Mindset

Healthy New Beginnings 2016 Style

The clock struck midnight and 2015 was behind us.

A bright, shiny and new 2016 stands before us.

Now what?

Each one of us must answer that question for ourselves. For some it is “Stay the course” for others it is “Abandon ship!” and for most it is somewhere in between.

For me, it is all about baby steps.

Making a Plan

planning for a healthy new year

Pen by Anna Langova

On January 1st I sat down with my youngest son and had a *brainstorming/planning/goal-setting/dreaming sit down meeting. Ok, maybe it was less formal than that. It was more like a sit in the recliners with our notepads and a couple of pens to chat about what we wanted to accomplish personally and professionally in 2016.

We started with a main theme and then separated it into different categories which then went into more detail as we worked on the first three months of the year. We called these our action steps. What good is a dream if you don’t take action to turn that dream into a reality?

We discussed each step as we went along. The sharing and discussion of our plans was helpful in many ways. Writing it down is one thing, but speaking it out loud and hearing it said gave us a sense of taking action. We were able to offer suggestions and new ideas were formed.

Taking Action

Why am I sharing this with the Health Fitness Beauty Quest readers? When I think of 2015, I think of it as a year of extremes. From cycling across deserts and mountains to months of sitting in hospital rooms while my youngest son battled a brain tumor. My personal health and fitness went from being at the peak adult shape of my life to back where I was in September of 2013 when the Health Fitness Beauty Quest began.

Being back where I started physically is a tough pill to swallow. Yet, while I may be in the shape I was in two years ago, my knowledge base of what it takes to be healthy, fit and beautiful is powerfully strong. I know exactly what it takes to get back to my prime physical shape. And you know what they say, “Knowing is half the battle”. (Thanks G.I. Joe cartoons for that gem.)

So, my theme for 2016 is: Getting Back to Basics

This means back to recording my meals, logging fitness activities and making myself responsible for my success or lack thereof. I know I’m not alone in my goal for a healthier and more fit 2016. There is a wave of energy towards making a positive healthy change at this time of the year. Let’s get together in person or virtually to encourage, challenge and cheer on one another toward reaching our health and fitness goals.

Let’s Get Healthy Together

Easiest way to connect is online:

MapMyRide | MyFitnessPal | FitBit 

Most impactful way to get connected is in person:

Send me a DM or @ message on Twitter or inbox message on Facebook with a day/time to meet for a walk in one of our fabulous city parks or a bike ride along the greenways.

I hope to get fit with you either through online workout challenges or on a group walk/ride. Here’s to a fabulously fit and healthy 2016.

*We modeled this idea from the Randall Carroll Family (Amazon Sellers) who shared their New Year Family Meeting model with the Educating for Success community. 

Health Fitness Beauty Quest Restart

NaPodPoMo 2015 Day 1 Show Notes:

Thank you for joining me for the National Podcast Post Month Version of the Health Fitness Beauty Quest Show which for the next 30 days will be more of a daily audio digest.

On today’s episode, I give the background of the Health Fitness Beauty Quest. It all began in September 2013. I was 44 years old at the time. That year, like many before, I was wider and less healthy than the year before. In my family we are long-lived and based on the way I was living things weren’t looking favorable on that front.

I wanted to transform my life into one of a healthy lifestyle, but that was also something I had thought every year. So, I knew I would need accountability. By blogging, podcasting, posting videos and sharing progress on social media I was able to take my size 16 179lbs into a size 8 148lbs in 16 months.

The next stage of my quest was to ride my bicycle across the country starting in San Diego, CA and ending in St. Augustine, FL. A distance of over 3,000 miles. On March 31st 2015 the Health Fitness Beauty Quest Bike Tour began. I was very please to have sponsors and individual donations to support the bike tour. Sponsors like: Team RISE UP! Global, Educating for Success, Tourism Currents, Ivita Botanicals, Ventana Media Group and more.

Many folks know about how the tour was cut short in Deming, NM due to my youngest son ill health. He was part of the Support Team and ,came down will what we thought was, severe altitude sickness. We soon discovered that his headaches and nausea were actually due to a brain tumor. Six months later and I am very happy to report that he is on the mend after receiving treatment.

So, what does all of this have to do with the Health Fitness Beauty Quest? Well from the time we discovered my youngest son’s diagnosis, I have led a life that was the opposite of health and fitness. I went from cycling mountains and traversing deserts to little to no movement at all sitting in the hospital at my son’s bedside. Talk about doing a fitness 180º turn! I also discovered I am what you might call a stress eater. Let me tell you that when life hits you something that life altering, it’s stressful.

I jumped on the scale recently and it turns out I am almost right back where I was in September 2013…..not quite…almost. It is a bit frustrating to see the current state of my health and fitness. Which tells me many things. First of all, I need to get back to what I know works. Cycling, walking, tracking my eating and fitness. I also know I need to share this setback and the state of things in my health and fitness in order to have you hold me accountable.

Which is why NaPodPoMo is a perfect time to restart the Health Fitness Beauty Quest. Tomorrow, I will share some of the strategies I plan on implement which includes allowing you daily access to my nutrition and fitness. What better way to stay on track than to share the good, the bad and the ugly?

They say it takes 30 days to create a new habit or break a bad one. By the time November 30th rolls around, I hope to have done both.

Training, Training, Training

Increasing Mileage

When it comes to preparing for a 3,000+ mile journey, there are many things to consider. Proper nutrition, supplements, hydration, post-ride stretching, and cycling attire are important factors to take into account. What it all really comes down to is time in the saddle. My body needs to become accustomed to spending hours pedaling those miles day after day. I have been steadily increasing my mileage per ride. On days when the sunlight and weather are not cooperating there may be a 20-miler, but the goal at this stage has been to ride a minimum of 30-40 miles per outing. I am thankful that the ability to pedal those miles has been easy enough. Although Texas is known for mild winters, we do have cold fronts blowing through which puts the pinch on ride days. The biggest challenge at this point has been getting these rides in between cold fronts and on good days before the sun sets.

Leon Creek Greenway

With 5 weeks left before the bike tour starts, it’s time to ramp up that ride mileage goal to better represent the daily mileage that my body will experience on the tour. San Antonio has a fantastic trail system that offers me many opportunities to ride safely. Currently, my go-to trail is the Leon Creek Greenway which offers 26 miles of riding. The plan over the next couple of weeks is to increase my single ride mileage from 40 miles to 50 miles. Then ramp that up even further to the 60 mile mark leading up to the tour start. Many folks might think the mileage increase is a big deal. Actually, it isn’t. I have ridden up to 62.5 miles before. The true challenge is riding those kinds of miles on back to back to back days.

 

Toughening Up

Riding day after day makes a big difference in the performance of each ride. Legs feel heavier on day three than they did on day one. I feel every single bit of every bump in the road. I know exactly where my sit bones are and can feel them more and more on consecutive ride days. This is giving me a taste of what I will experience on the tour. This is good because more than any physical toughness needed during the tour will be the mental fortitude it will take to keep on riding day after day for two months.

40 Mile Bike Ride on MapMyRide

40 Mile Bike Ride on MapMyRide

What I am learning right now is that each long ride is not a sprint. It is definitely more of an ultra-marathon. Currently, the ride time for me to burn through 40 miles is over the 3 hour mark. Part of my training now includes forcing myself stop more often than I would if I were only riding once in a while.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is actually more challenging than you might think. The more I ride, the easier it is for my body to deliver a faster pace. Those moments when mind and body are in sync with speed are truly magical. I feel like I am lighter than air and flying along the trail is a mental and physical rush.

Balancing Act

This is where the battle between mind and body requires discipline. The fact is that staying at a fast pace is not something that is sustainable over time. Or at least it isn’t for me. I am working on balancing my minds desire for speed with my body’s need for a few moments of non-riding. Stopping to stretch out of the ride position is important. To offer my hips and back a chance to relax makes such a difference in the ride experience. Even standing on my pedals while riding and pushing my hips forward and straightening my back helps to ease tightness. Better still is stopping and taking the time to stretch out for a few minutes. Doing this always leaves me feeling refreshed when I jump back on the bike.

Jen riding fast

My faithful steed

As I work to increase frequency of rides with more ride mileage, this balancing act will become even more important. The long term sustainability of training rides and ultimately the success of the tour will rely heavily on this balance. Which is why I am so grateful to have this time to train. What a difference this knowledge has made so far. I look forward to learning and sharing even more of these nuggets of practical experience as training continues.

Do you have some cycling tips that have helped you improve your ride experience? Let me hear from you. Leave a comment below to share your training gems. Cheers!

Reflections on 2014

On January 1st many of us set New Year’s Resolutions. We resolve to do better. Do more of the things that are good for us (health, fitness, financial) and less of the things that are not so good for us (poor food choices, sedentary living, frivolous spending). The model of success I have found through the Health Fitness Beauty Quest has been one of adding. The focus has never been about taking away, but one of incorporating more of the things that are better for me.

Health

By adding better food choices such as an apple before a breakfast taco or a salad before a burger, I found the cravings for poor food choices naturally minimize and were even deleted from my daily meal options. This does not mean I forgo pizza or burgers or tacos. What it does mean is that those types of food options have fallen into the few and far between meals. I simply do not care to eat them as often as I did in the past.

Fitness

In 2014, I added neighborhood walks, interval treadmill sessions, hiking and gym circuit training to my cycling and swimming. I was surprised to discover how quickly my body responded to mixing up my fitness routine. It took less time to loose inches and gain strength when I varied my workouts. By adding more movement and changing the types of exercise I was doing I saw bigger results.

Beauty

I went big when it came to beauty. I added monthly facials, had an abdominal awake lipo procedure, incorporated a morning and evening beauty regimen and learned more about how to care for myself than I had in all my adult life. I not only learned about beauty care, but I stuck to it day after day, month after month. It’s one thing to learn something, but it is an entirely different thing to see it through day in and day out.

Nutritional Supplements

Although nutritional supplements are not part of my blog title, they have played an important supporting role in each aspect of my health, fitness and beauty. In 2014, I became a part of the #1 nutritional supplement company in the world. Incorporating nutritional supplements to my daily routine was another I found to move my quest forward. By joining the company I also added another stream of income to my business.

As I look back on 2014, I see a year of transition and transformation. I took my life back from the unhealthy version of myself and staked a claim for the new healthy, fit and beautiful version of myself that will live out the rest of my adventure-filled days.

Has It Been One Year Already?

Health | Fitness | Beauty Quest  Year One

Health | Fitness | Beauty Quest
Year One

The month of September marks the Health Fitness Beauty Quest one year anniversary. It is hard to believe so much time has passed. I look back at everything learned over the last 12 months and realize just how much has changed. When I started on this journey, I had no idea where it would take me. My hopes were to discover a healthier and fitter version of myself. As a self-proclaimed “Tomboy Techie”, I also was curious to discover more about the world of beauty.

For those of you who have followed my journey, I give you my heartfelt thanks. Your words of encouragement and support have been invaluable to me. The knowledge that you were cheering me on and holding me accountable have been a large part of my success.

I really do feel fantastic after a year of the Health Fitness Beauty Quest. It has been an incredible year and I am extremely grateful to each one of you. Your tweets, comments, likes and shares online have gone a long way towards keeping me on track. The face-to-face conversations, phone calls, hugs and texts warmed my heart, lifted my spirits and fueled my workouts. I have always felt I was in partnership with you on this journey.

In order to share some of the keys to my success I will be visiting with Pinnacle Wellness, ContourLase Body Institute and Your Wellness Plan. These companies partnered with me to provide services, products and education when I began this journey one year ago.

The archived and ongoing conversation can be found by searching for the #hfbq hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. 

 

 

 

 

Cha-Cha-Changes

Your Healthy Life SignSince beginning the Health Fitness Beauty Quest, there have been many changes in my life over the last 9 months. Some are big changes but most are small little nuances of change that have combined to leave quite the impression in my life. I am the first to admit that my life has not been the healthiest.

There were many times I knew there had to be a better way, but I always thought it would be too hard. I thought a healthy life meant a life of denial. A life without spice or flavor or fun. If I could go back in time and talk to that Jennifer from 20 years ago I would explain how empowering it is to be physically strong after a walk, run, cycling or gym workout. How liberating it can be to make knowledgable nutrition choices. How satisfying it is to be full from eating a delicious meal and not feel bloated afterwards. I call it clean simple living and it’s wonderful.

Over the last 9 months, my life has changed in so many ways. Some I will share with you here on the Health Fitness Beauty Quest. Let’s start with my outlook. Even though my family is long-lived. (90’s to 100’s) and I knew I had the potential to live to a ripe old age, I wasn’t living like I would get there. Each year as I got older, I could see my girth increasing, myself aging and my health dwindling. Now, after 9 months of focusing solely on the three things (health, fitness and beauty) I felt were of importance, my outlook has completely changed. I look back on my previous life and wonder why it took me so long to make the decision to choose a healthy and empowered lifestyle.

If you have been waiting for “some day” to get healthy. That someday is right now. Look yourself in the mirror and verbally claim your healthy, strong and empowered life. Believe me when I tell you, it is so much closer than you think.

Struggling on a Saturday Morning Run

I am a speaker at an inner circle retreat in Tennessee this weekend. I decided to go for a run to keep up with my triathlon training. To say it was less than stellar would be putting it mildly.


nike run struggle

A Matter of Balance

Eat reasonable amounts of healthy foods. Exercise regularly. Stay on track.

Girl in Balance Artwork by Hebron Chism

It sounds pretty straightforward. Speaking as someone who has tried scads of diets, lifestyles, regimens, books, gyms, training regimens, classes and sports over the years, I can say that each time, I have discovered and rediscovered that the weight, health and fitness equation really does come down to doing these three things regularly.

Much of the time, I have a hard time really accepting this.

The artwork pictured here is a piece I commissioned from the amazing Hebron Chism. It’s called “Girl in Balance.” It depicts me when I was 15 years old (the age my son is now). The piece is a celebration of self discovery, with a bittersweet edge.

My parents divorced when I was 7, and my Mom worked 2 and 3 jobs and went to college, so money was tight and my parents were largely absent. My two brothers were great human beings, but they were older, able to escape. I was trapped at home a lot.

Loneliness and relative poverty are a hell of a way to spend puberty. I comforted myself with Beatles records, dancing, playing the piano, and lots of hot, sweet, milky tea and toast with margarine.

But back to the moment this artwork depicts. Through the help of some dear friends, I had taken up tennis, gymnastics and jumping rope, and had gotten my body into decent shape. To my amazement and delight, I learned that I could stand on my hands for up to 10 minutes at a time. This ability literally turned my self-concept upside down.

I rent studio space for my interactive agency from artist and art community leader James Hendricks. When Hebron camped there for a few months, I saw him sculpting these gorgeous human figures out of blocks of plywood, all poised and graceful and in balance. I was particularly drawn to the ones of heroic female figures. Here’s one of the Chinese Mulan woman warrior figure. Note that Mulan can not only shoot an arrow with her feet while standing on her hands – she also wears a mask.

hebron-chism-mulan-model-400px

Even though each piece ends up affixed to a stable base, each of Hebron’s sculptures actually does BALANCE as a freestanding wooden figure.

Except mine! Let me tell you why he made an exception in my case.

Commissioning the Girl In Balance Artwork

I had never commissioned an artwork before, but James knew how taken I was with Hebron’s pieces and encouraged me to talk to him about them. After a philosophical discussion about what I liked about the piece, some Google images searches and a few skillful questions via email, Hebron caused a bunch of concepts to come tumbling out of me, which was very therapeutic! What balance means. The beautiful arc of body I remembered as I kicked up into the handstands. The ability to surprise myself and others. The vital importance of books and my piano to my ability to maintain emotional balance. The aloneness – which ended up symbolized by that lovely elliptical base.

We went back and forth on the body position. Hebron explained that I couldn’t have maintained that pretty arced body position for 10 minutes at a time; that in order to be stable, my body had to be pushed up much more straight – or it would be too much effort to maintain the balance. He explained that I started with an arc and then straightened up – I had to have done. That rang a bell, and I realized I had never actually seen myself in the position anyway.

So we compromised – he depicts me just as I had kicked up into the handstand – with the little flutter of my shirt showing that movement – in the moment JUST BEFORE I achieved balance.

And that makes it even sweeter. It symbolizes the fact that none of live in balance. We wobble. We strive. Sometimes we fall and have to get back up. And that’s ok.

The other thing this artwork made me realize, is that I can be superwoman like Mulan. I can stand on my hands for 10 minutes at a time, and do it alone, without help. But working that hard to maintain balance, I can’t really do anything else. My hands are occupied. I can’t shoot an arrow. To really get things done, I need to stand on my own two feet, and be willing to accept the help of others.

I do yoga to Rodney Yee DVDs. If you don’t know him, Rodney is a very well known yoga teacher, with many years of experience. Beautiful control and body positions. Yet on our big-screen TV, I can see his muscles flexing as he constantly, constantly, wobbles and corrects, wobbles and corrects. Even Rodney Yee. His corrections are so small you have to look carefully to see them. But they’re there. Most of the time, even Rodney isn’t in balance. He’s working to achieve it.

Thank you, Hebron Chism, for helping me find my balance and better understand what balance means.