Thursday, November 12, 2015

When are you ready for more?

4 weeks ago, I walked into a group workout class with people half my size, not knowing whether I would be able to do the class.  It was a weight and cardio style workout, which on paper seemed incomprehensible for anyone over 300 pounds.  But I modified a few moves and was able to do it - and continued doing it multiple times a week.

Tonight, I walked into a kickboxing class, REALLY not knowing what to expect.  I didn’t even know if my body would allow me to do all the moves.  Was I nervous at first, yes.  Did I know if I would be able to finish the whole thing, no.  But I knew I would never know what I was ready for next, unless I tried it.

Trying doesn’t have to mean potential failure… just means you are figuring out what you can and can’t do at the moment.  And then you try again.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Working Out with Grandma

Over the last month or so I’ve been trying various forms of activities – different intensities of walks and hikes outside, group weight training, group cardio activities, even Zumba.  And one thing I've realized is that you don’t need to be as fit as you might think to start some of these things. 

Think of them all as a progression.  Going straight into a regular Zumba class may be a little difficult.  While it will get you moving, the pace may be pretty fast or you may not be able to do all the moves.  But there’s an alternative to everything! Once you get winded or reach a point in the routine where your feet can’t move as fast as everyone else's - just move side to side to the beat until you can keep up again.  Even in group workouts, there may be some exercises your body isn’t quite ready for yet – so some squats can be done instead (believe me, those add up too, ouch).

Other surprisingly good alternatives are activities geared toward older adults.  Many community education programs have them, even some gyms.   Key words to look for would be "low-impact" or "low-intensity." For example, instead of Zumba, there is a Zumba Gold.  Zumba Gold basically recreates the moves of the regular class at a lower intensity. There’s also a version that is done in a pool called Aqua Zumba.  Again, low-impact. Even if you are a “younger” adult, they may be perfect for your current abilities until you are ready for more.

And if you are now picturing yourself in a room with a whole bunch of people like your mom or grandma…that’s most likely exactly what it will be.  But let me tell you – they are probably the least intimidating group members you’ll ever work out with…welcoming, fun and inspiring at the same time.  If they are moving like that at their age, they have the same goal as you – to keep moving.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ignoring the Looks

It's not easy to handle the looks you get from other people when you are carrying hundreds of pounds.  Especially if it's an extended stare, a disgusted look or followed by an innocent comment from child to parent about why you are so big....I think I've seen it all.  But at some point, you move from seeing it and being embarassed, to ignoring it or not even seeing it all.  

I've had the "talent" of ignoring for a long time. I knew I did this, because I've had to explain it to friends I've been walking with - when THEY start to feel uncomfortable.  (A little experiment sometime - walk a few paces behind someone whose overweight...and observe other people as they pass by, I'm guessing you'll get to a count of 10 looks within a one block radius).

I was recently reminded of this again when I was walking around with a black eye for two weeks (minor surgery, everything's fine).  The interesting thing was, I didn't notice those stares, unless someone asked about it because I was so used to blocking things like that out so it didn't get to me.

If you are in that situation, whether you're the person being stared at or you catch yourself doing the staring, there's one thing to do that makes a world of difference. And that's a smile and a hello.

Instead of letting feelings of insecurity take over, turn it into something positive.  Break the awkward moment and shift everyone back to the human element.  Show them it's not just fat walking around there's a person in there too - and do they probably have a story to tell!  We all do.  Shape, size, color, or age.  On the street or in the gym.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Talking Yourself Through Cravings

Today had all the makings of an off-the-rails kind of day.  Instead of going to the gym in the morning, I decided to sleep in.  Took notes at an early morning meeting, and my computer froze up when I got to my desk with no choice but to reboot and lose the work.  “Chocolate, I would love chocolate right now” popped into my head, wondering if I had enough change for Reese’s peanut butter cups.  Shut that thought down by walking away to make a cup of coffee.  Then, cravings for lunch started in during the 1 minute wait as the cup of coffee was brewing. And when I got back to my desk, I started looking at the food delivery menu (even though I had my own healthy lunch in a cooler within arms reach). 

For several minutes, the craving for something gooey and cheesy kept me looking through the menu for what I might order (but let’s face it, I already know that menu by heart).  At that point, I knew it was quite possible that this day would most likely crash and burn if I kept going that way. So I asked myself what would make it better.  Food wasn’t going to do it.  Sugar wasn’t going to do it. I tried a cup of coffee, and that didn’t do it. 

The answer seemed to be a restart.  I thought about what I would have done if I could restart my day, about how I can restart it now.  And it was to get moving - the gym perhaps.  So I looked at my meeting schedule, looked at the clock...I had an hour!  Was that enough?  Maybe not for a full-blown hard workout…but definitely enough to get my body moving and reset.  Done – left a minute later.  Was only able to get 20 mins in, but felt so much better after.

What can you do to reset during cravings?  A quick walk outside. A walk around the office.  Some days it doesn’t have to be anything except to get your body moving.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Late to the Summer Challenge

It's halfway through the summer and I've only been into my gym 6 times.  I realized this when I noticed the Summer Challenge sign-up sheet posted at the gym.  It was something I did last year for the first time and was quite proud of it - 40 days between June and August.  This year!...I'm a little late to the party.

As I made calculations in my head to figure out if it was still possible, more thoughts started streaming I up for the extra challenge...what if I have a lot of things going on...what if other things come I ready for a routine like would be a major daily priority shift....

And then as soon as the word "priority" came across, I knew the answer had to be yes.  So I looked at my calendar and started scheduling in workouts - figuring out how to make it work even on busy days.  Now this probably wouldn't have worked for me last year, but this year - a different mindset.

What's your Summer Challenge?  Big or small.  They're all equal, when the challenge is right for you.

Monday, July 6, 2015

One Week of Insight Narrows Focus

We’ve all heard of the term “journaling.” Whether it’s food or finances, almost every program includes this as a tool for change.  This word can have several connotations associated with immediately seems long can seem time intensive and involved.  But you don’t need to do it forever to gain some valuable insight.  You can learn where your current focus needs to be, within a very short period of time.

I've never been able to do it for more than a couple days....and I can count on one hand how many times I've been able to do it for two weeks straight.  But each time, I was able to build on what I learned from last time.  Sometimes just seeing the same patterns over and over again proved to be big insight.

Let's take a look at eating habits, as an example...

  • The First Week – Just write down what the food is (write it on scraps of paper, put it in your phone, just make a note of it somehow)
  • Next Time – How much of that food are you eating, and When
  • Then – The activity you are doing while eating food (eating out at a restaurant, eating while you are watching TV or reading)
  • Then - What is your mood before and after, how does your body feel

Over time, you'll become more aware of what you truly need to focus on.  Because it can be something other than eating more fruits and vegetables.  And it isn't always the obstacle we originally think it is.  The more aware and honest you can be, the more you can see what needs to change.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Up to the Sign and Back

A quarter mile into the walk, I was already huffing and puffing.  Then I saw a hill out in the distance and totally thought about turning back.  But I ignored the easy choice and decided….I’ll just go up that hill, see what’s next, maybe go further, maybe not.  Once on top of the hill, I looked down the winding road and it was flat.  So I decided to go a little longer.  As I continued to walk, I saw a sign far off in the distance, and again made a decision….I’m just going to go up to the sign and back.  Breathing heavily, and sweating the whole way, I went up to the sign turned around and went back (secretly excited I would be going down the hill this time instead of up).  This was years ago, on family vacation up in Deer River….walking 1 mile up the road.

Today, I revisited that route.  Boy, was it different.  No longer out of breath.  Sweating a little, but actually enjoyable.  And once I got to the sign, I thought….wow, that was a really short distance, and began to recall how difficult it was that last time.

Whether you are overweight yourself, or know someone that is, there’s something to keep in mind.  Walking is a simple thing we do each day.  But for those that are extremely overweight, it can be a difficult and dreadful task – even 1 mile, or even a couple blocks.  But over time, walking gets easier.  At first it’s one sore step in front of the other, breathing heavily the whole way.  But the more you do it, the more your body (and your mind) gets used to it - which makes the next time easier, and the next time after that. 

Forget the stress of knowing it should be done regularly - just doing it more than you would have done before, can be the best choice you make. Build enough of those choices up over time…you and your body are ready for more.  You decide to go up that hill. You decide to be brave enough to walk with another person (even if you can’t quite carry on a full conversation yet). Your mind starts getting used to those new choices.  And then you get to the point that you begin to look beyond what you are able to do now.  You stop at a sign/landmark that was once a big deal.  And then you look around the curve to see what’s next.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Baby Steps - Put it Over Greens

Today I was in a situation that has happened many times before.  And will happen many times again.  Sitting in a restaurant not by my choosing, and staring at a menu consisting of burgers, pizza, sandwiches and tacos.  Choices, choices, choices.

One little baby step towards lifestyle change….put it over greens.

Barbacoa taco over greens
You can get that baracoa beef taco trio.  You can have some of the pizza the family wants to order.  Just ask for it to be put over a big pile of greens….or a big pile of greens on the side - so you can scrape the pizza toppings on top of it, for example.  

You get the flavor you may be craving, the greens to start supporting your health, and the good feeling of having made that one small change.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fill your feeds with motivation

Not too long ago, I realized a majority of the posts showing up in my Facebook feed were about friends on a night out (drinks, dinners, happy hours), family, or some random page I liked in the past.  I didn’t check Facebook too often - but when I did, it wasn’t really helping me shift my focus towards health.  In some ways, it actually took things in the opposite direction – presenting many opportunities for a night out doing things I didn’t need to be doing.  Then I thought, why not use it as a tool for motivation!

It didn’t take long to shift the balance of what showed up in my feed.  I started by brainstorming who I see as health-focused friends and role models (which is an interesting exercise in itself).  

Then, I went to their profile to see what pages they followed (see the “Likes” section). I clicked on a few that caught my attention, read the last couple posts, and if it was something I wanted to see on a regular basis, I “Liked” it.  Soon my feed was filling up with ideas to try or just simple motivation.

P.S.  While I was writing this post, I was thinking maybe even I should have a page to share information like this.  So I decided to create a Facebook page for  If these posts are helpful, and you want to see more – add it to your feed.  I will try my best to share my experiences in a way that gives you ideas to try and motivation for changes you may want to make.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Work in Progress can still be celebrated

I was asked by the owners of my gym to be member of the month yesterday.  My immediate reaction was “Oh wow. Really! Already?”  You see, most of the time when I’ve seen this type of recognition it is done when there’s big accomplishments involved, and sometimes there’s even a before and after photo.  No matter how many small changes I’ve been making towards the bigger goal, I didn’t see myself like that yet.

But as I started filling out the About You questionnaire, it started sinking in that it was time to celebrate a bit.  My answers alone showed great progress.  And then I pulled out some pictures…


It was the first time I went back and looked at photos when I was my heaviest.  It felt like it was a long time ago, yet I knew exactly how I was feeling then just by looking at it. 

I remember that day. I was travelling for work at the time.  I had eaten horribly during the day, went out for happy hour (taking a cab because I didn’t want to walk), ate some more, drank some more, came back to the hotel later and ordered even more food.  And then in some weird counter-intuitive moment, I decided to take a picture.  If anything as a reminder in an “I’m never going to do this again” moment.  Just for me - no intention of ever sharing it with anyone.  But I’m glad I did.

If you’re trying to make any changes in your life – I recommend taking a few random snaps when moments like that happen.  I can look back at it now, celebrate the progress up to this point, and keep moving forward.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Changes Don't Have to be Big

For some people, jumping right into doing everything they need to do is quite a feat.  Whether it’s losing weight or anything else, only a small majority of people can actually change cold turkey and make it last.  For those that can be successful that way, great - keep doing it.  But I was not one of them.  Little improvements over time was going to be my way. 

I didn’t always think like that.  Almost every time a burst of motivation came to me in the past, I was MAKING PLANS.  I wanted to get myself to the gym every day.  I wanted to eat healthy every meal.  And when all those things didn’t happen, it was a huge burden of failure.  If I didn’t do it the way I wanted to – I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to do it at all.  That circular thought process happened for quite a while.

The truth was, reaching small accomplishments over time really was building up to success.  A lot of the time I had to be reminded of that by my trainer, but then I was able to start seeing them myself and my mindset began to shift.  What I realized is that changes don't have to be big.  At certain points when you look back on what you were like, and the changes you made….you can see how far you’re moved yourself towards your goals.  And it can all start with small things.

Here are a couple examples…

Making the choice to go for a walk, however brief.  That could be to the mailbox and back, could be around the building as a quick work break, could be the stereotypical parking of the car a little further away than you normally do, it could even be starting your day by stepping outside for a bit of fresh air.  Just once, then twice, and then whenever you can.  It doesn’t have to be the miles or hours that our minds sometimes immediately go to when trying to make healthy changes.  If you start small and are successful with that, you bump it up and adjust it over time.  Guess what tends to happen…eventually you keep walking.  And then the stronger you get and the better you feel, the more you want to do it.

Having a protein shake as soon as you walk in the door when you get home from work.  If you find that you go to food as a way to relax or de-stress – try a shake (or even a cold glass of water).  If after you’ve done that, you still feel like having the food that you wanted to eat.  Then have it.  But guess what, you have some good nutrients in your body now as well.  There will be days were that leads to a healthier food choice afterwards, and there will be days when it doesn't.  But the more you do it, the more you’ll notice what those choices do to your body.

Those are just two examples of individual things that can be done on their own.  Small, yes - but that’s what we’re going for in order to make lifestyle changes.  What will eventually happen, is that they start to work in combination.  You realize how a protein shake makes your body feel better.  And then because of that, you might just make a better food choice for dinner or have energy to go for a quick walk.  And then those walks may get longer and longer over time.  And dare I say it, you actually look forward to it because they aren’t as hard to do anymore....(that will be covered in another blog topic).

The main point is, don't get too hung up on what you don’t do - because there will be those days (or even weeks).  But there will be days you do make better choices!  And the more of those choices you make, the better it is over time.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Losing the First 100

What better way to start a blog than a few videos! Some of you may already know me, but not necessarily know what my health goals have been.  And some of you may be getting to know me for the very first time. 

I've thought about sharing my progress for a while now.  In fact, I've recorded a couple videos with the intention of doing a series of them...but that didn’t go too far.  Writing, on the other hand, I did a lot of.  Notes here and there, even a few pictures - all with the intent of not only revisiting them for myself, but eventually sharing some of the things that I learn which could hopefully be useful for others.  

So let's take a look back at my first video (Recorded on 11/15/13, at 15 lbs lost)....

At that point in time things seemed doable, but a long road ahead and the idea of sharing it through a blog started to form.  But then more time went by – making some changes, falling back into old habits, making more changes....and I never really did anything with it.

Then after a number of months, I really started to feel some changes - physically and in mindset.  So I decided to make another video (Recorded on 9/15/14, at 57 lbs and 4 inches lost)

The biggest thing I was learning at that point was that I had to figure out what was going to work for me, and adjusting when things didn't always go so well.  It became even more important to me to share my thoughts and not only give others ideas on what to try for themselves, but also give some insight into what the process is like for someone who is completely changing their lifestyle.

So, here I am 8 months later....only this time I'm getting that first post up.....tonight!  I don't know why but for a long time I was hung up on the name of the website.  I think I had a list of almost 200 names going.  Then it came to me.  I realized how far I had already come in terms of healthy changes, but that I was only mid-way through the first 100 pounds.  Yes, there would be more to lose after that, but the focus now is the challenges of achieving that first goal.  And so, was born. 

Thanks for reading! More posts will be coming soon!