Setting Realistic Goals – The Do’s & Don’ts

Happy Sunday everyone! So, throughout my blog I talk a lot about weight management, positive body image, and being happy with yourself as a person. I discuss these often because all of these topics I am very passionate about and have either thought about a lot or experienced aspects of them in my personal life. Today I want to give a good foundation for change. Even if you are practicing good self body image or working more on your own personal happiness, it’s always OK to want to better yourself. There are always going to be things you want to try or want to work on. For example, one of my long term goals since I have been in college is to be a good and competitive runner. When I say competitive, I don’t mean compete in the olympics or run as my career, but I want to PR each time I compete in a race. I want to test myself and see my name crawl up the list from 500 out of 1,000 to 100 out of 1,000. These are personal goals of mine and running is something I enjoy. This brings me to my first “don’t” of setting goals…

1. Don’t compare your goals to others’. To add on to this a little…. don’t set trendy goals. 

This is probably the most important thing to remember when setting your goals. Set goals around something you are passionate about or enjoy. I would never set a goal to compete in crossfit games. I admire people who do this and think they are way stronger than I ever hope to be, but it truly is not something I am interested in. There are plenty of “fitness fads” that come around for a few months and then fade away. For me, running has and probably always will be my number one way to exercise and remain fit. Because of this, I set my fitness goals around running. When I achieve these goals it makes me feel happy, empowered, and want to push myself further!

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Have you ever heard of SMART goals? SMART goals stand for simple, measurable, achievable, realistic (some people say relevant), and time bound. Using this concept is a great way to evaluate goals in your personal life and make sure you are setting yourself up to achieve them. This brings me to a “do” when setting your own goals.

 2.  Do set standards with your goals. Give yourself a time limit, and a way to            measure what you have achieved.

Whether you want to become better at meal prepping or you are training for your first half marathon, giving yourself standards is important! It helps hold you accountable and give you a way to measure your success. For example if you are really working on planning ahead and meal prepping, perhaps set a goal like “By this day next month I will try to prep at least 3 meals/week to bring for lunch at work.” If this time next month you are still dragging your butt and that grocery list never quite makes it to the store to get your supplies, maybe you need some help setting up a new plan or need to find a new motivator to complete this goal. One of my running goals has always been to decrease my half marathon time by at least 2-4 minutes each race. Believe it or not I have been running halfs (I’m not quite motived yet to complete a full) for about 5 years, and each race I have in fact decreased my time. This is something that is always in the back of my mind when training and it is very clear if I achieve it or not come race day.

3. Do set realistic goals and KNOW what is actually realistic for yourself.

Setting unrealistic goals leaves potential for you to feel unsatisfied or frustrated if you fail. It also increases the chances that you won’t follow through with the goal or will burn out early. An example of an unrealistic goal would be: “I will loose 20 lbs in 2 weeks before I go to my high school reunion.” This is unrealistic for a few reasons. The first is 20 lbs in 2 weeks is not feasible and it is not safe. Safe weight loss that remains off is about 1-2 lbs per week. If someone is telling you that you can lose 20 lbs in 2 weeks, automatically know it is a scam (just an FYI!). This goal also has an external motivator, not an internal motivator. Wanting to lose weight to feel better physically or better your health is an internal motivator. Wanting to lose weight to impress others is external. If you do not complete this goal, you are not only going to feel upset with yourself, but you will feel like you are disappointing others. Stick with internal motivators. If you feel like you need more motivation, surround yourself with positive people whom will check in with you and help hold you accountable for the right reasons. For example a friend that will attend fitness classes with you can help you meet your weight loss goal by giving you someone to exercise with and hold you accountable to actually show up to the class!

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The last thing I’m going to touch on is so extremely important and should perhaps be the first thing to think about before even starting the goal-setting process.

4. Do set goals that will make you happy. Happiness is key; goals that can interfere with that should be put on the back burner or adjusted.

Sometimes I cringe when I hear people complaining about goals.

“I can’t believe I signed up for X…. it is such a waste of my time.”

“Training for X has been so stressful. I can’t wait until it is over.”

“Trying to lose 50lbs has been so depressing. I feel like I can’t eat anything on this diet.”

Stress can do so much harm to both a physical and mental state. Setting goals can be stressful, but the satisfaction and motivation of working towards something you want should eventually replace the initial stress of trying something new. If a goal is causing more frustration than satisfaction from seeing progress, you may need to re-evaluate the goal or maybe take a look at why you set it in the first place. I would never tell someone who hates to run to run a marathon. Don’t lose sign of your end results and find ways to motivate you that don’t interfere with your daily happiness!

 


Pick your passion and roll with it!

Happy Friday everyone! This post is going to dive into some of my thoughts about physical activity and trends with exercise. I know people can get very passionate about exercise, so just take everything with a grain of salt and hear out my perspective!

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Sometimes we get caught up in trends and forget to pay attention to what we truly enjoy. What makes your heart full and your body happy? Of course this can be related to food, but trends can also effect other parts of your health and well-being.

The main things that come to mind when I think about this topic are work-out trends. I have tried a variety of different exercise regimens or classes from basic work-outs at the gym to yoga or spin. I definitely thank undergrad for that, because I was able to take a variety of classes such as TRX, Pilates, yoga, and cycling all for free. This gave me the opportunity to dive into new things and see what I really liked!

The problem with trends in any aspect of life (exercise, health, dieting, clothing, etc) is that we often get caught up in what is most “popular”. What is everyone else doing? Everyone else likes cross-fit, so shouldn’t I too?

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I am focusing on the exercise aspect because I think that keeping up with trends in exercise can often times be the most discouraging or frustrating. I remember when the cross-fit trend started and I thought to myself, “Am I supposed to try this? It’s so not me or what I enjoy about exercising?” With social-media being a hot way to communicate, we often times get wrapped up in what others are doing and what we think we should try to “get fit” vs really tapping in to what we love and enjoy. I have realized over the years that I continuously go back to running, so I have used this as an opportunity to perfect and really focus on this passion of mine.

When you are looking for a way to stay active, go for what you enjoy, not what is trending on Instagram or Facebook. When you enjoy the type of exercise that you are doing, it often times makes you more willing to continue and push yourself harder. Of course, trying new things can be fun, exciting, and you might find a new way to be active that you really enjoy, BUT don’t feel like you have to love something just because every else does!


How do I stay engaged and interested in running and not burn myself out? I challenge myself by running various races or switching from long-distance runs to quick sprints on the treadmill. I thrive off exercising in group settings. I love pushing myself to be faster and catch up to someone ahead of me, so running a 5k or training for a half marathon is something that really challenges me and pushes me to better myself! When I really do need a break, I go to my other loves — yoga and pure barre. Yoga is very relaxing for me and my body. Pure barre is a total “rock out to awesome music and feel my body shake” type of work out (you know…the ones where you can’t walk the next day?!).With these breaks in between races and an occasional HIIT workout, I have totally found a system that works for me and keeps my interest.

I encourage you to find something you enjoy and really dive into it. Become comfortable with yourself and where you are with exercise and fitness and always remember change takes time!


Finding Your Own Self-Love

This post comes from a few things that have been swirling around my mind recently, so I thought I would share a few of them. Good health is not always about what you are eating or how much exercise you do in a week (although these are definitely valuable players!), it is also loving yourself in more ways than one. It’s accepting your flaws and your “not so good days” as well as what you value about yourself. Good health requires self-worth. It requires you to fight to be healthy and understand that perfection is sometimes…. actually very rarely… going to be an outcome.

I throw this out there because I think there are so many things that can cause stress in someones life and decrease their ability to actually love their self as a person. Whether that is stress about eating, stress about being as fit as the trainer in the gym, stress about a job, or just having “one of those days” where an un-tied shoe makes you want to scream, I think taking time to find the positives is key. Finding a little positive light in a room of darkness is so, so important to feeling good and reaching that end goal of good health.

The American Psychological Association stated the following:

“When stress starts interfering with your ability to live a normal life for an extended period, it becomes even more dangerous. The longer the stress lasts, the worse it is for both your mind and body.” 

So how does this relate to what I normally talk about?

Food, nutrition, staying active and healthy. All of these factors can either contribute to self love or throw a wrench in your day that causes added stress. Think about a day that you meal prepped, ate a fantastic lunch filled with veggies (GO YOU!), went to the gym or a yoga class and left a sweaty mess, and then came home to drink a big glass of water and finish that list of errands that had been sitting on your refrigerator for the past week. YOU FEEL LIKE A ROCKSTAR. At that moment, you probably looked in the mirror and thought, “I can do this; I feel great, I’m working towards my health goals, and I am so happy with this day. I really do love who I am and who I’m becoming.”

Now rewind to a day the week before where you slept through your 5am alarm, so the early morning run went out the window as you rushed to get dressed and to work on time. Because you are late, you run through the drive through to get a quick coffee and well why not a donut? Maybe it will make you feel better? While your morning started off a hectic mess, you finally make it to work and get the pleasure of having “one of those day” where anything and everything is thrown at you. Swamped with charting or papers that need to be filed away before you head out, you leave a little late, get stuck in traffic, and well… I guess you aren’t getting to that mile-high stack of laundry that you swore you would do tonight (do you even have underwear for tomorrow?). You may have also looked in the mirror that night, but the little voice in your mind would be quite different. “Where did I go wrong? I can’t believe what I ate today. Now I’m going to have to work out twice as hard tomorrow… why in the world did I get that donut?? I’m so behind on my health goals. I’m never going to look the way I want to.” 

Day 1 = Self-love. When you love things about yourself or what you are doing and give yourself a compliment, you are more likely to stay on that path. Making healthy food choices or going to the gym seems a lot easier when you feel and see the benefits and love the outcomes. What can go wrong is when we have a day like Day 2. As I stated earlier, perfection is an unrealistic goal and self-love means accepting the bad days along with the good. Move on from the donut, and realize that one donut will not squash all the work that you’ve done so far to “eat healthy” and feel good about your body. Don’t stop the love just because you’ve had a bad day.

When days like these arise, I try to find some positive in my day. Yes, maybe I skipped my workout, but I went for that 15 minute walk at lunch. Good for me! Not only did I escape a busy day and relax for 15 minutes, but I did feel pretty darn good afterwards and pounded through all of those morning notes in 30 minutes after lunch. How awesome is that?!

Yes, maybe I had a donut for breakfast, but that’s probably the first time I have had a donut in at least two months. I love that I took a moment to indulge. That show’s I really do have balance in my life. Back to my normal breakfast tomorrow!

While I just unleashed all these thoughts on you, I hope maybe part of this resonates with your life or moments of stress that you’ve had. Always try to keep your self-love thoughts in your back pocket so maybe when those bad days come around you can bring a little positivity into your life and diminish the stressful moments. I’m not perfect, and I myself don’t always follow my own tips, but I sure do try! Happy hump day everyone!


Why diet and exercise work better together!

I commonly talk about food, eating healthy, and filling your body up with nutrient-dense foods while still taking time to indulge every once and a while. Occasionally, you will catch me talking about exercise or sharing some things that I like to do to keep myself physically active. One thing I want to emphasize a little today is why it is so important to have balance with these two concepts: healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Sometimes I see people fall into the fitness slump where all they are focused on is burning calories. While there are many people that do spend hours upon hours in the gym and have the body to show it, high fitness level doesn’t necessarily equal good health. Also, most people don’t have 2-3 hours to spend at the gym or exercising daily. Many of the people I see on a daily basis struggle with getting in 20 minutes of exercise 2 times per week. In terms of weight loss, physical activity actually doesn’t have as much of an impact on losing weight as does one’s diet. Don’t take this the wrong way… I’m not saying don’t exercise. Exercise is crucial to maintaining not only good health, but it can help regulate your mood, stress levels, and keep you at a weight that you feel comfortable. Exercise is definitely effective in weight maintenance. (If you don’t believe me… look it up! There is actually research done on this topic.)

Let’s switch gears. I am a Registered Dietitian. It is my job to help people connect what they are putting into their bodies with their overall health or health conditions. It is no secret that “eating healthy” is something that people want to do (for the most part). I don’t think anyone wakes up thinking “I really hope the 3 sodas I drink today lead me to have high blood sugars.”

While I try to help people learn to eat a balanced diet and focus on whole foods rather that processed and packaged foods, I don’t believe that eating healthy and spending the entire day being sedentary is good either. What good is eating salads and lean proteins if you spend the whole day sitting on the couch or at a work desk. I know sometimes it is hard to find balance between eating healthy and getting in the recommended 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per week, but this is something I feel is so important to maintaining good health. Whether you are trying to lose a few pounds or just maintain a healthy body, physical activity and making healthy food decisions together can provide optimal success.

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Think about food as fuel to your day AND to your ability to have a good and successful workout. Without proper fuel, your body might not react to your workouts the way you hope. If you spend 30 minutes doing ab work 4 times per week but go home and eat 3 cups of ice cream each night, those abs might not pop the way you want then to! On the other side of the spectrum, think about exercise as a way to keep yourself motivated to make good food choices. I don’t know about you, but after I go on a 3 hour hike, the last thing I am thinking about is sitting down to a burger and french fries. Often times, the more consistently we exercise, the clearer we think and the easier it is to differentiate a healthy food choice from one that maybe isn’t as great!

I hope that this information sparked interest in thinking about the way you look at your own diet and physical activity regimen (or maybe I just babbled for nothing!). I have always been a believer in balance within my life, whether that be balancing diet and exercise or school work with my desire to have a little relaxation time on the weekends. As always, message me with questions if you have them! Happy Tuesday!

 


No Time, No Problem

With interning this year full time, I feel like I gained a lot of respect and sympathy for those who work for 8 hours or more each day and really just don’t feel like they have the time to go to the gym or workout, even if they want to. I understand now the feeling of “I’m just too tired to go to the gym” or “After finally getting home and getting a chance to relax, the last thing I want to do is do a tedious 1 hour workout.” This post is all about things that I have done this year to help me stay fit, even while I am working full time as an intern and taking class on my day off. There are also some other general ideas that I have come up with to still get a quick, effective work out in, even with only a minimal amount of time to give. 

Tip 1:

If you get a lunch break and work in an area that is safe to walk around in or near a residential area, take a quick 15-20 minute power walk outside. During the summer months, I would do this all the time. Occasionally, a coworker would come with me, which was even better because we were able to talk and the time flew. Don’t just casually walk; pick up your pace a bit and make it a quick, brisk walk that feels good when you are done but you are not sweaty and out of breath. I also found that this helped me clear my mind and relax a little bit. We all know how stressful some work days can be! I know that when I just sit around after lunch, I often times become lethargic, tired, and the rest of the day seems to move by at a slower pace than in the morning. When I would walk, even if only for 15 minutes, I would feel energized, more awake, and ready to take on the afternoon!

Tip 2:

If you work in a big office (or a small one) and have the ability to call a coworker to ask them questions or communicate… don’t! A lot of times if I needed to communicate with a coworker, I would get up and walk to see them and take the longer route (because the clinic I was in was very small). On the same note, I would make about 2 laps around the clinic on my way back, just to keep myself moving and get in a few extra steps. Once again, this helped me feel more awake during the day and many times I felt I was able to concentrate and get tasks done more timely and efficiently.

Tip 3:

Try yoga! After a long day at work, when you don’t have much time to spare and feel exhausted, yoga can not only help stretch out your muscles and relax, it can also give you a great little 20-30 minute workout (if you do it right at home). There are so many 10-20 minute yoga videos accessible now through the internet. All you have to do is search and pick a few that interest you! I am always surprised how great I feel after doing a quick yoga session at night. I also think it helps me sleep better.

Tip 4: 

Don’t go to the gym hungry! If you do have the energy or dedication to go to the gym after your day at work, good for you! Make sure though that you are not doing this when you are starving. I find that if I go to the gym straight from work when I am already hungry, instead of packing a quick snack such as a granola bar or some nuts, or don’t stop home and take a 15 minute relaxation/snack break before going to the gym, I tend to be so famished by the time I get home after my workout that I eat double what I probably should. I have learned my from mistakes and usually work very hard now to remember to pack a quick snack if I am going to the gym after work!

Tip 5: 

Start your morning off right. If you really find that you just do not have any time during the day to get in a walk or any time after work to head to the gym (or you are just too darn tired), try becoming an early bird, and get a workout in first thing in the morning. If waking up at the crack of dawn to make sure you have enough time to drive to the gym and back sounds absolutely awful, wake up a little later and do your workout right in the comfort of your own home. There are plenty of quick full body workouts or workouts for target areas that are accessible online now. Invest in a yoga mat or a pair of weights and become your own personal trainer. I always think to myself, some type of activity is better than none! So if I only have time for 30 minutes each morning, at least I am trying!