What does “healthy” mean?

On October 8, 2016 I crossed the finish line of the Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon, then stopped running.  I did not run again until almost one month later.   I took that time as an opportunity to slow down and reflect.  I thought about the past six months of training, about what I want to accomplish in the upcoming months.   I also took a step back and thought about my overall health.

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 For almost a year I was a bit obsessed with fitness and looking back now, it was probably an unhealthy obsession.  This time to reflect has made me dig deep and think about what health means to me.   One thing I learned about myself is I can accomplish amazing things if I set my mind to it, so that was pretty cool.  But what I am figuring out is how to weigh the risk and reward.  

I was so fixated on body image as a measure of my health.  I would constantly look at my abs and think they weren’t good enough.  I rarely had dessert and almost never drank alcohol, even at BBQs and parties.  I had to exercise every day, and if I didn’t I was very cranky and sometimes mean.   I think something that opened my eyes was I kept trying to buy smaller and smaller clothes.  At one point I bought a pair of LUCKY jeans which were two sizes smaller than my average size.   I got them over my thighs (which is usually my largest area) and bought them immediately, feeling so proud of my accomplishment of fitting into this pair of pants.   Then, the first time I wore them I was so uncomfortable!  The band was cutting into my hips!  It suddenly dawned on me, no matter how hard I exercise, and deprive myself, these pants, or any size smaller for that matter, will never fit.  These are bones,  They are not going to shrink!  I am 5’9’’ tall and have had two children.  This is my physiology.    So, why am I killing myself?  My family does not care if I am a size 8 or a size 12.  They love me no matter what.  My kids won’t remember if I have tight abs, but they will remember if I am cranky around them.  My friend’s won’t care how I look in a bathing suit, but they will care if I keep saying no to desserts they lovingly bake in their kitchen for my enjoyment.  My pants will never love me, but my family does and I need to love myself.  

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Now, this is not to say that I still don’t LOVE fitness, and setting goals, and challenging my limits!  I will continue to do so, but maybe I will be a little kinder to myself, indulge a little, and live a lot more.    Keep my honest guys 🙂 

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Happy New Month!

Hello August | via Tumblr on We Heart It.. Summer will soon end and once gain fall comes calling with it's crisp air and burnished leaves of gold.  TG:

Happy Monday everyone.  Today not only ushers in a new week, but a new month.  There is something magical about new beginnings.  A chance to start over, a time to make goals.  January 1st everyone is so set about what the new year will bring them.  I am not that excited about new years, I prefer to look at new weeks!  Making small, manageable goals ladders up to something phenomenal in one year.  Think about it.  If you made a point to make a small change every Monday- imagine what 52 Mondays of change look like!
Last week I was so happy I hit every one of my workout goals.  Sometimes it isn’t always possible and I see there are obstacles already popping up this week.  Preparation is key to success.
Back to goal setting for the week and month ahead.  Sit down with yourself and come up with 4 things you want to focus on this month.  Then actually write them down!  Pick one a week to really focus on, then the next week try to do 2, then 3, then 4.   For example, they may be things like:
– Drink 1/2 my weight in water every day (this one is my downfall)
– Log my food this week
– Bring my lunch instead of buying it
– Eat breakfast every day
– Eat fruits and vegetables every day
-Try a new recipe/new food this week
– Exercise 2,3,5,7 x this week (you choose!)
– Incorporate strength training into my week (especially if you favor cardio)
– Incorporate cardio into my week (especially if you favor lifting)
– Incorporate stretching into my week
– Give a compliment to a stranger every day this week
– Do something nice to someone without being asked (or thanked or expecting something in return)
New month, new beginning! Make a change and Sign Up for the Skinny Ms. newsletter! Never miss out on fitness tips or healthy recipes from Skinny Ms. #cleaneating #fitness #weightloss:
I can’t wait to see what you all accomplish!
Share with me, comment here:   What are 2 things you are going to focus on this month?

5 Things that Hold us Back from Happiness

For anyone who knows me, my number 1 pet peeve is excuses.  Not just excuses about exercise, but excuses in life.   I have always had goals for myself and when I see something I want, I ask myself- “how did that person get there?”  Then I make a plan and set it in motion.  You can achieve anything you set your mind to with determination, consistency, and a solid plan in place.

I think reading helped me keep that spirit and “can do” attitude alive.  Since I was little I loved self-help books like SARK Eat Mangos Naked (a favorite in high school).  Then, as I got older I found other books like “The Compound Effect,” “You are a Badass” and “Crush it.”  It never hurts to keep learning.

On this continual quest for knowledge and empowerment, I was introduced to a podcast called “The Model Health Show.”  A podcast I listened to struck such a cord with me, I decided to listen again and take notes.   99% of this blog post is courtesy of Shawn Stevenson’s Podcast from June 14, 2016- “5 Things that Hold Us Back from Happiness”  with my own little quips inserted here and there.

In Shawn’s podcast he notes a study from the University of London that states people are 35% less likely to die if they felt happy and content on a typical day.  Generally we are happy as children, then happy again as seniors but it is those in between years of the rat race that really wear us down.   I can totally see that!  Being a working mom with 2 kids, training for races, helping others, and trying to keep my family happy is no easy feat.

So, what holds us back from happiness and how can we turn it around?  Here are his top 5 reasons (in no particular order)

1. Excuses.

This is probably why I loved this podcast so much.   Our primary excuses are usually work, money, and health.  Things are always so much harder when life isn’t going your way.   Tony Robbins said we all have a blueprint set for our lives.  For example, maybe your blueprint is you wanted to get a job, get married, & have kids before 30.   How would you feel if your blue print did not match your life condition?  What if you were 31 and single or unemployed?    It isn’t a horrible thing, but since your blueprint does not equal your life condition you may feel unhappy.   You have to be mentally aware of this and re-adjust your blueprint.  Maybe because you are single and unemployed you can travel the world and paint or volunteer for the Peace Corps?  The world is open and you are unencumbered.  Change your perspective and make the most of the life you have.

2.  The if/then syndrome:

If this happens, then I’d be happy.  If I get this raise, then I’ll be happy.  If the kids get into college, then I’ll be happy.  If I got this beach house, then I’ll be happy.  If I got this divorce, then I’ll be happy… This is what Jim Rohn calls living on “someday I’ll”.   We can’t wish our life away.   Live in gratitude.  What do you have now?  Sure, you can have ambition and work towards something but we need to enjoy the journey!

3.  Skip the Drama!

I never thought about this really before, but I absolutely love it.  Don’t bring the drama around you, don’t look for it, and don’t live into it.   *To do something for someone else, WITHOUT expecting anything in return is the secret to long lasting happiness*.  Oh My Goodness YES.   There is nothing worse than having to keep score, make sure everything is fair, and decide when to be nice to someone else based on how they have treated you in the past.  I am a HUGE believer that if I choose to care about someone, I will be there for them.  I will buy them birthday gifts; I will go to their events… I will be there for them whether they make the same effort for me or not.  I don’t measure my kindness or my happiness by how others treat me, but how I treat others.   Nit picking and living into the drama does not do me any good.  Maybe this is because I believe everyone is genuinely good at heart and everyone’s intentions are pure.  Even if that isn’t the case.  It makes me happy and I don’t want to turn into a cynic.

4.  Future/Past Paradox

Do you mentally visit the past to predict the future? It is a blessing and a curse to think externally.  People think past = future.  We need to see the beauty in our current situation.  If you still live in the past, you miss the power to change your future.    A challenge for you is to change your perspective and CHOOSE to show up differently.  Bring YOUR energy and happiness to the situation.  When you walk into a room brighten that room.  YOU bring the LIGHT.  Living in gratitude is a reflection of the good things that are happening at the current moment.  On a side note, I am LOVING the Instagram challenge #100happydays.  It is forcing me to find the beauty in every day.  Today it was eating a juicy peach.

5.  BELIEF THAT YOU DESERVE IT!

I am amazed at this one.  I remember watching “the Biggest Loser” last season and a speech Bob Harper gave to one of the contestants.  They were having a heart to heart and her biggest roadblock was her deep rooted belief that she didn’t deserve to be fit, to take the time for herself, to win etc.  Once she changed her mind set and told herself that she was worthy and she did deserve it, she started kicking butt!    Realize how much you do matter.  Enjoy the process, and overcome whatever challenges come your way.  You have everything you need to live a good life within you, they just may be dormant.  No one is better than you, but people may be different than you.  Be 100% unapologetic for who you are.  Like Sarah Jessica Parker was told in the movie “The Family Stone”  Let your freak flag fly!  No one will ever exist like you again and no one was like you before, so be the utmost you.

I just loved all this so much and it is great to be reminded again and again of these important points.  Now lastly, being happy doesn’t mean being stagnant.  You can have goals and be ambitious.  Heck, you should!!!  But, enjoy the process.  You deserve to be happy if you choose to be, and if you need to make some life changes, make them.

Have a great Monday.

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10 Reasons to Workout Today

Last week I wrote about finding and harnessing the power of your why, did you have trouble finding a reason?  If so, here are 10 you can work with:

  1. I will have more confidence
  2. I will be one step closer to my fitness goal
  3. I will be more mentally alert
  4. I will be happier
  5. I will have a desire to eat healthy foods
  6. I will be more motivated to workout tomorrow
  7. I will burn more calories for the rest of the day
  8. I will have an increased amount of energy
  9. I will be doing something for me
  10. I will be healthier

 

If you are still in a slump, it is a fun exercise to create a vision board for your life.  Play around on your phone or computer.  I love the app Photofy.  Make it the background on your phone or your computer desktop.  Put it on your fridge or inside your pantry where you hide your oreos 🙂

here is one I made in 2 minutes.  I am training for a half marathon, trying to practice more yoga, and want to be present for my kids.

Motivation Monday- Finding your why

I’m pretty sure I wrote this before, but it bears repeating.  The VERY first thing I ask anyone interested in starting any health journey is “why.”  Why do you want to lose weight?   Sure, looking great in your clothes and fitting into those jean from high school is nice, but that won’t keep you on track.  Cupcakes and alcohol are way too good.

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Most people know my story (and if you don’t you can check it out in about me section), but my why is making sure I am taking care of me so that I can have more energy and patience for my family.   I have 2 toddlers, I also work full time as a scientist.  I know that when I indulge too much and don’t exercise I am just a nasty person and my family gets the brunt of it.  I feel tired, bloated, sluggish and screaming toddlers make me lose my sh*t.

What also keeps me motivated is having other people help keep me accountable or incentives.  This week I have a private facebook group going.  We are all going to post every day something we are doing to stay healthy, whether that be a workout or a healthy meal.  At the end of the week I am raffling off a prize to a randomly selected winner.  The only rule to be entered into the raffle is to post something in our group daily.  If you need some extra accountability and want to meet some like minded people,  I would be happy to add you too 🙂

today is the day

I urge you this week to sit down with yourself, grab a piece of paper, a journal, a napkin, anything and be honest with yourself.  Why do you need to stay on track this week?  Maybe there is a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes in your family and you need to lose weight to stay healthy, maybe you need some extra patience for your kids, maybe you have a stressful week coming up and a few good sweat sessions will help make you feel better.  Endorphins are a powerful thing.

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Let me know your why in the comments below.  I believe in you.

Stuck between two passions


This is so how I felt at 4:30 this morning getting up to go to the airport.   Been doing a LOT of soul searching lately.

I actually didn’t know I had two passions until less than a year ago.  

My first has always been science.  I’m a chemist.  I have the privilege to work for one of the worlds largest health care companies.  I’ve liked science and facts for as long as I can remember.  Santa got me an invisible man anatomy set for 5th grade and a microscope by 7th grade.   This weekend we took the kids to the museum of national history in NY and I was so excited to donate my microbiome to science.   Ironically I’m a chemist for skincare and not a doctor or biologist. 

  

I proudly wore my sticker “I swabbed for science today”


My second passion is helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. (Which I guess ties into biology).  

 I am starting to realize it’s all science.  I’m amazed at what the human body is capable of and what you can achieve through exercise and nutrition.  
I was really shocked by my own transformation when I honed in on my nutrition and treated food like a science last year.  I weighed it out and counted my nutrients.  My “macros.”  I’m not as strict now as I was last year because I like ice cream and wine, so I’m struggling to find the right balance for me.  As always these guys come first…

The other portion of a health journey is mental.  Through helping others it seems to me that health, fitness, and achieving goals is more mental than anything else!  Another science, the science of the mind.

People have the hardest time mentally, we make excuses for everything (myself included).  I’m tired, I don’t have time, I’m “too” out of shape, I don’t have money, I don’t know how to cook, I’m too busy, I don’t like (insert physical activity here), I’m stressed…I’m in a rut. 

So I guess thats where I am right now.  In a rut.  I want to continue helping people reach their health and fitness goals, but I feel like I can no longer use Facebook as a platform for connection.  Too many negative people, too many co-workers, too much judgement of how I spend my time.   

Since I’ve been in my “rut” I’ve been horrible about keeping up with my exercises (daily) and indulging way more than I should.  Coaching kept me accountable.  

So, what’s the point?  I guess the point is I am still figuring stuff out, how to live into both passions.   I have a very small group I’m hosting for summer now. 
Questions for you

– how do you connect with new people?

– what is your biggest excuse?

– what are you passionate about and are you living your passion? 

– would you be interested in joining us?

Thoughts on life & Fitness is a journey 

Thank you all so much for your kind words after the passing of my Opa.  It has been a crazy month.  I was traveling for work and getting a few workouts in at the hotel, then as soon as I came home I was told my Opa would be going on hospice.   He was brought to my parents house on Monday.  I was planning on spending the day Friday but my father told me he wouldn’t last that long.  Tuesday was my daughters very first swim lesson, so we didn’t go Tuesday.   She loved it…


Wednesday I picked the kids up early from daycare and we shot up to my parents house.  By then he was barely able to keep his eyes open, but when he did he registered that me and the kids and James were there.  We talked to him and squeezed his hands.  He tried to open his eyes and focus but it took so much energy.  

My husband urged me to stay the night and at 4:30 am my mother called me down.  “It’s time,” she said, just like the doctor said to be during childbirth.  We all held his hands and he slowly just stopped breathing.

It was remarkable to see a body so full of life, that contained such a a HUGE personality, just stop.  The last breath was gone and in that instant, so was he.


I don’t often talk about faith, but at that moment, I was so glad I had my faith, to know that he is not just gone but in heaven with his wife and they are looking down on us.   He is at peace and no longer in pain.

We called my brother to tell him and he came to the house by 6am.  We called the hospice nurse to pronounce him after 8 and spent time with him, drank our coffee and remembered the good times.  

There was so much to do, so many arrangements to make.  We had the wake on Friday and the funeral Monday followed by the mosileum.   There was a lot of drinking, a lot of German beer songs, a lot of family.  He was honored to have a 2 soldier solute at the mosileum for serving our country in the army and my dad was presented with the flag.  

Jimmy sang Ein Prosit on the way home… 


I thought things would calm down and I could rest Tuesday but there was urgent things to do at work- so off I went.

Now, finally today I was able to get back into a routine.  I felt so at peace and at home when I walked downstairs this morning 


I was nervous about exercising because it had felt like AGES since I had.  But I pressed play and it felt amazing.  


All these emotions I had been carrying seemed to be sweat away.  I feel so alive and so blessed to have such an amazing family and be surrounded by love and have a body young and healthy enough to exercise.  Life happens, fitness is a journey.  The best we can do is for it in with the time we are given.  


I hope everyone has a happy day. 

Pajamas & Coffee

So many things going on lately I haven’t been blogging.  Here are some thoughts on this mindful morning.


To be completely open and honest with you, I have started being very selective in the group of people I coach.  I have stopped trying to put myself “out there” on Facebook because it was not always feeling genuine.  If people would like help, I will always find a way to help them but it is no longer a focus of my energy.   So I’m thinking of repositioning the blog a bit away from “beachbody”.

I really see 3 aspects of my life.  My career, my kids & my marriage.  My career has been and is amazing.  I absolutely love going into work every day and helping drive the business forward, and the feeling of being a part of something big.   


My kids are the light of my life and marriage has its ups and downs.  This is them right now, Saturday morning watching Sesame Street.


I had such an awakening last May while doing the 21 day fix.   I lost a lot of weight, got super toned, met amazing and inspiring people, and really found myself again.   These past 2 months have been rough.  I haven’t had the same “intense” drive to exercise and I’ve definitely indulged more on weekends.  I know everything in moderation is healthiest, but I feel the best when I really am on point with my nutrition and exercise.   

I’m working through what should be healthy for me.  Maybe it isn’t being 100% every day, but maybe exercise 5x a week should be my goal, and working in indulgences 2x a week or something to that affect.   I can make arguments for both sides!  

I’ve also been working through a lot with family.  We had a death in the family this week and today will be the wake.  It’s made me think a lot about family and my values.   

More to come, lives are so complex.  Just remember everyone has a story and a battle they are fighting.  Be kind. 

Fact Friday- All about the Heart, remembering Opa

Today I was going to continue to talk about macros and break them down into the 3 components, but I am going to switch it up and talk about the heart today.

Yesterday, my grandfather Adolf passed away.  He suffered from Congestive Heart Failure.  Remembering Opa on the blog today.

Opa was the very definition of a German man.  Growing up in his household must not have been easy.  He was strong, opinionated, & stubborn.   I share so many of his traits (good or bad).   When we were little the main things I remember are how he always sat in his reclining chair in the corner of the room with this little light.  He enjoyed watching soccer and WWF.  So funny to think back on that now.  His wife, my Oma, was the most loving woman I have ever known.  I can still remember the way her skin felt and they way she smelled.  Opa used to tease her that she had wooden teeth and she would always respond by yelling “Oh Ady!”   Opa would sit in his reclining chair and try to trip my brother and I every time we ran by.  Then he would grab us and squeeze us tight until we were laughing so hard.   Other than those little moments, it was really Oma who played with us when we were little.  She passed in 1998 and Opa changed so much since then.  He became much softer and I am glad that my cousins only got to know that Opa.  They are about 13 years younger than me.   Since her passing it was fun getting to know him as an adult.  He is most remembered for singing Ein Prosit at my wedding (and EVERY social gathering), and telling the story of how you need to hold a shot glass with your thumb and pinkie finger because German’s hands are stuck in that position from always holding beer steins.  All our adult friends loved his drinking songs and his rousing Zicke, zacke,   zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi and Prost!  A little history can be found here.  

 

Opa suffered from congestive heart failure (which my maternal grandmother also has).    So, in his honor my fact friday is going to be about heart health.    Our heart is our most vital organ.  It pumps blood through our bodies.  One of my favorite ways to learn recently has been reading to my daughter.  She got this book as a gift and it gives a wonderful explanation for what our blood does.

Blood helps your body fight germs that might make you sick, but it also carries all kinds of things around your whole body, so you need a lot of it!  Blood can’t move itself around your body, it relies on your heart to do that!   Your heart is a muscle, and when it squeezes it pushes the blood along the vessels.    Blood is a bit like shopping.  It carries things along, and swaps and collects things as it travels.   Blood swaps used air for fresh air when it goes to the lungs.  Blood collects food when it goes near the intestines then carries it to the other parts of your body that needs it.   The right side of your heart receives blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs. The left side of the heart does the exact opposite: It receives blood from the lungs and pumps it out to the body.

A lot of things can affect your heart health and knowing what you can do to stay healthy is important.   The American Heart Association recommends that you be aware of five key numbers:Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI).  There is a WONDERFUL resource at http://www.heart.org

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with heart failure, it can be frightening.

 

For those of us who are healthy, let’s stay that way by focusing in these 7 simple steps:

    1.  MANAGE BLOOD PRESSURE:  High Blood Pressure is a major risk factor for Heart Disease and Stroke. When your Blood Pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys, which keeps you healthier longer.
    2. CONTROL CHOLESTEROL:  High Cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog Arteries and lead to Heart Disease and Stroke. When you control your Cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.

    3. REDUCE BLOOD SUGAR: Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of Blood Sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.

    4. GET ACTIVE: Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.

    5. EAT BETTER: A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting Cardiovascular Disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life!
    6. LOSE WEIGHT:  When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your Blood Pressure and you help yourself feel better, too.
    7. STOP SMOKING: Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.

Now let’s use that glorious muscle to share some love!

This would be an awesome tattoo with one half my husband's fingerprint and the other half mine:

Resources:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Conditions_UCM_001087_SubHomePage.jsp

https://www.goredforwomen.org/know-your-numbers/

Call to Action- Let’s Get Fit For Summer

With the warm weather upon us, we are reminded that summer is coming. I for one am so excited to do more outdoors. I just wish I didn’t have to cook dinner when I come home! Looks like I’ll be making more on the grill.

That being said, what I also love about this time of year is how committed people are to their health and fitness goals.

What are you doing to get fit? Is it working? Are you open to something NEW?

Last year, I started helping people achieve their health and fitness goals, and it has been the most rewarding experience.  A few highlights include

  • A mom who was on the verge of tears daily who is now content and enjoying her kids childhood
  • SEVERAL running PRs (2 5Ks improved by 4 minutes and a half marathon by 20)
  • 30 lb weight loss
  • A few women who were able to advance their yoga practice (hello headstand)
  • New friends made by all

I am looking for women, specifically working moms with little time on their hands. People who aren’t the best cooks and need quick and easy kid friendly recipes. Women who rarely take the time to take care of themselves and always put everyone else first. Women who are exhausted and just don’t know how they could possibly even find time to exercise. Women who have a gym membership, but never go. Women who are living on coffee for breakfast or their go to cereal they have been having since their college days. Women who used to have time to train for races before they had kids but now running takes too long.

I’m looking for you, because last year I was you! 30 minute workouts, easy food, and most of all SUPPORT have changed my life.

I’m not saying I can change your life, but you can. The power is in your hands and I have had the pleasure to connect with so many women this year, women who were hanging on my a thread and now just feel good.

MAY 1st is the start date. Send me a message and we’ll work together to find something that will work for your unique situation and preferences.

We are going to have an awesome summer, you ready to join us?

Jessica Heidi's photo.