Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekly Goals for June 28 -- July 4, 2010

I'm still on target with my goals, and my goals are still right on target. My schedule is changing around this week, though. I have a belly dance performance tonight, my brother is coming in to town Wednesday, and the 4th of July is right around the corner.

So, my goals for this week are:

1) Continue with 3 liters of H2O daily.

2) Do my best to get enough rest. My sleep schedule will no doubt be disrupted, and the day after too little sleep, I'm going to focus on getting a little extra hydration, extra non-starchy veggies, and taking it easy.

3) Make exercise for at least 30 minutes a day a priority. Tentatively, I'm planning to go for a run or work out on the Gazelle daily, and go to my dance class Tuesday.

4) Find a great article about buffet eating tips, and post it here Friday along with observations from our trip to the Studio B buffet at the M.

5) Make time every day to be alone, preferably in nature; make time for my breathing exercises; make time for my usual spiritual and organizational exercises.

That should do it...We'll see! If you wish, post your own goals here. Have a terrific week!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Weekly Goals...Plus Stress, Dieting and Hormones, Oh My!

I'm doing double-duty with this post. I'm way behind schedule updating my weekly weight management goals. Happily, that's in part because last week's goals are going swimmingly. I've been getting in my 3 liters of water, getting to bed reasonably early most nights, practicing my deep breathing, working out on the Gazelle regularly, squeezing in a few runs, and doing lots of dancing (in preparation for a performance next week -- yay!). So, this week's goals are to keep it up. I'll re-evaluate next week, as I have company coming in to town soon, and my routine will be topsy-turvy for a while. But for now, all's well.

Since it's Wednesday already, I'm also going to post an intriguing article I ran across a few weeks ago:

"Stress hormone rises as dieters restrict calories"

This fascinating study considered the effect of a 1,200 calorie diet on a woman's stress level, and found that the act of reducing calories to 1,200 -- a very typical recommendation -- acted as a stressor. In other words, cutting back on calories could be counterproductive, and make it harder to lose weight.

What's a dieter to do? This strikes me as yet another reason to focus on developing the skill of appetite awareness. If you make healthy food choices most of the time (90% of the time to lose weight, 80% of the time to maintain weight), and you eat when hungry and stop when satisfied, you won't need to cut calories. Making good food choices will ensure you get your nutrition needs met, and eating when you're hungry and stopping when satisfied means you'll be eating to meet your weight management goals.

So, how are you doing with eating awareness? And how are you doing with making healthy food choices?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Don't Take a Deep Breath...

I'm a huge fan of deep breathing exercises. I tend to carry stress in my body, so during and after a stressful situation I can literally feel the stress in my muscles and skin. Ironically, feeling the stress in my body often makes me feel even more stressed! Deep breathing helps me relax and release that physical stress, and it's something I can do anywhere, any time.

Not surprisingly, I'm always on the hunt for new breathing techniques. I recently ran across one on a prayer Web site, and I couldn't resist trying it out.

Unlike yoga, instead of changing up your breathing to match an expectation (i.e., "breathe slowly and deeply through your nose, feeling your stomach fill from the very bottom"), the instructions are to "just breathe," and be aware of your breaths, whatever they may be. Interestingly, allowing my breaths to just be, and gradually increasing my awareness of them, encourages me to naturally deepen my breaths.

I've also taken to pairing my breathing with releases and affirmations I found in Don Richard Riso's excellent little book, "Enneagram Transformations." My current favorites are "I release feeling that I will be overwhelmed with anxiety," as I breathe out, and "I affirm that I am profoundly grateful to be alive," as I breathe in.

Easy, right? The best part is that after breathing these in and out a few times, my shoulders usually release about an inch. It works! I suspect it's so powerful because it incorporates both mental and physical aspects.

If you want to check out the breathing exercise for yourself, click here. The breathing exercise link is to the left, in the box that reads "Preparing to pray." For more information about Don Richard Riso's take on the Enneagram, visit his Web site here.

If you've got a breathing technique you're crazy for, I'd love to hear about it. Let me know!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Weekly Goals for June 14, 2010 - June 20, 2010

I'm a day late (and perhaps a dollar short), as I had a bug over the weekend that slowed me down. I'm happy to say that neither being a little under the weather nor running behind schedule got me off-track with my weight management goals, which are:

1) Exercise for at least 30 minutes (but aim for 60 minutes) every day. Do cardio at least 5 days a week, with dance or Wii tennis 2 days a week minimum.

2) Drink 3 liters H2O every day.

3) Practice new breathing technique at least 3 times a day.

I find posting my goals here encourages me to take an honest look at myself, my week, and my committment to weight management. It really helps! If you'd like to try it, please jump in and post your goals, too. Have a terrific week!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Is Morning The Best Time to Exercise?

Summer's here, and school's out! After a challenging first year of home schooling my three kids, I couldn't be happier. Woot!

I must admit, one good thing that came of home schooling was a change in my usual exercise routine. When the kids were in school outside the home, I'd usually go for a run in the morning or teach a dancEx class. With the kids at home, I had far fewer opportunities to head out for a run. And by the time we got to afternoon, I was often too frazzled to focus on dance.

What I decided to do was TIVO my favorite novelas--Spanish soap operas--and watch an hour's worth while I was on my Gazelle. At first, all I noticed was that my glutes were getting a better workout than when I hit the road and went for a run. After a few weeks, however, I noticed that my usual afternoon fatigue was...gone.

That was noteworthy, as I've struggled with staying upbeat in the afternoons for as long as I can remember, all the way back to childhood. Somewhere between 2 PM and 4 PM I slump and fade, no matter how rested I am, how I feel in the morning, or how my day is going.

But after an hour of moderate cardio, I felt fantastic--perky, energetic, and relaxed. And, unlike the artificial lift I get from afternoon caffeine or carbohydrate intake, that hour of exercise kept me feeling fab.

I was intrigued, so I went to the 'net and dug up this excellent article on ACE's Web site:

The Best Time to Exercise - General Exercise - FitFacts - American Council On Exercise(ACE)

As it turns out, I'm on to something. I'm a morning person, and my very favorite time to exercise is first thing in the morning. That's when my circadian rythym, which influences energy and focus, is at its peak. My circadian rythym--and hence, my energy level--is at its lowest midafternoon.

When I got on the Gazelle, I was inadvertenly giving my circadian rhthyms a natural jump-start--and one that was considerably more gentle-but-effective than either caffeine or a power nap. And I love how that hour of Gazelleing leaves me feeling energetic for hours and hours afterward!

I completely agree with ACE's advice about not changing your workouts if nothing's broken. Too true! But if your schedule is flexible, and you have options as to when you work out, you might consider making your workout hour the time when you're least perky. Of course, you'll need to set things up so you're motivated. For me, the opportunity to hop on the Gazelle and escape into a novela is all the motivation I need! If you have exercise equipment at home, you can also take advantage of TV, movies, videos, or audio books. Or, you might find it helpful to take a class that you enjoy or meet up with an exercise buddy to help you stay on track.

Regardless of when you move your body, here's to a lifetime of loving the experience of moving your body through space. Happy exercising! :)