5 of the Best Lessons I Learned from My Worst Race

As many of you know I set a goal of running a half marathon every month leading up to my 40th birthday.

Going into the process I said all that mattered was that I finished every race. I wasn’t going to be concerned with finish times, but rather enjoy the experience. But along the way I have battled my own competitiveness.

Last Sunday I ran #8 in Sandusky, OH. It turned out to be my worst race of the series. There are a number of factors that lead to my finish time, and in looking back this race taught me more than any of the others I have ran. So while it maybe was my worst finish time, it was my greatest victory so far.

Only 13.1 to go!

Only 13.1 to go!

I’d like to share with you some of my lessons learned from this race…some of them may seem like ‘no brainers’ but even as someone who lives and breathes fitness and healthy living, they are a good reminder.

Nutrition

In general, my family eats a healthy diet. Of course we enjoy pizza or a restaurant burger and fries from time to time, but our diet consists of lean proteins and veggies. After 10 days of travel and numerous meals out, my body was pleading for it’s normal food intake.

Surely I did my best to make the healthy choices when available, but between the numerous hours in the ‘Mothership’ (our family suburban), multiple meals out and a visit to an amusement park there’s only so much control one has on their food choices.

My eyes were opened to how lethargic the body becomes when fueled with ‘junk.’ Sure I ate salads, grilled fish and found a stand at Cedar Point that sold fruit cups, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the other meals. I lacked the energy I needed to sustain the 13.1 miles.

We have been home less than a week and now that I am back to my regular food intake I have more energy and feel stronger.

Lesson learned: a consistent healthy eating lifestyle is necessary to achieve physical gains. I don’t believe this is a change that can happen overnight, but with gradual changes and true commitment to it being a lifestyle and not a diet anyone can adopt healthier eating habits.

Training

Because I teach numerous classes throughout the week (and do them with my classes) I don’t often have time to get in the long runs necessary to train for these races. I am fortunate enough that my cardio and interval classes give me the endurance to run for 2 hours at a time.

Over our 10 days of travel, 5 of those were spent in the Mothership. Each of those legs of travel (but one) was close to 500 miles. So as you can imagine, the 5 days spent ‘vacationing’ were focused on having the most fun as we could as a family. I didn’t want to take time away for myself.

We spent time in the ocean boogie boarding and swimming, we walked an entire day through downtown Nashville, we spent an entire day walking an amusement park – but none of this could replicate a true workout.

I do believe at times that my body needs rest. But as someone who doesn’t sit much throughout the day, 8+ hour car rides not only made me stir crazy but dramatically affected my strength and endurance.

Lesson learned: exercise has to be consistent and intentional. Even if you can just fit in 20 minutes – it’s worth it! You have to make it a priority and in retrospect, my family wouldn’t have ‘missed’ me for 20 minutes or a half hour. I could have taken advantage of the time they were showering or I could have let them know how important it was for me to take a break – they would have understood. Don’t cheat yourself out of a workout – ever.

Rest

I’m certainly not the best at a consistent bedtime. I preach about it often but my bedtime often varies which sometimes makes early mornings that much more difficult.

On vacation bedtime and waking times become unpredictable for our family. We stay up late enjoying activities and time with each other. We sleep in and enjoy not having the pressure of daily responsibilities. On the other hand, there are nights we crash early from exhaustion and get up at dawn to head out on our next adventure.

Between inconsistent sleeping patterns and rotating beds and pillows, it goes without saying our bodies were exhausted.

Between poor nutrition, lack of intentional exercise and inadequate rest – I had created a trifecta for reduced performance.

Lesson learned: our bodies need rest. Whether it’s a rest day from exercise to heal muscles, or mental downtime from the responsibilities of life, or actual sleep, we need to recognize the impact fatigue can have on our abilities. Improper rest from working out can lead to injury, improper rest from ‘life’ can lead to mental and emotional fatigue, and lack of sleep can lead to all of these things.

Reality Check

I started out the race really strong – too fast, in fact. But I felt good. I went into the race with little expectations because of all the things I mentioned above, but began to think, ‘What were you so worried about? You got this!’

Then the wind hit, followed by hip and knee pain, then bring on the shin splints. Before long I was physically beat. I am used to ‘hitting the wall’ halfway through the race. It happens every time. But this was different. I wanted to quit.

I was disappointed in myself and my performance. But I’m not a quitter.

So I walked. Ugh, I was w.a.l.k.i.n.g. But as I looked around I saw other people walking too. Maybe they were feeling as broken as I was, or maybe they were feeling strong. Either way each of us was doing the very best we could. And one way or another the finish line was going to be in the same place whether I was running or walking.

I decided this would be the perfect time to do some interval work. If I can’t continue to run into the wind with the physical pain, it was time to set some goals. Push through a song with a steady pace. Then slow it down, catch my breath and regroup for another push. That lasted for a while until about mile 10 or so.

I knew I had a day ahead with my family at the amusement park. Was I going to risk ruining my day of fun with them just to run more of the race? I knew if I walked more than ran at this point I would be able to keep up and enjoy the day. So I walked.

Lesson learned: Don’t quit. A setback is just that. It’s not the end. Find a way to push yourself, and do the best you can. Don’t ruin an experience just because you are meeting the expectations you had set. Evaluate those expectations and adjust them if necessary. Keep moving towards the finish and know that this experience is going to make you stronger for the next time.

Family

I continued to walk. Pushing myself into the wind, knowing every step was closer to the finish, closer to my family fun day at the amusement park.

My family has played such a major role in my races. They get up early to watch me start, then they bounce around the course to meet me and cheer me on at various checkpoints, always making it back to the finish to congratulate me.

This course was different. I saw them at the start, I saw them about mile 4 and I wasn’t supposed to see them until the end.

About mile 7 or so I called Don. I told him I was struggling. We talked he encouraged me, then put me on speakerphone and the Schindlings cheered me on. That’s about the time I put on my ‘girls’ playlist and started running intervals.

Just after mile 10 I stopped running. My head was hanging. I knew I was doing my best but I was still disappointed. Just after mile 11 I looked up and saw Don and Ella just ahead of me.

They carried me to the end.

They carried me to the end.

Maybe I’m getting sappy as I age, because again I cried. They knew I was having a tough day and even though they weren’t dressed to run, they were going to get me through my last mile and half to the finish. We ran some, we walked some, we did it together.

At the finish line we met up with the other two Schindlings – in a big group hug they all told me how proud they were of me and what a great job I did.

Lesson learned: even though this is a personal goal, I need the support of others. Achieving a goal means absolutely nothing if you don’t have people to share it with. Never underestimate the strength that comes from loving and being loved.

So while you may not be a runner, I hope the lessons I learned while running will help enrich your life.

I know that going into race #9 I will have a much better perspective on what it means to successfully reach the finish line.

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Fitness and Finding the Right Fit

While I’m not a huge fan of moving, I am thankful of all of the great people that I have met in the various places we’ve lived. Cori Johnson is definitely one of those people. While we haven’t lived in Indianapolis for many years now, Cori and I have kept in touch over the years and have most recently been challenging each other with building our businesses. Each week we try and set goals and make each other accountable for accomplishing them.

You might wonder why I would want to promote someone else’s business on my blog and the answer is easy, we both want better health for those around us. Ultimately, I think that can be accomplished better by promoting the good things out there because as I have said, I don’t believe that fitness is a one size fits all deal. The more resources that people have available, the more likely they are to find what works for them.

There are so many things that I respect about her and her business: her counseling background enables her to coach women through the tough times to empower them in her journey, she knows the challenge of feeding a family with a healthy diet (sign up for her weekly menus), she has overcome injury setbacks to find programs that work for her, and overall, she is just one of the most positive people I know.

Image of Cori Johnson

I’m not letting “getting older” be my excuse for slowing down.

Stronger Than you Think

Cori Johnson

To be honest, I didn’t realize I had a “fitness story.” I have loved being active and moving ever since I was a kid. My parents weren’t exactly elite athletes, but I grew up in a household that valued good health in the most organic, natural way: we essentially were taught to eat right and enjoy the outdoors. We camped a lot. We hiked, went skiing, canoeing, white water rafting. I’m eternally grateful for what they taught me about the magic of just being outdoors and all that it has to offer.
My parents also supported our endeavors into sports. I began playing soccer at age five, and played through freshman year of high school. My high school didn’t have a girls’ team at that time, so I played freshman year with the boys. When I was told, “You’ll never play varsity because you might get hurt,” I suppose I could have put up a fight, for the betterment of all future female athletes. I wish I could say I did, but I didn’t. I quit and put more energy into running.

I first ran track in middle school and fell in love with running. I have always loved that running is available to everyone. I once saw a great quote that read something along the lines of, “There are country clubs you can’t get into, there are gyms you can’t afford, but the road is always open.” I love that. All you need to be a runner is a pair of shoes (and really, shoes are technically optional, we’ve since learned).

So, you may be thinking, “She’s been active since she was a kid. Fitness comes easily to her and she’s certainly never struggled with her weight.” You’d be wrong.

I am here to tell you, the phrase, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet” is something I’ve had to learn the hard way. College shenanigans taught me that. I put on the dreaded freshman 25 (I’m an overachiever, I went for 25 instead of 15), and from age 18 until just a few years ago, maintaining a weight that I felt good about was a huge struggle.

I do pursue the rush of exercise. I love to move and be active. I love to try new forms of exercise- not because it’s trendy and I think it will be the answer to my weight issue, but because I love to see how my body will respond.

Nutritionally, I’ve been a train wreck. Although my parents planted a huge garden every summer, and we’d eat fresh fruits and vegetables from July through August, then canned and frozen the remainder of the year, I still am a child of the 80’s. What that means: processed garbage and horrible information about nutrition. Right when I was hitting puberty, we were suddenly given access to vast amounts of ‘fake food’ in our grocery stores, and being told that fat was bad. My passion for sports kept me ahead of the game through high school- I didn’t gain weight, but I also didn’t feel great. In college, I still worked out, but just ate much more of the fake food, plus my share of beer, plus the off-hours college kids keep, and the pounds came on.

Without going too far into my nutrition, which really is a story for another day, I’ll just simply share where I am now where fitness is concerned.

At 42, I can say with total honesty that I have never been fitter and healthier. I attribute that to Beachbody programs, Shakeology, and sharing this journey with like-minded people.

Here’s the deal… I ran for 25+ years. I ran more half marathons that I can count. I spent three summers training to run a marathon. Each summer I went out with an injury prior to getting to the start line of the marathon. I have spent more time in physical therapy and sports medicine offices than I care to remember… all from running injuries. Hamstring injuries, knee injuries, ankle injuries.

Three years ago, when I was playing soccer with my oldest and in my third attempt to train for a marathon, we connected ankle to ankle, and I suffered the most damage. For a full year afterwards, I couldn’t run without pain. But I knew I had to do something to stay active, and I was 100% certain nothing would fulfill the rush I got from running. I was totally wrong.
At that time, I decided to “retire” from running and try something new. I began with P90X. That was over three years ago, and since that time, I have never NOT been doing a Beachbody program of some sort. And here’s the really amazing thing: I am more flexible, leaner, and stronger than I have ever been before.

I won’t list all the programs… I’ll just say, if Beachbody produced it, I’ve probably done it.

I do the workouts, follow the training plan, in the comfort and privacy of my own home, on my own schedule. Then the magic happens online. I share my journey in what’s known as a challenge group, which is a private group on Facebook. There, I lead other moms just like me through these programs. They do the workouts in their homes, on their schedules, but we come together daily to share how we’re doing. Some days we vent, “That was SO hard.” Other days we celebrate, “Nailed it! And lost two pounds this week!” We share recipes, ideas, and accountability, and all support one another without judgment and with tons of love and humor.

But wait. There’s more.

Recently my 12-year-old, whose chosen sports as of now are running and soccer, has decided he would like to complete the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon this coming May. If you’re not from Indy, you may not be familiar with The Mini, as we call it. But those in Indy know it to be an important part of our city’s culture, and even an important part of the history and culture of Indiana. It was my first half marathon, and I’ve run it every single May from high school until three years ago, taking off only those years when I was pregnant or had just had a baby. So, when my son said he wanted to run it, my first instinct was: “I want to be there with him the first time he runs it.”

I recently began running again to train to run The Mini with my son. I retired over three years ago because I was tired of being injured. Since then it’s been almost exclusively Beachbody programs. What is amazing…. I am running strong, able to hang with my 12-year-old, who is one of the top runners in his middle school and recently went to Nationals for Junior Olympics Cross Country, and so far, my legs feel great with no sign of injury (knock on wood).

I am constantly amazed at our bodies. I am one who loves fitness, yes. But here’s the thing about fitness: you have absolutely no idea how strong you are. I don’t think most of us will ever push ourselves hard enough to realize that. But I do know that I am not backing down. I’m not letting “getting older” be my excuse for slowing down. If I can push, and it feels great, and it keeps my heart healthy and my lungs strong, and my clothes fitting, well, I’m going to.

My dream is that other moms will realize that they are far stronger than they have ever realized, and enjoy all the rewards of good health and fitness: confidence, empowerment, and yep, clothes fitting well. I love to use my counseling background to help moms figure out what’s got them stuck and unable to achieve their goals, and set them on a path to enjoying great health and feeling amazing. And I love to bring together moms from all over the country, in our little corner of Facebook-land, getting to know one another as we share our journey, trying to balance the demands of our busy lives as moms and wives while still pursuing great health.


I truly encourage you to check out Cori’s site and sign up for her newsletter. She’s of course also available on FaceBook and I know she would welcome new members to her private groups.

Fitness is truly about finding what works for you. If you haven’t found the ‘right fit’ yet, drop me a line. Let’s talk about your goals and what type of program would work best for you. Just because personal training might not be the right path for you doesn’t mean I don’t want to help lead you to better health.

Not Just a Trainer, an Accountability Partner

In my blog ‘The Benefits of a Workout Partner and How to Find One,’ I touched on the importance of accountability over willpower. I’d like to dive a little deeper into the difference between the two and how as a personal trainer I use accountability to increase your confidence and ultimately strengthen your willpower.

Making Changes

When working with my clients we always start by talking about their goals: physical, nutritional and lifestyle. This information is essential to create a customized plan with unique and personal goals. And in creating their plan and goals we break things down into stages.

It’s important to have both short and long-term goals. The short-term goals may be for a week or a month and are the steps necessary to accomplish the long-term goals. They are the key to increasing confidence and willpower and create the accountability needed to sustain change. Let me give you an example of physical, nutritional and lifestyle:

Physical

Let’s say your goal is to reduce body fat from 32% to 25%. That’s not going to happen overnight and not something I would recommend measuring on a weekly basis, but rather every 4 to 6 weeks. Here’s why: measuring it weekly could create frustration by not seeing results and could result in a loss of willpower and desire to keep working towards the goal. However, part of achieving that goal will be to increase lean muscle mass and reducing fat.

So the client and I would work together to create goals that are based on increasing performance during the workout; perhaps increasing the number of repetitions, or increasing the amount of weight lifted. These are examples of short-term goals that can be easily achieved in progressing towards the ultimate goal of fat loss. Each time one of those short-term goals are accomplished, the client gains confidence in their ability to achieve the long-term goals and increases their commitment to the process. When committed to change, willpower grows and excuses for skipping workouts diminish.

Nutritional

The majority of clients that I have worked with have had a weight loss goal in mind. While exercise is an important component of weight loss, dietary modifications are also necessary. Unfortunately, even our toughest workouts can’t overcome continuous bad choices in the kitchen.

I try to encourage my clients to track their nutritional intake through any number of free apps like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, but the fact is, some just aren’t interested in tracking portions and calories. I understand that and help them to create other goals that will help to make long-term dietary changes.

For example, let’s say you love sweets. The extra sugar and calories consumed by eating sweets is a factor in weight maintenance. Once again, this isn’t something that can change overnight. Making too drastic of dietary changes quickly puts too much pressure on willpower and not enough on establishing a pattern of sustainable dietary changes.

So we break it down first by evaluating the quantity of sweets consumed during the week. Once we have a handle on the amount, we can establish a goal of beginning to replace manufactured sweets with natural sweets because it’s no mystery that a piece of fruit is a better choice than a candy bar. Rather than setting a goal that the client is going to quit sweets all together, we establish a plan for manageable modifications. Maybe that means starting with replacing two items a week, maybe more. Using the approach of gradual modification allows the client to see that reducing sweets is possible. As the client gains confidence in their ability to make choices, we increase their goal because their willpower to resist manufactured sweets has been strengthened.

I would never ask a client to stop eating sweets cold turkey; this puts an enormous pressure on their willpower and each time they are exposed to sweets the temptation grows and the greater amount of pressure on their willpower. Eventually, the temptation wins, the client feels defeated, discouraged, and ashamed they weren’t able to stick with their goal. This isn’t helpful for anyone. Whereas the gradual change builds confidence, willpower and the ability to adopt long-term change.

Lifestyle

I am a firm believer that if you are working towards improving health, you need to incorporate lifestyle changes beyond diet and exercise. My favorite example for a lifestyle change is creating a consistent bedtime and waking time. Our bodies crave routine and many of us rarely give our bodies the rest they need. I know both personally and through my clients that adopting a consistent sleeping pattern helps with energy levels, weight maintenance, and stress levels.

Establishing Accountability

So I know you’re probably thinking, ‘That’s all great, but as a client I might only meet with you once a week. It’s up to me to follow through on all of these goals.’

In part that is true, it is up to my client’s to commit to their goals, however, I know that no matter where you are in the process of achieving your long-term goals, you need support and accountability. Honestly, as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I need accountability. We all struggle with willpower from time to time so we need to be surrounded by those who want to build us up.

Throughout the week I check in with my clients. Whether it’s a text or sending an email with an article that could be helpful, I make sure to stay in contact. This helps my clients to know that I am there for them, opens the door for them to ask questions or admit their struggles, and further builds our trainer-client relationship.

If you are looking to make some changes, I would love the opportunity to speak with you. Drop me an email, and let’s set up a time to chat about your goals and how I can help you create a plan to achieve them.

Personal Goal Setting

Yesterday I wrote about the initial stages of developing personalized training for clients. I initially find out:

  • What activities do they enjoy
  • What activities do they not enjoy
  • How often are they going to exercise
  • How long will they exercise during each session
  • What are their physical limitations
  • What equipment do they have available
  • What is their ‘ideal’ picture of a healthy lifestyle

Using that information as a foundation I can begin to help the client structure goals in three key areas: nutritional health, physical health and mental health.

There is a great connection between being nutritionally healthy, physically healthy and mentally healthy. It’s possible to have one or two without the third, however, true health involves a balance of all three. To achieve a healthy lifestyle all three areas need goals.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these categories…

Nutritional – goals focus on improving dietary choices; Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has 80% to do with what one eats and only 20% of physical activity.

Possible goals include:

  • Tracking calories (using MyFitnessPal or something similar on a regular basis)
  • Limiting processed foods (take on manageable dietary adjustments when people try and change too much all at once it failure becomes more likely)
  • Increasing water intake (drinking 1/2 of your body weight in water every day)
  • Increase vegetable intake (a great source for HEALTHY carbs)

Physical – goals focus on improving physical appearance/ability.

Possible goals include:

  • Building core strength (holding a plank in good form for 60 seconds, performing side plank holds/lifts)
  • Increasing cardio endurance (training for a 5k – is it just to finish or is there a time goal)
  • Increasing flexibility (increased range of motion)
  • Increasing muscular strength (chest press 20lbs dumbbells, bicep curls 15lbs)

Mental – goals focused on improving overall ‘quality of life,’ achieving balance of the ‘good stuff’

Possible goals include:

  • Maintaining a regular bedtime
  • Limiting television/computer time
  • Taking time for prayer/meditation
  • Volunteering

Once a client identifies their goals for each category we write them to meet the SMART requirements:

Specific – details on the goal; instead of ‘get healthy’ the goal would be ‘lose weight’

Measurable – how will we know if it is met, if the goal is to lose weight we need to determine how much

Attainable – is it realistic, no one is going to lose 50 pounds in a month,

Results Orientated/Relevant – is the goal relevant to what I want to achieve, no sense in making a goal to run a marathon if the person hates running

Time Bound – how long do we have to work towards/achieve the goal

Keep in mind when setting goals it’s important to determine both short and long-term goals. Short-term goals help create quick successes and build momentum, which can be a very beneficial step in reaching long-term goals.

If a goal is written to meet the SMART requirements, the client will be able to answer definitively if the goal is being/has been met or not.

  • Nutritional goals are often measured through some sort of a food diary.
  • Physical goals are often measured either through physical accomplishment or by weight/inches/body fat change/loss.
  • Mental goals are often measured in reflective discussions with the client.

I take the goal setting process very seriously because it is what allows me to better understand my clients and their ultimate needs. I would never structure a training program for someone wanting to train for an upcoming half marathon race that only included weight and core training – to meet their goals we would need to incorporate endurance training. Another example is a client who is wanting to lose weight. While cardio is beneficial, one of the best ways to increase weight loss is to build lean muscle mass and increasing the natural metabolic rate.

It’s my mission to help my clients reach their goals, and to do that, each and every program must be fully customized to meet them where they are and designed to help them achieve their goals.

Move the Candy Dish

This was the first year that I committed to giving something up for Lent. Once the 40 days were over I began thinking about how I could continue to use 40 day fasts to improve different areas of my life.

Now if you’ve read my past blogs you know that I am not a fan of adopting diet plans that involve complete deprivation. While totally eliminating certain foods can be a contributing factor in achieving positive results, I find more often than not when faced with total deprivation it becomes more of a test of your willpower than learning appropriate portions. That said, a controlled fast may offer you a great opportunity to learn more about your controlling your cravings or managing your time.

Let me share with you my 3 (or 4) step plan for controlled fasts…

Please note that the information included in this blog entry is specifically targeted at modifying a single behavior. If you are interested in doing a complete fast that involves removing entire food groups or food all together there are a number of serious considerations and you should consult with your doctor prior to beginning a fast.

Recognition

The first step is taking some time to acknowledge unhealthy habits. I encourage you to think of this from both angles because modifying behavior isn’t always about removing something.

Make a list of those things you do too frequently and those that you don’t do frequently enough. Here’s two sample lists to give you an idea…

Too Frequently

  • Eating candy
  • Drinking soda
  • Going to bed too late
Not Frequently Enough
  • Reading
  • Praying
  • Drinking water

I discovered that I was developing an unhealthy craving for candy. During the Lenten season jelly beans were abound and what started as 1 or 2 was turning into handfuls at a time. Not good. So the day after Easter began my ‘candy fast.’

Removal

The next step is to remove the temptation. It sounds easy enough but in reality this can be difficult. For me, I have 3 children who had just received Easter baskets filled with candy so locking the house down from candy wasn’t an option.

Since I couldn’t physically remove the temptation I moved the candy dish. I cleaned out a junk drawer in our kitchen and moved all of the candy from its previous home on the counter into that drawer. Did I know it was there? Of course. But without the candy sitting on the counter it was no longer a consistent temptation every time I was in the kitchen.

So find a way to release yourself from the temptation. If you are trying to refrain from Starbucks maybe you will have to adjust your route a little so you aren’t tempted each time you drive by, or maybe you are trying to refrain from watching too much television so put the remote up and away so it’s not as easy to turn it on and surf the channels. There are plenty of ways you can ‘remove’ the temptation so be creative.

Now if it’s a behavior that you don’t do frequently enough find ways to make it part of your daily schedule. Let’s say you want to spend more time reading. Instead of waiting until right before bedtime when you are already exhausted, select a time during the day to sit and read. You may want to only start with a 10-minute commitment and then build on it each week. Or if you find that nighttime is the best for reading make sure you head to bed earlier. This will help you to get in your reading time before your lids get heavy and you have to read the same sentence over and over again.

Replacement

Step three is where willpower comes into play and I’ll be honest with you willpower sometimes just isn’t enough so you need to find a replacement for the behavior you are trying to avoid.

My cravings weren’t necessarily rooted in desire for  ‘candy,’ but more that I wanted something sweet. For me that’s fixed easy enough with a piece of fruit.  But what if you are trying to give up drinking soda and you rely on that caffeine? Try unsweetened tea instead and add only enough sweetener to make it palatable to you.

This approach is also effective when trying to increase the frequency of a behavior. For instance, let’s say you don’t drink enough water. So grab yourself a cool refillable BPA-free water bottle and set it on your desk. Instead of heading to the coffee pot to refill your mug throughout the day drink your water. Or if you are trying to eat more vegetables eat them first off of your plate rather than leaving them for last when you have already filled up on your protein.

Whatever the behavior is you can find a healthy substitute that allows you to either replace the behavior or increase the frequency. After the fast you may actually find you like the substitute better.

Replacement is slightly different when you think about behaviors that require time. Any modification that requires an adjustment in the use of your time will also require you to identify ‘wasted’ pockets of time during your day that can be better used to accomplish the tasks. Just as with the removal of the behavior, scheduling and planning is integral in your ability to replace wasted time with productive habits.

Reintroduction (if appropriate)

Not everything should be reintroduced back into your life. If it is a habit that is harmful to your health like smoking or staying up too late or driving too fast the controlled fasting period should be seen as the first phase of eliminating the behavior all together. You may need to continue to work through the removal and replacement phases for years in order to gain control over the behavior.

But if you have elected to fast from something like candy it may not be necessary for you to give it up for the rest of your life. Believe me, I’m not willing to go my remaining years and never have another jelly bean. However, when I do reintroduce them back into my diet I will need to consider portions as well as my other options.

When you reintroduce something I would suggest you ask yourself the following questions:

  • How bad do I really want it? (scale of 1 to 10)
  • Knowing all of the options I have to choose from do I still need it or can I be satisfied with a better option?
  • Is it really worth it? What is it going to take for me to ‘work it off’?
  • Do I have control over my desire for the item? Will having a little only make me want more?

Certainly there are a number of other questions that you can and should ask yourself. The key is to introduce the item slowly and to truly think about your desire for the item, your ability to control the craving and your continued will to keep your desires in check.

So what’s on your list?

Tips for Eating Less when Eating Out

When was the last time you ate out? Did you hit a drive thru for lunch yesterday? Or did you meet friends for dinner and cocktails last week?

Eating out has the potential to derail your healthy eating efforts, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some dining out tips that may help you to adhere to your healthy eating.

Plan ahead! Most restaurants have the nutritional information for their menus posted on their websites. Take a few moments and scan the menu to see which choices are the most healthy.

Sharing a meal and getting an appetizer is a much better way to regulate the amount of food you eat. We all know how big the portion sizes tend to be. By simply sharing a main dish, and possibly an appetizer or dessert you can drastically cut the amount of calories you are consuming, along with significantly making a dent in your final bill. You can save even more by dumping appetizers and desserts.

Order water with lemon instead of a soda, tea or cocktail. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a nice glass of red wine is the perfect compliment to a pasta dinner, and I still haven’t figured out a good way to not drink soda when I eat pizza. But by ordering water with a lemon, you decrease your caloric intake and reduce the cost of the meal.

Don’t wait until you are famished to go to a restaurant or cook a meal. You will order with your desire to quickly fill that hungry feeling instead of ordering for true taste. When cooking at home you are likely to eat more while cooking and still consume a larger portion. Avoid filling up on nonsense by drinking some water, ordering an appetizer or munching on some carrot sticks. This will help you slow down enough that you probably won’t order a fried burrito, or load up on junk while you are cooking.

Regardless if you are eating out or at home, slow down and enjoy the experience. Take the time to give sincere thanks for the food that is nourishing your body and the hands that made it. Engage with the people sitting at your table by finding out something new about them or how their day was. Slow down and thoroughly chew your food – it will not only improve the digestion process it will also help you to truly savor the flavors of your meal.