My Blog List

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to overcome obstacles & achieve your goals

In 2009, I had been a stay at home Mom to my 3 children for 11 years.  I had previously worked in accounting and I wanted to reenter the job market.   I thought about things I could do to improve my job prospects.  I always had wanted to study for and pass the CPA exam, but there never seemed to be the perfect time to prepare.  I received my accounting degree 20 years ago, and the material to study was no longer fresh in my mind.  The first step was to fill out the application with New York state Department of Professions to sit for the exam. 

The first obstacle I had to overcome was that I did not meet the state's requirements for credit hours.  I had to enroll in 2 courses at the local community college before I could even take the exam.  Thankfully the courses I needed were offered during the spring semester.

Once I finished these courses, I began studying for the first of 4 exams.  I purchased review materials and just dove right in.  It was tough, I spent most weekends apart from my family and studying became my full time job.  I spent 3 months studying for each exam and during the next year, I passed each of the 4 exams on the first try.  I didn't think it was possible, but because I was committed to making this happen, I pushed myself and never gave up.  I can happily say now that 2 years later I am working again in public accounting and I am very happy.

I wanted to share this story because so many of us face challenges in our daily lives.  This is what I learned from the experience.

Step 1 - Write down and think about the goals you would like to achieve and the obstacles that you are facing.

Step 2 - Make a plan and think about how you can break down what is overwhelming into smaller and more manageable steps.

Step 3 - Make sure that you have a support system in place to get you through the rough patches. 

Step 4  - Remain true to your goal.  If you are committed and make the time and effort, your diligence will be rewarded.

Step 5 - Have faith in yourself and don't give up.  Yes, there will be difficult times ahead, but be assured that all your hard work will make a difference.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What to do when temptation strikes?

Don't you just hate it? You are enjoying the afternoon at the mall and the delicious scent of fresh baked cookies or brownies is calling your name.  Or it is Halloween week and everywhere you look in your house is a Snickers or Almond Joy candy bar that your children have gotten from trick or treating.  What can you do when temptation strikes?

The first thing I try to do is to think about how much better I will look in my clothes if I avoid junk and unhealthy foods.  Shallow, maybe, but it is one of the best benefits that comes from eating healthy and exercising.  My diet has been junk food free for three years now, and I do notice that I have much more energy than I did before.  While I may have gotten a brief boost from sugary foods, it would soon be followed by a crash and I would feel awful.

Another approach that could be helpful is to try to keep a stash of healthy foods around your house that will feed your impulse to snack when hunger strikes.I will sometimes munch on dry nutritious cereals when I am craving chips or other salty snacks.  Instead of eating ice cream, I enjoy a smoothie made with Kefir Nonfat Probiotic, almond mik, and fresh fruit.  If I am watching a DVD with my family at home, I will munch on fresh sliced carrots, peppers and celery with lowfat salad dressing.  It satisfies my desire to munch on something but I do not have the guilt that comes from eating something junky.

If all else fails, sometimes nothing is better than taking a long run or walk to take your mind off these impulses.  Sometimes the desire to eat when you are not hungry is nothing more than boredom.  First have a glass of water, then call a friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or take your kids to the park. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to unwind after a stressful day

I had a stressful week at work and thought about the activities that help most to settle my nerves.  I work in accounting and occasionally after a long day of number crunching, I need an escape. Stress can be a factor leading to the development of future health problems, so it is important to manage it.  I love taking long walks alone, especially in the evening, just to reflect and think about the days' events.  I also love yoga because the stretching helps to melt away the tension that builds up in my body.  Here are a few suggestions of healthy activities to help reduce stress.  How do you unwind after a long day?

 1.    Take a yoga class.
 2.    Take a kickboxing class.
 3.    Watch a funny movie.
 4.    Take a bubble bath.
 5.    Meditate.
 6.    Take a long walk outside.
 7.    Clean or organize your home.
 8.    Go on a date with your significant other.
 9.    Dance your heart out.
10.   Get lost in a novel.
11.   Plan a weekend getaway.
12.   Take a hike in the woods.
13.   Pick up the phone and call an old friend.
14.   Meet a friend out for coffee or drinks
15.   Listen to soothing and relaxing music.
16.   Take a long nap.
17.   Go for a swim.
18.   Take a new fitness class.
19.   Have a girls night out.
20.   Plan a night free from the computer and cell phones.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Facing your workout challenges

I love doing a variety of aerobics and zumba classes.  I must confess that my lack of coordination makes these types of workouts extremely challenging.  I know you have seen me, I am the one in class who is at least 2 steps behind everyone else.   I try to land a spot right up in the front so as not to miss a single step.  Although I mentally process what I should be doing, my body simply refuses to cooperate.  I feel like a 2000 pound gorilla wearing a tutu, clumsily out of step and time with the momentum of the class.

However, once I master the routines, which at times can take weeks,  I feel wonderful.  The workouts are a perfect way for me to challenge and test my physical limitations.  It is precisely what I need to do to try to improve in these areas.  One thing I do know is not lacking is my will and desire to stay in the best shape I can.  Hopefully a positive attitude and perseverence helps me overcome many of my shortcomings.

How have you been challenged by your workouts? What steps have you taken to try and overcome these limitations?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Easing back into my exercise routine.

This has been a better week than I had expected.  I was not sure how I would feel after trying to resume my workouts.  I walked every night and went to my favorite yoga classes at the gym with my daughter.  I did mention my injury to the yoga instructor so she would not be surprised if I was unable to participate fully during the classes. 

Yes, there were some stretches that I had to modify because of the pain that I have been experiencing on the left side of my body.  Usually I am able to push myself to the limits with the stretching, but I had to keep myself in check so as to not to risk my recovery.  I am slowly beginning to feel more like myself again.  I am noticing much less pain when I wake up in the morning.  I really do believe in the positive benefits of exercise in how our bodies recover after an injury.  For me it is not only physical, but emotional.  I am much happier when I make the effort to include exercise as part of my day.

Things are starting to look up, and hopefully, I am just a few short weeks from feeling great again!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Staying Motivated to Workout and Exercise

We've all been there.  Maybe we have been putting too many hours in at work, we overindulge on a holiday meal, or just lack motivation.  What helps you to get back in the swing of your exercise regimen?

I love it during the summers when the weather is nice in Buffalo.  There are many ways to actively spend the day outdoors and exercise.  I love to walk on the riverwalk path in Niawanda Park alongside the Niagara River with my family in North Tonawanda on a beautiful summer day.   The summer months are not usually when I run into difficulty finding the time or energy to exercise.

The most difficult period of time for me is during the dreadfully long winters in Buffalo.  I have found the local gym where my family has a membership to be what helps out the most.  They offer a wide variety of classes and if I get bored, there are plenty of new ones to try.  Lately my 17 year old daughter has been joining me for the Tue/Thur. evening yoga classes.  There are many new classes I hope to try which are offered on their schedule.  One of these days I will have to make it to the Basic Training class!  Things will definitely get more hectic in the fall when the school activities resume, but I must remain committed to making the time for exercise.   I feel so much stronger and healthier when I do.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Resuming workouts after an injury

This week I am bummed out, I sustained an an injury on Saturday after a fall.  I have discomfort on my left side and it is especially painful when I bend down to pick something up or sit down.  Little by little I am feeling stronger and hope to get back into my exercise routine by next week.  How soon is too soon to resume your workouts after an injury?

The worst part for me is that exercising is an integral part of my daily life.  I feel better emotionally as well as physically and I deal better with stress when I incorporate activity into my daily routine.   I am hoping to resume slowly next week with some yoga and stretching. This will depend on how I am feeling and what my doctor recommends.  At least I should be able to take long strolls around my neighborhood this week, as this is very uplifting to me emotionally.  I am missing my workouts and I hope to not be out of commission for too long.

For all my friends out there, what has helped you cope with an injury?  Did you ease back into exercise and avoid more strenuous workouts?  The good news is that after 5 days I am starting to feel that I am getting more of my strength back.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Do you buy or pack lunch for work?

Normally when I go to work I like to pack my lunch everyday.  I like to be in control of what I am eating and I know that I am eating healthy if I pack it myself.  I usually have a sandwich on whole wheat bread with mustard (usually turkey or ham), a yogurt (plain or sugar free), an apple, fresh berries, and a salad with light or fat free dressing.  Occasionally I will mix things up, but this is a typical idea of what I pack.

Occasionally with my job I am on the road and I just have to exercise some discretion of what I order when I am dining out.  Last week while on a road trip with my daughter, we stopped at a TGI Fridays.  I was happy to see that the nutritional information and calorie counts were provided for each dish.  I was suprised to see that several of the appetizers had more fat/calories than a typical entree!  At least now there is no mystery and you know exactly what you are getting.

I tried the Petite Sirloin which is listed as a RPRP (Right Portion, Right Price) option on the menu.  I enjoyed this dish and it came with steamed brocolli and ginger lime slaw.  At least options like these are available for people like me who are health conscious.   It takes the guesswork out of dining out!

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What motivates you to stay healthy and fit?

Life is so busy that sometimes it makes me think about why it is important to stay fit and healthy.  It is not always easy to take time out of our busy schedules to get to the gym.  There are some evenings especially during the school year when I am running from one activity to the other with 1 of my 3 kids.  The one thing I do know is that I have so much more energy to get through a busy day when I am eating healthier and exercising.

The most important reasons to me to stay healthy and fit is so that I can remain youthful, have more energy, and to feel better.  How about you, what reasons are most important to you to try to stay healthy?

"Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded."  -  Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Monday, August 8, 2011

Taking positive steps toward a healthier lifestyle

Ephipany- A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.  Have you ever had a moment in your life when something suddenly becomes crystal clear and it motivated you to take action to make a change?

About 3 years ago I did not feel as well as I should have physically.  I took a drastic step and decided to make some huge changes in my diet and exercise routine.  I have eliminated sugar and junk food from my diet.  I have heard the chorus of "everything in moderation" but found that it just never worked for me.  Once I would have the taste of a cookie, I could never stop at just one.  For me now treats include greek yogurt with fruit or a nutrition bar only after reading the nutrition label carefully to make sure I understand what I am putting in my body.  Exercise classes at my local gym really help me feel connected to my community and I love working out with a group.

If you are looking for someone to cheer you on and celebrate your success, you have come to the right place.  I will be rooting for you and encouraging you every step of the way.  I know first hand how much better you can feel with modest changes in your diet and exercise regimen.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What type of lasting footprint will I leave?

I was doing some thinking today wondering what people would most remember about me. I know this is a strange subject, but is this not something we have all thought about?

To my children I hope that I have instilled in them the importance of working and studying hard. I know that life is not always easy, but when things don't go your way, to not give up. That despite hardship a goal is possible to achieve if you put forth the effort.

I also hope that by trying to eat healthy and staying physically fit, I have taught my children the importance of taking care of their bodies. I know that much of what I do is lost on them, because I don't want to be so strict about diet & nutrition that they feel deprived.

Most of all I just want to be remembered as someone who made a contribution. And honestly, I am still trying to figure out what I was placed on this earth to do.

How about you, how would you like to be remembered someday?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pampering yourself is good for the soul

Every once in awhile we all need good a little pick me up after a long week at work, or just because.  So what is something you do just to reward yourself for a job well done? Maybe you have reached an exercise goal, or have eaten healthy all week and want to reward yourself.  Is there something you like to do to lift your spirits?

I just love getting my hair washed and styled at my favorite salon.  I just love the confidence that I feel about how much better I can look when my hair is professionally styled.  We all have days where we just need some "me" time and to be pampered.  Maybe I would try getting a facial sometime or possibly a makeover.  What is important is making the time to do something which helps you to feel good about yourself.  When I walk out of the salon, I feel like a transformed woman.  It does wonders to lift my spirits. 

So indulge yourself every now and then. When you reward yourself for achieving your goals, it will be helpful in motivating you to continue to reach for the stars.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Making Healthy Choices while Traveling

Today I am taking my daughter on a campus tour of SUNY Binghamton. We drove from Buffalo, NY last night right after I got home from work. A challenging aspect of being away from home for me is watching what I eat and making sure I find the time to exercise.

Our hotel room stay includes continental breakfast which is great. Usually I can manage to pull a healthy breakfast together with the choices that are available.  Restaurant menus can be really tricky, and a challenging aspect is to make sure you know what you are getting. I can drive my husband crazy because I will ask the waitress 101 questions about how food is prepared before I make a decision. I am happy to see that more restaurants are now beginning to offer healthy options on their menus.

What are some tips that help you navigate a restaurant menu when trying to make healthy choices of what to eat?

Later we will make the drive to Port Washington, NY, for a planned tour of the campus of SUNY Stony Brook tomorrow. I look forward to the long walks I love taking in my hometown.  I think the people stay very fit there because they do a lot of walking and are health conscious. How much of our own attitudes about health and fitness are shaped by the people around us? It definitely helps me to be surrounded by positive people who are conscientious about their health and well being.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Coffee, the good, the bad, but why I just can't quit you!

I am consumed with trying to do what is best for my health.  But don't get me started on trying to give up my morning cup of joe!  I have heard all the reasons why I should give up drinking so much caffeine, it is a diuretic and promotes fluid loss, it has no nutritional value, it increases the risk of developing osteoporosis, and caffeine is just not good for your body. But I must confess that although I have tried to cut back, it is the one vice I indulge in on a regular basis that I truly enjoy.  I have become accustomed to drinking my coffee minus the sugar, with half and half.  

And for you other folks out there for whom health and fitness is a passion, what is a "guilty pleasure" that you would be hard pressed to give up?  Coffee is something I continue to consume in moderation because I can't imagine my life without it! 

And to be fair to the culprit that is coffee, here are a few reasons it might not be so bad for you.  People have been shown to have a lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes, caffeine may provide protection against Alzheimer's disease, and a cup of coffee represents a contribution of 1.8 grams of fiber to your daily intake just to name a few!