Sunday, June 18, 2017

It's Humbling

Happy Father's Day!  I hope you were able to celebrate with the man or men in your life that you love.  I had my dad over for lunch and spent the whole day with my husband.  It was nice.  Relaxing.  No fuss.
Dad & I
My biggest cheerleader
Brian & I
My heart
Back to the here is the bare honest truth.  This whole getting my game back on thing is extremely humbling.  I am perpetually feeling like starting all over again is just too much for me and the desire to throw in the towel seems to be nagging at me like crazy.

Discouragement knocks at my door every day and this afternoon I caught myself truly feeling sorry for myself.  Stop everything, get out the violins because poor, poor Tracey.  Oh my, when I realized I was wallowing in self pity, I pretty much slapped myself in the head and said, "Cut the bullsh** and get it together!"
So me!
Last week I set some pretty steep Goals for myself.
In my last post, I said to set realistic goals.  Realistic means ones you can actually attain.  Me?  I had a crazy busy week and planned two runs and two bike rides in one week.  I am lucky I got in one of each.

It's probably smart to a lot of people to set high goals so you can push yourself.  But me, I get discouraged too easily if I don't meet my goals.  I feel like I've failed, even if I've tried to reach them.  It's rubbish, but it's my Type A personality.
Courage.  That's what I need.
I did legs at the gym yesterday and my shoulder is bothering me, so I was going to skip working out today and just do some yoga at home.  Instead, I decided to do an at-home workout, followed by the yoga.  It was great.  I feel energized and encouraged.
I did 10 minutes going up and down the stairs, followed by a circuit of Kettle Bell swings, walking lunges, Kettle Bell Squats and bent over rows, that I repeated three times.
at home Yoga....feels so good.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.
1 Corinthians 12:9-10

I also realize that I'm going to need some help as I work my way back.  Even though my proud self feels like she knows everything, I need someone to kick me in the butt.  I do.  So I asked my friend Ashley to help with me and we have plans for Wednesday.  It feels weird to have a new trainer.  This will be number four.  But I like Ashley, so if I feel like I can trust her after our first session together, I know it will be good for me to work with her.

For me, working with a trainer is less about having someone tell you what to do, and more about having someone to kick you in the butt, to encourage you when you're feeling down and to push you when you just don't want to.  I feel super whiney, so hopefully she won't be annoyed with me.
Looking forward to getting rid of the dueling voices and rebuilding my confidence.

This week's goals are a WHOLE lot more reasonable....

Question for you (answer in the comment section below):
Did you do anything for Father's Day?  What?

Musical notes    
A perfect workout tune for me...
There's Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendes

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Monday, June 12, 2017


How was your weekend?  We went away for a wedding in Maine and it was amazing.  What a great weekend!

This is Part Three in my series "All or Nothing." Today I am focusing on fitness and exercise. This has been my biggest mental hurdle over the past year because I have been dealing with one injury or health related issue after another, with virtually no relief.  My doctor has given me at least two stern talking to's about overdoing it. I have had to take a MAJOR step back and let my body heal, which has resulted in both some weight (fat) gain, a significant loss in muscle mass, and a blow to my routine.
This was during recovery from my back injury.
What used to be normal is now work. What used to be a warm up is now my work out. While I used to go out for a 30+ mile bike ride 2-3 times per week, I have only been on one this entire season.

I, myself am fighting the all or nothing game. I want to be what I was a year ago. Heck, I'll take where I was six months ago. But that's not the case, so I stand here at the crossroads of "Try again, do it again, it's worth it!" and "Ugggh, I don't want to do this. It's hard."

When my motivation is high, I tend to overdo it. I just got over a migraine that lasted 10 days. And my shoulder has been bothering me for the past couple days.  It stinks to get old.

This post is all about setting weekly, or even daily fitness goals.   If you are just getting started, or are working your way back from injury or medical issues, the key to long term success is to start small.  Don’t set impossible goals you cannot achieve.  Be practical.  It's okay to reach a little, but don't set unattainable goals and set yourself up for failure.
I am thinking one bike ride is realistic and two is probably a stretch, but I am going to try to ride on Wednesday and again on Saturday morning.
I am doing this, starting today.  My nutrition for the weekend was literally off the chart, so today I am going to reign in the food demons and make sure I get my workouts in for the week, and that’s what my goals reflect.

I took the word "vacation" to heart.  I ate and ate and ate.  Rum Raisin ice cream on top and Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl on the bottom with a waffle cone bowl.  OMG, to die for.
For me, the mind game has to some extent been about time. I find myself thinking, "If I can't get to the gym and workout for an hour, why bother" has been a trap.  Truth be told, my weight on the scale hasn't changed more than 5 lbs since Christmas, and that's because I've got my nutrition figured out pretty well. But your muscle mass will diminish if you don't train, and that's what has happened. The rule about muscle weighing more than fat is fact, not fiction. So while the scale hasn't moved around much, my clothes don't fit like they used to.  The image in the mirror is not as sexy as it was. I don't like it.
I got to the gym yesterday and did a push workout.  Just because my nutrition was a mess for the weekend doesn't mean I couldn't work out.  It felt good to be home.
I battle between what I want (now) and what I want (long term). It's a struggle. And the problem is two fold. One: physically, I can't do what I could do or I run the risk of reinjury. Two: I have to turn off the nagging voice in my head that tells me to quit, to give up.  It’s so easy to just let my busy schedule take over my days.

This whole learning to listen to my body means turning off the dueling voices in my head.

Here are today's goals:
Part of my issue has been time and today is no exception.  I am bringing my gym stuff to work, going to the gym on my way home and then to my 4:00 p.m. appointment.
My challenge for you this week is to set some goals.  Make them SMALL and ACHIEVABLE.  If you don't work out at all, don't set out to walk six miles every day.  Try 3-5 walks per week ... maybe 1 - 2 miles per walk.  And, don't forget the weights.  Try a basic introductory workout at the gym like this one from  Best Beginning Weight Trainer Guide with Easy-to-Follow Workout or this one The Complete 4-Week Beginner's Workout Program from  The trick is start small and light.  Do NOT put the maximum amount of weight on the rack, thinking you got it.  If it feels like you got it, take it down at least one notch.  Focus on form over the amount of weight.  You don't want to overdo it and either hurt yourself or quit.

Questions for you (answer in the comment section below):
What did you do this weekend?
What goals do you have for the week?

Musical notes    

This is another MUST have on my playlist.  A definite favorite!

Can't Stop This Feeling by Justin Timberlake
I got the sunshine in my pocket, got that good soul in my feet...

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

All or Nothing: Part Two

All or Nothing...this is a topic I have been discussing with my friends lately and I thought I'd bring up the subject with my readers here, since it seems to be a popular theme.  I wrote Part One earlier this week, where I talk about mindset.  The idea that we have to do it all, or why bother trying seems to resonate with many.  Recognizing and addressing this mindset is instrumental in long term success.  It can be All or Nothing, but it doesn't have to be.

In this post, I want to talk a little bit about nutrition.

Many of my friends struggle with weight loss and talk to me about their struggles.  A few have gone as far as to tell me, "I can't do things your way, I have to do it this way."  And I do understand.  But if you want to lose weight, you have to address your nutrition.  Quick fix remedies that we often try, don't lend themselves to long term or sustainable success.
I have written a lot about nutrition on my blog.  In fact, I wrote an entire series on nutrition last year.  You can check it out here:  Flexible Dieting Basics.  In a nutshell, I keep track of everything I eat and drink.  If it has calories, I track it all: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. 

For people just getting started, you have to realize this is a learning process.  You don't have to do it all or know it all right at the beginning.  You learn how to read food labels, how to truly track your food, or how to assess your macros, you might think to yourself, "I can't do this.  It's too much.  It's too hard."

It's the "all" or "nothing" mindset that defeats them before they are even out of the gate.

If you have not read the first part of this post, I would encourage you to do so.  All or Nothing: Part One.  Starting with and keeping the right mindset about losing weight or getting in shape is critical.  It is a learning process.

So, nutrition.

If you are trying to lose weight and want to do it right, but are susceptible to this "All or Nothing" way of thinking, focus on ONE area to get started.  Where do you struggle?  See if you can work on that one thing.  Here are a couple suggestions.

  • Try JUST keeping track of your food and beverage for a week.  Whatever you eat or drink, add it into MyFitnessPal.  Don't worry about what you eat during the first week, just track it all.  After the first week, start to make some adjustments.


  • Try to increase your protein every day to at least 100 grams of protein.  You'll have to keep track of the protein you eat to reach 100 grams.  Try this: two eggs and / or egg whites for breakfast, at least two protein rich snacks (e.g. Greek yogurt or protein bar), 5-6 oz. lean protein for lunch (6-8 oz. for dinner), and maybe a protein shake post workout.  This should get you there, or pretty close.


  • Think about how to address night time snacking.  Eat a little more during the day so you're not hungry.  Skip snacks that are high in carbs or refined sugars.  Try an apple with peanut butter, or one of those new low sugar / protein ice creams.

I bought a few of these ($4.59 / pint at Big Y).  So far I've only tried the Peanut Butter Cup.  As a person with an ice cream problem, I will be honest... it doesn't really taste like true ice cream.  But it does meet my need for sweet, cold and creamy.  Halo Top Flavors here.  I can eat about 1/2 pint and not feel guilty

  • If you don't eat breakfast, start eating a protein rich breakfast for a week.  Every day, one week, try: two eggs with one slice of whole grain toast  (add some peanut butter if you want), a Greek yogurt with granola, a protein shake.  Avoid cereals high in refined sugar, muffins and bagels.

If you are afraid to move forward because you feel like it has to be All or Nothing, try to change just one thing in your diet.  See how you do /feel after one week.  Make only ONE change in your routine.  In one week, see how it worked for you.  Consider it an experiment on yourself.  Positive results are empowering and give a lot of motivation to improve in other areas.  Let me know how you do, I'll be interested in your results..

Throughout this series, I will talk about other nutritional areas you can begin to address.  Keep it simple and see if you notice any difference.  This is a learning process.  You are learning about nutrition, as well as how what you eat affects you.  

Questions for you (answer in the comment section below):
What is your one biggest nutritional challenge?  (Mine is night time snacking.)
Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Musical notes 
This song has kind of a long intro, but once it kicks in, there is a super melodic beat that is great for running or working out to a steady beat.
Hymn for the Weekend by Coldplay
Oh, angel sent from up above.  You know you make my world light up.  When I was down, went I was hurt, you came to lift me up.  ....  Then we'll shoot across the sky.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

All or Nothing: Part One

All or Nothing is a theme I have been discussing with several of my friends over the past couple of months.  I decided to write about it here.

For those of us who struggle with body image, weight management or trying to exercise, it seems to be a thought process we all have in common.

If I have to lose weight, I have to do it all or why bother.
This is NOT me!!!  But, if I think, "I have to look like that, or why bother?", I only set myself up for failure.
If I am trying to lose weight and I blow my diet, I might as well throw the towel in, because "I just can't do it."
If I join a gym and am faithful to workout two - three times per week, but then I have a tough week and just can't get there, "What's the point?"

It seems like those of us who struggle with our weight fall into this thought pattern and I want to try to address it here.

So, today's post is about this particular mindset.

I was overweight for most of my adult life. I did the yo-yo diet thing, repeatedly lost 20 - 30 lbs., only to put it back on again.  And again.  And again.  As I got older, my metabolism slowed down and the weight became harder to shed and the things I used to do for the "quick loss" didn't work anymore.  If I had a bad day, I would just go to town because I'd already blown it.  The problem was that getting back on the right path became increasingly more difficult every time I blew it and the mindset changed to, "I just can't do this. Why bother?  I'm a failure."

If this rings true to you, I want you to practice a few positive mindset tricks that have helped me.

1.  Focus on today ONLY.  Don't worry about tomorrow, just today.  Try to get through today and make it the best day you can.  If things go well, CELEBRATE!  If you have more of roller coaster day, don't let the downs derail you.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34
The "all or nothing" mentality has been something I have seriously struggled with since I hurt my back this winter.   While I've managed to keep my weight technically in check, I lost a lot of muscle mass and my strength has diminished drastically.  What I forget is how far I have come.  This side by side picture shows a HUGE transformation from where I started three years ago to where I am today.  And even though I am not where I was a year ago, learning that it doesn't have to be ALL or NOTHING keeps me in check and makes me humble.
2.  Create a mantra.  Your mantra is the positive expression or saying or word you say to yourself to help you.  Maybe it motivates you.  Maybe it helps you to keep your focus.  Maybe it just makes you smile.

When I was losing weight, my mantra was:
You are not a quitter, you can do this.

Now that I pretty much have that part down, I have a new mantra:
You are enough.  You are beautiful.  You are loved.

Maybe that sounds super self-indulgent of me.  But when you struggle with body image issues, it is important to hold onto these basic truths to keep yourself real.

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

3.  It's all about baby steps.  Every step you take in the right direction is a win.  BELIEVE this!

Have you ever seen a baby learning to walk?

They use a walker, or maybe they furniture surf.  Their parents hold their hands to support them.  They fall down.  A LOT.  But eventually they walk - unsupported.

Do you remember learning to ride a bike?  

You didn't just get on the bike and were off.  Maybe you had training wheels. Maybe someone held the back of your bike while you tried to pedal down the street.  Maybe you fell a dozen or so times.  But you learned how to ride it.

Or learning how to swim?  

When you first started swimming, you probably had an adult with you to hold you up, to make sure you didn't sink.  Maybe you used swimmies or a kickboard.  Maybe you had lessons.  They didn't just throw you in the deep end of the pool and expect you to be Michael Phelps.  You struggled, but eventually you learned how to float, how to kick, how to move forward.  Maybe you even learned all the strokes.

Well, with losing weight or developing a healthy lifestyle, you can't expect yourself to just get it all right at the first try.  This kind of thinking will ultimately end in defeat.  It does not have to be ALL or NOTHING.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Stay tuned for more on this topic...

Part Two is here.

Questions for you (answer in the comment section below):
If you have a bad day, how do you get back on track?
Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Musical notes 

I've been running more often lately and have added several new songs to my playlist.  I realize I need some even beat mellow tunes to set the pace so I don't put everything I have out there on my first mile or two, so I switched things up a little.  The audio version of this song has a great beat and is awesome for running or working out...

It Ain't Me by Selena Gomez (feat. Kygo)
Who's gonna walk you through the dark side of the morning?

It ain't me.  It ain't me.

On a side note, sorry I haven't written anything in a month.  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know I've been posting updates there, but life and a lack of inspiration has made writing a challenge.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pillars of Salt

Are you familiar with the Biblical story of Lot's wife?

The long story short is that Lot was Abraham's nephew.  Lot and his family lived in Sodom, which was a very wicked city.  When God decided to destroy the city, He provided a way for Lot and his family to escape Sodom safely, but they were given directions to leave quickly and not look back.  As they were fleeing the city, Lot's wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt.
Photo from Jordan's Photo Gallery
Lately this story has been ringing in my head.  Looking back often provides a sense of nostalgia and brings good memories.  But for me, every time I get an "on this day" reminder on Facebook, I go, "Ugggh" and am sad.  Now that spring is FINALLY here, I can bring out my spring clothes.  But instead of being super happy to wear them, they are snug in all the wrong areas.  I want to scream.
This dress does still fit.  Do you see the difference?
So, truth be told, I have not gained much, if any weight in the past year.  I hover within the same five pounds.  But I have had a year that I would truly like to NOT look back on.

But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13b-14

In June of last year I hurt my shoulder, which took over six months to heal.  Just thinking about it makes my shoulder twinge.
How it all began... A day of kayaking and paddling on a Stand Up Board was more than my shoulder could take.  Add in two years of heavy weight lifting and ... ouch.
In October I had surgery on the varicose veins in my leg and developed some post-operative complications, which meant I had to have a second procedure in December.  During recovery I had to serious limit my exercise routine.
Amazing that there are no pictures of my scarred up legs.... Go figure, what woman wants pictures of their nasty varicose veins?  Or better yet, the ugly post-operative scars?
Then in February of this year I injured my back when I was cleaning my basement.  A month later I fell on black ice in the parking lot at work and reinjured my back.

Not a day I want to remember!!!!
It has not been a fun year.
Recovery got me like...
I can't really even tell you what that does to a person who has worked so hard to lose weight and become fit...

Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Tracey!!
I feel like my lean body has turned to complete flab.  So now I get to practice what I preach on myself.  It's no longer about giving you all kinds of tips on how to be motivated, it's a giant transition back to find the inspiration, courage and determination to move forward for ME.

Big ol' grin as I write this post...
At 5:00 a.m.
I no longer have a personal trainer to kick me in the butt, so it means I get to do that myself.  And THAT is its own challenge.

So, if you notice some changes in my blog the next few months, it will be all about moving forward in my own journey.  Looking back does not help me.

Goal #1 is to be able to do three sets of 10 push-ups again.  I honestly think that won't take long to do, so I'm setting a small goal.

April 20, 2015 was when I first accomplished this goal!  Back to basics for me.

I have several other goals too, but let's focus on one thing at a time.  Learning to "listen to my body" and to not overdo it means baby steps.  I'll share them here.

Finding motivation to go forward means a working on a few things too...
Developing a routine and sticking to it.
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition.
It's time to stop all the night time snacking.  No more ice cream!  At least not every night.
Accountability is a huge one for me, so tag, you're it. I'll be looking to you, my readers, to be my cheerleaders.

It's 5:25 a.m.  I am going to make myself some eggs and get to the gym for 6:00 a.m. when they open.  Normally I don't go this early, but I've been up since 3:00 a.m., I feel pretty good, so let's seize the day!

Here is my song for today...not such a workout tune, but definitely one to live by...
How You Live by Point of Grace
"It's not what you did, it's how you live."

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
What motivates you best to work out?  To eat right?  What do you have planned for today?

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to Beat the Munchies

Out in the real world, a lot of people ask me questions about how to lose weight and various other ideas.  One I seem to be fielding the most lately is, "How do you deal with snacking?"

So, let me ask you...

Do you find that you eat well all day, only to come home and want to eat everything in sight?
Do you go searching for anything you can have to satisfy that need to munch?
Is night time or after work the hardest time for you?  
Or is it resisting the goodies everyone brings into the office to "share"?

I'll be honest, I love to eat and the more I think I've got snacking figured out, the harder it is to control.
There are a few tips or strategies you can follow to help with the munchies, but they require a little forethought.  Failure to anticipate your needs will lead you to self-sabotage, so the trick is to know what will satisfy your cravings, while simultaneously satisfying your needs.

The first trick is to plan healthy snacks.  Think about it, if you eat breakfast at 6, lunch at about noon and dinner at 6, or so, that's a long time between meals.  So, to keep yourself satisfied, you really should have mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.  Nothing crazy, but a couple healthy snacks on hand. Planning basically means you have the food accessible.  Most of my snacks don't require any prep, just making sure the fridge / shelves are stocked.

Here are some suggestions:
Almonds (1 oz. = 160 calories, 6 g carbs, 14 g fat, 6 g protein)
A protein bar (depending on the brand = 200 calories, 16-23 g carbs, 6-7 g fat, 20-21 g protein
An apple with peanut butter (270 calories, 29 carb, 16 g fat, 8 g protein)
Greek yogurt with 1/2 serving granola (I use Bear Naked granola)  (195 calories, 22 g carbs, 4 g fat, 18 g protein)
A protein shake with a frozen banana (235 calories, 30 g carb, 2 g fat, 28 g protein)  I use left over cold coffee for my liquid and it makes a great pre / post-workout snack! (Not pictured)  Leave it in the blender a little longer than normal and viola!
Note one common thread: these just about ALL have a decent amount of protein AND healthy fats.

Things to avoid:
  • Trigger foods (for me, that's raisins, chocolate, cookies). What do you eat that makes you want more and more?  You may want to keep these kinds of things OUT of the house completely.
  • High carb foods with little to no protein or fat - while an orange or baked potato chips may taste good, they may not sustain you.  Try some fruit with cottage cheese or nut butter instead. (That's why I'll have an apple with peanut butter.)
If you are truly hungry, make sure you are eating enough for breakfast and lunch.  Skipping meals, or not eating enough, lends to hunger.  If you find that nothing satisfies you, binging is a potential hazard, which is an entirely different problem in and of itself.

When you feel hungry, but you know you shouldn't be hungry, ask yourself if you really are thirsty.  Chances are a glass of water will take care of your need to munch.  I just had a handful of almonds and two glasses of water and I feel much better.
I keep water in the fridge all the time, with sliced lemon.  It taste much better than straight from the tap and is a lot less expensive than drinking bottled water all the time.
When all else fails, try gum.  Yep, sugarless gum might just satisfy your need to chew and your need for something sweet.  One slice of Extra gum is only five calories.

If it's ice cream you love, try Skinny Cows.  I recommend you keep them out of reach, so one is enough. I keep these in the freezer in the basement and save them for my night time snack.  It satisfies my need for ice cream without a ton of bed time calories.
160 calories:  28 g. carbs, 3.5 g fat, 4 g protein

Thought I'd start sharing my favorite workout tunes with you.  Share yours in the comment section.  Here is my absolute new favorite workout song:
Chained to the Rhythm by Katy Perry, feat. Skip Marley

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
How do you beat the munchies?  Do you prefer sweet treats of salty treats?  What's your one major trigger food?

Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

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