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!

 


Stepping Away From the Scale

I’m sure you guys have noticed a pattern with some of my blog posts over the past 6 months. I’m really, really trying to break the weight-obsessive attitude and stigma that can come with “healthy eating” and really focus on more general health and wellness. Disordered eating is something that I feel very passionate about, because I believe it effects more people that we generally realize. There are times when someone who doesn’t necessarily have an eating disorder show habits or signs of disordered eating. The concept of disordered eating is extremely gray. There isn’t one primary way to identify or manage it. It can surface some days and other days be the furthest thing from someones mind.

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The graphic above gives a very broad depiction of where someone may fall within the eating disorder or disordered eating spectrum. Of course there are extremes such as development of an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, but preoccupation with weight or partaking in excessive or extreme exercise can fall into a more broad pattern of disordered eating.

So, my title is “Step Away From the Scale” and there is a reason for that.

I remember in when I was in college, I would go to our main fitness center called the RPAC at least 4-5 times per week in between classes or on the weekends. There were multiple scales throughout the gym which people could use as they please, myself included. Nothing abnormal about scales in a gym right? Its ones own choice whether or not to step on the scale, and athletes such as wrestlers or swimmers where weight may play a more prominent role may also need to use these more frequently.

I, of course, stepped on the scale each time I was there and thought nothing of it. I knew my weight would fluctuate between morning and later on in the day. Depending on what time of the month it was I might even see a greater fluctuation. That didn’t change the fact that any time I saw that number inch up, my stomach would churn a little bit and I would think, “what am I doing wrong?”.

I can especially remember when I was training for a race and seeing a consistent 102-105 lbs, I would think to myself “that sounds about right”. A few month later once training had ceased, that number slowly crept to 106-108. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. On a completely separate occasion, I went to the campus health clinic for something unrelated (I was sick or something) and was routinely weighed prior to going back into the room. The scale said 110 and I about had a heart attack.

This is what one simple number can do.

Did I look any different throughout this entire year? Not really. Is it abnormal for a woman to fluctuate 3-5lbs depending on the time of the month. No. Did that number have a negative impact on my day? 100%

Now…I didn’t change anything about the way I was eating; I didn’t restrict; I got over it in a few days and entered back into real life, but for others that number can cause a lifetime of damage. That number can mentally stick and haunt someone until they choose to enter into a world that is really, really difficult to get out of.

During my time at Ohio State, they ended up banning scales from the fitness center. At that time, I was baffled. Why in the world are they taking away something that goes hand in hand with fitness? I have a right to weigh myself, and they just took away that right? I look back on this now and applaud whoever made that decision. I don’t know if that is still the case, but I am happy that someone at least gave this a thought at that time. I think scales can be a useful, but also extremely dangerous tool.

I encourage you to step away from the scale and truly listen to your body unless there is a medical reason you need to weigh yourself. Learn about your body and pay attention to different areas, how your clothes fit, and you you feel on a daily basis. These things are so much more important than a silly number. I stopped using scales about 3 years ago prior to moving to Arizona, and only use them now on occasion. We use to have one in our bathroom, and now it sits wrapped up in our closet untouched for years.

I hope this post encourages you to recognize if preoccupation with weight has or does play a role in your life. Stepping away from the scale is one way to fight back against those preoccupations and have a more well-rounded and healthy view of your body.


STRESSED

Happy Sunday everyone! I think this is such an important topic to talk about today. I’m not just talking about how stress can effect your food intake or food choices, but I also want to share how it can effect your body in general. I’ll also share some ways I’ve learned to manage stress through food and exercise. I’m definitely not a model example when it comes to managing stress. I’ve definitely encountered moments where I’ve let stress get the best of me and effect my mood, my body, and my daily activities.

I do think its getting better. Something, or someone rather, that helps me manage stressful times is my husband. It really helps me to identify periods that are stressful and say it out loud or have him point it out. Once its out and in the open, I feel like it is easier for me to manage!

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Not only can stress cause physical signs of hurt or discomfort such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, stomach discomfort/digestive issues, and chest pain, it can also effect your daily mood. Heightened anxiety is something that I usually face during times of stress, and it also tends to effect my sleep patterns. Both of these symptoms tend to lead to irritability and eventually lots and lots of tears. Stress can effect everyone differently, this is just my own personal experience. Other common effects that stress can have on mood include lack of motivation or focus, decreased sex drive, social withdrawal, sadness, depression, and anger outbursts (MayoClinic).

In terms of health behaviors, stress can lead to over or under eating, excessive exercise OR minimal exercise due to excessive fatigue, and increased consumption of alcohol (MayoClinic). I tend to make food choices that I normally wouldn’t make when I’m stressed and feel over guilty about them.

So if we know that all of these things happen when we are stressed, how can we minimize the emotional roller coaster and other side effects? I’m not a psychologist (clearly), but I do have a few things that have worked for me in the pasts.

  • Baking — Baking is relaxing for me. It’s relaxing because it requires concentration (measuring, paying attention to the clock, etc), but it also requires creativity. Because of these reasons, it takes my mind away from whatever is stressing me out and requires me to focus on the task at hand.

  • Running — Running is the main form of exercise that helps calm me down or clear my mind. Going for a long run and falling into a rhythm with music and outdoor surroundings is the ideal situation to help me zone out and focus on my breathing and stride.

  • Yoga — While I don’t practice yoga now as much as I use to, yoga was key for me in college to wind down and de-stress. Yoga is a great way to tap into your breathing and notice when certain parts of your body are in fact tense or “stressed”.

  • Choose tea, not wine! — Alcohol + stress can only lead to bad things. If I have a few glasses of wine during times when I am REALLY stressed (Outside of normal stressful work days or driving home in traffic — I’m talking REAL stress.) my emotions tend to get the best of me. I have found that having a cup of tea at night really helps me wind down and relax before bed. This not only is great stress-relief, but it also helps me sleep better! My favorite night-time teas are any type of chamomile tea, ginger-lemon, or decaffeinated mint. I’m showing two of my favorites below!

     

     

I went to a little talk about stress management at work last week to hear one of my co-workers speak, and she talked a lot about deep breathing. We practiced this method during the talk and it was super relaxing! I don’t know the in’s and out’s of this stress-relief method, but I’d highly recommend doing some research on it and trying it out yourself!

I hope that some of these tips were helpful. As always, feel free to message me with comments or questions! Now — I’m going to go try to manage my stress while watching the Cavs play game two!!! Let’s go Cleveland!


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!