Getting Back into the Groove

While the majority of the country seems to be going back to school, the students at the University I work don’t come back for another month (Thank god! My to-do list is still way too long). I can’t help but notice the “back-to-school” feeling in the air though. While I was always sad that summer was over growing up, I loved back to school time as a kid. Back to school shopping made me giddy (Lisa Frank everything, please) and I’m one that thrives off of routine.

This summer has been a wild one, to say the least, so meal prepping has been an afterthought. I’ve still planned out our weekly meals in order to stay sane, but there has been little to no prep done ahead of time. What did this equate to? Me running around in the morning trying to get lunch and breakfast prepared and myself out the door on time aka me getting out the door late and cursing every red light as I biked to work. Not exactly Zen.

I recently started making lunch bowls in an effort to essentially get my shit together. Yes, I know that bowls have been all the rage for a long time now. Sometimes I’m quick to hop on trends, like putting frozen cauliflower rice in smoothies, Do it!  Other times, I jump on board around the same time as my 85 year old grandma. I’ve quickly realized that making bowls full of cooked and raw veggies, hearty whole grains and plant or seafood based protein, makes my mind and body very satisfied. On that same note, it seems to be great for bowel movements. Gotta love that fiber!

With the back to school excitement all around, I decided last weekend was a good time to get back into meal prepping mode. I probably spent about 1.5-2 hours in the kitchen jamming out to Brooks n Dunn and annoying my neighbors as I belted out the lyrics to “Cowgirls Don’t Cry”.  I’ll be honest, I was pretty tired by the time I was done and didn’t even finish. Deviled egg aspirations turned into “hard boiled eggs will do”. However, my future-self is going to be very thankful for the extra time I spent in the kitchen on Sunday. In fact, I was oddly confused when I was ready for work 5 minutes ahead of schedule this morning and wasn’t stressed about rushing out the door. Unfortunately, the stress quickly came back when I realized I clearly shouldn’t have been biking in the dress I chose to wear.

Are you looking to get into a routine? Here is some meal prepping and planning inspiration for you!

  • Sunday: Teriyaki pork, bell pepper and onion kebabs + butter lettuce salad w/almonds
  • Monday: Kale steak Caesar salad with homemade pretzel croutons
  • Tuesday: Mushroom and bacon omelette
  • Wednesday: Picnic in the Park!
  • Thursday: Chicken parmesan sandwiches + roasted carrots
  • Friday: Pizza slices after golf

Food I Prepped:

  • Greek yogurt Caesar salad dressing
  • Cut up a cantaloupe
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Destemmed and sliced one head of kale
  • Sliced a cucumber
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Lunch bowls: zoodles, canned salmon, brown rice, broccoli rice, canned green beans, diced bell peppers and olives. I’ll plop a dollop of spicy hummus on top when I’m ready to eat them!

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  • Shredded zucchini to freeze and throw in smoothies, oatmeal or chia seed pudding
  • Spiralized zucchini for my lunch bowls
  • Don’t forget the cookies! Butterscotch, chocolate chip and graham cracker balls of joy

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Are you getting back into a routine around this time of year? What’s your favorite tip getting organized and ready for the week?

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My Wellness Vision

I’ve almost completed the certification process to become a Health and Wellness Coach and finally did something I was supposed to do at the beginning of the class. I am typically not a procrastinator and cross items off my to-do list a little too enthusiastically.  The problem with this task, developing my Wellness Vision, is that I haven’t been inspired by my own vision.

To be honest, I also don’t have that great of an imagination. I wasn’t the type of kid that loved “pretending” and it’s even harder for me to do it now. Believe me, I wish I had that playful, fun side, and could enjoy acting like I’m a dog and crawling around the floor. I swear kids always want to pretend they are dogs. Since imagination isn’t second nature for me, the thought of imagining what my Wellness Vision could be was quite intimidating. Do you want to talk about your wellness vision? Let’s do it! I could help you brainstorm all day, but please don’t ask, “Well what about you?”

Needless to say, the fact that this task has been hanging over my head since December was driving me wild. I didn’t want to just write something to say I did it though; I wanted it to be meaningful and applicable to my life. I’m delighted to share that I finally wrote my Wellness Vision. What finally inspired me? My computer wouldn’t let me log on at work Monday morning.

As I sat there staring at my computer screen, wondering why Monday hated me, I thought of my Wellness Vision and my brain finally kicked into gear. At work, we use the 8 Dimensions of Wellness model to explain to students how to find balance in their lives. I realized that I needed to combine the 8 Dimensions of Wellness and my favorite word “intention” to develop my Wellness Vision. Once I got a pen and pad of paper, the words began flowing and my terrible handwriting couldn’t keep up.

This vision contains reflects my current stage in life, but I imagine my Wellness Vision is fluid and I will edit it as life changes. I encourage you to explore your own Wellness Vision (even if it takes 8 months). As uncomfortable as it can be, internal reflection does wonders for our health and wellness.

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My Wellness Vision

I am living my life with intention in the following dimensions of wellness:

  1. Physical
    • I am nourishing my body with foods that give me energy and make me feel good.
    • I am positively recognizing my body for what it can do, not how it looks.
    • I am choosing to do exercise that makes my body and mind feel good.
    • I am engaging in preventive behaviors and seeking medical advice when needed.
  1. Emotional
    • I am honoring my feelings by giving myself time to recognize, understand and work through them.
    • I am seeking peer and/or professional support when necessary.
  1. Spiritual
    • I am actively exploring what’s meaningful to me.
  1. Occupational
    • I am satisfied, happy and challenged by the work I am doing.
    • I am working to live, not living to work and have boundaries set between my work and personal life.
  1. Financial:
    • I am consciously spending my money and focusing on experiences rather than material items.
    • I am making financial decisions that positively impact my family and my future self.
  1. Social:
    • I am choosing to have connections with individuals that add value to my life.
    • I am regularly engaging with my social network while also dedicating alone time for my mind to rejuvenate.
  1. Environmental:
    • I am spending time outside and disconnecting from technology to reconnect with nature.
    • I am embracing the mantra “outer peace=inner calm” by only keeping items around me that add value, I have an emotional connection with or use regularly.
  1. Intellectual:
    • I am engaging in situations and discussions that challenge my internal and external biases.
    • I am keeping an open mind and always seeking new information.

My motivators are my health, well-being, family and friends.

The strengths I can draw on to help to realize my vision are my self-awareness, intrinsic motivation and passion for self-improvement.

My challenges are external influences, the desire to do too many things and living in the future instead of the present.

My strategies that will help me realize this vision and meet the challenges are revisiting my Wellness Vision regularly, developing short and long-term goals and sharing my vision with my support network.

 

 

 

2017 Intentions Reflection: Active Commuting

Disclaimer: If you have a terrible commute, this post might make you hate me. Read with caution.

Let’s start this post with some upfront honesty. I live less than 2 miles from my work aaaaaand I pay for a parking pass. Phew, it feels good to get that off my chest. Now before you begin to judge, let me explain. I went to college where I am currently working and biked 90% of the time (the other 10% of the time I begged my roommates with parking permits for a ride). I remember getting to class just drenched in water from biking in the rain. I have scars on my legs from the lovely combination of a city policy to pile your yard waste in the street and my refusal to spend money on a bike light. Safety clearly wasn’t very high on my priority list during my college years.

Basically, when I began working and knew that I could afford a parking pass (one of the many perks of adulting), I said screw biking in the rain and the hot as hell summers- give me that parking pass! Speaking of those insanely hot summers, it’s really hard and uncomfortable to dress “business casual” when it’s over 100 degrees out. My go-to summer work outfit includes a dress or a skirt. Guess what’s difficult to bike in? Dresses and skirts.  Are you starting to understand my reasoning yet?

You’ll be happy to know that my inner physical-activity-loving self felt guilty about having a parking pass ever since Day 1. Do I feel guilty when I happily arrive at work not soaking wet during the winter months? Not one bit. I feel content being warm and dry. But most days, I feel pretty lame about driving. I should let you know though, that I don’t always drive. I frequently walk or bike during the fall and spring when the weather is ideal. Thinking about that just frustrates me though, because I realize that I’m paying for a parking permit and not using it to its capacity. Therefore, I’ve decided that I need to cut the cord and just give up the parking permit altogether.

During the last few months, I’ve been working on a literature review at work to determine how my work will be focused for the next 3 years. I am looking up research and best practices within the last five years related to my content areas: physical activity, nutrition and bike helmets. While searching for ways to increase physical activity levels, the concept of active commuting came up multiple times. I’ve always known that walking or biking to get places was better than driving, but who knew people referred to it by a cool term like “active commuting”?

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White Lightening and I are going to be spending a lot of time together.

Research and science is my jam. I love it. As I was reading more and more about active commuting my guilt for having a parking permit grew immensely. In a recent study from the United Kingdom, researchers assessed data from 18,000 commuters, collected over a 10 year period. Not surprisingly, they found a positive relationship between time spent walking to work and well-being. They even found that individuals’ happiness levels increased significantly when their walk to work increased by 10 minutes. As you may expect, the same cannot be said for drivers. Another study highlighted the fact that commute lengths are linked to a sense of time pressure. People driving feel more stressed when their commute is increased, but active commuters don’t experience the same stress.

When I actively commute to work, I feel like I’ve done some positive for my health and this motivates me to tackle the day. When I’m irritated that I have to sit in yet another meeting, I look forward to spending 30 minutes walking home and giving my body the movement it deserves. Therefore, I’m going to take the plunge to bike in the rain and the 100 heat, possibly even the wind storms (yuck). Instead of making excuses about why I shouldn’t give up my parking pass, I’m going to create opportunities and change my attitude. I’m going to put a fender on my bike, purchase a tire compressor, download some audio books and happily hit the road. My goal is to officially cut the cord on Friday, February 24th and allocate the money I’ll save from not paying for a dang parking permit to my retirement account (more adulting). I’ll keep you updated on how this goes. Hopefully I don’t add more scars to my legs…

Get Movin’ Pal

It’s safe to say things got a little crazy around here the last few weeks. There was lots of traveling for work and play, birthdays, wedding events, work events, family BBQ’s and not enough blogging. During the first week of the craziness, I was trying to find time to set aside to write a post. I would look at my schedule and convince myself I could squeeze in some time here and there. Then I asked myself, why am I doing this? As much as I enjoy writing, having some “me” time and just walking or reading to keep my sanity sounded much better. So I said, let’s lower the bar and take a break. But guess what? I’m back!!

Luckily, I have a pretty awesome job where I get to constantly learn about health and wellness. During this recent crazy time in my life, I attended the annual American College Health Association conference in San Francisco. Basically, I spent 5 days nerding out about new health and wellness research and best practices in college health promotion. I soaked up tons of new information and ideas, but the main thing that stuck with me was the negative impact sedentary behavior has on our bodies and how we can motivate individuals to decrease sedentary behavior.

The majority of public health campaigns have focused on increasing physical activity. That’s great! But it’s not enough. We need to reduce sedentary behavior. Sit less, move more. This really hit home for me. Sure, having a sweaty, heart pumping workout for 60 minutes is awesome, but you know what’s not so awesome? Sitting for the rest of your day. I’m not saying that your exercise doesn’t matter, but research is showing that it does matter less if you are sedentary for the rest of the day.

But Shantille, I have to sit at work for 8 hours a day. Yes, many jobs (including mine) require that we sit for most of our work day. Unfortunately, we can’t really get around that. However, even small increments of movement such as standing up during a phone call or meeting can add up and reduce the deleterious effects of sedentary behavior has on our health. The conference schedule had 30 minute breaks between sessions. My first thought when seeing this was, “Can’t we have shorter breaks and just get done earlier in the day?” By the end of the week, I realized that I really actually enjoyed those longer breaks, because it gave me time to move. Rather than sitting and perusing social media or email, I told myself to go walk. I ended up logging about 16,000 steps a day…at a conference! I was shocked.

We need to stop saying we can’t. Instead, we need to capitalize on opportunities or find opportunities to move. Prioritize your health. Since coming back from the conference and adjusting to being at a desk most of the day, I have some tips that I started using to reduce my sedentary behavior:

  • Schedule an alarm on your computer to go off every hour to tell yourself to get up and move for 5 minutes. You can go on a short walk around the building, go refill your water glass, do some stretches, go say hi to a coworker, head up and down some stairs. Just move for 5 minutes.
  • Request walking meetings with your coworkers. I take notes on my phone when I do this and email them to myself.
  • Instead of calling a coworker in the same building, walk to their office.
  • Subscribe to UCLA’s Move Mail! You get emails sent to you at 10am and 2pm daily with office friendly exercises: http://www.recreation.ucla.edu/fitwell#168711080-movemail
  • Are you in charge of planning a long meeting or training? Schedule stretching/walking breaks into the agenda.
  • Lead by example. Ya sure, people might think you are weird when you are the only one standing in a meeting. Eventually though, you will start to influence others. You will be that annoying “healthy” person. Embrace it.
  • Invite others to take 15 minute walking breaks with you. I am terrible about taking my 15 minute breaks. I get caught up in something and completely forget. If I schedule a walk during my break with a coworker then I’m held accountable and take my break to move.

Do you have any tips that you use to be less sedentary during your work day? I would love to hear about them below!

Move More in May!

 

Yeah, yeah I know there is a national day or month for everything, but I still feel obligated to inform you that May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month (it’s also National Bike Month, so get pedallin’). Most of the National Day celebrations are somewhat pointless, but you’ll be shocked to find out, I find this one rather important. And yet, I’m not seeing many posts on social media celebrating Physical Activity Month. Sure, it’s really hard to compete with the likes of National Donut Day, National Pet Day, Mother’s Day, etc. Regardless, let’s make it a priority to get moving in May! Here are some tips to help you move more this month:

  1. Schedule it.

We schedule so many aspects of our lives from work to hair appointments to social activities, so why not schedule time to move our bodies as well? Next time you are looking at your calendar, look for time slots to fit in physical activity and make that commitment to yourself to improve your health. I like using Google calendar and setting up reminders for when I will exercise. Here’s the stumbling block though. It’s really easy to just ignore that reminder or tell yourself you will do it later, especially when you aren’t being held accountable. Personally, I hate letting people down and falling through on a commitment, so it helps if someone else is relying on me or expects me to do something. If I have a workout scheduled after work and know that at the end of the day I will probably just want to go home, I will tell someone to ask me if I did the workout. Given my nature, I don’t want to admit that I didn’t follow through on my commitment to my health, so I will likely complete the workout.

2. Break it up.

Research shows that adults should perform at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days (5+) of the week for health benefits. Finding a 30 minute chunk in a jam packed day can turn people away from regularly engaging in physical activity. However, research also shows that breaking the 30 minute bout into three 10 minute sessions throughout the day is just as effective! Fit in some movement right when you get out of bed, go on a walk during lunch or do body weight exercises in your office and end the day by moving during the commercials of your evening TV show.

3. Move throughout the day.

The majority of professions require that we sit, a lot. It’s really easy to get used to that, but our bodies don’t enjoy it. Find ways to move more throughout the day. You may even notice an increase in your energy and productivity! I work in a three story building and my new strategy is to use the restroom on the first floor and take the stairs. You can also set a reminder on your computer to get up every hour, propose walking meetings or walk to your coworkers office instead of calling or emailing them. All the little things add up!

4. Do what you enjoy.

I’m pretty sure I preach this to just about everyone, but please don’t force yourself to do exercise you don’t enjoy. There are SO many ways to move your body. Heck, I just learned foot golf is a new thing! Physical activity is supposed to make us feel good and energized. The more you enjoy it, the more you will look forward to it and maintain these habits long term.

5. Think outside the box.

Let’s all say this together- You don’t have to go to the gym to move your body! Yes, the gym is a great place to exercise, for some people, but it’s not a motivating environment for everyone. Personally, I love it. Guess what the main factor was when I chose the college I would attend? Yep, the gym. That doesn’t mean I always want to exercise there though. Sometimes I just want to be outside and use my bodyweight and park benches for exercise. Other times I don’t even want to deal with people or even put appropriate gym clothes on, so I exercise in my living room in my gross shorts (I sat in wood stain while building a sofa table, so Kevin now refers to them as my poop shorts I should probably throw them away…). Do you live in the frigid cold? Go walk around a mall, do walking lunges and step ups on benches and laugh at all the people wasting money on overpriced clothes #tjmaxxforlife.

6. Involve others

Our social wellness is just as important as our physical wellness. I really enjoy combining the two and getting active with friends. Sure, grabbing a drink is always fun, but why not go on a walk or take a group exercise class together before enjoying a beer? Stream a free yoga class and host yoga and brunch at your house. Play basketball at lunch instead of going out for a heavy meal. Be the friend that suggests social outings that involve a little sweat. One day they will thank you.

I would love to hear how you are going to move more in May! Do you have any strategies that work for you? Share it all in the comment section!

What’s Your Why?

As we established in a previous post, I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Since we lived far from town, we didn’t go out to do many activities. I don’t remember going to the movies, out to eat, etc. Instead, we played outside and created our own enjoyment. The countryside was literally our playground and as long as we told our parents generally where we were going and were home by dark, we were free to roam. This meant that I moved a lot as a kid. I didn’t consider it exercise- it was just what I did for fun.

Sports were also a fun way to exercise as an adolescent. Sure, sometimes I prayed for a lightening storm so I wouldn’t have to go to swim practice, but for the most part, I enjoyed every minute of this “exercise.” Practice and games were part of my life. Sports took up the majority of my free time, so they  became my social life as well. Some of my best memories are from times when I was active and constantly moving my body. Also, my motivation to work harder was linked to my performance, not my appearance. I didn’t run longer or lift heavier weights so I could change my body. I worked harder, so I could make it to the fifth set in a volleyball game and still have the energy I had in the first set.

Once competitive sports were over for good though, my “why” was lost. I didn’t have games to prepare for anymore, so I wasn’t going to spend multiple hours practicing. I always loved being active, so I decided to join a gym. I believe this is when my “why” changed. Rather than moving for performance, I was now moving for appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed exercising but the fun was taken out of it and I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons. All of the sudden I became obsessed with the calorie count on the treadmill and would wonder how other women at the gym made their bodies look a certain way. I was 17 years old. This is not healthy behavior for any age, but particularly not for a teenager.

Unfortunately, college only magnified this problem. The gym was full of young adults of all shapes and sizes, but mainly dudes with deeply ripped tanks or girls in tiny spandex shorts. The gym was where I became exposed to the idea of working off the calories before drinking (so healthy!) and exercising only because some silly (although super important at the time) event was approaching. Although I hate to admit it, I did fall for this mindset. I became obsessed. I knew this wasn’t me though and I needed my “why” back again.

After college I began signing up for a variety races, from short running races to sprint triathlons, to 200 mile relay races. I finally felt like I had a “why” again. Getting up before the sun to run wasn’t dreadful anymore, because I had something to actually accomplish (besides the ever desirable goal for stellar abs). Every time I would run farther or swim faster, I was secretly extremely proud of myself. I loved it and was addicted to the endorphins. In fact, I was so addicted that I failed to listen to my body telling me to stop. My brain would say, “No, I can do another mile. I can make it to 13 miles today!” My knees, on the other hand, were screaming at me, begging me to stop. One day, I was driving down the road and saw a girl running with two knee straps on and KT tape all over her legs. It was like a slap in the face as I thought, holy shit that’s going to be me if I don’t stop.  

So I stopped. Was it easy? No, not at all. Some people will find this pathetic, but it was probably one of the harder things I have done in my life. I envied people I saw running as I could barely walk a mile without pain. Luckily though, I had the running police, aka Kevin, to make sure I remembered why I wasn’t lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement. I honestly don’t think that I would have been able to do it without him.

I had to dig really deep to find my why again. Sure, I still enjoyed moving for the most part, but I deeply missed that sense of accomplishment that came from finishing a race. Luckily though, a light bulb turned on and I finally understood that I needed to take care of my body if I wanted to continue to move it for the rest of my life. I needed to move my body in a variety of ways to keep it healthy and injury free. Therefore, I started moving in new ways and changing my exercise schedule. I listened to my body. I changed my “why”.

Now, I move my body in all sorts of ways for many different reasons:

  • I go to yoga to stretch my body, release the tension in my hips and feel amazing for the rest of the day. Do I have to do it? No, but I do it weekly, because I enjoy the feeling.
  • I walk to enjoy nature, soak up some vitamin D, listen to an audiobook and explore new places.
  • I lift weights to be strong, so I don’t have to rely on other people to lift things for me. If I want to arrange furniture in our house and Kevin isn’t home, you better believe I’m gonna go ahead and move that furniture (unless I can’t reach it, height is always an issue).
  • I swim to allow myself time to think and reconnect with an activity from my childhood that I enjoy doing.
  • I run to remind myself how great it feels to move my body quickly. Then I stop after a couple miles, because I know that’s all my body can handle.
  • I do burpies, because I can.
  • I go to group fitness classes to meet new people, learn new exercises and leave with a smile on my face.

What’s your “why”?

Monday Motivation

 

I love goals. I enjoy talking about goals with people, helping people I don’t even know set goals, reading about other people’s goals, and setting goals for myself. I took an entire course while pursuing a graduate degree called “Motivating Healthy Behaviors”. I cringe when I hear someone make a general goal, because the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goal system has been so engrained into my brain. You might say I am obsessed with goals and if I know you then have probably annoyed you by talking about them too much a time or two.

While studying the science behind changing individual’s behaviors, I decided I would start testing the theories on my very own lab rat, Kevin. Unfortunately, he is quite smarter than a lab rat and caught on to my antics all too quickly. I probably kept this going for a good two years though. I was frequently trying to convince him that goals are great, and he should be as excited about them as I was. You know what I learned? You can’t force someone to create a goal or even care about goals for that matter. Yes, I did also learn that concept in school, but I refused to believe it until I had first hand experience. I just couldn’t fathom that people could be perfectly happy not setting goals. However, it is totally possible and completely OK.

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This revelation did not change my obsession with goals though. I still frequently set them, but, like other aspects in my life, I am learning how to balance goals and life. Sometimes I get too excited and take on more goals than I can handle, which I know is a recipe for failure. I’ve learned that I just have to take it slow, be flexible and satisfied with small accomplishments. Because it’s the small, consistent accomplishments over time that really make a difference.

Mondays always seems like a fresh start to me and a great time to check in on my goals. I have always been a morning person, but moving back to Northern California and experiencing winter again has made it harder for me to rise before the sun. I love the mornings though and always seem to have a better morning when I do get up earlier. Unfortunately, it’s so easy to forget about that when it’s freezing and dark outside, but warm and cozy in bed. Last week I set a goal to wake up before 6:20am Monday-Friday. If I meet the goal, then I get to splurge on a fancy cappuccino during the following week (don’t forget that positive reinforcement!). Did I wake-up before 6:20am Monday-Friday last week? Nope, but my body needed and enjoyed that extra rest on Thursday morning. Alas, I will be drinking black coffee this week. However, this week is a new opportunity to work towards this goal. Hopefully this warmer weather will help me out, and I will be sippin’ on a velvety smooth cappuccino next week.

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Do you like setting goals weekly, monthly, whenever? I’d love to hear about any goals you are working towards! Don’t like goals? I’d love to hear about that too!