5 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Health. Right Now!

There are all kinds of things you can do to improve your health from starting an exercise program to overhauling your eating habits. But those big changes often take time and planning and sometimes you need a “quick win.” You can try one or more of the following simple things TODAY to help improve your health in a small way.

  1. Drink some water. The notion that everyone needs 8 glasses of water a day is outdated but most of us still don’t drink enough. The amount of water you need is dependent on your size, activity level and even where you live. A good rule is .5-1.0 ounce of water per pound of body weight. If you’re mostly sedentary and live in a cooler climate, you can stick to the lower end of that range and if you are very active and live in a warmer climate, you may need more. Staying hydrated keeps chemical processes in your body, like your metabolism, moving along and it keeps your kidneys functioning well and reduces or eliminates constipation. Drinking water throughout the day is better than gulping down 6 glasses at dinner. Keep a water bottle handy all day or set reminders in your phone so you can space it out. Most of us wake up dehydrated so drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning (yes, even before your coffee!) can get the rehydration started.
  2. Add a serving of fresh produce to your day. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and all-important fiber. Fruits and vegetables help you feel full, boost your energy and help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and a variety of other diseases. All plants have protein so they can be added to your protein total if that’s something you’re tracking. Getting more produce in your day can be as simple as munching an apple or carrots on your commute home, adding some spinach or mushrooms to your morning omelet, or eating a handful of berries after dinner. And don’t forget about nuts and seeds! They’re not considered produce but they are plant-based foods that provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. Sprinkle sunflower or pumpkin seeds on your salad or toss a handful of almond slivers into your morning oatmeal.
  3. Spend some time outside. Spending time in nature can lower stress, improve your mood, help your body create vitamin D and strengthen your immune system. And I’m not talking about the walk from your car to the office! Getting as little as 10 minutes of intentional time in nature can change your whole day. Eat your lunch outside, take a walk before work, or sit on the patio in the evening. Hopefully, you can enjoy some plant life or green space while outside but even if that’s not possible, just being out in the sunlight will still provide plenty of benefits.
  4. Practice a daily form of meditation. This can be prayer, journaling, breathing exercises, calming movement such as yoga or tai chi, sitting quietly in thought or repeating a mantra. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just that it works for you. Mindful meditation can help relieve stress and anxiety, help you focus, calm you down and rebalance your emotions. If done in the morning, it can set the intention for your day and if done in the evening, it can wash away the stress of the day and help you settle for a good nights sleep. Which brings us to the last thing you can do today…
  5. Go to bed earlier. Easier said than done, I know! Many people choose to sacrifice sleep in the name of being more productive but consider this: Getting a little bit more sleep each night will actually keep your brain sharper and boost your mood which can ultimately make you more productive. Your nightly sleep amount can vary a bit from night to night without causing too much concern but if you consistently get 6 hours or less of sleep, consider altering your routine to get yourself to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each week until you hit 7-8 hours regularly.

Strive to add one or more of these simple things today and make small steps toward better health.

Keeping Yourself Accountable When You Workout Alone – Finding A Virtual Workout Buddy

Doing things on your own can be HARD. If you’re working out at home, either by choice or necessity, you’re doing it alone. Without a coach or friend to push you and cheer you on.

Having a workout partner can make you accountable, provide support, motivation and a bit of healthy competition. A workout partner can increase your chances of successfully reaching your goals. The problem with that is, right now, so many of us are working out by ourselves because of stay-at-home orders or gym closures. Or simply because we feel more comfortable in the current situation exercising in our living rooms. 

But all is not lost. You can still get the benefits of a workout partner virtually. An exercise buddy can give you the kick in the butt you need to get off the couch when you’re feeling lazy. Or cheer you on when you finish a particularly hard training session. Or remind you of your goals when you’re slacking. A workout partner can do so much for you even if they’re not sweating right next to you.

Here are a few tips for finding the right virtual workout partner:

1. Start with your “why”. You need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing and be able to communicate that to your partner. The best way for workout buddies to help each other is to know what’s motivating them. It helps if your virtual partner has similar reasons or goals for exercise but it’s not essential. Since you won’t be working out together it does’t matter if you’re doing similar programs. Just that you’re willing to support each other and check in.

2. Find someone you can trust and that you know will support you. Be sure to choose someone that will provide the kind of support you need. If you need a cheerleader, choose your co-worker that is always excited and happy to pump you up. If you need a drill instructor, choose your brother that is no-nonsense and tells it like it is. If you want to keep your goals private, choose your friend that is discreet and will keep you on schedule without making a big deal about it.

3. Virtual workout appointments. If you had a workout partner but can’t see them in person right now, consider working out “together” over Zoom or FaceTime. You can plan a workout in advance so you both know what you’re doing and then meet up to push each other. Another option is to join live, on-demand classes together. This can also motivate you if you don’t have a partner to meet up with. The instructor and other participants can help keep you going even if you don’t know them in-person.

4. Find a community. There are plenty of social media groups for every kind of workout program. I belong to several running groups on Facebook and follow a couple of running related You Tube channels. Obviously this isn’t as personal as checking in with a friend but it can still be very motivating and when you’ve been part of the group for long enough, you get to know others in the group and can chat through comments. Some groups offer challenges you can join which is a great way to stay motivated and feel like a part of the group.

5. Location doesn’t matter anymore. If you’re checking in digitally or live-streaming a workout or class together then it doesn’t matter where your workout buddy is. You can connect with friends or family located anywhere in the world. Take this opportunity to “train” with friends that have similar goals but maybe live in another state or country.

Happy Exercising!

When Your World Is On Fire

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How do you keep up your healthy lifestyle when your world is on fire?  Everyone has busy and chaotic lives. We’re all juggling jobs, household responsibilities, kids homework, kids activities, volunteer rolls, caring for aging parents, etc, etc. But I’m talking about when the usual daily craziness blows up into straight-up disaster. I’m talking about even before the corona virus pandemic and the stay-at-home orders affected everyone around the globe. In my world, that just added fuel to the fire.

I’ve talked before about my daughters struggles with anxiety but since she started middle school in September, it has escalated beyond my and my husbands ability to manage it on our own. I won’t go into a lot of detail because that’s not what this post is about but lets just say there has been panic attacks, meltdowns, medication, lots of doctors appointments, a large chunk of missed school, lots of school admin meetings and discussions about whether more intensive treatment was needed. I attended over 20 doctors appointments in 4 months time.

Needless to say, this completely disrupted our normal family life. When your kid can barely get herself out of bed in the morning without having a full-on panic attack or starts to hyperventilate if she has to think about getting dressed, it makes it really hard to stay motivated to exercise and make a healthy breakfast and prep your meals for the day, let alone the week or beyond. 90% of my mental and emotional energy was put into managing her immediate crisis situation. The last 10% was reserved for my other daughter (my son was away at college at that point). Which meant there was nothing left for my husband or myself. It was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. I had no energy or desire to do my regular exercise routine even though I knew it would probably help.

As this crisis situation turned from a few days into weeks, I knew I had to get back to caring for myself before I completely fell apart and then my husband would have two people to take care of. I wasn’t eating well. I was barely sleeping and I definitely wasn’t exercising. I decided that this was just our new normal even if it was a long term temporary situation. So how could I work with it to help my daughter but still help myself? 

  1. Instead of getting takeout or delivery too often because I was too exhausted to cook, I planned super simple meals and had groceries delivered. We don’t eat fancy meals to begin with but I made it even simpler than before. We ate a LOT of pasta and grilled cheese sandwiches! Not ideal but better than a drive through or pizza delivery.
  2. I gave up on exercise because I didn’t have time to complete my program the way I had written it for myself. But just because I didn’t have the usual 45 minutes didn’t mean I couldn’t do 15 minutes of something. I tell my clients this all the time but somehow it wasn’t sinking in for me. So, I scrapped my regular exercise routine and just walked or ran on the treadmill when I felt like it. Running has always been a way for me to mentally focus so when I let go of the “pressure” of a training plan it was actually easier to fit exercise in.
  3. As I had to continue to attend multiple doctors appointments and meetings, I started taking more control of when I was scheduling them. When my daughters crisis first started I was panicked and took whatever appointments were offered whenever I called. That meant I was taking her to appointments at all hours of the day regardless of my schedule. Once I calmed down and realized this was not a medical emergency like an accident or broken bone or something, I could wait a few hours or a day or two for an appointment at a more convenient time. I started trying to schedule appointments on the same days of the week which helped me feel a little more in control.

I know it’s hard to maintain a healthy routine in everyday craziness but we all know how important it is. But when your world is on fire, some semblance of health can be a lifeline. If you feel like things are seriously out of control, manage the crisis first. That’s the priority. But try to get back to your healthy choices, even if they’re limited or modified for now, as soon as you can. Let go of your usual routines and expectations and just do what you can. You’ll get back there eventually.

This is an ongoing situation for us. My daughter will never be “cured” of her anxiety. She will simply learn how to manage it so that she can function. Hopefully. In the meantime, we’ve adjusted to a new normal and my healthy living program has pivoted accordingly. 

Happy Exercising my Fit Friends!

P.S. I hope everyone is finding ways to stay active and release stress during the stay-at-home order. Message me if you have questions or need ideas for home exercise. I’m here to help.

New Newsletter and Reasons for a Home Workout Plan

Hey there my fit friends! I know I haven’t been around for a while. I’ve been working on some other things and had some family stuff going on. But I’m back to focusing on home fitness and healthy lifestyles! Before I get into reasons for home workouts, I want to let you know that I’ve started a monthly newsletter to go along with my website. The newsletter will include workout programs, fitness tips, recipes, frequently asked questions and more. If you’re interested, you can sign up here. I will continue to post to this blog but will reserve this for more personal stories about mine and my family’s fitness journey, product reviews and other anecdotes related to fitness and health. And as always, I welcome feedback on existing content or anything you would like to see more of. Thanks for sharing this fit life with me!


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5 Reasons You Should Have a Home Workout Plan

If you work out in a gym every week, you’re probably used to the equipment and routine. You like the variety of exercises or classes offered. You might enjoy the social aspect of a gym and seeing the usual people at the same time every day. Your monthly membership fee is a totally worthwhile expense and you feel right at home at the gym. 

But what happens when you can’t get to the gym?

Do you have a backup plan? 

There are a number of reasons to have a plan for working out at home. Even if it’s as simple as running up and down the stairs, knowing what you’re going to do before you need to do it will help you stay on track.

  1. First, if the weather is treacherous and you don’t want to drive, a home workout plan will save you that headache. Then you don’t have to worry about cleaning snow and ice off your car (Unless you still have to go to the office, I guess) to get a workout in. You don’t have to concern yourself with trying to navigate sketchy traffic in bad weather. Just stay safely at home and still get your workout in with your home exercise backup plan.
  2. Second, nothing will derail your gym workout plans like a sick kid coming in to your room at 4am. When this happens, having a home workout backup plan can keep you from losing your mind caring for those sick kiddos.
  3. Speaking of 4am, what if that’s the only time you have to workout? Work and activity schedules change all the time. Whether its a permanent change or temporary, your gym hours may not mesh with your current schedule. Sure, there are 24 hour gyms but maybe not near you. And you might not want to be part of the 4am crowd at a gym. Just sayin.
  4. If you don’t want to skip your workouts when you travel for work or when you go on vacation then a home workout plan is in order. This plan might need to be a little different to accommodate what you can do in a hotel room but the idea is still the same. Lots of hotels have in-house gyms or equipment you can borrow to use in your room which will make planning your travel workout routine much easier but it will still be different than your regular program so planning is important.
  5. The last reason for having a home plan is simple convenience. Sometimes you just don’t feel like schlepping out to the gym. Sometimes you just don’t feel like putting clean clothes on. (No judgment, I do it!) Having a plan in place for when you need (or want) to stay home just makes sense. As I stated above, it can be as simple as running stairs or jumping rope in the driveway or it can be as complex as a full body strength plan with multiple sets and makes use of some equipment you have at home.

Now that you have the reasons for a home plan, you need to create the plan. Think about your space. Do you have stairs you can run? Do you have a backyard you can do sprints across? Think about bodyweight exercises you can do such as pushups, sit-ups, squats, mountain climbers or burpees. A super easy way to get a workout in is to stream something online. So clear some space in front of the tv and do a quick YouTube search. The bottom line is that having a plan before you need the plan is what will keep you consistent even when life gets in your way.

Happy Exercising!

P.S. Here’s the newsletter link again!

Be Proactive with Your Health

I know a lot of people avoid the doctor’s office at all costs unless they are deathly ill, but here’s the thing…regular check ups are important. Don’t wait until something is wrong to go to the doctor. Preventative health care gives you the power over your health. Annual physicals and health screenings find minor issues before they become major issues. Early detection can provide more treatment options and a better chance for a good outcome. It can even provide the chance to reverse certain conditions if they’re caught early enough. Good doctors can also guide you to healthier lifestyle choices and help you find ways to make that happen with resources and support.

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Regular blood panel screening

People in my personal life who know my medical history get concerned and assume there’s a problem or recurrence if they see or hear that I’ve had an appointment. I know that’s just a knee-jerk reaction but I have regular appointments to make sure there ISN’T a problem.

I know we can’t control everything about our health but I believe we can control more than we think. By eating well, moving a lot, resting when you need to and checking in with your doctors regularly, you could be doing yourself a whole lot of good.

 

Some regular appointments I have are:

  1. Annual physical with general practitioner
  2. Annual check with my dermatologist
  3. Annual check with my gynocologist
  4. Annual check with my vein specialist
  5. Every 6 months with my oncologist
  6. Annual check with my breast surgeon
  7. Every 6 months with my dentist

I’m probably missing a few but you get the idea.

Some common tests and screenings women should have are mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, blood pressure and cholesterol checks, blood panel screenings, eye exams, skin checks and bone density screenings. Some common tests and screenings men should have are blood pressure and cholesterol checks, blood panel screenings, eye exams, skin checks, colonoscopies and prostate cancer screenings. Your doctor will recommend other tests or screenings based on your individual situation. But the doctor can’t recommend anything if you don’t go see them!

Take the time and make yourself some appointments today! Now!