Friday, July 19, 2013

WEEK 24...Lifestyle change blog comes to an end of the 6 month challenge, but the journey still continues for Nikki and Jodi.

So here I am – coming to the end of an incredible experience working with Nikki. It has been a privilege getting to know her on both a personal and professional level.  We’ve set and achieved goals that Nikki “thought” were unattainable and out of her reach such as walking a 5K (and even jogging parts!), and limiting her eating on the run.  We’ve also battled her lifestyle, identifying negative behavioral patterns and creating healthy habits along the way.  We’ve laughed and even cried (or at least she has, lol). 

Having said that, I am happy to report Nikki’s weight loss results to date:

·         Weight Lost – 45 lbs

·         Inches Lost – 22.5 total inches

·         Nikki passed the treadmill cardiovascular test

·         Nikki participated in a 5k (reaching her goal of less than an hour at 55:11)

·         Improved strength, endurance and flexibility

One of my goals during this journey with Nikki was to prove the point that diet and exercise is the most healthy and effective way to lose weight.  Yes, it can be a slow process compared to quick fix, gimmicky diets…but it’s what really works to give you lasting weight loss results and to create a healthier you – no magic pill can do that.  It’s the choices we make every day that either support us for better health and weight management – or don’t.  Remember, “slow and steady wins the race”.

I told Nikki recently that I believe she has what it takes to really transform herself.  Due to her motivation & dedication, the Y has decided to support her efforts by allowing us to continue to work together for an additional 6 months focusing on “Lifestyle Change”.  We will meet every other week and provide a follow-up blog at the end of the year – hopefully detailing an amazing testimonial.  I often like to refer clients to a quote I live by, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”  I think Nikki and I are still in our journey together and looking forward to the future – it’s looking bright!

Nikki’s Thoughts

When I was selected for this six month Lifestyle Change program, I was so excited and hopeful. I knew I was ready to address my lifelong weight problem but I didn’t know how to do it right, so it was sustainable. I needed personal guidance to walk me through integrating healthy eating habits and feeling capable in a gym setting. I remember Jodi telling me that she would give me the tools – but you have to be the one to do the work! I suppose I thought she was going to perform a miracle and my life would be changed overnight but now, six months later, I’ve realized this personal, life transformation has really only begun.

We spent the first few weeks getting to know each other and going through the initial testing. It was so difficult for me to face the reality of my health outlook. My entire adult life I’ve ignored these issues and tried to prove that I could be happy/beautiful/likeable/successful despite my weight. So as Jodi and I addressed my starting weight as morbidly obese, my off-the-charts BMI and body measurements, and my failed fitness tests – ugh, I just wanted to run and hide! I knew I had to understand the severity of my situation before we could make any progress, but it was a humbling feat. 

Once we knew what we were up against, I felt encouraged to know Jodi was on my team – I didn’t have to do this alone! She slowly introduced me to the gym machines and gave me doable goals to achieve. Jodi helped me stay challenged with varied workouts while gradually gaining confidence in my own abilities. She taught me a different nutrition topic each week and stressed the importance of meal planning. She kept me focused on the big picture of a “healthy lifestyle”. As we built up trust, Jodi was able to push me on my “hot button issues” like eating out too frequently, being sleep-deprived, overscheduled, always running late, and being a people-pleaser at my own expense. I was starting to see just how complex this journey was for me – this was not just about losing weight but getting healthy, and really taking good care of myself. I had to carve out time to exercise (something I had never done regularly, let alone 5-6 times per week), plan family meals using new ingredients, keep a daily food log, write a weekly public blog, and find ways to deal with the many emotional issues we were stirring up – through journaling, talking with loved ones, and establishing new boundaries. It’s been a ton of work, but absolutely worth it!

I am proud to report so many positive changes I’ve experienced thus far. I have lost weight and inches and am fitting into smaller clothes! I am much stronger and have more endurance than I have had in years. I am having conversations about healthy eating with my children and introducing them to new foods regularly (we even planted our first garden!). I am getting more rest and drinking much more water (and much less pop!). Overall, I am so much more aware – of the quality of my food choices (pairing carbs/proteins/vegetables and eating more whole grains), the timing of my meals (eating earlier in the morning and eating every 3-4 hours), and the portion size of what I’m consuming. I have a better attitude about exercise – it’s not the dreaded chore I used to view it as because I know what I’m doing and it feels good to be active. Most importantly, I’m believing in my own abilities and am trying to achieve goals I’ve never dreamed I’d accomplish. I am truly excited about the possibilities of me (and my children’s) future.

We’ve made such great strides toward success, but I still have a long way to go. This program has ignited a fire within me and I fully intend to press onward with this journey. I’m so grateful for Jodi’s continued assistance! She and I are in a good groove – and she is ramping up my workouts now more than ever. I need her pushing me to view myself as that “fitness gal” she claims I’ve become. As my trainer and friend, she is a vital source of accountability and support. Thank you Whitley YMCA for caring about my story – I’m happy to be one small piece of the positive impact the Y has on our community!


Friday, July 5, 2013

WEEK 23... Jodi gives tips on controlling your appetite and identifying emotional eating. Nikki adds a new strength training circuit and trains for her first 5K.

We’re getting down to the end and the pressure is on for Nikki.  We discussed our last topic this week which was about how to control your appetite and identify emotional eating.  Controlling appetite and cravings can be achieved when following some simple steps such as eating breakfast, eating every 3-4 hours to maintain blood sugars, eating protein with meals and snacks, and eating quality complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber.  Emotional eating can be a complex area but awareness can be a key step in changing this negative behavior:

1)    Clean up your environment – you can’t eat what’s not there.

2)    Identify triggers – environment such as family gatherings and visual like tv commercials - any circumstances which trigger the need to eat.

3)    Stress – identify feelings and replace urge to eat with replacement behavior.  Try to take a walk, exercise, or call a friend)

4)    Visual aids – put a picture or inspirational quote on the refrigerator that motivates you.

Nutritional Homework
I have asked Nikki to continue her experimentation with whole foods and new recipes, adding as many vegetables as she can.  I have encouraged her to increase her water intake due to the heat which will also fill her up between meals and keep her hydrated!

Exercise Homework
Nikki completed her last strength training circuit which focused on the exercise ball and a few kettle bell exercises.  I wanted to give her some variation on the exercise ball such as the shoulder press, chest press and rear shoulder fly for back strengthening.  All of these exercises are challenging to her core and balance as well.  I also gave Nikki a new walking lunge exercise using a kettle bell, a kettle bell row, and had her hold a plank as long as she could!  Nikki will be working on perfecting this circuit this week and is aggressively training for the treadmill test.  We have also signed up for a 5k walk on July 13, wish us luck!


Nikki’s Thoughts
Yes, Jodi continues to ramp up my workouts. I guess that’s the beauty of working with a personal trainer – they vary the workout routines and keep you feeling challenged, while also helping you gain confidence in your abilities. She has encouraged me to incorporate outdoor activities this summer for added exercise – some way outside my comfort zone like doing a 5K!

When she first suggested we complete a 5K together, I kind of laughed it off. Surely, I was not ready for that yet! I envisioned the public humiliation of showing up to a park full of professional athletes who leave me standing in their dust at the start line and are waiting impatiently when I finally stagger to the finish line a few hours later! Apparently it’s much less intimidating, and I was assured I will not be the lone amateur in the bunch. So with a little prompting, I will indeed be experiencing my first ever 5K very soon.

I am a little scared but also really excited to do this. It will be quite a personal accomplishment. I can remember watching on the sidelines as my husband ran races years ago, feeling so proud of him and wishing with all my heart that I was the kind of girl who could run along with him. That’s still a dream, but I feel hopeful that this 5K could lead to more, and I’ll continue improving my performance. I’ve never been athletic, but I am more active today than ever and am slowly proving to myself that yes, I can do it – I can become that kind of girl.

Friday, June 28, 2013

WEEK 22...Nikki returns from a successful vacation of staying on track. Read about her confidence in finishing this portion of her Lifestyle Change strong.

Now that Nikki is home from vacation, it’s time to get refocused on her weight loss journey.  I was proud of Nikki for maintaining her weight on vacation.  That is success to not gain weight as she used the tools I have given her to leave her home and safety zone and feel confident balancing diet and exercise while having fun too! 

Nutritional Homework
As we have finally reached the summer season, I have asked Nikki to continue experimenting with whole foods and broaden her range of foods.  I have asked her to experiment with great whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa as they are loaded with fiber and nutrients.  I have also asked her to challenge herself with trying a new vegetable every week now that she will have more time to sample a variety of recipes.

Exercise Homework
Getting back into exercise I have added a different variation of the squat-n-press using a barbell.  I have also added a row movement using the barbell moving swiftly from one exercise to the next.  I have rounded out a full body circuit with dumbbell chest presses on an exercise ball which incorporates core and Nikki is continuing to master the dreaded lunges.  Way to go, Nikki.

Nikki’s Comments
With only a few weeks left in this Lifestyle Change, I’m feeling extra pressure to finish with strong results. I suppose I want to prove that good ole’ diet and exercise really is doable for someone with a lot of weight to lose and a lifetime of unhealthy habits to break. I want to make it count for the YMCA who really has given me the tools needed to change/save my life. And I hope to inspire others to become a better version of themselves by having the courage to face whatever they’re battling.

I know I’ll have good numbers to share soon, but I’m trying not to let the pressure of hitting a big goal, overshadow the successes I already know to be true. I’m finally ready to make this change. This is the new me, fighting to reclaim my health and quality of life with every workout and food choice. And I’m really doing it! It’s an exciting revelation. It sounds cheesy, but my future’s looking bright! J

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Week 21: Nikki goes on vacation! How can you not indulge on vacation? Nikki shows us how!

Week Twenty One
Nikki did a great job last week organizing her schedule for the summer. She scheduled time to meal plan, cook and rest which is creating more balance in her life. That was an important positive change to see!
This week we discussed the importance of hormones.  Metabolic hormones are chemical messengers that control and coordinate activities throughout the endocrine system. When they become “imbalanced” our bodies can be thrown out of whack and it can derail your ability to maintain a healthy weight.  Hunger hormones such as leptin and grehlin are meant to tell us when to start and stop eating.  When these get out of whack it can create overeating and cravings.  So how does this happen?  Much research has identified processed foods, chemicals in our food and environment, lack of sleep, and stress to be some of the key factors in this growing problem. Basically, your body reacts to what you put into your body and how you treat it.  Adding more whole foods (foods high in vitamins/minerals), reducing stress, exercising and getting more sleep are ways to ensure you will keep your hunger and metabolism balanced.
Nutritional Homework
Nikki is going on vacation this week and I have asked her to PLAN.  She will be taking some protein bars and protein powder with her for snacks and will have access to a kitchen for cooking.  When dining in restaurants she will review the restaurant’s nutrition guide so that she will be better inclined to make a “healthy” choice.  Nikki will still continue to keep a diet journal for her own self-regulation (I will be checking her too!).
Exercise Homework
While on vacation I have asked Nikki to put together a daily workout schedule.  She will have access to a gym and will be doing a lot of walking outside.  I have also asked her to work on her lunges every other day as no gym equipment will be necessary (no excuses!)

Nikki’s Comments
My family and I had a great time on vacation! We did a variety of fun activities and enjoyed more downtime than we’ve had on past trips. It was just what we needed to come back feeling refreshed. But it was an 8-day stretch that challenged my new healthy lifestyle habits. There was temptation everywhere and a certain amount of ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ mentality comes with any vacation right? Well, I knew Jodi was anxiously waiting to see my food/exercise log when I returned and I didn’t want to let her down! And I really wanted to come back on fire to finish this Lifestyle Change package strong. I packed my workout attire and healthy snacks and asked my husband for extra moral support.
I left feeling good about my food/fitness for the week. I wasn’t perfect – I ate mostly healthy with a few indulgences too. But I never felt deprived. It was important to me to find that balance – enjoying my food/drink without ruining my whole day’s efforts. I was also able to exercise every day. Wow. I’m proud of myself for that one! Six months ago I didn’t exercise once a week – let alone every day during vacation! My husband even joined me for the gym time and outdoor walks. We both enjoyed being active together (it’s a whole new area for us to explore) – although walking around mountain country is much different than around here!

We always try to visit an outlet mall during our vacations. This time I wanted to find an article of clothing to use as motivation. I looked for a ‘little black dress’ (that fashion staple for any woman’s closet that’s never been in mine) but I didn’t have any luck finding one. Instead I bought a green jacket that I love. I’m able to wear it but not comfortably and definitely not buttoned. My goal is to be able to close that jacket by fall. And who knows, maybe even looking cute over that stylish black dress I’ll be in. I can’t wait!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wek 20: Nikki wrestles with her schedule...again

This week Nikki and I discussed a topic that she is no stranger to…….stress!  Everyone has some stress. It becomes problematic when we are consistently running all day, playing “beat the clock” to get all of our many tasks, play dates and kid’s activities completed.  When stress continues for a long time, cortisol (a stress hormone) remains high. When cortisol is high it causes the body to resist losing weight.  Cortisol tends to move fat to our abdomen, which creates more inflammation and insulin resistance in the body. This puts you into a cycle of food/sugar cravings and difficulty losing weight while increasing health risks for diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, lowered immunity and suppression of thyroid function – the list goes on.  So what’s a gal to do?
1)     Get control and seek more balance in your life - what can I change about my schedule to create a little more peace for myself and family?

2)    Incorporate 1 stress management technique today:
A) Exercise – releases “feel good hormones”
B) Deep breath technique – scientifically proven (in a seated or lying position, count to 4 breathing in slowly and deeply, hold to the count of 4, and exhale counting to 4 – continue for several minutes)
C)  Outside/Nature – go for walk/bike ride/– enjoy the sunshine
D)  Maintain a spiritual practice
      3)  Laugh- it is the best medicine!   
Nutritional Homework
Nikki’s busy lifestyle is a constant theme in her weight loss journey.  While she is finding success with this program, juggling and managing her busy lifestyle is still a problematic concern.  She is losing every week but it has been a slow process. One that I believe could increase if her schedule was more balanced.  A famous quote I keep bringing up, “Insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting different results.”  We have discussed her schedule and luckily things should slow down this summer, therefore, I have asked her to chart her schedule on an open calendar for the month of June. I have asked her not to chart on her IPhone as this has prevented her from seeing how overbooked her schedule is becoming.  I would like to see her schedule some “down time” every day so she has time to practice some stress management techniques and can also dedicate more forethought and planning with meal preparation.  If we want to be successful in anything we do we have to prioritize and plan – the same goes with weight-loss.

Exercise Homework
Nikki will continue her same workout as last week but will bump her weights to the next increment of weight – further challenging herself and raising the bar of intensity.
Nikki’s Comments
Well yes, we are still talking about my hectic lifestyle hindering my weight loss. It’s so frustrating to me that this keeps tripping me up! I’m realizing that I’m excusing busy weeks as “temporary” and just trying to survive to get to a more “normal” schedule.
But they keep coming – more and more stretches of time that I’m wishing away and running ragged to keep up. The people and areas I care most about will suffer when I continually have little energy, attention and time to give. So I’ve got to get my schedule under control!
I’ve made some great strides with working in regular exercise, but now I need to carve out some downtime or “margins” in my life. I’m taking a hard look at my family’s summer calendar and am committed to staying home more, relaxing, and focusing on improving the quality of my life - body, mind and spirit. I want to look back on this journey as the time in my life when I stopped running away from dealing with my lifelong weight issues and started running toward my goals of a truly happy, healthy life!

Friday, May 31, 2013

WEEK 19...Jodi and Nikki talk about food triggers and how to respond. Nikki also adds lunges and kneeling woodchopper squat to this week's workout routine. What are some of your food triggers?

Nikki and I discussed the topic of food triggers this week.  A food trigger is an un-intentioned slipup that can derail your healthy eating intentions by creating cravings or overeating for particular foods, these triggers can be both physical and emotional.  We’ve all had moments when we’ve rewarded our weight loss efforts with some of our favorite forbidden foods in an effort to find balance and moderation, only to realize that we’ve overindulged and are then riddled with guilt and consequence to our actions (extra workouts).  Trying to identify and bring awareness to our actions and eating patterns is critical to changing negative behavioral patterns.

Nutritional Homework
I have provided Nikki with a food triggers exercise form for her to complete so that she can identify and work through the process of changing this behavioral pattern for herself.

Exercise Homework
I have continued to add variety and progress with her program.  I have now added walking lunges to strengthen her lower body muscles groups (quads, hamstrings and glutes) and elevate her heart rate as to increase the intensity and fat burning potential.  I have also added a great core strengthening exercise, the kneeling woodchopper squat, which allows her to increase strength in her core when moving in a rotational range of motion (which is more functional for daily life) - Nikki should be a little sore after this one!

Nikki’s Comments
I’ve always known certain foods are ‘dangerous’ for me to be around. After all, who can eat just one cookie? Well I can’t. Cookies and potato chips are two of my trigger foods that I can NOT have in my house without overeating. So I just don’t buy them – for now they are off limits. I’ve had a small amount around others if I’m really having a craving, but I’m careful not to bring any back into my home! Jodi has taught me it’s important to keep my home a ‘safe’ haven. It’s been helpful for me to recognize which foods I can control better than others. And also remember that if I make a poor choice, there will always be consequences!

What I never considered was that triggers can also be settings – places I visit where I tend to overindulge. That was a real eye-opener for me. I had to identify which environments (or even company I encountered) were triggers for me to revert back to my unhealthy eating habits. And then think of ways to combat them so I am not left feeling vulnerable. This worksheet about behavioral modification felt more like therapy for me to complete. It was another reminder how deeply rooted these issues are for me - I’m trying to change behaviors I’ve had for decades! But figuring out the who, what, where, when, and (most difficultly) the why of my triggers to overeat is an essential part of this journey.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

WEEK 18...Jodi encourages Nikki to add more beans to her menu line-up for her protein and Nikki takes advantage of the nicer weather to exercise outside.

Often in an effort to incorporate more protein in our diet we think of meat, eggs, and dairy which can get boring and can limit our nutritional intake.  Therefore………think beans!  Beans are a wonderful way to add high quality plant based protein to your diet.  They are high in iron, b-vitamins and fiber, and are versatile enough that you may never tire of them.  There is a wonderful variety to choose from such as black beans, northern, chickpeas, kidney and lima beans, as well as “super beans” like mung beans and lentils.  You can make them in a crockpot or simply open a can (be sure to strain) and incorporate them into a meal – so simple and tasty!
Nutritional Homework
I have encouraged Nikki to try a new bean this week – adding chickpeas to a salad or black beans to a wrap to bring a Mexican and hearty flare to a quick and easy meal on the go!
Exercise Homework
It’s time to take Nikki’s cardio workouts up-a-notch, therefore, I have added more intensity to Nikki’s EFX and Bike workouts incorporating more intervals.  Nikki continues her treadmill workout as well, but I have asked her to take more walks outside as it will be more enjoyable and scenic being with nature, making the workout fly by!
Nikki’s Comments
As the weather is getting warmer, it’s been fun venturing outside more! I have always enjoyed leisure time outdoors, but I’ve never been a fan of exercising outside. Maybe it’s because I feel more self-conscious, or just hate to sweat in the heat. I’ve never been considered an ‘outdoorsy’ girl – I don’t like to hike through the woods or go on nature walks. And I honestly don’t think I’ll ever understand the allure that runners have to hitting the pavement. I like the structure the gym offers - rotating machines and knowing my goals on each helps make me feel like I’m staying on track and being efficient. But outdoor activities add a nice variety to a workout plan, so I want to be intentional about finding what I can enjoy doing outside that can ‘count’ as exercise this summer. Walking and biking, doing yard work and gardening, and joining my kids as they play games are all on my list.