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I know a lot of people work out, but I never forget there was a time when I couldn’t walk.  At least not with out severe chronic pain.  And there were also large periods of time when I couldn’t eat.  At least not without getting incredibly sick.

I remember lying in bed, distraught over not being able to do the things that I love.  And missing events I wanted to go to, or having to leave early because I wasn’t feeling well.

I heard myself say that as soon as I was well enough to exercise, I would.  I wasn’t going to wait for things to be “perfect” before doing so.  I would never take being able to be active for granted, again.

I honored that voice and hired a trainer as soon as I was well enough to.  I started by working out in between flare ups.

I love seeing this photo- it reminds me of how far I’ve come.  I had just finished a spin workout at one of my favorite gyms.

This is why I’m so passionate about helping other people get healthier.  I get what it feels like to feel like you’re on the sidelines of life.  Doing everything you’re told to do, and not getting much better.  Way too many of us are suffering when we don’t need to be.

Don’t ever give up on yourself and don’t ever lose hope.  Things can change on a dime.  They did for me.

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A handful of tips for getting healthier…

1. Find things you’ll enjoy and move that body of yours.

If you’re trying to get more active, find a way to do it that doesn’t make you want to stab your eyeball with a pen.  (That creates more problems…)  Or do things that have the potential for you to enjoy.  If you like the water, consider joining an amateur crew club, or join the Y and start swimming.  If you like to dance, go to a Zumba class.  If you like team sports, join a league.  Even if it’s hard initially because you’re out of shape, it’s something you’ll eventually really enjoy.  This sets you up for success.

Slide1When I tried a few years ago to get “back in shape,” I started walking on our (really my husband’s) treadmill.  Then I graduated, very slowly, to a combo of walking and jogging on the treadmill (still mostly walking), and then I moved to mostly jogging on the treadmill.  But I hated running!  I liked being good to my body, but found running about as fun as stabbing myself in my eye with that pen I talked about earlier.

A few years later I hired a personal trainer who introduced me to all new exercises, and while I cursed her under my breath (and out loud) during our workouts…I wound up loving most of what she asked me to do.  (Thank you Megan!)  I discovered a surprising love of spin, trx, and yes, even kettle bells.  (That’s me in the graphic on a spin bike…) I also learned I strongly dislike old fire hoses.  Full disclosure on the kettle bells- it’s not that I actually love them, it’s that I love fast results.  Therefore, I love kettle bells.

2.  EAT REAL FOOD!

We all hear about the numerous diets out there.  All of them are supposed to help us lose weight.  Here’s the problem- we should be eating foods that nourish our bodies.  And I stress NOURISH.  Forget about the weight loss battle.  Forget about it.  Yes, you heard me right.  Forget about the weight loss battle.  Please don’t make me say that again.

Our bodies are designed to eat real food.  Not fake creations manufactured and marketed to us as food.  Even if it’s labeled a “diet” food.  That’s not food.  It’s stuff we consume all the time, and we’re paying the price for it.

Per the CDC, about half of American adults – 117 million of us – have one or more chronic health conditions.  One in four of us have two or more chronic health conditions.  The “food” we eat has an enormous role in this.

Get over any crankiness you may have about fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.  And then go eat them. Throw in some fish and meat if you life.  As organic as you can reasonably go.  Put less crap into your body.  Put more nourishment into your body.

When you eat real food your body begins to get back in balance.  No need to count calories.  If you’re overweight or obese, you’ll begin to lose weight.  It’s a happy side effect of eating real, whole foods.  So stop beating yourself up and step away from the fad diets.

Start eating whole foods- fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes.  Add a few here and there, then add more, then take something bad out of your regular diet, and repeat.   Juicing is also a great way to begin adding fruits and veggies into your diet.

 3. Your body needs NUTRIENTS, not food.

This tags along to the previous section about eating real food. When you are hungry, it is because your body wants more nutrients.  Your body isn’t actually saying “oh that donut would help me work so much more efficiently.”  (No judgement here, been there, done that.)  Your body is saying “oh snap, I’m low in iron, eat something with iron please.”

When you feel hungry, ask yourself what your body is indicating it needs.  If it’s craving dairy or kale, it probably needs calcium.  (Yes, I said kale.  Get to know kale if you don’t already.)  If you can’t tell what your body needs, or it only indicates you “need” chocolate, ice cream, or doritos, please read the next principle for getting healthy.

 4.  You are likely addicted to sugar and sodium.

I don’t say this lightly.  Most of us are actually addicted to sugar and sodium.  Fake foods, the ones most of us eat most of the time, are literally designed for us to want to keep eating them.  We eat obscene amounts of sugar and sodium.

Psychologist Doug Lisle researched this issue and explains what the deal really is.  Not much shocks me, but I was blown away after taking one of his online classes a few years ago.  It was beyond eye opening.  (Thankfully I never really stabbed myself in my eye with a pen.)  He explains the theory behind his book “The Pleasure Trap” in his TedX talk.  I recommend watching the TedX talk.

Here’s the cliff notes version…  Our brains have been heavily affected by the excessive amounts of sugar and sodium we consume.  Our pleasure sensors are now backwards- we now respond happily to foods that are bad for us and are cranky about foods that are good for us.  It goes against our natural instincts for survival.  That’s not normal.  It’s pretty f’ed up actually.

When we introduce healthy foods to our not so good diets, we turn into cranky mofos.  Why is that?  Because our pleasure sensors take a dive and need time to heal and start working properly again.  It can take a few weeks- stick it out.  When you begin to improve your nutrition, know that this will likely happen.  Mentally prepare, and do it.  (Or hire me to help you!  Shameless self promotion here…)  Things will balance out and you’ll feel tons better on the other side.  You just have to get through it, which I know you can do.

5. Stop drinking soda.

I don’t care what it is- regular, diet, zero, or something with “ten” in it.  Whatever soda it is, stop drinking it.  I’m pretty flexible with stuff, and I don’t strive for perfection.  I eat some “none foods,” but soda is a no go.  If you drink soda, watch this:

In place of it, drink more water- after all, it’s what most of our body is and many of us are chronically dehydrated.  You can also make spritzers.  These are great if you’re used to the texture of soda.  Buy sparkling water (without the flavoring added to it) and find some organic juice concentrate in a health food store.  The organic juice concentrate costs an arm and a leg, but it lasts a really long time.  Add a little to a glass of sparkling water. You can go all Martha Stewart on it by adding a slice of lemon or lime too.  It’s really quite delicious.  I promise.  Spritzers are a great way to transition away from soda.

6. Be ready to change things up.

As you do activities you enjoy, you may find that you’re getting bored.  Change things up.  Push yourself harder or find a new class to go to and remind yourself that everyone was new at some point.  Don’t let that keep you from going.  Show up a few minutes early and ask the instructor to give you pointers.  If they’re grumpy when you ask for help, find another class.  There are lots of great instructors out there, and there are some bad ones.

If you’re tired of the food you’re eating, try new fruits and veggies, perhaps things you avoided like the plague before you kicked the bad foods to the curb?  It’s amazing how much our pallets change after a few weeks of eating healthier.

7.  Find your tribe and ignore the haters.  Develop your support system.

While you work on getting healthier, some people will get excited and join you, and some may bitch, moan, and groan and try to sabotage your efforts.  Some of these bitching, moaning, and groaning people may be people you love.  And that’s ok.

Encourage your loved ones to join you, but don’t nag.  If they’re not ready, they just aren’t ready.  When they are, they’ll probably ask you for pointers.  (Either that, or they’ll do it secretly because they can’t admit you were “right.”  Either way, good for them.)

If your loved ones aren’t too keen on your new healthy lifestyle, find new peeps and develop new relationships.  You may find these similar-minded people at the gym, at work, on blogs, or your local health food store.  You can definitely find them on my Catch Good Health fanpage!  (More shameless self promotion…)

Add people in your life that are also interested in eating better and getting more physical activity.  It really is a new lifestyle.  You can share recipes, be active together, and help encourage each other.

Because…wait for it…good health is contagious and you can pass it on!

Big hugs,
Erica

ps- If you’d like to get in touch, please do!  I’d love to hear from you.  Just click here.

 

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