5 Tips to Go Vegan Without Losing Too Much Weight

scale

If you lined up every vegan you know against a wall, each one would look different. Some are lean and fit, some are average, some are overweight, and some are rail thin. The truth is not every vegan is created equal.

I had not really given this much thought until someone recently asked me an interesting question. She wanted to know how she could become a vegan without losing a lot of weight. I could see that she was already at a healthy weight. She was concerned about drastic changes in her appearance.

Though it is very normal to lose weight after switching to a vegan diet. It doesn’t have to be extreme. It’s natural for your body to initially change because it’s a major change for most people. When you start eliminating meat, dairy, cheese, and eggs from your diet you will lose weight. When I first became a vegan six years ago, I lost about 7 pounds in two weeks. That wasn’t too much because I was coming from a vegetarian diet. It wasn’t too drastic of a shift for me.

The main reason most people lose a lot of weight initially is because they don’t know what to eat. They remove a lot from their diet but they don’t replace it. Consequently, they end up eating rabbit food and are hungry all the time. Most people focus so much on what vegans don’t eat that they are unaware of all the great things we do eat.

So, I thought it would be helpful to offer some tips on how to transition to a vegan diet without losing too much weight.

  1. Count your calories. We usually count calories to reduce them for weight loss. But you should measure them to make sure you’re consuming a healthy amount. You need enough calories to satisfy your hunger.
  2. Eat a balanced diet with a good mix of fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Healthy fats help you feel satiated after meals. Some examples of healthy fats are avocados, nuts, seeds, and peanut butter (make sure you consume peanut butter with simple ingredients. It shouldn’t have a bunch of sugar. If you see more than peanuts and salt in your peanut butter, you don’t need it.) Some good sources of protein are quinoa, beans (i.e. lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans), tempeh, and plant based protein powders. Some healthy carbohydrates are brown rice, sprouted breads like Ezekial bread, and beans. Beans are a good source of healthy carbs and protein.
  3. Eat your veggies, especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. They are high in fiber and protein. They make you feel full longer.
  4. Incorporate snacks between meals. Fruits like apples and bananas have fiber and natural sugars in them. A favorite snack of mine is nuts. There are tons to choose from like almonds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews. They give you the healthy fats and extra calories you need to avoid losing too much weight.
  5. Learn new recipes. There are so many recipes available that are so good that you won’t miss any of your former foods. I get tons of recipe ideas from Instagram. Just follow other vegans and you will learn so much. Avoid eating the same things all the time. Explore your options. Remember, variety is the spice of life.

These are some good suggestions to help you transition to a vegan diet in a healthy way without the fear of drastically changing your weight. If you incorporate these suggestions you will be healthier, leaner and more satisfied.

Until next time…Peace, Love and Fitness!

The 2nd Biggest Myth About Vegan Diets

If the most common question I get from non-vegans is “where do you get your protein?” Then the second most most common question is “what do you eat?”

Most people assume that our options are limited and so few. Especially if you say you follow a plant-based diet. Beyond fruit and veggies they can’t see it. Consequently, they can’t envision themselves adopting this lifestyle because it appears boring. Nobody wants to eat the same thing all the time, including me. After all, variety is the spice of life. That’s especially true with our food.

vegan meal

Though I tend to eat a lot of the same things all the time, I still love trying new things. I often take my favorite foods and put a different spin on them to keep things interesting. For example, I’m always looking for new ways to experiment with Kale. I like to sautee it in olive oil, garlic and onions. I also like to use it as a base for salads. Instead of plain lettuce, I will use Kale or even mix it with my favorite lettuce – romaine. Another use for kale is to bake it in the oven, add olive oil and nutritional yeast to make kale chips. You can add it to your favorite smoothie. Or even marinate it in liquid aminos, olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes to make a refreshing salad.

You see how simple it is to take one veggie and get so many meals out of it? There are so many more fruit and veggies for which you can do the exact same thing. So, if you’re on the brink of adopting a vegan lifestyle, don’t let a perceived lack of options deter you from fully committing. There are so many options.

Here are some tricks I use to add variety to my diet.

  1. Keep an open mind when it comes to fruit and veggies. Be willing to try (almost) anything once. Just because there are a few veggies that you don’t like, doesn’t mean you don’t like ANY veggies. I found this out about squash. I used to think I didn’t like squash. I eventually realized I just don’t like traditional squash. I had to try other varieties. It turns out I love butternut squash and acorn squash. Unlike the regular squash, they have more sweetness to it. I don’t like traditional or zucchini squash because they don’t have enough flavor for me. They taste too bland.

  1. Cook your veggies differently. That’s what I do with Kale. Broccoli is another veggie that offers variety. If you don’t like to steam it, sautee it or roast it in the oven. For the really bold and adventurous – eat it raw. Chop it up in small pieces and toss it in your salad. It’s a great source of fiber and will leave you feeling full.

  1. Explore new ways to add flavor without depleting the nutritional value. So, instead of taking a healthy vegetable and frying it or sauteeing it in a lot of oil, do something else. I’ve learned to start the sautee with oil, and then add a little water. As much as I enjoy eating broccoli, I don’t always like it steamed. So, to add flavor to it, I steam it in vegetable broth and squirt it with fresh lemon juice. It gives it so much flavor without adding salt or anything else to it.

  1. Get recipes from Instagram and Pinterest. I love following other vegans on Instagram. I’ve learned simple recipes that I otherwise would not have tried. I love eating pancakes on Sunday mornings, but I can never get vegan pancakes in restaurants. After spending time on Instagram, I have learned some amazing, delicious recipes for pancakes. Anytime I feel like I’m out of new ideas for recipes, Instagram inspires me. There are just as many options on Pinterest. Try both and see what works for you.

So, if you really want to try the vegan lifestyle don’t be discouraged by a misguided perception that there isn’t enough variety. I’ve shared some great tips with you that have worked for me. I’ve been a vegan for more than five years and I still get excited by all the options I have. I learn something new every day.

Now I want to leave you with a question: What’s hindering you from adopting a vegan lifestyle or at least incorporating more plant based foods into your diet? Leave your comment on my blog. I can’t wait to hear your response. Until next time…

Health Coaching for a Higher Purpose

communityGarden- greensAs I write this blog it’s the 4th of July weekend. Most of the country is celebrating our freedom while remembering those individuals who made it possible. Even our church service this morning was very patriotic. The congregation was asked to wear red, white and blue. We had flags displayed on the church grounds and in the sanctuary.

To wrap things up our pastor delivered a message that tied everything together. He started by saying “nothing that is morally wrong can be politically right.” It led to a sermon about righteousness and how it applies to our lives as Christians. He reminded us that it’s righteous to take care of the poor and under-served.

In that moment he answered a question I’ve posed to God for weeks. As I’ve been contemplating how I’m going to shift my focus I’ve been seeking God for guidance. I believe a great part of my purpose is to be of service to under-served communities. It is my profound belief that everybody should have access to whole, nutritious foods despite their income. That is the core belief that sparked the changes I’m making in my business and my blog.

My mission will be to provide low income communities in the city of Atlanta with access to whole, nutritious foods and to educate them about practical ways to use those foods to improve their health.

It’s the ideal way for me to take what I’ve learned and share it with the people who need it most. I don’t expect it to be easy. Real change takes time. But I do expect it to be worth it.

After leaving church, I decided to explore a low income community that I’ve been hearing a lot about. Emory University’s Urban Health Initiative is spearheading a project in Northwest Atlanta to create happier and healthier communities through educational gardening.

They literally started this garden on a concrete lot behind a neighborhood grocery store on the former Bankhead Highway – one of the most impoverished communities in the city. By working with the community and employees of the Super Giant grocery store they created the garden by using raised beds. It’s a classic example of where there’s a will there’s a way.

Exploring this neighborhood further confirmed the necessity of me making the shift to work more with under-served communities. Sometimes I complain that I’m not able to buy all organic foods all the time from Whole Foods. Nevertheless, I’m still fortunate to be able to access it.

That is not something that everybody can do. So, until that is a reality, I have a purpose. I can provide alternatives that allow low income families to access whole, nutritious, organic foods.

So, I’m no longer asking the question of what I need to do. I’m now exploring the many ways that I can help. I’m just one person, but if everybody did what they could to make life better for all, then it would make a tremendous impact. The beauty about these types of projects is there are so many people doing this kind of work that you’re never really alone. There are resources to get started no matter where you are.

If getting involved in or starting a community garden is of interest to you, here are just some of the many benefits:

  • Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
  • Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
  • Encourages self-reliance
  • Beautifies neighborhoods
  • Produces nutritious food
  • Reduces family food budgets
  • Conserves resources
  • Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • Reduces crime
  • Preserves green space

The American Community Gardening Association offers a wealth of information about how to get a community garden up and running. Just visit the ACGA website at www.communitygarden.org. Follow the link to “Start a Community Garden.”

New Season – New Direction

new direction

In a few weeks I’ll hit a milestone –the two year anniversary of launching Plant Food ROCKS. It’s hard to believe it has been that long. My intention with the blog has always been to promote the benefits of following a plant based diet.

From that perspective, I’ve shared everything from healing foods to super foods. I’ve shared my fitness journey from hiking, to my 21-day yoga challenge, and my greatest feat of participating in a sprint triathlon.

I’ve also incorporated spiritual lessons I’ve learned about faith, prayer, and meditation. My favorite blogs have been those that have evoked the most response from you. Most of you tend to respond favorably when I’m transparent on matters that you can relate to.

As you know, I approach health and wellness from a holistic perspective: mind, body, and soul. Every area of our lives impact our health. If our lives are out of balance in any area, it’s going to impact our ability to obtain optimal health.

The last few months I have been reconsidering my objective with the blog. Some days there were things I wanted to share that fit my objective, but didn’t feel authentic. I can honestly say my desire has shifted a little bit. So, I’ve been working through that. I made the conscious decision to pull back on blogging until I was clear about the direction I wanted to take. I’ve asked myself: what’s next for the blog? More importantly, what’s next for me?

I’ve spent time getting to the bare bones of what I believe, what I’m passionate about, who I want to impact, and what I have to teach. At heart I’ve always been a teacher. Whenever I learn something, I feel compelled to share it with others. That typically comes through in the form of a workshop, blog, or sometimes while just having dinner with a friend.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m thinking about the imprint I want to leave in this life. How I can cause a ripple effect on the world – effect generational change.  It’s easy to convince ourselves that if we don’t have a lot of money or celebrity then we’re not capable of doing anything that really matters. We can’t impact real change.

I choose to believe that I CAN do something. The truth is – we all can. Just start with where you are and do what you can. At the end of the day, that’s all you’re responsible for- doing your part.

Well, I’m excited to say that I have clarity on that. I know what it is I’m supposed to be doing. On the anniversary of Plant Food ROCKS, I’m going to announce that change. I will say that it’s not a drastic change. It’s actually a very appropriate next step. It’s a shift from an individual impact to a more community impact. The next chapter for me involves getting to the heart of the community and impacting change with those who really need it most.

So, I hope that you will stay tuned to find out what I’m doing. I also hope that it will inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and pursue your own dreams. If you don’t have a dream, perhaps it will motivate you to begin to form one. Until next time…

Your Health…Your Way!

The power to live a healthy life is inside you. That was the theme of the Phoebe Sumter Women’s Health Conference I spoke at this past weekend. Hundreds of women gathered at Georgia Southwestern College to learn how to take control of their health. There is no way I could turn down the opportunity to impact these women’s lives. My intention was to inspire and empower to change.

lmp at health conference

I spoke from the topic of “Your Health…Your Way.” I like to come from a place of practicality. It’s so easy to get caught up in trends and comparing ourselves to others. Whether it’s taking a spin class, crossfit, or hot yoga. Every fitness craze isn’t for everybody. So, you have to figure out what works for you. Most importantly, you have to find a strategy that is sustainable. If you choose something that is too difficult to maintain, you’re more likely to quit.

Since it’s about a lifestyle change and not about a “diet”, I want to offer some practical strategies for eating and working out. I call it my Eat SMART, Workout HARD plan.

Eating SMART is about “mindful” eating. It forces you to pay attention to what you’re eating. Eating SMART means to eat with the following guidelines:

  1. Simple ingredients – read food labels to ensure you recognize the ingredients and can pronounce the names. If you don’t recognize it, don’t eat it. Also, look for words ending in “ose” (fructose, dextrose, sucralose, lactose, etc.). These are all synonyms for sugar.

  2. Measure your portions – be mindful of portion sizes. Measure your food if possible, at least until you get a better understanding of appropriate portion sizes.

  3. Accessible Snacks – keep healthy snacks handy. If you’re unprepared and end up hungry, it’s more likely that you will grab the first thing you can find. That’s usually not healthy. So, keep healthy snacks accessible at work, in the car, and at home.

  4. Real foods – limit processed foods and replace them with whole, real foods. Add fresh fruit or veggies to every meal – fruit with breakfast and include leafy greens with lunch and dinner.

  5. Tasty foods – add flavor to your food by using fresh herbs and spices. Experiment with different herbs like cilantro, parsley, thyme, dill, etc. They are good replacements for table salt. Also, use spices like cayenne, paprika, cumin, etc. These are great ways to add flavor without using heavy sauces or cheese.

These are great starts to get you on track to living a healthier lifestyle. In conjunction with eating SMART, you should avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast; stop eating at least two to three hours before you go to bed; make sure you include proteins, carbs, and fats at every meal, and drink plenty of water.

I know the typical recommendation is to drink two to three liters of water per day, but if you’re doing “Your Health…Your Way” I want you to make this work for you. Start where you are. If you’re not drinking any water at all, add a glass with each meal and build your way up.

In my next blog I will share with you what it means to “”Workout HARD.” In the meantime, you can get ready for summer with my new 21- Day Jumpstart Challenge. It begins June 1st. This will be a group coaching program with no more than 12 participants per session. So, REGISTER NOW!

Finding Joy in the Journey

April showers bring May flowers. As it is in the natural it is in the spirit. We got a lot of rain in Georgia during the month of April. Now as we are a few days into May, the spring weather has surfaced. It has been absolutely beautiful every day.

finding joy in the journey

Well, as I look back over the past month, it was pretty rainy in my personal life. I faced a lot of physical and emotional challenges. I injured my back during yoga, so I was in a lot of pain for about a week. I was unable to workout for almost two weeks.

I also began processing a lot of emotional baggage that has been lingering with me. I had some things I haven’t wanted to deal with, and since you can only suppress your feelings for so long, it all began to unravel.

When the unraveling process begins, its really scary. It feels like opening pandora’s box. You don’t know where its all going to lead and you don’t know what you’re going to find. This requires a great deal of faith. Faith in the journey. Faith in knowing that whatever comes your way, you’re equipped to handle it.

Aside from the fear of the unknown, there’s the fear of not knowing how long it’s going to last. How long am I going to be in this season of my life? This rainy season. Unfortunately, when you’re in the midst of your storm, it feels like it’s never going to end.

As the end of April approached, things started to change. After about a week and a half of constant rain and cool temperatures, the rain began to clear out. I began to see some sunlight peaking through the clouds.

Just as the rain has passed and the days are so beautiful, I have to believe that my spiritual life will mimic what has transpired in the natural. I’m an eternal optimist. No matter how bad things appear to be, I always believe it’s going to work out. I heard someone say, “it will all work out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.”

It’s important that I learn from every journey. I’m not at the end of this journey, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m gaining insights that are strengthening me.

Here are some insights I’ve gained so far.

  1. In everybody’s life a little rain must fall. When I’m going through hard times, I’m so quick to ask, “why” or “why me”. What I’m quickly reminded of is that we all go through things. Some people have greater challenges than others, but we ALL go through something. I’m comforted in knowing that I’m not alone.

  2. No matter how long it rains, the sun will always reappear. It can’t rain forever. In the old testament in the bible it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. That had to be horrendous, but it eventually came to an end. I’m reassured by knowing my rainy season isn’t here to stay. I don’t know the expiration date, but I know it will come to an end.

  3. What you resist persists.  When I’m hurting, I have a tendency to try to behave as if I’m okay. That is especially the case when I don’t think I’m going to be able to handle it. But what I’m learning is the more I try to resist feeling the pain, the more it continues to surface. When I’m hurting, I try to give myself permission to feel it – for a set amount of time. Maybe it’s a few minutes. When I’m really sad, I’ll give myself a full day. After that I have to move on. Otherwise, I stay stuck. Just giving myself permission to feel whatever it is I’m feeling I get past it much faster and much easier.

  4. You have to find joy in the journey. No matter how bad it feels, there is always joy in the journey. Maybe you suffered a tragedy, but that tragedy brought you closer to your family. Perhaps you found out how strong and resilient you are; or maybe it brought you closer to God. The challenge is to find that joy. We often think we won’t be happy until we get to the end of our journey, but joy can be found in the process. Happiness is based on what’s “happening” in our lives. Joy comes from within.

So, this is where I am right now. I’m not sure how much longer this season of my life will continue. But I do know I will get through it. I will continue to seek the greater purpose of this experience and remind myself that this too shall pass. In due season, THIS TOO SHALL PASS!    

7 Simple Tips to Grow a Spring Vegetable Garden

For a few years now it has been my dream to grow my own vegetable garden. When I envisioned buying a home, one of the key features it needed to have was a large backyard with room to plant a garden. I look forward to the day that I can pull my organic veggies from the yard and bring them in the house to cook.

As far as dreams go, that sounds pretty simple to accomplish, right? For me, not so much. As much as I want a garden, I’ve been so intimidated by the process. I’m completely ignorant of what it takes to grow and maintain a garden.

Last week, I remedied that. I spent time at Chastain Farm. They offered a class on how to plant a spring garden. I have to tell you, it was so amazing to me. We toured the farm, saw the resident goat and roosters, and ended up in their vegetable garden. I learned so much. They even allowed me to plant some tomatoes.

farm pics - goat and roosters

Obviously, I’m not at the point of growing a full garden in my backyard on my own. But I can start somewhere. The beauty of gardening and growing your own food is you can do it almost anywhere. You don’t even need to have a yard. A good friend of mine lives in a loft apartment in midtown Atlanta and she has a garden. As long as you have a small area that gets adequate sunlight you can start a garden. That can be your patio, deck, or even kitchen window sill.

What I love most about having a garden is that it disputes the common misconception that it’s too expensive to eat organic, healthy foods. You don’t have to shop at Whole Foods to get organic fruit and veggies. You can grow them yourself. Talk about economical.

So, for all the aspiring gardeners like me who want to grow your own food, here are seven tips to help you get started.

  1. Choose a location that will get 8-10 hours of sunlight a day. Just make sure it’s close to the house and a water source.
  2. Test your soil. You want to make sure you have good soil. The better the soil, the better the garden. Pull random selections of soil from the area you want to plant; at least eight selections are recommended.  The ideal testing time is the fall. In Georgia, you can get your soil tested through the University of Georgia extension office.
  3. Start with a small area. Don’t try to tackle a huge garden the first time out. Square foot gardening is a great option. You can also create a container garden or salad bowl garden. It can be as simple as you need it to be.
  4. Grow what you like to eat. Keep it simple. Don’t try to grow everything. This will be difficult for me because I love so many veggies. I’m going to stick with those that have a quick maturation time.
  5. Make a plan. What you’re going to plant? When do they need to be planted? Be sure to mark out the square footage. There are several resources to educate you about square foot gardening. (www.squarefootgardening.org.)
  6. Plant in succession. You don’t want to plant everything at the same time. This will prevent being overwhelmed from everything harvesting at the same. Stagger your planting.
  7. Record what you plant and where. This will make it easier to identify what you planted once the harvest comes in. One tip is to use the labels inside the packaging of whatever you’re planting. Or you can cut up slats from old blinds, write what you planted on it with a sharpie and stick it in the ground. You can use these year after year.

At the time of this writing we’re about a week and a half from April 15th. For most of the world that day is significant because it’s the tax deadline. But for gardening enthusiasts it’s a safe time to plant a spring garden. It’s typically the time that spring has sprung without the fear of a cold weather snap ruining spring plants, especially tomatoes.

farm chastain - veggie garden

So, who’s with me? If I’m brave enough to take this on, anybody can. The best part is we’re not alone. There are plenty of resources available to help you get started and to support you throughout the process. Here’s one that I like –  www.gardeners.org.

Happy Gardening!

5 Natural Remedies for the Cold and Flu

honey,garlic and lemonWe’re on the last leg of winter and even though it doesn’t feel like it, Spring will be here soon. Yet, in the meantime, many people are dealing with the consequences from this latest trend of cold, icy, rainy weather.

I know several of my friends and loved ones are suffering with flu like symptoms. So, I figure it’s a good time to share some natural remedies to help you boost your immunity. In particular, to help you combat the common cold and the flu.

I’ve shared some of these remedies over the past few years, but they bear repeating. The most common and effective antidote to cold and flu-like symptoms are citrus fruits because of the essential vitamins they provide. If you’re a regular follower of my blog you can probably guess which remedy tops my list.

  1. Lemons – help maintain your immune system and protects from infections. One reason for that is lemons are rich in Vitamin C. They are also rich in flavanoids that work in conjunction with Vitamin C for a serious punch against infection. One of the simplest ways to incorporate them into your diet is to add the juice of one lemon to warm water and drink it first thing in the morning.

  1. Ginger – warms the body and helps break down the accumulation of toxins in the organs, especially in the lungs and sinuses. It helps cleanse the lymphatic system. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a clear, colorless fluid containing white blood cells that helps rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.Thats why it’s often referred to as the body’s sewage system. By helping keep your airways and lymphatics open, ginger may help prevent the accumulation of toxins that may increase your risk of infection.

  1. Garlic – is highly nutritious and known to boost the function of the immune system. It contains manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, and fiber. One large 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63%. It also reduced the average length of cold symptoms by 70% from five days to 1.5 days.My preference is always the real thing over supplements, but supplements are just as good.

The minimum effective dose for therapeutic effects is one clove eaten with meals, two to three times a day.  If you can’t deal with the strong taste and odor of garlic, you might want to opt for the supplement.

NOTE: if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinning medications, please be sure to talk to your doctor before increasing your consumption of garlic.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar – has so many healing properties. As it relates to cold symptoms, its very effective in clearing a stuffy nose and soothing a sore throat. ACV contains potassium, which thins mucus. The acetic acid in it prevents bacteria growth, which could contribute to nasal congestion. To help with sinus drainage mix a teaspoon of ACV in a glass of water and drink it.

With the sore throat it helps head off the infection at the pass if you start to use it as soon as you notice the sore throat coming on. Most germs can’t survive in the acidic environment vinegar creates. For relief, mix ¼ cup of ACV with ¼ cup warm water and gargle every hour or so.

  1. Honey – naturally suppresses coughs. Its thick consistency coats your throat. The sweet taste is thought to trigger certain nerves that make your throat less sensitive to the cough impulse. The phytonutrients in raw honey have antibacterial and antiviral properties that may help boost your immune system and fight sickness. So, make sure you buy raw honey instead of artificial honey. It’s a little more expensive, but cost much less than a doctor’s visit.

Try combining one teaspoon of honey with two tablespoons of lemon juice in ½ cup of hot – not boiling – water.

One of the best advantages to me following a plant based diet is that I rarely get sick. I can’t tell you the last time I had a cold. If I get a hint of anything coming on I go to my lemon water and ginger.  I haven’t taken a flu shot in years. In fact, I don’t take medications at all. I subscribe to Hippocrates’ – the founder of western medicine – school of thought: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

I get so many nutrients from the fruit and veggies I consume every day. My immune system is pretty strong. I’m so grateful for that. So, of course I want to share my secrets with you.

I hope you will try some of the natural remedies I have described. Better yet, I hope you will incorporate them into your daily diet. If you consume these things on a regular basis, you will likely avoid getting colds and flu symptoms all together.

I hope you will let me know if you try them and especially let me know if they work for you.

References: http://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic/ http://www.rd.com/slideshows/apple-cider-vinegar-benefits/#slideshow=slide1 http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/5-healthy-uses-honey

What I Learned From Skipping My Workouts!

Life is full of so many ups and downs. One day you’re feeling great and like you can conquer the world. The next day you feel completely defeated and want to throw in the towel. At least that’s how it feels for me sometimes.

I’m astounded by how my emotions fluctuate from week to week, especially with my activities of daily living. Case in point, for the most part I’ve been doing pretty good with working out consistently. I’ve been getting in about four to six days a week. Regardless of my eating habits, I’ve been consistent with that. Yet, last week I worked out less than I have in a very long time. I got in two days. Yep – you heard me – two days!

homer

So, I had to ask myself – “What the heck is that about?” What started the week off on the wrong foot was my work schedule. There were a couple of days I had to travel for work and I had to be on the road at 6am. That’s usually the time I’m going to the gym. I could’ve worked out in the evening, but I wasn’t that motivated. After driving all day, the only thing I wanted to do when I got home was plop on the couch and watch TV. Aside from my work schedule, the main reason I didn’t workout was because I just didn’t feel like it!

As the week progressed, I just didn’t want to do it. I kept putting it off and it ended up not getting done. That’s when I had to take a close look into why I was doing what I was doing. There are many times I don’t feel like working out, but I push through anyway. Why was last week so different?

I realized I was allowing my “feelings” to drive me. I have learned that if I want to be successful at anything I do I can’t consult my feelings. I kept waiting to “feel” ready – to “feel” like working out. What I learned years ago is if you wait to feel ready to workout you won’t get it done. At least that’s how it goes for me. That’s why I tend to follow the Nike motto of “Just Do It”. The truth is, energy begets energy. If I get moving, I’ll have the energy to do more.

I saw a quote on a friend’s timeline the other day that was very relevant to this blog. It got my attention and I wanted to share it.

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” -– William Butler Yeats

What this says to me is you have to take action first. I have to create the sparks that are often needed in those situations that I don’t want to do anything.

So, the next time you are procrastinating on an important task – or delaying your workout – here are three things you can do to get you going.

1.       Commit to doing the task for only 20 minutes. This is really good when you’re delaying a workout. If you commit to doing just 20 minutes you will usually feel like doing more. Even if you don’t do more than that, you did what you set out to do. You can apply this to other tasks like working, writing, cleaning the house, etc.

2.       Don’t trust your feelings. In fact, don’t even consult your feelings. They will usually steer you wrong. If the only reason for not doing something is that you don’t feel like doing it – do it anyway.

3.       Remind yourself that energy begets energy.  Know that you’re going to feel much better after you do something that you didn’t think you had the energy or desire to do.

There you have it – some simple strategies for you. Which one of these strategies do you think will be most helpful to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Why is Hard an Excuse to Stop?

no excuses chalkboard

For the past couple of days I’ve been on a quasi-detox. It’s not a full detox, but I’ve been juicing. I’ve been avoiding solid foods and caffeine. I started it because I wanted to reset my body and get some discipline. I just feel off track. I was hoping this would give me the jolt I need to reach my health and fitness goals.

If you’ve ever done any kind of detox you know the first couple of days are the hardest. For that reason I tend to start mine on a weekend when I don’t have to work. I know from experience that on the first day I’m tired, hungry and irritable so it’s not a good idea to be around people during that time.

Well, as usual, day one was pretty tough. It got so hard towards the later part of the day I almost gave in. I had every excuse in the book come to mind as to why I shouldn’t continue. The best excuse I could come up with was – “this is hard.”

It was at that moment I remembered something I heard Carolyn Myss say earlier that morning while I was watching Super Soul Sunday. She was speaking to an overweight woman who sought her advice about her lifelong weight problem. She mentioned that every time she tried to lose weight she would sabotage herself. One of her comments was “it’s hard.” Carolyn’s response to her was “Why is hard an excuse to stop?”

What a powerful question. I had to ask myself the same thing. When I wanted to quit on day one of my detox that question came to mind. I’d forgotten about why I was doing it in the first place. I’m trying to end a pattern of quitting before I complete my weight loss goals. I don’t often do that in other areas of my life where I’ve set goals. But for some reason I’ve been doing that with my weight loss goals. So it’s important for me to see this process through.

I know I’m not the only person who deals with this challenge. Let’s face it, we’re three weeks into the New Year and there are so many people who have already abandoned their new year’s goals. That’s why I want to offer some reasons why you should hang in there.

  1. There was a valid reason that you started. Think back to your “why”. Why did you set this goal? What’s at stake in your life if you don’t reach it? How will your life improve if you do reach your goal? If you think back to why you started this process, it will give you the motivation you need to continue.
  2. You will never reach your goal if you stop. If you keep going you have a shot at making things better for yourself. If you don’t hang in there you have no chance of reaching your goal.
  3. You never know how close you are to your breakthrough. It’s always the darkest hour before the break of dawn. Usually when things start to seem unbearable it’s because you’re near the end. Unfortunately, we don’t always see that or remember that when we’re in the midst of our trials.
  4. Change happens outside your comfort zone. As you begin to push pass what feels comfortable for you, you will experience the change you desire.  If you don’t ever push yourself to your limit you stay in a place of comfort. Consequently, you maintain the status quo and nothing changes.
  5. Real change takes time. Whatever situation you find yourself in that you want to change – whether it’s your weight, finances, or health – you didn’t get there overnight. You have to remember that getting out of that situation won’t happen overnight either. Too often we’re unrealistic about how long it takes to experience real change. Just know that it takes as long as it takes, but you will get there IF you don’t give up.

Just as I wanted to give up on my first day of juicing, I can tell you that I’m glad I stuck it out. Day two has been much easier. I’m less hungry and I have more energy.

So, if you’re telling yourself that it’s too hard I encourage you to stick it out. You’re much closer to reaching your goals than you think.

I’d love to hear your response to the question I posed in this blog. Why is hard an excuse to stop?