How To Start 2016 Out Right

Here we are, another January and another chance to set goals for the new year.  As much as I and others talk about skipping resolutions because they just don’t work, I see so many posts on social media from friends and even former clients about their resolutions to eat healthy, exercise more, stress less, etc.  It seems we can’t get out of the mindset or the habit of making resolutions in January.

What if this year, we change that mindset or habit along with the idea that we have to achieve some level of perfection when it comes to eating right and exercising?  What if we start 2016 by throwing out the idea that we have to join a gym, or commit to some brutal exercise class or program that we don’t really like and we know we won’t be doing a year from now in 2017?

This year, let’s resolve to have balance in our life.  Let’s think of exercise in terms of movement.  Let’s think of “diet” in terms of fueling our body instead of depriving ourselves or giving in to emotional eating.  Let’s think of HEALTH.

Many of us have sedentary jobs, families at home, older parents to take care of, financial stresses, or a number of other commitments that will take priority over the $60 a month gym membership.  Instead of stressing ourselves over the fact that we are “donating” $60 a month because we can’t get to the gym every day, how about we take a walk every day?  It may be on our lunch break, it may be in the morning before everyone is awake and the day has started, it may be at the end of the day to relieve stress.  Is the weather bad where you live?  Find an indoor track, or create a walking path in your house.  Yes, walk in your house.  Put on headphones with your favorite music and walk for 10 minutes.  So what if the dog or the kids are making faces at you!  You’re moving and improving your health.

Do you spend at least 5 minutes before you go to bed checking your phone, email, or Facebook?  Shut off the electronics, and spend that 5 minutes stretching or doing yoga instead.  It will reduce stress, relax your mind and body, and help you to sleep better.  You’re moving and improving your health.

Are you an all day coffee or soda drinker?  Follow each cup of coffee or can of soda with a glass of water.  You may find that you start drinking just the water and cutting back on the soda.  You’re improving your health.

Will you be perfect at these changes?  Of course not, but you will start thinking differently.  Instead of not being aware of how much you haven’t moved, you will begin to think, “I haven’t gone for my walk today”.  That awareness is improvement.  Will something such as illness or work deadlines get you off track? You can count on it!  However, you will start your routine again as soon as you can and not feel defeated or give up. Will you have too much dessert or too much wine?  Probably, but it isn’t the end of the world or the end of your health goals.  Just get back on track.

A healthy lifestyle isn’t about perfection.  It is about making small changes, awareness, and letting go of ideals that never really worked. Start today by looking for opportunities to move.  Walk to your co-worker’s desk instead of emailing her.  March in place tonight while you are watching the news.  Drink one more glass of water than you did yesterday.  Start 2016 out right, but in a way that you don’t have to start all over again in 2017.

Silly Stress

This past weekend, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes played for the Big 10 Championship against Michigan State.  I won’t get into the fact that I am not a football fan, nor the reasons why, which date back to my days growing up in Texas where football is right up there with religion and players practically are seen as sitting at the right hand of God.

Here in Iowa, we don’t have professional sports and our college teams, especially the Hawkeyes, are placed on a very high pedestal.  This has always bothered me. Not just the culture of football, which again I won’t get into the fact of players charged with drug and rape offenses with no more than a slap on the wrist. The fact is, these players are kids. They are 18, 19, 20 year-olds who aren’t even at the peak of brain development. Yet, we hold them to the same standard that we do a 32 year old NFL player who is making millions of dollars a year.

Now to my subject of stress.  I admit I watched the game.  It was a very close and evenly matched game. The University of Iowa came into the championship game with a perfect record, following previous seasons that would have most likely cost the Athletic Director and the head coach (who happens to be the highest paid state employee, but again I won’t get into that) their jobs if this season wouldn’t have turned around.  Iowa lost in the last few seconds after several very determined attempts by Michigan State to score a touchdown.  When the game was over and the television cameras showed the tear-streaked faces of the Iowa players, my thought again was, “these are just kids”.  It took me back to the days when my now grown daughter played high school softball and the heartbreak and tears after a tough loss.  It broke my heart to see her cry.  It is a character builder, these sports.  They teach us that sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  It hurts to lose, but when we lose, life goes on and we work for the next opportunity.

The day after the Big Ten Championship loss, there was an air of sadness in Iowa City.  People looked depressed, heartbroken. Many people I talked to mentioned the knots in their stomach, the stress, or how sad they felt when the Hawkeyes lost.  I understand the disappointment when our team loses, but we are letting a game, played by 18, 19, 20 year old college student athletes, affect our health and well-being?  I sure hope not!

I admit that I have lost sleep the past few weeks about things out of my control.  The bombings in Paris, the attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, the slaughter at a company holiday gathering in California, the knife attack in London, so many more that never made the news headlines.  I think about the husbands, wives, daughters, sons, mothers, and fathers who will never come home again.  I think about the hesitation that many feel about even going to the mall this holiday season, fearing someone with a gun and a grudge will be there to take their anger out on innocent people.

Although I feel empathy for the Iowa players after their difficult loss to Michigan State, it isn’t like the loss felt by the victims’ families after tragic events.  There will be another game.  As fans, we will continue to cheer on the team.  Football will be over and hopefully these players have prepared for their real life careers.  Life goes on and we work for the next opportunity.  There is no next opportunity for the victims of senseless violence, whether it is isolated gun violence or a terrorist attack.  That puts a knot in my stomach and saddens me.  That is a loss that cannot be recovered in the next season. Yes, life still goes on and we can’t let it affect our daily lives.  Although I think in a way, it still does. That is not “silly” stress.

Movement Counts!

If you’ve struggled with exercise motivation and adherence, I highly recommend the book “No Sweat” by Michelle Segar, PhD. She hits the nail on the head about why so many of us hate exercise and struggle to stick with a program. It’s not you, it’s our rigid standards and ideas of what qualifies as “exercise” and the messages behind why we think we need to exercise which is usually based on shame and guilt.

One of her ideas I love is “Movement Snacks”. Just like you may have a snack if you’re hungry but it isn’t time for a full meal, a movement snack is a small bout of movement. Even if it’s 5 minutes, it counts! In our sedentary world, we have to think about moving more, find activity we enjoy, and stop thinking we HAVE to participate in a sweaty, exhausting workout at the gym for 30-60 minutes for it to count.

As a trainer for 20+ years, I see so many struggle and fail because they truly hate what they feel like they HAVE to do and WHY they have to do it, which is based on standards we as professionals are taught to implement. This book focuses on the psychology behind motivation and why we need to rethink our ideas, standards, and reasons WHY. I’ve been trying to teach this idea that all movement counts despite all of the media messages of what is “exercise”. I’ve even had to reevaluate my personal standards! If you’re a health or fitness professional, I also recommend “No Sweat” so we can get our clients motivated for the right reasons, stop shaming, and help to change their lifestyle permanently.

 

An Open Letter to Whoopi Goldberg….We most certainly WERE Listening

Thank you Becky for this post, but most of all what you, my friends, my family, and other nurses that I don’t know do every day.

Rebecca's Ramblings

Since I saw The View’s so-called “apology” clip on social media, I’ve given this post a tremendous amount of thought. My first instinct and knee-jerk reaction was to sit down with my laptop and blast them with full force…unload my anger  and outrage onto the page…err…computer screen…so I could purge it and get all of that negativity out of my system. I’ll admit, I even got about a quarter of the way through that piece, when I stopped to re-read it. It was a scathing, searing diatribe that quite frankly, made me ashamed of myself. It sounded like something that the View Crew would say…it was petty, spiteful, angry and distasteful. That’s not who I am as a person, a writer or more specifically, a nurse. Quite frequently, I end my blog posts with a sentence urging my readers to be kind to each other. I am a tireless advocate for tolerance, peaceful coexistence and doing…

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