Mirror Mirror….a commentary

waterman  When this blog began, I knew its purpose and focus–lifestyle, healthy living, as well as clearing up and clearing the air of misconceptions.  Since its initiation in April, I have published my 50th post.  I thank my loyal readers and followers.

I will be continuing my series next week “Working out isn’t working.”

Rarely do I address the rise or fall of those involved in or depicting fitness.  The majority of us work towards the same end; to help those who seek, find and achieve their goals.  I only approach this subject now, because of its polarizing effect.

I’m sure most of us have read, seen, or heard of the “fitness mom” on Facebook.  She strikes a pose in a pair of short shorts and sports bra inquiring “What’s your excuse?”  Below, are her three sons under the age of 3.

Before I give my take on this, I have to say I was appalled at some of the comments she received.  They ranged from “are those kids really yours–they don’t look anything like you..” to far worse.  Earlier this year, I published a post on how those who put in the time, may be criticized for doing so. Often they are viewed as narcissistic, lacking life and priority skills.  Well, there is no shame in being fit and looking the part; after all, it is the aspiration of many.

There are those who have accused this mom of “body shaming,” as well as perpetuating to women we must be size 6 or below to be beautiful.  I’m sure many have fallen prey to this ideology, experiencing it 1st hand.  As a nursing student, I recall a young mother who just gave birth.  The reason she comes to mind is this: she refused her celebration dinner tray, to speed up her way back to her size 2 jean.  Why do we as women, allow ourselves to fall victim to such absurdity?  It’s not enough we carry a child and give birth, but now we’re to believe we must be a size 4 by the time we push the baby out?  And woe to those who can’t fit into their skinny jeans within 3 months.  You now become the poster girl for “letting yourself go.”  How inane.

This feed is the effect such commentary garners from the “What’s your excuse?” inquiry.  I’m sure many emotions and memories are stoked and evoked from her question.  But once that happens and our emotions are quieted, then what?  Really, she is simply holding up a mirror; reflecting what society tells us we should be.  Inspirational or inflammatory–it matters little.

The take away?  We are talking–whether about fitness, healthy living, nutrition, or feelings of self-worth, we are provoked.  Maybe it solicits a change, a change in the way we view ourselves or the world around us.  Sure she looks great–but I’ve seen worse and I’ve seen better; kids or no kids, younger AND OLDER.  Let’s not lose sight however of the real relevance of her pictorial; or her question.

Mirror mirror on the wall, is this the reflection we should expect from all?

Keep up and keep at it.

Questions or Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Working out isn’t working…part three

cakes Forgoing your favorite sugary treat to avoid the extra calories?  Many do.  Some indulge in a cheat day to not feel totally deprived.  For me, the jury is still out on that one.  I opt for “cheat moments.”  Will explain more in a separate post.

For now, I want to highlight the debate on artificial sweeteners.  Earlier this year, I wrote “Sugar in the Morning, Sugar in the Evening.” This post originated on 5/19/2013.  It contains my personal views regarding sugar and sugar substitutes, as well as my experience with one of them.

Here’s what I’ve found recently.

This article is meaty; but worth the read.  It raises a red flag concerning sugar substitutes, and their effects on our bodies once they enter.  You may not be getting the results you desire from these artificial sweeteners.  If your workout isn’t working, this may be part of the reason.
In the quest to become fit and trim, our two main weapons are exercise coupled with calorie restriction.  Articles such as this, can certainly make one question the form calorie restriction takes.
As stated in “Sugar in the Morning…,” I know what sugar is.  It’s been around for quite some time–predating anything attempting to take its place.  Your body knows how to process sugar.  Most of us are well aware of how too much of it affects our well-being.  Can you honestly say the same of its substitute?
All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.
Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.  Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Working out isn’t working…part two

happy apples  This appeared on my blog originally May 11th this year.  However, it is a helpful uncomplicated way to figure calorie expenditure. 

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

http://www.doctoroz.com

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 serrenity.c@gmail.com

Working out isn’t working…part one

eat it up  This post was orignially titled “Are you eating because of what’s eating you.”  I posted it 6/22/13.  However, I think this may be helpful if your workout is missing the mark.

You are what you eat.  Most of us have heard this reiterated since childhood.  We’ve probably put it to use ourselves, in an attempt to discourage “unhealthy” eating habits.

Why we eat, is just as important as what we eat. 

You are on your way home from work, which happens to be a 90 minute commute.  Today traffic is being rerouted, bypassing your exit.  Your little one should have been picked up 15 minutes ago, and the sitter wants to know “how much longer?”   Your eldest son has football practice, and is now contending with the sitter for you to pick up his call.  Your husband is also waiting to be heard, but his call gets dropped.  You finally make it off the expressway.  Your husband called back, and is on his way to the sitter.  Your son phones again–but this time it’s to tell you football practice is Thursday; today is Tuesday.  You actually get a unemcumbered trip home.

Even if this isn’t quite your life–you get the idea.

Now perhaps you have had a late lunch, even munched on that “healthy” snack while sitting in traffic.

Yet what will most of us do within the next 30 minutes?  Forty percent of us caught in this or similar scenarios, will stop at McDonald’s, Burger King, Brown’s Chicken, or whatever franchise is nearest and dearest.  A portion of this forty will order take out.  If you are not part of that percentage, there is a sixty percent chance once you arrive home, one of your initial actions will include opening the refrigerator; even if you don’t have to prepare a family meal.

Sound a little more familiar?

Women are usually portrayed as the poster children for emotional eating.  Starting in our teens (and often earlier), we develop a love-hate relationship with food.  Yet if we take a second look at the above scenario, this could have been Dad–caught in the same situation.  Who’s to say his actions wouldn’t include a trip to Burger King or Popeye’s?  Maybe, maybe not.

While our emotions may not be gender biased, perhaps our reaction to them, is.  Either way, taking a step aside as well as one back, is the best way to assess the situation.

While I am not an emotional eater, I fall into the category of emotional non-eater or faster.  If I am truly stressed, I can go for days without eating.  However once the circumstance is resolved, the “flood gates open.”  Also, if I find myself hungry before bedtime, I CANNOT go to bed that way.  There are few circumstances I find worse, than laying in bed hungry.

Before I find myself post-stress, I know I must prepare.  Easy access is key.  Keeping cereal bars low in fat & sugar, and other snacks in the house that will not translate into pounds on my body, are part of my preparation.  Once I feel able to eat a meal, the idea is I won’t want to drive to the nearest rib joint or fried chicken place (though these are always a temptation).

For me, assessment and planning are tantamount to staying on track.  Recognizing my triggers, then preparing for them before the deluge ensues, is part of my plan.

Many ideologies and theories exist on emotional eating.  None of them mean much, unless you realize what is happening, and find a suitable solution.  Hindsight may be 20/20.  Yet that hindsight comes with a cost.  It may mean the difference between the 20 lbs you gain, or 20 lbs you won’t have to lose.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Working out isn’t working…series intro

B. Lee   It may be day 32.  Perhaps day 132.  Either way, you’re not happy with the fruits of your labor.  You’ve been hitting the gym, the DVD player, and watching what you eat.  Yet from your perspective, all you’ve noticed are marginal changes.  You’re not alone, but that isn’t necessarily comforting.  So you want to know, what’s the problem?

This topic is important to address, but beyond the scope of a single post.  It’s why I’ve decided to tackle this over several; well at least over a few.  In doing so, I hope to solicit feedback from my readers; their struggles as well as their triumphs.  What has worked, what has not, and what is on the fence.

Weight loss, diet, and exercise may go hand in hand; but is still not a “one size fits all” proposition.  Most of us have heard to the point of ad nauseum”you are what you eat,” or “move more eat less.”  Equally tiring is the endless litany of “try this” exercises to shrink our abdomens, blast our saddlebags, or curtail the billow of bat wings.

Even if you’ve managed to lose the weight you wanted, have you achieve the look you wanted? 

These are questions and topics I find surprisingly under addressed.  Given the numbers with such concerns, the information ranges from non-existent to cursory, biased to pricey–in more ways than one.

Sorry to say, there are no definitive answers.  Again, the “one size fits all” mentality needs to go the way of the wooly mammoth.   But if your motivation is stalling because you’re not seeing desired results, subsequent posts might shed some light. They may strike a nerve or even turn you off.  That’s ok.  What we want to hear, often has little to do with what needs to be said.

If you are a trainer, are your clients satisfied if they reach their goal?  If you are in the midst of a heated battle with the bulge, where does your vulnerability lie?  Cravings? Lack of time for exercise?  Does facing an apparently constipated scale undermine your activity, or sticking to balanced meals?

If any of this sounds familiar, stay tuned.  Why?  Because under or uncharted territory, here we come.

Questions?  Comments?  Your story?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Is this you?

tummy of love Advice.  Most of us enjoy giving it.  Unless we ask, we don’t always enjoy being on the receiving end.

We all realize if we have a few pounds to lose; if not more.  Few would actually tell someone they knew little about, they are overweight. Yet it’s what is left unsaid that can hurt.

There is now more than ever, enormous pressure especially for women, to maintain a lean physique.  Men however, are now starting to feel the “pinch.”  Either way, have you ever noticed the reaction, verbal or nonverbal, if someone enters the room who is clearly overweight?  Especially if most there are thinner, or to their ego, “in shape?”  Stares, glares, and sometimes snickers is what greets them.  Add in a look of disdain with a few whispers just for good measure.

I hate to say this as a woman, but I’ve noticed my sex to be the most critical.  True enough, guys talk too.  I’ve overhead plenty in the background where I workout.

I’ve wondered–why are we so judgmental of one another?  Is it a stroke to our own egos that we are not “in their shoes?”  If so, what if we were?  Could we withstand anything from the well-meaning advice, to the gossip not meant for our ears?

Many of us can recall how we felt in grammar school, or even high school, if we were unpopular.  Perhaps you were reluctantly picked as a teammate.  Maybe no matter how hard you tried, you just didn’t fit in with the trendy click.  Hurt feelings never really grow up.  They simply morph into what we call depression, eating disorders, and maybe something more drastic, if left unchecked.

WHY THIS TOPIC?

As a nurse personal trainer, I have clients most personal trainers would not engage.  Due to complexity, or whether the population I serve they would rather not, I am acutely aware of my client’s struggle.  The look on one’s face as a thirty something ran proudly by him, I knew stung worse than a slap in the face.  Now in need of a hip replacement, he was once a runner.

If you are a trainer, you know the uphill battle you face.  You also realize that just because someone says they want to lose weight, doesn’t mean they are committed to the work involved.  They are committed to the end result, often not what it takes to get there.  Well, at least not at the level needed to see results.  But that’s a story for another day.

As a trainer, you have to strike that careful balance; walking the line between motivation and determination, vs. humiliation.  And most of us realize what the latter looks like.  It can produce results, I won’t argue that.  But it can produce more than that as well.  It’s yet another reason why I have the clients I do.  They’re just not up for the drill sergeant routine.

Whether you are involved in fitness professionally or it’s your daily mantra, keep in mind–it is an evolution.  For many, it’s a revolution–one they may not be starting willingly.  Perhaps it is an “or else” diagnosis that is the driving force.  Maybe it’s an unforgiving dressing room mirror, outlining every billow and bulge in a clingy cocktail dress.  Or that last 15 lbs of “baby weight,” which stubbornly adheres to the midsection–even if you are the guy. 

If you are an elite bodybuilder, yogi, or marathon man, you are still evolving.  If you are not, but still find yourself turning a critical eye towards someone less fit, consider your evolution.  It may be in a state of regression, instead of progression.  And like humiliation, we know what that looks like too.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.

Questions? Comments? Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

You don’t have to be a runner, to enjoy running…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Is this a future sprinter, half marathoner, or marathon man?  Maybe–but right now his face says it all.  He’s simply enjoying putting one foot in front of the other, adding a little bit of speed.

If you don’t quite remember how this felt, maybe its time to reconnect.

You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy running.  The rich auburn and burnt orange that leaves are sporting this time of year, make a trail all the more becoming.  Depending upon your choice of venue, there may be hills, a few twists, and a couple of turns.  Run the hill, or run down the hill.  See how far you can go before hitting a curve.  If you’re feeling adventurous, try a short sprint.  You get the idea.

Most consistent runners are interested in mileage, pace, and distance.  If you run track, cross-country, or looking to complete your first marathon or even 5K– that mentality is completely understandable.  Yet what if none of the above apply?  While I may be committing sacrilege, I’ve found there’s more to running than that stuff.

BENEFITS

Nothing for me anyway, really revs up the metabolism like a good sweaty run.  Those of you who follow my posts realize though, it’s my favorite–but certainly not my only form of exercise.

One of the major benefits I’ve discovered with running (even intermittent) is a sense of calm during the day.  You probably thought I was going to say weight loss.  Yes, that too–unless you are eating your way past your mileage.  And that can be a very real possibility. 

When I run or run/walk,  I find the minutia of the day doesn’t throw me off-balance.  Yoga helps with that too.  But running came first, and continues to be my “North Star,” in times of uncertainty.  I find myself working out solutions that didn’t really come, until I ran.

RISKS

As with any exercise, there are risks.  If you already have joint issues, running probably isn’t going to be your “go to” routine.  If in doubt, check it out.  A good work up and consult with your MD, or sport’s medicine practitioner is in order.

While you may never become the ultra-marathoner of tomorrow, or even a 10K enthusiast, who cares?  It doesn’t seem to be a concern for the little one above.  Is he going to go a hard mile or do a slow-paced three today?  He seems equally unconcerned if he ran better yesterday, than he is now.  Will he be able to pass the toddler ahead of him, if there is one?  From the looks of things, these questions are not uppermost in his mind.  Unless you’re awaiting race day, take a page from his book.  He only knows I’m running now.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com