Wednesday, January 09, 2013
So, how much did your ticker move backwards? 2, 5, 10 or more? Or you donít even want to know? Whatever the number, known or unknown, I bet you want the holiday weight to vanish overnight, right? Thatís what I want, too! But Iíve felt the panic before. Actually, it used to be the aftermath of every holiday season forÖ as long as I can remember! Thatís the reason I know how destructive this kind of panic can be. It always leads us to the wrong decisions and makes us fight a lost battle. Until the next holiday seasonÖ
So, what do we do? First of all we take a really deep breath and relax. Think about all the nice things that you did during the holidays that are not food-related. Decorating, shopping, exchanging gifts, meeting friends, gathering with the rest of the family, playing with your kids, anything that made you feel good.
Feeling better already?
Let's add a humorous note, to relax even more.
Now letís deal with everything one step at a time.
- First, the scale.
If you havenít weighed yourself after the holidays, you might want to think about it for a while. We all know when we have crossed our limits with food and have been too ďbusyĒ to work out. We all can feel it when the reading on the scale will most likely disappoint us. But there are people who need this kind of awakening to help them take action and then there are other people who get panicked by even the slightest gain and tend to make things worse by turning to emotional eating and binges. If you belong to the second category, you might want to wait a bit before you get on the scale.
- Knowing or imagining the gain, itís time to give it the correct proportions in your mind. Itís definitely not the end of the world and you didnít just miss your last chance to become a fit and healthy person! This number is just the result of how you changed your eating and exercise habits during the holidays. Either you couldnít resist the temptations or you just allowed yourself to indulge, which, to be honest, are more or less one and the same, but thatís irrelevant. What matters is that it happened. It canít be undone but luckily it can be fixed. If you want to fix it, you have to start eating right and exercise. If you donít want to fix it, you simply wouldnít waste your time reading this.
- Start eating right. That means filling your kitchen with healthy ingredients and emptying your house of sweets and holiday treats. Youíve had enough of them and you enjoyed them. But now itís time for change.
- Exercise. You donít need to become the local gym hero in a day! Start slowly. A longer walk today, a 20-minute workout tomorrow, anything that you enjoy doing will help. You just need to put yourself in the fitness frame of mind for a start.
- Be realistic. Donít expect yourself to be perfect right away. Imagine you return to work just after vacation. What happens on the first day? Can you easily forget about the fun and concentrate on your work or do you daydream of sunny beaches and crystal sea waters at every chance? Habits, even recently-acquired ones, can become second nature. Especially the ones that make us feel good and we enjoy them. Donít expect yourself to forget about them in a day. The first day, youíll mess up right after breakfast. The second day, youíll make it to lunch. The third, youíll only feel weak right before bedtime. In the end, youíll get it right. Just be patient with yourself.
- Try to set some non-scale goals. Iíve read in many Sparkersí blogs that they donít work for them. I know that the scale number is really important for all of us but Iím asking you to give it a second thought. Is it the only proof of our hard work and our progress? What about fitness achievements and smaller sizes? What about feeling healthier and full of energy? Do we have full control of the number on the scale? No, we donít. Our weight fluctuates for many reasons even during the same day. We shouldnít be obsessed with the number on the scale. Itís neither right nor healthy.
Above all, stay cool-headed. Panic never helped anyone achieve anything. Focus and take it one step at a time. And when you Ďre back in control of your eating habits, take a look at your rear-view mirror and inspect yourself, your feelings and your actions during the past holidays. Iím sure youíll have many valuable lessons to learn and practice until the next holiday season. And maybe you wonít ever need to read blog like this one again.
Monday, January 07, 2013
I havenít posted a blog here for more than a month! Too many ideas, so little timeÖ And even though I have many health, weight and fitness-themed blogs in mind, Iím going to start the year in a different way. This blog is about beauty. The beauty of winter, the way we saw it during our new yearís trip.
We had decided to start this year in a very different way. No big festive dinners, no guests, no fireworks. Just us and nature in the peace and quiet of our isolated village in the mountains. We were all hoping for snow. The kids were hoping for lots of snow, actually! But when we got there, the mountains around looked like this:
It was actually a beautiful sight. Looking at the evergreen fir trees, slightly touched by the white snow, mixed with the last remaining fall colors, awaiting the thick fog coming down from the mountains. Breathtaking!
But we wanted more snow. So, we set off to find it!
Soon, the green color of the trees became difficult to find.
And after we had driven for less than half an hour, the landscape had been covered in a white, fluffy blanket!
The forest had surrendered to the power of the snowflakes. Sticking together, they had transformed everything in sight! And in such a quiet way!
A small hotel in the middle of the forest was waiting for those who were looking for adventure.
A small cabin, half-buried in the snow, and a little white church, fighting to remain visible.
Soon, we reached the skiing center. The peace of the forest was disrupted by joy! Kids feeling free while playing in the snow and laughing, grown-ups finding the kids inside them and becoming even more playful than their children!
We stopped and made a snowman.
And my girls tried snow-sledding. But they soon realized that it was more fun without the sleds!!
I saved the best picture for last. Nature got jealous of humansí Christmas tree decorations and decided to create a star made of snow on top of this fir tree:
I hope you can make it out in the picture. It truly was amazing!!
Iíll end this blog with a wish. A wish for all of you to find the beauty around you this year. As my good Sparkfriend Claire pointed out in her last blog, there is beauty in everything around us.
I hope you all find it. Connect your eyes with your soul and everything will look different. Find the beauty in your surroundings. Find the beauty in the people of your life.
And above all, discover your own beauty.
You don't have to look in the mirror.
Itís always been inside you.
Monday, December 03, 2012
We're glad to have you here! You were a bit difficult to find this year. Things have been difficult and our minds have been preoccupied with many thoughts, most of them on the negative side. So, I guess Christmas spirit had a slight difficulty entering our hearts. But there's a blessing in being a parent. Actually, one of many blessings. Children have their own way of bringing the holiday spirit in a house. They carry it in their smiles and they generously spread it through the excitement in their eyes. That's what happened in my house this past weekend. My children made me realize that through difficult times, when there's struggling, when hope seems difficult to find and when uncertainty and fear about the future dominate our everyday lives, that's when we need the holiday spirit the most. That's when we need to liven up hope and remember the importance of giving.
So, we started by decorating our house. And I thought I'd share some pictures with my Sparkfriends. This is the holiday version of our house!
Our Christmas tree!
The nativity set!
The fireplace has been my favorite spot to decorate ever since my husband built it. It gets most of my attention all the time!
Our little village on the mantel. My little daughter wanted a family of four there so she added the doll on the right!
The little side table...
...and the center living-room table!
The fire was a "must" to make the place even warmer and cozier!
And the proud creator! The rest of the team were in their pyjamas, so they'll have their pictures taken some other day!
Thank you all for reading. I hope the Christmas spirit is alive in your hearts. I hope the true meaning of Christmas fills your hearts and minds with kindness and hope.
May we all have a blessed holiday season.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The number on the scale is finally right. What youíve been eagerly awaiting, what youíve been working for is a reality at last. Nothing could make you happier. You feel your work from now on is like a walk in the park. You managed to shed all those pounds. How much more difficult could it be to keep them away?
After all, youíre prepared! You have a brand new set of eating habits and plenty of fitness activities that you enjoy doing. Youíve managed to deal with binges and emotional eating successfully and you have your strategies ready for all the temptations that will be thrown your way.
You feel you have it all figured out. Being overweight or obese is a thing of the past.
When suddenly Ė actually not so suddenly but thatís what it feels like Ė things take a wrong turn. The scale starts going up...
And this triggers a series of attitudes that Iím sure many of you will recognize as the lead-in part to the sad story of weight regaining.
First, itís self-reassurance. ďOh, come on. Thereís nothing to worry about. Iím doing everything right. Iím sure my next weigh-in will be back to normal.Ē And we rest assured. No action.
Then, thereís denial. ďIt canít be my fault. I havenít been overeating or anything like that. I canít have gained weight just because I inhaled the smell over the freshly-baked cookies!!! There must be another reason. Maybe water retention!Ē And we find something else to put the blame on. Still no action.
After that comes confession. ďThe truth is I didnít just smell the cookies, I tried one. Or was it two? Now that I think about it, I ate half of them in front of the TV! And that pizza we ordered that night, I just couldnít eat just one piece!Ē And suddenly the memories come back. And the realization hits hard!
At this point, two things could happen.
The first one is panic. We want to fix everything and we want it done fast. We maximize our cardio activities and we starve ourselves hoping that the scale will go back where it was. And this starts an endless vicious circle of deprivation to over-indulgence and vice versa. And little by little, day by day, wrong choice by wrong choice, the pounds creep back up.
I know this sounds frightening but most of us have been there and have felt the despair of this experience. Thankfully, things can be different.
We take full responsibility for our actions. We canít keep up trying to find someone or something to blame Ė unless of course there is a medical reason present, in which case we should talk to our doctor. What we put in our mouths, though, is something we have full control over. A number of reasons, different for everyone, led us to the wrong path. But we are still in control and thatís what we have to realize.
WE decide when this stops. A little damage was done. Shall we undo it or make it bigger? Our choice!
I am currently at those dark days of maintenance. The ones when you realize youíre not maintaining anymore but youíve started gaining. The damage is still small. I can sit around pretending that nothing happened and wait for the situation to resolve itself in a magical way. I can start blaming everything and everyone around me, like my stressful life, my momís delicious cooking, the holidaysí delicacies which have started making an appearance or my new intense fitness program which mistakenly led me to believe I could eat more of anything.
Or I can accept my responsibility, assess the damage and strike back. Reverse the process and correct everything.
I choose the latter. And if youíre dealing with something similar, I encourage you to do the same.
Friday, November 09, 2012
Iíve come across this poster a lot this past week. On bus stops, on TV, on Facebook, on sports sites. To be honest, I feel jealous and kind of disappointed. I wanted to be part of this. Not the marathon, of course, but one of the other races that are held on the same day. But it was my choice not to sign up for it. And I keep reminding myself that just because something is not happening for me right now, it doesnít mean that it will never happen. It means Iím not ready for it.
But this is not to talk about me. This is to talk about them. The people who are the personalization of commitment, determination, courage and will-power all in one. The marathoners.
And Iím not talking about the people who are athletes and have been running since they were teenagers. Not that their accomplishments are inferior. But I really admire and look up to all those people who took up running late in their lives. People who started running counting their heavy breaths until they managed to finish a mile. And they ended up transforming this mile into 26.2. They went from a few meters to 42.2 kilometers. I feel so lucky to have met many of those people here.
I always read marathon blogs. And they always bring me to tears with overwhelming feelings of admiration and awe. Their training, what brought them to the big day, is usually a mix of joy and disappointment, belief and disbelief, peaking and dipping self-confidence, courage and discouragement. And all this mixture of emotions leads them throughout their training journey which is not happening in a parallel dimension. Itís part of their daily lives and it co-exists with their demanding roles in their families, jobs, societies.
But whatís almost always the most impressive and overwhelming part is their experience from the race day. Their description of how they managed to overcome their bodiesí limits and their fears. The persistence that helped them continue. The thoughts that guided them through all the mind barriers. The hidden stockpiles of strength which helped them surpass their limits of physical and emotional endurance. And this small step of victory, the one that crossed the finish line and felt like a giant leap which marked a life-changing point in their own personal story and their lifeís achievements.
I wanted to name all of you in this blog. But Iím afraid I might forget someone and it wouldnít be fair. All of you, my Sparkfriends, whether youíve run a full or a half marathon Ė you know who you are Ė have been an endless source of inspiration for me. And I believe youíve done the same for other people, too.
This Sunday, more than 9,500 people will be running the authentic marathon route, the one that named this wonderful athletic event. People from all five continents of the planet and people of all ages. Many of them are well into their seventies and the older one is a man from Italy who is proudly running at the 84th year of his life! If youíre looking for inspiration this weekend, think about this man!
Good luck, marathoners! Keep on showing us the way to achievement.
Thank you for reading, Sparkers. Have a great weekend!
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