Taking the First Step

I’ve heard that taking the first step is easy but I’m not so sure I agree. It takes a lot of courage to take the first step or for some – the plunge into something unknown. I always think about my clients – what got them to my door? For some it was easy, exercise was a part of their life long before they met me. And for others, I know it took a lot of courage.

Why did they finally email or call me? Did a loved one suffer heart attack, a stroke or did they die? Is that what it took – a brush with mortality? Maybe they looked, long and hard, into a mirror as they tugged their jeans on and struggled to button them up. Or looked at the dinner in front of them and thought – this can’t be good.

But they did. They decided, in that moment, to call or email, words tumbling over words as they explain why they want help. Why they need help. Why they want and need to change. That’s the first step – realizing you need help or to be pushed in the right direction.

The second step is getting help – now, that is a hard step. But you are moving forward, closer to a goal in your mind. The third step is doing it. Actually doing it. Sweating and pulling and pushing. Stepping and lifting and setting things down. Moving when you haven’t moved in forever. Feeling sore muscles but working through it for a better tomorrow and a better life.

And then there are all the steps that follow those first steps. Sometimes you step backwards only to go forward again. Maybe you go in circles for a bit before righting your path. But there you go, forward, towards your goals. Towards better.

Take that step. I know you have courage.

Here’s to Your Happiness and Your Health

I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin right now, and I have to say, it’s caused to me think a lot about my own happiness. What does it take to be happy? What can I, what can any one of us do, to be more happy?

One thing is clear: happiness isn’t just feeling right, it’s living right. The Happiness Project, the author’s one year quest to find ways to increase her happiness quotient, is about taking the steps to live in a way that feel good for you and are good for you.

What are you doing that feels right to you and is right for you? Are you always looking to improve, or have you grown stagnant? If you’ve reached your goal of losing weight, it’s time to re-evaluate. Do you want to be a more competitive athlete, build more strength, try a new exercise or sport? Whatever it is, constantly looking for ways to improve will not only ensure that you continue to improve and grow, but it was also ensure that you continue to be happy.

Try this: sit down and write a list of all the things you’d like to accomplish for your health. Maybe it’s as simple as gathering your family together for a healthy meal once a week, maybe it’s a step toward eating all organic foods, or maybe it’s running a marathon for your 50th birthday. Whatever your goals, big or small, start thinking now about what you can do to achieve them. I know I’ve started my own bucket list, with things big and small that I want to do to improve my health and happiness quotient and you can, too.


Facing Injuries and Other Setbacks

Last fall, I had a debilitating injury, that left me literally lying flat on my back.

I had been working out pretty regularly, eating healthily, and was on a roll! But, my injury forced me to take a major step back. I was unable to work out for a solid month and once I was able to work out, I wasn’t able to push forward at full speed. It was extremely frustrating. As time went on, and my frustrations grew- I stopped doing all I could be doing to take care of myself while my injury healed, because I was feeling frustrated and unmotivated. But injuries and illnesses don’t have to set us back long term- if we know how to stay motivated and what to do to get back on track as quickly as possible. Here are four tips for keeping the ball rolling, even when things seem to have to an unexpected screeching halt:

Be proactive.
If you know you are prone to a certain type of injury, work with a physical therapist, with your doctor, and with your trainer to develop a fitness routine that will work on strengthening your body in just the right way to avoid future injury. Know your body and communicate openly with your physician and your trainer.

If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
A good doctor and a good trainer will understand and make adjustments as necessary if you’ve been open along the way about your body and it’s limitations. That way, you can push yourself without pushing yourself over the edge.

Get the right gear.
Many injuries can be prevented just by using the appropriate equipment. Protective equipment, good shoes, and a supportive bra all make a difference. You’ll feel more comfortable when you work out, and you’ll be less injury prone.

Keep up your other healthy habits.
When you’re body is recovering from an injury, take all the necessary steps to heal. Take the appropriate medications, ice your injury consistently, get enough rest, and continue to eat right! That way, you won’t have completely let yourself go when you’ve healed and it will be easier to get back in the game.

Injuries and illnesses are something that all of us deal with at some point, but don’t let that injury be a greater impact on your overall health than it has to be. With careful thought, and with great advocates on your health care team (like a great doctor and an amazing trainer) you can face injuries head on and be back to your regular fitness routine in no time.

Change One Thing, Change Everything

One of my favorite movies is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s called As Good As It Gets and it’s about an older man who suffers Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. His daily life is so routine, that he is stuck in a rut and he doesn’t even know it. Until, of course, a series of situations force him out of of his comfort zone and into the reality of being human. And, it all starts with just one thing...By the end of the movie that one thing has led to many, many things that have changed about his life.

When it come to healthy habits, the task of a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming. Depending on your current habits, healthier habits run the gamut from eating healthier, to exercising, to stressing less, and resting more.

But, you don’t have to overhaul everything to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, over the years, I’ve learned that it’s actually quite simple to get started.

When you change one thing, change everything.

That’s right, you read that right. Change one thing, change everything. Now, don’t misunderstand me, you may have more than one unhealthy habit that needs adjusting, but usually there’s a root to any problem, and your health is no different.

Let me give you an example. For me, that habit is sleep. I have 3 small kids, who keep me up all hours. My husband often brings work home with him and works quite late. To spend time with him, I stay up. When I stay up late, I eat late at night, and I don’t nosh on healthy foods. I crave sugar and caffeine when I’m up at ungodly hours because I’m depriving my body of what it really and truly needs: a good night’s sleep.

A few years ago, I was battling the bulge, and I decided that instead of writing a huge laundry list of habits that needed to change, I’d change one thing: sleep. I vowed to go to bed early every night, regardless of when Lucas went to bed. With a little more rest and a lot more energy, I started to feel motivated to go to the gym. I got up early everyday and headed for the gym. So early, in fact, that when I got home Lucas and girls were still asleep. When I got home, I’d take a shower in peace, make a cup of tea, and my husband would get up to join me and hang out. When the girls got up, we’d all have breakfast together before heading out to start our day. A little more intention in the day resulted in a much better day.

Simple, right? Well, sort of. Often unhealthy habits serve a purpose in our lives. They help us cope with stress, disappointment, or boredom. You have to get honest with yourself not only about what you’re doing and why it’s not working, but WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. For me, I stay up late because I need to unwind from long, busy days. I feel too wired to go to bed. And, most importantly, I want to have the chance to spend time with Lucas uninterrupted when the kids are in bed. But, when I was more intentional about my day, I found ways to get the rest I needed and still spend time with my husband and family.

So, what is it for you? Can you quickly identify one unhealthy habit that may be sabotaging your other healthy efforts? Is there one healthy habit that needs to start taking priority? For me, this reflecting is so important because when I change just one thing, it really does change everything.

New Gear, New Attitude: Spring Into Better Work Outs

It’s spring again.

And, there are few traditions more universally observed than spring cleaning. As you sort through all the various odds and ends of your life, it’s a perfect time to think about your work out gear and whether or not it’s working for you.

Here are a few items you may want to consider:

Shoes: If you’re a distance runner, you should replace your shoes once every six months. If your shoes rarely see the outside of the gym, you can use them for up to a year. And don’t be tempted to stock up on work out shoes during a sale, shoes expire even if they go unused. Shoes customized to your unique wear and work out can prevent injury and inspire you to work harder.

Sports Bra: Sports bras are meant to be tight fitting yet comfortable and secure. Sports bras lose their elasticity. When you’re bouncing and sagging, you’re work out is not going to be as comfortable. Plus, all that jiggling can cause undue stress on your back which can lead to injuries. Consider getting fitted for a sports bra that’s made specifically for your cup size. You’d be surprised how much more comfortable you work outs will be.

Protective Gear: Yes, this is Seattle, but the sun has started to peak through the clouds more than you might think. Old, faded, worn out T-shirts often let in a lot of UV rays. So, if something is thread bare, it may be time to repurpose it as a pajama T, a cleaning rag, or simply toss it. Protecting your skin and eyes with a good pair of sports’ sunglasses, a good hat, some sunscreen, and even SPF clothing can help to keep your skin from aging and ward off skin cancer.

Just like when you clean your home, sorting through your work out gear can refresh you for the hard work you’re bound to be doing to reach your fitness goals this spring. So, what are you waiting for, start this season with a new outlook, a new attitude, and a new work out wardrobe.