Why to Track Food – For Health, Not Counting Calories

“Food is fuel – fill your tank.”

Food tracking is a common strategy for weight loss. I’ll guess quite a few people out there are currently tracking food, probably counting calories, all in the name of keeping that New Year’s Resolution to lose weight.

But tracking food brings benefits that, while supportive of weight loss if that’s the goal, aren’t about losing weight. And, no matter the goal, food tracking can (and, in my opinion, should) be done without counting calories.

Food Tracking and Counting Calories
The theory behind weight loss is burn more calories than you take in. Simple, right? While the theory is true, the execution is where it’s flawed in real life. Not only is it tough to calculate actual calorie burn (especially exercise machines, those are a ballpark, a best, not an accurate count), it’s even tougher to count calories.

Burning-Calories

Take it from JoeFitness – counting calories isn’t a good idea.

I could give you my explanation but it’s better coming from a professional. Check out this video from my pal and the best authority on everything health and fitness related, JoeFitness. Joe explains why counting calories is a terrible idea and flawed process.

Let me say one thing quickly: no judgment if you track calories or have before. It makes sense in theory, if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight. However, now that we understand why it’s a bad idea to count calories and try to balance out with inaccurate estimates of calorie burn, let’s talk about the true value behind tracking food: fueling the body to feel and function its best.

Food is Fuel
In case I haven’t said it enough before, food is fuel. Food is good for us. Food is not bad, food choices shouldn’t incite guilt, and consuming food is not a punishable offense by cardio and burpees to “burn it off.”

Keeping in mind this positive association with food, it’s just as crucial to realize what too much or the wrong foods for you can do.

I believe that healthy food isn’t black and white. What’s healthy for me may not be for you and vice versa. Healthy foods are what makes each person happy and functioning at their best.

Tracking food helps to ensure the foods you’re eating are providing adequate fuel, nutrition, and making you feel your best. Conversely, tracking food can be a great strategy for those feeling sluggish and looking to boost energy for workouts, raising kids, getting through classes – pretty much living life.

Why to Track Food
I’ll admit it – I’ve tracked calories before. However, I didn’t do so to lose weight (again, no judgment if you have, it makes sense in theory).

When I was training to quality for Boston Marathon, I tracked calories, carbs, protein, sugar, all of it, to help ensure I was getting enough to eat, as well as identify patterns of what made me feel great for a run and when I didn’t feel my best.

Cute-Dog-Eating-Ice-Cream

Food is fuel – sometimes, that fuel comes in the form of ice cream

Still today, I track my food, though I do it fairly casually. No numbers, no specifics, but I like to keep track for similar reasons as I did when training for a Boston qualifier. Tracking food ensures I’m getting enough to fuel my body for its needs, along with helping me realize if certain foods are getting in the way of feeling my best. So there’s plenty of value to tracking food even if weight loss isn’t a goal.

Don’t Count Calories to Lose Weight
For those who are looking to lose weight, there’s still benefit to that goal that comes from tracking food – without tracking calories.

Tracking food makes a person aware of how often and what they’re eating. This can help identify patterns (hmmm…when I don’t eat a quality breakfast, I’m hungry by 9:30 and the donuts in the breakroom sure look good…) as well as makes eating more mindful. There’s something about writing it down that makes you stop to think, “Am I really hungry? Or am I eating this for another reason.”

Of course there are reasons to eat when you’re not really hungry – and that’s okay. Even though you might not be hungry, but something sounds really good, that doesn’t mean it’s bad to eat it. Enjoy it! The exercise of mindfulness is beneficial and may help diminish a craving next time.

For the record, when hungry, eat. Weight loss be damned, if you’re really, truly hungry, your body’s signaling you should eat. Also, life’s too short to be hangry.

What do you think about tracking food without counting calories?

The comments are your space to share thoughts so please do so. Or, connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

Tips for Building Healthy Habits: How to Practice Gratitude

“Every day may not be good. But there’s something good in every day.”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a New Year’s Resolution. Keep it up if you stuck with that resolution…forever.

January is all about resolutions but, unfortunately, most New Year’s Resolutions fail within the first few weeks. There are all kinds of reasons resolutions tend to fail but that’s not why I’m here.

Rather than talk about New Year’s Resolutions, let’s focus on something that has a great chance of success: creating healthy habits.

Tracking-Healthy-Habits

A new year means a new journal to track healthy habits.

This year on the blog, I’m introducing a monthly series of opportunities to create healthy habits. These are not monthly challenges, 30-day challenges, or weekly challenges – they’re not challenges.

Anyone can take on a challenge for a few days or weeks and complete it…but, then what? I believe that’s a problem with typical challenges. Sure, the work put in is great but then the challenge is done, and things go back to normal.

What I’m here to do is offer opportunities. Unlike challenges people try to conquer, opportunities are meant to be seized. They’re chances to do something you really want to do. If that includes building healthy habits, that last long after the first days, weeks, or months, then you’ll want to join in.

Opportunities to Create Healthy Habits
There’s no secret formula for how to create healthy habits. Like anything that’s important to us in life, they’ll be prioritized and continued. However, a few basics are needed to get started.

First, there has to be a want, a real desire. If you don’t really want to do something, it’s going to lose its luster, be deprioritized, and fade away. Choose to build healthy habits around things you really want.

Second, there has to be a goal. More on that later.

I’m excited to share my first installment of this series, aimed, not at offering up another tired 30-day challenge or month challenge, rather a helpful set of tips that can be used to create a healthy habit – one that sticks.

Love-to-Run

Grateful for running.

And I’m especially excited to start with one that’s super easy and so impactful – yet I’m not sure many people actually do this: practice gratitude.

Practicing Gratitude
One of the habits I worked hard to create in 2019 was creating a habit of gratitude. It started as a weekly journal entry, then progressed from there and, today, is part of my daily morning mindfulness routine, as well as a daily journal entry.

And I swear it has made me happier, and more focused and calm, in addition to helping me better prioritize my life and time.

If you could benefit from building a gratitude habit, please read on for three tips that will help build the habit.

How to Create Healthy Habits
But first, back to the foundation. Like any habit, the desire and a goal along with it are important. Please don’t go into this with anything less than both.

First ask yourself, why do I want to build this healthy habit? Do I really want to or do I feel like I should? Find that purpose, that desire.

If you really want to, the second step is to set your goal. It’s not enough to say, “I want to build a habit of gratitude.” What does that mean? Does it mean daily or would starting with a weekly practice be enough to get going? A goal gives you something to measure, something to gauge success, and see where adjustments or improvements could be made.

Okay, now that the two basic foundations of healthy habits are there, let’s get on with the gratitude.

Tip #1 – Pick the Right Time
Morning, noon, Monday or Friday,– there are 24 hours in the day and 7 days in the week, and, with that, countless opportunities to practice gratitude. However, I believe an important part of making any habit stick is fitting it in when it works best for you.

For example, when I started my weekly, morning gratitude habit, it went well. Then I decided I wanted to expand it to a daily, morning gratitude habit. Success! Then, I attempted to expand it by adding another session of journaling, this time at the end of the day. That one didn’t stick.

Why? I have a morning routine and mornings are my best time for writing. Conversely, I don’t have a nighttime routine and nighttime isn’t my best time for writing. I’ve stuck with my gratitude habit by focusing time when I know it works best for me – in the morning.

Tip #2 – Figure Out the Way
You can speak it. You can write it. You can tweet it. However you choose to express your gratitude, do it in the way that is most appealing to you – if it’s natural, it’s more likely to stick as a habit vs. forcing something that’s not intuitive.

Girls-Trip

With great friends like this, it’s easy to find gratitude.

For example, when I started my gratitude habit, I set out to tweet it – a daily gratitude tweet. I figured it would it be good for me and maybe someone else would see it and get a good feeling. That one didn’t stick.

Why? I’m not a phone person. I’m not really even a social media person, unless I’m doing something intentionally on a platform. I chose to focus on what I am – a writer. I love to write so keeping a gratitude journal is something I do every day, with enjoyment.

Tip #3 – Decide What the Habit Looks Like
Now that the timing and the method is nailed down, what does an actual gratitude practice look like? It can be anything! But for those who need a starting point, here are a few ideas for how to express gratitude – first, the easily repeatable methods, what I call ‘Static Gratitude’ that are especially good options for those looking to develop a consistent daily or weekly habit.

Static Gratitude
1. Choose something you’re grateful for that can be summed up in a single word or phrase, whether written, silent thought, spoken, even illustrated:
-Coffee or Starbucks coffee

2. Create a daily mantra that changes; whether a written statement, silent thought, or spoken phrase:
-Today, I am grateful for ______/ to be_______ / because ______

3. Share it with a friend or family member; via a phone call, in-person, social message, etc.:
-A text could be: Thank you, Jenny, for inviting me to bootcamp class last week. I’m grateful for our friendship and shared love of fitness!

Finally, there’s the option of what I call, ‘Spontaneous Gratitude.’ While this is one that can’t necessarily be planned, it can be done consistently daily or weekly. Spontaneous gratitude is still a wonderful practice, it’s about being mindful, building awareness of situations to recognize it, then committing to fulfill it.

4. Share it with a stranger; make a point to show gratitude to someone you don’t even know:
-My colleague, Jim, does a wonderful job of recognizing and thanking people when we’re at restaurants, the airport, wherever – his simple, “Thank you for the work you’re doing, I appreciate it,” comment always leaves that person smiling.

5. Instead of complaining, find a positive:
-When I have a tough day at work, I recognize it (because it’s okay to be upset! Gratitude doesn’t mean you’re not still allowed to be sad, pissed, or frustrated) but rather than complain, I remember that I get to write and tell stories for a living. I get to do what I love, every day. If I wanted an easy, stress-free job, I’m sure I could find one. But I chose this one and am grateful it’s what I get to do – boom, gratitude realized.

If you’re following along and ready to create a gratitude habit, please let me know if this post helped – or, please share it on social media if you believe it will help others build a healthy habit of gratitude.

And of course, the comments are your space to share thoughts so please do so.

Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

Beyond Healthy Holiday Eating – How to Eat Well All Year Long

“Happy New Year!”

Welcome to 2020! Not just a new year, it’s a new decade. The 2010 decade was a pretty solid one for me, mostly the latter half.

I met my husband, finally ran a Boston qualifier, got a great new job, ran the Boston Marathon, got married, ran the Chicago Marathon while I was pregnant, had my son, and ran Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth with one of my longest besties.

While a lot of my top memories involve running, I think the best part of the 2010s was personal growth – becoming wiser, prioritizing better, practicing mindfulness and gratitude, and, mostly, learning to step back and focus on what matters most.

Eat-Well

Abel fears no food.

What’s your biggest takeaway, accomplishment, or learning from the 2010 decade?

Eat Well All Year Long
Shifting to another topic, the real topic I’m here to share today, is all about another great year and, hopefully, awesome decade in the 20s. And it starts with something simple and huge.

Throughout the past several weeks, you’ve possibly sought out or been exposed to articles with tips on holiday eating.
How to eat well during the holidays.
How to not overeat during the holidays.
How to stick to healthy eating goals during the holidays.
Those types of holiday eating tips.

The reality is it’s tough to eat well during the holidays, right?

Thanksgiving food is delicious. There are always treats around the office. And, if you’re like me, it’s not just one Christmas dinner. It’s Christmas Eve with the in-laws. It’s the weekend before with my other set of parents. It’s the leftovers after.

I firmly believe it’s okay to indulge and we should be free to eat and enjoy without fear. After all, a couple days of overeating aren’t what can destroy our health. It’s the other 300-plus days throughout the year that simple eating habits can have a positive effect on wellness.

Now that the holidays are over shouldn’t mean the interest in healthy eating ends – so, here are 5 holiday-inspired tips for eating well the rest of the year.

Do What’s Healthy for You
Keep in mind that “healthy” food is a subjective term – what’s healthy for me may not be for you. However, there are foods that make each of us feel and live our best. Those are the foods that are healthy.

1. Exercise
There’s something about exercise that encourages quality food choices that fuel the body. After all, food is fuel. Whether morning sweat sesh, lunch workout, or evening exercise, creating a daily habit of moving the body is a great way to eat well.

Black-Coffee-Waffle-Bar

The important things in life – waffles & friends.

One note to this I must add: exercise because it makes you feel good, NOT because you need to burn off foods, cancel out bad foods, or punish yourself for eating. Food is not bad and exercise is not punishment.

2. Water
There’s no downside to drinking a lot of water. I’s free and easy, and it helps the body stay in tune with natural hunger cues, as well as cleansed, naturally – no detox diets needed.

3. Snack
It may seem counterproductive that eating more helps with eating better, but good snack habits are a great way to keep from getting too hungry and overeating – and it’s the best way to avoid the dreaded hangry.

4. Mindfulness
Doing things intentionally, eating included, is a powerful piece in the making-good-choices-puzzle.

Mindless eating is one of the biggest causes of overeating and empty eating (no shame, who among us hasn’t polished off an entire box of Cheez-Its…just me?). Keeping food choices intentional to what’s going to fuel the body and make it feel its best is the center of healthy, positive food association.

5. Variety
No food should be off-limits. Give yourself permission to eat all the foods. A little bit of everything feels like you’re getting it all, no deprivation-induced-binges, plus encourages a good variety of nutrients, provided there’s a solid mix of veggies, proteins, fats, carbs, and everything.

Here’s to healthy, positive, and happy eating habits in 2020.

Do you have any other tips to encourage good food choices?

The comments are all about you so please leave one. Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you receive every weekly post straight to your inbox.

New Ways to Be Well in 2020 and All Year Long

“Challenge accepted.”

I’m not a fan of challenges.

Fargo-Running

Ready for a challenge? I promise they won’t all be running.

Hold on, that’s not quite right.
I mean, I love a good challenge at work,
I seek out opportunities to challenge myself to run marathons.
Most of all, I’m the parent of an almost-two-year-old.
Yes, I’m down for challenges.

What I meant was, I don’t do organized challenges, like weight loss challenges, 21-day (fill in the blank) challenges, those types of things. Just not my thing.

However, after the wonderful reception my 30 Days, 30 Ways to Be Well blog received, I started thinking about how to take that one further – yet, not create typical month-long or 30-day challenges that Beach Body coaches or workplaces do.

What I decided I’m going to do is a new challenge each month next year, with a twist – they’re not meant to be weight loss or workout challenges, but instead, ways to build those solid, healthy habits that make us feel our best. They’ll be no longer than a week, some will be simple, some will have more to them. And all will be designed for overall health, happiness, and wellness, and based on my simple, easy ways to be well.

I do have several of them mapped out already but if there are any specific areas you’d like to see, please let me know.

The comments are all about you so please leave one with your request or simply if you’re excited to follow along. You can always connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter, too, and please follow me if you’re not already, I’ll be sharing more challenge-related stuff there with each one. Finally, subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you receive every weekly post straight to your inbox.

What Are You Willing to Sacrifice to Achieve a New Year’s Resolution?

“The most important decision about your goals is not what you’re willing to do to achieve them, but what you’re willing to give up.”

This time of year, it’s all about the 12 days of Christmas. Content is no different, everyone’s creating blogs around the 12 days of Christmas. I know, I’ve done it myself. Anyone remember the 12 days of Fitmas?

This year, I’m changing it up and tying it into my annual New Year’s Resolutions blog.

Instead of focusing on the 12 Days of Christmas, I’d like to shift focus to an important timeframe in the resolution-making process. Or, at least, what can be an important time: the six days between Christmas and the New Year.

Focusing New Year’s Goals
These are the last days of the year. While not enough time to make any big changes to achieve those 2019 goals set earlier in the year, there is one big mindset shift that can be made to help further new goals in 2020 and beyond.

Love-Waffles

I will never sacrifice waffles – which is why I’ll never set a goal to be a bodybuilder.

Forget the fact I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions and why they fail. Instead, I’ll embrace it – if this happens to be the time of year someone feels energized to set a goal and work to achieve it, I’m all in on that.

That’s where I’m going to focus this post and encourage resolution-ers to focus the next six days – the work to achieve a goal. But not so much what a person is willing to do, but what they’re willing NOT to do.

Tradeoffs and Sacrifice
One of the hidden sides of success isn’t the planning and hard work that goes into it. I think we’re all aware of that by now.

The piece that doesn’t get talked about enough is the reality behind the hard work. It’s often not what we do but what we don’t do that ultimately makes or breaks a goal. It’s what you’re willing to give up, sacrifice, or trade off to achieve a goal.

I’ll share an example. Every year for the past decade (with the exception of the year I gave birth), I’ve run a marathon. I believe, what everyone sees, knows, and understands about that goal is all the stuff that goes into achieving it.

Everyone knows I have a training plan. Everyone knows I go running often. Everyone knows I do yoga. Maybe even people know I strategically plan rest days.

What I believe isn’t seen, known, and understood is all the stuff I DON’T do that helps me achieve that goal. I don’t sleep past 5:30 most days. I don’t slack on weights. I don’t go out for happy hours or Friday nights. I don’t skip workouts (unless I’m very sick or there’s an emergency with my child).

In order to achieve something, tradeoffs are part of the deal.

Early-Run

Sleeping in – one thing I’m willing to give up, even on Saturdays.

Goal to drink more water? It’s likely that giving up some soda, coffee, or other beverage will go along with it.
Goal to work out every weekday? Either sleeping later or a free evening time will have to go.
Goal to meal prep lunch every day? You’ll have to give up restaurant lunches and the choice of what you’re going to eat that day.
Goal to save money? Perhaps you’re willing to give up that morning Starbucks, or make a larger, one-time tradeoff, like take a shorter, more modest vacation vs. a long, lavish one?

Achieve a New Year’s Resolution This Year
When setting a New Year’s Resolution this time, take more time to really think about it. Be realistic with yourself – what you’re willing to give up and what you’re not.

You have a certain number of hours every day, a set of existing habits, other daily lifestyle choices, most of which are engrained. What is realistic to change?

Having a New Year’s Resolution and all kinds of energy to achieve it today doesn’t add more hours to your day or magically break habits or lifestyle choices, so you have to figure out the tradeoffs you’re going to make so it can happen.

I wish you luck in your 2020 endeavors! Are you making a New Year’s Resolution now? What’s your goal for 2020?

The comments are your space to share thoughts so please do so. Or, connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

Instead of Fighting, Let’s Learn a Few Lessons from Peloton’s Controversial Holiday Commercial

“Keep you coming back for more”

This damn holiday Peloton commercial. I don’t want to talk about it because I’m sick of it, but I also feel there’s a side to it that hasn’t been properly addressed that needs to be.

If you haven’t seen it…I don’t think that’s even possible. It’s on all the time. It’s all over the internet. It’s brought more exposure to Peloton and the actress in the commercial, Monica Ruiz, than either probably imagined.

I’m not here to argue about the quality or message of this commercial, especially at this point. The topic has been hashed and rehashed enough. From what I’ve seen, I believe 95% of people are fine with, even supportive of it, it’s the remaining 5% who are offended by it.

And all the chatter is not because the outraged 5% are louder. It’s because, for as many people who believe the commercial is offensive, for promoting everything “a controlling husband” to “a skinny woman who doesn’t need to work out,” there are five times as many people who are defending it.

That’s where the real noise is coming from this debate – people trying to bring the haters back to reality and share the positivity of the message, the reality of fitness and wellness.

Fargo-Marathon

Thick thighs. A belly. Big butt. Say it with me – thin doesn’t equal healthy.

And that’s what I want to talk about, the message that’s trying to shine through the dark clouds. Actually, there are two messages that really stand out to me because I believe they’re still widely-held misconceptions about wellness, plus one additional lesson that applies beyond wellness.

So here’s what we can learn from Peloton, in general, and the controversial Peloton Christmas commercial.

Lesson #1
Thin does not equal healthy.

Let me repeat that for those in the back who didn’t hear it: Just because a person is thin, does not mean they are healthy.

Part of the outrage over this commercial is that the actress (remember, people, she’s an actress. It’s a commercial. This isn’t real life) is thin. So, the critics believe that this could be a harmful message…because, in the minds of those who don’t get it, people only work out to lose weight.

A thin person may not be healthy; flip side, a “not-thin” person may be extremely healthy. In case I haven’t said it enough or there’s more to this topic one needs to read to understand, here’s another example, highlighting the fit, healthy bodies of professional athletes.

There’s really no further explanation needed to this key lesson everyone can take away – but, just in case it’s still not clear, I’ll use a different word to make sure everyone understands: skinny does not equal healthy.

Okay then, moving on.

Lesson #2
Fitness is not the only aspect to wellness.

I think this is the bigger takeaway here. Sure, fitness is probably the first thing most of us think about when we think of wellness. But there’s so much more to having a fit lifestyle that translates to overall wellness.

Building on the outrage of lesson #1, there’s so much more to working out than weight management. The story I believe Peloton was trying to portray with the commercial is a person who gained confidence, perhaps cardiovascular health, maybe even stress management, by adding exercise to her life.

So let’s explore some of the other aspects of wellness that come from exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss – because, in case you forgot, a thin person is not always a healthy person. Making sure that’s clear. Just in case, here’s another example, using Nike’s plus-size mannequin to illustrate the point.

First, and most importantly, stress management. Holy shit are we, Americans in general, stressed. People have all sorts of unhealthy ways they deal with stress like un-mindful (I may have just invented that word) overeating, smoking, drinking too much alcohol and sugary caffeinated beverages, and taking copious amounts of medication.

Reeses-Christmas-Tree

Food is fuel – and sometimes, that fuel is chocolate and peanut butter.

Exercise, I believe, is the best medicine. It honestly changes the makeup of the brain, happiness, focus, perspective, all of it, and encourages a strong work ethic in other areas of life.

Second, putting better things in our bodies. As mentioned, people aren’t always putting the best stuff in their bodies. From sugary, caffeinated drinks to foods with no nutritional value, many are missing out big time on the benefits of drinking water and eating veggies.

That’s not to say eating candy and ice cream and having coffee are bad. Quite the opposite, actually – there are no “bad” foods that should never be consumed. There are, however, food and beverage choices that are best for each individual. For me, it’s water, veggies, and Reese’s. Damn if I don’t love Reese’s.

It’s something different for everyone. The point is, exercise tends to encourage options that make us feel our best, the options that fuel our bodies, make us feel energized, and avoid the feelings of sluggishness.

Third, sleep – there’s a lot of sleep deprivation going on and I’m not just talking about new parents (high-fives to you, you’re dong a great job!). Exercise encourages better sleep. Simple.

These are just three examples of positives that come from exercise and have nothing to do with weight loss. Because, in case there’s any confusion out there, a thin body doesn’t equal a healthy body.

Seriously, I can’t undervalue the benefits of steady, consistent, committed exercise and I think it’s why it’s the one topic on which I have and always will take a strong stance.

Run-Happy

Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!

You don’t have to do it, at the end of the day it’s none of my business if you choose not to – but I can’t say enough good things about it. And, again, it’s about so much more than body shape and losing a few pounds…because I’m not sure if that’s clear to everyone.

Lesson #3
Hard Work and Commitment Are Important
The concepts of hard work, discipline, taking responsibility, and committing to oneself seem to be lacking in our world today. Not everyone, mind you – high-fives to everyone who shows up and works hard.

In general, there’s more focus and interest in shortcuts or taking credit without the work or blaming others. Lose 30 pounds in one month with no exercise! Run a marathon without training! Read this book and you’ll finally be happy! No.

Wellness, and life in general, is not easy. There are no quick fixes, no shortcuts, and it’s no one’s fault or responsibility other than yours. Wellness requires a long-term commitment, discipline, and showing up to work hard every day.

One of the gripes of the Peloton commercial is that the wife shows her husband the year-long vlog she kept about her experience. What I think this shows, and what people missed, is that she committed. She worked hard. She showed up. Even if it meant early in the morning or dashing home straight from work. She made sacrifices and she did it.

And the other piece? She was proud of it. And she should be.

Proud-Runner

Work hard. Show up. Be proud.

Wellness is work. It’s commitment. It’s maybe falling off track for a week or a month, but getting back to it. It’s hard work and it’s commitment, and it’s great to be proud of the accomplishments.

Changing Perceptions
I get why there’s negative sentiment around the Peloton commercial. Part of it is the world we live in today and the free, easy access to share opinions online, but a big part of it is the lack of education and understanding of the topic of wellness and these three broadly-held misconceptions:

That fitness is the only piece of wellness
That being thin equals being healthy
That worthwhile things should come easy

If nothing else, I hope the controversial Peloton commercial can help bring light to these misconceptions and help change perceptions for the better. Especially as New Year’s approaches and wellness goals are set, please keep in mind that there’s so much more to wellness than size and weight. And remember that goals take work and commitment.

At the end of the day, Peloton’s mission is to sell exercise equipment and, even more than that, offer a lifestyle of goal setting, fitness, and wellness. One of its key messages, according to its website, is to create an experience that keeps you coming back for more.

Cheers to you, Peloton. Here’s one positive vote for what you’re selling.

Did the Peloton Christmas commercial outrage you or did you see it for what it was meant to be? Has it brought up any other wellness thoughts for you?

The comments are all about you so please leave one. Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you receive every weekly post straight to your inbox.

More Reasons Why It’s Okay to Fail

“The only true failures are situations in which we fail to learn.”

Failure gets a bad rap. We’re raised to succeed, to be winners. Because of this, failure isn’t often associated with positivity or good vibes. But failure is one of those topics that I’m hopeful is starting to take a turn to the better.

Because, there are upsides of failure.

What are the benefits of failure? Learning, growth, and accomplishing great things, all wouldn’t be possible without risk-taking and failing.

Remember earlier this year when Eliud Kipchoge ran a marathon in less than 2 hours, proving it’s possible? Let’s not forget he attempted that feat once before – and failed (although, running a marathon at 2 hours and 30ish seconds is hardly a failure but you see my point).

Boston-Marathon-Qualifier

One of my fastest marathon times ever – yet it was my second failed attempt at a BQ.

A personal story, I never would have achieved my dream to run the Boston Marathon without being brave enough to fail at running a qualifier time – which I did…twice before I finally succeeded. (Anyone looking for tips to run a Boston Marathon qualifier, I have a few pieces of advice to share).

Still, let’s be real – nobody wants to fail. There are no high-fives, praise, or awards handed out for failing…or are there?

Rewarding Failure
I was reading one of my PR newsletters this week and found another vote of positivity on the topic of failure and that there is, in fact, an award out there that celebrates failure.

Coca-Cola Co. was highlighted because it takes permission to fail to new levels. The company has an innovation award that celebrates projects that fail.

The Celebrate Failure Award. It’s a real thing that Coca-Cola does every year, taking the fear out of failure and instead, encouraging the out-of-the-box thinking and risk-taking behavior that often leads to greatness or innovation…or, sometimes, a complete failure.

Not only does this encourage employees to go for it and try new things, without fear, the company turns their failures into opportunities for success.

Learning from Failure
I think there’s something we all can learn from this celebration of failure. I’m not expecting everyone to welcome failure and actively seek it out. But I think this is a good reminder that we need not fear failure.

What do you think about Coca-Cola’s celebration of failure? Do you believe it’s a great idea or takes things a bit too far?

The comments are your space to share thoughts so please do so. Or, connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

30 Days, 30 Ways to Improve Health and Wellness

“December is the month to finish what you started.”

When it comes to wellness, January gets all the love.

Everyone looks at the start of the new year as the time to set goals and resolutions, make a fresh start, and finally get around to doing what they’ve been slacking on the previous 11 months.

But December is, as this blog’s kickoff quote notes, a time for goals and hard work, too – a time to finish what you started.

Get Ahead of New Year’s Resolutions
Whether you set a New Year’s Resolution or a goal mid-way through the year to do something to better yourself, now is as good a time as any to make good on it.

As I write this, it’s December 1. That means, after today, there are 30 days left in the month. That means 30 days left to do something or several things that are good for you.

Not every workout, healthy eating tip, or wellness habit is right for everyone. My goals are different than yours. That’s why I’m sharing 30 simple wellness ideas for the 30 days left in December. They’re broad enough to suit most and simple enough anyone can try a new one each day – or, hopefully, make one a regular habit that’ll stick well into 2020.

Read-to-Babies

Most of my reading these days is with my little man.

And for those who read this today, December 1, I included a special, bonus task to bring the total to 31, one for each day in December. Have a great month, friends – and stay happy, healthy, grateful, and well.

1. Drink Water
There are no downsides to drinking lots of water – and it’s free and easy, so there’s no reason not to do it. If you need help, here are three ways to drink more water.

2. Walk
Similar to drinking lots of water, there are few downsides to walking – and it’s free and easy, so there’s no reason not to do it (unless physical issues prevent it).

3. Read
And I’m not talking social media. I’m talking something real and tangible with a positive message, one that expands your thinking, or one that teaches you something of value.

4. Give a Compliment
Recognizing someone else may brighten their day more than yours but it’s a win-win when you’re intentionally looking for positives.

5. Food Prep
Whether hard boiling a dozen eggs, cutting up fruits and veggies so they’re easy to grab, or preparing healthy, well-balanced meals for the week, dedicating time to food prep is an investment that’ll pay back big return. Need help to get started? Here are quick, easy food prep ideas.

6. Sleep
I know why many people struggle with this one – not enough hours in the day, right? I’m here to tell you that, however you need to re-prioritize your time to get those 7ish hours, figure it out. It’s a big deal.
(exception: parents of newborns and small children, I see you, I feel for you, I’ve been you – opportunity to prioritize sleep will come.)
If you’re not a new parent, you’re making time for other healthy habits, and you’re not consuming alcohol, yet still struggling to sleep, perhaps the next tip will provide some help…

7. Disconnect
Netflix, social media, notifications, emails – all necessary in our modern world but also can be huge, pointless time sucks that, late at night, stimulate the brain and interfere with sleep. Furthermore, specific to notifications on your phone, you don’t have to have them. So try this wellness tip and realize the benefits of disabling notifications on your phone.

Stroller-Running

Fresh air, a run, & time with my fave guy – best medicine ever.

8. Get Fresh Air
Oh, the irony of this in December, I know. It’s cold, there’s snow, and it’s pretty much dark all the time. All the more reason to get outside and soak in the simplicity of nature. Unless it’s frigidly cold, windy, or the snow drifts are blocking your door, make time to get outside for fresh air every day.

9. So Much Stuff
Chances are, you have too much stuff. And a ton of it is stuff you don’t need. Clutter can raise anxiety and have a negative impact on wellness so try to adopt the “less is more” mentality and rid your life of excess stuff. Consider donating it for the added wellness bonus that comes from giving back.

10. Write
There’s something about writing every day that I believe is good for the mind and soul. Whether a simple, daily note or full journaling effort, try writing for better wellness.

11. Be Grateful
Speaking of writing, this is one idea to begin the effort – something for which you’re grateful. Gratitude is another practice that comes with proven health benefits, so take time for intentional showings of gratitude every day.

12. Get a Coffee
A little caffeine is good – plus, if you get it with a friend, you get the added health of connection.

Waffles

Coffee…with a side of waffle.

13. Laugh
The saying, “Laughter is the best medicine,” exists for a reason. Both short-term and long-term benefits come from laughing. If you need a good laugh, might I suggest the episode where Ricky Gervais dances in the British edition of The Office or the airplane scene from the movie, Bridesmaids.

14. Move Intentionally
Park far away. Take the stairs. Get up and talk to your coworkers. Move your body more, intentionally, and it does add up a little bit. Here’s a recent blog of mine that talks more about the idea of moving intentionally and moving more for better health.

15. Listen to Music
Whether hard rock, folk, pop, or country, virtually any type of music can have uplifting benefits, motivate through a tough workout, or boost productivity with mundane tasks.

16. Stretch
Yoga is an amazing way to start the day, a quick mid-day stretch helps re-energize and refocus the mind, and a little evening wind down could help with calming the mind and lead to better sleep. Any time of day, for a minute or several, give the body a good stretch.

17. Say No
Setting boundaries and better prioritize time by saying “no” occasionally is healthy. I’m also going to go all Nancy Reagan on you and put this out there for drugs, alcohol, and smoking. None of them are good for you and they affect the health and wellness of those around you, too. So just say no.

18. Talk to Someone
Texting, emails, DMs – none of them replace good old face-to-face conversation. Talking with a friend or family member and having connection brings big benefits.

19. Run a Minute
Just one minute. That’s all. And if it feels good, do it for one more minute…and maybe another.

20. Give Grace
Everyone messes up. Everyone has bad days. And, most of the time, people don’t have outright bad intentions with their actions. Whether a coworker pissed you off or your child throws a tantrum, give them a little grace and you’ll feel better, too.

21. Say Thank You
More than just in a way to show gratitude, thank you can be better swapped for one overused phrase. We have a tendency to say, “I’m sorry,” too much; often for things we have no reason to be sorry. Instead of the default response, try instead thanking someone. Instead of, “I’m sorry I was late,” try, “Thank you for being patient.”

22. Be On Time
Piggybacking on that last one, being late leads to anxiety and stress – unless you’re one of those people who runs on their own schedule and doesn’t give AF about others’ time. So, assuming you do care, take time to plan ahead better, allow more time, and be intentional so you’re on time rather than frantically running late.

23. Smile
Would you believe there are health benefits to smiling? It’s true, from releasing endorphins to lowering blood pressure, the simple act of smiling more is an easy way to be well.

Run-and-Reeses

I mean, is there anything better than a Reese’s?

24. Lift Weights
Strong bodies bring a ton of health benefits – and for those who fear muscle bulk, it’s not going to happen. People who have big muscles work incredibly hard for that, in the gym and in the kitchen. No one’s getting big muscles with a day or two of weight lifting so give it a go.

25. Slow Down
Step back, take a breath, refocus energy, or simply just be for a few moments. Sometimes, slowing down is actually a strategy for productivity and getting more done. And, in my case, this advice can and should extend to driving…

26. Be Inclusive
Connections matter. And there’s also benefits that come from making others feel good. Including others feeds positivity, while excluding breeds negativity. Be the reason someone doesn’t feel left out or like they don’t belong, and it’ll make you feel better, too.

This also extends to eating – here’s why to include lots of food in your daily diet.

27. Try Something New
Going outside the comfort zone is how we grow, experience new thrills, and do great things. Sometimes, going out on a limb might bring failure – and, remember, it’s okay to fail. Permission to fail is granted, just learn from it.

28. Pet a Dog
I get it, not everyone loves dogs. Actually, I don’t get it. Dogs are the best. Petting dogs is a wonderful, happy act. And it’s good for health. Trust me, I Googled it 🙂

29. Be Kind
Whether to someone else or yourself, kindness brings wellness. Again, be the source of positivity and uplifting to others, not negativity and bringing down others.

30. Rest
With so many actions to take and things to do, remember that not doing something is one of the best ways to wellness. Whether planning to take a rest day from working out or simply taking time to relax instead of clean the house, run the errand, cook the meal, etc., rest does wonders for the body and mind.

And for those who want to spend all 31 days of the month working towards wellness, I have one more bonus idea for you:

31. Eat a Reese’s
I mean, if eating Reese’s doesn’t make you feel better, I don’t know what will. Preferably, the holiday Christmas tree Reese’s because they’re just better than any other type – but any Reese’s will do.

I wish you a great December!

What other simple wellness tips can you add to the list, for the next 30 days? The comments are your space to share thoughts or ask questions so please do so.

Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

How to Eat Right on Thanksgiving? Eat on Thanksgiving.

“You can’t have Thanksgiving without turkey. That’s like Fourth of July without apple pie or Friday with no two pizzas.”

Joey Tribbiani always had wise words when it came to food. While I don’t eat turkey, I respect his knowledge and I chose this quote for my annual Thanksgiving eating and exercise blog because it’s fitting for what I’d like to share.

As we head into the holiday that’s quite literally all about eating a lot and being grateful for the ability to do so, I have two key reminders:

Food Isn’t Bad and Exercise Isn’t Punishment
Reminder #1 – Food isn’t bad. Please don’t think eating is bad. You’re not bad for eating.

Puppy-Chow

Puppy chow – starting the love early.

Reminder #2 – Exercise isn’t punishment. Please don’t feel the need to exercise to punish yourself for eating. You don’t punish yourself for eating.

Eat All the Food
Let’s all ignore the eating-to-exercise equations. You know, the posts people always share on social media, scolding you about how many miles you need to walk or burpees you need to do to “cancel out” the pumpkin pie and stuffing you ate. People will certainly share them now and forever, but that’s their problem, not yours.

If you want turkey and mashed potatoes and corn and fudge and bread – have it. Food isn’t bad and you’re not bad for eating food. Exercise isn’t punishment and you don’t need to punish yourself with exercise.

So those of you wondering how to eat well on Thanksgiving? You can read my blog from two years ago but I’m still going to give the same advice: Eat all the food. Enjoy it. Savor it. Eat it all. Stop when you’re full – or, when you think you can’t possibly eat another bit, channel your inner Joey Tribbiani and go for that piece of pumpkin pie. Then get back on track to stay true to your wellness goals.

I’ll leave you with one more reminder why food is good for you, it’s not bad for you (fun fact, there’s another Friends reference in that post). Happy Thanksgiving!

How do you feel about exercise-to-calorie charts? Do you feel compelled to burn off calories when you eat more than normal? Or are you okay with a day of indulgence here and there?

The comments are yours so please leave one. Or share with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness In Real Life so you get every new blog post right to your inbox.

5 Ways to Keep Energy Levels Up When Daylight Goes Down

“I hate Daylight Saving Time.”

I mean, does anyone really like Daylight Saving Time? I know there are a few out there but the vast majority of people aren’t fans.

DST aside – and for those of you in Arizona – this time of year is tough because there’s just naturally less daylight. That Vitamin D really does do the body and mind good.

We have two choices: We can complain about something we can’t control. Or we can shift our mindset to what we can control. And that’s ourselves.

There are a few simple things everyone can do to up energy as daylight dwindles. There are ways to keep your mind and body healthy and positive with a bit of effort.

Here are five ways I’ve found that help with keeping energy, happiness, and positivity high when daylight can have us feeling low.

1. Eat Breakfast
It’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason and there’s a lot of truth in that age-old statement. Starting the day with a good breakfast is important to set the tone for a healthy body and mind.

Running-Buddy

Need to stay motivated to work out? Sign up for a race or find a running buddy.

Why is skipping breakfast bad? Everyone is different and some swear by it but, for most, the absence of food is a sure fire way to feel sluggish and lacking energy. Food itself is energy – it’s meant to fuel the body and mind to do whatever the day brings.

Not all breakfast is created equal. The right foods are key to keeping energy levels high, especially during these days when it’s often still dark when we head out for the day. Quality carbs and protein are great choices so, for breakfast, this could be a Greek yogurt, oatmeal with banana, or whole grain toast with peanut butter.

2. Exercise
Although it sounds counter-intuitive, lack of energy is often remedied by exercise – and lack of exercise often leads to low energy. From low-impact activities like walking and yoga to more intense workouts like HIIT and running, any form of exercise does wonders for energy, positivity, and overall wellness.

Whether an early morning workout to set the tone for the day, the benefits of a midday workout (oh, I love a good runch!), or an evening workout to get through the last parts of the day with a happier outlook, the best time to exercise is whenever it best fits into your day.

3. Drink Water
No matter the problem, water is usually an answer. Whether sluggish or cranky, sick or feeling low, water can make us feel better in many different ways.

It’s proven to boost energy levels, crucial when dwindling daylight tends to zap all we have before the day is even close to done. It can boost metabolism, also beneficial when fatigue and sluggishness can lead to skipped workouts and poor food choices.

There are also scientific health benefits of drinking water like improved brain function and a happy colon and kidneys, all of which can lead to better moods and more energy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever – there’s really no downside to drinking a lot of water. It’s free and easy and good for you – so do it. Bonus: here are three easy ways to drink more water.

4. Get Outside
There are Vitamin D supplements and light boxes and probably a zillion other things designed to replace lacking sunlight. But there’s no substitute for actually going outside.

Mindfulness

There may not be a yoga studio near you but simple mindfulness can be done anytime, anywhere.

Even if it’s not sunny, the simple act of getting out and taking in a few moments of fresh air and nature are enough to put a little pep back in anyone’s step.

This time of year, it’s easy to hunker down and hibernate. Instead, layer up (if needed) and make the effort to get out a few times during the day.

5. Make Time for Mindfulness
Even though fatigue is almost always felt physically, don’t discount the mental fatigue that can weigh you down, especially this time of year. When the mind is cluttered and unfocused, feelings of stress, unhappiness, and exhaustion are often close behind.

Make time, multiple times during the day, to be more mindful. Take a moment to refocus your thoughts and be present. How can we be more mindful every day? It takes work and practice. There are plenty of simple ways to be mindful – and a few tactics that detract from it.

Don’t multitask. Don’t check your phone and email constantly. Don’t overschedule yourself to the point you leave no time to think or be creative.
Do take a brief pause every so often to check in with yourself. Do give yourself a few seconds here and there throughout the day to just be. Do take advantage of downtime, like waiting in line or rebooting your computer, to notice your breath, be calm, and get perspective.

Those are just five simple ways to deal with Daylight Saving Time and dwindling daylight.

What do you do to deal with the lower energy and sluggishness that often accompanies this time of year? Any of these tips or do you have others to share? The comments are for you so please leave one.

Or connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram and @LindsayIRL on Twitter, and subscribe to this blog so you get every week’s new post straight to your inbox.

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