If you’ve been following me on social media and through my blog and newsletter, you know I’ve recently started doing yoga. I go to a class once a week and do some exercises on my own throughout the week. At the beginning of each class, Beth, our instructor, tells us to “set your intention for this time.” My intention is rarely the same week to week. This week, I may want to stretch out. The next week I might be focusing on building strength. Two weeks ago, mindfulness may have been my goal. Those are really three very different foci, and it’s pretty impossible to set an intention for more than one at a time. Sure, I can do the flow with mindfulness as my goal and still build strength and stretch out, but I can only concentrate on one intention at a time.
The same happens in business. My intention for my business is to serve my customers the best I can. Another day, my intention might be more growth-oriented. These don’t happen in isolation from each other or any other focus I might have for my business on any given day.
I am using the lesson from yoga to impact my business. Each day, I’m going to start out by stating an intention for that business day. Today’s intention was transitional. Transitional days see me moving from the last major task to the next one. I finished clearing out the remnants of the lip balm order I sent last week and prepared to restock some soap. This transitional day was also a day of preparation: When my new printer crosses the threshold tomorrow, I will be ready with stacks of labels to print off.
By stating an intention for my days, I am doing more than setting a goal. I am declaring what I will achieve that day. Doing this today has energized my day. I have felt super-charged to make things happen, but only if they work towards my intention. Wrapping soaps that need to be wrapped is not part of today’s intention, so they will only get done after everything else is complete. They are, however, a huge part of tomorrow’s intention.
Do you set intentions or goals for each day? I encourage you to set an intention for each day, and let me know how that changes how you’re able to do life or work in the comments below.
Dieting is anathema to healthy living. I’ve seen it too many times to count. Back in the 80s when NutriSystem was new and hot, someone I know jumped on it; she was a “chunky” size 10. (Funny what was “chunky” by today’s standards.) She followed the diet faithfully, lost a bunch of weight, and looked GOOD. As soon as she met her goal, she got off the diet and started eating as she wanted (a large bag of Doritos in a day, for example), and all those pounds came back and brought friends. They settled in and never left, and now this person has a number of weight-related health problems. Both our dads have done low-carb – Atkins and South Beach – and we’ve watched the pounds drop while they followed the diets and the pounds come back as they started eating carbs again. Even I’ve done that in my life – reduced calories to lose weight, only to gain them back and more once I met my goal. That life isn’t for me.
This yo-yo dieting isn’t healthy at all. It puts tremendous strain on every part of the body. It slows down the body’s metabolism, actually making it harder to lose weight, especially around the gut and internal organs. Yo-yo dieting also leads to increased cortisol levels, which makes us gain weight. It can further lead to Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, both of which can lead to life-threatening cardiovascular events. In short, yo-yo dieting can kill you.
I don’t diet. I hate diets. I think they’re intrinsically flawed and doomed to failure for reasons we’ve all experienced. You deprive yourself of something (in behavioral psych terms, that’s called punishment), and when the “punishment” is over (e.g., you’ve met the weight loss goal), we enjoy the forbidden foods again and all those pounds come back with reinforcements. I saw similar behavior with my younger daughter last week. She abused the boundaries we’d placed on her tablet use during the school year – a day after getting it back from a previous punishment. She’d lost her Fire through the end of the school year, and we gave it back to her when she returned from a mission retreat. For two straight days last week, all I saw was the top of her head while she played games or watched videos on it. Her punishment was over, and she glutted on the thing we’d taken away. As a result, I began placing limits on her use, turning it into a reward.
I like food. I like the tastes, the textures, and the experience of food. When I want the food, I eat the food. It doesn’t matter what it is. I am tending to skew to a higher protein percentage for muscle repair from working out. However, I’ll eat a cookie or a serving of ice cream or a serving of popcorn. I try to reduce my carb intake throughout the day, giving my body more time to burn them, but I don’t beat myself up if that doesn’t happen. For me, it’s about moderation and grace. Could I eat a quart of ice cream? Sure. Do I? Not in a sitting. I eat that ice cream a 1/2 cup at a time over weeks, if not months. (That’s moderation.) Some days, I eat more calories than I burn. I don’t give up; I just get back on track the next day, and maybe exercise a bit more throughout the week to keep myself on track overall. (That’s grace.) I’m not a failure because last Tuesday I blew my calorie count out of the water at our anniversary dinner.
My breakfasts tend to be carb-heavy, my lunches more protein- and fruit/vegetable-heavy, and our dinners feature lean protein, vegetables, and, when possible, carbs from veggies (jicama, carrots, peas, etc.) more than from grains, rice, etc. However, when someone else in the house plans and cooks dinner, I gratefully go with what they fix and don’t demand a special meal (there are quite a few social reasons behind that that I won’t get into here). To their credit, they run their menus by me ahead of time so I can eat accordingly throughout the day. I only snack on days when I’ll be eating a late dinner because of workouts and/or soccer practice, and it’s something high-protein, like cheese, a glass of milk, peanuts, a protein bar, or a snack serving of Kind Dark Chocolate granola clusters (low glycemic index, good protein – and that stuff is AWESOME!!! in vanilla Greek yogurt).
I drink a LOT of water. Lately I’ve been averaging 9 cups a day. I have 2-3 alcoholic drinks a year, no more than 2 sodas a year, and maybe 5 glasses of sweet tea a year. Juice is rare, milk is less a drink and more a calcium and protein source, and my one mug of coffee a day is the source of my personality. I can’t stand artificial sweeteners and avoid them at all costs. It’s pure cane sugar or I go without, and since I don’t want to take in tons of sugar, I’ll opt for “without.” Besides, water is cheap; I got into that when I was in Div school and broke but we still wanted to go out occasionally without spending $2 on a glass of tea that costs the restaurant about $.08. (Plus, water keeps our urinary tracts functioning at their best, doesn’t destroy tooth enamel, and keeps the rest of our organs functioning at their peaks.)
The result of all this? Mentally, I know I’m not depriving myself, so I don’t feel like I’m being punished for being overweight, which is basically what weight-loss diets do; they’re punishment. Eating is necessary, but how and what I eat becomes a choice with consequences. If I eat too many carbs in a day, I really don’t feel good in my body. If I want a little sweet bite after dinner and eat 3 Kisses, then I have the pleasure of the chocolate and the “yay, me!” of knowing I’ve exercised will-power. I’ve lost about half the weight I want by combining eating well with a variety of exercises. It hasn’t been fast, but it’s been steady, and I’d rather be healthy for life than just lighter for a few months.
And even better? I’ve met my final health goal. Last week, I was able to wear my favorite black velvet choker to our anniversary dinner. Check it out!
And I’m still so excited about those shoulders! Woot!
Have you started living the healthy coastal lifestyle, yet? You don’t have to live at the beach to make the magic happen. And remember, the slow walker is doing far better than the couch potato. What steps have you taken to improve your health? Tell us in the comments below.
About 13 1/2 months ago, I set out on a new health improvement regimen with four specific goals in mind:
Lose 50 pounds.
Improve my knee health.
Prepare my body for mission trips.
Be able to wear my favorite velvet choker again.
The rebrand of last year and the beginning of my new health goals that came just a few months later led my business in ways I couldn’t have even conceived when I was sitting up in bed late at night, legal pad on my knees, scribbling away at ideas. No longer was my brand just about enjoying the beach with every bath, but it became instead how you can enjoy this beach life with us as I invited you along on beach trips, the ups and downs (and bruises and road rash) of getting fit, and how we eat in our healthy coastal lifestyle.
So, here it is, over a year later. How did I do? Pretty well, but I’m not done, yet. I haven’t yet lost 50 pounds. I’ve lost 22 pounds and a LOT of inches. My knees feel awesome! The aggravation in my left knee from trying to be active with too much weight on it is gone, and my compromised right knee is doing just fine. In fact, my knees made it through two soccer seasons with no brace and just the very occasional use of NSAIDs. Back in May, I had the opportunity to go on my first mission trip since starting this journey. My dad was concerned that all the walking would stress my knees, leaving me unfit for the real work, but I was fine after some light stretches each evening. And today… This morning, I took a few moments and tried on my beloved choker, discovering to my delight that it fits again.
The past year saw some frustrations as I tried to get the rest of the family on board with my goals. However, it didn’t take more than a few months – OK, somewhere between a “few” and “several” – for my other half to stop preparing 900-calorie dinners on his nights to cook. On the other hand, it also saw me learning how to cook tasty, filling meals that weren’t horrendously laden with calories. I also got stuck on a plateau. The same weight for MONTHS! Oh my gosh, that drove me crazy! It’s only been in the past month that I’ve broken that plateau and continued dropping. But, oh, the joy! The joy of trying on jeans that are one size smaller than I had been wearing (and hiking up all the time) and instructing my poor, beleaguered daughter to “take these and see if there’s a pair smaller.” Then there is the delightful hilarity of modeling those jeans and appreciating how well they hug in all the right places. There may have been singing and dancing involved in the appreciation.
After the fall soccer season ended, I wanted to do something to keep that activity up. Nothing beats running up and down a football pitch with a dozen littles for burning calories! Our church offers aerobics once a week, so I decided to take advantage of it. This is what last week’s class looked like on my fitness app.
Aerobics has become fellowship time as we talk through the workouts. Some walks present holy moments with one of my daughters, usually the younger. Other walks clear my head and help me be more creative. Today’s, for example, gave me space for some crazy poetry writing, as well as drafting this article. Everything I do for me ultimately benefits my family and my business, as well.
I’m so thankful for this journey, because it has helped me get healthier, helped me be able to enjoy the beach more, helped my business grow, and helped my family. On top of that, it’s also made it possible for me to meet several new people and get to know many others better. I’m thankful that you, my customers, have willingly traversed this road with me, and I hope we continue to grow in healthiness and all that brings with it. After all, what good is living the beach life if we’re not in shape to enjoy it?
You are invited to continue to follow my progress as I continue to push to that 50-pound mark. I’ll be posting new winning recipes as I discover them and grumblinggrunting sharing what’s new in my workouts. (My aerobics instructor is talking “steps” for January, and I think half my Christmas list is from Dick’s.) And just… Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.
Brrr! I woke up a couple of days ago to discover that someone had turned off the heat! We went from summer to fall in a blink! I’m not a cold-weather person, so while Autumn is perfectly lovely, it’s not my favorite season, because I know what’s coming. (Then again, I did use the phrase “when Summer returns in December…” last night.) Be that as it may, Autumn is the perfect time of year to cook up something warm and comforting for dinner with planned-overs for either another dinner or lunch. Usually, “comforting” equals high-calorie and high-fat, but we don’t want to give up healthy for satisfying. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do when it’s cold is to go outside to exercise. In fact, so many of us come as close as possible to hibernating when it gets cold, and all those pounds we lost in the spring and summer find us – and they bring friends with them! LOTS of friends!
Poking around on Facebook, I discovered this incredible slow-cooked tomato soup recipe. I love some good tomato soup on a chilly day – or any day, really – and it’s not unusual for us to have some cans in the pantry, at the very least. When I found out, though, that I could easily and quickly whip up some soup in the slow-cooker, I got happy and immediately decided to let my family be the guinea pigs for this experiment. Again, this isn’t my recipe, but it’s definitely worth sharing.
I have to keep my people to just one serving per meal, especially my teen daughter after soccer practice or a soccer game.
She’s usually famished after being on the field for an hour-and-a-half or so. Here’s the recipe, step-by-step…
56 ounces Diced Tomatoes, Canned
2 cups Vegetable Broth/Stock
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 cup diced carrots
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon garlic Powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 whole Bay Leaf
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup half & half or whole milk
Add all ingredients in slow cooker in the order listed.
Turn on slow cooker to high and cook for 3-4 hours. If you are cooking on low cook 6-8 hours.
Pour 1/2 of the slow cooker into a blender and blend until smooth, repeat with the remaining 1/2 of the soup. Pour all of the soup back into the slow cooker and serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve.
Using half-and-half, this recipe came up to 143 calories per serving, calculating 8 servings. I prefer cooking this low and slow, turning the heat down to “warm” once the carrots are soft. Pair it with grilled cheese on whole wheat, and you’ve got a wonderful, fairly healthy dinner*. (My health app clocks this one at 400 calories, 55.7 g carbs, 22.5 g fat, and 19.7 g protein.)
Give this one a try, and drop a comment below letting me know what you think of it.
*Caveat… My health goals focus on overall health. I don’t concentrate on reducing any one nutritional element in my endeavors, choosing instead to strive for balance. If you have health needs that require you to watch your carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol, or sodium, it is your responsibility to adjust the recipe to meet your unique needs.
I was talking to my newish friend Joy a few weeks ago, and being that Joy is a newish friend, we’re still in that getting-to-know-your-life-story stage. I asked her, “What brought you to this area?” Come to find out, Joy and her husband moved here from the same basic area we did. Most people down here with young families are either natives or moved here for work. Then there’s Joy and me.
Why did we move here? What did we envision life would be like down here? The why is easy: It’s the coast! And what did I expect life would be like? Picture it… You drive down to the beach for a weekend or a week, and along the way, winding along two-lane state highways, you see road-side stand after road-side stand, selling fresh fruits and vegetables. As you get closer to your destination, the scent of briny sea air teases your nose and fills your lungs. You think, What I wouldn’t give to live down here! We’d hang out at the beach all the time, eat fresh vegetables and fruit every day, and have locally caught seafood a few times a week. At least, that’s pretty close to what I thought.
I threw in, “Ride a bike around” and “Live a fit, healthy lifestyle” along with that. Sure, we’d have to work, but we’d be living the working vacation.
Come to find out, Joy and her husband had similar ideas. As I shared my vision, Joy nodded and “uh-huh’ed” in that tone that says, “Sounds familiar.” Their vision – being childless when they made the move – included sitting on the beach watching the sunset and the stars come out. They also saw themselves dining on fresh produce, freshly caught seafood, and living the healthy coastal lifestyle. They were able to catch some sunsets early on, but then life happens.
So, what is the coastal life like? I wake up in the morning and watch the world wake up as I sip my water (part of the HCLS – healthy coastal life style). Weather permitting, I open the sliding glass door, breathing deep draughts of fresh morning air. I’ve gotten good enough to determine the direction of the wind based on how the air smells. Fresh and clean means the air is coming from the north or the south. Tinged with l’aroma du pigs indicates the wind is coming from the west. Laced with the pungent scent of chemicals, and the wind is coming from the southeast. But the best breeze smells fresh, clean, salt-tinged, and just a titch fishy. This is the breeze from the due east or the northeast, where it’s blowing off the sea and coming inland.
After exercising, eating breakfast, and showering/dressing for the day, it’s time to start school. In between courses, I deal with emails. Once school is over, it’s time to get to work. Usually I’m able to knock out some to-dos right after the school day ends. The past two months and going into now, I spend time looking at soccer drill videos and drill instructions, planning what my players need and how to keep practices fun. After a little bit of work on two days of the week, we head out to the soccer fields for practice. By the time we get home from running up and down the fields many times, it’s late, and we’re ready for dinner.
This is where planning happens. If Peter is home, he’ll take care of dinner. On those nights when he’s at the fields, too, dinner goes into the slow cooker. It’s awesome coming home to a pot of soup or chili when it’s late and you’re famished!
On evenings we don’t have to go anywhere, we can spend more time and creativity on our dinner. After dinner, the girls go to bed, I get a little work done, and then Peter and I watch TV for a bit before bed.
Sounds pretty familiar, huh? This could be life anywhere in the state, anywhere in the country, except for different air and different work. Coastal life is simply life. Sure, we can take free days to hit the beach, and it’s easy having fresh produce without making a special farmer’s market run. Other than that, we work, we play, we have school, and we live life to the fullest. It’s not terribly romantic, but it’s the best we’ve had.