Saturday, December 14, 2013

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Hi Everyone,

How are you holding up during the holidays?  I'm staying down more than usual because of a recent foot surgery.  It has given me time to ponder, which is related to today's post topic. 

I recently saw a graphic about how a person needs to get out of his/her comfort zone in order to grow as a person.  It motivated me to dig a little deeper into the topic.  So many people talk about things they'd like to do, but don't go ahead and try new things because they would be leaving a place where they have mental security.  But, as one person said:  "If you want something you've never had, then you've got to do something you've never done."

Here's another quote:  "Our habits are the fence lining our comfort zone."  Are we afraid of change? It is a well-known fact that when change happens, things usually get worse before they get better.  Most of us don't want to go through that discomfort.  People should be more optimistic and think about the exciting results that might just happen if they allow themselves to try something new.  Perhaps baby steps are in order. Before you try something like bungee jumping, why not try volunteering?  Traveling alone?  Taking a class on something you've always wanted to learn about? If we practice stepping out of our comfort zone, then each time it will feel better---kind of like building up resiliency to change.

Here are a few graphics I found in my search:

That's all for now, folks.  Just remember the old saying:  "If you always do what you always did, then you'll always get what you always got."  I shall now go forth and try to follow my own advice.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season,

Mary R.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Being Motivated By Others

Hi Everyone,

Are you gearing up for the holidays?  Where does time go? Since it flies by so fast, I want to make the most of every day and every thing, don't you?

I recently made the most of an idea I saw on someone else's blog.  Katie, a very energetic and positive Canadian gal  at  always writes about working out to Leslie Sansone's exercise tapes.  Tapes, schmapes.  (I made up that last word.)  I never was one to get excited over exercise tapes.  But, then recently she mentioned that she came home one day to see her husband working out to one of the tapes! Now, that piqued my interest, and I ordered one of Leslie's tapes.  It's called, Belly Blasting Walk.  Today I tried the tape, and was really pleased with it.  For one thing, it's mostly walking, and Leslie makes sure the beats per minute in the music are fast enough that you are at a 15 minute mile pace, which is 4.0 miles per hour on the treadmill.  It's better than a treadmill walk, however, because you're using your arms much more, lifting your knees, and even doing some squats, (good, but ugh!).  After the two mile walk there are two more segments, one that works on the core muscles, and one that works on the arms and gluts, (aka the butt muscles).  I was so tickled, that I put the tape back on and did the first mile again!  You know those rainy days when you just want to stay inside?  Well, here's my answer--a Leslie Sansone walking tape!

Have you been motivated by someone else's example?  I bet you have, and I bet each one of us has motivated several people, in a variety of ways. Anyway, here are a few more things to ponder:

*First up is a tip from Weight Watchers International.  If many of your meals are in restaurants, try to keep a mental hold on ordering too much food, or the wrong food choices with this strategy: Make conscience good food choices if you are eating out just because you need to have the meal. (You know, dressing on the side; substitute steamed vegetables; lean protein;  yada, yada, yada.) Save any splurges for those special dining occasions- birthdays, holidays, etc.  This strategy can really save you from adding extra pounds because you are thinking ahead about how you approach each meal.

*Consider making this healthy rule for yourself:  Never step out without sun protection. Keep it next to your toothbrush. 

*It's important to at least go for walks or take a class that has you bouncing a bit.  Why?  Once you hit 30, your bones stop accumulating calcium.  Weight-bearing exercise is required to keep bones strong.  Putting weight on a bone makes it recruit calcium in order to build itself back up. So, just swimming and biking isn't enough for me, as far as what I do for cardio workouts, even with the bad hips.
*Other vitamins and minerals are important in building healthy bones:  Vitamin D to help absorb calcium, (think salmon, shrimp, D-fortified milk and orange juice); Vitamin K to enable certain bone-forming proteins do what needs to be done, (think kale, broccoli, Swiss chard and spinach); and potassium, which scientists think might help neutralize acids that suck the calcium out of your body, (think sweet potato, white potato, nonfat yogurt and bananas). 

That's all folks!  Be well!  Enjoy the holiday season.

Mary R.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Talking to Strangers.

The other day I was at the gym, and had just finished a wonderful workout in the warm pool, basically treading water for thirty minutes.  I had decided to take that route as opposed to putting on goggles and swimming a mile in the colder pool.  Not only does it take more motivation to jump into a cold pool, but I  didn't want what I call "raccoon eyes" from the goggles.

In the locker room, this gal who had just finished swimming laps said, "Isn't swimming just the best way to start your day?"
I told her I was proud of her for swimming the laps and explained to her why I chose not to wear the goggles and do the same.  She said, "I know what you mean, but I don't have to look at myself, and I know how good it makes me feel inside.  Besides, who cares what others might think?  At least I got in a workout before I started my day, and besides, if the ship goes down, I'm the one surviving!"

That was great.   I'm glad I had that interaction with her, and will use her rationale the next time I try talking myself out of swimming laps.  Plus, her enthusiasm was contagious. 

Now, onto some healthful information:
*This is on the wall at my gym:  "No amount of exercise can replace poor nutrition."   From everything I've read, that is so true.  Diet trumps exercise.  But, a good diet, and the right amount of exercise is the perfect combo, of course.

*I knew drinking green tea was healthful, but this seems pretty amazing:  Women can lower their risk of breast cancer by 28% when they drink two or more cups of green tea a day. --The Journal of Nutrition

*Think of exercise as a love affair with your future.  As in any love affair, you need to find the time that it requires to make it work.

*Have you ever wondered how long it takes to start losing muscle after you stop working out perhaps because of an injury or illness?  "Muscle strength starts to decrease after about two weeks, and you'll feel and see a difference within 6 weeks.  Change in tone is noticeable first in smaller muscles, like your arms and abs.  The good news: Even if you take a few weeks off from working out, you can regain the benefits of strength training at least twice as fast as if you would have never exercised." -Carol Espel, MS, fitness expert

I hope this finds you all feeling well and happy.  Have you ever had a fun and motivating conversation with a complete stranger?

Mary R.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Feeling Anxious

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I'm feeling very anxious. I only have to go to bed 4 more times, before the doctor hopefully releases me to begin physical therapy, drive, and who knows what else.  I'm hoping he'll let me drop-kick my crutches, or at least go from two crutches to one.  Wish me luck!  The last time I drove was July 1, 2013.

This all reminds me of one of the beauties of life--simple pleasures, which I have blogged about before.  I absolutely can't wait to get back into a swimming pool; the bathtub; and the seat belt on the driver's side of my car.  It will be such a natural high just to be able to drive myself wherever and whenever I want; to hit a ping pong ball; and to enter the gym.  I hope I never take these things for granted again, and that this experience continues to help me feel empathy for others in far worse situations.

Here are a few interesting wellness facts:

*If you have an 'apple' figure as compared to a 'pear' shape, the apple figure is more dangerous health-wise, and here's why:  Abdominal fat is metabolized differently than the fat that is stored in our hips and thighs.  It is so interesting to learn that the less active fat stored on the hips and thighs serves as a fat storage area for making milk when lactating! No wonder you don't see guys with saddlebags!  The fat in the abdominal area is active and more readily released into the blood stream.  Unfortunately that means that it can clog arteries, and enter the liver as well.  When it is in the liver, it interrupts the body's ability to get rid of insulin.  With more insulin in the blood comes the chance of having higher blood pressure.  Next time I look in the mirror, I'm going to be more thankful for my pear shape.

*You've heard the saying:  Muscle weighs more than fat.  And, that's silly.  A pound is a pound.  Here's a more clear explanation:  A pound of fat fills up three to four times the amount of space that a pound of muscles does.  That's why two people can be the same height and weight and look either lean and toned, or flabby and out of shape.  Does that make you want to lift some weights or do some pushups?  I hope so.

Have a great day, and enjoy your freedom to do as you please.  I know I will.........................after I slumber four more times. YIPPEE!

Mary R.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Catching Up

Hi Everyone.  Most of you know that I actually had to have another surgery since my last post.  There was a break in the femur, so they had to go back in and put in a plate and cables, to try to hold everything in place.  Because of that, my down time and my restrictions have increased.  So, my patience has been further tested.  Could be worse, right?  I don't have to look very far to see someone going through more than I have had to endure.  Besides, instead of just finishing my book, now I'm going to have enough time to make it a best seller!  Instead of simply practicing the piano more often, I'm training to be a concert pianist!  (I wish.)

Seriously, what I've noticed more than anything is how my experience has unfortunately affected the lives of people I am close to.  That makes me sad.  My grandchildren and I  haven't been able to go swimming or spend the night together.  My sweetheart and I haven't been able to go on walks, or take mini vacations.  My table tennis partner is going through pong withdrawals.  Those are just a few examples.

The other thing I've noticed is just how incredibly helpful my family and close friends have been throughout this process.  I'm so lucky to have such a fantastic support system. 

Here are a few interesting thoughts I'd like to share:

*When you buy 2% milk, it doesn't mean that it is 2% fat.  It actually is 38% fat.  What it means is that the milk is 2% fat by weight.  So, if you have a high blood cholesterol level, it's best to stick to skim or 1% milk.

*When you look at a food label, keep this in mind:  The more ingredients that are listed, the greater chance that the food has visited a processing plant.

*The participants in the National Weight Control Registry that shed an average of 50 pounds, and managed to keep the weight off for many years had these three things in common:  They ate 5 times a day, on average;  they moved regularly;  and they didn't skip meals, especially breakfast.

*I love Self Magazine.  Lately they've been putting a page in at the end of their issues that consists of a beautiful photo plus a deep thought.  Here's one that I copied recently, titled A Freeing Idea.

What would it feel like to let go of every negative thought about your body?  Try it:  Worship your legs for taking you on adventures, adore your abs for allowing you to lean into life, love your smile for revealing the joy in your heart.  Live as if your body were perfect, not only because you'll be more open to the world, but because in every way that truly matters, it is.

The accompanying photo was (the backside) of a naked woman  with outstretched arms, standing on a large rock in the middle of  a large body of water. Try to imagine yourself doing the same, as you read the passage again.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!  Go ahead and exercise a little extra this week, and dedicate that workout to me!  Your body will thank you, and I'll appreciate it too!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again

Hi Everyone,

Well, I'm back at it again, 5 days post surgery.  I'm amazed, if I do say so myself, that I'm doing so well, since this was a revision of a recalled product, and therefore they had to really dig around the old prosthesis  to get it out.  Yup, I'm getting around just fine, putting only about 1/3rd of my weight on the operative leg, and doing the prescribed exercises, until my two week post-surgery appointment.  At that time I'll learn if I have to keep up the same routine, or if I can put even more weight on my leg.  My sister Jackie is my (excellent) caretaker, and many other family members, plus friends, have been helping me out as well.  It's hard to keep someone with a type A personality down, but I'm managing to stay down, and hope to do a lot of work on my book "that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend..."

Because of that last statement, I shall close for now, but not without a few wellness tips:
*If you challenge yourself by entering an athletic contest, a 5K run/walk for example, and you come in last, that's OK.  You beat everyone who stayed home that day!  Plus, you have a baseline time for yourself, for that distance, and can try to improve your time next year, when you enter that same contest again!

*Some people have a hard time motivating themselves to get out the door to work out. Just remember, you've probably never said this to yourself after completing a workout: That was a total waste of time.

*Popcorn is one of my favorite foods.  That's why I don't mind sharing this kernel of information:  Popcorn has up to six times the amount of the antioxidant polyphenol, (one of the most abundant anti-oxidants in our diet), as fruits and vegetables.  Research supports the notion that polyphenols play a role in preventing certain degenerative diseases, especially cardiovascular disease and cancer. YIPPEE! Source:  2005,The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

That's all for now, folks!  Enjoy your active, meaningful life!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Making Lemonade

Hi Everyone,

How are you doing?  I'm trying to make some lemonade out of a huge lemon that came my way last Friday.  Sound familiar?  I'm sure you've heard that phrase:  When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade.  Most of you already know of my recent news, but to get everyone on the same page it is this:  My artificial hip has been recalled, and I learned about a week ago that it needs to be taken out.  I thought I'd pass all of the tests with flying colors, since I've been feeling so good, but the MRI shows pockets of fluid that are forming, and if left untouched, the muscles surrounding the joint will die.  The problem with the current prosthesis is that it has a separate neck piece that is inserted into the stem.  Because of that metal on metal contact, there can be problems with corrosion, and complications therein.  So, that is that, and here is how I am making lemonade.  I hope my optimism will motivate you when life gives you lemons.

*I'll get to spend quality time with family and friends.
*I'll finally have to slow myself down, which means I will (hopefully) finish my healthy workbook for kids, and either self publish, or aggressively try to find a publisher.
*I will become even more resilient to stresses that come my way.
*I will have my house in ship-shape condition right before the surgery, and will have crossed many things off of the To Do list.
*I'll finally read some good books and watch some good movies.
*And, hey, maybe I'll even lose some unwanted weight (from fasting for surgery, and eating hospital food) without having to try too hard!

Seriously, things can always be worse.  I don't have to look too far to see examples of that in other people's lives.  Now, I shall leave you with a few pieces of information to ponder:

*Soybeans are such champs.  They contain all of the following:  protein, fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, omega 3 and omega 6.  Try ordering a dish with tofu sometime.  Or, how about soy milk on cereal? You might just find that you like it. 

*I saw this quote in the Nutrition Action Newsletter, and it really rang true to me:  "Don't eat more of anything without eating less of something else."  Are you eating more fruits and vegetables?  What are you eating less of?

*If you are feeling down, why not get a pencil and paper and write down a list of things that you have accomplished and endured in your life?  All of those items make up who you are, whether they were positive or negative experiences.  Here are some examples:  moving; divorce; raising a pet; the loss of a pet; winning an award; childbirth; graduations; losing a family member; trips you have taken.  You could even make a journal out of it, calling it: Passages. 

That's it for May. As usual, I wish you wellness, in every facet of your life:  physically, emotionally, personally, socially, intellectually and ethically.  Take care! And, hey, if you feel thirsty on a nice hot day, try some lemonade!

Mary R.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How is Everyone?

Hi Everyone,

How are you doing?  Are you enjoying watching the spring flowers share their beauty with us? I sure am.  It's the little joys in life that put that extra bounce in my step.  Is it the same for you? Do tell.  I'd love to hear from you.

Shoot, May arrived before I could complete my April post! My goal has always been to write one post a month.  So, maybe I'll write another post this month, to make up for my procrastination last month.

Today I was thinking about the title of my blog, The Fit Optimist.  Sheesh, that sounds a little over confident.  I will stand by the "Optimist"  part.  Lucky me, to wake up happy, positive and energetic everyday.  It must just be in my blood.  Now, the "Fit" part needs some clarification.  After all, I'm sure I could push myself much harder physically.  For example, I could do interval training; or, I could go for longer distances/higher resistance.   I use the term 'fit' because I work out pretty much daily, and I love working out so much that sometimes I tell myself I should take at least one day off a week!  The secret?  Well, I think at this point perhaps it's the endorphins I crave.  Who knows?  All I know is that  if my gym was a person, I'd marry it! Wait, now I'm confused.  I've always said I'd marry my bike if it was a person.  So, maybe I believe in polygamy.  Hey, I could be the Fit Polygamist! 

 Most of all, I think it's best to find a variety of activities that you enjoy, because that's a good way to use a variety of muscle groups.  Plus, everyone needs to find those activities that help rather than hinder their physical condition.  I now know for sure that I should never run again, for medical reasons.  That's a tough pill to swallow, but a smart one, if I listen to the voice of reason, and to my own body.  So, biking, swimming, weights, and walking can be my safe path to take.  And, why not try canoeing?  Cross-country skiing? (Because I hate the cold!!!!)  Oops, that wasn't very optimistic of me.

I shall now leave you with a few tidbits that I have discovered lately in my ongoing wellness research:

*If there is a food, such as ice cream, that is the food you go to when stressed, tell yourself that you will still allow yourself that food item, but you can't purchase it for your home. You would have to go out to a restaurant in order to consume it.  At least that way, (hopefully), you wouldn't be able to overdo as much or as often.

*If you are asked to bring a food item to a potluck, consider bringing a veggie or a fruit plate.  You could even bring some light Ranch dressing for the veggies. Then you'll have at least one healthy choice to fall back on. The other guests will be grateful, too.

*Having a hard time at a buffet or potluck?  Give yourself permission to have at least one spoonful of anything you want to eat.

*What do you keep in your car at all times?  Here are a few suggestions:  Healthy snacks that do not require refrigeration: almonds, granola bars, or dried fruit; sugar-free gum; a first-aid kit; emergency numbers; and exercise clothes, especially a pair of old tennis shoes, in case you have an opportunity to walk, or if you ever NEED to walk, to try to get help. 

Most of today's tips are just plain common sense, but how many of us have tried them all?  Not I!  But,  I shall especially try that last suggestion.  My dad would be proud.

All for now!  Have a happy and healthy May.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Learning From Watching Others

Since March is almost over, and I've promised myself to try to do at least one post a month, here I am!

The title, Learning From Watching Others, came to me one day when I was at the gym lifting weights.  Like most people, I listen to music while lifting.  I strap my IPOD onto my upper arm. The long cord from the earphones is constantly in my way, even to the point of getting caught on the weights.  The cord can get in the way when I'm cleaning, mowing, and even when I'm bending over to put the leash on the dog. Well, while lifting weights one day, I saw a guy with the cord from his earphones coming from behind his back rather than going across the front of his body!  Hello!  Duh!  There's the answer.  Since then, I've noticed some people even have the cord coming from the inside of their shirts.  OK, you all probably already knew that, or didn't have that particular problem to solve.  But, I bet you've noticed something else in your people watching that gave you a little life lesson, right?  Please  share.  Was there a big aha moment for you during one of your people watching episodes?

I wonder if anyone has ever watched me whip the bottle of light salad dressing out of my purse at a restaurant and had an aha moment?  Either they thought I was crazy, or creative, I dunno.  Works for me when I'm out and want to really pour on the dressing, but still be calorie conscious.  If you'd like to share, I think it works better to just write to me at my email address:

 I hope this finds you well and happily enjoying the spring sights, smells, and sounds.  Take care!


One more thing I'd like to share:  If you haven't seen my website that is mostly dedicated to my ongoing efforts to publish a healthy workbook for kids, I'd love for you to take a look at it.  Your feedback, both positive and constructively criticising, (do you like how I worded that last part?), is welcome and encouraged.  Here is the link:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stopping For A Nice Deep Breath

Hello again, after too long of a break.  It’s been almost a year since I’ve written a post on this blog.  So, as you can see, I’m going to stop, take a deep breath, and get back to something that makes me very happy—researching and sharing wellness ideas.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with my sweet grandchildren.  Lucky me, to have them living so close. They’ll be grown, and/or moving further away from me, (or I from them), before you know it.  I cherish our time together.
Do you ever find yourself literally stopping and doing some deep breathing just to relax amid an otherwise hectic day?  What I notice, in myself and others, is that we sometimes let out a big sigh when we're tired or stressed.  It’s as if our body is telling us that it needs a big boost of oxygen.  I think that the breathing that is practiced during Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates can really make a difference in our emotional and physical health.  Plus, I’m sure it’s helpful to just stop, lie down for about 15 minutes, and listen to relaxing music, or a CD with relaxing sounds, while concentrating on relaxed breathing.  I need to research that topic, and see what I can find for proven results.
Anyway, I digress.  Here are a few fun tips to share:

*If you make iced coffee at home, use “coffee ice cubes” by pouring the leftover brewed coffee into an ice cube tray.  Then your coffee won’t taste too watered down when the cubes melt.
*For a fun treat while camping, (or barbequing), put this on the fire:  a banana that has been wrapped in foil, with a few chocolate chips added.

*Are you trying to save calories by ordering a grilled chicken breast and/or a dry baked potato at the restaurant?  Ask them to bring you some salsa!
*If you are trying to lose weight, or have already successfully dropped several pounds, why not come up with a visual to help you remember how far you’ve come, something to signify each pound lost.  For example: collect empty butter packages, (since each one really does represent one pound of fat); or, put together a bracelet where each bead represents one pound lost.  Be creative.  Heck, come up with a new idea and sell it!

*It’s a good idea to eat a snack that is rich in carbohydrates before a workout, because carbs will get into the bloodstream faster than protein or fat.  Examples:   a banana, or a piece of whole grain toast.
*Protein is a good choice for a post workout snack, for muscle recovery and repair, especially after lifting weights.  Good choices:  a hard-boiled egg, string cheese, or almonds.

That’s all for now.  I hope you found something helpful or motivating in this post. And, I hope I can get back to blogging on a more regular basis again.  It makes me happy to share my love for wellness.