healthy living waterfallHow’s that working for you?  This question is usually posed with marginal to overt hints of sarcasm.

Yet for me, it represents something far more critical–it is the final step in the nursing process.  EVALUATION is the finale–or maybe the revamping of your care plan.

Since we are talking healthy living and fitness, your care plan is really your plan of care.   If you have practiced due diligence–thorough assessment, diagnosis, realistic planning, AND implemented your plan, you are ready to see how it’s working for you.

Was inventory/assessment of my lifestyle accurate?  Did I diagnose my situation correctly?  Did my plan work?  Was it too ambitious or not ambitious enough?  Did something keep me from implementing it?  EVALUATION is the phase in which you will answer these, as well as other questions which surfaced.

If your plans fell short of expectation, what needs to change?  Do I need to get up an hour earlier to exercise?  Can I leave my children with the sitter another 20 minutes, to walk–better yet, run around my favorite park?  Even if you don’t complete the trail or park, 20 minutes of exercise at the end of your work day before heading to the sitter–differentiates stressed out mom from a revitalized one (I know this from experience).

Commitments are strange.  Many of us make these covenants in good faith–MOSTLY TO OTHER PEOPLE.  Unforseen circumstances aside, we manage to keep them.  Even if it means we are mildly to decisively inconvenienced, who wants to be known for breaking their word?  Why then, is it ok to break trust with yourself?

Working as a nurse, caregiver to my late mother, and later as a mother myself, two recurring lessons come to mind.  There were many; but these remain the most pervasive as well as evasive.   I have found that illness & sickness are not necessarily synonymous; and if you don’t know how to care for yourself, you really can’t care for, or about anyone else.  The latter may sound a bit trite, and REALLY selfish.  I know you’ve heard it before.  Yet as with most of my posts, I include my results.

Nursing treats the human response to illness.  That’s what separates our discipline from medicine.  Because of this distinction, and because we are with the patient consistently–we witness what family, friends, and physicians do not.   What is that?  Human capacity and response.  Illness isn’t usually a choice (though we may be major contributors to it).  For example, how many of us have awakened with a scratchy throat, stuffy nose, and low-grade fever, yet still go to work?  We feel ill–but refuse to be handled by it Sure we may treat our symptoms–Tylenol, cough drops, or other OTC medication.  Yet we go on.   Need further distinction between these apparently interchangeable terms?  See my last post under “A little strength training please…”

Caring for oneself is not really common; and in many instances is looked upon with disdain.  I’m not really talking mani-pedis, spa treatments, shopping, or a day of “pampering.”  These have their place; but there is more to taking care of yourself.  However, you have to want more–more than a temporary fix. 

I have found–both personally and professionally–that refusal to be handled by any situation, begets a change.  This doesn’t mean you have license to be demanding, caustic, or insensitive to the circumstances.  It means seeking alternatives.  If your PLAN fell short in EVALUATION, don’t be handled by it, change it. 

The nursing process is a dynamic one; ever evolving–never stagnant.  It is upgraded, re-thought, and revamped constantly.  It is what takes the PLAN of care from process to progress.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Need specific help with your fitness plan? Staying on track?  Contact me at



Strength–It comes in all shapes, sizes, and especially circumstances.

It was in the face of parents–who despite the loss of their own child’s life, found the courage to donate their organs so others may live.  It is in the hands of adult children, caring for an aging parent struggling with mental clarity.  It was in the eyes of a former nurse, now a patient–battling breast cancer.  Strength is much too complex to be confined to one ideal.  With this in mind, a little strength training please..

When most of us think fit and strong, something like this comes to mind.strong pull upA well chiseled male physique certainly gets my attention.  I have to admit–this was and still is (to a degree) my idea of what fitness embodies.  Yet as with running (my belief was it was the only exercise worth doing) I’ve had to re-think this.

If you’ve read my previous “toolbox” post, I wrote about INSANITY.  Just to reiterate, it was a wake-up call to my senses as well as my body.  It made me realize there was more to fitness than running.   What else is in my toolbox?  If you want something that incinerates fat and a little cellulite too, try this.  It also builds long, lean, defined muscle.  So for now, put down the dumbbells and put on your dancer Give ballet–or at least a ballet inspired workout, a try.  I know what you’re probably thinking.  Never being a fan of anything too “girlie” I understand.  My scarred right knee still testifies to falling from a tree onto pavement.

As many little girls, my mother enrolled me in ballet classes.  However, it soon became evident I was not going to be anyone’s sugar-plum fairy.

I’m not a dancer (except for my short stint at 5 yrs old) and the word “graceful” has never been used to describe me.  Therefore, I decided to purchase DVDs entitled “ballet inspired” workouts.  Choreography is not part of the ones I use.   My results?

First and foremost, the leg exercises had me thinking my thighs were on fire–from the inside out.  The continuous arm movements rivaled any machine or dumbbell work I did at the gym.  The next day..well I’ll say this.  Even when I ran 10 miles for the 1st time, I was not this tired.  My favorite arm work, free weights, machines, or otherwise, never left me feeling this sore.  INSANITY–move over.  You still corner the market (for me) on intensity and sweat equity.  However, this is mostly due to the plyometrics.  BUT–I believe even Shaun T. may buckle under some of these simple, yet effective workouts.

If you still need convincing about the mental and physical endurance ballet provides, I would like to call your attention to a fairly well-known actor.  Remember, I started this segment addressing strength and its many diversities.  I believe he embodied these and more.

Does anyone remember Dirty Dancing?  Roadhouse?  Patrick Swayze?  Patrick Swayze was a rough and tumble Texan.  He happened to be blessed with charisma, talent; and he wasn’t too bad on the eyes either.  He also possessed an athleticism beyond most.  It saw him through working on a show called THE BEAST–WHILE enduring chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.  I wondered–from where did such athleticism and determination come?  Personal grit–and the discipline of ballet.  Mr. Swayze was a classically trained ballet dancer.

What has my time with this workout revealed?  A longer leaner effect on my limbs.  While I’ve always had a small to medium rear, it still has been a source of consternation for me to tone.  INSANITY definitely helped; but these workouts took it to the next level; refining and defining.

For my male readers–before you pass judgment or cast dispersion, why not give these workouts a try?  Sure, you’re strong now, but the question is, are you Patrick Swayze strong?

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Which DVDs have I used?  BALLET BEAUTIFUL BODY BLAST by Mary Helen Bowers.  There are 4 segments–arms, 15 minute body blast, as well as butt series 1&2.  Simple, a little redundant; but effective.  I also use BALLET BODY–TOTAL BODY by Leah Sarago.  This one for me, is quite challenging.  All segments–arms, core, as well as lower body are around 20 minutes.  She also includes a warm-up as well as cool down/stretching segment.  Both of these workouts are indeed workouts; no choreography.

Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.

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healthy living waterfallI often wondered if the nursing process–assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation– could be applied to anything requiring a practical format for change.  If you have been following this series, I hope the answer is YES.  In my opinion, nursing contributes more to society than credited or realized.  My point in writing this series, is not only to illustrate how this process can help those outside the field, but to indelibly reflect the contribution nurses make in many ways–unsung and unnoticed.  Ok I’m done.

Prevention has always been a passion for me.  Witnessing first-hand the “afterthought” when it comes to illness, I now choose to utilize my skills in prevention.  Specifically–this means healthy living and fitness.

IMPLEMENTATION–the last stage before evaluation, and the “let’s get to it” after PLANNING, is my favorite part.  It all starts to take shape here and now.  Was my assessment correct?  What about my diagnosis of the situation?  Will my plan work?  Time to find out.

IMPLEMENTATION is indeed the “let’s get it done” phase.  It is also where plans can fall apart.

You PLAN to work out 3 times a week, for at least an hour.  You’ve made up your mind you will get up at 5:30am, go to the gym–or do that almost impossible looking DVD.  This is the commitment.   BUT–you over sleep on Monday; Tuesday you have an early commute, and Wednesday you awaken to a flat tire.  Thursday the baby sitter cancels, and Friday you are just too tired to think.  The weekend is here at last–maybe now, well maybe not.  Sound familiar? I know it does to me.  My intentions were good, but my follow-through was anything but.

I had the best excuses too.  I’m on my feet all day(that’s my workout), I have a young son, I don’t have mom or mom-in-law around to help, I’M JUST TOO TIRED.  These reasons were great–25lbs later, not so much.  What did I learn from all of this?  A PLAN IS JUST A PLAN, UNTIL IT BECOMES AN ACTIVITY.  Only then is it IMPLEMENTATION.

My solution?  For starters, I got a treadmill.  If I didn’t wake up early enough for the trail, there it was–staring me in the face.  Kind of like a neglected lover.   That impossible DVD?  Who said I had to do every minute of it?  Those on the DVD certainly took breaks.  Also, who said my workout had to be in the morning?  Yes, I was tired; some shifts were so hectic, there wasn’t time to go to the bathroom.  Yet I found if I went to the trail–even for a walk/run, it re-energized, yet calmed me down from a stressful day.  Paradoxical as it may sound–it’s true.  I was more patient with my son, and still had energy for the rest of my evening.

At first, the extra effort produced marginal returns.  However, I found a large part of IMPLEMENTATION, IS DETERMINATION.  That determination meant redesigning my plan.  It also may meant forfeiting one thing, in hopes of gaining (or losing) another.  How did this translate for me?  No workout equaled less food; and no sweet after dinner (this WAS a CHALLENGE).

What happened?  I saw results–some I expected, others I didn’t.  Yes, I lost the weight I wanted.  Yes, I had more energy, as well as patience at the end of the day.  So what were the unexpected consequences of this journey?  My son now 16, runs cross-country and track.  Once infatuated with White Castle cheeseburgers (he ate several at a sitting) he now refuses to eat any burger, more than twice a month.  He has exchanged doughnuts in the morning for yogurt or cereal bars.  He runs/works out 5 days a week.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  I’m not a chemistry or physics major, but I don’t have to be to know this.  I’m just a nurse, implementing her plan.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at


happy applesWhile working as an educator  (I taught the principles of dialysis & theory of renal failure), I reminded my students constantly:  Man’s theories change–sometimes month to month, hour by hour, often minute by minute.  Be mindful of the prevailing data, but equally mindful that it will change.

This is a topic which I’ve wanted to address for sometime, but approach with mixed feelings.  What is this, which evokes such feelings of trepidation?  Sugar and diet.  A four letter word–joined with one which many believe, should be.

Sugar has been tried, found guilty, and all but executed as the major culprit in obesity, diabetes, and even addiction (sugar, sweet cravings).  So as a nurse, I feel great pressure to climb on this bandwagon.

Sugar is no innocent bystander; but neither is one’s decision to ingest massive quantities of it.  Yet our bodies require glucose to function.  If deprived critically enough, brain activity suffers.  Does this mean I get a pass to eat 6 cookies instead of two?  Have an extra helping of French Silk pie?  After all we are talking brain function.  Yes we are, but you could probably stop at one cookie, and skip the pie.

Hyperglycemia (too much circulating blood sugar) is the long-standing battle in diabetes.  Most of us are familiar with this.  What we may not be as familiar with is hypoglycemia.  Too little sugar has its consequences as well. Have you ever felt a little shaky, or unable to focus if you haven’t eaten?  These are just a couple of the symptoms of hypoglycemia.  Eating regular meals usually prevents this.  Yet if we are talking whether we obtain enough sugar without even trying–the answer is yes.  A resounding one at that.  Most of our dietary sugars are obtained with little or no effort.  Certainly we recognize sugar in cakes, ice cream, pudding, etc.  Yet what about orange juice?  Barbecue sauce?  Salad dressing?  Again, we obtain most of the sugar we need (and then some) without realizing it.

So what is my personal take on this controversial, much maligned, yet desired substance?  Well let’s take a look at a few things–starting with sugar substitutes.  There are many to choose from.  In 1879, Saccharin was discovered, quite by accident.  Constantine Fahlberg–while working in his laboratory, spilled a chemical on his hands.  Later that evening at dinner, he found the bread sweeter than usual.  He later realized his hands (guess he didn’t wash them prior to eating) made it sweeter.  Enter the 1st artificial sweetener–and the foundation for others to follow.  Today however we have a litany–Splenda, Truvia, just to name two.  Yet the fact still remains, most of these substitutes have originated in the latter half of the 19th century, to the 21st.  So–how long has sugar been around?  I can assure you, it predates any of these.

My point is this.  I know what sugar is.  I know the consequences if I ingest too much of it.  For me, it’s nausea followed by a headache.  Too many sweets become jelly rolls on my waistline, and pudding on my thighs.  However, the jury is still out for me about substitutes which claim to be “better for me.”  I don’t know what they are, or their true origins.

Short but true story.  Attempting to be “healthy,” yet satisfy my craving for vanilla ice cream, I picked up a pint.  It contained a sugar substitute.  After a couple of spoonfuls, I decided it wasn’t for me.  It tasted thicker than normal ice cream, and something about it upset my stomach.  I put the rest of it in the sink, and ran warm H20 on it.  I can’t recall the last time I left an unfinished bowl of ice cream–yet if I did, it melted.  After a couple of minutes of running warm H20 on this, it still was a glob in my sink.  That sounded the death knell for sugar substitutes in my home.

Sugar in morning?  Yes please, in my tea.  Sugar in the evening? Most of the time, I take a pass.  Yet I can assure you, if it’s going to be sweetened, it’s going to be sugar–well maybe a little honey.  That’s the only substitute that will find its way onto my table.

Do you know the signs of hypoglycemia vs. hyperglycemia?  Check out LIVESTRONG.  Search hyperglycemia vs. hypoglycemia.  Not too much medical-ese in this article.  Here are a couple of links I found below.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact me at

yoga female on topFitness for me has many faces.  It is definitely not a “one size fits all” endeavor.

As I have written in earlier posts, running has been a mainstay in my “toolbox.”  As much as I hate to admit it however, it has proved somewhat one-dimensional.  Before my running enthusiasts leap to defend, I am discussing what works for me.  Let me explain.

Unless I was consistently upping my mileage, as well as watching my diet (which is essential to incorporate into any regime) I found I was gaining weight.  I also started to experience problems with my right knee.  This is not uncommon due to the repetitive nature of running.  While overuse of certain muscles can occur with any routine, runners are very prone to overuse issues others may not suffer.  Still I do it.  Why?  Because I love it.  Yet I had to find something to support the muscles that run; in a way “support my habit.”  Enter INSANITY.

In case you haven’t seen the infomercials, INSANITY is workout which consistently changes routines.  With this is mind, your body is always working to adjust & readjust to what’s going on today.  Because running is so repetitive, INSANITY gave me a jolt–as well as a wake-up call.

Most runners (myself included) feel they are in great shape.  Whether you run track, cross-country, distance, or anything in between–if you are a consistent runner, you are in great shape–for running.  However, try something like INSANITY, and you will be unpleasantly surprised how out of shape you feel.  I know how I felt–and it was runner’s arrogance which kept me from trying other workouts.

The results?  INSANITY made me a stronger, as well as faster runner.  My mileage suffered initially–simply because now I wanted to go faster.  It reshaped my body, giving me more muscle without bulk.  However, it also increased my appetite.  Not surprising though, considering the workload you are performing in a short period of time.  Keep in mind, you are only doing this for less than an hour (second month DVDs are an hour-long).  In order to maintain caloric burn, newer research suggests you your keep active throughout your day.  It doesn’t mean you’re doing plyometrics and high intensity aerobics all day.  It does mean you are mindful of your activity level and what you are eating.  Taking a walk later, cutting grass, cleaning out your closet or crawl space (a workout in its own right), are all ways to keep that activity level elevated.

Make no mistake though, INSANITY is NOT for everyone.  It incorporates explosive jumps, into HIGH intensity workouts.  If you have joint issues (especially knee) you may have to modify or even skip some of the routines.  In my case, I modified–then found my body adapting and getting stronger as I progressed.  As always, my recommendation is to preview & review.  Preview any video (if you can) and review your history/medications with a medical professional, BEFORE you begin.

INSANITY is another tool in my box.  Like any wrench or ratchet, I use it in conjunction with other equipment.  It is not my only tool–nor will it be.  I received the boxed set 2 years ago, and alternate/incorporate it into my week.  That week includes strength training at the health club, running on treadmill (I know, anathema to those who run outside exclusively) and running outside when I can.  So what else is in my toolbox?  Two workouts which for a long time, I considered much too “girly girl” for me.  Yet like INSANITY, they gave my body another wake-up call–as well as results I never achieved by gym workouts, running, or anything else.  But more on that next time.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at



happy apples 

This aired on the Dr. Oz show on May 10th; at least here in the Chicagoland area.

Click on Chris Powell.

Few of us are interested in what works for someone else.  We want to know what works for us.  This method takes the guess-work out of what is already challenging enough.  Based upon your body weight, this equation will tell you exactly how many calories you should be eating.  How few or how many more (if you are looking to gain weight) you choose to consume, is up to you.

Body weight x 12 = amount of calories you need to maintain your weight

Most of us consume 20% more than we need–that for me was not surprising.  What was however, was the amount of fat & calories supposedly “healthy” foods contain.  If the show is still up on the site, you wil be too.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at

getting ready  In my most recent post under FITNESS, I relayed what has worked for me.  Will add-on to this in subsequent post.   Meanwhile, would love to hear what has or has not worked for you.

Today however, I will be addressing my most annoying pet peeve.  Though I hate to admit it, this has actually worked.

1.  Belittling my body by comparison–this type of mental battering does work, but with disintegrating results.  For a brief amount of time, I would work out a little harder & eat a little less.  What came next?  More comparison, more self-deprecation, which led to what?  Binge eating and more self-abasement.  In the long-term, whatever “results” I achieved by this method were synthetic and short-lived.  Inwardly, miniscule change occurred, to keep up the outer effect.

Few of us will acquire or maintain media images of ideal bodies.  Why?  The possibility exists that the person in question doesn’t possess that body either.  Even if they do–what did they go through to achieve it?   In contrast, by no means does this give one license to eat, drink, and be merry without restraint. Oh well, what the hell.  Also, I have found criticism existing of those who have put in the time and dedication needed to achieve a certain result.   It ranges from ” if they’d work the hours I do, they couldn’t spend all their time at the gym,” to “if I could afford to be lipo sucked & tucked, I’d look like that too!”  Point taken; with validity in many cases.  Yet excuses and criticism of yourself or others, doesn’t give you the body you want. (Hasn’t worked for me anyway)

“You get what you work for, not what you wish for.”  I recently saw this quote on a stock photo.  Truer words were never spoken.

Is there a happy medium?  Absolutely.  Getting what you work for is part of a process; one which leads to greater effort with greater results.  What is it that is so gratifying about a struggle?  Well why do people desire to climb Everest? Participate in an Iron Man/Woman event?  What enables someone who has been told they will never walk again, struggle to take one step?  There exists in all of us, the desire to overcome.  We as a species must evolve.  It is a primordial mechanism that keeps us moving forward, regardless of circumstance.  As long as you exist on this plane, this desire will arise in you.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes the worse–yet it is there.  Use it, but use it wisely.

To achieve your fitness/weight loss goals, the point is to BEGIN.  For some, just the thought of starting a routine is intimidating.  No one said you had to do it alone.  Asking for help may be your beginning.  Whether that help comes in the form of exercising with a friend, journaling, enlisting the assistance of a trainer, or a combo plate of the above, you are learning what works for you.  That’s your evolutionary process.  Realistically this should be your main objective; learning, evolving, learning a little more, evolving a little more.  Then comes the day when you thought what couldn’t happen, has.  You are no longer “there,” you are “here.”  The question now becomes “are you satisfied?”

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at

courage to do male nurse nurses of yesteryear nurse with baby teaching fitness or nurse

Nurses–where would we be without them?  From the bedside, chairside, to the schools where they care for our children, to visiting our homes to care for our elderly or loved ones–indeed, where would we be without you?

I wanted to take a moment to reflect and say “thank you.”  These two words are seldom heard in our profession.  Certainly, we manage well enough without them.  Oftentimes, a smile or a nod is all we need.  It is enough.  For today however, from one nurse to another, for all the times you did not hear it or feel itthank you.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.


healthy living waterfall

Live life unscripted–we’ve heard this in ballads, and touted throughout pop culture.  Most of us realize life is unscripted; especially when our best laid plans go awry.  Yet that’s just it, somewhere along the way–there was a plan.

PLANNING is a pivotal stage in the nursing process.  Why?  It paves the way for IMPLEMENTATION & EVALUATION.

PLANNING usually isn’t a complicated task; it’s sticking to it that gets in the way.  Sound a bit ridiculous?  It should.  However, it’s a reality we all face; in one way or another, at one time or another.

From a health and fitness perspective, PLANNING is KEY.  However, it’s the IMPLEMENTATION or follow-through which leads to lifestyle change.

For the moment let’s stick to PLANNING.  As stated earlier, planning isn’t usually complicated.  We’re going to keep it that way.  Yet, our plan should include these vital elements when thinking fitness–nutrition adjustment, move modification, and education.  I have coined the term NAME.

Everyone has a name-a proper noun to which we respond, when we hear it.  Unless something traumatic occurs, most of us will not forget our name.

Nutrition adjustment is the make or break element here.  You may have been told it is exercise.  Exercise is a must; but your weight loss battle is won or lost at the table.   You can actually gain weight, even if exercise is part of your daily routine.  You must expend or put out, more calories than you take in.  It really is that simple; and that complex.  For specifics on caloric expenditure, see my post under Nutrition.  Furthermore, recent theory suggests that unless you are moving throughout your day, an hour at the gym if the rest of your life is sedentary, may not be beneficial.  Will keep you posted, as some of these clinical trials are very new.

Move modification may mean walking throughout your day, running, resistance training, home workouts, or any combination thereof.  The point is this–do something.  If you have not engaged in regular exercise, have mobility issues, or restricted because of cardio-pulmonary compromise–this doesn’t spell the end or let you off the hook.  Every workout is not for every body.  Your responsibility is to find one that is right for you.  Proper consult with your physician, as well as thorough ASSESSMENT, are essential to your PLANNING.  ACSM (AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SPORTS MEDICINE) prescription principles suggest the following:

Cardiovascular exercise–should be 3-5 times a week, for 20-90 minutes.  The routine should be continuous and rhythmic in nature

Resistance training–should work major muscle groups to their full range of motion (ROM), with control of speed.  Eight to ten exercises of 2-4 sets each

Flexibility–In order for your muscles to “trust you,” you should hold your stretches for at least 15 seconds.  Flexibility training should be 2-3 days per week, to mild discomfort (Mild discomfort is difficult to define for everyone.  When in doubt, consult your MD; and especially your own body).  Flexibility training can be static or accomplished with help–15-60 seconds for each; working towards 3-4 repetitions

EDUCATION–or continuing education, is tantamount.  How many of us have returned to school either to “brush up” on a subject or acquire new knowledge?  From floral arranging to learning to speak a different language, most of us desire to know more.  Even if the desire isn’t always there, the requirement may be.  Modifying your lifestyle to reflect your weight loss/fitness goals require education; continuing education.  This doesn’t just mean looking up new exercises or diet trends.  More notably to you, it means interpreting your own data.  Understand what your body is telling you AND document it.  In this way, you have a written record of your successes, failures, and everything in between.  It can also be a useful tool when discussing progress with your trainer or medical professional.  The point is you are educating yourself, about yourself.  This is essential for your nutritional as well as exercise component.

As a nursing student, I was constantly reminded “if it’s not documented, it’s not done.”  That mantra has seen me successfully through false allegations of neglectful care, to assessing new employee skills in the field.  With this in mind, I cannot stress enough, the importance of documenting your progress; even if its regress.

NAME is just a reminder I use.  However, it can be useful to remember and reconcile your PLANNING stage.  There are countless ways and means to see you through.  Regardless of what you choose–have a plan.  Even if needs revamping, rethinking, or rebooting, HAVE A PLAN.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.

Questions?  Contact me at