#fitblog

Dear Diary

I haven’t had a chance to make it to the Twitter #fitblog chat in ages. I used to be there every week on Tuesdays and I loved having the opportunity to make connections with like-minded people. Twitter may be a clique and often a time-suck, but I’ve met so many great people on there that I’d consider friends. I enjoy talking to them, I get advice from them and learn new things. Then it was no more. 🙁 Goodbye Fitblog…

The last few months I’ve been so busy in the gym on Tuesdays lifting weights that I’ve missed the chats. In the past I was usually on the elliptical Tuesday nights so I could easily participate in the chat. It’s impossible now that I’m focusing on strength training.  There was a recent chat that I was sorry I missed. It sounded right up my alley. So why don’t we discuss it here?

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How has self-journaling helped you achieve your health and fitness goals? 
I didn’t keep a journal of my weight loss journey and I REALLY wish I had. I would have liked to look back at what my specific struggles were, how I felt when I hit landmarks and goals, and what my thoughts were. The things I kept track of were my calories and my weight.

I tracked my weigh-ins on an Excel spreadsheet (which you can see the numbers here) and I wrote down all of my calories each day in a little notebook. This was obviously long before I got an iPhone and used an app to track my calories! It worked well and I did it diligently for two years.

Now, I track my calories on my iPhone in either MyFitnessPal or Cronometer. I track my biking and running mileage on DailyMile and that’s about it!

What is the most difficult part of tracking your fitness journey?
I’m not sure that I have a difficult part of tracking. I’d say the most difficult part of the journey in general is dealing with injury. Me + injury does not = good mental health. Exercise is definitely my source of dealing with stress and anxiety. Exercise has alleviated a lot of the seasonal depression I deal with each winter. When I can’t exercise? I find myself slipping back into the old habits–the stress eating, getting sucked into that “black hole” mentality where I can’t see the silver lining on anything. It’s really hard.

Injuries that sideline me from doing things I love (run, bike, etc) make me feel despondent and stressed out. It also makes me start to over-analyze my food intake. I try REALLY hard not to let myself get super restrictive with my calories when I’m injured. Not only do I need calories to heal my body, but lack of exercise should NOT equal severe food restriction! Ever! I just have to be more mindful. Maybe I don’t eat dessert every night. Or I skip the beer with dinner. Little things like that save the calories and aren’t over-restrictive.

Do you think social media can help motivate people to create better habits? 
I think it does both, or rather it has the potential for both positive and negative things. Sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into disordered thinking when you’re surrounded by people who are also struggling. While support is great, if someone’s disordered eating or overexercising is starting to rub off on you–social media is NOT a healthy resource.

There have been several times over the years where I found myself getting a little disordered. It’s happened with running — where I compared myself to more experienced and conditioned runners — and pushed myself too far. I’ve definitely compared myself to other bloggers — why are they so popular when all they do is post photos of oatmeal every day? What helps me is to step away and remind myself that I am NOT them. My journey is different, my body is different, my story is different. Maybe my body type isn’t meant to run marathons or do crossfit every single day. I need my rest days! I also remind myself to celebrate the non-scale victories.

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How do you build an online community around your health goals? 

In terms of community, this happened naturally for me. When I decided it was time to lose 100 pounds most of my friends and family were super supportive. In my trek to finding a healthy lifestyle I started meeting new people who were interested in exercise and healthy living like I was.

As for the online community, that came later, after I lost the weight. I really wish I had known there was such a vast resource for weight loss online. The chat groups, twitter, Facebook groups, SparkPeople…the list goes on and on! So while I’m not trying to lose weight, I do use my online community for support and common interests.

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I love Twitter for this. The majority of people I follow are into healthy living. When I was running a lot, I participated in the #runchat running chat and I met so many cool runners. It’s a great place to get advice or learn new things about running. When I wanted to get serious about strength training I turned to my friend Suzanne.

Twitter is what you make it. Fill it will people who will inspire and support you!

Okay, your turn to weigh in!

Get on the Path to Healthy

This post is all about getting healthy, staying healthy and how to balance fun with health while on vacation. It was a recent #fitblog Twitter chat and even though the weekly chat is now over with, it’s still a great topic because summer is upon us. Check out an old post I wrote on How to Stay Fit on Vacation for some more in-depth ideas.

What is your #1 tip to eating healthy?
Everything in moderation! I don’t deny myself anything I want, I just make sure what I eat is within my calorie range for the day and not in massive quantities.

I try and start my day with a healthy breakfast. Eggs, fruit, coffee, maybe some oatmeal. Then I eat fruits and veggies for my snacks. As long as I have those two things down, the rest is a cinch. If you start the day making healthy choices, it’s easier to stick to it as the day goes on (at least for me).

When you’re traveling, what are some of the easiest ways to eat healthy?

Splitting entrees or appetizers with your travel mate is also a great idea. Often times when Michael and I go on vacation we want to sample the local foods and getting appetizers or smaller portions and sharing is a great way to do that. You get to try a little bit of everything! A way to do this is to check out the Food Truck scene in the city you’re visiting. Portland has a fantastic and HUGE food truck community and there are pods scattered all around the city.

I also like the appetizer tip because you discover things you may not have tried otherwise. For example, the last time I was in Austin we went to a trendy, upscale restaurant called La Condesa. We went there because Yelp reviews recommended the Guacamole Flight! A Guacamole Flight?!?! Sign me up! It did NOT disappoint.

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It was something I’d never heard of before and never experienced and it was one of the coolest things we did in Austin this last time around!

Another issue with traveling is airport food and/or not having access to healthy snacks. I try and pack healthy snacks with me if I’m traveling. Obviously road trips are easy–pack whatever you want! But flying can be difficult with all the limitations we have now. I try and remember to bring an empty water bottle with me so I can be sure to drink water. When I went to Hawaii, I packed a bunch of individual boxes of raisins and protein bars in my suitcase and they totally came in handy on the trip. Bananas and other fruit are easy airplane snacks, too.

How do you choose to stay fit when traveling?
This one is easy! Whether you’re traveling in a plane or a car, there are still ways to stay active.

I tend to plan my fitness around the vacation. If it’s the winter and I’m somewhere there is going to be a lot of snow, I take my snowshoes! If I’m going somewhere where there is hiking, I bring my boots. The point is to plan ahead and scout out some activities that would be fun and keep you fit.

My preference while traveling to find a hotel that has a gym.

Hotel Gyms or pools are kind of a must have amenity for me. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but SOMETHING. If I happen to be at a hotel that has neither, there’s always a way to get in a workout. I like the Nike Training Club app for that.

Some of my happiest vacation memories include doing something active. A few examples: hiking in Arizona, running along the beach in Kona and swimming in the ocean in Hawaii, running with my brother in Texas, swimming in a natural spring in Austin, and running the Strip in Vegas.

What snack or food is your weakness when it comes to hindering a healthy diet?

This depends. Pizza and ice cream were my trigger foods when I was 250 pounds. I’ve pretty much gotten over that and I can eat those things in moderation without bingeing. When I’m on vacation, I really want to try the local foods. And sometimes it’s just SO GOOD it’s worth the extra calories! Franklin’s BBQ comes to mind instantly. 🙂

Another weakness on vacation is alcohol. Whether I am vacationing somewhere that has good wine or beer tasting, or if I’m on a beach where all I want is an umbrella drink…those calories can add up quickly. I try and make better choices with my liquid calories and I am going to get a foo-foo drink I try to keep it at just one.

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Was that Pina Colada I had in Kona the best ever? Not really but it tasted good, had an umbrella in it and I was sitting on the beach! I enjoyed it and just let it go.

What about you? How do you answer these questions?