All Entries For Finding Balance
Fact: Doctors love to eat. It is a truth that I learned early on in my medical training and one that has followed me through my career. To survive long shifts and a revolving door of patients, I quickly learned that a solid meal is key, but that doesn’t always mean we have time to sit down for a nice meal of quinoa and kale. For doctors, food is energy, plain and simple, and that means carbs, fats and proteins that can be procured and eaten quickly on breaks.
As the treadmill of my life as a surgeon cranked up to full speed, I adopted these poor eating habits to cope with my increasingly hectic schedule. Sporadic eating throughout the day led to overeating at dinner, and bribing nurses with glazed croissants ended with indulging in one or two sweet treats myself. I gave little thought to nutritional value or savoring the taste of what I was eating and thus, as my practice grew, so did my waistline.
Suddenly, 20 years had passed since my days as an eager intern, and my weight was up--along with my cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar. Who knew I couldn’t just tell my patients how to be healthy without following the same advice myself?
But then I realized something great: It was not too late to make a change. I could save my patients and myself at the same time. Yes, there is a donut shop on the first floor of the hospital, but I don’t have to frequent it. While there are bays of elevators taking me up to the 8th floor to see patients, I don't have to use them. In the end, it is about finding the right balance. The secret to healthy living is not a fad diet or some short term sacrifices; It is about making good choices, most of the time. I am not perfect, but my weight is down, my blood sugar levels are normal and my cholesterol is under control. I don’t count calories, but I do exercise five days a week, alternating cardio and weight training.
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For many people, cold weather and a lack of sunshine can bring on a mild depression known as the ''winter blues.'' People that experience the ''winter blues'' will generally lack motivation and energy. Others may even develop a clinical depression in the form of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is ''a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you're like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.'' Those that experience SAD may produce too much melatonin, which is a hormone that helps to regulate sleep and body temperature. Producing too much melatonin disrupts the body's internal clock and may then cause depression, as seen with SAD sufferers.
Some of the signs of SAD may include the following:
- Loss of energy
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depressed mood
- Weight gain
- Cravings for sweet and starchy foods
Just about everywhere you look someone is using technology. I find it's actually difficult to go out and not see people texting or playing games on their cell phones. It seems that using our phones and other mobile devices (iPads, tablets, laptops, etc.) is such a common thing now. According to this article, the National Sleep Foundation found that "more than 90 percent of Americans regularly use a computer or electronic device of some kind in the hour before bed." With the use of electronic devices like that, researchers are finding that the "exposure to light from computer tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle." This can cause disturbances in our sleep, along with increasing our risk of obesity and diabetes.
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When someone sets a weight-loss goal (or any goal), it needs to be realistic because that is what sets us up to succeed. If we set some wild and crazy goals for ourselves that is too difficult or that we know cannot be achieved, we are setting ourselves up to fail and that doesn't get us any closer to where we want to be.
When it comes to weight-loss, many people have a certain number in their mind of what they want to weigh, whether it is because we remember being that weight at a certain time in our life, it is what we think is ideal, or any other number of reasons. For me, I had a number in mind, but I honestly don't know where that number came from. So I had my goal weight in my mind and like many others, I wanted to get to that number fast. But after reading some articles on SparkPeople, I realized quickly that the weight wasn't going to be lost as fast as I would like. I was still feeling ambitious though and set the maximum weight-loss goal of 2 pounds per week. Was that a realistic goal for me? No. Was I defeated? No way! Although, most of the time I was lucky to lose a half pound per week. Even though I did everything right (eating healthy and exercising), I never had a week with a 2 pound loss.
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Do you ever hit an energy low during your workouts? If so, there could be a variety of reasons why, but some of those can be an easy fix, such as eating properly, getting enough rest, drinking plenty of water, changing up your workouts, etc.
Whenever I find myself hitting a low during my workouts, I run through a list of things in my head to figure out what may be happening so it doesn't continue to happen for future workouts. A few things that I do to make sure I have enough energy for my workouts are to make sure I'm well rested, drink plenty of water and make sure I switch up my workouts so I don't get bored. If I'm not well rested, then I am going to be tired well before my workout, which will not only cause my workout to be less than great, but it can also lead to more fatigue and possible injuries. On the days that I know I didn't sleep well the night before, I either do a short walk as my workout (or something else that is quick and simple) or I skip that day's workout. I would rather go to bed early to help me catch up on my sleep so I will be more rested and less injury prone. If all goes well and am better rested the next day, I am able to put more effort into my workout then.
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My husband and I just celebrated our 14th anniversary earlier this week and I thought it was a great time to share some active date ideas with you. While we haven't had a chance to actually celebrate our anniversary just yet, we will be doing something active and fun when we do. We both enjoy a good movie and dinner, but that can be costly not only for our wallets, but our waistline as well.
A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how I normally work out alone, whether I'm at the gym or at home. I also shared my concerns that I had about taking fitness classes and asked for recommendations for getting over those concerns. I was impressed by the amazing amount of positive and supportive comments, along with the fitness class recommendations that were made on that blog and I truly thank each and every one of you that left a comment! In response to those wonderful comments that you all left on that blog, I wanted to write another blog to let you know what I have done since then.
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As some of you may remember, I have a yellow lab named Zoe (along with a new puppy adopted from the shelter and three cats). When my husband and I brought Zoe home though, our lives changed forever! She is full of character and enthusiasm, to say the least. While I’ve been taking her to obedience training classes to get her to learn how to behave well, she is not the only one that has been learning new things. Zoe has taught me some very valuable life lessons that I think may help others too.
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How can I get motivated?
How do I stay motivated?
Will someone please motivate me to exercise?
These are all questions that I have seen a lot of members ask on the SparkPeople message boards recently. Motivation seems to be hard to come by some days, while other days it seems much easier. Why is that? Well, something that I have experienced that may help with the “problem” of finding and keeping motivation to stick with your health goals (and any other goals you may have set), is to find the motivation and power from within yourself.
While having external motivators, such as preparing for a big event, fitting into your swimsuit just in time for summer or fitting into a particular outfit for that special event, can be helpful in the short-term, it may not help you in the long-term. What happens to your motivation once that event comes and goes? Your motivation to keep going after an external motivator is over may cause you to lose your desire to move forward, therefore, you may be more likely to lose your motivation and fall back into some older, less healthy habits. That is unless you have some other form of motivation from within yourself.
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Do you find yourself doing great with your healthy lifestyle habits during the week, only to find that you lose your motivation to stick to those healthy habits during the weekend? Don't worry, you are not the only one! I see numerous SparkPeople members say something similar to this somewhat often. You work so hard during the week for your job and/or school, your family, doing various tasks, changing various lifestyle habits, etc., and perhaps you feel you need a break from it all at the end of the week. However, by making some small adjustments you can change that all around and make your weekends healthier too! We have rounded up a variety of resources to help you get through the weekends with more motivation to stick to your healthy lifestyle habits.
When it comes to succeeding at weight loss, knowing what to do is only half the battle. The real challenge is sticking with your healthy lifestyle in the midst of all the other responsibilities you have on your plate. Even with hard work and self-discipline, it's easy to get tripped up by pitfalls like emotional eating, waning motivation, and erratic weight fluctuations without a good game plan.
On your road to weight loss, you will encounter a few major triggers that I like to call the three Os—overwhelm, overload, and overeating. The first two Os-- overwhelm and overload-- both create incredible challenges for new habits and lifestyle changes by triggering the third O--overeating. When you are stressed, your biochemistry makes you hungry. When you don’t take the time to care for yourself in other ways, food can tempt you as an easy-to-reach stress relief, or a way to “energize” and keep going.
Here’s what you need to know.
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It’s that time of year again, the time when people make resolutions, or in my case, goals. I’ve never been known to make resolutions, but I do like to make a list of goals for myself for things that I want to accomplish throughout the year. However, the start of a new year is not the only time I make goals for myself – I actually do this at least a few times a year. When I do make my goal list, I like to look at what I have accomplished so far and see if I need to make any adjustments to my current goals or add new ones. I see this as a list that evolves with me and what I feel is important.
Of course though, my list always includes goals that are health-related. Actually, that is what most of my goals have been in the last few years, but this year I am trying something a little different. While I do have some health goals on my list and will continue to work towards those, this year I want to put a little more focus on some goals that are not health-related.
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Stress is something that everyone encounters at least once in their lifetime, and some may experience it more than others. Some people are also able to manage their stress levels well, while others have a difficult time in dealing with it. Let's face it, while the holidays are meant to be a joyous part of the year, stress is rampant during this time as well, and many of us experience even more stress than usual! With all the parties and events that you need to attend, shopping that needs to be done, entertaining out-of-town guests, etc. , you may find yourself running out of time to get things done, including your workouts. I've rounded up a variety of resources to help you learn about stress and combat/relieve your stress in healthy ways. I hope that you will be able to use some of these rescources to de-stress during the holidays (and after they are long gone), especially if you have ever felt like the woman in the picture.
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I’ve often watched the young female gymnasts in competition in a state of awe and wonder. How do they do all those jumps and twirls on the balance beam without falling off and make it look so easy in the process? The precision, the focus, the leap in the face of fear mentality – how do I get some of that?
Maybe that routine on the balance beam is like the healthy lifestyle to you. Some days there seems to be no balance and you can’t get all the things in order to make it work. You’re juggling the job, the family, the pets, the bills, the laundry, the housework, the yard work, or some combination of all those things and more. How are you supposed to fit in exercise, healthy grocery shopping, time to prep and cook meals, plan meals for the next day or week? It’s daunting, frustrating, and frankly you might just want to give up. Well don’t.
The thing about those gymnasts on TV is they didn’t show up at the training facility yesterday and jump into competition today. They started their journey at the beginning and worked a very long time to get where they are. I appreciate this more now that I’ve been on the healthy lifestyle journey for three years (2 on SparkPeople). I had to start at the beginning, work it out, and keep figuring out how to make it work for me through life while it changed from day to day, month to month, and year to year.
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I'll just come out and say it: I'm cheap. If I can go without something, I will. If it's not a "necessity," then I don't need it, which means I don't buy it. I repair and mend broken appliances and holey socks. I use coupons and wait weeks for items to go on sale. I drive a 15-year-old car that gets me from place to place and that's about it. I don't own a Smartphone—or a phone that can even send a picture message. When I do go out to eat (a rare occasion), I usually order my food to-go just to save on tax and tip! Some people may view my penny-pinching ways as problematic, but I think frugal living is a virtue. After all, during hard economic times, living within a budget is a real challenge for many people.
I admit though: Living on the cheap can get old…fast. If you're not going on vacations, buying expensive clothes or toys, or spending much on entertainment, life can get boring. But only if you let it. Cheap as I may be, I realized recently that I do splurge on myself in little ways that add big pleasure to my everyday life. This led me to wonder: How do you splurge on a budget? Read More ›