Posts Tagged ‘walking’
Your Diet’s Halloween Survival Guide
If you hear a blood curdling scream this week, rest assured that it’s not an extra from The Walking Dead or someone watching a scary movie marathon. That’s me walking near the candy aisle while at the grocery store during this time of year. And like me, many of us with a dieter’s mentality fear the Halloween season with the same kind of dread we do a visit to the dentist or (gulp!) getting on the scale after a weekend of gastronomical debauchery.
But fear not! All Hallows Eve actually has no power over us or our waistlines… Unless we give it said power. And for the record, this is the year we’re taking back Halloween and making it more treat than trick.
For starters, let’s remember we’re talking about a 24-hour period. And guess what? Even if you’re on a diet plan and committed to getting rid of your excess weight, a few pieces of candy eaten in moderation (key word!) is not going to harm you at all—especially if you combine the munching with an extra lap or two around the block (and/or shopping mall if the weather outside is frightful).
As dieters, it’s our denial of foods we love that often leads to excessive bingeing. So if you really want to indulge in some sugary goodness, then choose some well-made candy (meaning it’s full of all-natural ingredients as opposed to a list of additives that would make even a mummy unravel). When I took off over 250 pounds of excess weight over a decade ago, it was through moderation as opposed to starvation or denial. Too often we turn favorite foods into a forbidden fruit that we then become obsessed with eating.
Another tactic that makes Halloween more spook-tacular is focusing on non-food related enjoyment. This is easy given that most people enjoy dressing up. And no, you don’t need a costume party to do so. A lot of workplaces allow employees to dress up for work when Halloween hits on a weekday. Or just throw on a pair of vampire fangs when you’re running your errands to suck up a whole bunch of smiles (if not second glances).
If you need an actual party as an excuse to don a costume, then throw a last minute soirée yourself. Get inventive with the theme: ’80s TV shows? Favorite movie detectives? Inanimate objects? Make October 31st more about the fun than the food. And if you’re throwing the party, you can schedule nutritionally sound games like bobbing for apples or pin the tail on the werewolf.
And believe it or not, actual trick-or-treating can scare away fat itself. Volunteer to go along with a group of neighborhood kids. Or take your own kids to the mall and be willing to make several rounds with them. Kids’ energy is high on Halloween—and not just due to the potential sugar rush. It’s fun to dress up. It’s fun to say “Boo!” And it’s fun to walk and walk and walk. (Remember the rules for even healthier walking: suck that tummy in, pump those arms and maintain a healthy posture.)
Last but not least, go easy on yourself. Even those strange, mythical “I can eat anything I want and not gain weight” creatures (much more unexplainable than zombies if you ask me) will be complaining on November 1st that they overdid it on the candy. The difference between them and us (the ones with a dieter’s mentality) is that they don’t feel compelled to keep eating the candy on the day after Halloween. They did it. They enjoyed it. They regret the extra nibble or two and now they’re moving on, mentally—just like we can do, if we give ourselves that kind of freedom.
Besides, November 1st heralds a whole ‘nother eating holiday’s approach. So it’ll be time to stop thinking about the season of the witch and wondering how we are going to construct a healthy game plan for gobble-gobble day. Although I’m here to tell you that as is the case with Halloween, the only thing to fear is… Well, you know the rest (in peace).
People keep asking… So I keep telling… In my humble opinion, one of the best exercises for every fitness level is also one of the easiest to do: Walking. Even those at beginning fitness levels can walk just 10 minutes a day to begin their routine and then build up to longer time periods at quicker paces.
All of us can walk around our neighborhoods (while keeping moving when in place, waiting for cross walk signals, etc.) or drive to a local park, hiking trail or even a nearby mall (if it’s raining or snowing). No gym membership required. Which means no excuses. These kind of easy choices allow us all to get moving – with friends or with our MP3 or iPod Players (see below for music ideas). And don’t forget to warm-up first (just as you would for any physical activity).
For tips on picking out safe walking shoes with a great fit: Click Here
For hints on warming up before a Power Walk: Click Here
Now that you’re warmed up, you’re ready to get moving. By following the checklist below, you’ll be off and running (well, walking) in no time at all:
__ Never forget the importance of posture. Hold your head high and keep your neck properly aligned.
__ Look forward and keep eyes focused ahead of you (while watching out for any traffic, bikes or other obstacles).
__ While facing forward, keep your chin parallel to the ground.
__ Pump your arms back and forth in a natural motion (coordinating with your legs) as you walk briskly.
__ Suck in that tummy while you walk. This is very important for overall toning and conditioning. For more tips and reason to “Suck it in”: Click Here
__ While sucking in your tummy, tuck your pelvis under/forward to maintain proper spine alignment.
__ Be careful not to tense up while exerting energy. Make sure your shoulders move naturally and freely.
__ Keep feet parallel to each other (while walking) and keep them approximately shoulder-length apart.
Let the music play (Introducing the Just Stop! Power Walking Playlist)
Since this playlist is so eclectic, you might own a lot of these songs already. If not, visit iTunes, Amazon or another site that sells individual MP3s to add these motivating tracks to you Power Walking Playlist. And, of course, you can feel free to add or substitute your own favorites – the key is picking music that’s uplifting, quick-paced and geared to get you moving.
New Day for You / Basia
Sweet Thing / Keith Urban
Tonight Tonight / Hot Chelle Rae
So What / Pink
I Want You Back / Jackson 5
Part of Me / Katy Perry
Don’t Stop the Music / Rihanna
She’s My Man / Scissor Sisters
Since You Been Gone / Kelly Clarkson
Banjo / Rascal Flatts
You Can’t Fight Fate / Taylor Dayne
S.O.S. / Jordin Sparks
So Magical / Martina McBride
Bonus (Ab Workout):
Slave 4 U / Britney Spears
Do you have a favorite song or playlist that you power walk to? Or walking tips of your own? I’d love for you to share them with me here. Until then? Keep on keepin’ on!
Fast n’ furious
I got a well-deserved slap from the universe the other day. Well, it wasn’t as much of a slap as it was a gentle nudge. I’m grateful for the reminder to step outside of own head… And happy to share it with you — just in case you can use one yourself (a nudge, not a slap).
It all began one morning while driving to my favorite coffee place in town. While I usually make coffee at home, every couple of days I treat myself to a stronger brew that I didn’t make myself. To get to this spot during the morning hours, one has to deal with rush hour traffic — something I don’t normally have to contend with since I work from home. Adding to the journey is an awkward (yet legal) left hand turn into this local coffee place’s parking lot.
On a recent outing, as I waited in my car to make my turn, I noticed an older man and woman walking across the driveway entrance. Thus, I waited to turn, even though there was no oncoming traffic.
“Look at me,” I thought to myself, “Being nice to the walkers.” (Sure, the law dictates that pedestrians have the right of way, but I was still mentally applauding myself.)
Only it turns out that the man was taking his sweet time walking across the driveway entrance. And we’re talking about a short distance here. Minute turned into minutes turned into… Well, more minutes.
Don’t worry. I didn’t honk or do anything crass like that. But I did have a little passive aggressive hissy fit in the confines of my brain, wondering why the man was lollygagging and/or why he just didn’t check to see if a car needed to enter the parking lot and wait if he was going to be so slow about walking across (and therefore blocking) the entrance.
After what seemed like an eternity (one song had ended and another had started on my car stereo — a true mark of time passage if ever there was one), the man finally made it across, which allowed me to make the turn (after some oncoming traffic went by). No big deal, right? Except that once in line at said coffee place, I happened to start talking to the woman who was with the man.
This wasn’t my choice. I saw them both in line in front of me, recognizing them from what would forever be known as “The Great Slow Walking Incident of 2014” and thus I judged them harshly in my brain. After all, they’d robbed me of 2 to 3 minutes of turn time.
(Yes, I know I’m being ridiculous here… But please, stick with me!)
After the man left the line to get a table, the woman turned around and offered me a smile. What could I do but smile back? And after that, a conversation ensued (how dare she!). During the course of what turned out to be a surprisingly nice discussion, the fact that my dog, Latte, is a trained therapy dog came up. At which point the woman started raving about therapy dogs and how much they had helped her husband who had just gone through a series of surgeries and lengthy hospital stays.
Universe. Slapping. Me. (In a gentle, nudge-like fashion.)
Yeah, Gregg… This man had taken a longer than usual time period to walk across the parking lot entrance. And what a celebration that may be have been for him (and his wife). After several surgeries and multiple hospital stays, he was up and walking — and even enjoying a sunshine-y day while out for coffee with his spouse.
And yet, when in my car, observing all this, I made it all about me.
I’m tempted to shame myself here. But we all know (or at least are hopefully learning) that shame doesn’t do much to encourage change. So instead, I’m admitting my ridiculous response to what I thought was dilly-dallying man and celebrating the fact that I was not only able to learn why he was “walking slow” (by my silly standards), but also that his situation offered cause for happiness… Not just in regard to his health and his wife’s appreciation for it, but also for my own mental health and inner joy.
It’s often when caught up in life’s to-do list (or quest for a stronger cup of coffee) that we can also get caught up in our own mental interpretation of what’s going on in the world around us — and then make it all about us, when in fact, it has nothing to do with us. And if we would instead take a moment to breathe and observe, we just might learn something and/or find a reason to count our (and others’) life blessing(s).
I probably don’t have to tell you that my coffee tasted even more delicious that day. And that now when I see someone doing something that I don’t understand, I do my best to stop myself from decoding what they’re agenda is and lamenting about how it’s affecting me. Instead, I think of this older gentleman and his wife and send out a nonverbal thanks to them. Not only for the valuable reminder, but also for not being as caught up in their own mental drama (as I had been) so that they were able to unknowingly share a valuable life lesson/reminder with me, the guy who really needed to slow down that day.
Photo Source: Exchange3D.com
What a difference a year makes
It was a year ago this month that I was attacked while walking to the gym one morning. This is a walk I had made for over three years at the time — and although I knew the neighborhood I lived in was a bit on the “edge,” I never expected anything like this to happen. Granted, it was very early in the morning (before 5 a.m.) — a time of day that I’ve since been told that no one should be walking by themselves.
Still, I had always been cautious when out at such an early hour. And on the day that this happened, I could hear noise coming from two “rowdy” guys sitting on a curb in the middle of the block I happened to be on. Using common sense, I crossed the street (from the side they were on) and continued on my way. I didn’t have far to go — only had about two more blocks to go to get to the gym I belonged to.
When I noticed one of the guys running over to me, I could tell from his somewhat manic behavior that this was going to be trouble. These two guys were not vagrants and didn’t even look to be criminal types. They did, however, seem to be very “high” on some kind of substance. The guy crossing over to me kept asking, “Where are we? Where are we?”
When I finally answered him (while trying to quickly move on), he suddenly punched me in the eye, then hit me in the back. While ducking to avoid the third hit, I asked “What are you doing?” (as if I might be able to reason with him). I then ducked again as he pulled at my backpack and I started running down the block (with said backpack intact). Luckily, my assailant didn’t chase me but, instead, crossed back over to his companion and sat down.
Now at the far end of the block in question, I could see both of the guys sitting in the same spot they were originally in as I hid in the shadows and dialed 911. I kept pleading with an operator to send the police since the assailants were still in sight. It took over 20 minutes for a police officer to come (20 minutes after I hung up with 911). By then, both of the guys were gone. I later found out from the police officer that a security guard at a construction site (on the same block) had seen the incident, but never came forward to help.
To say I was shell shocked was an understatement. Besides having my first (and hopefullylast) black eye, I was horrified that such a thing could happen in my neighborhood (even though the police officer had told me that this particular block was notorious for criminal activity). I later learned that I was probably “lucky” that the assailants were gone, as I would have had to press charges (a citizen’s arrest, as it were) and that because of jail overcrowding in LA, there would have been no jail time served — even if the guy was found guilty and convicted.
What was that? I was supposed to feel “lucky?” Um, yeah… Okay.
I was pretty useless for the first 48 hours after the attack. But on day #3, I realized that I actually was lucky. Despite having a black eye, I was alive. I was healthy. Nothing was stolen. And I was now smart enough to drive my car to the gym first thing in the morning. Sure, I missed my walking time, which served as a good mental warmup for my day. But if driving was the way to go, I could do that. I had a car. I had my safety. I had my determination.
Although a horrific experience, I realized that I was the one hurting myself and my spiritafter the attack. It had happened. It was over. It was time to move on (with lessons in hand — and in mind). Friends were surprised that I sprang back so quickly. But I refused to let someone take away my joy for life (even if they had taken away my early morning walking time).
One of my dad’s favorite sayings has always been, “Hindsight is always 20/20.” And you can bet that I rolled my eyes every time I heard him say it as I grew up. But looking back on this experience with a year’s worth of hindsight tells me my dad was absolutely right to always remind me of that. Not only did this incident prove to me that I could bounce back from a seemingly-horrific experience, but that I could take positive action because of it.
The attack led to me finally looking for another place to live (something I’d wanted to do for a while — for different reasons than the questionable neighborhood). And through what would be an odd set of circumstances, I actually ended up buying my first home, rather than renting. I’ll spare you all the boring details, but you can be sure that none of this would have been set into motion had I not been attacked (mugged, jumped — whatever) that morning in November 2012.
These days I can even joke about having moved, saying, “You didn’t have to hit me in the eye twice.” And yeah, I must admit that people give me an odd look when I joke like this. They’re not sure whether to chuckle or shiver. But trust me, you can chuckle. It’s like another old saying goes: What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger — and sometimes helps us to get off our butts to make some changes we can be grateful for down the road (black eye and all).
What does this mean for you? Whatever you’ve survived, the key word is you survived. Yes, you might have a black eye — or other forms of emotional or physical scarring. But don’t let a horrific incident (or incidences) take away your joie de vivre. This life is for living. And no one (no one!) can take that away from you permanently — unless you let them.