The Heartfelt Truth about Exercise - how much is enough?

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In this world of "all-or-nothing" thinking, high intensity exercise, and no-pain-no-gain workouts, it is easy to stay on the sofa.  No more.  Grab your walking shoes - or even just a comfortable pair of slip-ons.

February is National Heart Month, so let's talk about how much exercise is needed for heart health.

Three times/week of 15-30 minutes of brisk walking can help lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  What's brisk?  If you can carry on a conversation with a little bit of effort, you are at a brisk pace.  (If you can talk as though you were still sitting on the sofa, umm, it is not a brisk pace.)

Also, in a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 39372 females over the age of 45 were followed for 4-7 years.  Vigorous activities and walking were studied, in relation to heart disease.

The results?  Vigorous activity (for example, running) "were associated with lower risk."  But, walking also "predicted lower risk."  Interestingly, when walking time and walking pace were analyzed, it was "time spent walking, but not walking pace" that "predicted lower risk." 

Even just one hour of walking per week lowered risk of heart disease, regardless of weight or cholesterol levels.

What's your take-away?  If you like to run or do structured exercise programs, and your joints allow it, go for it.  If you don't enjoy that, get off your sofa, put on some comfy shoes, and go for a walk. 

The key is consistency.  The decreased risk was not in the women who ran or walked during January of each year and then stopped.  Pick activities you enjoy (walking, running, hiking, swimming, cycling, tennis, circuit classes, ...) and commit to move throughout the week.

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5 things to do with leftover Valentine's chocolate

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So, your sweetheart gave you a big box of chocolate for Valentine's Day?  Yippee!  Until the sugar rush hits from more than a couple of pieces.  So what to do with all the extra chocolate?

1.  If you aren't a big fan of the chocolate (or at least not the kind you received), take it to work or to friends to share.  Someone will surely like it.

2.  Freeze it to use later in recipes calling for chocolate, whether cakes, pies, or melting over fresh fruit.

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3.  Freeze it to use in trail mix.  (Freeze it for a day.  Remove from freezer and cut into small pieces.  In resealable sandwich bags, add a small handful of frozen chocolate pieces.  Add a mix of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, etc. with the chocolate for trail mix.  When you are heading out to hike, grab a bag.  The chocolate will not melt as quickly when it starts out frozen.

4.  Keep out 3-4 of your favorite pieces to savor over the next week.  The key is to savor.  When I was a kid we'd make french vanilla pudding once every few months.  I knew I would only get this favorite treat on occasion, so I made a game of how slowly I could eat it and how long a bite would stay in my mouth until I swallowed it.  Make a game of how long a piece of chocolate can last.

5.  Toss it (discreetly).  Not your favorite pieces, of course.  You and your tastebuds are worth enjoying the best.  Part of Intuitive Eating is savoring what you really enjoy.  If there are some pieces you don't like, don't waste yourself on them.   

Happy Valentine's Day!

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HWSS. The best secret you want to share.

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It will hopefully not be a secret for long.  HWSS my shorthand for Intuitive Eating basics.  Here's an overview of how we were created to eat.  Use the questions before you eat to listen to your needs.

H - Hunger.  Are you physically hungry?  What are the signs your body gives you that you are ready to eat?  What are the symptoms that say you've waited too long?   

W - Want.  What do you want to eat?  Not what do you think you crave for fear of deprivation.  But what would "feel good" after you've eaten it?  Are you needing a particular fruit?  Are a balanced meal?  Does fish or red meat sound most satisfying right now?  Really tune into the subtle cues.

S - Slow and savor.  Don't eat with distraction.  Research consistently shows that we overeat by 10% when we eat while doing other tasks (even reading this blog).  Present your food well.

S - Stop when you are satisfied.  What cues does your body give that you've had enough?  Is the taste diminishing from when you started to eat?

In March, which is National Nutrition Month, I'll delve in a little deeper.  My challenge to you right now is pick one letter each week and practice listening to your body.  Then let me know - either here or on Facebook (facebook.com/TheViREOLife) about what you've learned.  Share this with your dieting-again friends.  Let's not keep this a secret.

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Is it the Industry? Is it the Plan? Or...

I was reading what someone wrote about financial investing strategies.  "If my investing is going badly, it is one of only two possibilities: either something in the plan is not working or I am not adhering to the plan.  Discipline improves my chance of success."

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I immediately thought of one attempted investment in our health.  Dieting.  Ugh.  For years I thought the diet rollercoaster was because of not adhering to the plan (a.k.a. the latest diet fad).  Turns out that something in the plan (diet) was not working.  Not a particular diet, but the overall concept of dieting. 

Research is showing us repeatedly now how dieting sets up a subtle fear of deprivation and triggers our boundary protection.  If you have ever experienced the "last supper binge" you know about the fear of deprivation.  "I'm going to eat all the chocolate in the house, because for the next 90 days I won't eat any sweets."  Then 5 days into it, you "cheat" and binge again.  Because you are starting again Monday.

Also, when an external rule (even one you make for yourself) says you can only have so many calories or grams of ___, your sense of autonomy says "Really?  Just watch me."  Then we beat ourselves up for lack of discipline.

There is an answer.  Intuitive Eating.  In Part Two I'll introduce you to how you were designed to eat.

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Avoiding Germs in the Gym - Seven Simple Steps

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Eww, gross.  That phrase is often heard (or thought) in gyms and it becomes a reason many people avoid working out at a gym.  But seven simple steps will keep the germs in check.  Plus, remember that exercise improves your immune system.  Even if you are exposed to a few germs at the gym, you are still healthier in the long-run for going.

1.  The most effective advice outside the gym is most effective in the gym. Do not touch your face. (Admitted, this can be a challenge if you have sweat sliding toward your eyes.)  

2.  Based on the first tip, bring your own face towel to wipe your face. Even if your gym provides towels, you don't know how (or by whom) they have been handled, so at least for your face, bring your own.

3.  Before you get on the exercise equipment with your personal towel, use the disinfecting spray and gym-provided towel (see number five) to wipe down any areas hands usually touch. Bars and control boards are the most common.

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4.  If someone is coughing and sneezing, avoid them by at least three feet. If the gym is small, that may mean switching the order of your workout. Usually do weights first and there's a someone dripping their runny nose on the bench press? Time to head to the treadmills.

5.  If your gym does not provide disinfecting spray and cleaning towels, talk to management about how you come to the gym to get healthy.

6.  Oh, we must talk about the gym mats and carpet. Nasty, smelly, germ-containers that you don't notice until you are doing a push-up with your nose a couple of inches from them. No problem. Either go to a hard surface which does not trap as many germs or bring your own mat.

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7.  The locker room is a treasure-trove of germs. Here are two essentials.  First, wash your hands thoroughly, especially before touching your face to apply make-up or shave your face.  Second, never let your feet touch the floor to avoid athlete's foot and toenail fungus.  Wear your "beach shoes" even in the shower and steam room.  

These basic tips have proven central to staying well at the gym. The shoe tip became personal when working at a high-end gym. (Side note - germs do not discriminate by monthly dues.) I went into the steam room without shoes. I came out with athlete's foot.  Learn from my mistake.

Follow these simple steps - even when you are not at the gym - and avoid the germs.  

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5 tips to stop walking around confused about your exercise

"Should I exercise in the morning or night?  Should I do cardio first or last?  Do I need to lift weights - and, if so, how do I stay safe?"

As you start the New Year and you want to exercise, sometimes the "what do I do?" questions keep you from starting.  So, here are some guidelines to get you moving:

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1.  There are pros/cons physically for both morning and evening exercise.  So the BEST time to exercise is when it works for your lifestyle.  If you try a certain time and it doesn't work, try another time.  Once you find your time, block it like any appointment for consistency.

2.  If you are doing both cardio and strength training in the same session, ideally, warm up for 5 minutes, then do your strength training, then your cardio.  However, unless you are doing intense cardio (intervals, etc.), you can try both ways to find your preference.

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3.  You do need to lift weights.  It improves your bone density (and you know after last week's video how important that is to me), increases your metabolism, and keeps you strong for the activities of life now and long-term.  For safety, for the first two weeks start with half the weight you think you can do.  Invest in a few sessions with a personal trainer to check your form.  

4.  Move throughout the day.  More research is coming out about "sitting is the new smoking."  Every 30-60 minutes get up and walk around for 3-10 minutes.  If you need to ask a co-worker a question, don't instant-message.  Walk to his or her desk.  If you need to take a restroom break, take one flight of stairs to the restroom on another floor.

5.  Stretching after (not before) your exercise is important.  Walking or another warm-up is important before your workout, but you don't want to stretch muscles that are "cold."  Invest time stretching after exercise.

Of course, no matter what, try different activities to find what you enjoy.  Have fun!  (I guess that would be tip #6?)

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What I learned from a medical fluke

In November and December I dealt with a medical fluke and some strong meds. I learned a few lessons:

1.  God is the ultimate Healer, healing beyond what can be done through medical science.  (And I am so grateful He gave us the knowledge for medical science.)

2.  I have an amazing support team.  If you don't have a group that you lean on, start building one now.

3.  Well, for the third one (and for the medical fluke story), watch the video.  You will also learn how to increase your motivation for exercise and eating well.

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The best ways to get a family healthy together

Families are pulled into so demands and distractions, and away from living healthy together.  I've worked with several couples and families to improve their exercise and nutrition and I want to share the best ways I've found to help all ages get healthy together.

Your journey starts with questions:

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  • What are the personalities of your family members?  Who is competitive? Who is high-energy? Who prefers solo or methodical activities?  On the other hand, who gets bored easily or wants lots of people involved? While no one will get their liking every time, include each person's regularly.
  • What are the strengths of each family member?  Organized? Research-oriented? Creative? Curious?  You'll want to use each person's strengths to get them excited about the activities.  For example, who can research what supplies to take on a day-hike?  Who can find three hiking trails to pick between?  Who can pack sandwiches for after a hike?  The answers should not all be "Mom."
  • Is your goal to get everyone active and eating well for the moment or to stimulate a love of movement and good food for a lifetime?  (I'm going to guess the latter, so my ideas below reflect a lifetime goal.)

Physical Activity ideas I have seen be fantastic for busy families:

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  • Walk and talk.  This foundational activity is so important.  Even just once a week, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon, allows a free-flow of conversation and builds trust.  My personal experience is from my mother and I walking when I was very young.  By the time I hit my teenage years and needed a sounding-board, we were already in the habit of walking and talking.
  • Jump-rope contests for the competitive ones.  And talk about funny video/photo moments!
  • Too cold out?  Do what my friend, Devika Kumar (the owner of Hendersonville CycleBar) does with her daughter - turn on some funky music and have a dance-off
  • Martial arts.  Most martial arts gyms have both adult and youth classes available.  If there is traditional exercise equipment available, parents can lift weights/cycle while the kids are in class.  Then the kids can do homework while the parents are taking class.  It's not "together" - but it is a shared experience you can discuss.
  • Water sports.  Kayak.  Canoe.  Sail-boat.  Stand-up paddleboard.  Unless you live by the water, these are not daily activities.  But they are great to add in the activity mix and fun motivation, learning skills together.  "The reason we are doing X exercise is so we won't be sore when we paddleboard this summer."
  • Cycling. Depending on your neighborhood your kids may ride bikes all summer, or you may take them to a park to ride.  Simply get a bike for yourself and join them.  And those squats you are doing during the winter will help you with that this summer.
  • Gardening.  Start small.  (Containers or a 4'x4' raised bed.)  This is a great way to introduce kids to how food is grown and get them away from the screen and into the sunshine.
  • Hiking.  A classic family exercise.  But with a few challenges to overcome.  One family I took hiking had one child who was older and faster. The younger child, said she wanted hike the "tough trail" - and, as anticipated, half-way through started complaining.  Watching for frogs, bugs, deer, and so forth proved the distraction she needed.  Lesson?  Even if a child says "let's do the big one" - stick to the easier trails first.
  • Movement games.  This idea goes against "traditional" exercise.  I worked with a family whose father was a "go-hard-or-go-home" exerciser.  The 10-ish year old girls were not.  My goal was to create movement the girls enjoyed and memories that would encourage them to stay active all of their lives.  Frisbee golf, roller-blading, tag games, and so on got them moving and sweating...at least with each other and with Mom.

What about healthy eating for busy families?

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  • One family decided to take one summer and deeply connect.  Little to no electronics and gadgets and passive-entertainment.  They spent their free time cooking from scratch, walking and playing games, and doing projects around the house.  "Busy" did not allow them to do that during the school year, but for a few weeks during the summer they traded passive-busy for connection and healthy eating.  Even now the mother says she keeps some of the cooking habits she taught herself that summer.  (Side note: the family lost weight without trying.)
  • A family I helped start eating healthy decided to divide the meal duties as follows: together they (or the mom/dad) decide the menu for the week and write it on the kitchen chalkboard; the parents order the food; the son (who wants opportunities to drive) picks up the food; the father and daughter have weekly connection time while pre-chopping the veggies for the week; the mom gets her creative outlet in cooking - without having to cut vegetables every day.  Then the kids alternate nights cleaning the kitchen.  The family discovered and used each person's strengths.

Three tips for the "busy-ness":

Shameless boast.  This is my cousin who is heading off to college next year on a baseball scholarship.  We're so proud!

Shameless boast.  This is my cousin who is heading off to college next year on a baseball scholarship.  We're so proud!

  • As kids get older and want to hang out with friends, invite the friends to participate in the exercise or cooking.  This means less time playing chauffeur.
  • "Together" does not have to be "physically together" all of the time. If your goal as a family is to run/walk a 5K together, everyone can train during the week when their schedule allows, then train together on Saturday mornings.
  • Sports-families (like my cousin's above) have a challenge.  Perhaps one child is in baseball and basketball.  Another in gymnastics and swimming.  A third is hooked on video-games. What I've seen work beautifully is each year encouraging each child to select one sport, so there is more time for family activity.  The video-games?  You have to decide how you want to limit that.  But while you are waiting on the baseball game to start, frisbee in the parking lot sounds like a lot more fun to me.

 

 

 

How I Reflect and Plan ... Part Two

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After reading journals, reviewing lessons, and celebrating accomplishments, it is time to plan the next year.  (Here's Part One for the questions I use to reflect.)

Planning the year begins with reviewing my Personal Mission and Vision Statement.  While I read my Mission/Vision every week during the year, I take a few minutes to determine if any of it needs to change as I've grown during the past year.  If you do not have a Personal Mission and Vision Statement, the Franklin Covey Institute has a great Mission Statement Builder.  It is what I used to fine-tune mine several years ago.

Then I review my Life Areas:  Spirit, Mind/Emotions, Physical Health/Energy, Self-Care, Relationships, Home, Financial, Business, World-Impact.  Are my over-arching Intentions in those areas still current for my desires in life?  For example, my Intention with Home is "My home is an organized, health-enhancing, and refreshing retreat for me, Doug, and our family/friends."

For each Intention, I review last year's goals.  Are there any to keep, update, eliminate?  From reviewing the current year, are there new goals to add for next year? My Health/Energy Intention is "I choose living to maximum health and fitness and genuine extraordinary energy."  One of the goals that has carried forward many years (and I'm sure will this year, too) is "I learn and consistently take steps to prevent disease and aches/pains and to increase well-being and healthy aging."

Then for my Intentions and Goals I ask, "What would that look like?"  For preventing aches/pains one description is "correct posture; no imbalances - shoulders square, spine and pelvic tilt in place." (I found myself straightening as I typed that.  Pretty interesting.)

Next to last is the action steps.  This is where traditional goal setting kicks in. 

  • What will I do, by when? 
  • Can this be delegated?  Who can help? 
  • How important is this action to get me to the goal? 
  • How important is this goal/action in relation to other goals?
  • Does this need to be done at 100% or "good enough?"

Last is accountability. 

  • Tracking  
  • Sharing my goals with a friend
  • Putting start and finish dates on my calendar
  • Placing visual reminders/cues for new habits 

Enjoy the review.  Enjoy the planning.  But most of all, enjoy the moments and reaching your goals in the coming year.

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It's about that time ... How I reflect and plan

My journals from many years ... with, of course, my Nancy Drew diary from childhood.  If you've read my book Go Forward: 28 Days to Eat, Move, and Enjoy Life God's Way, you'll remember my affection for Nancy Drew.

My journals from many years ... with, of course, my Nancy Drew diary from childhood.  If you've read my book Go Forward: 28 Days to Eat, Move, and Enjoy Life God's Way, you'll remember my affection for Nancy Drew.

My pastor has a saying that goes something like "How you exit is how you enter."  How you end this year is how your begin next year.

At the end of each year I read through that year's journal, review my plans/project notes, and reflect on my relationships.  I'd like to say this is a quaint experience, with tea in hand by a fireplace.  The reality is that I move from office to kitchen table to the local library, as I really dig in for several hours over the course of a week.

Here are the questions I answer:

  1. What are the themes I see?  (Topics that come up regularly? Both growth and struggles.)
  2. What are the lessons to carry forward?
  3. Is there any change I am currently in that I need to handle differently?
  4. Is there any change coming up this next year for which I need to prepare?
  5. Is there any change coming up over the next 7 years for which I need to prepare?  (I got this idea from a friend who said "Don't think of life in 10 year markers - ages 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and so on.  Think of life in 7 year markers - ages 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63 and so forth, because it is easier on the ego and our bodies change more at those markers than at 10 years."  I don't know if her reason is true, but the 7 year markers work well for me.)
  6. Were there any difficult times this year that I need to understand better?
  7. What relationships do I want to add?  Subtract?  Why?
  8. Evaluate: My systems, resources, motivation-passion-joy
  9. For what am I grateful?
  10. What are successes and fun events to celebrate?  (And how will I celebrate them?)

Because I refer back to my journals periodically, I also add a table of contents (by theme) to my journals.  It has been fun over a few years to see certain themes become less frequent (such as the diet mentality) and others become more focused (such as mindfulness/intention).

One of the "table of contents" to help me find ideas and points of growth.

One of the "table of contents" to help me find ideas and points of growth.

If you don't regularly journal or keep notes from your year, just go to your social media sites to get triggers to answer your questions.

After reflection, then it is time to plan the next year ... I'll share that process next.

For now, go grab of cup of tea as you reflect on your successes and lessons this year.

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5 Gifts for a Meaningful Christmas and Healthy New Year

Giving thoughtful gifts that mean something.  It's something we all want to do ... not just another gift card to a restaurant that you don't even know they if they like.  So, here are 5 gifts that support and care for the people in your life.  The first two are especially for women; the last three are for men, women, and families.  

Self-Care Monthly Box

I met these amazing moms in November.  Each month Bethany (the mom on the right) sends a self-care package to subscribers ... something for the spirit, the mind/emotions, and the body.  What a wonderful way to strengthen the women in your life with a monthly self-care package!

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Their focus is "Taking self-care from a hope to a habit."  I agree.  Subscribe the mother in your life at www.ezermama.com

Made-from-scratch Mineral Makeup

Another great gift idea for women is makeup that is free of toxins.  We don't put junk in our bodies ... no need to put junk on our skin either. 

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I've been using Emily's eyeshadows for a year now and love them.  She makes small batches in her home studio.  Don't know which colors to buy for a gift?  Emily has gift certificates.  Another huge plus?  A portion of "Redeeming Beauty Minerals" proceeds go toward Operation Beauty from Ashes - rescuing children from abuse in Thailand.

Order some stocking stuffers from www.redeemingbeautyminerals.com

Go Forward: 28 Days to Eat, Move, and Enjoy Life God's Way

Who do you know who wants to grow their relationship with God and learn what God says about healthy living?  Order a copy of Go Forward for them to start off the new year on the right path. 

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Order their copy of Go Forward hereTheir book can be shipped directly to them.

New Year - New You Series

Who do you know who is ready to begin (or begin again) a healthier life?  In January I am offering a 6 week tele-course to help couples and families who struggle with making healthy choices fit their busy lives.  (And since I'm offering a "bring a friend" rate, you can join in and support them.)  A gift that will set them up for success in the New Year.

Email me at sheri@thevireolife.com for details.

Nourish Your Life

For the friend who has yo-yo dieted and is confused by complicated food rules.  This video/audio will set them free! 

(Nourish Your Life is available in DVD, CD, and downloadable.)

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Wishing you a very healthy, fun, fulfilling Christmas with your family and friends. 

May you get all your heart desires and may you give love, health, and joy to everyone you meet.

 

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8 Tips to Handle Holiday Stress

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I was talking with two friends earlier this week about holiday stress vs. holiday rest. 

Friend #1 has kids in high school and college, so they are "fending for themselves" most of the time.  She spent the day after Thanksgiving in her PJ's resting - all day.  Her Christmas prep isn't complete, but she feels on track and isn't stressed.

Friend #2 has grown children, also, but with a toddler and newborn grandchild who came to stay unexpectedly for 5 days over Thanksgiving. (Her daughter's house heat went out.)  So after Thanksgiving, she didn't get to rest or decorate for Christmas.  She feels stressed because does not know when she will "get it all done," since she has committed to several December events.  We talked about possible ways to handle the stress.

Here are 8 ways to rest vs. stress this year:

Get focusedWhat is most important for your holidays THIS year?

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  1. What holiday activities give you more joy and energy than they take?  Does baking for your friends and family relax you or leave you exhausted?  Does putting up the tree give you the most joy? Then put up the tree and skip the rest.
  2. If you are in a "life-transition" don't try something new.  Doug and I made this mistake our first Christmas.  We were crazy about a made-from-scratch pineapple jam from our honeymoon in Belize.  So, we got the recipe and decided to make it for Christmas gifts, thinking it would be a fun, easy project.  (The resort chef said it was easy.) Hours (and hours and days) later with an everywhere-sticky-kitchen we realized everyone would have been just as happy with a gift card.
  3. Recognize not just the season of Christmas, but the season of your life.  When I talked with Friend #2 about her plan, she decided to forgo some of the decorating.  Her memories with grandchildren over Thanksgiving was more important. For myself, when we were remodeling our entire house, I cringed at the thought of Christmas decorations on top of blue painters tape and gutted walls and ripped up carpet.  Pure chaos.  So we put a few ornaments on our bamboo tree and went to look at everyone else's decorations.  Simple.
  4. What do you really enjoy once it is done...but don't have the energy or time to do now?  Outsource.  Use technology.  Whether it is a Christmas card service or decorators or caterers, even professional shoppers, there are people out there to make your holidays easier so you can do what only you can do.  Only you can sit at the family table and play games with your kids.  Only you can go walk with a friend who needs some Christmas cheer.  Only you can sit by a fire and thank God for the good in your life.

Go all in!

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  1. Some years, you just go for it.  Schedule time off from work and other activities and go 100% at making memories.  Pick a couple of friends and spend a four day weekend decorating each other's homes together.  Plan another four day weekend for shopping.  Turn on Christmas music 24/7.  Block the weekend before the family gathering to pre-cook (all) your favorite dishes.  Go to every party invite, even if you only stay for an hour.  And then plan to take the first week of January to recover.  Embrace the season completely.
  2. Get organized for gifts ... set up a wrapping station, make your gift list and block one weekend to shop on line and in store.  If you are like us, we purchase gifts throughout the year.  Pull out your "gift stash" before you make your shopping list.  Who knows, there may even be a re-gift option that is absolutely perfect for Aunt Betsy.
  3. Get organized for cards ... hopefully you purchased a few boxes of cards on sale last January.  We have a list of people and addresses in Excel that we update each year, with columns for "written, addressed, mailed."  On a Friday night (one without a party invite), put a log on the fire and Christmas music on your phone and write several cards.  Then keep a box and the list with you for when you are waiting in the dentist's office or on a plane or when you are on a stationery bike for your workout.

Get out of town.

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The final tip?  Escape the stress completely.  Book a cruise or a spa-vacation.  Or hole-up in your favorite mountain cabin.  Skip the cards, other than a mass Facebook post when you return from your great trip.  Gift cards for the kids is the only shopping allowed.  Eat fresh seafood by the ocean.  Go for a hike in the snow.  You might come back feeling as jolly as Santa.

 

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Eight ways to fit in fitness and rock the holidays

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Years ago when making the holiday-rounds to family, in-laws, cousins, and so on I got teased about a dog bite.  Seriously.  No compassion.

I had been walking/running that morning and a dog came out and bit me.  Despite the teasing, I said (and still believe) "You should get to do what you love on your birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas." 

It was more than just doing what I loved.  I feel more energized when I move on those days of sitting, traveling, and eating.  Often I like to walk both in the morning and between the feasts.  Beyond the energy, getting out to walk also helps relieve any stress from family in close quarters.  Even in a healthy family, after several hours interacting, I need a break.

Here are Eight Ways to increase your fitness while enjoying the festivities:

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  1. At another family member's house? Volunteer to take the dogs for a walk.  (Especially if there are other dogs in the neighborhood.)
  2. Take balls and Frisbees to get games going with the kids outside.
  3. Walk first thing in the morning, before the feasting-rounds.  It will be cold, but you know it will be worth it, should situations not allow you to walk later.
  4. Embrace the full parking lots when shopping for gifts.  Get in as many steps as possible.
  5. Before you load yourself with packages, walk 2 laps inside the mall.  See who has the best sales and plan your shopping strategy while you walk.  (Or combine #1 and #5 like the picture below...walk the dog at the mall???)
  6. Watching a favorite holiday movie?  Strength train and stretch during commercials and anytime you can quote the lines.
  7. Be inefficient.  When you are getting decorations from the attic, don't try to carry several boxes at once.  Make several trips and you'll get in extra steps plus be less likely to break the ornaments your kids made last year.
  8. Turn on the holiday music and dance around the house.  Depending on your nosy neighbors, you may want to close the blinds.

Enjoy the holidays.  Stay active.

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How to manage holiday party food

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The holidays are a wonderful time creating memories.  I remember traveling as a child from house to house for multiple family Thanksgiving and Christmas meals (and at least three sets of presents to unwrap!) all on the same day. 

The holidays are also a time of creating stress.  Since as a kid I just ate and opened gifts, I didn't understand the enormous shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, and "family dynamics" that went into the celebrations.  By age 9, though, I did begin to understand one aspect of holiday stress:  the diet.

Dieting in November to January 1st takes on many forms:

  • Throw out all concerns about health and nutrition with "I'll start again on January 2nd."
  • Try to stick-to-a-diet and fret over every party's array of high-saturated-fat/high-sugar foods piled to the ceiling, instead of enjoying the party.  (I remember at one party, during my diet-mentality-days, going to a side room to self-talk and decide if I had the willpower to eat healthy and worried what might happen if I ate one decadent food.  No fun at that party for me.  Just stress.)
  • Tell Aunt Susie you are truly full and don't need 3rds.  And, no, that does not mean she is not a fantastic cook.
  • Take home leftovers to freeze...but since you deprived yourself at the party, you binge on the goodies on the drive home.

Fortunately, for me, I have not experienced that kind of holiday food-stress in years.  After learning Mindful-Intuitive Eating and listening to my body's cues until there is no emotional difference between chocolate and celery.  I can choose whichever foods at a party I am most in the mood for at that time.

As you come into the next few weeks of parties and celebrations, I encourage you to listen in to your body.  Nothing is forbidden.  But nothing is to be eaten mindlessly.  Everything is permissible.  And everything you choose to eat is worth savoring without distraction or guilt.  

Notice how the first bite of food tastes.  Then notice how the second, third, and fourth bites taste.  Once the pleasure diminishes, move on.  You can always have the food again at another party...or as a re-heated leftover that actually made it home. 

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How to finish your year strong (a.k.a. why I love November)

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I was always one of those kids who loved the start of a new semester at school...the blank notebooks, the new pens and pencils, and, of course, the new clothes.  These all promised a fresh beginning: last term is over and this semester will be better.

In adult life, that experience is (kind of) January.  

As an adult I don't get a clean slate every few months.  Even January is not purely a fresh start, since the emails and projects left incomplete on December 31st are still to be finished.  In adult life, though, I get to experience the joy of November.  What's that?

It is taking a deep breath, digging into reserves, and finishing strong. 

I ran cross-country in college.  (Don't be too impressed.  It was a small school that needed 5 people to qualify as a team.  We had 4 runners.  The coach said, "Sheri, I know you like to run, though I know you aren't fast.  The other runners can make up your time, I just need you to finish every race."  I did.  Once I even finished last...but I finished.)

Anyway, in training I learned how to finish strong.  

I don't want give up on the race of this year, saying "Oh, I'll just do better next year."  I love November because there are still two full months to make a huge impact on my life and goals.  Plus, I can more easily envision two months than I can a whole year.

What about you?  What can you do to finish this year strong?  Perhaps...

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  • Revisit the dreams you had for this year.  Which one still burns bright in your desire? 
  • What time can you carve out to focus on that goal in the next 8 weeks?
  • Is there a project you began at the beginning of the year that you need to decide "keep or toss?"  If your answer is "keep," then re-prioritize and make some progress.
  • How are your health goals?  In 8 weeks you can significantly increase your fitness level.  Why wait until next year? 
  • How will you keep stress levels low during the upcoming holidays?

As I learned from my pastor years ago, how I finish one season is how I start the next.

To start next year strong, let's finish strong. 

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Two unique recipes for Fall

Thank you to a ViREO Life reader who prompted this video.  When I posted the Lemon-Rosemary Chicken recipe one response was "What can you do healthy with ground beef?"

In answer to that question, lean beef - especially from grass-fed cattle - eaten a couple of times each week is considered healthy.  (Of course if you have high cholesterol check with your physician about the frequency appropriate for you.)

The Mint Meatball recipe in the video works best with lean ground beef.  The Powerful Plate Chili recipe can be enjoyed with beef, or if made the same week as the meatballs, you can use ground turkey breast to keep the saturated fat intake for the week acceptable.  

Try these recipes and let me know what you think!

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Move from Perfection to Progress

Don't let perfectionism hold you back from your life and your dreams any longer.

In this video Tammie Sutherland encourages you to put one foot in front of the other and live "perfect enough."

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The meaning and importance of mindful eating

Why is intentional/mindful eating important?  For that matter, what does it even mean to "eat mindfully?"

In this video, Tammie Sutherland and I talk about this important topic as we prepare for the 2017 Women's Renewal Retreat.

Watch the video to learn about Mindful Eating.  Then, ladies, come experience it in-depth at the Renewal Retreat.  Gentlemen, make sure the women in your life get a chance to watch this video to learn about Mindful Eating. (You can register here.)

 

 

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10 Tips for Fitness Travel

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When you travel for business or fun you want to keep your exercise going.  Yes, so you don't lose the fitness you've gained in your everyday workouts, but also to stay alert for the meetings and happenings around you.

1.  Find out about the hotel's fitness center.  In a recent trip to Indianapolis, the Sheraton's fitness center was amazing.  The picture below is half of their fitness room.  If the exercise room is not so nice then ...

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2.  Bring your stretching mat and resistance bands.  Here's a nice option for a foldable mat for your suitcase.

3.  Before the trip use online searches for walking routes around your hotel or...

4.  Ask the hotel staff and locals for walking routes they recommend.  That's how I found out about places around the canal in Indianapolis.

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5.  Check the city's calendar of events.  Oops, I didn't do this before visiting Indy.  There were a couple of races and an Out of the Darkness Awareness walk I could have joined in, if I'd known.

6.  Walk a restaurant tour downtown.  Seriously.  Walk 10-15 minutes to find a restaurant for an appetizer.  Enjoy.  Then walk 10-15 minutes to find another restaurant for an entree.  Savor.  Then walk 10-15 minutes to a cafe for dessert and coffee.  Circle back to your hotel.  A very tasty three-four miles.

7.  Learn what unusual sport can be done in the city.  In Indy?  If I go back, I'll plan to paddleboard on the canal.

8.  Of course zoos and museums are great for physical activity, though power-walking through a museum might cause some disturbance.

9.  For a more intense leg workout, climb monuments.  In Indy I walked the Soldiers and Sailors Monument twice (two different days, of course).  It is almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

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10.  Just stretch.  If your trip is short, perhaps two to three days, simply enjoy some stretch breaks to keep up your energy and come home rested and ready to push a little in your home routine.

Happy travels!

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How to eat for energy when traveling

One of the dilemmas of travel is how to eat.  Rely on fast-food?  It is quick, but leaves you sluggish and not able to learn from a conference or play on vacation.  Rely on sit-down restaurants?  Better food selection, but who wants to go from sitting in a cold meeting room to sitting in a chilly restaurant for every meal?  (Not me.)

When I go on vacation I usually rent a place with a kitchen.  Simply having a full-size refrigerator and stovetop makes healthy cooking easy.  It is vacation ... no complicated recipes for me.

However, when I go to business conferences, eating healthy is more challenging.  What can I do with a refrigerator and coffee maker?  A lot, actually.  

I made this video at a recent conference Doug and I went to in Indianapolis.  It is funny I did not think about making a video until 2 days into the conference.  (Oops, no mic or tripod.  The camera was balanced on a stack of books.)  So, while the sound has a little echo, you get to see exactly what we bring to eat - including a bag of organic chips.  (No apologies to the diet purists, thank you.)

Let me know what you do to eat healthy when traveling.

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