Heavy vs. Healthy

So, I recently found Melissa Toler’s blog, and I was totally on fire, while reading her posts. I can agree with so much of what she shares!

However, she got me to thinking about what I believe, and where I stand, as someone who is working on becoming a “Health & Wellness Coach“.

Heavy vs. Healthy | My problem with HAES & Body Positivity | Life, Unleashed

In one of her posts, Melissa stated, “It’s okay to be fat!” What I think she meant to say, however, was “it’s okay to have a bigger body than what society considers ‘ideal'”. Otherwise, I’d have to disagree with her statement. Here’s why…

If someone has a good amount of “fat” on their body, generally they have some unhealthy habits … and those habits can lead to other health issues (heart disease, Diabetes, etc.). Therefore, it would be wise for those people to learn how to take better care of themselves.

And yet, I also believe that, if you are taking care of yourself by eating well and moving regularly, then yes, it is totally fine to have a body that is bigger than what society would tell you is “ideal” (who says society gets to make the rules, anyway? Am I right?! )

My belief is also that you need to find what works for you, in regards to eating, exercise, and just maintaining your health. It doesn’t have to be complicated — heck, it shouldn’t be complicated!

It’s about taking care of yourself so that you feel good, and can enjoy your life … but not to the extent that this completely overtakes your life, and is all you ever think about. It shouldn’t be causing you to completely obsess.

There are FAR MORE IMPORTANT things in life than weight loss, or how we look.

This also got me to researching more about the “health at every size” (HAES) movement. And, while I agree with a few of its tenets, there are more that I disagree with. Just the title, alone, is all wrong… but, I think they mean well.

What I believe is meant by this title — and maybe by the whole movement — is that women can be beautiful at every size. And, that –to me– is far more accurate. No one can judge someone else based on their size alone (though, sadly, many try). Thin doesn’t necessarily equal “healthy”, just as heavy doesn’t necessarily equal “unhealthy”. Our appearance doesn’t equal our state of health.

My feelings are similar, in regards to the whole “body positivity” movement, as well.

It’s totally a good thing to love yourself, no matter your weight or size!  But (and maybe I’m misunderstanding it, here), to completely ignore the need to eat healthy & move regularly while saying, “I love myself, just how I am!” — that’s not right. You are not loving yourself if you aren’t doing what has been proven to help one maintain good health. You are not truly loving yourself by allowing your body to go to waste in order to prove a point to the powers that be (or, just to those in your circles who may have offended you at some point).

There is no one-size-fits-all method … we all have to find what works for us, personally … and then let go of the “shoulds”. We need to stop apologizing for who we are, and for what we feel is right for us.

Again, my point is solely that you can maintain good health habits without having to become all obsessive about them. I believe that it truly is important to pay attention to our health, and to practice those things that will enable us to live life to the fullest. God calls us to be good stewards of what we’re given — including the bodies we live in, given to us so that we can do His work, here on earth.

After all, we can’t fulfill our purpose (our calling) if we can’t even get our butts off the couch! ;)

 

Practicing Simple Health

If you’ve ever had excess weight to lose, and have started looking for help in this area, you know that there are more than enough gurus out there, willing to tell you how you should do it. A lot of it tends to be very conflicting, too. Do you go low carb, or low protein? Should you eat three meals a day, or six smaller ones? Paleo? Keto? Intermittent Fasting? It’ll make your head spin!

 

practicing simple healthBack in 2005, I found a method called “mindful eating” (also known as “intuitive eating”). And, in putting its principles into practice, I easily dropped twenty-five pounds in just six months. It is the only thing that has worked for me, thus far.

Prior to this, I’d tried other methods, only to give each one up after anywhere from two days to three weeks. I tried Bob Green’s ‘Make the Connection‘ diet, Weight Watchers, First Place for Health, following diabetic exchanges (even though I’m not Diabetic), and others. Nothing worked … until I found intuitive eating.

That’s the thing, though — and I believe it more and more, with each passing day: You have to find what works FOR YOU.

We are all different, with different tastes and preferences, and circumstances that are unique to each of our lives. So it makes sense, then, that no one method or plan is going to fit every single person … at least not in the same way.

After gaining back the weight I’d lost in 2005, and spending the next twelve years frustrated by my inability to repeat that previous success, I realized that I was very tired of chasing the “quick fix” (which doesn’t exist, anyway!). I was tired of trying various other methods, or attempting to add “rules” to the intuitive eating method in order to get it to work for me (again).

I determined to let go of all of the extras, get back to basics, and start practicing what I call “simple health”.

Simple Health, to me, means doing what I know works for me, using the resources I’ve already found and loved, and not making things any more complicated than they need to be.

I know, for example, from my years of trying various things, that I love:

• eating according to the mindful eating method

• walking on my treadmill -or- going to the gym -or- using my Walk Away the Pounds DVDs
(all of which are my preferred methods for exercise)

• having one or two good friends that check in on me, from time to time, to keep me accountable to my goals

• weighing myself only once a week, first thing in the morning

Now, these are just the basics of what works for me… there are other things I take into consideration (like the fact that our bodies –especially as we age– are always changing, and so we need to adapt our methods to go with those changes). I believe we always need to be learning, so I might test out several other things, in addition to these basic, simple practices that I already know work for me. Yet, if I do nothing else, I will –at the bare minimum– maintain my health through these simple things. They are my non-negotiables.

Intuitive Eating encourages us to eat and drink the food and beverages our body enjoys. Mind you, as I’ve been accustomed to eating processed and sugary foods 98% of the time, choosing those things is obviously not the most beneficial way for me to feed my body. As such, I have to use some common sense, and work to train myself to enjoy the healthier options.

Where this becomes problematic for most dieters (and I, too, fall prey to it) is turning this into some kind of hard-and-fast “rule”. For example: “I cannot have any processed or sugary foods ever again!” That is a recipe ((grins)) for disaster!

Related image

Instead, I can choose to start by substituting a meal or two per week — swapping out the processed foods for homemade or real-food options. Then, I can add in one new “from scratch” recipe every week (or even, every other week), to slowly train my tastebuds, and adjust to my new “normal”. At the same time, I can also just not buy a lot of the sugary snacks any more. Much as I’m allowed to have them, I can tell myself that I am choosing not to, because my bigger desire — the longer-term one — is to get my body healthy {see 1 Corinthians 6:12}.

This is also where it helps to really know why I want to be healthy.

My own “why” is so that I can enjoy life to the fullest, and still be capable of fulfilling my God-given purpose, even into my senior years. I don’t want to end up with any obesity-related health issues, like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, dementia, etc. I don’t want poor health to slow me down, or age me prematurely! Instead, I want to enjoy all of the years God chooses to bless me with!

So, I’m choosing to practice simple health in 2018 and beyond. And, you’re invited to join me, if you wish! {Start with a 30-minute Kickstart Session!} I have a free Facebook community, too, where I offer ongoing support & accountability.

Let’s not let the devil continue to steal our futures by keeping us weighed down (literally!). Let’s take back our health & enjoy life to the fullest!

Unfollowing

Doesn’t it drive you crazy when a friend or family member suddenly gets on a health-kick, and starts putting their running log and/or sweaty selfies all over Facebook? You think to yourself, “Well, gee, good for you… but I don’t want to see that!” So {click}… you unfollow them.

Unfollowing | Life, Unleashed

Five years ago, I did just that — I’d unfollow anyone who was working on bettering themselves and sharing their progress on social media. Why? Because it reminded me of how much I, myself, wasn’t doing in my own life. It highlighted the truth and my weaknesses, and that made me uncomfortable. So, it was easier to unfollow these people than it was to face my own issues.

Something funny happened, though. Much as I no longer followed these people, the “seed” had already been planted. While I didn’t see the connection, in the midst of things, I did go on to work on my own issues — my own health, and mindset — and got to a place where I was ready to seek out those who could push me. Now, instead of being repelled, I was being drawn to those who were working on bettering themselves because they inspired me to want more for myself.

In April 2016, I’d done a lot of work on renewing my mindset, and was ready to get my body healthy, too. So, I signed myself up for a gym membership. I told myself, “Enough is enough” — I was done being a “victim” in my life, and was ready to become the strong, confident, healthy woman I knew I was created to be.

At the same time, an acquaintance of mine –Sarah– had also been struggling to get healthy, and had made the decision to do something about it. She shared on Facebook about how she’d chosen to sign up as a health coach, so that she’d have the built-in accountability of being an example to others, and to have the possibility of making a bit of side income while doing so.

Over the course of the following year, I continued to go to the gym 2x/week to work on building up my strength, and Sarah worked out at home, using her online fitness workouts. I didn’t lose much weight (since I was still overeating how I’d always done), and Sarah was steadily dropping pounds and inches (since she’d also started clean eating, along with her workouts).

As of April 2017, Sarah had built a team of others who were now also working out and eating better consistently, and she was earning a decent amount of income from this part-time business (despite the fact that she’s a mom of 3 who was working full-time, and going to school full-time, all while managing her household!). She’d dropped 30+ pounds, too! I couldn’t just sit by any longer. If she could do it, so could I… so I became a coach, too!

Sarah’s transformation

Honestly, I’m two months in, as of this writing, but I love it! The other coaches are all so positive and upbeat, and the company’s leaders are heart-centered business people, focused on ending the trend of obesity, through helping people live healthier, more fulfilling lives. There’s a service mindset that runs throughout the entire organization, and I am proud to be a part of this.

Wanna know something funny, though? Sarah likes to tell the story of how she, herself, at one point, had unfollowed her friend, Rosa — who later became the person that inspired Sarah to become a coach! It took three years of following (and unfollowing) Rosa, for Sarah to finally be ready to make the decision to invest in her health. The seed had been planted, though.

I believe we all have to go through our own process of working on our mindset and the other inner demons that hold us back. We all have the ability to transform our lives… but we have to believe that it’s possible, and we have to find the method that works best for us.

I thought I could do it on my own. I was wrong. I needed the accountability, just as much as anyone else.

Now I’m working on paying it forward, while I continue to work on myself.

And you can do the same!

The Best Version of You

What would the best version of you — and your life — look like? Have you ever given that any serious thought?

Becoming the Best Version of You | Life, Unleashed

Most of us have at least one area of our lives that we would like to change (if not many). Consider the following areas:

  1. health
  2. relationships (love)
  3. work
  4. spirituality
  5. finances
  6. leisure
  7. shelter
  8. friends/family

What is ONE thing you’d like to change (or, upgrade) in just one of those areas? Better yet, what is one change you’d like to make in each of those areas, in order to get you closer to what you feel is the “best version” of yourself and your life?

My own list looks something like this:

  • Health: Delete 70 lbs (’cause I don’t plan on getting those excess pounds back!)
  • Relationship: Have more patience
  • Work: Be more consistent
  • Spirituality: Take time out, daily, to chat with the Lord
  • Finances: Build up savings, so that we have security
  • Leisure: Travel, and go out on dates more often
  • Shelter: Move to a bigger house (we’ve outgrown this one)
  • Friends/Family: Reach out, keep in touch more, be more involved

Does thinking about all of those changes make you feel overwhelmed? It does for me! Thankfully, though, I’m learning that it is actually better not to make all of those changes all at once! Sure, I’d love to change it all in one go so that I can more quickly attain that “best me”. The problem is, when we try to do too much at once, we overwhelm ourselves, and we give up. Then we stew over it for a while, before deciding we still really want to change… and the cycle repeats.

There’s a better way.

Think about which area of your life, if you were to change it, would have the greatest impact on your well-being, overall… taking care of this one thing would make it easier, later on, to handle the changes in the other areas of your life.

For example, let’s say you choose health. Now, what is one tiny change you could make in your health — something so small that you’d barely notice the change — that you could do consistently? Maybe it’s doing some stretches every morning while waiting for your coffee to brew. You add that in, and practice it for a month. At the end of the month, you just stretch every morning, without even thinking about it — it has become part of your routine. BUT… you also start to notice that you’ve felt a bit more flexible, and have a tiny bit less pain… which, in turn, has enabled you to get a little more done most days than you used to. Hmm… And, all because you made one teensy, positive change to your health!

Darren Hardy calls this “The Compound Effect” (it’s also known as “kaizen” — practicing small, consistent efforts, over time, to get big results).

To continue our example: Now it’s month two… you pick a second area, or thing, to work on… maybe it’s your work. Again, you’re going to find one tiny, almost unnoticeable thing that you can change that –with consistent practice, over time– could produce some big results. Maybe you choose to, every morning, decide on the top three things that will have the best results for the day, and you focus on getting just those three things done. You write them down, determined to keep it to just three things — the most critical things. Then you work at those things first, before anything else you do that day, and without distraction.

At the end of month two, you’re thriving in your work, having accomplished more in the past four weeks than you did in the past year overall, and you’re still feeling good at the end of each work day, because you’re still stretching every morning (your habit from month one). And, you’re not as overwhelmed by all the undone tasks that used to loom over you from your habit of putting more on your to-do list than was realistically possible.

Now you’re on a roll!

Hunter S Thompson quote | Life, UnleashedSo, in month three, you pick another tiny change to focus on. And, at the end of the year, you have built 12 new, positive habits, your life looks radically different than it did 12 months ago, and your spirits are lifted because you are finally making progress in your life (toward living your ideal/best life) instead of constantly self-sabotaging, and getting stuck in a cycle of frustration and overwhelm. Whoohoo!

See, it is completely possible to change your life — just not all at once.

And, of course, it always helps to have someone who can hold you accountable to these changes you’re making… someone to turn to when you’re having a rough day, and finding it tempting to revert back to your old patterns. An accountability partner can encourage you, and remind you of why you wanted to make these changes in the first place. They can help you see past the bad day, and shine a light through the darkness.

Part of what I do, as a healthy living coach and mentor, is provide you with that accountability. I can email you once a week (or, on whatever schedule works best for you), to ask how things are going, and help you to keep moving forward. If that sounds like something you need, shoot me an email, and we’ll go over the details.

Life is too short for us to put off living our BEST life. It’s never too late to start making changes… you just have to be willing to take that first step. And I can help. ;)

How Can I Be a Health Coach?

I don’t look like a “health coach”… I barely act like a health coach (yet). So, why do I call myself a Health Coach? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?

Health Coach? | Life, Unleashed

These are the thoughts that run through my head. But, to answer all of the above…

(1) I deeply care about the health & well-being of others, and want to help them (you!), learn what I have learned –and am still learning– about eating, exercise, and mental health

(2) I am a Health Coach because I am actively working on improving my own health and well-being, while I work to “pay-it-forward” and help you to improve yours.

The way I see it, I’m walking this path ALONGSIDE those I’m helping, fully able to relate to and understand where you are at.

I can sympathize with my clients, because I have (& have had) the same kinds of struggles.

However, I have also learned a lot about how to overcome the challenges and obstacles that get in the way of us becoming our healthiest & best selves, and I am passionate about teaching these things to those who are willing to join me (while I continue to practice these things, myself!).

So, yes… I am a Health Coach. I help women (and men, if any choose), to become & own who they were created to be, through health, faith, and fun, by working together to design a plan that is simple & unique to them.

Wanna join me?

Refusing Average

I’m not great at consistency. I admit that. But I am definitely working on improving that.

I’ve also never been one that’s comfortable with sharing about my day to day life with everyone — mostly because it just feels boring… too “normal” or “average”.

refusing average | Life, Unleashed

But you know what? My everyday is UNIQUE to me … and that’s what makes it something that has the potential to be interesting to others. We all love stories, right? We enjoy knowing we aren’t alone … that there are others out there who live “normal” lives, too.

However, I refuse to let my life be “AVERAGE”. For far too long, I’ve settled for just that … even though, deep within, I’ve had the fire to take my life to a totally different level!

I have this vision of an adventurous life … one where I’m living with curiosity, and awe, and wonder … treating each day as the GIFT that it truly is. I want more than just “average” … I want FUN! I want ADVENTURE! I want to live with creativity and boldness and persistence!

So I’m working on coming out of my shell … I’m working on leveling up the various aspects of my life. And I’d be happy to have you join me, if you want! I believe it’s available to all of us … this adventurous life. Don’t settle, people… God gave us this great, big planet full of amazing things to see and do … and people to get to know and interact with!

Let’s make the most of our time here!

Hunter S Thompson quote | Life, Unleashed

On Nerds and Nourishment

Have you heard of Nerd Fitness? I talked about it a bit, when I reviewed the book, “Level Up Your Life” by founder, Steve Kamb. Recently, Steve and his NF team have created a new add-on program called, “Rising Heroes“, which is story-driven. And I’m even more enthralled!

On Nerds & Nourishment | Life, Unleashed

When I first discovered Steve’s Nerd Fitness site (via his book), I immediately connected to his concept of “The Rebellion“. And, after reading the book, I created my very own avatar named Ember-Leigh.

Now, I’ve never been a “gamer”, so some of the concepts in NF go a bit over my head (I had to ask my 18 yr old son what a “boss battle” was. LOL). However, I’m just “nerd” enough that I love watching Marvel movies & the DC comics ones, as well as shows like “The Flash” and other action-adventure films, so I’m able to understand the general idea behind “Game Theory“. And, of course, being a Writer means I love all things “story”… so, creating a “world” for my alter-ego/avatar came somewhat easily.

So far, this is the story I’ve created for my avatar, Ember-Leigh:

To my people, I am princess Ember-Leigh, a WARRIOR in the King’s army. Currently, I am in an enemy prison camp — I was tricked & drugged, then taken captive by the Resistance.

While imprisoned, I am secretly training, and preparing strategies to overthrow the Enemy & his Resistance once I’m free.

I am writing “letters” to my people [in the from of blog posts], encouraging them and training them, in hopes that they will side with me as my Allies in the battle we all know is coming. We must be prepared — physically, mentally, and spiritually!

I’ve had an Ally here, behind enemy lines, who has been delivering my messages to my brother, the Prince, as well as the letters to my people. The Prince is working, behind the scenes, to prepare for my rescue. He says He has a plan, so I am counting on Him!

To help you understand where I’m going with all of that, here’s a little key:

• the King = God

• the Prince = Jesus

• the Enemy & Resistance = Satan & his minions
(as well as anyone who would thwart me)

• “prison” = current circumstances

• “rescue” = God’s plan to redeem my circumstances

I also view my avatar, Ember-Leigh, as being a mix of the following other characters:

  • Marvel’s Black Widow (for her figure, strength, & agility)
  • Marvel’s Hawkeye (for his laser-focus & archery skills)
  • the guy from “Limitless” (for his super-brain, thanks to NZT)
  • DC’s Elektra (for her skills, confidence, & strength)

Lastly, I borrowed my avatar’s name, somewhat, from one of my favorite television series’, “The Shannara Chronicles“. The main character is Princess Amberle… whose name I borrowed and changed to Ember-Leigh, as “ember” makes me think of sparks & fire (“Leigh” was added, as “Ember”, alone, didn’t give the right “feel”).

Fun, right?

While I haven’t joined the “Rising Heroes” program (yet), due to lack of funds, I’m seriously considering doing so. My gym membership contract is done at the end of March 2017, so I’m debating whether I will renew that, or sign up for Rising Heroes and create my own at-home routines. The biggest thing holding me back, at the moment, is the question, “Will I stick with the workouts, if I quit the gym?

It used to be that I could do okay with my at-home workouts for a while, but then I’d revert to my laziness & excuses, again. Of course, that was before I had a mindset shift, and before I joined the gym. Having the gym membership has helped, as I can’t afford to be spending money on something I’m not using, and I have liked being in the atmosphere where others are also working on their health — I enjoy being around others who share similar goals.

So yeah, the idea of doing my workouts alone, at home, makes me worry that I won’t stick with it.

You could always rejoin the gym,” you say. But no, that’s not necessarily true. To re-join (if I quit when my contract is up) will have me paying the sign-up fee, again, which is $100, and, I don’t always have that kind of money. So, that’s a risk I’d be taking if I give up my gym membership.

However, I wonder if the “fun” aspect of “Rising Heroes” would be enough to keep me motivated? In their program, when you complete the daily “missions”, you earn points that help out the faction you’ve been placed in, and that, in turn, helps to move the story forward. So, in essence, you don’t want to let your team (your “faction”) down!

I guess, in the end run, I won’t know if this will be enough, or if I’ll stick with things, unless I try it, right? It’s a risk I’ll just have to take, if I want to find out!

nourishment | Life, Unleashed

On a similar note, I’ve been thinking about my goals for this year — one of which is to lose release my excess weight, and another which is to eat healthier, less processed foods. And I keep coming across this concept: To think about how you relate to food, and to question (and renew) your mindset in regards to eating.

Now, if you’ve looked around this site at all, you know that MINDSET is a key concept here… it’s one of the four foundational principles {mindset, choices, perspective, & daily practices}. So, of course, this question (above) jumped out at me, with my thoughts of changing my eating habits.

After writing out the negative ways in which I relate to food (eg. eating out of boredom; reaching for “comfort foods” of Coca-Cola & chocolate), I decided to make another list based on NOURISHMENT, as that’s what I want food to be, for me. Here’s what I came up with (keeping in mind that I’m focusing on real, whole foods as close to their natural state as possible, when considering what foods are “nourishing”):

True Nourishment | Life, Unleashed

(and yep, I made it into an image so that you can print a copy, or save it to Pinterest!)

I will break each of these things down in more detail in my next post. But for now, this is what I will be choosing to concentrate on, in regards to my eating, in 2017.

Your turn... | Life, UnleashedDo you do better working out with others (eg. at the gym), or alone? OR, if you don’t yet make the time to workout, what’s holding you back?

ALSO: I’d love to hear your thoughts on my “True Nourishment” list!