A little post weekend motivation...

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Michael Phelps wins his first silver medal.
I was reading another blog a few days ago and the blogger was listing a few of her irks with the Olympics. One of them was something I too had noticed and maybe you have too. 

Just a few days ago the world watched Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, win his first Silver Medal. The disappointment was obvious. He's a competitor of olympic status, 2nd place is not an option. Or at least that is the way the media was calling it. As if this moment in Phelps' life was surely going down in his personal history as an epic fail. You were certain Mike was just waiting to return home to cast his silver medal into a blazing inferno in effort to rid his life and memory of this horrific event as Ryan Lochte was being asked how it felt to "dethrone" the great Michael Phelps. 

And this didn't stop at Phelps. If you've watched the olympics you have probably noticed too; It's gold or go home

Did you see the women's gymnastics team beat Russia? I don't think I have ever witnessed anything so gut wrenching in sports. The shear joy of victory standing next to the brutal agony of defeat. 

I get it, I'm not stupid. If I went to the olympics I'd be gunning for gold myself. But let's put this in a little bit of perspective. I wanted to grab the little faces of each of those crying Russian girls, look them in the eye and say, "In the entire world, THE WHOLE WORLD, there are only 5...did you hear me 5, girls that are better at gymnastics than you are TODAY." And when I watch the swimmers and runners I want to say, "Considering the population of the entire world (7, 030, 895, 941 people as of today), only 1 of them - 1 OF THEM! - is faster than you!" But to them at that moment, it still feels like a fail, and we see it on their faces.

It's all a matter of perspective...sometimes we need to pull back the lens and stop looking at our "failures" under a microscope.

Those of us sitting at home think, that's crazy. I would love to win silver, bronze...a free shirt??? 

But I was thinking that we too do this to ourselves in so many ways.

And since what I deal with is health I can't help but see the ways we take this all or nothing, gold or go home, attitude into our health lives. 

When I talk to people I like to ask about a time when they were successful on a diet. They will tell me of the time they went carb free, or low fat, or exercised 3 times a day or whatever and they always say they "were in the shape of their lives." But then...summer came and the kids threw off the schedule, or we went on vacation, the holidays hit and they crashed and burned. Here they sit two years later and 20 pounds heavier. All because of what, one week, one month, one summer? 

We take an all or nothing approach to health. We start a "diet," that is never something we can keep for life anyway, then we are surprised when life comes along and throws us off course. But instead of getting back at it, instead of going for silver, we decide we have missed our chance for gold and quit. Our lens is to small.

We too need to pull back our lens. We focus too much on today, this week, this month - this year. So many of us focus on the parts of "dieting" (I hate that word) that yield today's results, like weight-loss, and we forget about the long term effects of healthy living. 

A while back I wrote about a downward spiral that I was experiencing. At that time I had a choice. I was going to quit or decide that what mattered most wasn't that I lost a pound that week, or that I even lost one that month, but that when I was 80 I would still have balance, a sharp mind and a purpose I could still work toward because my body was allowing me to. I drew back my lens and got back in the game. 

I am certain that in this game of healthy living I am not a gold medal contender, maybe not even silver, but I've made up my mind that just showing up for the games matters. The days I dont feel like working out, I do something. It's not a great workout it's just...something. And it's ok. The days I know I've blown my diet, I eat something healthy. I don't decide to not eat for a week, I add in something good for my body. And it's ok. Some days I do nothing. But what matters most is not those days. It the days that follow that I decide not to quit on myself. 

Sometimes I even tell myself this - You've lived 40 years, that's 14,600ish days, and if I consider that I may have at least 14,600ish more to live that will be around 29,000ish days. Will I let a week (7 DAYS!) determine my health for the other 28,993...ish?

So, today you may feel like in the olympics of your health you've settled for silver. You were aiming for perfection and you missed your mark. But I want to remind you the games are not over...you still have life to live, there is more to life than gold medals. You still have thousands of days left to get it right. This weekend, this week, this year is not worth quitting over. There is still much life to live. How do you want to live it?

Jen
 
 
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Today I want to share with you a little tool I used in the beginning to help me hit my weight loss goals. It's an app called myfitnesspal

I am not a huge fan of calorie counting. But the truth is that some of you love to write things down and have a visual of where you've been and where you're headed. To some of you that would be the moment you quit if you were required to participate in calorie counting. But all of us have something to learn from at least a few weeks of keeping a calorie food log. 

This little helper will not let you skimp on the two biggest food fouls of all time:
Portion control and drinking our calories.

Our portion control, thanks to restaurants, is out of control. We've grown so acoustomed to our biggie sized portions it's leaked into our homes and we haven't even noticed. We take a smaller portion at home compared to the restaurant, for sure, but it's still too much. 

Second, most Americans are drinking their way to obesity through sugary drinks like fru-fru coffee drinks, juices, and the big daddy offender soda. 

This handy little app is easy to use, helps you know how many calories you've used in a day, how many you have left, how much weight you'll lose if you keep eating this amount of calories and more. It also has great goal setting tools. You can set your goal weight and track it as you go. Oh, and I just loved getting to add my exercise to my daily log and watch it give me more calories to eat for the day! 


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This is not a tool I reccomend using forever, just as a trainer. It will help you learn where you're getting extra calories and over time will help you control your portions and daily calorie intake without it's help. So dont take it up thinking its a forever tool. It's just here to train you for a few weeks then when you feel you have a handle on it, let it go. No one needs to live tied to any device or app. 

I used mine for a while for the calories and after I stopped counting my calories, once I had a good idea of what I needed in a day, I kept using the "progress" area to log my weight loss until I hit my goal weight. 

It's really encouraging too. I mean that literally. It tells you how much you lost since your last weigh-in and how much you've lost so far. 

If you have a friend that is going this journey with you, you can do myfitnesspal together. Accountability is helpful. You "friend" one another and they can see when you post workouts, calorie goals and weight loss goals. 

Once again, I want to say, this is not a forever tool. Use it, learn from it and let it go. But more than anything have fun with it. 
Jen

 
 
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My friend Whitney and I completed our first Triathlon last Sunday. The Alpha Delta Pi-athlon at MTSU, Whitney's old stomping grounds. 

We trained for months for this event. For Whitney, a stroke survivor, this was a major milestone and an accomplishment that she had in mind for years. I am so proud of her! And I cannot tell you how much it takes to get me in the pool, not a fan. Let me just say that I have such motion sickness that I have to take Dramamine to train in the pool and of course the day of the event. This is no small deal.

So the day of the event we are ready! Months of planning and the day is here. This is my first Triathlon but not my first race. I have done several half-marathons and waiting for this to start is not much different. It would be clear to even the untrained eye who the Newbies are and who the Pros are. We saw everything from Full Make-up Girl to At Least I Know I Can Beat That Guy (hey, it's not nice but you all do it so no judging!). The Pros are standing around very serious waiting for the start because clearly they need to get this over with, because they have 5 more hours of training to do today. The Newbies are all standing around telling on themselves. The Newbie is very quick to tell you how slow, clueless and nervous they are. I actually like that approach, it's my M.O. also, it just says to the others, "Hey we both know I'm a Newbie, let's just not pretend." 

My favorite quote of the day came from a girl at the start line. She said that this day was "the first step in her plan to becoming a bad-ass." She was quite hilarious. It also took her all of 5 seconds to tell me she was, "terrified." :) Newbie move.  

Anyway, like it or not I survived the swim, I will not tell you how, it's too embarrassing...moving on.  

The bike started of great, well with the exception of Pro Guy who passes me and says, "Mountain bike? Really?" To this I say the word I have practiced over and over from the time I was 12 and at which I am now a Pro at expressing..."Whatever!" At the end of the day I am less scared of Pro Guy than I am the little Dave Ramsey that sits on my shoulder that told me to not invest in a road bike until I decided that I would do more than one race. Little Dave Ramsey on my shoulder is pushy little guy...Always getting in my business! 

Ahh, now back on land. I was just glad not to be in the pool, or at the bottom of the pool.   

We made it about 2 miles before we hit our first crucial turn in the road. Whitney is an MTSU Alumni who knows her way around so she was in the lead as we headed for the intersection where we thought we were to take a left turn. It was chaos. There was a police car in the center of the road directing traffic for the racers to pass through, horns beeping in all directions (I believe the race was making everyone in Murfreesboro late to church), and a girl placed there to tell us where to go. Her hand gestures looked like she was telling us to go right. Whitney asked her which way we were to go and she replied as she pointed, "Go right." Confused, Whitney asked her again and she confidently told us to go right, so we did.  

Within minutes we were back to where we started, and I am being told to head into the dismount area. I looked at the girl and said, "Why?" No answer. Then I realize what had happened, so is everyone else who was around us. The girl back at the intersection cut about 6 miles off of our bike ride by sending us the wrong direction. And I am about to lose it! 

Poor Whitney spent our entire transition trying to calm me down. She is reminding me that we are there to have fun, blah, blah, blah. I'm not hearing any of it. So I take of running...steamed!  

Maybe a little mad is what I needed because I had my best 5k time ever. And the run gave me enough time to calm down and gain a little perspective (as running always does). It really was about having fun and accomplishing something new and challenging. The benefits that I gained came in all the days of training not the event itself.  

So I decide to put it behind me and went on to have a beautiful day.  

Later that day everyone who took part in the race was sent an apology email. 

The next morning I awake to a text from Whitney, "You got first place in your age group!!!" 

After I got over the shock of seeing my name in the 40-44 group for the first time I began to think about how mad I was the day before. When I showed up the day before all I wanted to do was finish. I had trained to finish. I had not trained to win...but someone had. There was a woman out there, my age, who had earned, earned first place, maybe for her first time, to wake up to my name there.  

I am guessing that my 8 minute time for a 10 mile bike would tip them off that I had been in the group that had been routed the wrong way. But just in case I sent an email the race director, who I am sure had a very rotten day in front of her, and told her that I needed to be disqualified from the race. I hated to have worked hard for the race and then take a DQ but I would hate it more if I had raced to win and got bumped out by some Newbie on her mountain bike. Hey, maybe it was the girl who was on her way to being a bad-ass. If so, I'd say she is closer to her goal!  

Either way, it goes down in my personal memoirs like this... 

On April 1st, 2012, April Fools Day, I placed 1st in my age group in my 1st Triathlon. I even have proof! 
You know I kept the original race results. :)

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." And look out for the Newbie who is lost on her mountain bike!


Jen

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The post below was written exactly one month and three days ago. Please see the update at the bottom after you read...

Ok, it's confession time. I've had a great run of this wellness thing. I've been exercising very regularly and eating wonderful foods that make my body feel like a million bucks even though I'm still on my way to it looking that way. Over the last 4 months I've lost 16 pounds. That always get a big "Whooohooo!" out of me. But last weekend I had a little more fun than should be allowed if you know what I mean. 

Anyway, since it had been so long since I had had that sort of "carb-load." It's been a rough week. Once you rid your body of certain foods you are all too aware of what they do to you when you do eat them. Honestly I have no idea how I functioned before I went to clean eating...actually I really didn't function well if I'm being honest. Anywho...add to it that this was a short week for the kids at school so they were home Monday and then I had one come down with walking pneumonia mid-week. Life happens sometimes. 

So lets just say I was not in the mood to run today. Last weekend started it off, lack of exercise this week kept it rolling and eating out last night was about to put a nail in it. But I saw a pattern that I had seen before. It doesn't take much for me to head on a downward spiral. But I have learned that I do not have to let lack of food and exercise have the last word. No...what gets the last word now is my mental health run. 

My mental health run is the run I do even though I know it's really going to suck. I know I'm am not breaking any personal records here. In fact on the outside this run may look like the worst run ever. It may even look worse than my worst run ever. Today I had to stop and walk 4 times! And I only ran 2 miles! What?! 

But half way through my 'run' I decided that today would not be the day I kept on the downward spiral. It would be the day I did it anyway and began to spiral back up. It may take me a few days but so what. It did not stop me. And if you need any proof that a mental health run (or workout, whatever floats your boat) works, well the proof is on this post. 

I went into the run feeling like I was starting to fail. That I had probably, in 4 days (eye roll), gained the whole 16 pounds back, was going to be unfit the rest of my life and why the heck did I sign up for this Nutrition School! But instead my mental health run inspired me to hopefully inspire you. We will have days that trip us up. Those days may even be like mine...life just being too darn awesome. But know this; we all have them. Today my choice was to stop the spiral and not start gaining and giving up.Two weeks from now when I have lost 2 more pounds I will be so glad I did not give up on myself this time and this 4 days won't matter a bit. 

Give yourself the gift of a metal health workout. Let's call it "Exer-Grace." Ok, that was lame but it stands and I'll just promise to keep working on it. In fact if you can make up a better name for it please drop it below. 
That could get fun. 

Jen


Update: 
This post makes me smile to read today. Because this morning I sit here just as I had projected. Those 4 bad days don't matter at all. This morning I had my annual OB checkup and I actually have lost that 2 pounds I mentioned. The point...The Mental Health run works. It stops the spiral. Yesterday I had my longest run EVER...8 miles! I has taken me 3 years to get to that point. That is no small accomplishment.

When you decide to do this for the rest of your life some days of eating right and exercise will be just like other days in life...so so. But the key is not focusing on that day or even that week, the key to success is to keep a life long focus so you can live a long healthy life. :) Big Smiles Today!!
 
 
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I had the wonderful opportunity today to sit in on a Lunch & Learn at The Next Door. I'm a Spiritual Emphasis Volunteer for The Next Door, a transition home for women who are re-entering society from incarceration, rehabilitation, or homelessness. Today they invited the volunteers to join them and I am so thankful that they did. The session today was called: The Experience of Grief and Loss. 

While I sat and listened to the incredible stories and clinical information from the speaker I could not help but think that what she was describing was exactly why I became a Health Coach. At The Next Door the clinicians, staff and volunteers primarily serve women who are seeking freedom from addiction to drugs and alcohol. We learned how those addictions when traced back usually started with a certain loss, or perceived loss, in the life of the woman. In addition, we as those supporting them and listening to them, need to recognize that every loss comes with a series of losses. It's never about losing one thing. 

And that was when the light bulb went on. Our inability to achieve an attainable and sustainable healthy lifestyle is also never about one thing and for those who find themselves gravely overweight, as with any addiction, it usually begins with a loss. 

She used the illustration of a Hot Wheels track to show us what it's like to experience loss and then decide to begin the grief process, and yes that is what it is, a decision. Lets see if I can make a correlation here with how most of us, myself included, at times attempt to deal with weight-loss after a real life loss.

The first place we start is denial. Choosing not to get on the track and choosing instead to self-medicate with food (my favorite medication is Oreos). And we think that is working for us...for a while. But then somewhere along the way we do decide to get on the track. We start working out, we take up some rediculous quick-fix diet and start to head up the track. But then traveling up is hard, life gets in the way and more seriously if you have put on this weight as a way to not deal with a loss you hit a point where you must deal with it...and it gets harder. Much harder.

Traveling up that track is hard and it's painful and so most of us will loose momentum and fall off the track just before we reach the top. We come down with a crash and drive our little cars back into the drive through at McDonalds to numb the pain...again. And for some of us, if our life were told in these Hot Wheels tracks, would have enough loops to make us dizzy just thinking about it. 

BUT, hang with me here, there is a beautiful thing waiting for us at the pinnacle of that track if we just keep our momentum and press through that last little upward travel. Make no mistake that last push toward the top is the most painful. It's where you'll finally look this thing in the face and once and FOR ALL deal with it. Then...and only then...will you reach the sweet spot at the top. Our leader today told us that this is where your heart and your brain finally become one, agree to work together and with you, and you are on your way to a new life. A different life, and that can be scary but anything that scares us this much, that we know is good for us, just has to be worth it. 

You know the great thing about traveling down the other side of the track? Gravity and momentum become your best friend. It's where you begin to re-organize your life. For us that means that maybe we no longer feel the need to hide in our home watching endless hours of TV because life is calling us up off the couch and out into the world to live. Maybe on the way up we made a new friend or two who are after the same abundance in simplicity we are and they are going to do something crazy today like zip-line and we dont just want to go...we go. Maybe we spend the afternoon planning our week...you know, getting ready to live our own real lives instead of watching others live fake lives on that box on the wall...it goes on. But whatever it is, somehow we are finding the confidence to get up and do this life we have been given...and not tomorrow because tomorrow never comes, we do it today!

Then before we know it we are flying off that track, wind in our hair (because we have to be in a Hot Wheels convertible!), hands in the air like we are on the greatest ride of our lives. Because you know what, you are. You just have to choose to get on the track and when it gets hard hang on for dear life and press through the pain of facing the loss or the pain of the change. That ride down the other side, flying off that track, is so worth it. 

And that, in short, :) is why I am a Health Coach. I want to help you make it to the top this time. Long ago I realized it's not about finding the right diet, right supplement, right surgery, right time to start. It's about having someone traveling up that track with you so that when you start to feel like you're going to fall off they can give you a little push. I'm not interested in you losing weight I'm interested in you breaking free. You'll lose the weight but when you make a list later of the benefits of facing your giant I promise weight loss will not be the most important thing on your list. The relationships built, life re-gained and confidence to face each day will be above the weight loss I guarantee. The way you look in the mirror will just be a well earned bonus.


Wishing you much success at the track!
Jen

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I heard this phrase this past week while listening to an audio book by Shawn Achor called The Happiness Advantage. The Happiness Advantage is a great book by the way. While most of us are hardwired to think that happiness lies in success Shawn goes to great lengths to bring the reader research after research that proves that the opposite is actually more true. That successful people are not necessarily happy but that inherently happy people (which you can learn to be) are successful people. I'm sure I will have much more on this subject to come but for now I want to get back to the phrase that I thought was so deeply profound. 

He said this, "Common sense is not always common action." It really got me thinking how sadly true that statement was. After running it over and over in my mind for a couple of days it hit me, turning common sense into common action is actually the heart of Simple Girl Wellness. I cannot stay true to the Simple Girl in me if I am bombarding my clients with mounds of information. In fact, I think everything you need to know about health and fitness, mental well-being and spiritual wholeness have already been written. If you need more information than you can stand you can find it on a million blogs out there in cyber-space. You really dont need me.

But while all of this information exists and is put in front of us on a daily basis, even those of us not looking for it, we still, as a whole, do not DO it. Why? 

Because, common sense is not always common action. 

We don't lack information, what we lack is motivation. I want to be your motivation to put your common sense into common action in your life. I have always believed that there was a book deep inside me. That somehow I had a story to tell that others needed to hear desperately (awfully big headed of me I know, I'm just being honest here). Well this little bit of information helped me to write that book and I did it all in about 10 minutes. 

Here it goes. 

My Book, by Jen Mulford
1. Write down 5 things that you know you should be doing right now to improve your mind, body, and/or soul. 
2. Do them!
The End

Really, I'm not trying to be funny this is terribly serious. I dont know anyone who could not write down 5 things. I believe that if we filtered out the noise of every thing we should be doing and just did some thing, consistently, we would be healthier (and happier) people a year from now. You're a smart girl and your common sense, if acted upon, would change your own life. 

This leads me to Simple Girl Rule Number 2 (I guess Simple Girl Rule Number One was, Make Your Common Sense Your Common Action). 

Rule number two is this, Seek the Abundance in Simplicity

Oh, that rule number two is the one that would truly take an entire book to explain to some. But to those who truly live simplified lives, they would see the gem in that statement. More will be to come on this subject but for now to explain it would be best described by using the words, margin and freedom. Gaining simplicity in our lives will leave margin in our lives, margin is freedom. Simplicity is freedom. There is great Abundance in a free life. Room to move, breathe, give, and just be. 

So my goal is not to bring information but to bring motivation to help us all accomplish these two rules. I still need the motivation myself (why do you think I listen to books like The Happiness Advantage). This world works against both of these rules on a massive scale. If you are not taking action to swim against the culture current on this you will find yourself just going with the flow. YOU MUST ROW! 

As far as I can see that river ends at a waterfall. A tragic place where a drastic decision now MUST be made. Diabetes, obesity, depression, schedules too full for meaningful relationships. Will we wait until we hear the words heart attack (which ladies happens to us more than cancer) to make a change? The truth is most of us will live to be eighty-something years old. And that is great news if our plan is to get active, stay active and live life to the fullest during that time. Or will we make decisions now that relegate us to doctors visits and broken hips for our last 10 to 20 years? 

You know what to do. 5 Simple steps, you pick them, and DO them! It's really that simple. It may take de-cluttering your life a bit but remember there truly is abundance in simplicity. 

Want to share your 5 things we would love to hear. You may spark some inspiration in someone else.

Wishing you a healthy future, 
Jen