Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Eat, yes, eat!

I have been writing about transformation...

If you want to lose weight and get in shape, not only do you have to change the way you live, but you also have to change the way you think about food and exercise.  Transformation and change do not happen naturally.  It is our inclination to always go back to what is most comfortable.  Change must be deliberate.  You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and fight the urge to give up.

One of the key factors in transformation is finding your why.  Why do you want to transform?  Why do you want to achieve your goals?  Once you find your why, make it your driving force.  Repeat it to yourself so its strength carries you. When your "why" is strong enough, you can overcome life's setbacks.

Finally, transformation requires practice.  Every day is your rehearsal.  Learn all you can about nutrition, exercise and endurance.  Visualize your goals.  Rehearse your mantra (your why) over and over.

A physical transformation requires a transformation of the mind.  But you also have to change your eating and exercise habits.  I have written a lot about nutrition.  A list of my posts on nutrition is at the bottom of this post.

The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to improve your metabolism.  In very simple terms, the word "metabolism" describes how your body converts the food you eat (fuel) into the energy needed for everything the body does.  For weight loss, the general rule is:

calories in <  calories out = weight loss

You burn calories every day just by being alive.  The average person burns anywhere from 500 - 1,000 calories while sleeping.  Yes, sleeping burns calories.  To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume.  Your goal should also be to improve your metabolism, meaning you burn more calories when resting.

How do you do that?  It's a little bit trickier than you think.  You can't just cut back drastically on your calories and expect a sudden, rapid weight loss.  While many people tend to lose 5-10 lbs. at the beginning of a diet plan, sudden weight loss does not necessarily mean you are losing fat.  Severely restricting your calories will send your body into starvation mode and slow your metabolism.  You will have a difficult time losing weight, even with the reduced caloric intake.

Essentially, you have to EAT to burn calories.  The key is, eating enough protein and nutrient foods.  An occasional "cheat" here and there won't derail you.  But you have to eat.  When I first started to lose weight, I "cut back".  I ate plenty of fruits and vegetables.  I often skipped meals or would eat canned soup to get me through lunch.  When I met Dmitriy and he insisted that I track my calories and macros, the weight started to peel off me.
I use MyFitnessPal to track my calories, but the default settings are very low.  If I eat what they recommend, I get very tired and feel ill.  I learned how to adjust my settings, allowing myself more calories.  I adjust my macros (protein, carbohydrates and fat) depending on how much cycling I do.  My message to you is, "Eat, yes, eat!"
Photo Credit
I warn you about any diet plan that guarantees immediate weight loss.  If you are neglecting entire food groups or drinking your way through your calories, it's probably not a good nutritional plan for the long haul.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I love this picture.  So happy!
This is 1 1/2 years into my journey.  It takes time and perseverance to accomplish your goals.
Other Posts on Nutrition:

Carbs:  Carbohydrates:  The Myth Debunked

Carbs 2:  Part two about carbs...  Make sure you read both.

Nutrition Hot Topic:  Is it bad?:  Thinking about food choices.  What's good?  What's not?

Fabulous Fiber:  A brief discussion about the benefits of a high fiber diet.

Successful Secrets:  Two simple strategies I practice every day which helped me to lose weight and to now keep it off.

Successful Secrets: Part Two:  How planning my week's meals helps me to stay on track.  Menu and recipe ideas.

Nutrition 101, I talk about meal prep and provided you with several recipes and meal suggestions to get you started.  Check it out!

Flexible Dieting Basics:  A basic explanation of flexible tracking calories and macronutrients has been the most successful way for me to lose weight and keep it off.

Tracking Calories with MFP:  Some features of MyFitnessPal (MFP) explained.  This post has some tricks of the trade.

Foods to Try:  These are foods I try to always keep on hand and a couple recipes too.

Cravings:  Some tips on how to stave off and handle cravings when they hit.  

Wonder Woman:  I explain how I got the nickname "Wonder Woman" by tracking all my calories and macronutrients.  I give a brief explanation of macros here.

A Calorie is Not a Calorie:  This post talks about the different effect foods have on you.

Questions for you...Answer in the comment section below.
Have you ever been in a play?  
Do you play sports or did you as a child?

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dress Rehearsal

This post is in the spirit of my series on transformation.  What It Takes and Why started the series.

Have you ever been in a play?  In 2010 and 2011, I had a small part in my church's Christmas play, "The Gospel According to Scrooge."  We practiced over and over.  On our own, we had to practice both the songs and our lines. As a cast, we had countless rehearsals to make sure everything came out beautifully.
In 2010, I played the part of Mrs. Cratchit.
Athletes practice repeatedly to perfect their craft. They listen to their coaches and perform drills where they repeat the same plays over and over.  A good coach  has its team practice under adverse conditions to ensure peak performance during game time, regardless of the weather or other distracting scenarios.
When Mitch played Little League, his team won the division championship in 2002 and was runner up in 2005.  It takes a LOT of practice for the team to make it that far.

Why?  Not only so their team wins, but also so their team continually improves. So their team is the best it can be.

When trying to lose weight or get into shape, you have to adopt the attitude of the coach.  It's not about winning the World Series at your first game.  It's about making each play count and getting enough runs to beat your competitor.  When you start out on a fitness or wellness plan, think of the beginning of the journey as Spring Training.  You are learning all you can about nutrition, exercise and endurance. You continually rehearse and practice so you can achieve your optimal goals.
I do a lot of planks to help strengthen my core.  One type is a stability ball plank, which I time to see how long I can hold it.  My max best time is about 4 minutes.  It takes regular practice to be able to hold a plank that long.  I have to tell myself, "You can do this.  Just a little longer."
In 1996, Dr. Judd Biasiotto conducted a study to test the impact of visualization on how people conduct free throw basketball shots.  One group practiced every day for 60 minutes, the second group visualized themselves making free throws and the third group did nothing.  After thirty days, the first group improved 24%.  The second group improved by 23% without ever touching a basketball.  And the third group showed no improvement, which was expected.  This goes to show you how much visualization can help you attain your goals.  While it is not enough to just imagine yourself thin, mentally rehearsing what you are going to eat for the day, how you are going to exercise and what your focus will be, and telling yourself over and over again that you can do this is extremely powerful.

I trained for about six months to do the Ride to Remember.  I was a nervous wreck that I was not going to be able to do it, but I always said I would do it, no matter what.  I never gave up on my dream.
Some of my close friends who are overweight see me sometimes and say things to me like, "I haven't been able to get to the gym.  I've been so busy."  or "It's too hot" or "I just can't   fill in the blank   because    fill in the blank  ."  This humors me a little bit.  These are my friends, people I have cared about and been friends with since long before I started this journey.  Just because I am thin now does not mean I judge them or think poorly of them because they haven't lost weight.  They really do not have to tell me why.  I am the expert on all the whys.

I was thinking about this today and how and why I finally put aside all of my excuses to make this work for me.  I never gave up.  I didn't.  I stuck with it through everything.  Sure my motivation waned at times.  There have been plenty of setbacks along the way.  (Even today I am still nursing a sore shoulder.)  I repeatedly told myself that I had to be successful.  I could not give into my doubts.  I rehearsed this over and over again.

This is what made the difference for me.  When life happened (or happens), I never let it be a road block.  I overcame every obstacle by either working through it, or figuring a way around it.  Sometimes it's just time you need.  Sometimes it's a whole lot of determination.  But it is always, and I mean ALWAYS the voice in your head that says, "Let's do this!"

So today, I challenge you to start your rehearsal.  Come up with a game plan:

  • Decide what your meals will be for today and tomorrow,
    • what do you need to do to get in enough protein?
  • Decide today what you will do to exercise.  
    • Will you focus on strength training or cardio?
  • If something comes up, how will you work around the obstacle to stick to your plan?
  • Tell yourself over and over, "I'm going to do this."

You have to want this badly enough to make it happen.

Questions for you...Answer in the comment section below.
Have you ever been in a play?  
Do you play sports or did you as a child?

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Egg Shells

Shortly before Christmas I wrote a post entitled, "The Toll It Takes."  I shared briefly what it is like when you love someone who battles with addiction.  I have been reflecting on how this dynamic affects other relationships in your life.

When you love an addict, you tend to become numb to the heartbreak and disappointment you experience.  Yet when others let you down, the pain is much more poignant.  "One effect of alcoholism is that many of us are reluctant to get close to people.  We have learned that it is not safe to trust, to reveal too much, to care deeply.  Yet we often wish we could experience closer, more loving relationships."  ©Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters  You think, "Maybe I can trust this person.  S/He seems nice.  Seems like they care."  It's not uncommon to develop relationships with people who are either very needy or wholly emotionally unable to connect.

With the addict/ alcoholic, there is a constant feeling of walking on egg shells.  When you face strife in your other relationships, it's either fight or flight.  This is not a healthy way to deal with conflict.  I admit it.  When I get mad, my response depends on who / what I am mad about.  I tend to get mad, choose to speak my mind or keep my mouth shut, talk about it with my husband if I need to, and let it go.  I do not hold onto old grudges, things people have done to wrong me or my loved ones.  I mean, there are things here and there that I do not forget, which impinge on relationships sometimes.  But overall, I do not carry a bag of others' wrongs around with me.  That kind of burden leads to bitterness and resentment which are two feelings I can do without.

I grew up learning two different ways to deal with conflict.  One:  keep a list of all the wrongs people have ever committed against you (which are far too often exaggerated), and bring these up every time someone does something wrong and shove it in their face or rehash it over and over with everyone you know.  Simultaneously, my father taught by example to put your selfish needs to the side, to love and forgive.  God's grace.  I found the contradiction between both sides to be too much to reconcile.  Tempted sometimes to stir up old hurts, to rehash a wrong that was committed against me, I consciously try to choose forgiveness as a better alternative.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.
Matthew 5:9

I have a hard time understanding why some people choose to harbor unforgiveness, allowing resentment to take the strong hold of their relationships.  Accompanied by a never relenting tendency to blame others.  This is the way of the alcoholic/addict.  If you say something in the wrong tone of voice, leave a dish in the sink, work too late, forget to call, have a bad day, or whatever else might happen, this becomes a reason for the alcoholic/addict to go on a bender or lash out.  They blame anyone and anything for their drinking/drugging.  No matter what you do, how you try to make things right, you really can't put things back together for them.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses and
All the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13

In my journey over the past two+ years, I have done a lot of soul searching.  What compelled me to eat?  Why did I turn to food as my comfort?  As I continue on this journey and life happens, sometimes feelings of poor self-worth, regret, and fear of abandonment are triggered.  Stress tends to really magnify this.  With all the stress of late, I find myself wanting to take short cuts.

"If I skip a meal, it's okay if I binge eat ice cream or cookies."

"I had a bad day today, my shoulder really hurts.  I'm going to skip the gym and lay here watching TV."  

I can see how easy it would be to regress, to fall off the wagon, to go back to my old way of dealing.  I resist.  I have been bringing oatmeal with me to work and eating breakfast there.  I keep some protein bars in my desk and make sure to always bring a piece of fruit and a yogurt, just in case I get too busy to eat lunch, I can grab something quick.  I adjusted my calories and macros again to give me more fuel for my bike rides.
A salted caramel ice cream cone (in a waffle cone) during the ELL Academy Field Day
I've been praying a lot.  Seeking God to heal my broken heart.  Why do I still want to turn towards food when I feel like this?  What causes my anger, why can't I let it go?  What do I need to do to avoid feeling hurt by others when things don't go the way I expected?
Sometimes I find the answers in nature.  It might not be a loud gong, but maybe just a whisper of a beautiful flower I see when I'm hiking.
This is a process, part of my journey.  I can see my journey towards fitness is also one of healing, which is necessary to keep me from going back to my old ways.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  
Psalms 34:18

Stand by Britt Nicole

If you or someone you know struggles with addiction, you are not alone.  You shouldn't expect to deal with it alone, either.  Message me if you need someone to talk to or to point you in the right direction.  tracoleman99 @   (To avoid SPAM, I have added spaces before and after the @.)

Find an Alcoholics Anonymous group here.
Find a Narcotics Anonymous group here.
Alanon is for friends and families of problem drinkers.
Alateen, like Alanon, is for friends and families of problem drinkers, but is geared towards teenagers.

Questions for you...Answer in the comment section below.
What's your favorite month of the year?  Which one is most challenging?

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Suicide Squirrels

June is the busiest time of year for me. Between graduations, grades closing, summer school and scheduling classes for the following school year, it is crazy.  Not only do I work longer hours than normal, I often have several evening and weekend engagements.
Photo by Springfield Public Schools.
Both me and my friend Erica were this student's counselors at one point in his years at Commerce.
The pressure is outrageous at this time of year. It's hard to describe unless you've been there.  There are times when I feel like I everything is going to implode.

To make matters worse, I hurt my shoulder about a month ago. I don't know how I did it. It was bothering me and hasn't improved at all. The pain wakes me up at night, which has made sleep difficult.  I saw the doctor yesterday.  I have a prescription for 800 mg of ibuprofen and physical therapy.  No weight lifting indefinitely.  I could cry.  10 Effective Physical Therapy Exercises to Treat Shoulder Pain.

...   ...   ...  ...   ...  ...   ...

The other night, after a particularly stressful day, I went for a bike ride. I wanted to get in some decent miles.  Instead of focusing on climbing (hills have to be part of my training regimen ... and I don't even mind them), I wanted speed.  I set out with no particular route in mind, just to move my body.

The day's troubles weighed heavily on me.  There was a significant amount of drama this week at work.  I can typically handle the students' drama.  I had a busy day planned, which was interrupted by a few unexpected hurdles.  One case in particular really upset me...  

When I left the house, it was about 5:30 p.m., so it was rush hour and the traffic was crazy.  "Find some quieter roads, Coleman."  I made my way to the back side of Forest Park, Springfield's largest park, and road along the edges, out of the way of cars.  I was about 10 miles into my ride and my legs felt good.

Work...what makes all the madness worse is when the adults in the building go after each other, or refuse to help each other.  The WORSE thing someone can say to or around me is, "No, that's not my job" OR "No, I don't want to do that." 

As I headed towards Enfield, I started to think about the time and considered which route I should use to head back home.  I do not like to ride my bike too close to sunset.  It's hard enough for drivers to see me with plenty of sunlight, but dusk is far worse than even riding after dark.  My focus was speed, not hills, so I mentally plotted a route home.  I was beginning to feel the stress peel off my shoulders.

 Sometimes it's just blowing off steam with each other.  Other times it's personal.  Lately I have been feeling like there are daggers in my back as soon as I leave the room.  Not with everyone, just some.  If you have something to say, say it.  Don't talk about me or my colleagues behind our backs.  I'll take the venting any day.

About 2/3 of the way through my ride, a squirrel came darting out of the grass and ran right into my tires. I could see it out of the corner of my eye.  There was nothing I could do. The darn thing just offed itself.  I hate to admit it, but it didn't even bother me...

Last week a squirrel darted out into the driveway at school and one of the counselors I work with ran over it.  She was devastated.  I couldn't help but think about the difference in our responses.  I chuckled to myself.  Stupid squirrel.

A few miles from my house, I got a cramp in my back and had to stop.  Every time this happens, I think to myself, "Will I be able to make it home?"  After my fall last summer, I seriously contemplated calling my husband to come pick me up.  I rested for a couple minutes, stretched as best I could.  Got back on my bike.

Stupid stupid squirrel.  Why did the darn thing run out into my bike?  My shoulder is holding up pretty well, no pain.  The week's stress feels less troublesome.

Construction.  They have finally decided to repave these roads that were all torn up the past year+.  

Finally.  But, ouch, that bump hurt.  

I was almost home.  

You did good.  This was a good ride.  But the squirrel...

This was a different blog entry for me.  I wanted to show how exercise helps deal with stress, while simultaneously helping you achieve your fitness goals.  I have not been riding my bike as much this spring.  I have had a lot going on, so I've chosen to keep the bike on the rack, to focus on getting everything else done.  Honestly, this hasn't resulted in me accomplishing anything.  This week I realized how much I need to ride my bike.  It's my therapy.

Last night the Women's Ministry at my church sponsored a "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" night.  We ate snacks and goodies, sang Karaoke, played games, did some Zumba and danced the night away.  I had an amazing time.  I told a couple of the ladies how difficult June is for me.  It's just a very stressful month.  It's like this every year.  I told them about my bike ride the night before and they responded with, "35 miles?  I can't do that!"  I couldn't do it a little more than a year ago either.  I started riding my bike to train for the Ride to Remember and ended up loving it.  I still love it.  I will do the Ride again this year, but there is none of the stress associated with last year's training.  So this year's focus is on improving my riding overall.

It's amazing how much something you ENJOY can help you deal with your troubles.  Don't neglect what matters.
When I got home, I sat down to relax.  Leia immediately sat next to me and put her chin on my leg.  As crazy as she is, she makes my day every day.
Questions for you...
How do you deal with stress?  Have you ever run over a squirrel?  Did you feel bad?

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

It's Time to Graduate

Instead of my traditional blog, this will be more of a photo blog...

This past week has been busy, but I'm not really sure that is the right word.  This sums it up...

Let me back up...

Last weekend was fantastic.  Our friends bought a cottage on Little Alum Pond, so we went up to spend the day.  Had an amazing and relaxing time.  We went kayaking and I even tried their stand-up paddle board (SUP).  It was awesome, I think I found a new favorite pastime.

My iPhone is allergic to water, so no pics of me on the SUP.  I loved it!  All in all, it was a perfect day.
Sunday, after I worked out, my shoulder was killing me.  It was sore when I went to the gym, so I took it easy.  I don't think I did anything at the gym, but afterwards, I was in excruciating pain.

Monday, my stomach was off and I was quite sick in the afternoon.

Tuesday, Jenna and I planted a rock garden out front.  I'm looking forward to the flowers blooming.

Wednesday was the BIG day!!! My son graduated from high school.  I am so proud of him.  Words cannot express...

Thursday was the worst day I had at work all year.  Without going into any specifics, I don't remember having had such a bad day.
I never got to eat my salad with grilled chicken because things got so hectic.
I grabbed this at Costco for a quick "on the go" lunch.
That night was my godson's band concert.  He just started playing the trumpet in October last year.  The band was amazing.  Sam did an AWESOME job. (Sam is on the far left, in the front.)

Friday I left work a little early (with permission) to start getting ready for Joey's graduation party.  The rest of the day was spent shopping and cleaning.  No pictures of Friday.

Yesterday was the party and it was a blast!  We did the traditional grilling (hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken), but instead of traditional picnic sides, we had a baked potato bar and a sundae bar, which were a big hit!

Some of the leftovers.  I didn't take any pictures yesterday because I was busy putting food out and talking to our guests. 
Had this for dinner tonight....yummy!
It was an amazing time.  Our friends and family came out to join us in celebrating Joey's big day.  There were teenagers here until...  Well, actually, there are a few still here!  They are sleeping on the floor upstairs.
Bottom picture is Joey and his friends from elementary school, who all graduated this year from their respective high schools.  They are still friends!
After 18 years, one month and 15 days, our "baby" has grown up!  It's no longer the cute little boy with the Bob the Builder shirt on his way to Preschool, we now have a young man with us.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Today is Graduation Sunday at church, where they recognize the graduates.

It's also my friend's baby shower.
That's Erica (top left pic, on the left)...the cupcakes were YUMMY!
Tomorrow is my school's graduation.  It will be a LONG day for me.

My turn to graduate is next.  I've been delinquent with finishing my portfolio, so with all the craziness done, it's time to send the circus on its way and fill in the few missing pieces, type it all up and sent it out.

With the sore shoulder (I am starting to think I should see the doctor) and my busy schedule, both my workouts and my nutrition have been off.  The trick is being conscious of where you are going and making sure you don't veer too far off track.  It's time to get back to basics.

I'll leave you with this completely unrelated picture, just to make your day!
Princess Leia:  Isn't she soooooo cute?  As crazy as she is, she brightens my day every day.
Questions for you...
What are you up to this weekend?  What makes you happy when you are overwhelmed or stressed?

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Saturday, June 4, 2016


In my last blog, I wrote about the need to transform your mind when you set out to change.  Change is difficult and we always want to go back to our most comfortable state.  To make change happen, you have to develop a new way of thinking.  It takes both physical and mental will power.

Critical to your success is developing your "why?"  If your doctor told you to lose weight, or if you are tired of your reflection in the mirror, that in and of itself may not be a strong enough why.  But, if the person you are closest to says, "I'm concerned about your weight." Or if you are facing surgery unless you bring down your blood pressure, lose weight, and lower your cholesterol, that may be a strong enough why.  It is possible that a talk from your doctor may be what you need.  But having a strong "why" is foundational to future success.

What do I mean?  When I set out on this journey in 2014, I weighed 232 lbs.  I was a work-a-holic, and a couch potato.  My nutrition was terrible.  I was in pain 24 hours / day,  7 days / week.  I was tired all the time.  I knew I had to do something about my weight, but I let a ton of excuses get in my way.  I had a STRONG why, but internalizing it was difficult.
This was taken, July, 2013.  I probably weighed about 220 lbs. here.

When my trainer Mike died in November, I told Dmitriy that I wanted to do the Ride to Remember, that became my "why."  I set out to do what I never dreamed possible.  I trained hard for it.  And I learned everything I could about nutrition.  That was a stronger why.  That became my driving force.
Brian & I after the Ride to Remember.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Colossians 3:23

Questions for you...
So let me ask you, what is your why?  Is your why strong enough?  What can you do (or do you do) to internalize it?

If you are struggling to lose weight or get into shape, it could be that your why is not strong enough.  You may need to add a second why which is more compelling for you.  Losing weight in and of itself may not be enough of a goal.  Maybe you want to plan to hike a mountain near where you live, or run a 5K.  Everyone has their own motivating factor.  What is yours?

Stay tuned for more on this topic.

Now:  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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