But she had no idea just how important her years of fitness were for her survival.
     “The surgeon told me Jazzercise saved my life,” she said.
     Vicki’s condition was caused by scar tissue that formed in one of the arteries of her heart. When Vicki was working out to Cher earlier in the year, she probably felt the tissue break away. The loose scar tissue almost totally blocked her artery, a condition that can lead to a heart attack. Fortunately, Vicki’s strong, healthy heart developed collateral circulation, alternate routes that bypass the blockage and carry the oxygen enriched blood needed to sustain life.
     After her operation, the surgeon told Vicki her heart was pristine –like an infant’s – and she could thank Jazzercise for keeping the heart muscle healthy enough to prevent a heart attack. The surgeon was able to repair the damage and Vicki was back on the Jazzercise stage in six weeks.
     I sat down with Vicki recently to ask about her experience and the lessons she learned. Here’s what she told me.
·      Be in tune with your body.
Know how you’re supposed to feel and when something feels amiss, find out what’s going on. Consistent exercise can help you recognize the signals.

·      Don’t automatically dismiss symptoms you aren’t sure about. Women with heart issues present differently than men and not everyone reacts the same way.

·      Embrace your birthday. “The moon at night looks different to me now,” says Vicki. “Every day is a gift."

     Vicki and I share a birthday. That’s always made me happy because there’s no one I would rather turn a year older with than a woman with a kind and kick-ass heart!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Biggest Loser

I don’t watch The Biggest Loser but I had to check out pictures from the show’s finale last night after Twitter erupted with comments from those who thought the winner looked unhealthy and anorexic.

Yes, Rachel Frederickson looked a bit emaciated. Maybe she took it too far because she wanted to cash in on the big prize. Maybe she’s perfectly healthy and this is just another non-issue fueled by social media. I don’t know.

But I do know this country is obsessed with weight and diet. And we should be. Obesity rates in the United States have more than doubled in the last 40 years. About two-thirds of all Americans are now classified as overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with a long list of health risks including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.

However, obsession with the unachievable is also unhealthy.
Over the years, I’ve been a “diet victim” more times than I care to admit. I’ve survived on 500 calories a day, tried the soup diet and the lemon cleanse, counted calories and carbs. Avoided all the foods I love, only to binge on them the minute I let my guard down.

I don’t follow extreme measures anymore because I’ve finally made peace with my body and who I am. As Oprah Winfrey would say, here’s what I know for sure.

·      It HAS to be about health, not weight; strength not skinny.
·      Eat real food. I get my nutrients from broccoli, chicken, blueberries. The real thing. Food is not the enemy. 
·      Exercise. Not obsessively but consistently. It's good for your heart, lungs, bones, muscles and mental health.

And perhaps most important, I embrace and accept who I am. I’m never going to be a supermodel and I wouldn’t want to be. I’m short and curvy and awesome.

And I still like a dose of chocolate now and then.