Goals.

They’re important. 

And with the change in seasons, I feel like there’s no better time to set some.  We’ve been talking about setting some personal fitness goals at the gym lately, and it’s definitely lit a fire under me.  Winter’s long around here, and it’s the perfect time to establish some consistency and really commit to things, so I’ve decided that that’s what I’m going to do. 

As far as fitness goes, I want to really commit to crushing my workouts, getting stronger and faster, and improving some of my skills.  I want to be able to do pull-ups without a band, I want to be able to hold a handstand and have control without falling, and I want to get better at running. 

As the days get shorter and the darkness limits the time I can spend outside, I’ve found myself cooped up in my apartment more often, and it’s only going to get worse.  I sometimes say that I’ll head to the gym after work – but let’s face it, it’s way too crowded for me to want to be there at night, and I’m usually too wiped out from the day to want to do anything besides sit on my couch in my sweatpants anyway.  But after about five minutes of watching TV, I usually get antsy, so the other night, I decided to make a much better use of my time and start working toward my goals right away.

So I started practiced headstands in my living room, and then I ordered a pull-up bar online. 

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Yup, that’s right. 

I am now the proud owner of one of those removable pull-up bars that lets me work on knees to elbows/toes to bar/pull-ups/kips/hangs/L-holds whenever my little heart desires from the comfort of my own living room.  It took me ten minutes to put together, cost me 25 bucks, and (thank gosh I’m short) is the perfect size. 

Pull-up domination, here I come! 

And it’s not just at home where I’ve been working hard lately… We’ve been working hard in the gym this week too:

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(Don’t let the length of that second one fool you.  I assure you – it was not easy.)

In terms of personal goals, I did a quick search back to the beginning of the year to revisit the ones I set for myself then, and here’s what I found:

  • Put myself first
  • Don’t fear being alone
  • Don’t hang on
  • Stop overthinking things
  • Pursue my dreams
  • Make the most of every day
  • Do things I want to do
  • See the country
  • Continue bettering myself for the future

And I have to say, with the exception of “see the country,” I am absolutely killing it on all of those goals.  I’ll save the details for another post, but I’ve certainly come a long, long way since this time last year! 

When it comes to healthy eating goals, I have a simple one: care less.

Sometimes I let myself get a little too consumed with being perfect when it comes to eating.  It’s partly because I find nutrition so interesting and I want to see what I can do with it, but it’s also partly because I’m just a perfectionist in all aspects of my life.  Either way, occasionally I find myself obsessing over clean eating/macros/meal planning so much, when really, I seem to have the best results when I just go with it.  When I’m not counting calories or calculating protein-fat-carb ratios and I’m just eating what I know works for me, I am not only much happier and less stressed, but I also feel a lot better, physically. 

So that’s my goal: Eat clean and be healthy, but care less about being perfect. 

To that end, I’ve tried to be a little more creative with my meals lately, and it’s really been working out.  I recently discovered that the salad bar at work can be pretty phenomenal, and this salad with chicken, cold roasted veggies, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries has become one of my new favorites. 

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I busted out the julienne peeler this week to make some zucchini spaghetti (and carrot spaghetti, I suppose), which I cooked up with chicken and spices, and it made the perfect reheat-for-lunch meal. 

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I also brought brown rice back into my life in the form of ground turkey, rice, and tomato stuffed green peppers, which were absolutely delicious. 

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Oh, and remember all those apples I got last Sunday?  Well, I’m slowly working my way through those too.  I found out last night that the ginger golds make the perfect applesauce because they’re already so sweet and soft, and it paired perfectly with my porkchop and green beans dinner. 

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I’ve still got about two dozen apples left, so I think there’s definitely going to be some apple baking going on this weekend! 

When’s the last time you set some goals for yourself? 

What goals are you currently working toward?


Wednesday Wisdom

I don’t know why, but lately I’ve felt like I need a lot of external motivation.  Work has been crazy busy and a little overwhelming, I feel like I haven’t been doing as well during my workouts as I once was, and I have just felt sort of tired and not myself over the past couple of weeks.  I can’t really explain what it is, and usually I’m pretty good at motivating myself on my own, but lately it seems like I’ve been needing an extra push from the world around me. 

Luckily, the world around me is absolutely beautiful these days:

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But besides the gorgeous scenery, one of the other great ways I get a little bit of motivation in my life is from quotes.  Here are some of my favorites this week – most of which relate to life, work, fitness, or some combination of the three:

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.

“Toughness is in the spirit and the soul, not in the muscles.” – Alex Karras

“Your ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals, and then to work toward them every day, will do more to guarantee your success than any other single factor.” – Brian Tracy

“If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a LOT of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” – Kevin Ngo

You cannot change what you refuse to confront.

Fitness is not about being better than someone else… it’s about being better than you used to be.

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

“Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.” – Unknown

Despite the fact that I haven’t necessarily felt like I’ve been killing my workouts lately, I sort of have been.  I hit a new PR last Monday with a 125# push press, and squatting 205# yesterday felt easy.  So even though I may be a little down on myself lately for some reason, I think it might just be all in my head, and I should actually be giving myself a little more credit.  I may not be where I was a few months ago, before my surgery, when I had more time to focus on working out, but I’m still exercising everyday, progressing, and giving it all I can, and that’s something to be proud of. 

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Another thing I’ve drawn inspiration from lately are the people in my life.  Having family and friends who support you and love you, who you can laugh with and share things with, makes life so much more enjoyable, and I’m grateful that I have that. 

And when they can cook and they share their goodies with you, that’s a bonus.  My wonderful friend made these amazing apple brownies, and they are just as good as they sound.  They were just sweet enough and totally soft and moist – the perfect Fall treat.  She says the recipe is very simple, so I’ll be sure to share soon. 

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And speaking of good people, I’m also lucky enough to have a great group of people that I work out with each day.  They push me to do the things I’m not great at so I can get better, and we all motivate each other to set and achieve goals. 

Oh, and my snazzy new shoes don’t hurt. 

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What’s been motivating you lately?  Where do you draw inspiration from?


Guest Post: Finding a Healthy Balance with an Inspiration Board

Today I have a really cool guest post from a reader.  Michelle has a passion for health and wellness, and she has written a piece that will hopefully help you find what inspires you to live better as well.  Although I’ve never created my own inspiration board, I tend to use fitspiration posts and Pinterest to do the same type of thing, so Michelle’s words really resonate with me.  I hope they will for you, too! ____________________________________________________________________________________

It takes trials and errors to find a healthy balance in life’s various facets.  This holds especially true when searching for a healthy balance in achieving and maintaining our fitness goals.  However, you can create an inspiration board to detail and strategize your health and fitness goals.  Envision the healthy balance required to meet your goal, and place pictures representing proportioned balance on your board.  If you strategize your goal this way, organization and motivation unite to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and losing sight of balance.

How do you strategize and organize a healthy balance?  Begin by scouring resources for images that represent your goal and all that you need to achieve that goal.  Include pictures that symbolize inspiration and motivation.  Pictures of healthy foods, action shots of an inspirational person, and a list of daily exercises work well on healthy, balanced inspiration boards.

After you collect the pieces of your collage, choose one image that best signifies your goal and place it as the focal point of your inspiration board.  It does not matter if you have a short-term goal, such as dropping one dress size, or a long-term goal, such as an overall healthier lifestyle to live longer; the central image signifies your goal and visualizing it on a daily basis reminds you of your purpose when the daily steps to achieve the result overwhelm you.

It is now time to surround your focal point with the other pictures that inspire you to meet your goal.  Health and fitness goals require an equal balance of diet, exercise, motivation and emotional health.  Organize the pictures in a manner that makes sense to you: four quadrants, a tier system, a Venn diagram or broken into daily or weekly achievements.        

The foods you eat comprise one-fourth of a healthy balance, so create a collage of healthy foods you enjoy, foods that you want to try, and healthy, tempting recipes.  If it inspires you, include methods of disguising food you should eat but dislike.  You can find inspiration by discovering what makes food fun and what dietary changes you can sustain for an extended time.  

What images motivate you to exercise?  Pictures of exercise equipment, a painting of a path for jogging in a field of flowers, or images of a crowded gym work for some people.  Write a list of exercises you want to perform on a daily basis.  Depending on what gets you up and moving, you might want to include a playlist of upbeat music.  This is your inspiration board: What works for you?

Why should you include a motivation section on an inspiration board?  Despite apparent redundancy, personalizing and visualizing your motivation keeps you on a balanced track.  Use this section for pictures personifying the reasons behind your goal.  A person crossing a finish line, a special outfit for a special day, or a grandparent surrounded by children might remind you why you have a goal, or perhaps you have other reasons.  Search for images of a special person or event that inspires you, and place the picture on your inspiration board.

Emotional health is vital for a healthy balance but is often neglected.  If you include pictures of relaxing activities, such as a bubble bath, a garden or favorite books, you have a visual reminder of the importance of emotional rest and relaxation.  Placing prompts for leisure gives you a respite from focusing all your attention on diet and exercise and rejuvenates your spirit so you can carry on.

Get as specific and detailed as you must: This is your board to seek daily inspiration, so you want images that light a fire within you and not someone else.  Use pictures that enable you to visualize your goal and see the healthy balance required for success in reaching for your particular stars.

Check out this example fitspirational board:

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I’m really inspired by yoga for a number of reasons and it is the focus of my inspiration board. Yoga focuses the mind and body, teaching ourselves to find a spiritual balance. I also love that yoga can be done anywhere, even the beach! Simple yoga poses are simple stretches that can be done in the comfort of your own home or when traveling. Yoga is great for beginners and the more advanced athlete.

I’m new to golf, but I find it very relaxing. I’ve been learning at Kaluhyat, which is a New York golf resort. They’ve got great instructors, and several courses to practice on.

As part of my personal mission to live a healthier balanced life, I need to get better at taking care of my body. I’m taking more precaution to protect myself from harmful UV rays. Problem is, I love the sun; to compromise, I bought a floppy beach hat (similar to the one pictured from Wet Seal) to help shield my face and eyes. Wearing sunglasses can help prevent sun damage to your eyes that could cause cataracts.

Improvement in your daily diet is where you notice the most change. The best way to start is by adding more fruits and veggies to your regular routine. Try a tasty green smoothie as your mid-morning snack. They may look funky, but they taste great and can be adjusted to your liking!

Photo Credits: Syracuse golf club | Yoga Class | Green Smoothie | Floppy Hat | Yoga Mat

Questions:

What inspires you?

Have you ever made any type of inspiration board?

What are some tips you’d give to others on finding their inspiration?


Why Do You Do It?

Last night, I was browsing through a few blogs on my favorites bar, and I came across a post called What Keeps You Paleo Motivated?  that really struck a chord with me. 

Whenever you decide to make a change in your lifestyle – whether it be to eat better, exercise more, quit smoking, get more sleep, or whatever else – it takes some serious motivation.  The post above talks about a few peoples’ individual motivations for choosing to eat paleo: they want to lose weight, fit into their jeans, succeed at living healthier, stop farting at work (seriously), ease their stomach pains… 

Clearly, it’s different for everyone (be thankful you’re not the guy who wants to stop farting audibly in front of his coworkers), and this motivation certainly changes over time.   At first, you may decide to eat better because you want to lose weight, but once it’s off, you may also realize that you’d felt crappy for a long time and now see that you never want to go back there. 

The piece of the article that really resonated with me though was this:

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For me, the answer to the question about what motivates me is feeling good.  When I eat better, drink water, and work out regularly, I feel better.  If I want to eat a bagel or an ice cream cone, I can… but I know what the consequences will be.  And when I don’t eat those things, it’s not because I can’t because I’m on some diet, or because someone told me I couldn’t… it’s because I choose not to. 

Of course, this mainly applies to eating for me, but it could apply to anything that you’re needing motivation for in your life.  Do you want to lose weight?  Then make the choice to eat healthier and do it.  Do you want to have more energy, stop bone loss, and get stronger?  Then make the choice to exercise at least a little bit every single day and do it.  Do you want to live longer?  Then make the choice to quit smoking/limit drinking/stop tanning/etc. and follow through.  Do you want to be happier? Then get out of that bad relationship, quit that dead-end job, or move to an apartment on the beach and get happy

Framing things out in this way really does help me feel less like a victim and more like a success story.  I don’t want to have stomach aches, so I choose to eat well as often as I possibly can.  I want to be fit and healthy, so I choose to get up early and workout.  I want to live a long life, so I choose to forego tanning, drink a lot of water, and learn about things that are good for me. 

Sometimes, it’s not easy.  Sometimes I say to myself ‘why are you bothering with all of this?’  Most people don’t spend half their Sundays cooking food for the week.  Most people don’t research restaurants before they go to make sure they can find something on the menu that won’t upset their stomach.  Most people don’t skip the bun on a burger.  Most people don’t get up at the crack of dawn to go to the gym and run around like a maniac.  So why should I make my life so much harder to do all of these things when I don’t have to? 

The answer is: because I choose to!

So, friends, what motivates you?  You may not eat paleo, but there has got to be something that you choose to go out of your way to do because you know it’s worth it. 

So… why do you do it?


Change Your Attitude

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been feeling a little blah – really tired, and not motivated to workout at all.  I think it’s just because I’ve been go-go-going all the time for the past couple of months, and I need a break, but it still sort of gives you an uneasy feeling when you’re not yourself. 

Then, the other night, I came across this picture on Instagram:

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I don’t remember this quote from the movie, so I could be taking it totally out of context, but still, I believe it.  When you’re faced with something, you can either dwell on it, worry about it, and stress over it (like I usually do), or you can choose to look at it from a positive perspective, tackle it head on, and overcome it. 

Sure, me feeling a little less-than-energized certainly isn’t the biggest problem going on in the world right now, but it’s still applicable.  I could lay in my bed and cry about how lazy I feel, or I can just embrace it, take some time off, rest, relax, and recover.  And that’s what I’m going to do!  

Attitude change #1:  I did make it to the gym yesterday morning, but my neck was killing me, and I really just wasn’t feeling it (again), so I did some heavy 5×5 shoulder presses and a WOD with 5 rounds of 9 cleans, 6 push presses, and 3 overhead squats at 55lbs and called it a day.  Normally, I would’ve beat myself up over the fact that it wasn’t as “intense’” as I would’ve liked, but instead, I gave myself a lot of credit for just getting out of bed and moving around a bit.

Attitude change #2: For breakfast, (after going back and forth with the whole should I?/shouldn’t I? debate a million times) I decided to stop at Dunkin Donuts and get a chocolate chip bagel.  Normally, I would abstain because of the inevitable stomach ache, and then the whole feeling-bad-because-I-knew-that-would-happen thing… But you know what?  I wanted a bagel.  So I got a bagel.  And I enjoyed every bite of it.

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Attitude change #3: Instead of sitting at my desk during lunch, wishing I was at home/in bed/at the beach/anywhere-but-here, I took my food and my book outside to the picnic table.  I brought chicken (with crushed red pepper), and brussels sprouts and broccoli (with sundried-tomato and basil spices and olive oil) that I roasted in the oven, plus carrots, figs, and a dark chocolate square, and it was delicious. 

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I read a bit, and then my friend joined me while we ate – and it’s seriously amazing what a few minutes to yourself, some delicious, nutritious food, a little bit of sunshine, and good company can do for you!

My afternoon snack was a sliced Fuji apple with a handful of fruit and nut candy crunchies… delicious.

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Attitude change #4: I had plans to workout with my friend after work, but when the day ended, all I wanted to do was go home and veg.  That initially made me feel like a huge slacker, but instead of feeling bad about it, I decided to enjoy it.  Free time doesn’t always come about that easily, so why not take advantage of an evening with nothing to do and just… do nothing?

For dinner, I heated up another serving of meatloaf + mashed cauliflower, this time adding green beans to the mix.  To cook them, all I did was put them in a bowl with a little water and microwave them for a few minutes… easy peasy!

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The rest of the night was spent on the couch… thoroughly relaxing.  I caught up on a couple TV shows, read a little of my book, and got to bed early. 

This morning, my alarm went off at the usual time… and I promptly turned it off and went back to bed for two more hours.  I woke up the second time feeling like a million bucks – and not guilty at all.  

There’s almost nothing you can’t overcome with the right outlook, so if you’re facing challenges right now – whether they’re big or small – I’d encourage you to change your attitude about it too.  You will be surprised what just a small shift in perspective can do for you!

Have a great day!


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