Sunday, February 19, 2017


Do you know?  I'm sure you have heard...

S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D spelled backwards is DESSERTS.

Yep, this is definitely how I became obese in the first place.  

This post is all about how stress affects weight loss efforts and three tips on how to address it.  We all have and deal with stress differently.  Sometimes stress comes in mega doses, like having a baby who won't let you sleep, struggling with relationship problems, caring for an aging parent, coping with health problems, dealing with overwhelming work demands, or being in the middle of any major life change.  How we manage the stress has a direct effect on our health and well being.  

According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress has a negative effect on most major body systems.  The hypothalamus signals the production of epinephrine and cortisol, which are commonly referred to as "stress hormones."  Too much cortisol causes all kinds of disruptions to your body, including increased hunger and spikes and dips in your blood sugar level.  

It actually becomes a vicious cycle:

This graphic is just the tip of the iceberg.  Excess cortisol causes migraines, affects your mood, and your ability to sleep, just to name a few.  Okay, so now that you know stress is bad for you, what are you supposed to do about it?

Hearing that stress is bad for you and knowing you're stressed does NOT in and of itself help.  I remember how hard it was when my kids were little.  The last thing I wanted to hear was that I needed to reduce the stress in my life.  No kidding!!  

So, what do you do about stress?  If you have small children, you can't just give them away.  If you have a super stressful job, it's probably not likely you will just give that up.  The stress doesn't go away because you wish it. There are things you can do to manage your stress and even alleviate it.

Here are a few tips.  I have TRIED all of these and there are not quick fixes.  In fact, some of them directly contradict what you WANT to do when you are stressed.

One:  Exercise

Exercise daily.  Yes, it may seem counter intuitive to add one more thing to your to do list, but it works.
  • Taking 30-60 minutes per day to focus on only you, gives you time to yourself.  Knowing you are doing something to help yourself feel / be healthier eases your stress.  
  • Exercise produces endorphins which helps you to sleep and reduces stress.  
  • Furthermore, exercise provides all kinds of other benefits, such as reducing fatigue, improving concentration and cognitive functioning.  
  • Even on a busy day, I put my headphones in and take a walk.

Two:  Sleep

You need sleep to recover.  It allows both your body and brain to function better.  Most of us who are stressed struggle with being able to sleep.  Insomnia only adds to our ability to handle the stress, so it can become a vicious cycle.

Here is what works for me:

Nap when you can.  If you have a young child, nap when they nap.  It seriously is okay!!!  You can do whatever chores need to be done at another time.  If you are sleep deprived, a nap will help you recover some of the rest you needed.  And for whatever reason, napping does not prevent me from sleeping through the night later.  I LOVE naps!

Have a regular bed time.  Go to bed consistently at the same time.  It helps.  I swear by it.

Unplug.  Put your cell phone down and leave it alone for at least an hour before going to bed.  You seriously do not need to check social media, or play Words With Friends one more time before you go to bed.  My son told me this week that the blue light from my cell phone actually disturbs your sleep.  I checked it out and a study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston supports that. (Why your cell phone causes sleep problems.)

If you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back to sleep, try this:

After 30 minutes of sleeplessness, give in and just get up for a little while.  DO NOT go on the computer and try to stay away from your cell phone.  Have a drink of water and lay down in another area of the house.  If you have night sweats or are cold, try to take care of that by changing your clothes or using an extra blanket.  Lay still for a little until your body is able to acclimate and fall back to sleep.

I watch reruns of Law & Order.  After about an hour, I turn it off and fall back to sleep.  Even though my sleep was interrupted, I almost always am able to get through the day.  If I can't fall back to sleep, I am at least resting and have kept my cognitive activity to a minimum, so my brain is able to rest, even if I am awake.  Most people will tell you to not watch TV, but this is what works for me.

Three:  Be Good to Yourself
  • Get a massage.
  • Get your nails done.
  • Meditate and pray.
  • Get up a little earlier than you normally do and try stretching with quiet music for 20 - 30 minutes.
  • Eat healthy - plan your meals.
  • Don't beat yourself up when things go wrong.
  • Talk to your friends.  
I am amazed at how many people tell me they don't have friends, or at least not friends they can talk to.  Making friends is so hard and I totally get it.  I lost a best friend last year and the thought of trusting someone else causes me so much anxiety.  But I could not get through life's challenges without having a confidant or two to help me.  

If you struggle with not having friends, you have to make a conscious effort to expand your circle, even if it's only by adding one or two people to your friend list.  Go to church and join a small group.  Have lunch with someone whose company you enjoy and make a point to do it more often.  Pray and ask God to meet your need and to give you courage to branch out and make a new friend.  These ladies are the backbone to my support system.  I can't imagine how I would get through without them.

The Bottom Line
When you are stressed, the most important thing you can do is try to alleviate your stress.  If it's a short term problem, recognize that you will get through it.  It may be hell for a week or a month, but it will eventually pass.  

If you are dealing with a more long term stressful situation, implement some of the things I mentioned above.  Even if it's small measures, a little can go a long way to help you manage whatever is in front of you.
Instrumental music is so soothing.  Some of my favorite artists are Jim Brickman, Kenny G and Yanni.  Just listen to the notes and let them cover you with peace and serenity.

Everyone's needs are uniquely individual, and I know finding time for it is often what interferes with being able to reduce your stress.  Often the feeling of "There's not enough of me to go around" is the one thing that stresses us out.  It is amazing the time you find when you prioritize it.  Knock out some of the things you feel like you absolutely "have to do" and wait until the weekend to do them.  If you have plans every weekend and just can't, then cut out some of the plans.  I'm serious.  Your kids will survive if they don't participate in a season of sports or if you take turns with another parent to bring them to practice.  Some of the things you think are so important probably are not deal breakers.  Housework can wait.  The earth will not end if there are fingerprints on the fridge and a pile of mail on the counter.

Take care of you.  Make yourself a priority so you can better take care of those who need you.  If you are stressed and unhappy, your family feels it.  You end up being someone you don't want to be.

Take care of you first

Tracey's  Getting Fit is celebrating it's two year anniversary!

Question for you: (answer in the comment section below)
What is one thing you do to help manage your stress?

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Happy Birthday to My Little Blog

I just got back from a 4 mile run with my husband and his buddy, Joe.  What a beautiful day and a GREAT run!

Last summer I decided to not reload "TimeHop" on my  new phone because Facebook features "On This Day" so you can look back and see what you posted last year (or years prior) on any particular day.  I actually have enjoyed this feature as it helps me to reflect on my journey and remember where I have come.

Today I was reminded that it is the two-year anniversary of "Tracey's Getting Fit."

Bear with me as I reminisce and share some highlights of the past two years.

Here is where it all began:

When I started this journey three years ago, it took me a little while, but I realized early on the importance of setting fitness goals was to my success.  Having something else to focus on besides just losing weight really drove me to stick with it.

Here are my top five favorite posts:

Mike Cobian was my personal trainer for over six months.  On November 30, 2014, he died suddenly.  This is a deeply personal entry about the effect he had on my life.  Even today, every time I ask myself, "Why bother?" Mike is in my head.  I hear him say to me, "Come on, Tracey, you got this." or "It's all you, Tracey."  

The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

One of my most important fitness goals was to do a 100-mile bike ride called "The Ride to Remember."  The ride honors the memory of police officers who have died in the line of duty.  Growing up, I was always the last one picked in team sports, and now people call me an "athlete."  It's hard to think of myself as an athlete.  Who me?  Ummm, yeah, I think you are mistaken.  This entry, details my experience doing the Ride to Remember.

Do you not know?  Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

What is beautiful?  Is it your outward appearance?  
Best quote from this post, "When I look in the mirror today, I see lines in my face where there were none before, but I don't see the tired, sad face that used to stare back at me.  Even still, it's hard to say, 'Yes, I am beautiful.'  Unless I look at the word differently."

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7b

The school district where I work has a quarterly news paper that goes out, featuring various stories about what is going on in Springfield schools, as well as highlights about the accomplishments of our graduates and teachers.  In this post, I shared the article they wrote about my journey to lose weight and do the Ride to Remember.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

If it weren't for Dmitriy, none of my goals would have been accomplished.  Dmitriy changed my life.  Yes, I did the work, but Dmitriy gave me the keys to open doors I never even imagined I could open.  I love him dearly and am so grateful to him for everything he did for me.  He believed in me and made my dreams come true.

There are "friends" who destroy each other; but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 (NLT)

My blog has helped me to remain accountable to myself.  Writing about my journey, what I've learned, and what's going on in my life, have been key to staying the course.  Life is not all candies and butterflies.  While this is not a favorite post, I do appreciate having this blog to share what's on my mind, even when it may not be pretty.

What's next?

I enjoy writing my blog, sharing with you along the way and I hope to keep doing the same.  I don't anticipate any major changes here at this point.  I appreciate my readers and I hope to grow my audience.

Thank you for sharing my journey with me!

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
Do you like birthday cake?  What kind is your favorite?  Butter cream frosting or whipped?

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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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Time Out

It's been a month since I posted a new entry to my blog.   In addition to dealing with a stressful beginning to the new semester at work, I have been focusing my energy on a few outside projects.  I am super excited about them both.

At work we are having a weight loss competition. I am the cheerleader behind the scenes.  In addition to losing weight, we also are doing a Couch to 5K run camp.  In my off time, I look for good articles about nutrition, weight loss and fitness to share with the group.  I also try to keep the fun in it by adding a little humor to keep the journey more light hearted.  Truth be told, I am pleased with how things are going with the group.  The process has me doing some serious soul searching about my own journey...where I've been, how I got to where I am and where I am going.  Not sure I have answers for me just yet, but I feel really great!

This is Diana and I after this week's Couch to 5K clinic.   One group of us walks and some of us do interval training.  The kids love to see us walking/running in the halls.
My church is sponsoring another Women's Conference this year. I spoke last year at one of the breakout sessions:
Sharing my story last year.
This year I was invited to do another breakout session.   I am doing two sessions.  One is entitled, "Unlocking the Secrets to a Healthy Life" and the second is "Going Deeper, Unlocking a Closer Relationship with God."  Over the past few weeks, I have been putting together the materials I want to share and organizing my presentations.  Last year I was so nervous. but this year I am so excited about them both.  I feel like everything is coming together, it's truly a "God Plan."
A time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away.
Ecclesiastes 3:6
If you are in the area. I hope you will come to the conference.  It hopes to be AMAZING!  We have planned for several amazing speakers, as well as incredible music, with a dessert bar following the Friday evening event.  I always find the conference to be incredibly refreshing and rewarding.  You can register online at Evangel Assembly: Women's Conference.  The early bird special is $25 until February 26.  You are well worth the investment and you'll be glad you came!

I feel like I am doing a commercial.  I am just so excited about this, I can't help it!

In other news...
How about my favorite team?
I LOVE the New England Patriots!!  I do! I do!  And I do think that Tom Brady is the Greatest Of ALL Time!  (That's why they call him the GOAT, by the way, in case you didn't know!)  And if you, like me, were watching the game on Sunday, you probably thought it was all over for the Pats pretty early on in the game.  It was like nothing I have ever seen or ever imagined to see them come back the way they did.  I couldn't believe what was happening before my eyes.

I have a lot I want to talk about, so I will probably write a few different blog entries, but I want to finish with this last thought.

Today is (January 11, 2017)  February 11, 2017*.  We are six weeks into the New Year.  Many people start to try to lose weight or start an exercise at the beginning of the year and right about now, when you don't see the results you hope for, this is when you want to throw in the towel and give up.  I have talked to a few people who have told me, "I just can't do this."  or  "This is just not the right time for me."

I seriously want to stand up and scream at them, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN?  STOP TALKING LIKE THAT!"
It was exactly three years ago this week when I was ready to give up.  I remember feeling so discouraged.  I had lost 7 lbs. in six weeks and I was working my butt off at the gym and I felt like there was no point.  I was going to be obese forever.  Obesity runs in my family, as does diabetes.  I'm doomed, there's no point.  I did the calculations.  If I gained another 30 or 40 lbs, I'd be a candidate for weight loss surgery and then maybe I can lose the weight.  This is seriously what I thought.  Why bother?

If you are feeling like that at all, I want you to take a deep breath and call a time out for yourself.  You are at a cross roads between "Yes, I can" and "No, I can't."  Only you get to choose which way you go.  Only you.  You are the ONE voice in your head that makes that call.

So, I call a 

That's right.  Instead of giving up and giving into your fears and self doubts, take a step back and reassess.  If what you are doing isn't working, try something different.  Don't go crazy and reinvent the wheel, but do examine your  habits.  Ask yourself a few questions:

Am I giving this my all?

Am I working out consistently?  
30 minutes per day is better than one two hour workout per week.

Am I drinking enough water?  
8 glasses minimum!!!  EVERY DAY!

Am I eating enough protein?  
You should be eating between 20 - 25 g of protein with every meal.  Eat protein rich snacks as well.

Am I eating enough?  
If you are under eating, you may be slowing your metabolism to the point that it's not functioning adequately.

Are you eating too much sugar and simple carbohydrates?  
Carbs are good for you.  Contrary to popular belief, they are not evil.  But sugar is enemy number one and too much will sabotage your efforts.  Be smart about the carbs you eat.

Visit your doctor before starting a new diet or exercises regimen!
You may need to visit your doctor and make sure everything is okay with you physically.  In fact, I encourage you to do that before you even start a weight loss plan or exercise routine.  If you are doing everything "right" and are still not seeing results, you may have something else going on with you.

If I had given up three years ago when I was ready to quit, I would still be fat.  I would still suffer from chronic pain like I did.  I'd probably have diabetes by now.  I know I would be miserable.  I can't tell you  how glad I am that I took time to reassess what I was doing.  It took me time to get it right, but I never gave up!  Don't quit!
This is me in 2011.
This is me today:
I have such a hard time with selfies in the mirror.  Seriously, what do you look at?  I can only laugh at the expressions on my face.
Fight the good fight, finish the race, remain faithful!
adapted from 2 Timothy 4:7
*WHOOPS!  Sorry about that!!!  Yikes! I guess my brain doesn't quite work right.  Someone messaged me that I put the wrong date.  SMH

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
Do you ever need a time out?  How are you doing with your New Years resolutions?  Are you sticking with it?  Do you need to step back and reasses?

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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Instagram:  @tracoleman99
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