Thursday, June 30, 2011

Choose to Move Your Body

If you want to lose weight, you need to eat right, exercise and get enough rest. You need to burn more calories than you take in by moving your body. How you do it is up to you. The key is to move. This is especially important for those of us who are over 60. It helps keep us fit and feeling better.

From my observation, people who are active tend to live longer and to be healthier. Once we start moving, it seems to get easier. So starting today, if you have not been exercising, find some ways to do it that are fun.
It can be as easy as taking an extra step or going the longer way around. Just move!

I love to swim. The Aqua Fit (water aerobics) classes that I am taking fit nicely into that. I love being in the water. I can jump in the water. I cannot jump on dry land yet... With water aerobics, you have the resistance of the water to help you. In a class you also have an instructor and fellow classmates to help you along and encourage you. The good news is that I can see my progress as well when I work with my trainer, Amanda Espinoza, in the gym.

Now, I decided a year ago to get a trainer when I joined the gym. It is a choice. I needed someone to guide me and hold me accountable. It has been great. We work hard on the equipment, and I can feel my body getting stronger. I still have a long way to go. The other nice thing about the gym I attend is the people who encourage me. These are strangers who have watched me work out week after week after week. It does my heart good, and it encourages me to continue working hard.

This Saturday, I upped my exercise program. I started taking line dancing classes at the Jocelyn Center, a Senior Citizen Center in Burbank, Ca. It was great fun. I have always loved to dance. I am left handed and sometimes have a problem with left and right, but I kept on going any way. I loved the music, the movement of the dances and the fellowship of other dancers. Everyone encouraged one another. It was nice.

I am striving to keep my life in balance. I want to add another class at the gym, but feel I need to get this one going first.  Last summer I was at the gym 5 mornings a week. This year, I am there three mornings a week.  I am working a couple of afternoons a week and blogging as often as I can. While I feel I need to add more exercise into my lifestyle, I am trying to do it gradually. The focus is making a life style change, It is not about the exercising and eating better. It is about changing my life to a healthier life style---one step at a time. Remember slow and steady wins the race.

My recommendation to you are
1. Find something that helps you move, that you enjoy, and then to do it.
2. Find an exercise buddy to go with you. Find people who will support you in your endeavor to get fit. If someone does not support you in this endeavor, I suggest you spend less time with them. Now if it is your spouse, keep this in mind. If you start moving, they may just decide to follow you. You do not have to spend a lot of money. You can get a good pair of walking shoes and walk around the neighborhood. Some malls even have groups of people that meet and walk in air conditioned comfort. So do yourself a favor and start to move.
3. Move your body, take more steps and enjoy what you are doing to get into better shape.

Thanks for reading this. I hope it gives you some ideas. Doing what you enjoy, especially if it helps improve your health, is a great way to spend time. What are you doing to move? Let me know. I appreciate your questions and comments.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

ChooseMyPlate.Gov's Plan for Healthy Eating

The USDA has just issued new guidelines for eating. The Pyramid is flattened into a plate. It's about time. I find the visual of ChooseMyPlate.Gov is easier to follow. I have been using that as a guideline for my diet since I learned about it. I have also been doing my research and learning as much as I can about it. There are several things that have me excited about the plan.

First, the visual of the plate gives me an idea of my portions. One-half the plate is fruits and vegetables, one-third is carbohydrates, and the balance is protein. And yes, remember that  the dairy portion is next to the plate.

Second, the focus is on portion control. I know that I am still working on controlling my portions. I don't like forcing myself to eat smaller pieces of meat, but I know that it is healthier for me. I also don't like eating all those vegetables and fruits. But, I am doing it. It is about retraining our minds and our bodies to enjoy more moderate portions. When you go to a restaurant and look at the calories of the meals, it is obvious that most meals are not designed with portion control in mind. I was at a Chinese fast-food restaurant the other day and watched the portions being given. No wonder they listed rice at 500 calories. One meal of rice and two selections could easily be over 1,000 calories. Help! We need to become smarter consumers.

Third, I am excited about the fact that the visual is more understandable. You can look at the plate and understand the proportions of the food. You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a nutritionist to understand. If you are trying to lose weight, then don't use a large plate. Use a smaller one. I also use a smaller fork, so I take smaller bits.

Fourth, there is a realization that not everyone should be eating the same number of calories. Portion control because you are using your own body as a measurement becomes more attuned to your own body.

For more information go to It has a lot of interesting information on the new guidelines and well as other nutritional information.

Thank you for reading this. If you have any questions or comments, I welcome them.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting the "I Can Do" Spirit

Do you have an "I can do" spirit? Or, are you always saying "No, I can't"?  I think our greatest stumbling block is our attitude. If we think we can, we have a much better shot of sticking to the your plan and being successful. It is not about your successes or failures of the past, it is about right now! Yes, we can learn and grow from these experiences, but we need to move on from them as well. Think about Thomas Edison. It took him 10,000 trials to get the light bulb invented. Now that is a great example of the "can do" spirit. He just kept on trying. Sure he may have had his moments of discouragement, but he never said "I can't do it" and quit trying. He kept on going.

We need to exercise our mental muscles as well as our physical ones. I am one of those people who lost weight, even kept it off for awhile, then started gaining. In retrospect, I let life get to me rather than exercising my mind and staying focused. It takes effort to lose weight. You have to change your eating habits, you need to exercise your body and to change your concept of yourself. If you do not change your habits in all three of those areas, you are setting yourself up for failure. I know many other persons who lost a lot of weight and a year or two latter, those pounds found them and brought along their friends.

So what can we do? First of all, we need to watch our words and thoughts. What we say and think is as important as what we eat. When you identify thoughts and words that are negative, you need to immediately think of something that is positive. It does get easier with practice. Remember the "I can do" Spirit.

Second, you need to listen to what people around you are saying. If they are negative, then you have a choice. Block out what they say or spend less time with them. Do not get caught up in their negative thinking, and do not feed theirs with your own. If something is not working, find a way to change it. You have the power to do it. Remember the "I can do it Spirit."

Third, feed the positive. Start out each day naming three things that you are thankful for. End each day with three things that went right during the day or three more things that you are thankful for. This does not mean that you ignore the problems. You can't. But you can turn your thinking around about them. I find that if I read something positive at the end of the evening, I am more relaxed and can get to sleep faster. If I read a mystery the last thing at night, guess what I do? I relive the mystery. I do love reading them, I just don't finish the day with them. You can also start a praise or grateful journal. Write down those things in your life that are right. When the I can't do attitude begins to creep in, get the journal out and remember all the good things. We were not build to be double minded. Keep the "I can do" Spirit in the forefront.

With the "I can do" Spirit, the solutions to things seem to come easier. I think I can do, then I find a way that I can do it. It is not a Pollyanna attitude, it is an "I can do" attitude that allows you to find the solutions and not get mired down.

If you try the can do spirit for thirty days, you have developed a new habit and maybe a new outlook on life. After all, you can do it.

I would love to hear from you if you would like to share any of your can do experience. Thanks for reading this.

Image of Happy Running Turtle courtesy of

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who Will Clean Out Our Mess When We Cannot?

Look around you! How much have you accummulated in your lifetime? Who will clean it out when you are no longer able. It is a scary thought, especially for those of us who have no children to do this for us. Do I want a stranger or even a friend to have to go through my things and get rid of those things which I could have but chose not to?

Yesterday, I talked to one of my neighbors when we were both at the market. His father was recently taken ill and the family has decided to move him from Florida to California when he is better. The plans are to put him into an assisted living facility close to both of his sons.  It reminded me of when my brother put my mother in a nursing home and had to clear out her apartment in a few days. She had a lot of stuff. Like I did then, I could not help but think of all my things and what would happen to them if something happened to me and my husband.

Downsizing may not be fun, but it is something that most of us will have to do in our lives. I live in a second floor apartment. Roger and I are getting older. Carrying groceries up the stairs and laundry down is difficult. We would like to move to a first floor apartment or a building with an elevator. Before we can do that, we really do need to get rid of some of the burden we are carrying.

Downsizing can be done slowly, quickly or somewhere inbetween. How fast you go depends on many things. How ready are you to get rid of stuff no longer necessary to your life? Will you ever really need it again? It is something you can do without but want to give to a family member or a friend. If you don't really need it, give it to them so they can enjoy it now. If you need it, make sure you have it labeled to be given to them.

If you have a scanner or a printer that scans, you can take a lot of your paperwork and scan it onto a disk. You can then place the papers somewhere that is out of the way, just in case you may need them again. You can do the same thing with pictures. How many pictures do you have that you don't look at because they never went into a scape book or are sitting somewhere in a box that is difficult to get to. When the pictures are scanned, you will have them. You can also use them on cards and put together little memory books for family as a reminder of some of the good times you have had. These little memory books make great gifts for holidays and special occasions.

Another question is how long to you keep certain documents? I just went through and shredded checks from 2003, 2004 and 2006. Tax documents should be kept for five to seven years. If you own a house, you will want to keep pertinent documents until you sell the house. Most copies of credit cards and bills, unless used for backup for your tax documents can be gotten rid of at least by the end of the year. Again, this is where scanning documents come in handy.

As for me, I find that I need to take baby steps. I need to go through a closet for example. When it is done, it takes me awhile to get to the next project. But like the tortoise, slow and steady gets the job done. Already, I can tell a difference in my environment. I feel better. Now, I need to keep it up, remembering that it takes 30 days to build a habit.

How are you handling downsizing or getting rid of clutter? Let me know. I will be glad to answer any questions you may have. Let's do it slowly and surely.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Learning to Make Better Choices

I can make better choices. I can learn how to make healthier choices. Every day we make decisions. Some of them are better than others. One of the keys to turning your life around is to learn to make better choices. When we consciously choose to make better decisions, we change our habit patterns. It generally takes 30 days to change a habit. No wonder it is so hard to make changes. But we can do it.

For most of my life, I have chosen to drink diet cola, eat chips and dip, and many other things that brought me to my overweight state of being. I would choose the large size at fast food places and restaurants. I was a meat and potato person, and seldom would choose fruits and vegetables. You get the picture. I do not like where those choices got me. I have to learn to make better decisions and I am.

These are some of the things I have learned.

1.  Take things one meal at a time. Watch my choices at every meal. 

2.  Develop practices that will help me make those better choices. For example, when I go to the market and buy meat, I cut the meat into portion sizes. I have a scale and weight each portion and write the amount on the freezer bag I put it in. Each freezer bag has one portion of meat. I have never been one to plan a week's menu at a time, but this also helps me in varying my diet. I do not over fix as I have in the past.

3.  Buy vegetables and fruit in smaller quantities.  Large quantities often go to waste, so while I may pay more in the long run, I am throwing less away. It takes planning and deciding what will work best for you. Today, in urban areas, grocery stores are all around us. It is a matter of finding one that you like and where you can get what you need.

4. Stock up on fruits and vegetable in that I will eat. I am not big on salads. I find most of them boring with so much lettuce. But recently, I have been purchasing cabbage and using that as a basis for my salad. I also use apples combined with chicken for a salad. I get the apples that are presliced, that way I do not have to use the whole apple if all I want is to add a half apple to my salad. I found that if I buy too much, it just goes to waste, so I try only to get what I can eat in three or four days. While it does mean that I am going to the market more often, I find that I have less food to throw away at the end of the week. It is about making choices that works for your life style.

This week, look at your choices. Did you make good choices? or do some of them need improving? Remember the way of the tortoise is slow and steady. We succeed one step at a time, one meal at a time, one day at a time.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions. I look forward to hearing from you.