Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just say NO! to winter blues...

Winter.... OK, let's face it, it starts with fall. For me, it starts with the end of Daylight Savings. One week I'm floating along on the post-summer wave, the next, BOOM! energy is zapped! It's really like clockwork. People blame it on the holidays, the parties, the unhealthy food, the stress...I really think it's the cold and the DARK, especially the dark. Did I mention I live in Seattle? That's latitude 47°36′35″N, my doctor says even if we were all to run around naked outside all day (jeez would THAT be cold!), we STILL wouldn't get enough vitamin D.
So I do everything and anything to postpone it, to get through it, to keep my spirits up. Hmmm....let's see, what's on my list? Exercising, puzzling, having fun with Christmas (well, it gets me through December), taking vitamin D, drinking my energy shake, winter sports, avoiding carbs....and what else? I think I need a thousand more! All of these things help, but sometimes I STILL feel sucked back in. Today is a good day. I also have to remember, as my mom says, 'this too shall pass'. So, when I'm having a draggy, energy-sucked-from-my-body, I-could-sleep-all-day kind of day, I must still follow my list of preventative measures, 'else the dangerous domino effect begins...
So I must stay strong. I must say NO! to the winter blues.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Painless Potty Training!!

Yes, it's true...I went from battling and bargaining to....effortless potty-trained toddler! I read the books and articles, took some of the ideas I found and added a few of my own.
I originally started by trying to having my son sit on the potty throughout the day... 'practice'. The idea is that your child gets used to it and at some point might actually, by accident or on purpose, go potty and then be able to get a reward that will reinforce the desired behavior. Well, that sounded all well and good...except for the fact that my son wouldn't sit on the potty at all! He showed absolutely ZERO interest in doing this. So, how was I supposed to give him the reward and get him to want to repeat anything. Argh! The more I wanted him to do it, the less HE wanted to do it. Sound familiar?
Grabbing at straws, a neighbor lent me a tell you the truth, I forgot the title, but I still have the song running through my head, 'Yes, I'm going to my potty, potty, yes I'm going to my potty, potty,....' I started showing this 15 minute video to my son (they had a boys' and a girls' version), and then I got THE IDEA....
(drum roll, trumpets, drum roll, trumpets)....I made a 'video' of my son himself. While he wouldn't sit on the potty to save his life, he thought the camera was pretty cool, so we 'pretended' that he was going to the bathroom. I took pictures as I talked him through all the steps starting with taking off his diaper, sitting on the potty, now pretend you're 'going', now wipe, then pretend you see the 'product' in the potty (cheering, clapping, woohoo!). I uploaded the pictures, added some of his favorite music, BAM! I showed him, and he loved it!

Now, he didn't immediately run to the potty from there...I started showing him his own video and the neighbor's video every day. I didn't get stressed or try to get him to the potty. We just happily watched the video together and a couple weeks later, bam! He just started doing it himself. Ta da!!

Who knew eating could be so hard?

For me, eating is the hardest part of the health equation. I've always enjoyed working out, so while I do have to motivate myself, I really do get into it once I get started. On the nutrition side, however, I am very challenged. I tend to eat healthy foods, but it's the portions that tend to get me into trouble. It is hard for all of us in our current culture, since food portions have grown over the past decades. I just like to eat, and I always liked to eat in quantity and with frequency. I have had to really work on eating smaller portions, and eating less frequenty. One of the tools I have found helpful is to keep track of my daily calories. I've known about this for years, of course, but I never wanted to do it. Now it's so easy to just do it on line, and that does streamline the process. You can keep track of calories eaten over different periods of time, and also track carbohydrates vs. proteins, etc. There is certainly no lack of information out there! Tracking my calories, bottom line, just keeps me honest! I have my calorie goal for the day, and as I go I can see how close I am getting. I often also try to 'cushion' my goal amount with up to 200 calories, just to allow for the bite or two extra of things here and there... that do add up!
Once I had that part figured out, I worked backwards to plan my meals and snacks. Since I know the evening is most difficult for me, I carefully plan my day to allow me for a few more calories in the evening - but not too late in the evening!
These are just a few of the tricks in my bag... stay tuned for another blog!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How do I find time to work out...

Everyone's busy. As a working mom, I often have my days planned, every minute, from the time I wake up until at least when my son goes to sleep. By that time, my energy is spent! Since I want to make my health and fitness a priority, I plan it into that busy day. Usually that means getting up early and working out when I won't be matter how well-meaning, everyone in the family always seems to want something from me ...if they're awake! Working out first gives me a healthy start to my day AND gives me some time for myself. In my world of parenting and teaching, it often feels like 'give, give, give'...I do enjoy that, but only if I get the 'me-time' I really need to start my day.
Another key to fitting in my workouts is to make them short and effective. I used to go to the gym, but when I went back to work I had to look seriously at my daily schedule...just getting to and from the gym adds another 30 minutes minimum. I think 5 am is plenty early to get up, don't want to be up at 4:30! So I found some great home workout DVD programs - they're more than just one workout, they put a whole system together so I don't need a personal trainer to show me how to round out my program. The cardio program I use, called TurboFire, includes what are called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts. This is a strategy athletes use, basically you sprint for about a minute, rest for about a minute, then repeat. It really pushes you to the next level in your workouts, helps get you past plateaus... and the best part? The HIIT workouts are shorter! Check it out:

It's advised that you do only 2 or maybe 3 HIITs per week, so I mix that up with weight training (also at home) and longer cardio workouts. I schedule the shorter HIIT workouts for days when I won't have as much time, but I still get in a super-effective workout.
One of the other important elements for me has been in finding workouts that I truly ENJOY. I don't feel tortured when I do my workouts, I feel inspired. The music is thumpin', the moves are dynamic and varied, it's actually become addicting! Because of this, I'm able to schedule my workout time as my 'me-time'. I guard it jealously and make sure it fits in somewhere.
The bottom line is that working out is a priority, a DAILY priority. I enjoy it and I know it's good for me, so I make it happen.
Happy work-outs!