A Healthy Bladder

Fort HealthCare Therapy & Sport Clinic is recognizing National Bladder Health Awareness Month and the importance of taking care of one’s health for an array of benefits.

Your bladder is part of the urinary tract that stores urine. You may not think about your bladder until it begins to feel full or until it stops working properly. Bladder problems can include painful urination, frequent urination, or urine leakage at unwanted times.

Simple lifestyle changes and exercises can help ensure that your bladder keeps doing its job and doesn’t call attention to itself!

1)      Let It All Out—–Make sure you urinate completely by trying to relax and not rush.  Don’t tighten your muscles and you shouldn’t have to push or strain to empty. This will actually cause muscles to tighten and may lead to incomplete emptying.

2)      Drink Plenty of Fluids-But Don’t Overdo It—–Drinking plenty of water can help to flush bacteria out of your urinary tract, but if you are drinking a lot of fluids throughout the day and are bothered by a constant need to empty your bladder, you may want to cut back on your intake. Also, avoid caffeinated coffee and sodas, which will only make you urinate more.

3)      Avoid Tobacco—–Not only can smoking increase your risk of bladder cancer, but cigarette smoke and nicotine are known bladder irritants.

4)      Learn Proper Kegels—–Kegel exercises are done to strengthen the muscles that allow for better bladder control and can decrease or even eliminate urinary leakage. To identify the pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream once. Empty your bladder, lie on your back, and tighten those muscles for a few seconds and relax. Many people do Kegels the wrong way and would see better results from proper instruction.  Others may not need Kegels and would benefit instead from instruction in pelvic floor relaxation. You may need to see a specialist to know what is right for you.

5)      Watch What You Eat—–If you are dealing with urinary urgency, frequency, leakage, or bladder pain, you may find that certain foods can be linked to your flare-ups. Some people find that spicy or acidic foods, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, can worsen their bladder symptoms. Artificial sweeteners are also known bladder irritants.

6)      Stay Regular—–Constipation can contribute to urinary urgency, frequency, and leakage.  Adding fiber to your diet and getting regular exercise can help keep your bowels moving and decrease bladder irritation.

7)      Stop Drinking at the Right Time—–Spread your water intake throughout the day and if you are getting up too much at night to empty your bladder, try to limit what you drink after dinner.

8)      Keep a Diary—–If you feel that you are urinating too often, keep a bladder diary of how often you visit the restroom and how often you are drinking throughout the day.  It may help show you and your doctor what factors might be involved in the problem.

Stay healthy out there!

Your Fort HealthCare Therapy & Sport Team

Brr.

I know it isn’t officially winter quite yet, but it’s feeling more and more like it every day!

With winter comes cooler (rather, FREEZING) temps, ice, longer bouts of darkness, and yes…the “s” word…snow. Last week’s blog touched on the changing seasons and their negative influence on our motivation to exercise and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle in general. What if you are an outdoor exerciser or can’t stand being indoors all winter?

When I am exercising, namely running, I struggle being indoors on a treadmill. I’d much rather get the fresh air and have a change of surroundings, but this can be challenging when the elements outdoors are less than ideal. It is entirely possible to exercise outdoors in the winter and early spring, but takes a bit of planning to ensure a safe and efficient workout session. (Don’t forget that shoveling, sledding, snow-shoeing, and skiing are ALL exercise too!)

When exercising in the dark, safety is still an absolute must. It’s important to wear reflective, bright, colored gear so that you are easily visible to cars and passers-by. I wear a blinking band on my arm and I have witnessed a lot of night exercisers wearing head lamps and other blinking and light-up gear. Carry your water and hydrate as you normally would and let someone know your route and estimated return time. Another option is to carry your cell phone in case you run into problems along the way. Safety first!

Cooler temps mean layering is a must when venturing outdoors for a walk, bike ride, or run.  There are various companies that promote their ‘cold weather gear’ that help keep you warm outdoors while exercising. Adding the extra, loose-fitting layers will help you to avoid injuries and will keep you comfortable. I try to avoid cotton as much as possible as a base layer as it holds onto moisture from sweat a lot more than a ‘tech’ material that is moisture-wicking. When you are wet, your body temperature drops faster, so be aware of that when you start to sweat! Remember to cover your neck and face, especially when it is extra frigid out. Although, sometimes I feel like I spend more time putting on layers than actually exercising!

Injury prevention is still as important in the cooler months. Warm ups and cool downs are vital and can be done indoors before and after heading outdoors. Make sure to dress warm enough and keep in mind your surroundings if there is snow or ice on the ground. Black ice becomes a real threat and can be dangerous if you step on it expectantly (been there, done that—embarrassing, especially on Main Street in Fort Atkinson).

Last but not least, remember to keep your face and lips protected. I know I forget in the winter months about the sun and potential for sun burn, but the rays can reflect off the snow and road and give you a ‘summer glow’ without the summer.  Remember your sunscreen and lip balm!

It is entirely possible to exercise in the colder months outdoors with a bit of preparedness. Use your best judgment and common sense when venturing outside, and don’t forget to have fun!

See You Later Summer!

Sheesh, Monday already? I swear in the blink of an eye the weekend is over and it’s back to the grind time!

Hopefully your cell phone changed to the correct time, and you didn’t miss anything important on Sunday with the time change. I was at a friend’s house, and was awfully confused when my cell phone time didn’t match her alarm clock time when I woke up. Oops! J

One thing I struggle with this time of year is how early in the afternoon the sun starts to set, and I feel like I go to work in the dark and leave in the dark. It’s such a drastic change from the summer when I’m outside as much as possible, and never leaving the sunshine! I start to feel my motivation dwindle, especially with exercising, and become very much a home-body.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with the weather becoming cooler (read: Frigid), less daylight hours and the holidays thrown in the mix. Excuses become easier to make, and the couch becomes a warm and fuzzy black hole after work.  As moving and exercise become less and less, and diets remain the same, it’s no wonder weight gain is prevalent during the fall and winter seasons. How do you keep yourself motivated with health and your exercise program?

I have a unique situation that I am a fitness instructor, and “have” to go exercise.  I LOVE every second of what I do, and it always amazes me the number of people that thank me for “getting them out of the house”.  Group fitness class offers various benefits in addition to the exercise component—you have the accountability of the class that you signed up and more importantly, the social factor. You can sign up with a friend/friends and enjoy the class together, get a few laughs and become healthier.  Check out your local gym or hospital (hint, hint) for a class that suites you!

If venturing outside of your home seems like a daunting task, there are various DVD workouts and YouTube workouts that allow you to exercise in the comfort of your home—even in your sweats! I really like any Jillian Michaels DVDs and have found some awesome workouts on YouTube that are short, sweet and to the point. Find what works for you, and take the couple minutes a day to improve your health. Also, don’t forget about outdoor activities/pain-in-the-butt chores that allow you to get some physical activity, such a raking leaves and shoveling snow.

As the daylight hours become more and more limited, I find myself craving more comfort foods, and wanting bigger portions (What is it about mac and cheese and mashed potatoes—I cannot get enough!) It’s SO tempting to come home and grab the first thing I can find in my fridge or cupboard, or even order take-out because I don’t want to cook and would rather just sit and be lazy. It’s important to keep your diet plans on task when the seasons change, and to be conscientious of how much food you’re eating. I personally struggle more with healthy eating in the fall and winter because gone are the days of farmer’s markets and the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden in the summer, and quite honestly, it’s expensive to buy produce in fall and winter! I make sure to plan out my meals weekly and to shop the food items that are in season to keep costs down and my nutrition goals on track. I am in love with Pinterest or Greatist websites that offer tons of recipes that are easy to make, inexpensive and nutritious and can be incorporated into my busy life.

Last but not least, I think it’s also important to have a support system with your health goals—whether that’s your best friend, your significant other, coworker or family member. Having them join you in a fitness class or for a walk, plan out meals together or to be there if you need someone to talk you down from calling Pizza Hut is a great way to keep you on track. I always feel like I don’t want to let my support person down, and it keeps me accountable. It’s also another way I feel in control of my health plan—that I have someone supporting and backing me.

It’s sad, for me, that summer is done, but it’s no excuse to stop my exercise and diet plans. It means I need to get creative to find the motivation and activities that will keep me moving, and a nutrition plan that works for me without making me feel deprived. Use the resources around you and see what you come up with!

Food Substitutions for Gameday

As much as the cooler weather and earlier sunsets bother me this time of year, I get over-the-top excited about football and post-season baseball. There’s something so ridiculously fun about waiting for the game on Sunday and getting together with friends and decking yourself out in all your lucky game-garb. Of course with football get-togethers comes food, and usually lots of it. I know when my friends and I get together, the amount of food we have could feed a small country.

I try to be “THAT friend” that brings the healthy stuff to parties—veggies and dip, fruit, or usually by request, taco dip (low fat of course). As much as I like the unhealthy food, I don’t like feeling so stuffed because I overdo it or knowing I derailed from my diet plan, which is easy to do with a smorgasbord of the calorie and fat traps.

Certainly, I am not going to encourage BBQ tofu instead of wings or water instead of beer, however, I think healthier choices can be made when hosting/attending a sports party AND without getting weird looks based on the snacks that are brought. You certainly don’t have to be lacking in taste and variety when making healthier choices.

An easy one is chips and dip. Typical chips are loaded with fat and extra calories and dips are made with sour cream, mayo, and sometimes cheese. 1. Swap out your chips for baked and 2. Be conscious of what you are putting in your dips. Are you able to use light or fat free products? Substitute something to make it healthier? 

3. An easy substitution for traditional dips is salsa or pico de gallo, which is very easy to make and tastes better than the jar stuff any day! You can also get ‘fancy’ by adding fruit such as mangoes into your salsa for a fresh kick or black beans for a protein boost. Vegetables such as corn, peppers, onions, and tomatoes add flavor without many calories. I like dicing avocado and putting it into pico de gallo, but I don’t use much because the calories can add up quickly.

4. Instead of chips, you can go with vegetable sticks. Carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, jicama, mushrooms, etc. can be laid out with a low-fat dill dip that is flavorful and easy to whip up.

For main dishes, an easy option is 5. Chili or a 6. Taco bar. With chili, you can use lower sodium tomato juice, lots of vegetables, beans, and lean ground beef or turkey for your meat fix. Tacos can have lots of vegetable, bean, and chicken/lean beef options that can be shared with everyone. A little lime and cilantro go a long way too!

Another option is a 7.Chicken or bean quesadilla. This is easily made on a stove top or George Foreman grill and can be used with whole wheat tortillas and reduced fat cheese. Throw in a little salsa or hot sauce and a side of low-fat sour cream and you’ll be good to go.

 Wings are pretty standard at many sports parties and are the epitome of “man food”. Substituting cauliflower or tofu with BBQ sauce would likely get as far with your party as the Cubs did in the playoffs this season, so I will not go there. I will throw out the idea of using 8. Boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips, marinated, and baked/grilled. Again, not expecting many people to deviate from the ‘real’ stuff!

Along with the meat theme, 9. Chicken or turkey is going to be a healthier option than hot dogs, brats, or other processed meat. If you absolutely have to have red meat, choose lower fat cuts and keep portions in mind.

No party is complete without some sort of dessert that is undoubtedly sinful. 10. I love fruit kabobs as something sweet at the end of a meal or even 11. Brownies that are made with applesauce or lower amounts of sugar, but still give the same warm and fuzzy feelings as the ‘real’ thing. Get creative and see what you can come up with that won’t disappoint in the sweets department.

Last, but not least, there usually is a form of alcohol at the majority of sports parties; after all, we do live in Wisconsin. I’d like to believe that strawberry margaritas and Redd’s Apple Ale are healthy because of the fruit content, however, should be consumed in moderation. ((I’m going to go here)) 12. Light beer is an option to keep extra calories at ba, and clear spirits are usually lower in calories as well.  I have found some fantastic concoctions on Pinterest that are healthier for alcoholic beverages and have fruit mixed in!

Getting together with friends for sports or any get-together is a part of life and should be celebrated. There’s no need to feel deprived, but you also want to keep your overall perspective and purpose for health in mind. I’m a true believer in everything in moderation, but sometimes it is kind of fun to break of out of the box and try something new. All little changes add up!

Thanks friends! See you soon!

Trick or Treat

Happy Halloween week! Hopefully your pumpkins are carved, treats are bought, and you have your best Richard Simmons costume ready to go.

Halloween week is a fun week with all of the decorations, kiddos running around in their costumes, and the seemingly never-ending candy bowls. Although delicious, the extra treats can be detrimental to your waistline and nutrition plan.

I have learned I cannot keep any form of candy at my desk or at my apartment. As much as I tell myself “oh, I’ll just have a piece here and there”, it’s never the case. One leads to two, which leads to 75, or so it seems. I have adopted an “out of sight, out of mind” policy and know this is what works for me. What do you do when your work, friends, or family have treats set out to tempt you?

As I mentioned previously, one idea is to remove the treats so the temptation is not there. Clear out your cubicle, desk drawers, kitchen cabinets, and anywhere that you know the treats are hiding. If you are in a communal office, it may not be the best decision to hide the candy bowl from your coworkers (no Freddy Krueger freak outs), but, you may be able to move it to a more discrete place.

Another option is to ‘arm’ yourself with healthy snacks for when temptation strikes. If you know times of the day you start to think about grabbing for something sweet, you can make a plan to overcome the sugar trap.  A piece of fruit, cheese stick, handful of almonds, or cut-up veggies with hummus are options that are easy to prepare, easy to grab, and a fast/nutritious option for when temptations strike.

Drinking water or a low-calorie drink (something other than diet soda, preferably) is another idea to keep cravings at bay. Sipping on water throughout the day, or your favorite tea or light juice (watch the sugars!), will help keep you alert and may help to ward off the draw of the sweet stuff. I find a lot of times when I’m “hungry” I’m actually thirsty and need to be drinking more water. My cravings disappear and I keep on my health plan.

Last but not least, if you absolutely MUST have a treat, opt for something you’re really craving and stick with the fun-sized portion. Sometimes it’s better to get the craving “out of your system” by indulging, but make sure you tell yourself you are allowing yourself this treat and then it’s back to the grind. If you do find you overdid it, add a few minutes to your exercise regime for the day or a little more intensity. It’s all about balance!

A healthy lifestyle is not about depriving yourself and making foods “off limits”, but rather recognizing your triggers, learning to make choices, and arming yourself with a plan to combat temptations and remain on a path that gets you to your goals. Incorporating a plan for healthy choices and an exercise program will keep you on the ‘straight and narrow’ and helps keep you in control.

Until next week!

Tailgate Food Takeover

Happy (almost) middle of October!

I’m hoping you had as fantastic of a weekend as I did and were able to get out and enjoy the weather. It’s a good thing I was able to enjoy the weather this previous weekend because if we have more Packer football games like we encountered yesterday, my poor heart won’t be able to take it.

As much as the cooler weather and earlier sunsets bother me this time of year, I get over-the-top excited about football and post-season baseball. There’s something so ridiculously fun about waiting for the game on Sunday and getting together with friends and decking yourself out in all your lucky game-garb. Of course with football get-togethers comes food, and usually lots of it. I know when my friends and I get together, the amount of food we have could feed a small country.

I try to be “THAT friend” that brings the healthy stuff to parties—veggies and dip, fruit, or usually by request, taco dip (low fat of course). As much as I like the unhealthy food, I don’t like feeling so stuffed because I overdo it or knowing I derailed from my diet plan, which is easy to do with a smorgasbord of the calorie and fat traps.

Certainly, I am not going to encourage BBQ tofu instead of wings or water instead of beer, however, I think healthier choices can be made when hosting/attending a sports party AND without getting weird looks based on the snacks that are brought. You certainly don’t have to be lacking in taste and variety when making healthier choices.

An easy one is chips and dip. Typical chips are loaded with fat and extra calories and dips are made with sour cream, mayo, and sometimes cheese. 1. Swap out your chips for baked and 2. Be conscious of what you are putting in your dips. Are you able to use light or fat free products? Substitute something to make it healthier? 

3. An easy substitution for traditional dips is salsa or pico de gallo, which is very easy to make and tastes better than the jar stuff any day! You can also get ‘fancy’ by adding fruit such as mangoes into your salsa for a fresh kick or black beans for a protein boost. Vegetables such as corn, peppers, onions, and tomatoes add flavor without many calories. I like dicing avocado and putting it into pico de gallo, but I don’t use much because the calories can add up quickly.

4. Instead of chips, you can go with vegetable sticks. Carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, jicama, mushrooms, etc. can be laid out with a low-fat dill dip that is flavorful and easy to whip up.

For main dishes, an easy option is 5. Chili or a 6. Taco bar. With chili, you can use lower sodium tomato juice, lots of vegetables, beans, and lean ground beef or turkey for your meat fix. Tacos can have lots of vegetable, bean, and chicken/lean beef options that can be shared with everyone. A little lime and cilantro go a long way too!

Another option is a 7.Chicken or bean quesadilla. This is easily made on a stove top or George Foreman grill and can be used with whole wheat tortillas and reduced fat cheese. Throw in a little salsa or hot sauce and a side of low-fat sour cream and you’ll be good to go.

 Wings are pretty standard at many sports parties and are the epitome of “man food”. Substituting cauliflower or tofu with BBQ sauce would likely get as far with your party as the Cubs did in the playoffs this season, so I will not go there. I will throw out the idea of using 8. Boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips, marinated, and baked/grilled. Again, not expecting many people to deviate from the ‘real’ stuff!

Along with the meat theme, 9. Chicken or turkey is going to be a healthier option than hot dogs, brats, or other processed meat. If you absolutely have to have red meat, choose lower fat cuts and keep portions in mind.

No party is complete without some sort of dessert that is undoubtedly sinful. 10. I love fruit kabobs as something sweet at the end of a meal or even 11. Brownies that are made with applesauce or lower amounts of sugar, but still give the same warm and fuzzy feelings as the ‘real’ thing. Get creative and see what you can come up with that won’t disappoint in the sweets department.

Last, but not least, there usually is a form of alcohol at the majority of sports parties; after all, we do live in Wisconsin. I’d like to believe that strawberry margaritas and Redd’s Apple Ale are healthy because of the fruit content, however, should be consumed in moderation. ((I’m going to go here)) 12. Light beer is an option to keep extra calories at ba, and clear spirits are usually lower in calories as well.  I have found some fantastic concoctions on Pinterest that are healthier for alcoholic beverages and have fruit mixed in!

Getting together with friends for sports or any get-together is a part of life and should be celebrated. There’s no need to feel deprived, but you also want to keep your overall perspective and purpose for health in mind. I’m a true believer in everything in moderation, but sometimes it is kind of fun to break of out of the box and try something new. All little changes add up!

Thanks friends! See you soon!

Mental Health Break!

10/6/14

October! Woohoo!

I’m not sure if this happens to you, but there are some days I come home from work and just sit in silence, thinking about how much of a whirlwind my life is and trying to recap everything I did during my day. Usually, the recap is a fail and I end up continuing my evening with Food Network re-runs before bed to start all over again the next day.

Yesterday, while perusing Facebook during a commercial break of the show “Chopped”, I came across a Fort HealthCare post about this week being “National Mental Health Week”. After a good laugh about the irony with my life, I started to think about the significance of the week and how most people could likely use a ‘break’ from life or at least incorporate some stress management or ‘YOU’ time into the daily routine.

If you’re like me, you find that the majority of your day is dedicated to those around you—whether it’s work, boss, or clients, children, a significant other, a team you coach, sports or extra- curricular schedules, laundry (resounding theme, huh?!), or your parents. All of that is great, but without your own health and mind in tip-top shape, you aren’t going to be as much help to those around you. Where does the ‘you’ time fit in? Where is your downtime to relax and take a mental break?

Those who know me know I don’t sit well and I am constantly ‘go-go-go’. I have had to learn to pencil-in time that is dedicated to me and to make sure I stick with it. Stress is one of those things that if left uncontrolled can take a detrimental toll on your body and cause health issues that can haunt you. I take that thought seriously and make a conscious effort to make time daily for myself even though my days are scheduled to the max.

One of the newest changes I have made is adding a 15-minute lunchtime walk to my daily routine. I have it penciled into my calendar and I keep shoes in my office so there is no excuse not to go. Just being able to step away from my desk for 15 minutes is enough to clear my mind and ultimately bump up my productivity in the afternoon when it’s easy to sllllllllooooooooow down.

I always have a few-minute window between my hospital job and swim team in the afternoon that I utilize to call my best friend Laura.  It’s our way to catch up, but also to vent if I have anything that I need to get off my chest. I almost instantly feel better after getting off the phone with her and look forward to this daily.

The other ‘habit’ I have is always stretching in the morning. There are some mornings that I go for a run and the stretching happens after naturally, but the days I don’t run, I like to take a few minutes to sit in the quiet and do light stretching. Yes, this is sometimes my opportunity to play catch-up on Facebook and Twitter to see how my cool friends spent their evenings while I was in bed, but I still consider it ‘me’ time.

All of the little ‘stress management’ things start to add up. They help me feel like I am in control of at least some part of my day and that I am doing something for me.

Now, my suggestions may not be for everyone, but you have to be proactive in thinking about what YOU can do during your day to give yourself a bit of stress management and keep you the healthiest and happiest you can be.

Since this is a PG-rated blog, I won’t be suggesting engaging in building Bloody Marys in the morning or anything too crazy in the name of stress management, but I think it’s important to note that there are healthier ways to de-stress and make time for you.

Here’s a quick suggestion list of what you can do for a bit of ‘YOU’ time:

  1. Exercise. One of my favorite things in the entire world! Take a few minutes daily to walk or run or join a group fitness class. Bonus: Weight management, stronger cardiovascular system, increased muscular strength and bone structure.  BONUS BONUS: Social boost. Get some friends together for a walk or fitness class—laughing and fun ((almost)) guaranteed!
  2. Take 5 minutes. Take 5 minutes to breathe and move away from the computer or stressful situation. Most of the time, the reason your stressed is the way you’re perceiving the person or thing that’s stressing you out. Think more positively and stress could be kept under better control. Makes sense. Dr. Mike on YouTube gives this take on stress HERE.
  3. Stretch. You can stretch just about anywhere. Stretching helps to relieve tension in muscles and can restore blood flow in an area that hasn’t been moved in awhile. Plus, it just feels good!
  4. Bubble bath/Shower. Take time to pamper yourself with a long bath or shower. Bonus points for lighting a soothing candle!
  5. Laugh.  There’s a long-standing joke with one of my friends about certain YouTube videos we watch when we are stressed, but we know they are guaranteed to make us feel better. Watch parts of your favorite funny movie or talk to a friend/coworker that can make you laugh.
  6. Schedule ‘no appointment’ time. Specifically set aside time that you can do an activity or relax and do ‘nothing’. Honor that time as your own and don’t break it!
  7. Stay in touch with friends. Call a friend or family member or send an email to catch up with them.
  8. Read. I LOVE reading and try to do it every evening. Pick up a good book, newspaper, or blog (hey, hey!) and take time daily to read and give yourself that free time.
  9. Schedule friend/family time. Once a month, my friends and I try and schedule a “girl’s night” that we all bring a dish to pass and hang out together. It is one of my most favorite events of the month and I look forward to the relaxation and just hanging out.
  10. Go to a movie, the mall, coffee shop, etc. Take time to go to your favorite hangout and enjoy being away for a bit. I’m a bit of a weirdo and enjoy going to the movies by myself, but it’s one of my favorite ‘me’ time activities….and no one steals my popcorn!

Taking time for yourself is vital for your health and keeps stress at bay. Start small and try something for YOU today!

Later!

Finding Purpose

Hey friends-Hard to believe we’ve reached the end of September, and in true Wisconsin fashion, a 30° temperature difference than yesterday.

I had the privilege to go to a Worksite Wellness seminar last week Thursday in Milwaukee (yes, my boss let me out). In addition to learning about techniques to engage employees with wellness programs, there was also a vendor fair, exercise demos, and dark chocolate at lunch! My favorite part of the day, however, was a presentation given by keynote speaker Victor Strecher. Victor began his speech talking about his career and some of his biggest accomplishments within the health and wellness field. He spoke eloquently of his wife and kids and of some of their best memories.

The tone of the presentation changed when he brought up his youngest daughter dying at age 19. His daughter Julia had contracted the chicken pox virus as a baby when the family was overseas and the virus attacked her heart and gave a grave diagnosis. She was placed on the transplant list and was fortunate to receive a heart transplant that saved her life. Victor and his wife decided to make sure she lived every day to the fullest as they didn’t know what her future held. They traveled together, went on vacations, met people, and made each day an adventure. She passed away, 19 years old, in the middle of the night from a heart attack, while on a beach vacation. The night before, she said “I’m so happy right now I could die” and Victor wanted it to resonate with us that not everyone in that room could say the same thing at that moment. Victor went on to describe the unbearable loss of not only his daughter, but a life centered around a purpose-to make his daughter’s life the best it could be. This was his focus, his drive, his life. Now that his focus had been taken away, he felt a loss of purpose.

The finale of the presentation was about Victor having to find a purpose for his life again and being able to find himself through this process. He was able to take a new view on life, his own personal growth, and pass along the message of purpose and self-discovery.

I thought about this message the rest of the day and into the weekend. If asked, what would my purpose in this life be? Would it be the cliché “I want to help people” or “to live life to the fullest” or something different?

I promise I won’t make this blog into a big, philosophical write-up about changing your life, but I am going to challenge you to find a purpose-for your health.

I consider myself to be a healthy individual. I follow a low-fat and appropriate-calorie diet for my age and activity level; I exercise the recommended 30-60 minutes daily with a blend of cardio and strength training; I drink enough water; I watch my alcohol intake and cheer for the Packers. But, what is my PURPOSE with health?

Dictionary.com says purpose is:

  1. The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used
  2. An intended or desired result, end, aim, goal
  3. Determination, resoluteness
  4. Practical result, effect, advantage

Looking at that list, I would tell you my purpose for health is the desire to feel good about myself, aim to be medication-free, be an inspiration to others, and stay away from the path my parents and family members have taken with their health.

Now it’s your turn to think about what your purpose for health is and develop one. Without a clear purpose or drive, you have no roadmap to where you want to end up. You go through the motions and those become stagnant and meaningless leaving you without change. Think of your values and all who will benefit from you becoming happier and healthier.

An easy way to get started is goal setting. Think: “What do I want to get out of the changes I make for myself?” Do I want to lose weight? Do I want to start an exercise program? Do I want to have more energy? Can I get to a point that I am off medications? Your goals do not have to be extravagant, but rather something that is meaningful to you and is attainable. These can be daily, weekly, monthly or a long-term goal for the end of the year.

Once you have a goal in mind, it’s time to make a plan to work towards it. This is when you may need to pull out a calendar and pencil-in exercise, healthy cooking, meditation perhaps, and recognize these are immovable appointments. It is easy to find another ‘priority’ that can easily take over the time you have set aside for your “health appointments” (laundry CAN wait), but make these times precious to you. I have found it to be beneficial to set up a ‘date’ with a friend or significant other to work out and put it in my calendar, knowing they will hold me accountable. Tell your friends and family your goals so they can be supportive and help keep you on track.

It’s ok to think outside the box and ask for advice/suggestions on different ways to incorporate new tricks into your health routine to make the process fun and not seem as much like work. Try a new fitness class, walk instead of drive to a lunch date, branch out, and cook a new recipe or take an extra lap around the grocery store…just don’t linger in the ice cream section-sprint through that!

Now is the fun part-putting those changes into action and working towards your health purpose/goal. Expect some days to be easier than others, but never give up. Always keep that purpose in the forefront of your mind and know the work you are putting in is benefitting you in one way or another. If you fall off your plan for a meal or a workout, start back later that day or the next day. Change is an ongoing process and health is a lifestyle; they don’t necessarily have deadlines. Allow yourself rewards with successes and learn from days that are more challenging than others. Adjust goals to better suite you but always, always, always keep moving forward.

Making sure you have your goals and your plan will help you to feel better, overcome life’s everyday challenges, be in control of the changes you are bringing into your life, and be more in control of your life in general.

With a purpose, changes will seem more important and necessary and more of a priority.

See ya next time!

 

Avoid the plague!

9/18/2014

Hey Hey Hey everyone!

It became very apparent last weekend and a little into this week that fall is coming quickly, and if you’re not ready—too bad! I ran a 5k this previous weekend, and the temperature at the start of the race was 41 degrees! Holy moly! I had to pull the gloves AND running tights out!

With fall comes a lot of positives—pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING, football games, changing leaf colors, and, my personal favorite, caramel apples. In midst of all of the negatives, it seems that illness runs rampant through schools, corporations, and wherever else you decide to venture out to.

I started to feel the effects of a cold coming on this week and immediately went into “oh crap” mode—I took my Zicam, washed my hands obnoxiously, drank a bunch of orange juice, and doubled my fruit and vegetable intake. Thankfully, I got by pretty easily with my cold this week, but I know others are not as fortunate with the crud that is going around.

It’s always better to be proactive with cold/flu prevention than to deal with a nasty bug and try to fight through it with everything else that goes with life. Here are a few tips to avoid catching the “plague”:

  1. Wash your hands. Wash them often. Think about how many surfaces you touch in a day (door knobs, counters, pens, keyboards, etc) and how many germs are festering on everything you touch. I motivate myself to wash my hands with really good-smelling soap from Bath and Body Works, and carry over-the-top-smelling hand sanitizer everywhere I go.
  2. Take vitamins. I take a gummy multi-vitamin twice a day (no, I am not 5). Vitamins help to boost your immune system and help supplement any shortfalls you have with nutrients in your diet that your body needs to function daily. Vitamin C may be beneficial if you feel a cold coming on to pump up your immune system.
  3. Avoid contact. Avoid those individuals in your office, department, or workplace that have a cold and wash your hands if you are in close contact with them. Also, try to avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth, which can be a gateway for germs to enter your body and make you ill.
  4. Water. Drinking lots of water will help to flush all of the junk out of your body and keep you from getting dehydrated, which would be a double-whammy.
  5. Healthy diet. Many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide vital antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins that can help ward off illness and help you overcome them if you start to feel under the weather. Branch out and try to kick-up your fruit and veggie intake!
  6. Rest. Ok, I do feel like a hypocrite on this one, but rest, sleep, and taking time for yourself will help to keep your immune system functioning properly and keep you in tip-top shape.

Sometimes, no matter what you do, illness is unavoidable. However, make sure you take every step possible to prevent the misery and “annoyingness” that comes with being ill. You value your health when you are sick, right? Take care now so you can continue to feel better later.

Until next week!

Jumping Outside The Box

9/3/14

September has made it!

I know people say that Labor Day marks the ‘end of summer’, but I don’t see it that way. After all, it seems like summer just began!

One of my favorite parts of summer is exercising outdoors. I love that the sun is up early in the morning when I run and is out later in the evening.  It is refreshing being able to get out of my office and apartment to spend time in the fresh air and getting a tan. The downside? The smell of fresh doughnuts at local grocery stores in the morning and grills fired up in the evening. Pick your poison.

One of the newest ‘adventures’ I embraced this summer was teaching an outdoor boot camp class in Jefferson. I never really viewed myself as the epitome of a classic boot camp instructor (yelling at participants to correct their push-up form after seemingly doing hundreds of them), but I thought “hey, I’ll give it a try. What’s another fitness class? Should be easy enough!”

I remember my first night of teaching, shaking throughout the entire hour-long class. Here, I had taught 8-10 classes per week for 3 years and now I was standing in front of a group of 12 and couldn’t formulate a sentence. The hour dragged, it was hot outside, the exercises were hard, and I couldn’t wait for it to be done. I remember getting in my car, humbled, and feeling completely deflated and like a failure. I woke up the next day with a few new aches and pains and wasn’t sure if this was for me.

The next week came around and I was bound and determined to make a better impression and to have fun. You know what? That’s exactly what I did and I was more at ease. The class was better and I smiled the entire time. I woke up with less pain the day after and realized I could do it and that I would be ok.

Flash forward 3 months and I’m teaching boot camp 3x a week and now am a bit hooked. I love the challenge and have become stronger mentally and physically because of it. The class was completely out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I attempted something different and found a new love.

I think many people share a similar experience when they try a new exercise class or embrace a new exercise program. They may not come in as cocky as I did, however, they may have different expectations or wake up the day after and go “Holy *&#%, I didn’t know I had muscles there!”, which could be a deterrent for the next class or week ahead.

Like any lifestyle change, it will take a few weeks and some potential setbacks before it becomes a habit. Setting goals and making a plan is a way to envision where you see your life going and the steps it will take to make the changes necessary. It may be a good idea to include family, friends, or a significant other in your plan to keep you accountable or to have them join in your efforts. I know class for me is MUCH more fun when my friends are there and I have someone ‘waiting’ on me. It all may be challenging and may not feel comfortable, but keep at it!

I think it’s of utmost importance to prioritize the steps you need to take in order to make your goals a reality. This could include meal prep, exercise time or joining a class, grocery shopping, and even time to unwind and recover. Make time in your calendar and schedule to ensure nothing will get in the way.  For some individuals, this may be more of a challenge with kids, spouses, sports schedules, and laundry, but it is possible when you make it a priority and set your mind to it. The results will not be handed to you; YOU have to be the one to earn every pound lost and make the commitment to yourself.

Stepping out of our comfort zone with exercise is one way to challenge the body and push it to a level that will give it a jump start and eventually produce results. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy new running shoes and go for a 10 mile run or jump into an advanced boot camp class, but you need to be able to expect to work to see the results you want. I can promise it will be worth it and you may even find a new passion.

Until next time!