NEAT Ideas to Burn More Calories

If you’re like a lot of people, keeping up with fitness goals is hard this time of year.  With colder temperatures and wet stuff falling from the skies, being outside is not so much fun.  I have to admit, though, that some of my funnest and most invigorating runs have been in the snow!

And should we even mention all the holiday gatherings and parties?  It’s just a tough time of year to stay on track.

And then, tack on an injury that prevents your normal activities.  That’s me currently with this wonky hip flexor.  (More on that progress in another post.)

So with a few months of limited activity, I’ve really been focusing on non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) to burn as many calories as possible to help me stay in shape.

Okay, quick biology lesson before I loose you with some big ‘ol term like non-exercise activity thermogenesis.  There are basically 3 ways that our body burns calories:

  1.  Basal metabolic rate (BMR).  Metabolism is basically all the behind the scenes things that happen without us being aware to keep our bodies ticking– reactions that keep our hearts beating and cause respiration, for example.  This is actually our biggest source of calorie expenditure, and everyone’s BMR differs.  A rough estimate of my BMR is between 1200-1300 calories.  That means that I will expend 1200-1300 calories a day just to keep my body functioning.
  2. Thermic effect of food.  Our bodies burn calories through digesting the food we eat.  It’s a small source of calorie expenditure, but it is a way our body uses fuel.
  3. Exercise.  And the last way our body burns calories is through exercise–movement.  We all know that, right?  We think about exercise as that hour in the gym or 30 minutes on the treadmill or that Zumba class.  Whatever your thing is “exercise” tends to have this defined start and stop time of doing a specific activity with the focus of conditioning our bodies–which is important to overall health and fitness.

But another part of exercise is non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT.  Don’t be alarmed.  It’s just a long term that refers to the calories you burn by all the movement you do outside of your regularly scheduled exercise session that can add up to hundreds of extra calories burned a day.

Here are 10 NEAT ideas to keep you moving and burning calories:

  1.  Stand up every 30 minutes.  If you have a desk job, just stand up every 30 minutes.  Remember that any movement makes your body burn fuel, AKA calories.
  2. Park further from the store.  Do you ever get tired of driving around looking for a convenient parking space?  Why not just pick that spot in the back 40 where no one parks?  You’ll get in extra steps walking to and from the store, and you’ll have the added bonus of avoiding those awful door dings.
  3. Wash the dishes by hand.  Hey, it’s just an idea.  You’ll have those extra minutes of scrubbing and drying dishes to burn away extra calories.
  4. Fidget.  If you’re like me, you hear your mom scold you for fidgeting if you start to jiggle your leg or tap your fingers, but fidgeting can actually add to the number of calories you burn in a day.  Stuck in a meeting?  Jiggle your leg or tap your fingers. Stuck in a line at the grocery store?  Why not just shift your weight from one leg to the other?  It’s movement!
  5. Do glute extensions while you’re brushing  your teeth.  Seriously, I do this sometimes.  While I’m standing there brushing my choppers, I just extend one leg behind me and use the glute (butt) muscles to kick out my leg.
  6. Take the stairs.  So if  you work on the 99th floor, this may not be feasible, but I bet you could walk a few flights of stairs.  Avoiding elevators and climbing stairs is a great way to get in some extra movement during the day.
  7. March in place.  If you’re at home watching a movie or a TV program, commercial breaks are a great time to get up and move.  March in place if it’s a commercial you really want to see, or just take a quick walk up and down the hall.
  8. Rake the leaves.  I’ll admit, it’s a chore I don’t like, but yard work of any kind is great exercise! 
  9. Take the long way.  Just like parking further from the store entrance can increase your steps for the day, so can taking the long way.  Don’t just opt for the shortest path to the bathroom, coffee pot, or water fountain; make an excursion out of your break and add in a few more steps.
  10. Sit on a stability ball.  You’ll have to use more muscles to stabilize yourself on the ball and you’ll probably find yourself bouncing around on it and moving more than if you were sitting in a regular chair.  Plus, they’re just super fun!

Bottom line, NEAT is all about moving as much as you can throughout your day.  Sit as little as possible; move as much as you can.  One big source of NEAT for me recently has been washing kitchen and bathroom cabinets.  Sunny checked things out to make sure I hadn’t missed a spot.  How would I survive without him? 🙂Promise yourself today to increase your NEAT.  You can do it!

Talk to me:

How do you keep yourself moving throughout the day?

What’s your biggest challenge to fitness during winter?

The Stress Eating Dragon

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mom lately.  Well, not so much about Mom but about caring for her.

My mom died in 2009, and before you all check out on me, I don’t intend this to be a morbid, depressing post.  But that time in my life, caring for Mom, was a time of serious weight gain.  And recognizing some similar feelings and habits today that were present then, I find myself taking a trip down memory lane.

[Note:  I don’t want to give you all the idea that I cared for Mom alone.  It was truly a family effort.  Sure, she lived with me for a while towards the end of her life, but between my brother and sisters we all made sure Mom was taken care of.  I’m eternally grateful for my brother and sisters.  I sincerely don’t know what I would have done without them–then or now.]

Moving half way across the US to Tulsa and assuming more care of Mom was extremely stressful for me.  I knew no one aside from my brother and sister-in-law.  I had no friends, a stressful job that was also about taking care of people, no church home…yet.  It was hard.  There were times when I would just lay on the couch exhausted from 12 hours of non-stop chaos that is hospital nursing, knowing that in a few hours Mom would be awake and calling for me in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  And a trip to the bathroom wasn’t just a trip to the bathroom.  It usually also involved a change of sheets.  I got really good at changing sheets half asleep with my glasses off!

My days off of work were full of tasks to complete that were hard to do with Mom in tow.  Parkinson’s made walking hard so in public we used a wheelchair.  (Try pushing a wheelchair and a grocery cart by yourself!)  And dementia made me leery to leave Mom in the house alone.  So days off when Mom was in adult day care were about errands and yard work–and naps!  There was no exercise or even thoughts of eating healthy.  I snacked on whatever was easy to grab.  Yeah, you can imagine what my diet looked like.

And of course, there was the emotional aspect of watching this woman who had birthed me, cared for me, and loved me spiral down, galloping towards certain death.

Needless to say, in a year I gained about 30 pounds.  Looking back, I can see myself eating–and eating, grabbing whatever was in front of me; I can feel the tension in my body.  And yet, back then, I didn’t recognize that tension as stress or the fact that I was stress eating.

Fast forward to today.  You can read my story of how I began to lose the weight here.  A big part of it was recognizing the triggers for eating and learning different coping mechanisms for stress.  Lately, though, I find myself falling back into those stress eating patterns.

Work, while always stressful, has become an even bigger stressor for me.  Maybe one day I’ll talk more about that, but just the process of preparing for work and getting through 12 hours of caring for people who are really sick and sometimes rude and grouchy has become an almost insurmountable source of stress.  And I find myself reaching for junk food, eating when I’m not hungry–stress eating.

At least I recognize it now, but I’m struggling with those feelings of hopelessness of being able to control it.

The difference is that I know I have the ability to control what and how much I eat.  The key is deciding, being determined, to use other means to deal with stress.  Food cannot eliminate, or even decrease, my stress.  I know that.  I’ve learned that.  But I’m still struggling…

I have no words of wisdom to share.  This is just me, being honest, saying with all my success at weight loss, I still struggle at times.  If there’s any encouragement I can give you, it’s that I understand your struggle.  It’s not easy when life gangs up on you and old, easy, ways of doing things come back to life.  It’s discouraging to be fighting a dragon I thought was dead.

But in all my discouragement and feelings of defeat, I refuse to give in.  I’ve been down a better path, and I do NOT want to end up where stress eating will take me.  So trips down memory lane are good.  I remember where I’ve been and how I got to where I am now.  And it makes me (kind of) glad for the struggle.  Struggling reminds me that I know a better way and gives me hope that when the next stressful season in life rolls around, I’ll be even stronger and better equipped to deal with it.

So hang in there, friend.  You’re not alone! Let’s just make one good choice at a time, okay?  One step at a time…


Talk to me:

How are you doing in making healthy choices?

What’s a good stress relief for you?



photo credit:


What’s Next?

It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately as I’ve finished up the fitness and health trainer course I enrolled in last fall.  The answer to the question scares me a bit.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, though, which is part of the reason I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit.

If you follow me on Facebook at all, you know that this happened last week:IMG_1583I passed the National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer exam!  That allows me to call myself a certified personal trainer.  Yikes!  Somehow the title implies some level of expertise, but I feel like I still have so much to learn.

But back to the question.  What’s next?

I’ve shied away from talking a lot about what I hope to do as a certified personal trainer, but the course is done.  I’ve passed my certification exam.  Now is the time.  Am I going to do something with it?  Am I going to allow the vision that propelled me in this direction to begin with come to fruition?  Or am I going to shrink in fear that I might fall flat on my face?

So I’m just going to bite the bullet, put all my dreams out there, and see what happens.  If I fall flat on my face, well…I fall flat on my face.  At least I will have tried.

Losing 63 pounds and finding so much life in being fit and healthy ignited a passion in me.  There aren’t many things I can say I’m truly passionate about, but health and fitness are true passions.  I could read and talk about it day and night and never get bored with it.  But in my job as a nurse, I encounter people every. single. day. who are my age or younger losing body parts because of diabetes, taking medication for high blood pressure, having trouble breathing, and all largely related to obesity.  It gnaws at me.  And it frustrates me to feel like the most I can do at this point is help them manage their diseases.

I don’t want to just treat diabetes and high blood pressure.  I want to prevent it.  My own journey to health and losing aches and pains I thought I’d be saddled with for the rest of my life was an eye opener, and I began to think, “What if I could help people lose weight before disease sets in?”

And this vision of becoming a personal trainer was born.

I remember how uncomfortable I used to be going to the gym, stuffed into my workout clothes, feeling like everyone, especially that super toned guy with the bulging biceps, was noticing my every fat roll.  And I’ve talked to enough women to know that many experience similar feelings.

So what I hope to do with my CPT certification is mobile training, going to those who are at risk for developing chronic disease because of their weight, working with them in an environment where they feel comfortable, and walking them down the road to health.

But making that a reality involves thinking through a lot of details and logistics.  I have no idea how to set up a business, and I’m sure issues will come up that I’ve never even thought of.  But what a grand adventure!

I’m excited for the next step.  Scared spitless, but excited!  So follow along with me as I figure out this whole certified personal trainer gig and how to start and run a mobile training business (Geez Louise, I guess saying it means I really have to do it, uh?!).

Talk to me:

Have/would you ever work(ed) with a personal trainer?

If you could be anything you wanted to be, what would that be?



Freedom in Fitness

So this Easter weekend, I’ve been thinking about the concept of freedom.  It’s a big concept, right?  Ask anybody what freedom means to them, and you’ll probably get a different answer.  I mean, think about freedom in the context of war and our soldiers.  Wow.  Think about religious freedom, and people around the world dying for what they believe.  Think about political freedom.  Think about freedom of speech, and all the other freedoms the Constitution of the United States bestows on its citizens.

But the freedom I’ve been thinking specifically about this weekend, you know, with it being Easter and all, is spiritual freedom.  Read my story here of how the truth of God’s word freed me from a lifetime of trying to be someone other than who I was.  If you don’t feel like reading that story, let me just say, folks, that there is incredible freedom in just being who you are.  No, I don’t mean just let it all hang out wherever you are!  Manners and discretion are important, but just drop the mask.  It’s okay that all your ducks aren’t in a row!IMG_0183

And as I’ve mulled over this incredible gift of spiritual freedom and just enjoying being the ME that God made me to be, I began to think about how much physical fitness mirrors this concept of spiritual freedom.

Here’s the thing.  I felt almost as trapped by an obese body as I did by a deceived mind.  Just as my erroneous beliefs of who I was affected how I acted, my obese body affected where I went and what I did.IMG_0747

Listen, I could find any excuse in the book to not attend a social function when I was fat.  And then I would lie on the couch and have a cry because I felt lonely.  Anyone know what I’m talking about?

Seriously, I was letting my desire for food rob me of life.  When I put food in its proper place, lost the weight and put my body in a place to function more effectively and efficiently–Wow!  The world became this never-ending amusement park, full of places to go, things to try, adventures to tackle.

No, of course, everything’s not rosy.  Please.  I still have tough days.  I still struggle with erroneous thoughts.  I still make bad food choices.  7386(Yep.  I ate Cheetos last week.  Can we say bad food choice?)

But the point I’m trying to make is that being fit makes it so much easier for my body to just do what it’s supposed to do.  Because the work of just moving and caring for my body has eased, I have the strength, energy, confidence, and desire to try new things.

Fitness has given me a different kind of freedom.  How can I help you get there?


Talk to me:

What did you do on Easter?

Is there something weight is holding you back from doing, or at least, trying?




One of my biggest fears since losing a boatload of weight is that I would gain weight again.  I’m terrified of that happening.  I never want to be overweight again.  I hated how I felt physically and mentally as an overweight obese person, and for the most part that fear has kept me on the straight and narrow in making good food choices.  That, and the fact that my desire for junk food is essentially gone.  Well, mostly gone.

But then it happened.  I’ve gained some weight.  Not a lot.  I bet most people who see me every day can’t even tell, but I know.  While I’m learning not to be totally obsessed by the number on the scale, when I know what I’ve been eating and I see that number go up, I know I’ve put on some weight.

Confession time.  I’ve been eating way too much chocolate.  Like every day, having something chocolate.  I know what my trigger for sweets is–fatigue.  When I’m tired, I crave chocolate like a drowning man must crave air.  I feel like I HAVE to have sugar.  And my resistance to temptation when I’m tired is zilch.  I feel like my will power is completely tapped out, and I give in.  Every.  Single.  Time.

IMG_1280Working night shift, I spend about 75% of my week tired.  I’m up for over 24 hours more than one day a week.  It’s a tough schedule, and Lord willing, I’ll be able to come off of it soon.  So while I tend to want to comfort myself with this notion that I have reason to be tired and that chocolate is just helping me get through the day, I am NOT okay with gaining weight.  And I recognize that stinkin’ thinkin’ in my excuse.  Chocolate is food, an inanimate object; it can’t make me do anything.  And it can’t really make me less tired.  Fatigue or not, I chose to eat enough chocolate to put on a few pounds.  Me.  I did it.

So my old fat self would have beaten myself up, said “to heck with it” and had some more chocolate.  Anybody in that boat with me?  But having gone through a major weight loss, I’ve learned some valuable lessons and gained some tools that I think will get me back on track.  This is how I’m handling this little set back:

  1.  Remember.  I find myself thinking back to how I felt before I lost weight, reliving those aches and pains and negative thoughts and emotions.  I don’t want that again.  That’s enough to motivate me to get back on track.
  2. Go back to the basics.  I’ve pulled up my Lose It! app again and am tracking my calories daily again.  I need that concrete reminder of how002 many calories chocolate deducts from my “calorie bank” and then, deciding if having chocolate is worth going over my calorie limit or being hungry the rest of the day.
  3. Find new ways to deal with fatigue.  It’s tough when you’re halfway through a 12 hour night shift and find yourself absolutely exhausted.  That’s when I really start craving chocolate.  I’m still working on this part; it’s definitely the hardest part for me, but I’m trying to deal with it by not keeping cash on me (so I can’t go to the vending machines) and by bringing healthy snacks like fruit, protein bars, or a baggie of almonds and raisins to work with me.  When I’m home and the cravings hit, I’m trying to just distract myself with another activity or if I have time, just lie down for a nap.

So I’ll keep you posted on how things are going.  If you find yourself in this same position of having lost some weight and now gaining some, don’t beat yourself up!  This does NOT mean the end of your healthy lifestyle!  Own the choices you’ve made that have led to the weight gain, and get back on track.  We’ll do it together!

Talk to me:

How do you handle set backs on the choices you’ve made to live a healthier life?

What’s your favorite weight loss/health app?

How Do I Get Started?

There’s one question I get asked a lot that I still struggle to answer.  When people discover that I’ve lost over 60 pounds, I get asked, “How do I get started?”

I wish there was an Easy button for that.  You just smack the button, and Boom!  You’ve got the will, desire, and motivation to lose weight, right?  Yeah, it doesn’t work that way.  I’ve thought a lot about why this time stuck for me.  I’d tried many, MANY times before to lose weight and was never successful.  What was different this time?  If you’ve followed my weight loss story, you know there were several things that had a huge impact on me:  Made to Crave, goal setting, realizing fat didn’t happen overnight, accepting that safe weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.

But how did I get to the point of being ready to make changes?  I think, for me, it all boils down to two main things.

  1.  Education.  I spent the first 8 months of 2013 just reading.  I read Made to Crave which gave me a new perspective on my weight issues.  I read about setting realistic goals in the context of losing weight.  I read about fad diets, about what they consisted of and the pros and cons.  I read about weight loss in general.  As I read different things and synthesized what I was reading, I came to the understanding that I was using food inappropriately.  Instead of using it as fuel for my body, I was using it to treat other issues like stress, boredom, and fatigue.  It became crystal clear to me that diet pills are potentially dangerous and that fad diets do not produce lasting results.  I learned that I had unrealistic goals when it came to weight loss.  And probably the biggest message that oozed out of everything I was reading was that weight loss needs to be a LIFESTYLE CHANGE.  I can’t just change what I’m doing for a few weeks or months.  I needed to find something that gets and keeps the weight off that I can live with.  In a word, my weight loss plan needed to be SUSTAINABLE.
  2. Finding my why.  Yes, I had to have a reason beyond “I don’t want to be this size” before I could began losing weight.  I think weight loss is like other things in life that we attach value to.  For some people, paying boatloads of money for a painting may be worthwhile because they attach a different level of value to the painting than me, who may look at it and say, “Yeah, it would look good in my house,” but that’s not reason enough for me to empty my bank account to buy the painting.  Same with weight loss.  I had to find a reason that made it worth my while to work hard to lose the weight.  When I found it, making those healthy choices suddenly just seemed like the right thing to do.  Not that making those healthy choices was always easy, but I had a higher goal to reach than just being a smaller size.  Does that make sense?  Sure, I wanted to be a smaller size, feel better, look better, but the one thing that made all the hard work worth it to me was  my desire to put food back in its proper place in my life.  I was tired of being controlled by food.  Maybe your why is to keep up with children and grandchildren.  Maybe your why is to lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.  Maybe your why IS to look better (there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s enough motivation to kick your butt in gear).  There could be a million reasons why people want to lose weight, but I’m convinced that having a reason important enough to invest the time and energy that lifestyle changes demand is key to getting you to the starting line.

So I don’t know if that’s helpful or not or even makes sense.  But for me, once I really understood what weight loss involved and what would be required of me and I had a reason worth losing weight for, everything came together, and weight loss simply became a by-product of a healthy lifestyle.

Here’s to you and being ready to take the first step down the path to health and wellness!

Talk to me:

What’s your why for wanting to lose weight?

Have you read any health related books or articles that have been especially helpful for you?


Staying the Course

Confession’s good for the soul, right?  Hopefully, it’s also good for the waist line.  Yup, I have a confession to make.  Well, kind of a confession.  I haven’t murdered anyone, or anything like that, so just relax.

Sometimes I use my cat as a pillow.

001Just kidding.  That’s not my confession.

Ok, seriously.  Here goes.  I have been craving chocolate and junk food like crazy lately…and battling like crazy to not give in.  What gives?  I thought I had this licked.

It takes me back to the point of being within 5 or 10 pounds of my goal weight a couple of years ago.  Seeing the number on the scale go down was huge motivation for me to make those healthy choices, and for the most part, I could choose healthy without too much trouble.

But when I got closer to my goal weight, I began to feel myself wanting to return to my old habits of snacking on things that weren’t good for me.  It was like I began to relax.  I’d reached my goal; now I could let things get back to normal.

But then I remembered.  Healthy IS the new normal!  Yes, my goal was weight loss, but more than that, my goal was PERMANENT weight loss and health.  I didn’t want to lose the weight only to gain it back.  That had been my MO for so many years, and I was done with it.  I realized that the choices I’d made–forgoing donuts and potato chips for apples and salad and trading in my couch potato status for that of runner–were not just temporary choices to reach a temporary goal.  I was in this for the long haul.  These are lifestyle choices, meant to continue from now until the cows come home.

So I’m a little frustrated that I’m battling these unhealthy cravings at the moment.  But I’m also encouraged that while I have had some chocolate, I have not fully given in to my cravings.  These last few years have given me the tools I need to stay the course.

I’m back in that spot of identifying my triggers.  What’s happening that’s causing me to want junk food, especially when I know how yucky it will make me feel?  The big trigger right now is fatigue.  Working night shift takes a toll on me because I don’t sleep well during the day, so after working a couple of consecutive shifts, it takes a while to get caught back up on my sleep.  I know that being tired makes me want bad-for-me things.  So knowing that, I’ve just been telling myself, “Girl [yes, I really call myself “girl”!], you’re just tired.  That’s why you want to eat everything in sight.  You don’t need it.  It’s not good for you.”  And strangely, that gives me strength to pass it by.

Because ultimately, I know that the choices I’ve made are part of a lifestyle I’m able to live with and that I WANT to live out.  I don’t want to go back to junk food and feeling sluggish.  I like being active and energetic and finding adventure in life.  That’s what helps me stay the course.

So to those cravings of chocolate and Cheetos…so long!  Who needs you?  I’ve got my hands over my ears, and I’m not listening to you.


Talk to me:

What are you craving at the moment?

How do you deal with cravings?

Mashed Potato Substitute

I love potatoes.  No, I don’t just love potatoes.  I LOOOOVE them!  I don’t think I’ve met a potato yet that I don’t like.  I love mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, french fried potatoes, sweet potatoes (as long as they’re not covered in brown sugar and marshmallows.  Yuck!), hash browned potatoes.  I love them all…and I’d be happy eating them every single day.

The good news about potatoes is they are high in fiber and potassium.  But…the bad news about potatoes is that they’re very starchy.  They provide a lot of carbohydrates which equals more calories.  And what’s the secret to weight loss?  Calories!  Yep, burning more calories than you take in.

So when I began my weight loss journey, I discovered that my diet was starchy carb heavy, adding greatly to my overabundance of daily calories.  So I began to find lower calorie carbohydrates to replace those starchy carbs (potatoes, corn, white bread, pasta, pastries, etc.) with.  Did you know that if you eat a salad with greens and fresh vegetables or an apple that you’re still eating carbs?  Truth!  If it’s not a protein or a fat, it’s a carb!  The key for me to eating carbs is to go easy on the starchy carbs (except when I have a big race coming up!) and to concentrate on those low calorie carbohydrates–broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, etc.

But I also like to find ways that I can have my cake and eat it too, so to speak.  I choose not to have mashed potatoes very often because I would rather spread out my calories instead of eating a good chunk of them at one meal.  It was a happy day when I discovered Mashed Cauliflower!

Mashed Cauliflower is a great substitute for mashed potatoes.  It has a mild flavor and is low in calories.  An entire head of cauliflower has about 147 calories!  Compare that to 110 calories for 1 potato and this does not include the butter, sour cream, or other toppings commonly found on top of potatoes.  A cup of mashed potatoes made with whole milk and margarine has 237 calories!

Here’s how I make Mashed Cauliflower:

  1.  Chop a head of cauliflower into flowerets.010
  2. Steam the cauliflower until it’s soft.  I steam it a little longer than I would to just serve steamed cauliflower.  A fork should pierce it easily.  I like to steam my veggies in my microwave steamer.
  3. Use a blender or food processor to “mash” up the steamed cauliflower.  (I don’t know where my head was.  I used a beater instead of my blender which did not get the cauliflower as fine as I like it.)
  4. Add salt to taste.011
  5. Add milk to get the right consistency.  I like to use almond milk; it has fewer carbs and calories.
  6. If you decide to add butter, use real butter sparingly and not that evil, fake margarine!
  7. Serve as you would mashed potatoes.012

Talk to me:

Have you ever tried mashed cauliflower?  Would you?

What other ways have you eaten cauliflower?

Taking Back My Power

Sometimes when people see that I’m eating salad for lunch instead of pizza, they make remarks like, “I wish I had your will power.”  Or when we talk about weight loss and eating healthy, I hear, “I just don’t have any will power.”

I don’t buy it.  You heard me.  Baloney.  Hog wash.  That’s a load of…

You do so have will power.  But I get it.  I used to think the same thing.  Somehow, I just could not seem to say “no” to whatever it was I was craving at the moment.  It was like I had no choice but to eat whatever I was thinking about.  Food controlled me, or so it seemed.  It called; I answered.  And it led me all the way to a whopping 180 pounds of feeling worthless, powerless, and hopeless.

But sometime during my 21 day Daniel fast , I had an epiphany.  Here I was hungry, thinking about all the things I’d love to be eating at the moment, but I was saying “no” and saying “no” successfully.  It dawned on me that food has NO power over me.  What do you know?  I DO have will power.  It’s ME that controls what and how much goes in my mouth.  Food is an inanimate object.  It can’t make me do anything.

It’s like what I learned about dealing with difficult people.  In my line of work (nurse), I see all kinds of people who are under tremendous stress and certainly not having the best of days.  Sometimes someone will curse at me, yell at me, demand that I do things that would not be safe to do, threaten to sue me.  Sometimes I feel like I must have blood running down my chin from biting my tongue so hard.  Because what I realized is that I have no control over how other people act, but I do have complete control over how I respond.  They can act like a horse’s behind, but that doesn’t mean I have to respond in kind.  Is it easy?  NO WAY!  I can think of dozens of things I’d like to say, but I practice self-control and try to find the kindest, gentlest, most professional way to respond to this rant.

It’s the same idea with food.  Ok, it’s not cursing at and threatening to sue us, but it certainly drives us mad with the constant taunts and temptations.   But you CAN say NO!  You don’t have to eat it!  Food cannot make you eat what you know would not be good for you or more than you need.

I know.  Believe me, I know saying “no” to a favorite snack is so incredibly hard.  But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. This little girl has saying “no” down to an art!

Here are a couple of tricks I learned that helped me take back the will power I allowed food to steal:

  1.  Am I really hungry?  I know I’ve said this a million times already, but being able to identify triggers for eating is so important.  When you get that urge to eat, is it really hunger or is there something else going on that’s making you want to eat?
  2. Drink a glass of water.  If you think you really might be hungry, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes.  If you’re still hungry, have a snack but make it a healthy one.
  3. Keep the foods that tempt me the most out of the house.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?  Well, not necessarily, but if it’s not available to me, I can’t eat it.
  4. Chew gum.  Sometimes, just keeping my mouth busy calms a craving.
  5. Find a distraction.  There are times still when I’m just totally stuck on a craving.  I can’t think of anything else, but I’m not hungry, so I don’t need to eat.  So I try to distract myself with another activity.  Sometimes I go for a walk, read a book, watch a movie or a TV show, play games on my iPad…anything you enjoy that will take your mind off food.
  6. Pray.  Yes, I would pray during times of intense craving, wanting to give in, but knowing I would hate myself for eating again.  So I’d pray that God would give me strength to say “no” to that craving, to that delectable brownie or yummy chocolate chip cookie.

Taking back your power is not easy, and there’s nothing fun about it.  It causes a quite intense inner struggle.  But believe me, you DO have will power!  You just need to exercise it.  It’s like any other muscle.  If you don’t use it, it’s just weak and unable to do the work.  But the more you exercise that weak muscle, the stronger it gets, and eventually, you’ll be doing things you had no idea you could do.


Talk to me:

What food do you have a hard time saying “no” to?

Road Tripping!

I like taking road trips.  I like driving and seeing what’s between here and there.  There, in this case, was northern Indiana.  A lot of cornfields are going on there!

Indiana-6-2016 008I have to admit, though, that driving 14 hours straight on my way home was a bit tough on the tushy, and I was really happy to see my house.

And I was really happy to see my sweet Sunny.  I had to board him while I was away this time.  He’s only been boarded once before as a kitten for just a weekend, so I was a little concerned how he would do for nearly a week.  He was a bit stressed and sometimes agitated, I was told, but basically did fine.  Whew.  He was pretty cuddly for a while once we got home.025But taking a road trip can be challenging for a healthy lifestyle, in terms of eating, at least.  So I thought today I’d give you my tips for eating healthy while road tripping.

  1.  Take food with you.  I took an ice chest and brought along things like apples and cherries and bottles of water.  For lunches on my way to Indiana, I made salads with romaine lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, celery, baked chicken breast, and feta cheese.  I put each salad in a plastic baggie and brought along paper plates and plastic forks.  I also stuck in a jar of peanut butter because no day is complete without peanut butter.  For snacks, I brought along some raw almonds, raisins, and Lara bars.  I would stop at a park and enjoy my surroundings and a lovely healthy lunch.  One day I ate lunch on Abraham Lincoln’s family farm!116
  2. Find healthy fast food.  Well, I don’t know if there is such a thing, but at least, choose the healthiest from what’s available.  I generally avoid fast food, but facing a 14 hour drive, sometimes a girl just has to buy food.  I didn’t want to eat food I had made 5 or 6 days earlier.  And I didn’t want to stop for very long since I had such a long way to go, so I looked for places that I knew had quick and mostly healthy options.   These are my go to places when I’m in a pinch or in a hurry:
    • Subway–Choose whole wheat bread, grilled chicken, load up the veggies, skip the dressing and cheese, and you’ve got a meal for under 400 calories.  Well, that’s for my 6 inch sub!
    • Chik-Fil-A–I recently discovered that instead of just fried chicken, they now serve grilled chicken.  And you can choose fruit or kale salad instead of fries for a side.  Not a bad option.
    • Panera–I like the cup of soup and half a sandwich option.  I choose a non-cream based soup to save calories.  Then, choose whole wheat bread, turkey and veggies for the sandwich, skipping the cheese and dressing.  And of course, choose the apple over the chips!

So you may not have these restaurants where you live, but what choosing a fast food place comes down to for me, really, is finding a place that gives me as much control as possible over what I eat.  I like being able to construct my meals instead of just ordering an entrée that has who knows what in it.

3.  Assess your hunger.  If you’re like me, I get bored and tired sometimes when I’m driving so I find myself wanting to snack to keep myself busy and awake.  It’s a challenge, but I have to constantly be in tune with how I’m feeling.  Is it true hunger that’s making me want to reach for a snack?  Or do I just need to take a break for a quick walk, find some new music, or begin the alphabet game (you know, find the alphabet in order on the road signs)?  And if it’s true hunger, reach for those healthy snacks you brought with you instead of facing the temptation of gas station snacks of chips and candy.

Here’s to safe and healthy road trips!


Where did you go on your last road trip?

What tips for eating healthy on the run do you have?