Workout Wednesday- Feeling Like You Belong at the Gym

Strength. Dumbbells and kettlebell.
Strength. Dumbbells and kettlebell.

One of the hardest things about not only joining a gym, but consistently going, is feeling like you belong there. It is intimidating. So many fit or at least “thinner” people are there, or that’s what it seems like sometimes. Now let me tell you a little secret:

You belong there!

Everyone deserves to be at the gym, no matter their shape or size. Everyone has similar goals: to lose weight, to tone up, to strengthen their muscles. There might be a few who aren’t there for that reason, but nearly all are there to work on their fitness in some shape or form.

You belong anywhere in the gym that you paid for. Utilize it to its fullest potential and for whatever you need it for. Whenever you start to feel out of place, try this mantra: “I belong here. I deserve to be here just as much as anyone else.” This is really true, and repeating it helps until you feel like you truly belong there.


If you see someone fitter or thinner than you are, also repeat to yourself, “Everyone starts somewhere.” Those people had to start somewhere when they began their own journeys. Some didn’t need to lose a lot of weight, while others did, and you can’t tell just by looking at them. Keep that in mind whenever you feel intimidated because it’s the truth.

No one is born fit, and certainly no one is born knowing how to use the cardio or weight machines. They all had to learn how to use the gym equipment at some point. So remember, there is likely someone who has been where you are in the gym at any given point. Someone who started when they needed to lose weight or when they needed to build muscle, and are still working on it.


Tip Tuesday- Enjoy Your Journey

The biggest tip I could possibly pass along may actually seem like the simplest:

Enjoy your journey!

This is your journey, and it is so important that you enjoy it as much as you can. The simple part is that in order to enjoy your journey and to keep feeling motivated to continue, all you have to do is find ways to be active that you enjoy doing, and to find healthy (or at least healthier) foods that you enjoy eating.

kaboompics.com_Two apples on the board

Now I’m certain we can all realize that is easier said than done. Sometimes it’s really hard to find things you enjoy doing when you’re building a healthy lifestyle for yourself. My best advice when it’s hard is to experiment and start with the something small. Maybe make a list of things you would like to try or have just never tried before and find interesting, both exercise and food wise. Then give them a try.

Doing a little research beforehand might save you some time and get you off to the right start. I personally love to gather as much information about something as I can without driving myself crazy at the same time, before I delve into an exercise or food. If I don’t do it before, I do it shortly after trying it. Knowledge is power as the saying goes, and it will help you to be prepared so you can get the most out of said exercise or food.

kaboompics.com_Bicycle Handlebar

Another way to enjoy your journey is to realize it is just that, yours. Stop comparing what others are doing to what you’re doing. You have to find what works for you. There is really no one size fits all to weight loss and health. We need to find what works for us individually, things we can stick with long-term. So do things at your own pace, do or don’t do what others are doing, and stick with what works for you.

Lastly, but just as important, is to look for all the positives in each day. From the very beginning I started looking for positives wherever I could. This in no way means that I didn’t feel down or discouraged, because I did and honestly pretty often too. However, I kept searching for the good in my life and in my days. If I couldn’t find anything or I still felt down, I looked forward to the fresh new day that tomorrow would bring. I thought of things I was looking forward to in the near future. It’s tough to retrain our brains to think like that but oh so worth it!

The moral of the story is to find ways to enjoy your journey, make it your own and do your best each day. Keep trying to find what works for you.


Steady Saturday- Keep Moving Forward

Keep moving forward.


That little phrase makes it all seem more simple than it really is, but this is one of my favorite mantras and something I repeat often to others who are also trying to improve their health. It’s a pretty common saying and I’m sure nearly all of us have heard it somewhere at some point.

Why it’s one of my favorite mantras is because it’s right on point. When the going gets tough and I don’t feel like I can move forward, or move at all, I remind myself that all I have to do is keep moving forward. This simple phrase reminds me that it’s all in my power. If I need to take a break, physically or mentally, I do so. If I need to reevaluate my plan, then I do that too. Sometimes I don’t necessarily need to do either and in those case, going through the motions and doing my best to improve my mood helps.


Thinking of the alternative almost always helps in these instances as well, because the alternative is bleak. If I weren’t doing what I’ve been doing for over a year now, I wouldn’t be where I was and if I don’t continue, I will gain the weight back and lose the quality of life I so enjoy.

So whether you’re at the beginning of your journey, the middle, or even the end, remember that these tough times will pass and when they do, you will want to have “kept moving forward.” Your future self will thank you for putting one foot in front of the other no matter what. Like I said I do for myself, even if it just takes going through the motions of healthy living, you will be happier with yourself when things improve again.

The best days are still ahead of you, keep moving toward them no matter what!


Foodie Friday- Delicious and Filling Breakfast

My go-to breakfast for quite a while has been this:

Toast with peanut butter and sliced banana on top. Yum!

Bread: I personally use Aunt Millie’s whole grain white bread because that’s what we always have in the house and it’s healthy and tasty! Two slices have only 100 calories but 5g of protein and 5g fiber. It’s the best kind nutritionally without spending an arm and a leg on each loaf, as we go through bread pretty quickly here.

Peanut butter: usually Great Value creamy peanut butter, which is 90 calories per tablespoon. I use 1.5 tablespoons most of the time.

Then there’s the bananas of course! We usually only have 5-6″ bananas which are 72-90 calories apiece.

The whole breakfast is 325 calories, 10g+ protein, and 5g fiber.

My experience with it, especially accompanied by coffee, is that it keeps me full a minimum of 2-3 hours and sometimes content as long as 4.

It’s also so delicious too! It hits the spot in the morning, and calms my sweet tooth while also being healthy.

Thriving Thursday- The Wonders of Energy

Image source:
Image source:

Our energy is truly the best thing we have to offer ourselves and others. Without it we wouldn’t be able to work, go to school, keep up with our children and other loved ones, keep house, and so much more. Yet it can be so hard to come by for a lot of us.

It seems like no matter what I do, I still feel tired or fatigue on some level each day. This causes me to absolutely relish the times where I have even some significant energy, because it makes me feel so much more alive! I can accomplish so much more and am more efficient, not to mention just feeling happier and more content because feeling more rested is simply amazing!

There are so many factors that affect our energy that I could never even begin to list them all. However, I will list some that I personally have experienced or have observed in others:

  • Sleep, the obvious first culprit. Anything from an issue with not getting enough, to going to sleep too late or too early, and issues with sleep quality.
  • Diet is another issue. Some foods legitimately leave us feeling sluggish. Particularly processed food or foods with a lot of fat/sugar. The sugar rush might be awesome at first but once it wanes, you can come crashing back to the fatigue.
  • Health issues ranging from allergies to chronic illness or pain. These are a real drain on our energy because it takes a lot out of us to deal with these things since our bodies are fighting themselves or other organisms.
  • Weather: too hot or too cold can drain our energy as well since our bodies have to regulate their temperature.
  • Spending time with others and/or not spending enough time with others, depending on which one you thrive on (introvert or extrovert). We need to spend a good amount of time with others, either just enough or more depending on our personal needs.
  • Not spending adequate time in the fresh air and sunshine. Of course there is the good ol’ Vitamin D that we absorb from sunlight, but there is something so special about being outside in the beautiful outdoors, with nature and animals all around us that is so good for our mind, body, and spirit!
Image source: ME :)
Beautiful Nature. Image source: ME!

Now that we know some of reasons why we are so tired, all we need to do is the opposite of what we’ve been doing. Eating a diet rich of foods with healthy carbs such as whole grains and fruits, as well as protein, can provide us with the right amount of fuel. Water ties into diet and drinking more water can also help with our energy. Treating our allergies or other chronic pain and illnesses as much as we can, given what we have access to, can minimize the effect of those on us. Taking advantage of air conditioning and heaters, or fans, can help our bodies regulate temperature without as much work. And spending the right amount of time with others, as well as outdoors in nature, will benefit us all around.

Sounds simple, right? Well, we all know that these things are easier said than done. I’m a total advocate of taking things as slowly as you need to in order to better your health. So take baby steps, slowly add in more whole grains, fruits and veggies, and lean protein. Slowly increase the amount of time you set aside for sleep each night until you’re getting enough. Spend five or ten minutes outdoors if you can’t tolerate more at first.

Image source:
Image source:

Slowly but surely you will get there. You will see increases in your energy. I know when I follow these rules as best as I can, I see such a difference in my energy. With my allergies and joint pain, I know I’ll never be abounding with energy, but I’m going to keep trying to have more energy. Like I mentioned earlier, feeling more rested is an amazing feeling. It’s like a breath of fresh air!


Workout Wednesday- Sidelined by Pain/Injury

empty bus

Injuring yourself or dealing with intense pain and being sidelined because of it can be one of the worst feelings ever. Trust me, I know. My issue isn’t quite bad but I believe it’s possible I have a bone spur as well as an issue with my pinky toe joint on my right foot. Being sidelined, or partially sidelined, by it for the past three months has been really obnoxious and discouraging to say the least. However, I have learned a lot and I’d like to impart that wisdom to you.

When the injury or pain first begins, it is heartbreaking in its own way. We feel like all of our hard work will go down the drain because we can’t exercise like we’re used to. The good news is there are alternatives. It may not be easy to change our methods of exercising, but it is worth it to find something else to do continue to do our best with our goals. Also, focusing on what we can control, especially our nutrition goals can be a great distraction and make us feel like we still have our power.

So what can we do for exercise if we’re injured?

If it’s a leg/foot issue, then turning to swimming or chair exercise are wonderful alternatives. Chair exercise videos, whether it be online, cable On Demand service, or DVDs, are not quite as boring as they sound. I tried this after my foot issue started. If I’d had a proper chair to use I would have continued with it longer. If it’s an impact issue and you can still do weight bearing exercise, an elliptical is another spectacular option. I love that machine because it’s intense yet low impact. I’ve always had a joint problem so I fell in love with the machine when I first used it. Yet another option for leg/foot issues is the stationary bike. They’re not for everyone but try both the recumbent and upright versions. I tried the recumbent bike first and found it boring, but the upright version was so much more interesting and enjoyable.

With arm issues, there are obviously more options as long as you’re careful not to jostle the sore area too much. Walking outside, walking indoors, the elliptical and bike like mentioned above but holding on might be a bit tough, and some others.

Above all else, be creative. Research online and find out what your options are. As far as strength training goes, focus as much the areas not hurting as you can to keep up a routine with those body parts. Keep doing your best and don’t give up. Injuries and pain issues are usually temporary unless it’s chronic pain, even though they sometimes don’t feel like it. You will see the other side of this and you will come out victorious!


Tip Tuesday- How to Deal with Slip-Ups

The inevitable… and discouraging… slip-up.

We all have them and they’re definitely not a new phenomenon. So what do we do when we’re going along, doing our best, and out of nowhere the dreaded slip-up happens?

There’s no one clear-cut approach to this that works for everyone. I’m going to share my philosophy and experiences. Feel free to try this for yourself. If it works for you, great. If not, remember there are other things to try to get yourself back on track.

you haven't quit

When I slip-up I try to do some damage control if at all possible. If  I slip up in the early part of the day, say afternoon or earlier, I do my best to make the rest of my meals and snacks as low in calories as possible without feeling like I’m starving. What this consists of is making it mostly vegetables with small portions of fruit and lean protein on the side, occasionally some whole grains if I can fit them in. Usually this helps me to be in my calorie range, or barely over it. If I slip up in the later part of the day, I apply the same eating method in order to minimize the damage, and I accept that I will still be over calories.

How I deal with the day after a slip-up, whether or not I was able to put that method to use, I might still feel a bit disappointed in myself. One thing I do NOT do is beat myself up about it because it is counterproductive and will only make the problem escalate. I may reflect on what happened and plan how to keep it from happening in the future. The greatest part of a slip-up is the potential to learn and grow from it! It’s valuable knowledge that will help you as you continue your journey.

Healthy eating
Healthy eating

Sometimes we still feel bad after a slip-up, even with damage control or damage minimization. The best and fastest way to make yourself feel better is to make one good healthy or productive choice as soon as possible. Choose a fruit or veggie as a snack, choose to exercise when you might not have otherwise, or do something else active that makes you feel good and raises your spirits. Telling yourself to make just one good choice takes the insane pressure off of you. Trust me, once you make that choice, the pride of your accomplishment makes you feel like you’re going to be okay, and maybe even better than okay.

So learn from it, let it go, and move forward!


Motivation Monday- The “Buddies” of Motivation


As we begin our journeys to lose weight and get healthier, we have motivation in abundance. Everything is so new! We feel like we can do it otherwise we wouldn’t have started. Not to mention, our reasons are fresh on our minds… but slowly motivation starts to wane. Why? Why is that?

It is my opinion that determination is the best buddy of motivation. These two concepts are so closely tied together that they feed off of each other. Motivation is our reasons and desire to do what we’re doing, and determination is our strength in that desire. These two together provide that fire within us to move forward when the going gets tough.

boy jumping in sunset

Another aspect that also ties in is willpower, simply us taking the control of our urges as well as what we do, basically practicing self-control. Sometimes this is hard, others it is easy. We have to believe we have the strength in us to put this willpower to use. Weighing our options against our reasons for losing weight and making the best decision for us is the best way to do this. The more you practice self-control, the easier it will be to employ it.

No one said this journey would be easy, but these three components are very important. Motivation can be consistently kept by setting yourself deeply into your purpose and by practicing self-control at every opportunity. It almost sounds like a recipe, doesn’t it? A recipe for success! Keep putting these things to use and simply practicing them each day.


Sharing Sunday- My First Race Experience

Beautiful trees on the trail.
Beautiful trees on the trail.

In preparation for the half marathon I’m registered for in May 2016, I wanted to do a 5K race in August and a 10K race in November. So first I signed up for a 5K race near me happening on August 15th. Originally I had signed up for the run, but as the race rapidly grew closer, the minor foot issue I had going on wasn’t healing like I thought it would. This meant that I had to switch over to the 2 mile walk at the race event instead.

Understandably, I was horribly disappointed. In fact, for the few days leading up to the race I almost decided to just forget it altogether. It had been a rough and busy week for me and I was so tired, which in turn made it easier to feel down about not being able to actually run the 5K.

However, the side of me that desperately wanted to see what a race was all about eventually won out and I went! I’m super thankful that my realistic side convinced me to go! Upon arriving, first I checked in at the registration table and collected my race gear: a race bib with my number on it, a shirt with the race name on it, and my race packet with some goodies in it. I was so proud of the tee shirt that I put it on over the tee shirt I wore there right away. Then one of the registration ladies helped me pin the bib to it.

Me all ready to walk!
Me all ready to walk!

There I was, all set to go and full of excitement and nerves! Once it was time, I started out slow. I was warming up and also a bit cautious, unsure how races played out. They had told us that there would be volunteers directing us along the way so I looked out for them. Soon I was in the zone and fully enjoying the experience. I never walk fast but amazingly, even walking on a trail which I was nowhere used to, I managed to keep a good pace of 19 minutes per mile for the 1.75 mile walk. That is my fastest walking pace and I was ecstatic to have done that after not walking outside much in the previous two months.

Tranquil stream flowing under a bridge on the trail, so pretty I had to take a picture!
Tranquil stream flowing under a bridge on the trail, so pretty I had to take a picture!

My first race experience was a far cry from what I thought and always imagined it would be, but it was very pleasant and enjoyable. It really left a positive imprint on my mind and I can’t wait for more in my future. I’m hoping next year I will be able to do the actual 5K run for this race. The possibilities truly are endless. All you have to do is dream, plan, and believe in yourself! Have you ever thought about signing up for a walk or a run? Go for it! Enjoy every step of training and completing it. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it certainly is rewarding!


Steady Saturday- Baby Steps

As we set out to lose weight or pursue a dream of ours, we want everything to happen now. So we jump in and start off at a run to reach our goals. The thing is though, when we start out at a run instead of taking things slow, we sabotage ourselves. A lot of us have this “all or nothing” mentality that works against us… unless we can learn how to move past it.


My suggestion to all of you is to start slow, start small. Remember the saying “Slow and steady wins the race.” Yes, it’s really true. When you begin your weight loss journey, starting out small and slow and building your way up is the best way to go.

One way to go about this is to start with a moderate exercise form. Like I mentioned in this blog, walking is a great start out exercise. You can set how far you want to go or how much time you want to walk, and adjust as time permits. You can also vary your routes and times of day you go to keep things fresh. The sunlight in the morning feels and looks different than in the evening, and both are amazing to experience while taking a tranquil but brisk-paced walk. Varying your routes will ensure that you don’t get bored of the same scenery as fast.

Some of the other exercises that fit the bill include riding a bike whether it be stationary or an actual bicycle, swimming, dancing, hiking, and some cardio machines. Anything that allows you to customize in some shape or form so you can start out slow, is a good exercise. Be aware of your own limitations if you have some sort of physical issue and adjust your first workouts accordingly.

Besides exercising, we also need to take baby steps with our nutrition. Setting small goals that we feel are doable will carry us farther than setting goals that are too big or take too long to reach. Maybe instead of jumping right in with the “5 a day” rule of fruits and vegetables, you could set a goal to have three a day at first. Or you could just break it down throughout the day and tell yourself “I will have a fruit or a vegetable with each meal and snack.” That makes the goal seem that much more achievable. If you don’t do it or don’t reach the goal, keep trying. None of us achieves all of our goals everyday at first and even later on too. It’s all a process. Other nutrition goals work the same way, start small and work your way up.


I personally have a joint problem that affects all of my joints as well as my neck, ribs, and back. So I started out with walking as I’ve mentioned, and worked my way up with both that and walking indoors with videos. It helped me a lot to start out like this. With my nutrition, I set a 3 a day goal for myself, and some days still struggle with it. Other days I get 5+ a day. It depends. I do my best though and continue to learn how to make this work for myself.