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Confession: I Don't Change in the Locker Room


I grew up playing school sports and taking phys ed class, so I've been in my share of locker rooms. But now that I'm an adult, the only locker room I encounter is at the gym. And to be perfectly honest, I'm really—I mean REALLY—uncomfortable changing in the women's locker room. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the odd woman out or if I'm normal after all.
Posted 4/19/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 816 comments   152,726 views
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Confession: I'm Still Learning to Put My Health First


When it comes to good health, I'm grateful that the odds have always been in my favor. Not only was I taught early on about the importance of eating well and exercising regularly, but I also come from healthy genes (my grandmother is still going strong at 96 years old!). However, along with those good genetics, I also inherited something that has recently proven to be somewhat of a disadvantage: My dad's stubborn refusal to go to the doctor at all costs.

My dad is one of the sweetest, hardest-working people I have ever known. The one flaw he has in my eyes is that he just doesn't know when to stop working. He is the carbon-copy of my hard-working grandfather, who worked for a steel company nearly his entire adult life. Upon his retirement, he received an award (a plaque that my family still has!) for never taking a single sick day in 44 years.

Needless to say, my dad followed in my grandfather's footsteps, and I subconsciously learned from an early age that we Hersheys just don't get sick. And if we do, we can power through it. Of course, my parents always took me to the doctor on those rare occasions that I did get sick growing up. But my dad, who is still working well past retirement age, has always sent the subtle message through his actions that life doesn't slow down, even when your body needs it to. You just deal with it and keep going.

As they say, like father, like daughter. Given my upbringing, it should be no surprise that my health has always been a big point of pride for me. So, when I started feeling tired and run-down a couple of months ago, my immediate thought was, ''I just have a lot going on right now. I'll be fine once I finally catch up on sleep!" And then, on the weekends, I slept, and slept... and slept. And I would wake up feeling even more tired than I did before. I watched my endurance plummet during my workouts, and I had trouble concentrating on the simplest of tasks. I kept making excuses for the way I felt: I was working a lot; I just needed to take a day off from exercise; I was getting too much sleep. I made up every justification under the sun to keep from admitting that there may actually be something wrong with me.
Posted 8/30/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Melinda Hershey : 20 comments   8,395 views
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Confession: I Can Run 10 Miles, But I Can't Do a Sit-Up


I am a creature of habit.  Once I get into an exercise routine I like and works well for my schedule, I tend to stick to it.  For years, my primary cardio activity has been running.  I regularly change up the distance, speed and route to keep my workouts challenging.  I like that I’m good at running (I’m not fast, but I’m consistent) and it’s something I enjoy.  But I also know that variety is important. 
 
My husband had been bugging me to try a new fitness class at his martial arts studio.  After months of making excuses (“I don’t have time”, “I don’t think I’d like it”, etc.) I decided to give it a chance.  Within the first few classes, it was easy to see the areas where I was very fit, and the areas where I clearly was not.  I like feeling strong and fit.  I like it for myself, I like it as a positive example for my kids, and I also feel a certain amount of pressure to be fit because of my job.  I think I hesitated to try something new because I was afraid it would show me (and everyone around me) my weaknesses. 
Posted 8/2/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 71 comments   18,414 views
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Confession: My Motivation Just Isn't What It Used to Be


I used to feel like running was a big part of who I was.  I was always looking forward to the next race and training for something.  Even though I had days where the run was rough, I didn’t feel good or I was tired and didn’t want to go, I always felt good when it was over.  That feeling is what kept me going and what kept me motivated to continue challenging myself through the sport.
 
Recently, I’ve been struggling to remember what it was like to love running.  I’m still a regular runner, but going out for a run just isn’t what it used to be.  I’m currently training for a half-marathon so I feel like I need to stick to the schedule.  But most of the time I don’t really want to go, which is unusual for me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m so busy, I’m tired (3 young kids will do that to you), or because I miss training for events with a group (which I just haven’t had time to do since baby #3 arrived.)  Maybe it’s a combination of those things. 
Posted 4/24/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 46 comments   13,403 views
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Confession: I Still Struggle with the First 10 Minutes


"Viewing exercise as a tool for living the life you want is far more motivating than thinking of it as a means to an end." ~ Coach Nicole

If you look at my SparkPage, it is filled with quotes--quotes that I find motivating and inspiring, especially when life can be a tad too overwhelming for me to find the inspiration within myself to get up and move. These wise words allow me to connect with where I am right now in my life and apply them to where I hope to be in the future.

Having just celebrated my 7th anniversary of reclaiming a life of health and fitness, I must confess that after all these years of working out consistently at least five days a week, I still struggle with motivating myself to get up and out the door, whether that is for a run or going to the gym.

Don't get me wrong there are those days I am eager to don my running attire to head outside or to go to the gym, but when my motivation begins to wane, breaking that barrier of resistance is TOUGH. I have to remind myself that this journey is one I will need to be on for the rest of my life. Just ten minutes is all it takes--10 minutes or 600 seconds--to keep me moving in the right direction.  

A few weeks ago when I was scheduled to go out for long run of 9 miles, I was doing everything in my power to find something to keep my mind occupied and away from running. I did not feel like running, but I knew if I did not get out that day, I was going to have to run the next day when I had a lot more on my plate. I really had no excuse. It was a nice sunny Saturday afternoon with unseasonably warm temps for January. There really was no excuse I could come up with not to go, but I first had to convince my brain otherwise.
Posted 2/14/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 40 comments   8,911 views
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Confession: I Eat the Same Thing for Breakfast Every Day


For the past six years I have eaten the same foods for breakfast almost every day of the week. These foods include Quaker Weight Control Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal, one tablespoon chopped walnuts, half a banana (or fresh blueberries in season), four ounces of tart cherry juice (I added this to my breakfast meal in July 2009) with one, maybe two cups of black coffee. This has been my go to breakfast for so long now that I no longer have to think what I will have, I just go the pantry grab the packet of oatmeal, heat the water, add the walnuts and fruit and I am good to go.

While some may find that this is too many calories for breakfast or too many carbohydrates, as a runner, this has become my ideal breakfast as it helps fuel my long runs. The added fiber from the oatmeal and fruit along with the healthy fat from the walnuts provide me with greater satiety so that I stay fuller longer.  

We all know the importance of eating a variety of foods to ensure our bodies receive the proper nutrients to heal, recover, fight off disease and help with our energy levels. But according to studies, too much variety main be responsible for our weight gain.

There have been several studies alluding to the fact that too much variety in our food choices can actually lead to weight gain. The most recent study published earlier this summer in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that "women who ate macaroni and cheese every day for a week were taking in 100 fewer calories each day than normal by the week's end." The reason could be that the lack of variety caused the women to be less interested in the food they were eating so that they ate fewer calories.
Posted 12/27/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Nancy Howard : 143 comments   22,342 views
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Confession: I Didn't Run a Marathon


Early this year, I shared a goal with you: I would run my first marathon on May 1.

Guess what? I didn't run it.

My training went well until I hit the double digits. I read up about marathon training, selected a plan for beginners and rose early several mornings a week to run. I did everything right, or so I thought.

I struggled to keep myself hydrated and fed properly while dealing with stomach issues on long runs. I fell 10 miles in to a 15-mile run, scraping and bruising my knees. I bonked during my 16-mile run, which is when I talked to Nancy about fueling and pace. (I was running too fast to sustain my pace over long distances, and I wasn't eating enough during my runs.)

I rebounded, had a wonderful 15-mile run, followed by a half-marathon in D.C. There, I pulled my hamstring and couldn't walk properly for three days. A sharp pain in my left tibia, which had been diagnosed a year ago as tendonosis, returned and worsened. After a few days of rest, in the midst of moving, I caught a sinus infection, which left me unable to run for a week. When I finally got back out there, my leg wasn't fully healed.

That day, as I hobbled home, I made the decision to drop from the full to the half marathon, and later, to defer my entry until next year. Friends who had also run marathons encouraged me through the tough times. One said she had only run as far as 16 miles before race day; another said he couldn't walk up stairs for two weeks after his first marathon.

Truth be told, I still could have run, but I likely wouldn't feel great today. There will always be another race, and I am accountable only to myself.

Posted 5/2/2011  5:39:51 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 80 comments   12,055 views
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Confession: My Kids Eat Better Than I Do


I've blogged about my kids' diets many times in the past. I try hard to provide them with good, wholesome meals. Fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean meats are the norm in my house. My kids have treats, but in moderation, so overall, I feel pretty good about how they eat. Interestingly, I can't say that my or my husband's diet lives up to quite the same standard. According to a new online poll, we're not alone.
Posted 2/18/2011  2:09:08 PM By: Jen Mueller : 33 comments   13,135 views
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Confession: I Ran and Ate My Way Through the Krispy Kreme Challenge


A couple years ago, I saw a news story about the annual Krispy Kreme Challenge held in Raleigh, NC. Runners from across the country show up and pay good money (for a good cause, of course) to run a couple miles, eat a dozen doughnuts, then scurry their way back to the finish line within 60 minutes—without losing their doughnuts, if you know what I mean. I realize that everyone may react differently to the idea behind this race. My initial reaction was more like "Ew! Pure gluttony!" Then I immediately calculated the calories in a dozen doughnuts and no, running 4 miles doesn't even burn off three of them. "Only in America," I thought.

The following year, when I saw news coverage about the Challenge again, something came over me. I suddenly wanted to do this race. Yes, I am an advocate for healthy eating and sensible exercise habits. And yes you're right in thinking that combining competitive running with competitive doughnut eating doesn't net out to "healthy," but you have to admit…it sure sounds fun!

I’m a girl who can eat. I have a healthy appetite and I've always been able to eat a lot of food—there is no food that's ever been "too rich" for me—without feeling sick. (It's a curse.) I was up for the challenge! I signed up as soon as registration opened for the 2011 race, and last weekend, I ran and ate my way through the Krispy Kreme Challenge. Now I'm reporting back from the glaze-filled trenches.
Posted 2/9/2011  8:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 296 comments   26,463 views
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Confession: My Sugar Addiction has Returned


Back in May, I wrote a blog titled "Confession: I'm Breaking My Sugar Addiction". At that point I had significantly cut back on the amount of candy, cookies, cake, etc. that I was consuming. I felt better (both physically and mentally) and had more energy. I thought I had finally changed my eating habits, only eating treats now and then (instead of daily.) But since then, things haven't exactly gone as planned….
Posted 12/17/2010  11:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 287 comments   21,893 views
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Confession: I Gain a Few Pounds Every Summer


I lost 40 pounds five years ago, and I've kept it off since then. That doesn't mean it has always been easy. I put on seven pounds during the last six months at my old job due to stress and a hectic schedule. I lost it after coming to SparkPeople, but I will admit that my weight is more of a range (plus or minus three pounds) than a firm goal.

Recently, I noticed a trend: Every year, I usually start to reach the upper end of my weight range during the summertime and the lower end in wintertime. (I weigh myself a couple of times a month.) I'm not a beach-goer, and I don't wear shorts or skimpy clothes except to run, so I have never been one to worry about getting in shape for a bikini. Still, I do pride myself on eating right most of the time and sticking with a regular exercise routine.

At various times of the year, depending on my schedule, my mood, and other outside forces, "regular" exercise and eating "right" take on various meanings. Sometimes that means workouts almost every day, or it might mean working out just four days a week. It might mean home-cooked, from-scratch, veggie-heavy meals every night, or it might mean splurging on sweet potato fries at dinner, making do with a bag of carrot sticks and hummus on a road trip, or ordering a mushroom-and-peppers pizza because I am just too tired to cook.

Since I completed my first half-marathon late this spring, I haven't set another fitness goal. I've been running and practicing yoga, with some strength training and cross training, but I haven't been as focused on my fitness. I had spent 18 months working toward progressively larger fitness goals: yoga teacher certification, then my first 5K, 10K, and that half marathon. I don't cope with heat well, so I ultimately decided to take the summer off from training. My mind and body needed a rest.

As a result, I've put on a couple of pounds. My middle feels softer, even though I know the rest of me is stronger from all the yoga, dancing, and walking hills in Istanbul.

I'm OK with all of that. Want to know why?

Posted 8/11/2010  5:01:06 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 110 comments   24,474 views
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Confession: My Posture is Horrible


Everyone has those things they donít like about themselves. Feet that are too big or too small, a face that is too round or too long, etc. Itís easy to find flaws when we look in the mirror. Hands down, the thing that bothers me most about myself is my posture--something youíd think I could improve. Iíve tried various things over the years to help correct the problem, but so far, no luck.
Posted 8/10/2010  11:04:47 AM By: Jen Mueller : 184 comments   23,423 views
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Confession: I Hate to Cook


Several common assumptions about dietitians are that they should be pencil thin and love to cook. Well, many are and do, however, I am not and don't. Do not get me wrong, I CAN cook. Thanks to food science and cooking fundamentals courses in college, I am fairly good at it but I do not find enjoyment in the activity. Except for a couple times a year during holidays, it brings no more joy than cleaning my house, washing the clothes, or paying bills. To me, cooking is another task that must be done to care for my family. I do it because I believe it is important for my family. However, it wasn't always that way.

When I first got out of college and married, I could not wait to take what I had learned and put it into action. My husband (the son of a home economics teacher) and I both worked full time and shared the tasks and chores around our new home and enjoyed spending time together as we did. We shopped and cooked together frequently and since neither of us were picky eaters, we liked trying new recipes. We tried to eat very healthy so I could "practice what I preached" to my patients at the hospital. We set up a compost bin in the back yard for our kitchen waste and made most everything from scratch using wholesome foods before they were easy to find.

Fast-forward about ten years and I am a stay-at-home mother of two young children. I worked hard to be the type of mother I had while growing up. We used cloth diapers, dried our clothes on an outdoor line when the weather permitted, shopped with cloth bags, and used natural cleaners in our home. We planted a garden each spring, enjoyed the organic fruits of our labor during the summer, benefited from homemade tomato sauce, and frozen produce in the freezer during the winter. For half a dozen years, I focused on maintaining the perfect home, teaching my children how to respect the earth, eat a well-balanced meal, the basics of portion control and how to cook as they helped me around the house. They learned about grocery shopping, making nutritious choices while finding the best price, and using coupons as we did our shopping each week. I was happy with all that I was providing them but frustrated by how fast my days went by and how hard it was to fit everything in that had to be done while still finding time and energy to enjoy doing things with them. Since I was a perfectionist I took great pride in what I thought I was doing right and set goals to improve those things that I felt didn't yet measure up. At the beginning of 2002, my perspective on cooking totally changed as well as how I viewed many other aspects of caring for my family.

Posted 7/29/2010  1:26:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 80 comments   14,306 views
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Sometimes I Eat Ice Cream for Dinner (and Other Food Confessions)


Earlier this week, I had a funny dream. I dreamed that I was in a 12-hour foot race that included various stations and obstacles throughout. At one, you had to limbo. At another, I had to change my clothes (weird, right?). And later, between more running, I had to eat ice cream. In the end, I won the race. It was one of those nutty, entertaining dreams that I kept thinking about the next day, laughing to myself. How funny that I won! That ice cream was so good! I wonder if a race like this exists (please tell me that it does)!

Ice cream was on my mind that day. But then again, it is from time to time—especially in the summer. I ate a healthful breakfast full of berries and whole-grain cereal. I snacked on crackers, apples, peanut butter and cheese that day. I had a big salad for lunch full of delicious roasted veggies. But later that night, all I could think about was ice cream. Too lazy to cook after Spinning and in the mood to snack, I hopped on my scooter, headed to the grocery and bought one of my favorite ice cream varieties. I returned home, dished it up, and ate ice cream instead of a sensible dinner.
Posted 7/16/2010  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 286 comments   23,007 views
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Confession: I Am a Fast Eater


It seems as though I am always in a hurry. Iím not too sure if this is because I have so much to do or if this is just part of my type A personality. From the moment I get up in the morning, to the minute my head hits the pillow, I am either doing something or thinking of things I need to do. I have a to-do list a mile long. My goal is to check off as many of those tasks at the end of each day. For any uncompleted tasks they are either added to the following day's list or I abandon them completely. Iím not too sure why I feel so compelled to be in such a hurry about almost everything, but meal time is the one area I am consistently coming up short when it comes to slowing down.

One of the last unhealthy habits I am really hoping to break is rushing through meal time. A habit that I can trace back to the days of my youth when I would spend 15 minutes in the lunch line at school, leaving little time to eat AND talk with my friends. Studies have shown that the faster we eat, the more calories we consume and the fatter it makes us. Last month when I led SparkPeople's Official Healthy Habits Challenge, I wanted to finally break this habit of eating too quickly. So I started doing research on the steps to take to break this habit and in my research I discovered this is quite a common problem for many of us. Because we live in such a fast pace world where fast food restaurants can be found in almost any American city, this fast pace eating can be linked to the obesity epidemic.

Posted 6/5/2010  11:00:17 AM By: Nancy Howard : 188 comments   16,865 views
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