I Am Not A Dog…

I Am Not A Dog…

Deb and I have been playing around with intermittent fasting for a while now and it has really proven to be a game-changer for us so far (I’m sure I’ll blog about it when I have more data), but I’ve noticed something recently that has really caused me to stop and think. I realized that when I want to “reward” myself I go to food 100% of the time!

For example, yesterday was “balcony cleaning day” here at the condo. On the last Saturday of the month, we are allowed to break out the hoses and scrub brushes and clean the outside porches and just blow the water over the side. It’s a pain in the ass, but it makes a big difference – especially after Hurricane Irma completely salt-blasted our sliding doors and windows. The thing is that we always “reward” ourselves after porch cleaning with a big breakfast – either I make eggs, bacon, pancakes, etc. here or we go out for breakfast. But, since we were fasting yesterday, there was no big breakfast and I was jarred by how sad that made me and how unmotivated I was to clean the porches.

Then, I started thinking about it… I do not have a single non-food reward system in place anywhere in my life!

What the hell?  I’m not a DOG!

But it’s true!  Whenever Deb and I start planning something that will make busting our butts to getting some big project done “worth it,” we automatically go to food… dinner out at our favorite restaurant, munchies in front of an episode of Star Trek, comfort food, etc. … ALWAYS… 100% of the time. And that’s just crazy! Is it just me?

I have resolved to come up with some non-food rewards that I can go to when I need something to spark my motivation in the moment. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

  1. Take a nap.
  2. Sleep in!
  3. Spend an hour away from my phone or computer.
  4. Eat lunch outside or at least away from my desk.
  5. Take a vacation day from work to do whatever I want!
  6. Unwind with a movie of my choice.
  7. Plan a long bike ride with my friends.
  8. Subscribe to a magazine I’ve been wanting to read.
  9. Buy a new song for my running playlist.
  10. Invest in some moisture-wicking workout socks.
  11. Buy a new sports bra.
  12. Come home with a bouquet of flowers.
  13. Sign up for a race.
  14. Splurge on a new running outfit or tri-kit (Hello, Tri*Fe Tri).
  15. Go for a mani/pedi.
  16. Treat myself to a massage!
  17. Get fitted for new running shoes at a running store.
  18. Plan a weekend getaway with Deb.
  19. Go to a yoga class.
  20. Plan our next dream vacation!
  21. Get a new hairstyle.
  22. Go to the local farmer’s market.
  23. Have a tourist day and do some of the fun things our town has to offer visitors (NOT Disney, thank you very much)
  24. Buy some new accessories for my bike.
  25. A new pair of earrings.

How do YOU reward yourself? Help me build my list so I can stop letting PIZZA be my reward!

First Breakfast…

One of my commitments this year has been to wake up at 3:30 am and use the early morning hours to create: to write, to plan, to meditate… to do all those things that tend to get lost in the shuffle once the craziness of the normal day sets in. It’s required several things to change.  First, I’ve shifted my workouts to the evening. That’s been a TOUGH adjustment. I’m most definitely a morning girl and I really prefer to do my training before anyone wakes up (not after everyone has gone to sleep), but it’s a shift I was willing to make as Deb and I negotiated how to fit in my health coach training program course work. Second, it means I have to add a meal to my day. I really believe strongly in eating every 4-ish hours. So, when I’m getting up at 3:30 am, I need an extra breakfast to carry me through to smoothie time (~8 am).

This is my new favorite first breakfast (not to be confused with my favorite breakfast quinoa bowl that I still eat nearly ever day around 11:30 🙂 ). I absolutely LOVE avocados, but honestly, smooshing one up on a piece of toast never really occurred to me. Then one day, about 2 months ago, I saw a picture on Instagram and thought, “Wow, that’s a great idea!” Yeah, I know, I’m way behind on trending uses for the avocado. It is the BEST thing EVER!  Not too heavy, full of brain fueling good fats, and just enough to keep me filled up until the next meal.

And, my dear son, who has taken to ditching his morning cereal at home in favor of whatever nasty breakfast they are serving at school (don’t think I’m not onto you, Josh Flynn!), has started asking for avocado toast for his breakfast! I’m going to call that a #momwin.

I posted a picture of my first piece of avocado toast on Facebook and got so many comments about how to spiff up my eats. People said I should add tomato slices, or a squirt of lime, or an egg, etc. And I’ve tried every single one of their suggestions… and they are all good!  But, this is my favorite by far… Toast, avocado, sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper… Perfection!

Perfect avocado toast with hot green tea! Mmmmm…

Changes…

Changes…

I’ve posted before about the malaise I experienced after Ironman Florida and my efforts to figure out what I wanted and what was next. It’s taken some time and patience with myself, but I’ve decided on a trajectory that will ultimately make me a happier, more fulfilled person (and I’m pretty darned happy as I sit here, so YAY ME!), and I thought y’all might be interested in finding out what that decision is. During the coaching process with Deb, she kept coaxing me to explore what I REALLY wanted out of life… not what I thought I SHOULD want… or what I thought I could get… or what other people wanted for me… but what I really wanted deep down in my soul.

That’s a really difficult exercise for a person like me who is so hyper-focused on the needs of those around her.  I am a “caretaker” by nature.  I like taking care of people and making sure they are happy and that their needs are met – often at the expense of my own goals and desires.  My nature got me in deep trouble in my marriage, because I crossed way over the line of “caretaker” and into the realm of “enabler.” Things can get really bad really quickly when you constantly enable another person’s bad behavior.  I did that for 17 years. 😦

But I digress…

It took a lot of time and persistent effort to begin to discover what I really wanted. Deb has a lot of really great exercises and tools to tease this out of a person. I spent time thinking about when I was the happiest, professionally. What were the things that really lit me up? And the thing that kept bubbling up to the surface is that I just really love to help people get past the bullshit story they keep telling themselves that continually holds them back from achieving the things they want in life. And I am MOST happy, when I do that with people in the area of health and wellness.

A long time ago, I remember my sister and I used to walk around the track at the gym and talk about how great it would be if we could get paid to eat right and exercise. LOL. Of course logic would grab hold immediately and tell us all the reasons why that was a preposterous idea. Today, I look back at all the energy we put into that concept and I know that the decisions I’ve made over the past few years are a subconscious result of all those walks! Karate… Release… triathlon… Ironman… It’s all building to this…

I’ve decided to become a Health Coach.

On May 15th I’ll embark on a one year journey of education and discovery with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a Certified Health Coach.  I know that pairing the education I’ll receive along with what I already know about the mind will be a powerful combination, and that I will be able to help A LOT of people with a boatload of knowledge, passion, desire to make a difference, and “been there, done that” experience.

What exactly IS a “health coach?” A Health Coach is a supportive mentor and wellness authority who works with clients to help them feel their best through food and lifestyle changes. Instead of prescribing one diet or way of exercising, Health Coaches tailor individualized wellness programs to meet their clients’ needs. I love this definition.  I have no desire to sit down and create workout plans for clients – there are so many truly GREAT athletic coaches out there who have that part nailed – rather, I want to work with people who have a true desire to change, but just need some help unraveling all the lies they have been told throughout their entire lives about health and wellness (and maybe even their capabilities). I want to help people get their mind and body in sync with one another, because when that happens, anything is possible!

In this day and age where “healthcare” is anything BUT “health” care and most people are one health crisis away from bankruptcy, I believe that more and more people are beginning to turn away from traditional medical interventions and are looking at what they can do to support their own health and wellness and get away from heading to the doctor all the time. However, when these same people start looking around, they become positively paralyzed by all the information and misinformation that is available.  Combine this with all the lies we have been told about how to be “healthy” and it becomes apparent that people will need guides to help them sift through all the crap out there.  I intend to be one of those guides!

There’s a lot of tweaking that will have to happen and somethings may have to give somewhere along the way, but I’m very excited about this new path.

Here we grow again! 🙂

The Kids Will Eat It Too!

I spend a lot of time on social media.  In fairness, I probably spend WAY more time than I should on social media, but that’s not the point.  I see a lot of my friends who are striving to change their diets and eat healthier, post things like this (not an actual post): Tonight for dinner I ate a baked sweet potato with shredded chicken, black beans, and salsa.  It was really yummy.  I made mac & cheese for the kids.

When I see a post like this I have great empathy for that mom.  I WAS that mom for the first 7 years of my son’s life.  I went through the first half of his life as a short order cook in my own home – I made 2-3 dinners every night: Something I wanted, something my husband would eat (often very different from what I wanted), and then yet a third “meal” for our son. It was exhausting, but that’s what I thought I had to do.

My son’s diet consisted of “kid foods” – pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, PBJ, goldfish crackers, french fries, those disgusting Kid Cuisine dinners, etc.  Of course there were good foods too – he’s always loved veggies.  Anyhow, he had so many respiratory issues when he was little – asthma, allergies, pneumonia (twice) – and it seemed like he always had a cough and a runny nose. I never ever considered that his health issues and his diet could be related, and sadly our pediatrician never even asked about his nutrition because he was a normal sized kid.

Then, in 2010 everything changed.  We moved in with Deb and I had an incredible opportunity to change everything. Deb taught me that the quality of the food we put in our bodies is one of the most important things we can focus on. I still remember sitting down to dinner at Deb’s that first night.  We had roasted chicken, brown rice, and broccoli for dinner.  Josh looked at his plate, then looked at me and asked “Where’s mine?” (assuming I had made a separate dinner for him).  Deb’s daughter’s were wide-eyed. Deb and I explained to Josh that this was a “new house with new rules” and one of those rules was that dinner was dinner. He didn’t have to eat it, but there would be nothing else until breakfast. He looked at the plate, and looked at me, and back to the plate, and said “Okay.” (such a resilient boy 🙂 ) and he ate the dinner – AND HE LOVED IT! After 2-3 days, he stopped looking at his dinner plate with skepticism and started getting very inquisitive about new foods and ingredients.

In the years that followed (he’s almost 15 now), my son has developed the most expansive palate of any child I have ever met.  He loves food!  He is proud of the fact that he will try anything. He still doesn’t care for raw tomatoes or bell peppers, but he’ll eat squashes and brussel sprouts and quinoa, so I’ll take it! And a funny thing happened when we cleaned up his diet… All the respiratory issues vanished – within DAYS! POOF!  GONE!  He has missed exactly 3 days of school in the past 6 years (he had strep throat last year that took him down for a few days) due to illness. Eat well, be well… Who knew?

So, Moms who make multiple meals every night.  I don’t judge you – I was you – but give yourselves a break and let your kids try your yummy healthy food!  They will eat it – maybe not right away, but if you persist (and take away other options) they WILL eat it – and even love it!  Here are just a few tips that worked for me.

  1. Ease into it. Kids are driven by what feels good, so if they are used to chicken nuggets and french fries and you stick a plate of broccoli and brown rice in front of them, expect some push back.  But if you just start crowding out the less healthy stuff with good, wholesome food, all of a sudden they are eating healthier and better – better is a good word.
  2. Dinner is dinner. There are no separate meals – everyone eats the same thing.
  3. Involve the kids. Involve your children in menu planning.  Ask them what they would like.  If they say “PIZZA” – perhaps you could plan a make your own pizza night with sprouted grain tortillas as the crust and lots of veggie toppings. When kids have some say-so in what they are eating, they are more likely to eat it.  Same goes for meal prep. Get the kids involved in the kitchen.  If they cook it, they will probably eat it!
  4. 2-Bite Rule. My mom used this with me and I use it with Josh.  Some foods just look gross on the plate.  It is what it is.  Lots of kids won’t eat something that looks gross.  So, we have a rule:  You have to try two bites of anything new.  If you don’t like it after two bites, you don’t have to eat it, but you have to try it. They won’t automatically LOVE it, but after a few tries, they tend to accept it.
  5. Gag Food. We let each kid choose a “gag food” that they just WILL NOT eat.  For Erin it was sweet potatoes, for Nicki it was rice, and for Josh it is raw tomatoes (I think he may have been switched at birth).  They get a pass on this food, but they only get one and they can’t change it from day to day.  It took Josh 3 years to decide that raw tomatoes was indeed his gag food.

Good luck and healthy eating!

Coming to A Head

Coming to A Head

volcanoLife is kind of coming to a head right now.  There are so many things that are either ending or beginning in the next few days and I’m finding myself feeling a little stressed out over them, so I thought writing about them might help… :/

First, Deb’s dad has been visiting us for the past month.  He’s such a dear, sweet man and we have really enjoyed having him with us. Tomorrow he heads back to Maryland and we’ll be readjusting to a house of three again.  On one hand, I’m sorry he’s leaving – he’s a cool guy and I like him a lot!  But on the other hand, I need to get back to my routine, and eating at restaurants 3 times per week is NOT part of my routine. He doesn’t get our plant-based eating style (he doesn’t like and won’t eat vegetables), so finding things to eat here at home (when we’re not going out) that will work for all of us has been challenging to say the least.

Second, my training plan for Great Floridian Triathlon begins on Monday, and I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it.  I’ve really enjoyed my off-season.  I’ve enjoyed lifting again.  I’ve enjoyed just flying by the seat of my pants and doing what I FEEL like doing instead of being so structured. It’s very different from last year when I was chomping at the bit to get to the training.  I’m sure it’s just a matter of getting back in the training mindset and I’m counting on my body and my mind jumping right back into the groove.

massive-actionThird, the house is still on the market and we are getting antsy to get on with it. There’s no pressure to get it sold, but we’ve found the place we want to move and we’re just anxious to move on to the next stage of the adventure.

Fourth, Unrealogical has gone to the publisher and we’ve already gone through the first round of content review with the legal eagles and are now waiting for phase #2, and that’s a little nerve wracking.

3HUFifth, I start Round #3 of Swim Bike Fuel next week (or Round #1 of 3HU, depending on how you want to look at it) and I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to really GET IT RIGHT this time.  I’ve had great results with both of the previous rounds, but I get a little loose with the rules sometimes and I really want this to be a “third time’s the charm” type of thing.

excitementSo, lots going on and I just feel stressed out.  I’ve been using all my tools, but my stomach feels all knotted up and I can’t seem to unravel it.  Right here, in this moment, I am VERY uncomfortable.  And when this happens, I get excited, because it usually means I’m on the verge of some major life shift.  Something is out there looming on the horizon – something big – I just can’t quite see it yet.

Stay tuned…

My New Favorite Breakfast

For the past several months, I’ve been eating the same breakfast – not because it’s on some diet plan or because I HAVE to, but because I want to.  It’s freaking delicious!  I got the basic method from Swim Bike Mom’s blog and then tweaked it based on my own tastes.  It’s a great pre-long workout meal or just a terrific, “sticks with you” breakfast in general.

Protein Quinoa Bowl

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 banana, smooshed up (technical culinary term)
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Vega Protein & Greens)
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Sliced almonds, optional

Mix everything but the blueberries together in a saucepan and heat until boiling (careful not to let it scorch).  If using frozen blueberries, pour the hot porridge over the berries in a bowl.  If using fresh berries, just sprinkle them on top.  Sliced almonds are a nice finishing touch too.  🙂

NOTE:  This is really just a method more than a recipe.  I’ve used brown rice, steel-cut oats, and millet and the results are just as good.  Use whatever berries you like.  Drizzle with honey if it’s not sweet enough for you.  Use peanut butter (or other nut butter) instead of almond butter.  Play with it and see what you like best!  And it’s super quick if you make a big batch of quinoa in advance and then you just have to scoop it into the pan.

Hope you love it as much as I do!

Photo Credit: DamnDelicious.com

Photo Credit: DamnDelicious.com

My Review: Swim Bike Fuel

SBFOne of my triathlon friends – and one of the handful of people who inspired me to begin my triathlon journey – is Meredith Atwood (MA).  You may know her better by the name “Swim Bike Mom.”  Meredith has done a tremendous job of building a following (The Army) and a brand since she entered the triathlon world and blogosphere on August 26, 2010 with 7 simple words… “I have decided to become a Triathlete.”

What resonated with me so strongly about her was that she was just a regular person… A wife, a mom, a career woman, busy, frazzled, searching… JUST LIKE ME!  She put it all out there – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  She became an advocate for the “every woman (and man) triathlete” – and people loved her for it.  Over the years, as The Army grew, so did the Swim Bike Mom brand… Tri kits, mantra t-shirts, cycling kits, swim caps, and so much more – oh, yeah, I own them ALL and they are awesome!

In April, 2015, Meredith was looking to make some changes.  She was strong as a bull and a fine triathlete in her own right with 2 full Ironman triathlons under her belt, but she was stuck weight wise, and she knew she was not reaching her racing potential.  Enter Meredith Vieceli… MV is a nutritionist, a triathlon and running coach, and a metabolic specialist – and an Ironman in her own right.  MV started coaching MA in April and the results were both immediate and drastic!  A 70.3 PR at Gulf Coast in May, followed by IM Lake Placid and her “best race ever” at IM Louisville.  The ever-shrinking Meredith Atwood was getting a lot of attention.  People wanted to know what she was doing?  What diet plan? What? Where? Who?  How?

I think ole Swim Bike Mom must follow the same philosophy as one of our business coaches:  Look at the things you say “No” to on a daily basis and find a way to say “Yes.”

And Swim Bike Fuel was born.  SBF is a one month program that reveals truths about nutrition that are not necessarily common knowledge – one lesson at a time, one day at a time.  It’s delivered in a way that is easy to digest and implement in your life.

I’ll be honest, when Swim Bike Fuel was rolled out late last year, I wasn’t really interested.  I thought it was a cool concept, but I had a really good base in sports nutrition and I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly learn from it (talk about arrogant thinking!).  Two cycles of SBF passed before I started looking at the changes in MA’s body and performance and took a long hard look at my own situation and realized that MV and MA must have some missing piece of the weight loss/performance puzzle that was eluding me.

I mean seriously, check out the difference in just ONE YEAR!!

Capture

So, I enrolled in the April, 2016 class.

Holy Cow! It was amazing!

The SBF folks set up a secret Facebook page for our SBF class.  I honestly don’t know exactly how many ladies were in the April group, but there were a lot, and yet the interaction was very smooth.  The lessons were delivered each day by email and the questions that were submitted for each lesson were compiled into an FAQ and posted.  There were 2 scheduled Q&A conference calls, although our group didn’t send in any questions for the first call, so we didn’t actually have that one.  The 2nd Q&A call went almost 2 hours and was jam packed with great information.

Meredith Vieceli was absolutely available to us when we needed her and Meredith Atwood chimed in daily with how the lesson du jour impacted her journey.  If we posted a question or asked for clarification on a lesson MV usually answered within an hour or so – and she lives in Utah, so the time zone thing was in play.

I found that most of the lessons focused on concepts I was already aware of, but that maybe I just wasn’t being consistent with or had forgotten or needed to tweak.  Over the month I had a number of “Ah-Ha” moments that really made a huge difference.  I loved that there was no prescribed “diet plan.” Never once was I told that I had to “eat this” or “workout like this” or “drink that.”  There were no pills, no powders, no restriction.  Just good old fashioned common sense, combined with the very best up-to-date nutritional information- a very holistic program.

I’m not quite ready to go posting my before/after pics yet, but after 1 month I dropped 4+ pounds, and shed 5-1/2 inches and I know more has come off since then.  But beyond that, I feel terrific!  I have so much more energy, I’m sleeping better, my skin is clearer, I’m healthy (all the old aches and pains are gone), I’m catching those old self-sabotage triggers that would normally send me running for the bag of chips or ice cream before any damage is done, I’m recovering faster between my workouts, and I had one of my best races ever at St. Anthony’s on 4/24.  It’s been really great!

So, if – like me – you’ve been diligently following your training program and have been eating what you consider to be a healthy diet (maybe with a few more treats than you planned, because hey, you just killed that brick workout), but you’re not seeing the results you expected manifesting on your body, I encourage you to give Swim Bike Fuel some serious consideration.

Sure, there’s an investment – that made me think twice too – but it was totally worth it – EVERY . PENNY!

And my main question was this:  Well, what happens after the month?  A month of hand-holding is great, but what happens when it’s all over?  The great news is that the Facebook page remains and each group can decide how they want to proceed.  In our case, we are going back through each lesson – day-by-day.  We post a thread each day discussing our victories and our struggles – we are each other’s cheerleaders and support system.  We hold each other accountable, and that’s what gives the program it’s staying power.

This is not a fad diet – it’s a lifestyle program – and it is awesome!  There’s a new class forming for July.  Check it out!

 

This is my unsolicited testimonial based on my experiences with the Swim Bike Fuel program.  Your mileage may vary.