6 Fitness Tips From a Reluctant Exerciser

Fitness Tips for FitbitFTC Disclosure

Let me say, for the record, that aging is not for the faint of heart. It seems that there’s a new study every week about how to age gracefully. Social media is full of posts with tips and tricks. But the reality is there are no quick fixes and since ageing is a part of life and everyone experiences it differently, you play with the hand you’re holding.

About three years ago I won a fitness tracker. In the world of health and fitness trackers that’s a long time ago. Compared to today, it was bare-bones. It tracked my steps and my sleep. It wasn’t very accurate and I would often get discouraged. As part of the Verizon influencer team, I was recently sent a FitBit Charge HR to show me how far fitness trackers have come and help keep my 2016 fitness journey going.

At the end of January I joined a gym, which for this reluctant exerciser was a big step. I saw a coupon on a daily deal site for a 30-day trial for less than the cost of lunch. I figured if I went a few times I’d have gotten my money’s worth. I ended up going about 5 days a week. I was going to get my money’s worth! Near the end of the 30 days I found out that my health insurance has a deal at the gym and for the cost of a nice meal out my whole family could join.

That was the start of my commitment to going to the gym and slogging through the ‘weight loss’ option on the elliptical machine. All of March and April I dutifully checked in at the front desk, cleaned off my machine, put in my Plantronics Backbeat Fit wireless headphone, and listened to podcasts as a way to distract me from the fact that I was at the gym.

I’ve now had my Fitbit Charge HR for a few weeks and I’m a bit obsessed with it. Before, I wasn’t tracking my steps or my heart rate so all I could rely on was the machine. But in these few weeks I’ve learned a lot and I want to share 6 fitness tips I learned with you.

  1. Those machines at the gym lie! Whether it’s number of steps, heart rate, or calories, you’re not getting the real information. I found out that that the machine I like bumps up my steps by about 20%. Sure, I’d like to get credit for reaching my daily step goal. But this is one of those times where we need the truth. I might not be able to handle the truth, Sir, but good fitness and heath can’t be built on a foundation of lies.
  2. Knowing your heart rate is more important than you think. There are different ranges of fitness heart rates and you need to be in the right zone to meet your goals. Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re good to go on a more intense fitness routine, but we need to get the heart rate up and start sweating sometimes. With the heart rate feature on the Fitbit, I open up my app and constantly monitor my workout so I know when I can push myself and when I need to just pace myself.
  3. Don’t wait to reward yourself with a fitness tracker. There are so many different options and price points, if you get yourself a fitness tracker now you’ll meet your goal faster.
  4. Get up and move! We sit way too much. I know, we see this a zillion times all over the news and social media. We’re too sedentary, and as a keyboard jockey I’m right there with you. So set alarms to remind you to get up and move. Even if it’s just to do a few hundred steps, you’ll appreciate the diversion of your time. And don’t be afraid to wander around your house just to get in your last few hundred steps. There are times I’ve closed the door in the bathroom to run in place or do jumping jacks to get to 10,000 steps for the day. It’s a reminder that I need to spread out my steps so I’m not up at 9pm walking laps around my house instead of snuggling with my family.
  5. Track all the things! If you need to keep track of your food or water intake, do that. Maybe you want to go old school and use a journal or notebook. Whatever you decide, if it’s something you need to track then do it. We lie to ourselves all the time and we don’t pay attention to serving sizes and ingredients when we’re being tempted by cupcakes and, well, pretty much anything other than vegetables.
  6. Listen to something you enjoy. Whether it’s music, podcasts, audio books, streaming video, or old voice mails from your best friend, find something to keep your mind off the time. I’ve found a few great podcasts that keep me moving and motivated to get to the end of the show. And when I was at the gym during the Preakness, I popped open the app to watch it live. Nothing like horses running at full speed to get you moving! Get a comfortable pair of earphones and get moving. As I mentioned, I have the Backbeat fit wireless headphones. I had been using the wired ones that came with my phone but the movement bothered me and I felt like one crazy move and my phone is going to go flying. With the wireless headphones I feel like I can pay attention to my heart rate and move around the machines without worrying about my phone.

I’m the farthest thing from a fitness expert, fanatic, or lover, but if this Fitbit Charge HR can get me up and choosing the gym over surfing Facebook on a Sunday morning then there’s some kind of magic in it. I have a mantra – Exercise is fun! – I say to myself as I drive to the gym; knowing one day I might actually believe it.

Now that BabyGirl is a teenager I can’t say any of this is ‘baby fat’. Sure, ageing has brought new challenges. But it’s also brought knowledge and awareness. Tools like my new Fitbit (which you can get from Verizon) are perfect for those of you who might be reluctant exercisers like me. It’s a great reminder to get moving and to do it in a safe way. To paraphrase Lao Tzu, the daily journey of 10,000 steps begins with just one.

Fitbit Charge from Verizon


Mamavation Monday: Planning Ahead for Disney World

I’m in the final stages of vacation planning. The suitcases are out and the packing list actually has things checked off and there are piles of clothes, toiletries and extras waiting to be organized so there are no over-weight baggage fees. See, even my luggage needs some mamavation!

I’ve spent the past several months planning out this vacation. We’re making our annual trek to Walt Disney World and with that comes making sure many of our meals are arranged in advance. Unlike most vacations where you can almost always find something to eat within a few minutes, Disney World requires planning. Restaurants are often full at peak dining times and unless you are lucky, it is a real possibility that you’ll be eating fast food (or Counter Service or Quick Serve meals, as it is known at the House of Mouse). I don’t eat burgers, chicken nugget and hot dogs too frequently when I’m at home so I’m definitely not going to eat them for multiple meal when I’m on vacation. Besides, I think vegetable should be involved – and no, iceberg lettuce and hot house tomatoes on a cheeseburger don’t count.

Since it’s not our first trip to Disney I’m pretty familiar with most of the restaurants where we’ll eat. And, again, this year we’re not on the dining plan because I have a really hard time with most of the kid’s menus having high fat and fried foods. Also, we’ve found that we either eat too much or waste food. Neither of which are good.

One of the biggest concerns I hear about people vacationing at Disney is they worry about what they eat. It’s very easy to be tempted. I know where every churro, Dole Whip, Chocolate Covered Mickey ice cream and frozen coke stand is located. And let’s not even mention that I’ll be there for the final weekend of the Food & Wine Festival and will be surrounded by such deliciousness that just typing this makes my mouth water.

Family vacations can often be stressful, and a full day at the Disney Parks is right up there. Eating a healthy meal should not add to the stress. With a little planning ahead, I know where I can get quick snacks to tide me over without breaking my calorie bank. I also know that Disney is supportive of my healthy eating so I can ask for modifications to my meal to help me stay within my allotted points budget.

I look forward to the favorites such as Le Cellier, Crystal Palace and Citricos as well as all the new booths at the Food & Wine festival at Epcot as well as Saana at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Even more exciting is knowing that I have a plan that will work not only for me, but also my family. And one that does include Dole Whip, Mickey Waffles and Pretzel Bread.

When you’re on vacation do you make sure you stay on plan or do you give yourself permission to throw caution to the wind?


Mamavation Monday: Everything In Moderation

The saying goes, Everything in Moderation. Even Julia Child believed that any food could be enjoyed regardless of what your dietary needs were in terms of calories. Fifty years ago no one was really all that concerned with fat grams, calories, trans fats, fiber content, or carbohydrates. Really, these are concerns of the excesses left over from the 1980s and 90s. I’m not sure what the impetus was that got us focused on these things, but I’m not sure it was a good thing.

So here we are now, turning over packages and reading labels very closely. This, I’m all for. I think it’s made us more aware of the stuff in our food that isn’t real and has gotten many of us to return to fresh foods. At the same time, we have more dining out options than 20 years ago and are faced with the uncertainties of that experience. In addition, we socialize more with friends and family, thus requiring us to eat food prepared by others who may not be as focused on their daily food intake as we are.

This is where the idea of everything in moderation comes in. Sure, when we’re at a restaurant we can ask for our veggies steamed with no butter and push the bread basket aside. We can ask for no sauce or gravy and pass on the dessert menu. We can go to our friend’s house and no have wine or a cocktail, instead opting for club soda or sparkling water. We can restrain ourselves from the ooey-gooey, cheesy side dishes by loading up more crudité or fruit.

The reality though is it’s not alway easy. We don’t want to offend a friend who has made a delicious meal. We may want to share an entree with a family member. And, really, we want to enjoy our food and not feel like our only option is some rabbit food and a glass of water.

This is where everything in moderation comes in. No one said we had to eat a man-size meal, have 3 cocktails, or take one of everything from the buffet. If we’re not sure what’s in something and we need to manage calories, fat, points, grams or whatever we’re allowed to take a very small amount. And if it appears to be swimming in butter, oil or something we’re not willing to try then pass it up. But we can’t feel paralyzed by the choice in front of us. We’re strong! We can make good choices! And it’s not the end of the world if we do have 2 pieces of cake or fried chicken or mashed potatoes with butter and cream.

Every day we make hundreds of choice. For 90% of them we don’t think twice, we just decide and move on. It’s those 10% of the choices that we spend 90% of our day beating ourselves up for. We second, third and fourth guess ourselves about choices, especially food choice, that we can’t take back. Can we offset some of the food choices where we’ve strayed? Absolutely!

Being mindful is an important part of every day. Besides remembering that we’re not in this alone, if we remember the little phrase everything in moderation success is just a decision away.

I’ll leave you with this little gem my first Weight Watchers leader said (frequently): Nothing tastes as good as the first bite.

How will you feel if you remind yourself that nothing is off limits, everything in moderation.

Image: public domain


Mamavation Monday: Size Lies

You know that if Barbie was real she’d be like 8 feet tall and have a waist the size of your wrist, right? And bewbies the size of a small Hawaiian island. Yes? I know that’s not totally true, but it’s close. But we’re on the same page, correct?

When you last went shopping did you have to try on 5 different sizes, depending on the store, designer, piece of clothing? I went shopping this past weekend – I know, it was a miracle – and got so frustrated. I’m no skinny-minnie and I’m working on being more comfortable in my skin. But, seriously, nothing is more dejecting than grabbing the same size I’ve been wearing for 3 years only to have to wriggle and squirm to end up looking like a kielbasa gone wrong.

Spanks couldn’t save this experience. I’d have to wear something more akin to a spanks-atard from my neck to my knees. Talk about wanting to cry. And I won’t even discuss those fun-house mirrors they put in women’s dressing rooms. It was terrible. I tried on a dress that I knew should be too big because I have a hard time fitting my hips so it doesn’t look like it’s pulling. Instead, it was horrible! The cut was huge on top and could barely fit the bottom half of me.

What’s wrong with designers? I’m not sure what kind of fit models they’re using, but I’m not sure if they’re real women. I know we all come in different shapes, but this fit model must not have hips or a butt or thighs.

So I put the dress back on the hanger knowing I won’t be buying it, despite it being pretty, purple – my favorite color after black – and on super amazing 65% off clearance. It was going to be great! Until it wasn’t.

Next up was a casual dress from a designer I already have one dress from. In the same size. So imagine my surprise when I put on what I had hoped to be another dress which would kept me off ‘What Not To Wear’ for at least another month only to be disappointed and left wondering if maybe I grabbed the smaller size. But I didn’t and I’m left feeling down. I’m trying to lose weight. I’m seeing result and then I’m left feeling dejected by a letter or number on a tag.

Who are these people making clothes? Why can’t a size be a size be a size? Why do I have to play ‘Fit or No Fit’ in the dressing room?

This is why I buy shoes!

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Mamavation Monday: Foiling the Need to Nibble

Every great chef tastes as they cook, right? As long as it’s not a ‘double dip’, tasting is just part of cooking. Go ahead, just nod in agreement. It’ll make me feel better.

But what happens to all those fractional calories from tasting, nibbling, and licking the spoon? They’re free! As in free to go to my hips, that is.

Years ago I used to chew gum, constantly. Not smacking or anything, but just chewing gum as a way not to feel the need to eat. And in giving up chewing gum, long story but I no longer chew gum regularly, I’ve found that when I cook or bake tasting has become more and more a part of food prep.

As I begin the weekly challenge of stepping on the scale I am more mindful of what I eat. Especially that all those little nibbles can add up. Sure, I know there has to be some tasting along the way so I can get the seasoning right. But, it seems that there is a bit more ‘one for you, one for me’ going on than there should be.

I watch that show Next Food Network Star and get totally skeeved out when I see them tasting and putting the spoon back in. It’s starting to make me more mindful of my tasting. And it’s making me realize that there are times when I’ve tasted what would likely be more calories than I’m willing to admit?

Are you a taster? How do you stop yourself from eating as you cook?

image credit: public domain


Mamavation Monday: Food Rewards

As a child, good behavior usually meant being rewarded with food. It created a strange relationship with food. I knew food was everyday sustenance. But I was also learning that if you achieved something, had a great day, pushed through something hard to finally accomplish it then there would be some type of food at the end. Usually, it was sweets or some type of ‘treat’.

I’ve had an odd relationship with food since childhood. It is not my friend. I like good food, don’t get me wrong. I like sweets and savory foods. Bitter and salty too. A lot of foods don’t like me. But I keep trying new and different ones.

Food is so much a part of our culture – from birth to death, nearly every event is punctuated with food. Good day – celebrate with food. Bad day – drown it with food. Bored – nibble away. Excited … you get the picture!

The problem is that most of these events don’t include ‘healthy’ food. It doesn’t have to be a rabbit food fest, but I’m often left looking for healthy alternatives. I understand that it’s not everyone else’s responsibility to provide ‘good’ for me food, it’s my responsibility to make good choices. But some times it’s so hard when every event is punctuated with food. Tempting sweets, dips, chips and oh so delicious morsels.

There have been times when I’ve conquered the food demons and have walked away feeling like I’m winning. Although, just as food may have a tight grasp in the hand-to-mouth process there are times when I feel like I had the upper hand, yet I still don’t feel in control.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who saw food for what it was, nourishment and sustenance. I want to embrace what one of my Weight Watchers leaders said years ago – nothing tastes as good as the first bite. It’s often really true. We just want that one bite, but can’t stop. I know that’s true for me some time.

The relationship with food is something we learn. That mean we can also unlearn the unhealthy part. Unlearing is sooooo hard! It takes something like 23 bazillion times longer to unlearn a habit. I think I’m about a tenth of the way there on some things. I’ll keep plugging away, though. Maybe it’s an exponential thing and one day it’ll all fall in to place. Until then, I’m like Dory in Finding Nemo and I’ll just keep swimming!

What is your relationship with food? Do you feel that food sometimes just looks at you and mocks you? (or is it just me it’s mocking?)

image credit: photos8


Mamavation Monday: Connecting The Dots

I started out writing these Mamavation Monday posts as a way to support my friend Heather, who has now lost inches and pounds and is looking quite svelte. Me? I’ve made strides. I am more conscientious of my water intake, especially when I spend hours at work on the computer.

Dots image http://morguefile.com/archive/display/694279But I’m feeling the need to connect many of the Mamavation dots – water, food choices, taking care of me, slowing down. I tell myself all the time that I’ve done this before, I can surely do this again. I wasn’t given food, I was taught how to garden. I know how this thing works. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, relax, enjoy life. Sounds really simple, right?

Yet here I sit on a Sunday morning at the local coffee shop trying to get ahead, while feeling like I’m actually playing catch up. BabyGirl is at religious school and instead of just relaxing with a book or going for a walk I’m getting all wound up because the week is starting and I’m already feeling like I won’t be able to do everything I want.

Last week, my friend Carrie suggested a book she’s been reading. Named for the number of hours in a week, 168 Hours, You Have More Time Than You Think is supposed to help you see where you spend your time and cut out the waste. My first thought was “do they have this on audio book?”, which they probably don’t because that’s kind of counter productive*. My problem isn’t so much where I spend my time, though. I will grab a copy of the book to check it out and glean some insight into determining how I can pare down my un-productive time.

As I’m in the coffee shop I start wondering if maybe I should just load up some music and for these few hours go for a walk. Sure, sounds great! It’s even tolerable outside now that it’s only in the high 90s. Will I do it though? Or will I just move down ‘exercise’ on my To Do list because other things are ‘more important’. Other things that are more important than ME, like grocery shopping or re-writing my To Do list because surely there are more things I should be doing.

Instead, I actually looked up if there was a Weight Watchers meeting during this time. I’m a life member so I may as well just go full circle and head back to where the buck stopped five years ago when I hit my goal weight of 144 and kept the weight off through my of my emotional angst. I obviously need something other than a weekly post or hanging my head in shame for not eating breakfast.

Now, to just suck it up and realize that going back to Weight Watchers doesn’t mean I’ve failed. All it means is that I’m returning back to my village. The village that won’t judge me for what I did while I was away. The village that thinks I’m already beautiful. The village that makes healthy a priority.

Like Hansel and Gretel who left bread to find their way back home, I’ve left clues along the way so I can find my way back to where I felt the best. I’m sure you have those clues too. How are you getting back to you?

* nope, as a matter of fact, there is an audiobook version of 168 hours – which I did not buy.

image credit: public domain


Mamavation Monday: Slowing Down

Treadmill photo by www.metaphoricalplatypus.com

photo credit: www.metaphoricalplatypus.com

For the past few months, I feel like I’ve been on a treadmill that has slowly started getting faster and faster to the point where I feel like I can’t keep up. I’m not a runner, but when it comes to taking care of myself, my family and my businesses I’m at a full on sprint. Yet the finish line is no where in sight. I’m running a marathon at a 50-yard dash pace. And I need to slow down.

Problem is, I’m not a slow down kinda person. Although, I guess I will be when something happens because I won’t slow down. Also, well, I don’t know how to slow down. I’ve been going all my life. Even on vacation I get agitated just ‘being’. Ask CycleGuy and he’ll even tell you that long before the interent and social media I was a go-go-go type of person.

I am realizing now that I can’t keep doing this. I’m not enjoying my life. It’s all work. And I hear everyone else out playing. I feel like a balloon that’s been blow up to either the point of breaking or, hopefully, being let go to fly around the room like to be left limp and exhausted wherever it happens to land.

In talking to my homeopath last week she looked at me with a stern look, straight into my eyes and told me I need to stop. That I’m not helping myself by feeling I need to be all things to all people. And while I consciously know this, my irrational unconscious self talks smack to me all the time.

So, what to do? Well, slowing down the treadmill should be the logical decision. But all the ‘what if’ scenarios start to play out. What if I don’t return emails within 73 nanoseconds will I been seen as a slacker or unresponsive? What if I give realistic timelines rather than just figuring I’ll stay up until 2am doing work to get it out sooner, will I lose clients? What if? What if?

I know that taking time for myself is important. I encourage others to do it. I, sometimes, even find time to do it myself. I say no to projects, I try to be present. But even with all that, the treadmill seems to be on cruise control well above my set speed limit.

I guess it wont’ matter ‘What if’ if I keep up this pace. But how can I slow down without being a disappointment or failure?


Mamavation Monday: You Can’t Do It Alone

photo credit: public domain

Recently Bookieboo put out a call to husband and wife teams for the newest Mamavation campaign. I thought it was a great idea because it’s something I hear about often – my husband doesn’t support this new lifestyle or even my husband is sabotaging my weight loss efforts. It makes me so sad.

It makes me sad because I’m so fortunate that CycleGuy is right there to help whenever I need. When I joined Weight Watchers years ago and came home with books filled with points information, he actually read them and even encouraged me to buy the book with the dining out information. He knew the menu items that would work for me.

Even better, he was supportive at home. He was willing to eat all the veggies I prepared. And night after night of chicken and fish. I was lucky he didn’t ask me to bake cookies or buy tempting snacks. If he wanted ice cream he’s get it at lunch so I wasn’t tempted. He knew I didn’t have a lot of will power.

Fast forward to the present. For the past four years I’ve been battling myself. That I’ve gained weight isn’t a surprise. That I am having a hard time getting my brain and body to understand each other is understandable by most people, except me. The frustration doesn’t help the anxiety I feel because I can get myself moving.

Once again, my wonderful husband is my biggest cheerleader. He’s a cyclist, riding almost 200 miles every week. In addition, he works out at lunch. Me? I forget to eat breakfast. Some days I wonder if I walk 200 steps in a day.

For me, I don’t do this alone. But I do this for me. In addition to the Mamavation community I am very fortunate that within my own home I have an amazing cheerleader. I wish everyone’s spouse supported them as much as CycleGuy supports me. Now, if I could support myself a little bit more.

How do you find motivation to make fitness a priority? And can you send some my way?


Mamavation Monday: Soundtrack In My Head

I don’t listen to music a lot. That’s really CycleGuy’s thing. Babygirl is a music girl. She is her father’s daughter in that sense. I can spend the day at home in complete silence.

When CycleGuy and BabyGirl are home there is always music in the background. The weird thing is that there is usually music running through my mind. And I get giddy when certain people call my phone because I love hearing the ring tones. To be honest, there are times I’ll let it go to voicemail because I’m singing along.

Music is so important. It connects us to people and places. It motivates and calms. And it can get us to do things we otherwise wouldn’t. Like, Zumba. I would not normally do aerobics. I don’t get it. I can’t do the combinations or move in the right direction. To me it’s like exercise square dancing. All the yelling and directions. Then there is the inability to hear the music.

But for as much as music isn’t in my bones, it’s in my head. I love music even though I can’t remember who sang what or who’s who these days. I would never win a contest if it was about music. Luckily, CycleGuy is my personal DJ. He takes the music I’m thinking about and creates playlists to help me get moving, motivated.

I’m really fortunate that my husband is supportive and encouraging. And I love him even more for knowing what music exists in my head and creating playlists for me. He is always willing to help me find motivation to exercise and get moving. Then again, he knows how important music is to keep you going.