Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Take time to enjoy what nature provides in the early months of the year. I encourage everyone to tap into this inspiration. Even if your area is still in the grips of the winter season you can still go to Google images and do a search with the keywords spring, or spring flowers, and enjoy the inspiration of the season .
How cool is this picture of the baby bird in the beautiful spring blossoms! How could it not inspire anyone? Just doing a search for the photo for this blog made my day as I tried to choose among the many beautiful and inspiring photos. As I looked I felt a smile growing on my face.
This search made me want to get out and find my own spring scenes. Thankfully the rain is not here today. For those who knew about my roof, though, I am happy to report that the heavy tarp is covering it and my exercise room is now rainproof until we have time to put new roofing materials on it. My "downer" attitude has also been covered by all of the helpful suggestions and encouragement my Spark Friends have given me while dealing with the crisis and importantly my scale is again going in the right direction.
Yesterday, while exploring my fitness page, I noticed there was a button to add a mileage and step tracker. Finding it was answered prayer for me. I had been logging my treadmill mileage in the notes section of the page which worked, but I had to run the notes report and transfer the mileage to Excel to get a running total of my mileage. The results weren't right there smack dab on my fitness page to keep me motivated as they are now. I also keep a journal of my mileage in a small book I keep by my treadmill so I can go back and review my progress.
With my new Spark mileage tracker I can enter the distance I do daily, see cumulative totals, and run reports on it. I feel like it is Christmas. I am going to go back and enter the mileage since January so I have a complete report for 2010 when I get the time. I've tried a few days and it is easy to change the logging day and put the miles in. I look forward to watching my mileage figures grow as the year progresses. For anyone that wants to see my progress all of my logs are publicly available on my Spark Page. The tracker can also be used for tracking steps with a pedometer.
The tracker also includes a link to a planner to create walking or running routes in your own neighborhood or places you visit. I used a site on the net last year to plan routes. You were able to see a map of your area, and by just clicking on starting and ending points, be told the distance of your route. Previously I had been trying to determine mileage with my car odometer which was difficult because I had to make sure the odometer was on a new number when I started in order to be accurate. I also couldn't drive my car across the field that I often walk on getting to the main road so couldn't determine this mileage.
It was very easy to determine any route and distance with the web program even if cross country. One was also able to save routes or to use routes that others had mapped in your area. I believe the program that Spark has now is the same one I used previously on the web. Give setting up a route or routes a try. It is extremely easy and free.
I love that SparkPeople is constantly updating and improving the site. I encourage everyone to explore these new features. Satisfaction can be gained by watching the miles add up no matter what level you are at. Now that spring is coming create a route in your area to walk, run, or a combination of both, to enjoy the signs of spring. You can create a new adventure daily if you wish and include just the mileage you desire. Celebrate your Spring! It just might spring you into your goals before you know it.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
I spent yesterday studying what was going on with me and carefully reading and thinking about all the kind comments and excellent advice my fellow Sparkers gave me. Thank you all for the support.
It is time for repair, but also for celebrating what I have been doing right. I created an Excel spreadsheet of my cardio exercise for January yesterday that summed up the minutes and calories spent in the month. I found I had exercised 30 hours during the month of January only missing one day. I burned 11,366 calories which I calculate equated to a loss of 3.25 pounds of the 6.5 I lost in January. This is more exercise than I have done for a long time and I'm sure is what contributed most to my success in January. In February I have continued this exercise pattern. Exercise has been a very positive habit that I have developed that I hate to miss and plan to continue for life.
While studying February and the lack of progress the last week I can see that the problem is with nutrition. I have grown lax in logging in what I eat. Now that I see the problem I plan to fix it. No more pieces of birthday cake at work, sample snacks at Costco, or anything that I can't log because I don't' know what it contains. I need the accountability of the nutritional report for everything I consume.
Just like I have leaks in my plan, I also have a large leak in the roof of my exercise room. It probably had something to do with my less than optimistic attitude yesterday. Anyone that knows me knows that I am usually the ultimate optimist.
It's hard to watch the work you have put into something turn into mushy sheet rock and dripping water off the ceiling. The first impulse is to curl up and be miserable in the non leaky portion of the house or life, but that doesn't stop the damage. I know it's time to fix the leaks. This afternoon when I get home from school hub and I are going to put a large tarp over the roof. We've already covered the flat screen TV with a smaller tarp so the water drips off of it and into a pan on the floor which I will empty when I get home from school. These are immediate solutions to the problem but the real solution will be to replace the roof as soon as the rain stops.
Just like with the roof I need to find out where the leak is in my food intake, find immediate solutions, and plan for the long term solution which will build habits that will take me to a time when it will no longer be a problem.
I have a tendency, I must admit, of being a perfectionist. I want to do it perfect every time. Wanting to doesn't fix the leaks though and I have to realize that. Funny that I recognize this tendency and how it hinders progress in my students, but often fail to realize it when I do the same thing. As several of you have mentioned I need to stop and reflect, rest, and plan how to improve gradually instead of expecting myself to be perfect immediately. That and visualize how good it will feel when the leaks are finally gone for good.
Thanks again for all of the support and accountability that everyone has offered to me. It is great to know that you are out there to help when I have a leaky roof day.
Monday, February 08, 2010
I find myself watching my spark flickering and getting smaller. This is not a good thing. I don't want it to die out. I need to find a way to keep the flame going. I'm not giving up but just being honest.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
I am posting another blog today because I have a recipe I want to share with everyone that I think is great. I have added the link below. This recipe would make a great choice for a romantic breakfast on Valentine's Day.
I often watch Ellie Krieger's cooking show, Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger, and get many great new healthy ideas. I usually watch the new shows while I run on my treadmill. I then go online and print out the recipes to pdf so I can try them.
Yesterday's show was Chocolate Surprises. It included a very delicious looking roast beef tenderloin with rosemary, wine, veggie, and chocolate sauce that I plan to try on Valentine's Day for dinner, Devils Food Cake Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing (which I will also try at a later date), and a recipe that I tried this morning that I had planned to do for breakfast on Valentine's Day. I purchased the ingredients yesterday and my hub talked me into doing it today. He didn't want to wait. The recipe was for Chocolate and Strawberry French Toast.
I didn't have any strawberries on hand yet so substituted frozen raspberries. I cut the crusts off as Ellie suggested and kept them to broil with some herbs for croutons on a salad later in the day so will log it in my nutritional logger now even though it is not in the recipe.
The recipe proved to be really delicious. I paired it with a small bowl of freshly steamed spinach (I took to heart my earlier blog and thought why not veggies for breakfast and knew I loved to have spinach at a local restaurant for breakfast) and half an orange broken into sections. We added in a freshly roasted cup of dark coffee. Even my husband felt satisfied and probably had no idea how healthy it was. I feel like I have had a large indulgence and all at a healthy price. What a way to spoil myself.
I urge everyone to give the recipe a try. Substitute any fruit you like. There is no need to load the toast with syrup. It is delicious and extremely light on it's own. I plan to have it for breakfast again on Valentine's Day, this time with strawberries instead of raspberries. Enjoy. Let me know what you think of the recipe if you try it.
Here is the link to the recipe.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
This is a healthy habit that I take to heart and have been most successful at. Produce is loaded with potassium, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants, the nutrients that have been shown that may lower blood pressure.
There is a DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) that outlines a way of eating that I adopted many years ago when I found I had hypertension. It was extremely effective in lowering my blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. When I saw the great progress I gradually strayed from some of the diet eating a little less fruits and veggies and low-fat dairy products, but still did increase my intake of these nutrients. When I strayed my great results reversed and I lost some of the progress that I had made earlier.
I am finding that this is a pattern with me. I have great focus and great success initially, but when I reach one of my minor goals I generally slip. I have to realize that these goals are only minor and guard against this tendency. I will have faster success this way because these slips slow my progress and can result in my giving up. Keeping my eyes, and my focus, on my major goals is a very important for me.
The "New Habits - New You" article in the March 2010 Prevention magazine reports that "upping produce intake and switching to low-fat dairy products lowered systolic blood pressure (higher number) by nearly 6 points and diastolic (lower number) by 3 points in 2 WEEKS -- almost as much as medication can achieve". (caps are my addition) If paired with a reduction in sodium intake as well (just 1,500 mg per day, or about 2/3 teaspoon another 5 and 3 points can be shaved off.
High blood pressure causes damage to blood vessels and arteries which can lead to kidney or heart disease. The article reports from a study that "individuals who ate more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day had roughly a 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared with people who ate less than 3 servings per day". A Nurses' Health Study shows that following a diet that lowers blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly may help prevent 53% of new cases of hypertension in women at risk.
With facts like these why not eat the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Not only are they tasty, they are also so good for us. Fruit and veggies often take little time to prepare. How hard is it to peel a banana, wash off an apple, crunch a mini carrot, or even steam a pot of veggies. They are tasty even without additions.
While I am concerned about sugar intake, and it's effect on my health, I am not going to cut out my consumption of fruit. Fructose content in the fruit will make me aware of the level of consumption, but I plan to get the recommended servings of fruits and veggies for the rest of my life. I will eat a little less of the high sugar fruits and stick to serving sizes but will not cut them out.
The Prevention article has suggestions on how to get started with this habit. It suggests keeping your favorite fruits visible where you see them regularly. This is key for me. I will choose them if I see them. I keep a fruit bowl highly visible on my counter for those times I want a snack.
It also suggests that half of your plate if filled with a vegetable at your meal. This is a good visual for us to follow. I don't always follow this at breakfast when I have a fruit smoothie, but if I have an egg white omelet I follow this pattern in my fillings. I always have a serving of fruit at breakfast.
If you would like more information of the DASH diet which recommends six servings of whole grains, three to six of lean meat, poultry, and fish, and two of fats and oils for 1,600 calories a day go to www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/hear
On this Prevention link page you will find many other valuable health links so you might want to bookmark it.
You can also put the term "DASH diet" into the search box at the top of the Spark Start page to see information listed on Spark.
Remember, we can improve our health in just 14 days by eating more fruits and veggies!
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