Live healthy. Live Vibrant. Livliga

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fitbit Challenge Update- Week Three- Feeling hungrier and thirstier

Week Three Steps Achieved During My Month-long Fitbit Challenge
Good news is I have kept on racking up the 10,000 steps per day, every day during my month long Fitbit Challenge. I am actually amazed at myself! Twenty-three days into it and I have managed to get to 10,000 steps each and everyday (or more!). It has not always been easy to do. For instance last week I had more than one day with over 4,000 steps to attain and it was already after 9PM. I am lucky enough to have an old treadmill in the basement I can turn on, watch some TV and work on those additional steps not yet trekked.

What I have noticed as I have continued this Fitbit Challenge is that I am on average hungrier and thirstier than before. It is true; you do feel hungry when you exercise more. I have read articles about people who train for runs and marathons and how they can actually end up gaining weight because they feel hungry more frequently. I find this is true, particularly the days I run as part of my exercise. I seem to burn through my oatmeal faster at breakfast so I end up being hungry mid-morning and stay that way unless I eat something. At first you want to use the added exercise as an excuse to eat more. This completely defeats the point of the added exercise. Why do we do this to ourselves?!?

I decided my goal had to be to remain mindful and not gain any weight during my month long challenge. With my family obligations and travel schedule I figured focusing on the challenge and not gaining weight was as much as I could sustain. Losing weight, if it happened, would be an added bonus. This hasn’t happened, but I have maintained my weight, which makes me happy.

My thirst has me drinking more since we are still in the hot days of summer. I am drinking water but I have to admit my sugar-free soda pop consumption has increased. Good news is I love Bai5 drinks. They are delicious and promoted to be nutritious with only 10 calories per bottle. I use them as a treat for myself. The coconut flavor is something to savor. It seems like a good strategy for keeping me going, managing my weight and still getting in the necessary fluids I need.

There are days I have imagined I needed a break from the rigor of my 10,000 steps a day challenge yet once I get up and get going I have surprised myself in managing to get to that number everyday. Different days need different tactics. All for the good of the goal. Kind of fun showing myself I can do this! One more week to go!

Still going strong!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Healthy Lifestyle Tip--Starve Your Fears


Friday, August 19, 2016

The Joys of Walking Meditation

Finding Beauty in my Surroundings on a Walking Meditation

Meditation has been a skill that has been hard for me to acquire. Like many people I know, it has been hard for me to let go of my thoughts and pressing concerns. Sitting still seems to actually exacerbate my efforts to clear my mind and find the stillness I seek. So when I heard about Walking Meditation it immediately appealed to me.

When I went to research more about Walking Meditation I found there are many resources regarding this ancient practise. The most important element of Walking Meditation is to think of it as a contemplative practise where close attention is paid to the actual action of walking. The idea is to be present while you walk, paying specific attention to your feet touching the pavement, the length of your stride, the rhythm of your breathing as well as taking in your surroundings. Walking Meditation is not thinking about problems, worrying about what you have to do next or working through something. It is about being in your skin in the moment. I don’t know about you, but this is much harder than is sounds.
Seeing Perspective in the Views I see on my Walking Meditations

One resource listed the abundant benefits of Walking Meditation for not only our mind and spirit but also for our physical health:

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
    •    Reduce Stress & Anxiety
    •    Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
    •    Lower Risk of Disease
    •    Greater Self Acceptance
    •    Improved Feelings of Happiness
    •    Lower Blood Pressure
    •    Improve Health & Vitality
    •    Cultivate Innate Wisdom
    •    Higher Creativity
    •    Reduced Risk of Heart Attack
    •    Boost Immune System
    •    Age More Gracefully
    •    Greater Compassion
    •    Improve problem solving skills
    •    Better Concentration

Many methods are recommended to help you stay present and sustain the rhythmic benefit of Walking Meditation. Here are some I have found helpful:

Repetition of movement. It is amazing how just by putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again you can create a rhythm that is compelling and sustainable. It is tricky, though, to stay in the moment and maintain awareness of the movement. Sometimes I drift and have to get back to paying attention to each step to keep myself present.

Feeling all number of sensations. I tend to walk first thing in the morning when the world is still waking up. I truly enjoy listening to the sounds of the different birds, hearing the rustle of the wind through the leaves of the trees, experiencing the smell of the flowers that are in bloom, feeling the sun on my back, seeing the softness of the light and the shadows that play with my eyes and sometimes I can even taste what is in the air. It is joy for me to work out how I am experiencing all my senses as I walk.

Being open to every sound. Concentrating on just sound helps me avoid wandering off in my thoughts. I am astounded at how many different sounds I can hear each morning from the songs of the different birds, to the chatter of the squirrels, the rustling of leaves, the rush of the wind, the buzz of various insects, to the bark of dogs, the hum of the traffic, as well as so many other noises I continue to discover. Each day is different.

Seeing my Surroundings on My Walking Meditation

Seeing your surroundings. Just looking around allows you to relish the beauty of the day and be ever mindful in the moment. I am fortunate to live near the mountains. Part of my walk allows me the joy of seeing their majestic. Some days I see every part of them, otters days there are clouds, mist or haze. The colors as the sun rises are nothing less than glorious. I go from the macro view of the mountains to the micro experience of bees climbing around flowers to ducks gliding on water. Just taking notice helps with your Walking Meditation.

Acknowledging what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. Not only does doing these various practises help with a successful Walking Meditation but also acknowledging what you are doing helps. In essence you are having an ongoing conversation with yourself about what you are doing, how you are feeling and how the various sensations affect you. This ongoing conversation keeps you present. You are so busy you don’t have time to have your mind wander! (or so you wish…)

Continuously touch base with the basics. My mind does wander. Some thought creeps into my head and I start thinking about other things other than what I am doing at the present moment. What I have found is that when this happens I go back to the basics. I start over by thinking about my feet, how they are touching the pavement, how that feels and being very aware of my movement, one foot in front of the other. It gets me back on track. It also does get easier the more your practise Walking Meditation.

Be mindful of your attitude and how you express that on your face. Some days are just harder than others. You get up tired, you are mad about something or frustrated. It is nearly impossible to have a constructive Walking Meditation if you hold on to those thoughts. You have to let them go. Attitude is everything. I find by taking a few deep breaths and literally putting a smile on my face I can shift my thinking, let go of the negative and get into the benefit of my Walking Meditation. It is quantifiable how much better I feel at the end of my walk compared to how I felt at the beginning.

Everyday I see Something New on my Walking Meditations
Taking photos to capture simple beauty. One of my favorite activities on my walks is to stop occasionally to take a picture of something I find particularly beautiful, especially flowers. IT is such a peaceful action for me. I find it heightens my enjoyment and allows me to focus on the present and where I am in that specific moment. It also gives me an image to look back at to further extend the enjoyment.

During my month long Fitbit Challenge my Walking Meditations are a particular pleasure. I typically walk for just over an hour and achieve around 7,000 steps towards my daily goal of 10,000. It is a great way to start the day.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fitbit Challenge Update--Week Two

First 15 Days of My Fitbit Challenge

This past week I was concerned I would have a hard time fitting in enough steps each day to reach my 10,000 steps per day goal. It was a travel week for me that included 4 days exhibiting in our Livliga booth at the AADE conference. So much of the time when we are exhibiting we are standing in a 10 x 10 booth and not walking around much. This may be better than sitting but it is not great for accumulating steps.

I guess it was good that I was worried about my steps because I ended up sailing past each days goal. Here are some of the ways I ensured my success:

  • Each morning we worked out in the hotel fitness center for an hour
  • We made sure to walk to and from the convention center each day (fortunately it was within walking distance)
  • Each night we chose a place to eat that we could walk to
  • When I got my bathroom breaks during the day I made sure to pick a restroom that required a nice walk to get to it
  • And then the one half day, after setting up the exhibit, we had to play we rented bikes and did a 21 mile bike ride. I knew that wouldn't count towards steps. In the past I would have skipped working out knowing I was going to cycle. Not this time. Instead I worked out for an hour, set up the exhibit, cycled and walked a long the shore by our hotel to make sure my steps were covered

It just goes to show it is a good thing to be mindful and aware of choices. Clearly by being motivated to make my steps I consciously made choices to help me achieve my goal. These were choices I would not have ordinarily made. I am proving to myself that I have more capacity than I thought I had and that goals can be very motivating. In the past I might have rationalized an averaging of my steps so I would achieve just the minimum amount of steps for a rolling 10,000 steps per day. At this point in my life I am interested in actually getting to 10,000 steps each and every day.

This past week I achieved 100,829 steps. Overall I have accumulated 198,829 steps for the first 15 days of my Fitbit Challenge (150,000 steps would be the expected goal). Feels great!


Monday, August 15, 2016

Healthy Lifestyle Tip--Find Your Healthy Lifestyle Peeps


Friday, August 12, 2016

How to Deal with Foot and Leg Swelling During the Summer Months

Nothing Fun About Swollen Feet
 It is so interesting to me that more often than not when it gets hot outside, my legs begin to swell. I have always wondered—is it the heat that confounds my body or do I end up eating saltier foods in the heat of the summer? Or maybe it is that I need to be drinking more water because of the heat. In researching this conundrum here is what I found: Heat edema occurs when heat causes the blood vesicles to dilate while the person remains in a prolonged upright sitting or standing position. This condition is inconvenient and uncomfortable. It is also very common for a lot of people, particularly those that are older, pregnant, are menstruating or overweight.

There are things that can exacerbate the swelling like being in the heat, eating too many salty foods and sitting too long or standing too long. Being aware of these contributing factors may help to moderate them. We can cool down by getting in the shade or jumping in a pool. We can get up and move if we have been sitting too long or standing in one place too long. Elevating and massaging our feet and legs helps too.

When it comes to limiting the salty drinks and foods in the summertime, it seems a little more challenging. We eat more barbecue, potato chips and, of course, indulge in summer drinks like salty dogs or margaritas. I have found by making my own versions of our favorite summer foods I can cut down and even eliminate a lot of the added salt.

Even with knowing all the things I can do to help my swollen feet, I still struggle to keep the swelling down during the course of a day. That is when I decided to research what foods can act as a natural diuretic. It turns out there are many of them and a lot of them suit our summertime eating sensibilities. One of my favorites I discovered is watermelon! Who doesn’t love an ice-cold slice of watermelon in the heat? Other foods that act as a natural diuretic are lemons (think fresh lemonade with stevia), celery (think dip with crudité), tomatoes (think fresh cold gazpacho soup) and asparagus (think cold with a mustard vinaigrette drizzled on top). The best natural diuretic, believe it or not, is water. Lemon water, hot or cold, is a great way to add health and keep the fluids flowing as part of a daily routine.

Once I started designing menus that incorporated foods that are natural diuretics, along with being conscious of moving around more and using a lot less salt, my swelling has been virtually eliminated.

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fitbit Challenge Update--Week One

First Nine Days of my Month Long Fitbit Challenge

Challenges can be great motivators. They are for me...just so long as I think they are achievable. This Fitbit challenge is all about getting the steps in. The goal is to get to 10,000 steps (or more) each day for the month of August. That is 31 days of 10,000 steps per day. By the end I want to log 310,000 steps.

So far we are ten days into the challenge. Good news is I have gotten to 10,000 each day. Has it been easy? Not exactly. But it has been doable.

What I have found is that there is method to the madness. Working out first thing in the morning is key for me. By focusing on cardio first for about 50 minutes I can jump-start my day and my step count. If I can get over 5,000 steps first thing the rest of the steps I need are much easier to achieve. It is even better the days I run as part of my work out. I can get over 7,000 steps running.

It is fun reporting out where I am in my steps. My husband signed up to do the challenge with me. Competing with him makes it fun to get up and get going. Fitbit even has an easy way to have others join in a daily challenge with you. It provides a way to be accountable and mindful. It also provides a good nudge.

I may only be 10 days into the challenge with 21 more days to go but I feel good about my ability to get to 10,000 steps on an ongoing basis. The weekends are harder I have found because we regularly cycle on Saturdays which doesn't help me with steps so I have to consciously figure out how to fit in additional exercise and steps over and above our couple of hours of cycling. Then Sunday's have classically been my lounge around days where I have barely logged steps, often just getting a few over 3,000 steps. That has changed!

Now I am on an airplane headed for a conference. My next challenge will be figuring out how to fit in steps standing all day as an exhibitor in an exhibit hall. Usually my feet are tired by the end of the day but I haven't managed to log many steps. More on that next week.

So far I have discovered getting to 10,000 steps on a daily basis is not easy but it is doable no matter what day of the week it is, as long as I remain mindful of the goal. Let's see what next week brings.