Beauty is Only Skin Deep

When I first started this journey I focused heavily on nutrition and exercise.  I made the decision to buy organic whenever possible.   These changes certainly helped me get on a path to wellness.  The more I learned, the more I began to question other areas of my life.  One morning as I applied my makeup I began to wonder about other areas in my life that I needed to reevaluate.  I wrote to a nutritionist on Facebook and asked her what organic skin care products she used.  She wrote back rather quickly and stated that she didn’t use an organic product.  I was kind of surprised by that as I know how much she advocates not putting chemicals into the body.

At this point in time, I began researching the topic.  There was a ton of research to support that many of our beauty products are laden with chemicals.  Further, our skin is one of our largest organs and the products we are slathering on are full of cancer causing ingredients.  All of these ingredients gain quick access to our body through our pores.  These products include everyday items such as soap, hairspray, moisturizers, shampoo, makeup.  The list is endless.  I was floored!  Here I am eating clean and trying so hard to avoid any chemicals in my food and then I just wipe it on my body daily.  How scary is that?

According to an article by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Americans are “exposed to more than a hundred chemicals from cosmetics, soaps, and other personal care products before leaving the house in the morning.”

After reading information such as this, I started researching products I could use to replace my current ones.  This turned out to be no easy feat, as I quickly learned how hard it was to read the labels on beauty products.  I couldn’t even pronounce most of the ingredients listed, much less know what they were.  Further, some of the products I tried simply didn’t work.  They smelled horrible and were quite expensive.  I finally found a line of clean products I love.  I have been using them now for three years and they work.  I’m happy to say that these healthier products are affordable, effective and clean.  A true personal victory.

I’m also happy to say that four years later, consumers and the industry are catching on to the market for healthier personal care products.  Today there are far more options out there and it is becoming increasingly easier to decipher what ingredients are in these products.  This week my nutritionist Ellie put out a newsletter on this topic and I was happy to learn about some new product lines that she’s recommending.  I ordered a sample size to try and will see about adding them into my current regime.

Here’s my current recommendations on ways to increase support for healthy, clean skin.

Clean Eating

Clean eating is the first and necessary step!  Healthy skin, like abs, is made in the kitchen.


I saw a photograph online that showed a woman’s before and after photo.  I thought it must be for a new skin care line as she clearly looked younger and healthier in her after photo.  When I read the article I realized that was not the case.  What the photograph was actually showing, was the impact of drinking water each day.  This woman looked years younger and the article was supporting the claim that proper hydration is the first step toward healthy, supple skin.  Well that is one beauty tip I quickly adopted.  What an easy, clean and inexpensive way to improve my skin.

The research on this claim is not clear.  For example, one article claimed that if your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling.  Others said there was a lack of sufficient research to support that drinking water improves hydration in skin.  For me, it was worth trying and personally I do feel proper hydration makes my skin look healthier.

Collagen Supplement

My nutritionist recently suggested I add collagen to my diet.  I wasn’t too sure what it was and why I needed it so I read up on the topic.  Wellness Mama in a recent blog said:

“Collagen is a long-chain amino acid and the most abundant protein in the body. It is composed of the individual amino acids Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline and Arginine and in nature is found exclusively in animal tissue, especially bones and connective tissue. It is what is responsible for giving skin elasticity, hair its strength, and connective tissue its ability to hold everything in place. In fact, the collagen protein makes up 30% of the total protein in the body, and 70% of the protein in the skin!

While collagen is beneficial to the entire body, it is most noticeably beneficial to the skin. This is because as a person ages, the epidermic (outer layer of skin) thins and loses elasticity in a process known as elastosis. As this happens, a person tends to show more signs of aging and acquire more wrinkles.”

I purchased a Kosher, hormone free collagen powder from Amazon and started adding it to my morning coffee and/or smoothie.  A few weeks later my daughter complimented my skin.  I do think it has made a difference and I definitely notice my hair and nails are growing faster too.  This powder is totally tasteless and you’ll hardly know it’s there.  This is the one my nutritionist highly recommended and I currently use.  I get mine on Amazon as it was the best price around.

Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate Beef, Kosher

Skin Care Products

The line I have been using and love is from a company called Farmaesthetics.  All of their products are 100% natural.  The website periodically has sales, but when they don’t, I shop Amazon and with my prime I get free delivery.  Here are the products I use, but they have many others as well.  The milky moisturizer is so clean and fresh smelling, I just love it!  All of these products require such a small amount they last forever!

Farmaesthetics Fine Herbal Cleanser

Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk 8oz

Farmaesthetics Eyebright Makeup Remover & Treatment


I really don’t wear a lot of makeup.  I wear a small amount of foundation and touch of blush.  I have used Bare Esenctuals for years.  It is a natural, mineral based make up line.  I purchase mine at Macys when it’s on sale, but it is readily available.  I also recommend you look at the Jane Iredale line of natural products.

I am excited that personal beauty products seems to be an up and coming topic of discussion.  I feel that small changes such as these could have huge consequences on my health.  Seriously, if I can cut more chemicals out of my life, why wouldn’t I.  What have I got to lose?  I’m so glad I did and I will continue to look for other areas in my life that need an overhaul.

What about you?  What changes have you made to your daily personal care routines?  I’m always interested in learning about new product lines.  Please share!


Fact vs Fiction

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about the impact of marketing on those looking to either lose weight, or live a healthier lifestyle.  It’s truly confusing when you are bombarded daily with these ads and miracle claims.  Remember my test, if it’s a “quick” fix it’s totally bogus.  Reclaiming one’s health can’t truly be a “quick” fix.  If it were, all these marketing folks preying upon us would be out of business.

Reclaiming one’s health is a life journey and requires work.  It also requires us to be educated consumers.  I wanted to share some common marketing myths and facts.  These are habits I have adopted for over a year and they have been proven through research to have positive impacts on the body.

The bottom line is you need to read and learn.  Be a critical consumer, especially when it comes to your health.

Marketing Lie: “Gluten-Free Bread is Healthier than Bread Made from Wheat”
If you’ve already given up traditional grain-based foods, you’ve made a wise decision!
But if you replaced these foods with their commercial gluten-free counterparts, reconsider.  You see, most gluten-free breads, cereals, pastas, crackers and cookies use ingredients that are not much better (and in some cases, worse) than those made with wheat!

Like any processed junk food, these products usually contain chemical preservatives, soy protein, dough conditioners, industrial seed oils, corn and rice syrup… and often, GMOs.
And that’s not all, because…The Ingredients in Most Gluten-Free Products Will Also Send Your Blood Sugar Soaring!In place of wheat flour, most gluten-free products – and many online recipes for that matter – use flours with glycemic values that are off the charts, including:

Corn Starch
Rice Flour
Potato Starch
Tapioca Starch
Sorghum flour

Here’s what Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, has to say about these unhealthy alternatives…“These powdered starches are among the few foods that increase blood sugar higher than even whole wheat. It means these foods trigger weight gain in the abdomen, increased blood sugars, insulin resistance, diabetes, cataracts, and arthritis. They are NOT healthy replacements for wheat.”                                                                  (Nutrition Watchdog)

Marketing FACT:”Drinking lemon juice elixir  each morning has strong health benefits.”

Drinking a lemon juice elixir each morning, as soon as you wake up and before you put anything else in your stomach, is an excellent way to start your day. It stimulates digestion, expels toxins from the liver and supports your digestive enzymes for a busy day ahead.

Once again, the ingredient requirements are strict: your water should preferably be spring water from glass bottles, but if this isn’t available then filtered water will do. This ensures the base for your tonic isn’t introducing new toxins into your body as you drink it — that would be a bit counterproductive. Next, as above, your apple cider vinegar should be raw, organic and unfiltered. When apple cider vinegar is filtered, the health-giving SCOBY or “mother” (an accumulation of beneficial bacteria and yeast that turns the apples into vinegar) is removed, and we definitely don’t want that.

Finally, the lemon should be organic, to ensure its skin isn’t riddled with nasty pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

These health tonics work best if you keep at it — make sure you drink them as directed for at least a week to begin experiencing the myriad of health benefits they offer.                  (Liivi Hess)

My Lemon Elixir Recipe

  • 4 oz organic coconut water
  • 4 oz filtered spring water (I have home delivery service)
  • 1 tbs BRAGGS Organic Vinegar
  • 1 tbs Santa Maria Organic Lemon Juice
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

On days when I am doing an Intermittent Fast protocol, I omit the coconut water and do 8 oz of filtered water.

Marketing Myth:Low Fat Diets help you lose weight.

Low fat everything has been the craze now for decades and look around. What has that wonderful bit of advice done for the bodies you see? We’re fatter, sicker, and more addicted to sugar and carbs than any other time in history. And, we’re passing these habits to our kids.

FACT:Fats are not to be feared – they’re to be embraced.

They do not make you fat; rather, they help your body regenerate your power hormones. Testosterone, the ‘strength’ hormone, for example, is the direct result of cholesterol and dietary fat intake. That’s right: “Cholesterol” isn’t a dirty word! Your body needs dietary fat and cholesterol in order to produce ANY AND ALL vital hormones.

People on low fat diets look drawn, gaunt, and weak. They are often sick, sometimes to the point of literally breaking down. And, they can never just enjoy eating out. Every meal and every gram must be accounted for. Do you really think this will make you younger? Of course not… it will worry you to death if it doesn’t kill you first!                                                  (5 Steps To Looking 10 Years Younger By Steve & Becky Holman)

Marketing FACT: Avoid chronic dehydration to look younger.

Water isn’t just “good for you” — water burns fat. Water suppresses hunger. Water renews your skin. Just drinking 12 ounces of pure water every day can take a few years off your face in a matter of weeks. You’ll also drop fat, have more energy, and save your kidneys and liver from chronic overwork.

When your kidneys are taxed from too little water, your liver has to take over. Now, get this: Your liver is your number one fat-burning organ. Do you REALLY want it processing liquids and toxins rather than BURNING FAT? No way, right? Well, grab a glass of water, and watch the mirror. Within a few weeks, the change to your face and body will be noticeable.                                                                                                                                                         (5 Steps To Looking 10 Years Younger By Steve & Becky Holman)

Be careful of amounts you consume.  I just read a program that required drinking one gallon of water per day.  There is such a thing as too much water and it can have negative effects on your body.  The best rule of thumb I’ve heard is aim for 1/2 your body weight in ounces.  Water is a struggle for me.  I shoot for 5 – 17 ounce bottles per day.  I use a Swell bottle to carry my filtered water with me and refill it during the day.  It is stainless steel lined and insulated.  I got mine on Amazon.  Great investment.

MIRA Double Walled Stainless Steel Cola Shape Water Bottle, 17-Ounce – Mandala 

Declaring My Why

This week I viewed a short video talking about the cycle of failure that often surrounds weight loss programs sent to me by Danette May.  I’ve talked a lot about that myself, so I am always curious to learn more.  We all truly want to be successful and sometimes we just need the tools to get there.  You know the hardest part isn’t losing the weight, right?  It’s the keeping it off and maintaining those healthy lifestyle changes you made to get there.  Hence, the cycle of failure surrounding lasting change.

Personally, I don’t do big swings up and down with my weight and health.  I have learned, after years of trying, to maintain where I am.  That is good and a celebration to be had.  Others are not so fortunate.  I know many who have huge swings in their weight.  What unfortunately happens is when you return to prior habits, you end up gaining it all back, plus a bit more.  It is so disheartening and sad and truly a phenomena I’d love to change.

Enter the clip I watched, with a simple easy addition to my healthy lifestyle journey.  This blog is actually all about what this person was saying, but I liked her explanation as to why it is so critical.  Basically, she said that one of the reasons people don’t hold on to the lifestyle changes and weight loss is because they lose sight of their WHY.  The reason they started the journey in the first place.  Once the weight is off and they feel better the WHY slips to the back of their thoughts and sure enough the old habits creep right back in.

This really makes sense to me and honestly it is true.  I have shared so many of my tips and strategies for maintaining this healthy lifestyle.  They are tools that helped me hold on.  I’ve shared my drive and motivation to keep going, even when injured, to move my body every day.   I’ve even shared that this month I added meditation to my morning routine, albeit short, to keep my mind free from stress.  Well, unfortunately not totally living stress free, but working toward it.  It’s very hard to keep stress out but I am building some walls around myself as we speak, yes walls!  That may be my next topic – People Who Care too Much or People Pleasers…

The short, simple idea the video I watched gave me is to not only Declare My Why, but to write it down and return to if often.  I definitely declared my why when I started this blog.  Read my first post here to refresh your memory if you missed it. Keeping My Memories        Taking my very personal journey public was a big step for me.  What I don’t yet do though, is return to my WHY, look at it, reflect on it.  I’m thinking a vision board may help me with that, but not the average one.  It’s truly never been about imagining myself in a sexy beautiful body, though that sure would be lovely.  Rather, it’s about seeing myself as a HEALTHY, HAPPY GRANDMOTHER surrounded by her beautiful family and KNOWING who they are!!  It’s about living my life to the last breath and living it to the fullest.

When I declare my why I say, “I REFUSE to allow Alzheimers rob me of my memories!  I REFUSE to suffer the fate of my grandmother and mother!  I REFUSE to lose!”  This is my motivation and my drive.  It pushes me out of bed when I don’t want to get up and exercise.  It pushes me to think about what I am putting in my mouth.  It helps me hold on to the gains I’ve made these past years and continuously pushes me forward. It helps me not stray too far off the path, even though there are bumps along the way.

Please take a moment this week and drill down to discover your why.  Why do you want to lose weight, or get healthy?  If it’s to look good for a special event, that may not bring about lasting change, for once the event is over old habits may creep back in.  Think beyond one event or moment in your life.  Think bigger.  Let’s all put on some armor as we attack this challenge, for this quest is truly a battle.  Let’s wage war on those old nasty habits and banish them once and for all.  Declare your why boldly!  Write it down, paste it visibly in your living space.  Look at it often, especially in those dark moments that will surely come.  Hold tight to your WHY and it will be the power that pushes you through this journey.

I love to share quick recipes I’ve discovered and enjoyed.

Recipes(Courtesy of Danette May)

Beet Wrap 

  • Organic Red beets (shredded)
  • Ezekiel Organic Sprouted Tortilla 6″
  • Grass fed, hormone free Feta cheese crumbled
  • Homemade Hummus
  • Organic arugula

Spread hummus on tortilla (1 tbsp), layer on red beets, small amount of feta and arugula.  Wrap and eat.  I used both raw and cooked beets.  I personally preferred cooked, but many prefer raw and the crunch.  P.S. – I’ve HATED beets my whole life and would never even put one in my mouth.  I tried and loved this wrap. A favorite lunch choice.

Homemade Hummus (courtesy of Danette May)

  • 1 1/2 c organic chickpea (cooked or canned)
  • 1/2 c of the bean liquid or water
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 c Sesame Tahini organic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp organic lemon juice, or juice from 1 organic lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Put all in Vitamix or blender, blend and serve.  DELICIOUS, simple and clean!!








Tools for Success

I’ve come to realize that the approach to healthy living runs parallel to education principles.  When thinking about educational principles, one realizes many of the concepts advocated are ones you’d need to be successful in healthy living.  This week I’d like to focus on a few of the changes I’ve made this month.

First and foremost you need to plan.  Much like teachers plan out their weekly lessons, the weekend finds me menu planning.  If I don’t take time to do this planning, I find myself grabbing just anything with little regard to health.   I have a simple system I’m currently using to make this time spent planning more effective.

I plan my meals using healthier versions of recipes (I use cookbooks and online sites).  I focus my planning on dinner.  I list for each day the dinner I will eat.  I create my shopping list on a piece of paper as I choose a dinner.  I plan to eat leftover from dinner for lunch, but also build in two lunch salads or quick meals.  I add these to my shopping list.   For breakfast, I plan on a green smoothie two to three days a week, eggs twice and oatmeal the other days.  I keep organic frozen veggies and fruit on hand, but add fresh produce to my list each week.  I only buy what I plan to consume to avoid waste.  I also freeze what I don’t get to eat.  I cut it up and place in ziplock freezer bags and this has cut down on waste.

When making shopping lists, I list items by recipe.   I then check in my freezer and pantry and cross off any items I find I already have.   This avoids duplicate purchasing of spices and other items I don’t use often and again cuts down on waste.  I think it has also cut down on my grocery bills.  Time well spent.

I don’t precook and prep my meals, as I know many do, for two reasons.  First, I’m not a fan of reheated food.  I like my food fresh and truly believe it’s healthier that way.  Secondly, I’m not a fan of the microwave oven.  I prefer my food cooked and heated the old fashioned way.  I worry about the effect of the microwave on my health so I try to significantly limit using it.

The only thing I precook is chicken.  I like to buy and roast on Sunday a whole, fresh organic chicken.  I roast it, cut it up and place in the refrigerator for the week.  I use the breasts and thighs during the week for salads.  I also use it for quick skillet meals for dinner.  My husband likes to pick on it during the week as well.

Another change I’ve made this month is focusing on my ingredients.   As an educator I know that analyzing and focusing on one change can have a strong impact on my progress.   I realized that I was eating healthy, but there were some ingredients I could makeover to lighten things up a bit.   First, I like to eat chicken salad and tuna once a week for lunch.   I had justified using mayonnaise because I used it so infrequently.   I never use light versions of food as I believe them to be less healthy choices – read your ingredients!   I finally found a substitute that I like and feel tastes comparable.   I mix two tablespoons or organic Greek plain yogurt (I don’t use light or fat free).   I use Stonyfield and find it smooth and not bitter.  I mix in organic Dijon mustard.  It tastes like mayonnaise and is so much healthier!  Here’s my chicken salad recipe –

2 tbs organic Greek yogurt plain

1 tsp organic Dijon mustard

chopped celery and 1/4 cup halved organic grapes

4 oz chopped chicken

chopped fresh organic parsley

Mix the yogurt and Dijon. Add all ingredients together and mix to coat with yogurt/Dijon.   Serve on romaine leaves (I make into wraps).  Salt as needed.

This is such a delicious lunch.   I’ve used this mayonnaise replacement in egg salad as well.   I may never need mayonnaise again!

Another ingredient makeover was made this month.   No more chemical and sugar laden coffee creamer for me!   I’ve shared this recipe before, but here’s my bullet coffee recipe.   Filling, healthy and energizing!  I only drink one cup per day and count this as a snack when meal planning.

1 tsp org coconut oil and Kerry Gold unsalted butter

1 cup hot brewed org coffee

1 tsp org cinnamon and tumeric

Sprinkle of cayenne

1/2 tsp org honey and raw cacao powder

1 tbsp org collagen powder

1 tsp org vanilla extract

Combine all and blend to make yummy and frothy coffee.   If not a coffee drinker substitute the coffee with a cup of matcha tea.

This swap removed a ton of sugar from this girl’s diet.   I was a half coffee and half flavored creamer girl.   The first time you make the coffee you may not love it.   Play around with the ingredients and give your palate a bit to adjust to the taste.   I love it and don’t even drink it the other way anymore.

One last tool I’d like to share is a balanced plate.   Again, like educators know well, balance is the key to success.   We can’t just teach something one way and expect to reach all learners.   Likewise, we can’t just eat one food group and expect to be healthy.   I find measuring, counting and complicated point systems annoying.   I like simplicity in my life and keeping it real.  Plating my food in a simple way helps keep me balanced.   First, I don’t use large plates.   My dinner plates are huge! I bought some super cute salad plates and use these for my meals.   Keeps the portion size appropriate and visually makes me feel I’m eating more. Next, I use the plate to help me portion my balanced meal.  Here’s my plating strategy, using simple fractional plan:

Divide your plate in half.  One half of the plate should be chock full of vegetables, or salad greens.  The other half, divide in half again.  One quarter should be devoted to your protein source, and the other quarter devoted to your carbs.  Simple, real and balanced.

I hope these tips help you stay on course to reclaiming your health. I’ve had a pretty solid January so far.   Let me know if you’ve any tools you’d like to share that have worked for you.


Power of Mindset

This week we focused on mental toughness in running.   Anyone who has run on a day like today, or pushed themselves to do more than they thought they ever could, has inevitably tapped in to their inner mental toughness.

We have all experienced times where we dig in and get something done despite not wanting to, or feeling capable of.  That goes for way more than just exercise and running. It could have been learning to do something and struggling through the many failed attempts.  For me, learning a second language proves insurmountable most days.   Or, it could be as simple as passing up on the second helping, or the dessert.  Whatever the challenge was, what pulled us through was our mental toughness.

In order to work on our mental toughness, we need to address our mindsets. Now this is funny to me because at school that’s all we work on.  Why had I never fully connected it to this journey then?  Yes, I did think of things like, I can’t run a marathon “yet”, but I never fully tapped in to the full power of mindset on my health and wellness.

In the past, I primarily lived with thoughts of all the things I couldn’t do well.  My mindset was a well developed negative one.  Negativity permeated every inch of my inner dialogue.  I couldn’t run as fast as my friends, I couldn’t run without experiencing  pain in my ankles and feet afterwards and I couldn’t lose weight as fast as others could.  When asked to slow down my heart rate during runs, I whined about how slow I had to run and called it slogging (slow jogging).  Listening to this week’s podcasts reminded me that my power to succeed resides in my mindset.  It is the single most important tool I have to face this challenge.  I have to dig in and do the hard work in order to be a better runner.  There’s just no way around it.  Avoiding it is what got me to the place I’m at right now, injured and recovering.  There are no shortcuts here.

I’ve begun shifting my thoughts and tapping in to focus on all the things I can do.  Today, in ridiculous humidity, I was able to maintain a steady pace at 139 bpm without having to slow down or speed up for 75 minutes.  Today, I was able to run one of my miles at a 14 minute pace and keep my heart rate at 139 in extremely hot conditions.  Today, my run was up in pace from the last few.  Today, I filled my head with all the things that were going well and I felt myself growing taller.  It really was that simple.

I’m kind of embarrassed that I, an educator who preaches about this stuff to anyone who will listen, failed to apply it to my greatest challenge, healthy living.  I guess it’s like the shoemaker who has no shoes, or the mechanic who drives a clunker.  We often forget to take care of ourselves along the way. I’m so thankful my coach reminded me of what I know to be true and shifted my thinking.

Going forward, I’m going to consciously stay focused on things I am doing well and celebrate my small victories along the way.  When I wake up each morning, I’m going to allow myself some white space to rest, relax and think about all the things that are going well in my life.  Then, I’ll get up and out to face my day.  It is my belief that one small positive thought will change my whole day.  My running coach has a saying, she says that when we get what we need in life, we are #winningatlife.  Today, I feel as if I am doing just that.


Unintended Consequences

There are large chunks of my life that are missing.  Looking through photographs of my kids growing up, you’ll see me as a young mother proudly smiling holding my kids.  You’ll see my happy little family all together.  Then around the time I returned to the work force full time (1997), there’s one last photograph of us all. I actually have this photograph in a frame in my office.  My kids and husband gave it to me when I returned to work so I wouldn’t “forget them”.  Who knew at that time it wasn’t them I’d forget, but rather myself.

There are not many pictures to be found that include me after that time.  There are lots of my kids, but I am largely absent.  I’m not sure when it started, or why, but my hate of photographs likely started with a perceived bad picture. You know the kind I’m talking about.  The photograph where you look fat, or old, or ugly.  When did I become my mother, grandmother, etc?  At that point I became the taker of all pictures and avoided being in them like the plague.

Isnt it funny, when you look at those old pictures that you hated so much you see them differently now.  Those fat photographs are not so fat after all.  You even find yourself wishing you looked that good now.  While I’m still not a fan of photographs, I’ve come to accept that every single person takes a bad photo, not just me. My daughter and friend validated that realization recently.  One said, the trick to a good selfie is to take like a hundred and pick the best one.  The other said, block tagging on your Facebook page so you can select the photos you wish to share publicly.

Seriously, I am very hard on myself. I look at myself in the mirror and call myself Grandma Schutz.  It’s hard to imagine being in my fifties some days.  Many of us ladies do the same things I do.  We constantly put ourselves down. We try all these diets and fads to recapture our youth.  We do it all for the wrong reasons, mostly to be what we think we need to be for others.

Recently, my daughter bitch slapped me when I vented about lack of progress with my training.  She said, every time you put yourself down you put me down because I look like you.  When I get older I will be you and I will have this stuff in my head.  I don’t need your body issues I’ve got enough of my own.  Ugh!!  Who even though about the impact my ongoing struggles had on her.  I was so busy worrying about myself I didn’t think outside of that.  It really made me take a moment to think about it.  Fast forward a few days, and on Facebook I saw a letter a woman had written to her mother about this very topic.  Yikes.  Talk about unintended consequences of sharing my feelings.

Here I thought I was an awesome role model for my daughter.  I eat healthy and am fighting the good fight to reclaim my health.  I work out daily and live an active life.  I thought I nailed it and my daughter has even begun to practice yoga and take hikes.  She’s in her early twenties and has even started tasting new foods she never would have before.  Heck, that took me until my late forties to do!  But, what I never realized or thought about was the impact of the negative side of this fight on others.  Who knew that by constantly voicing my self deprecation I was leaving an imprint on my daughter, framing her future.

I signed up for a half marathon training plan this week with a coach.  She made me slow down my pace a ridiculous amount to do some heart rate training.  The goal is to build a stronger base. To basically slow down to speed up.   I’ve always been a pusher.  I pushed myself to run, albeit I’m not fast, faster than was comfortable because I wanted to reach a goal I had set.  It didn’t matter that I kept getting hurt, or didn’t feel great doing it.  I fought the coach a bit but listened this week.  I came to realize that it felt great to run that slower pace and after I wasn’t exhausted or sore.  I wondered if life couldn’t feel like that if I stopped chasing some perceived expectations of myself.  Perhaps if I just embraced where I am now, slowed down a bit and just enjoyed the ride I would be a far better role model.

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My family was all home for Mother’s Day last night.  I enjoyed a few glasses of wine and their company.  This morning I woke with a slight headache and it’s raining and cold outside.  I really would love to stay in my bed and do nothing.   Suddenly that voice starts in my head. You know the one, “You can skip the workout today.”  Just do it tomorrow, or later, or…  Excuses are easy to find and hard to resist.

I probably can name every excuse you’ve ever thought of because I’ve had them all.  Here’s the truth about what happens when you use them though, they derail you rather quickly.  For example, if I had rolled over today and said I’d do the workout later today, it likely wouldn’t have happened.  Later, I’m sure something would come up and I’d then make another excuse and say, “I’ll just take today off and get back on track tomorrow.”   Then tomorrow the cycle would start all over again.  Before you know it I’ve missed workouts and start losing my drive to do them as the routine has been broken.

One of the best way to deal with excuses is to schedule your workouts on a daily planner.  Write them down and think of them as a work appointment, or important meeting.  They are not negotiable and not to be moved around.  Adopt a no excuse policy.  Unless you are medically excused you must do it, no excuses, just like your job. If you have a fever, are vomiting, or have a true medical issue you must listen to your doctor.  Otherwise, game on.  Listen to your body though.  If you are sluggish, consider walking instead of running.  That’s a great modification that keeps you moving and on the path to health.

Let’s talk more about modifications because like apps, there’s a modification for almost everything.  I’ll share a bit of my journey to illustrate this point.  I suffered an ankle injury years ago.  After that, every now and then my left ankle would feel like it popped out of place.  I’d circle it and it would pop back in.  This went on for years.  Fast forward to three summers ago.   I was running a lot of inclines on the treadmill.  Really pushing myself and loving it.  One day I noticed my ankle was swollen.  Then I noticed the swelling was not going down.  I wasn’t really in much pain, but concerned enough to get it checked. I had a torn peroneal tendon from years of that popping and use in running hills.   Surgery followed and a beast of a recovery.  Now this is an acceptable excuse for not working out, right.  It could have been, but I tried super hard to stay on the path.  I was non weight bearing for six weeks, in a boot for three months and unable to walk correctly for almost a year.  What could I possibly do?  Swim!  I started as soon as I was on a cane, so that was three months into recovery.  I walked myself on a cane into the gym, to the pool edge and into the pool.  I was kind of embarrassed, which is ridiculous, when I did it but I did it.  Getting in and out was the hard part.  Did I love to swim?  Nope.  Did I hate it?  No.  It gave me hope that I could continue when really I just wanted to give up.

This year, after getting myself back in running condition, I sustained a femoral stress fracture, right side. Man did that do a number on my mental state.  I mean seriously, how much can one girl go through?  I was told 20 week recovery and NO swimming, biking, yoga, walking for exercise, or anything.  Wow, this was going to be a real challenge.   I decided to make this time about my arms and upper body.  Operation sexy arms I dubbed it.  I did my thirty minutes daily in a chair.  I modified my workout streaming and completed pretty tough upper body workouts in a chair.   I used a program that broke the body into sections and did thirty minutes a day.  This was because you really shouldn’t work the same body part when weight lifting every day.  Each day I worked one of the following – back, arms, shoulders, chest, abs.  I cycled through with one day of rest.   I did this for six weeks time.  Then I added in cardio when I was able to stand, but it was truly modified because I couldn’t put any pressure on my legs.  No jumping, squatting or anything.   It wasn’t much cardio, but I pumped my arms a lot and it was psychologically uplifting.

I am sharing my story to say that it can be done if you refuse to use any excuses not to do it.  I’ve had so many things happen to me that could have truly taken me off this path.  I’m not going to lie, it would be far easier to take the excuse.   It would be easier to take it and nobody would really blame me for doing so.  But I’ve come too far to lose now.  I am tougher than anything and know there is always someone who is worse off than me.  I’ve seen people in races I’ve run with one leg, no legs, blind, obese or fighting cancer.  They aren’t taking any excuses to not get out there.

This journey is about digging in deep and pushing through.  Get the calendar out today and plan for your thirty minutes a day (minimum) of exercise.  Write it down and do it!    No excuses allowed!  You will be so happy you did and trust me, eventually it becomes a habit, like brushing your teeth.

I’d love to join you on your journey.  Join me on Facebook on Reclaiming My Health to share your story.

Setbacks Along the Way


Life goes in cycles, as does this journey.   Just when you think you’re there, you’re often right back where you started.   How many times have you said something like, “It takes six months to lose weight and one week to put it back on.”   Happens here to me too, but not this time.  This time I’ve realized success comes from having the right mindset.  Willpower isn’t the answer after all.  Determination, perseverance, grit, focus and mindset are the tools you will need, for you will most definitely have setbacks along the way.

In the past when I’ve had a setback I’d quit, give up and start the pity party.  You know the one that involves food, wine and bad habits.  Before I’d know it I’d be up ten pounds.  Then I’d get disgusted and start saying, “Why bother.”   It’s so much easier to give up.  This journey we are on is truly a hard one.  It is work, harder work than anything you’ve done before because you are never done.  This is a lifetime commitment.   That’s why I believe our mindset is the key to success.  Most people avoid failure at all costs, but on this journey you will experience failure and need to learn that in these failures lie our victories.

One way to develop our healthy mindset is to focus on the small steps we take along the way.   Forget about the scale for now and focus on your actions.  If you walked 5,000 steps last week on average and this week you walked 6,000, that’s progress.  If you drank wine every night last week and this week you had two glasses on Friday night that’s progress. Any and all progress must be celebrated, not just weight loss.  That’s why I keep saying write stuff down.  That habit will enable you to see and recognize progress.

Another way is to set realistic goals.  It is not realistic to expect to lose 30 pounds in one month.  Sure, it can be done, but we know that in most cases of sudden weight loss, it goes right back on.  Generally, that’s because we did something drastic to lose it that can’t possibly be maintained.   One to two pounds per week is a healthy, realistic goal and one that could become a lasting change.  The same concept applies to your fitness goals.  It is not realistic to set a goal to run everyday when first starting out.   You will likely start out strong and very quickly lose stamina.  Partially this will be due to your body be tired and partially due to falling in a rut.  A more realistic goal is to do some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes per day.  This goal gives you so many options to choose from – walking, running, swimming, biking, Zumba, weightlifting, yoga, gosh the possibilities are endless and fun.  This goal will set you up for success and a healthy habit will form.

Finally, meal planning will set you up for success far better than going day by day.  Set a goal to plan your meals realistically.   There are seven days in a week.   When I meal plan, I plan to cook 3-4 meals per week.  With my schedule, that is realistic and won’t leave me throwing out spoiled, uncooked food when life gets in the way.  It also won’t leave me feeling pressured, or overwhelmed by all the food waiting to be cooked.  With 3-4 meals, I’ll have leftovers for lunch and/or dinners and a manageable goal.

Success breeds success.  I’m sure you’ve heard that saying many times in your life.  It is true, especially on this journey.   We all want the feeling of success and if we dont experience it on a regular basis, this hard fought battle will be lost.   This week, set some realistic goals for yourself that will enable you to celebrate small personal victories.  Live in and cherish those victories, then set more realistic goals.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will continue forward.

Expect setbacks along the way.  I’ve sustained two major injuries over the past few years.  A torn peroneal tendon required major surgery and rehabilitation.  I was unable to run for over a year.   Exercise was limited.   Using my new found mindset and tools, I pushed through despite some temporary weight gains.  Swimming became my new best friend and saving grace.  I remember walking through the gym with crutches and then a cane.  Practically crawling into the pool left me very self conscious, but I did it for my personal victory.   This year, I stained a femoral stress fracture which left me unable to do cardio, even swimming or walking.  Nothing!  I’ve pushed through despite a slight rise in my weight.  I did chair weight lifting daily sessions until I was able to add in some leg work.  This kept me on the track towards my goals and kept me in the game.  When you experience a setback, dig deep and remember why you started.  There is always something you CAN do if you focus on that.  It’s way too easy to get lost in what you CAN’T do.  Way too easy to fall back.   With these simple, realistic small changes you can create a mindset and habits that will carry you through.

How’s it going for you?  I’d love to hear.   Join my Facebook accountability group to share your journey and stay on the road to health.  Send me an email, or leave a comment to be added to this private group.  Have a great week and please remember to take it one day at a time.




Commit to Change

I have a mason jar on my kitchen counter.  In it I have 20 blue beautiful flat stones.  They represent my last weight that I wish to lose.  Next to it is a second empty jar.  This jar will hold the stones that represent each of the pounds I lose.   My goal is to move the stones from one jar to the other.  Truth be told these last twenty are the hardest.  I have been playing move back and forth with the stones for two months now.  If I had focused solely on my ability to move these stones (lose these pounds) I probably would’ve given up by now.   Yet another failed attempt.

Rather than focusing on the stones (pounds), I’m focusing on the changes I’m making in my life.  I know that it took me ten years to get where I am, maybe more.  So why would I expect to lose so much weight in a few short months, even a year. This has to be a lifestyle commitment.  Focusing on the change allows us to slip up without giving up.  One day at a time and each day is your chance to reset and start again.  No big deal if you gained a pound or lost two.  It’s a process and these changes are completely normal.

Did you know it takes about 21 days to form a habit?  That’s why so many so called exercise challenges are 30 days.  The hope is after that time you will have formed a new habit.  If you focus solely on weight loss (results), you most likely will quit.   If you focus on change you will most likely have formed a new habit and get results.

As I’ve said, I workout no less than 30 minutes per day seven days a week.  The only way for this to happen is for me to plan.  It’s on my daily calendar and is non negotiable, no matter what.  For me, it’s got to be before work, so this means I need to get up earlier.  Once I started, it soon became a habit. I am now up everyday, work or not at 5.  I sip coffee in bed, read emails, then head downstairs to workout.  At first, I would’ve loved to roll over and go back to sleep.  Now, I don’t even think about it, I just get up.  Focusing on change has helped me form this habit, regardless of which jar those darn stones are currently in.

I hope you are committed to your lifestyle change.  Together we can take small steps towards reclaiming our health.  Join my private Facebook accountability group for recipe ideas and motivation.  Contact me to be added.  Have a great week and let me know how it’s going for you on this journey toward reclaiming your health.

Commit to You

I woke up this morning in beautiful Philadelphia.  I got to spend the night catching up with two dear friends and my son.  That’s all great, but the reason I’m here is for the Love Run Half Marathon I signed up to run back in September.  My first half.   But life had different plans for me.  I suffered a femoral stress fracture back in January and knew then I wouldn’t be able to run until May at the earliest.  I could’ve cancelled the race, the hotel and the weekend.  But, I had made a COMMITMENT to my friends and I am not about breaking those.

So, here I am.  I am awaiting arrival of more people I talked into signing up for the race.  I’ve become the cheer girl and will snap their photos as they finish.  It’s truly a win win.  Good friends, good times and honoring my commitment. When life hands us lemons we’ve got to push through and make lemonade.

Commitment is one of the most important things you’ll need on this journey.  First, commit to yourself.  You are worth it and you should not always be last on the list.  Commit today to be first.  I have a standing work out appointment.  I will not miss this appointment, much like I would not miss work or a hair appointment. I do no less than a 30 minute workout every single day.  Even injured I got it done.  With this injury I did chair arm routines.  Get your calendar now and block that time.  Put it on your day.  Even if it’s a walk with your dog for now, it’s a workout.

Next, I committed to eat better.  In order to do that I have to plan.  When there’s no healthy food in the house, I’m grabbing pasta or junk.  Commit to plan your meals.  Shop for only what you are planning and have what you need.  I use my crockpot one day a week.  That gets me two days of meals because leftovers can be lunch or next day’s dinner.  I also use the Optifast grill which is super easy to use and clean.  Grilled anything with salad gets you another easy meal.  Don’t over buy food.  Just what you will cook fresh.

Commit to drinking half your body weight in water daily.   I still struggle with this one but have found ways to get it in.   Track it to see if you meet this goal.

Last, commit to yourself.  Don’t beat yourself up when you slip up.  It will happen.  Commit to balance. One bad day isn’t worth quitting. You are committed to this and will just start again the next day.  Drink your water and start again.  Last night I ate fries.  The whole container.  I also drank two delicious dark beers.  I enjoyed every single bite.  This morning I’m heading to the pool to swim laps and start a new day.  I’m committed to this lifestyle, but I’m not commiting to deprivation.  Live your life to the fullest. Just keep moving and eating healthy.

The accountability Facebook page is ready.  We are starting this Monday.  If you wish to join us, message me your Facebook email and I’ll add you in.  It’s totally private and free. Enjoy the week and let me know how you’re making out.

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