Happy New Year!
New year, new resolutions…right? It is tradition. What are yours? Maybe it’s to be a happier, more positive person or maybe you’re going to start going to church more or read more books and watch less tv. Or maybe, you are like me a year ago and just want to live a healthier life.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been active and kinda healthy, but the truth was that I would consume more coffee and less nutritional foods than one actually should. So, I wanted to get up off the couch, move more and start to fuel my body for energy. I feel looking back on the year that I have succeeded, I still have a little to go (for my personal satisfaction) but I feel stronger, more energized and healthier, and I did it while on the road. Thought I might share some of the main things that helped me out with you.
- I knew that in order to meet my goals (whatever they may be) that I was making a life change to achieve them. What I was about in embark on was not going to be short term, so I picked lifestyle altercations and changed my habits in a way that fit my lifestyle (i.e don’t go on some pill formed diet and expect to loose the weight and then once you stop taking the pills, you’ll keep it off).
Make changes that will last. It’s better to start off slow and add on as you go than to go all out for a few days and then stop. Slow and steady will always win the race in the end.
- I put a reasonable goal date for achievement on the calendar. When I reached it, I rewarded myself with something special, maybe a day at the spa or a new pair of jeans (never did I reward myself with food, I’m not a dog). If I hadn’t reached it, then I asked myself why and what I could have done differently.
- I had to love myself. I knew that no matter what, this is more important than anything.
If I didn’t love myself first, then nothing would matter in the end. I made the change for myself.
Because my goal was to eat healthier and be more active, the following tips are geared more to that subject. I will say that I am not a professional, these are just things that have helped me.
Some of the things I have been doing for a few years, and have simply done more of or enhanced in the past year. Simple changes over time can add up!
- I threw out my scale. When we started traveling we did not bring the scale and I am so thankful for it. The main reason is that I used to be obsessed with that little number that would go up and down (and I would get REALLY mad when it went up after I had been working out!). I did not have a problem with my weight at the beginning of last year, but that’s also because I honestly could not really tell you what it exactly was. I do know that I ranged somewhere between 130 &135 in January 2012. Oh, and I’m 5’4″. Last time I went to the doctor (in September of 2012) I was closer to 140. Most people’s reaction to that when I tell them is a bit of surprise because I am shorter and have always had a smaller frame. That is the main reason I believe in throwing out the scale. Plain and simple: muscle weighs more than fat. I should have known in the beginning to go by how I feel, how my clothes are fitting me and not by that dreadful thing that took up my precious bathroom space. The image below is not me. I pulled it from a reputable health site.
- I Drink water and lots of it, first thing in the morning when I get up, before every meal, throughout the day and before bed. I flavor it to make it interesting with lemon or mint or cucumber or all three! I make a 2 liter carafe of fresh lemon water each morning that I drink throughout the day along with my various bottles of water. Water will flush out your system, help you digest food and absorb more nutrients, help repair your muscles, keep you energized and make you feel full. Did you know that many times when you suddenly feel hungry, you are really dehydrated? You need water to help your body process protein too, so for those of you that want to do the high protein diets, drink LOTS of water. Also, I stayed away from the creamed coffee drinks, pop (or soda for those not from the midwest 😉 ) and sugary fruit & energy drinks.
- I don’t skip meals and if I’m hungry even after drinking a big glass of water then I eat! Starving myself was not healthy living. Your body will go into starvation mode and start feeding on your muscle and storing more fat when you do finally eat. I try to snack on raw veggies or fruit or a handful of healthy nuts like almonds. Even a glass of V8 will get me by (plus I get in my veggies).
- We prepare easy quick meals and snacks ahead of time. I have found that if things are cut up and prepared ahead of time, them they are more easily consumed. We always have three staples ready to heat up (if need be) and eat: Roasted Veggies, Quinoa (if you haven’t discovered quinoa yet, google it. It’ll change your kitchen and your eating habits) and fruit. I cut up all our fruit and store in plastic containers. I’ve even noticed this trend to be true when making J.Os lunches: if I put a whole apple in his lunch pail he usually does not touch it, but if I cut it up it’s always eaten. We do this with our veggies too. I keep broccoli and carrots cut and peeled, ready to eat raw and two to three times a week I cut up and roast a bunch of veggies in the oven. We then have them ready to be heated up and eaten along with any meal. Our favorite quick dish that is always ready to go and heat up in the fridge is cooked quinoa, roasted veggies and sometimes a fried egg. Mix these together with a little hot or wing sauce and it’s delicious in my opinion! Having the roasted veggies and quinoa on hand makes for great easy fillers in dinner too. We use them to stuff chicken breasts or roasted red bell peppers. Check out our Fiesta Stuffed Peppers or Salmon-Kale-Quinoa Cakes.
- I think of meals and food in general as fuel for my body. When I put on a lot of miles, I need a recharge to help my muscles grow. I eat something with a complex carb and protein after my work outs. Simply a glass of chocolate milk can do the trick! I, however, usually opt for either plain greek yogurt with a diced apple and wildflower honey or an Acai bowl. Acai bowls are easy to make (and a great post work out meal) if you have a blender and access to the ingredients: greek yogurt or protein powder with milk, acai berries and ice blended together topped with bananas, honey and granola. They are a great post workout meal including your protein and complex carbs to help refuel your body. Your can read more about them in my post by clicking HERE.
- I do my best to skip out on the processed, pre-made foods. As you have seen, I like to make a lot of things from scratch. I know what’s going in them and they usually taste better too. We make our own guacamole, hummus, salad dressing and salsa to name a few. We buy what’s in season and local if we can. We go to farmers markets. We watch what we cook with, using olive or coconut oil instead of butter, we mind our salt and sugar intake and grill or bake our meats instead of frying. We switched to whole grains for pasta and breads and if we buy our wheat bread we make sure it has a minimum of 4 grams of fiber per slice (otherwise it is actually white bread dyed). I usually try to make my own bread, but since we don’t eat it as much lately, I haven’t taken on a recipe in the past few months. I also LOVE veggies sandwiches!
- When we eat meat, we buy organic when possible. I was blah on the idea at first (it’s so expensive and does it really taste different?!) Well, to be honest, it does and for me all it took was one friend who worked at a turkey farm in the midwest to tell me various stories and how she would never eat a bird from a big massive farm and I was hooked. For the most part, we have become a “if it swims or flys, I’ll eat it” family. Or should I say, that’s primarily what I cook and to my benefit, J.O agrees with what I make. Turkey burgers, ground turkey tacos, turkey meatloaf, lots of fish, stuffed grilled chicken and yes, even turkey hot dogs when we have that craving too. I use turkey sausage in pace of pork and simply add extra spice to our favorite sausage and peppers meal. I find a lot of my recipes on Pinterest and allrecipes.com I will eat red meat, but it’s usually on a special occasion or on my cheat day.
- The key is moderation. I allow myself a cheat day! I love my sweets, my fried food and my pizza, so I knew that not having them in my life was not an option. Therefor, I have a cheat day once a week (and yes, more if we are on vacation) I try to still go into this day with a moderation attitude, in other words, I don’t binge. And yes, I still have a treat for dessert now and then throughout the week, but lately my treats have turned into dried fruit or dark chocolate with raspberries. I also make a pistachio fluff which is guilt free and so easy! Popcorn is also a great late night treat. This also applies with alcohol. I still have fun on the weekends but I limit my self during the week. If I do over-indulge, I put in an extra effort the next day.
- I pack our own lunches and bring healthy snacks when we know we will be out and about for awhile. Packets of flavored tuna, cheese and crackers, good old “ants on a log” (celery with peanut butter and raisins) or a baggie of carrots and apple slices are always good on the go!
- I look for alternatives for standard heavy side dishes, dressings or condiments used in main dishes. We have been enjoying mashed cauliflower in leu of potatoes in these winter months. We put hummus on our sandwiches instead of mayo and I use Greek Yogurt in leu of mayo for many dishes including tuna spreads and baked chicken hot dishes. In the summer we always love the cold cucumber salad too! To cure our midwest cravings for mashed potatoes, we make garlic mashed cauliflower!
- I try not to eat within 2 hours of going to bed. This is a tough one for me, as so often J.O gets home after 7pm and I am in no way a night owl. But I can always tell a difference in my workout and how I feel the following morning when I eat late at night.
- I seek to find workouts that are fun, challenging and versatile for myself. This was the main factor that I found to be difficult when living on the road. We couldn’t really join a gym and travel the country to make a membership worth our while and with such limited space in the camper and constantly changing weather, what was I to do? I discover a few things: first was buying a set of hand weights and a yoga mat was key for me. They are easy to transport and used every time I work out. Whether it doing floor exercises or adding additional weight to my squats, they both come in handy. I have also discovered many “living room/small space” work outs that can be done inside. I have found many on Pinterest where I created a “board” that I “pinned” them to. Now, I have a to go to workout ideas area ready at all times. My favorite workout sites are http://www.dailyhiit.com and their sister site, www.bodyrock.tv . These workouts are intense, most are only 12 minuets and all can be done in a small space, even a camper…oh, and it’s free. Check out my highlight on Bodyrock.tv HERE.
- I became more active outside. In a beginning, I decided to start walking, like power walking. This was something I could do anywhere and at any time. I could walk hills and even change to snowshoeing in the snow if need be. My walking soon turned to running and my activities have excelled to rock climbing, and hiking. When I get bored with one I change up my activity or workout: maybe even try something new! Try yoga or that spin class. Throw in a little biking, swimming, skiing, rollerblading, softball, volleyball, body surfing or paddle boarding…what ever is available in the area and the season! Just have fun!
- I get active WITH someone. I have the daily responsibility of walking the long dog every day, so he is my partner for that. J.O and I ski, rock climb and hike together, all of this makes for great dates and quality time spent together. I also hike with my girlfriends. Someday, we would love to be stationed in an area for enough time where we could be on a softball or volleyball league! When you have a partner, it’s easier to get out and do something.
- I turned off the TV. I’ve discovered that just by having the TV turned off during the day, I’m more active. I want to be moving and am not sucked into a show.
- I Make a schedule. I decided I would work out in the mornings and every day that J.O went to work I would at least be doing something active. I plan my day around my workout or activity, not the other way around. If he is off work for multiple days, I do my routine every other day (except for the last week of our two week break together, I thought I “rewarded” myself for the year and took the week off, and I am paying for it now! But I’m back on the saddle again!).
- I surround myself with positive influence. I tell people about my goals and they help motivate me! I know I wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of not only J.O, but friends on Facebook! I also like to tape up cut out magazine clips or quote to help me. Having a smart phone also helps as there are so many fitness apps that are also great for motivation. I can look back on my progress. I use CharityMiles and MapMyRun every time I walk, hike or run. CharityMiles is a great motivator because for every mile a donation is made to a charity of your choice. The various Nike apps are also great.
- If I fall off track from my goal, I don’t fret, I just get back up and start again! The hardest part is taking the first step. Each time I get back up, it becomes easier and easier and soon I know I’ll be looking for a new resolution to take on.
This past year has been a year has taught me a lot about myself. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I feel like I have come a long way. Hopefully, some of the things that helped me achieve my personal goals will help you in achieving yours, whatever they may be. Below is a before and after shot of me. The images on the left were taken in late January 2012 and the images on the right were take in November of 2012. Changing my body on the outside was not my main resolution, but I’ll admit, it is a nice side effect from achieving my original goal!