Monday, February 23, 2015

Wellness Coaching

Remember when you were a kid and you had your favorite sitcom that you loved to watch because it was silly and then all of a sudden they have "A Very Special Episode Of Punky Brewster" and the tone of that one episode was more serious because it was about something important? This is kind of like that. But way less hokey. Hopefully.

I seriously wanted to be her! Or at the very least posses her mad fashion skills!

I have had a lot of fun with this assignment/blog so far. It gives me a chance to talk about things that I am passionate about, and a chance to be a bit goofy while I am at it. I won't promise to be completely serious for this post, but I wanted to really take some time to talk about something that has been instrumental to my renewed health and to my continued weight loss.

 About 6 months ago I joined a Wellness Challenge. The premise was that you pay $39 your first week, and you weigh in once a week for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks, the top three people with the highest weight loss percentage win the money in the pot. The first challenge I did started in September and ended in November. We had just shy of 40 people in that group. Needless to say $39 multiplied by 40 is a good chunk of change.
To increase my chances of winning, I bathed in the blood of one of the former winners...Kidding!!

I wasn't sure how this challenge would go. I knew that I could get a bit competitive, so I figured that would help me stay motivated each week to keep at it and try to win the big prize. What I didn't expect to get was a huge amount of moral support that came from this class. Our coach is an incredible woman who decided to teach these challenges after being successful at losing 70lbs. and maintaining for a year. She attributed her success to the challenges that she had taken part in and really wanted to help others meet their goals too by becoming a coach.

Every week I would face the scale, and then I would sit in class with the rest of the challengers, listening to our coach talk about such exciting topics such as, FIBER (let's just call this what it is...poop!)
"Take a guess: How many bowls of your oat bran cereal would it take to equal the fiber content of one bowl of Colon Blow?"
and PROPER HYDRATION! The class was always informative, and believe it or not, always fun. For a group of people who were all competing for money, you would never know it. Every person in that group would cheer you on if you had a good week at the scale. They would also nod their heads in agreement over the particularly rough weeks.

At the end of that challenge I took third place in weight loss, and also won the prize for most inches lost. It was a nice bit of cash right before the holidays and I was pretty pleased with myself. After the challenge ended I had about a month's time before the next challenge started up again. It was during that time that I realized just how much these challenges meant to me, and what I was getting out of these Saturday morning classes. I did terribly that month. I thought that it would be nice to not have to really feel any pressure about what I was eating for a while, and it was the holidays, so I was pretty excited to be cut free, but became apparent to me rather quickly, that I wasn't doing very well. I needed something to help me with my checks and balances, and I clearly wasn't capable of doing it on my own yet. 

This next challenge I am doing has been going since January and I am already anxious about it ending in April. It isn't even the tiniest bit about winning that pot of money anymore. I have made new friends, I have gained a mentor, I have lost over 60lbs., and I finally feel like for once in my life, maybe I have the hang of this whole "healthy" thing.

To become a healthier person you have to become more active, eat better, and pay attention to what you are putting into your body. For me, as important as all those things are to losing weight and making such drastic changes to my life, I needed a support system that was separate from my family, who would hold me accountable each week, but also let me know that if I had a bad week, it was ok because I was going to do better the next one.

So I guess the lesson to this week's blog post is to go out and find your people. Find support to help you work through whatever it is that you need help with to get healthy. For some it's Weight Watchers, Plexus,  Cross Fit, etc. Whatever it is, use it to help you make the best version of yourself.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ice Ice Baby

They creep up on you when you least expect them. Guaranteed to chill you to the bone. It's...It's...NIGHT-CICLES!

It feels like this entire week has been monopolized by the cold and icy weather. The snow can be overwhelming, but I have almost gotten used to fighting my way through that. This cold weather though, that is another story. I have no problem shoveling, but when I lose feeling in my fingers and toes, it's hard to get my dance moves right with my shovel. So what is a girl to do? Well, this is when you have to improvise.

I have been struggling to find things that will help me stay motivated to keep moving this winter. One of the biggest motivators for me has been my fitbit. I really have a a bit of an OCD relationship with it now. I use it to motivate me to hit my daily step goals, and I also use it to stalk...*cough* I mean track my friends so that I can try to beat their steps with some friendly competition. For whatever reason, it works.

I swear on all that is holy that this little girl could have totally been me at her age!

Of course not being able to run in this bitter cold, and not having a treadmill have been some major barriers at hitting my goals. I have to find different ways to reach that daily 10,000 step goal. One way that I hit my goal is by chasing my children around. They have boundless (spastic) energy, so it doesn't take those steps long to add up. (It is important to add here that you really should only be chasing your own children, or children that you have gotten permission to chase. You will still get a good workout from chasing children that you do not have permission to chase, but it will have a much less positive outcome for you once the police are called.)

One of my favorite ways to include my kids in my steps is to put on some loud music and dance like lunatics in our living-room or kitchen. Right now our favorite jam is Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars. It just makes you move, whether you really want to or not.

Another way that I get moving when it's cold outside is to watch walking videos on YouTube. Spoiler alert: It really isn't enough to just watch you do have to walk too. Sorry.
They aren't all that exciting, but they get the job done. If I am really lucky I even have some workout buddies to help me pass the time.
My boys burning off some of their boundless energy. This works better than horse tranquilizers. Not that I have tried that...
Sometimes it gets late and I have spent way too much time at my computer working on assignments, and I haven't moved nearly as much as I should have. It is also around this time that my husband starts to get a bit whiny about the fact that we haven't watched any of our favorite shows together. So I compromise and while we watch a few shows I walk in place while the show is on, then try to run in place during the commercials. My husband LOVES it when I do this. Of course that is a complete lie. He can't stand it. Also, I am pretty sure that I am wearing holes through the living-room carpet, so I have to keep changing where I run in place, but I still get in all my steps!

The important thing to take from this is that even when it seems like it is impossible to stay active in these brutal winter months, there is always something you can do to keep moving. If you're really lucky, you might even get the bonus of annoying your significant other while getting in your exercise. Win-Win!

Friday, February 6, 2015

All Work And No Play Makes Jenn A Dull Girl

This girl? Yeah, she doesn't live here anymore...
This would be a more accurate portrayal.
Remember this girl from last week? She was so ready to shovel snow and have a good time doing it! She was dancing and singing out song lyrics. I remember her, but she is a distant memory from the person writing this week's blog post. This girl is less dancing and singing and more crying and shouting profanities. The problem is that Mother Nature DUMPED (and you can take that anyway you choose to) all over us this past week. It is exhausting keeping up with this much snow removal when all you have is your trusty shovel and the need to be able to vacate your driveway. I wish I could say that I rebounded after a while, but I didn't. It was like the more I would shovel, the more it would snow. On top of this, I discovered that an ice damn had formed over our bedroom causing our wall to weep icy water. Along with this discovery was that my car has a oil leak and that my husband has a gas his car.

Just when we thought that nothing else could go wrong, the serviceman cleaning our furnace informed us that there was a leak in our hot water tank and that it would need to be replaced. Leaks seem to be the theme of this week. Needless to say that the girl from last week is gone. As a matter of fact, she looks a bit more like this-

You have no idea how often I am mistaken for Mr. Murray!

So maybe I don't look quite like Bill Murray just yet, but I certainly entertained thoughts of taking a nice warm bubble bath with our toaster. Its actually pretty fitting that this picture is from the movie, Groundhog Day because with each of these storms coming one after another, it does feel a bit like we are trapped in some cruel loop, reliving one snowstorm over and over. Of course our reality is infinitely less cool, because we aren't hanging out with Bill Murray.

I haven't had the time to be active aside from shoveling and roof raking. This is where this blog saved some of my sanity. You see, I need to be finding things to do outdoors so that I can blog about them for my class. It was the responsibility of doing this that made me drop my shovel and walk down to the bay near my home. It was bitterly cold out, but I could see a fiery pink in the sky and I knew that the sunset would be gorgeous. I grabbed my camera and made the snowy trek towards the bay.

I was expecting to see a lovely sunset, as that was my other motivation for walking in the frigid temperatures, but what I wasn't expecting was to truly appreciate just how beautiful it was outside. I had been outside for an average of 3 hours every day this week, but I was so angry about the cold, the snow, (and lets not get me started about the plow man that kept plowing in my mailbox and driveway), that I never really took the time to appreciate just how stunning it is outside.

Everything was quiet, even my steps. Even though it was cold outside, there was a strange kind of comfort from being blanketed in 60+ inches of this white stuff. As I made my way down my road I could feel some of my anger leave and the feeling that replaced it was one of appreciation. Appreciation for what a fantastically beautiful place that we live in. There are people in this world that will never have the opportunity to see this kind of beauty around them, and all we have to do is look around us. And I mean REALLY look. In the end, I was not only rewarded with a calming walk to relieve some of my stress, but I saw one of the most beautiful skies I have ever seen.

This is the sky over the icy bay.

The walk back from the bay.

I guess I will save the toaster for toast, and the family and I can stop playing "If We End Up Like the Donner Party Who Do We Eat First". Spoiler alert, it would be the teenager. She has lived a longer life then our other kids and she has no survival skills anyway.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Every Day I'm Shovelin'

If you are following this than you are most likely a classmate of mine, my professor, or one of my friends taking pity on me and reading my little blog. This means that most of you are going to relate quite well to my post this week.

I have logged in over 5 hours of shoveling this week alone. I honestly stopped counting after that. I am one of those Mainers that like to see the white stuff dust the area right before Christmas, and hang around so that it is aesthetically pleasing for about a month or so. After that I am done. Done I tell you! I have friends that have snowmobiles and all the tools for ice fishing. I understand liking winter if you have the money for the toys, or the passion for winter sports. I am not one of these people. I am trying though. One of the things that I hope to do over the course of the next few months, is to expand my horizons a bit and start trying winter activities that I have never done before. Stay tuned for those in future posts. No spoilers! You are intrigued though, admit it!

This is the sign across from my road. See how it taunts me?

So, let's get to what I have lured you all here for...shoveling. The weird thing about me is that I kind of enjoy it. I like making things neat and tidy. I like seeing that I have made progress. I even like the bit about it being a workout with a purpose other than working out. At least all of that was true until the winter that would not end started last week. I was going strong for the first two hours, but then I made a mistake. I went inside. Inside is warm. Outside is not. Inside is dry. Outside is not. Inside has couches. Outside does not. You see my dilemma? After I had spent a few minutes inside I knew pretty quickly that I was going to need some serious motivation to get me back out there to finish off what was left of my clean up. This is where you need to lean in my dear friends, learn the secret to making shoveling fun. Are you ready? It's 80's music! At least it was for me. It may be some completely different kind of music for you, so don't fret if the idea of big hair and neon colors makes you queasy. (But maybe consider looking for help for that, because that is a weird thing to get ill over.) In all seriousness though, I popped in my headphones, clicked on the Pandora app, and was immediately fueled with the power of getting my groove on. I shoveled to the beat, I danced with my snow shovel, I sang out loud like someone who is completely unaware that they are tone deaf. I most likely looked like I should be heavily medicated to the unsuspecting passerby, but I was having a blast!

This is me, stopping the world to melt with you.

Here's the thing, it really, really worked. I was having fun, I was getting in one heck of a workout, and I was outside in the beautiful, albeit annoyingly cold, snow. I felt so awesome I jumped over to my neighbor's house across the street and shoveled her out too! She was watching, so I sang a little quieter and danced a little less.

I guess the point of this post is that no matter how much you may dislike some of the trials and tribulations that come with living in Maine this time of year, there is always a way to make it a little less grueling, and a little more fun. The bonus is that if you can find a way to enjoy yourself, you will make this winter go by that much faster.