Friday, May 29, 2009

Too Much!

Moderation. Balance. Both are terms we hear and preach all the time---we know we should have and practice them in our lives, for our wellness.

How good are you at Moderation and Balance?

I like to think I'm pretty good at both, but sometimes I get a glimmer of my imbalances and over/under-indulgences. I have goals---and this is good for planning out my Moderation and Balance....but sometimes my goals seem to throw me out of alignment too.

So now, I'm finding that I'm trying to Moderate and Balance my Moderation and Balance! What?! Seriously, though, if you find yourself out of whack, reign it in----lay your plan out in front of you---is it reasonable? If not, how can you change it? What planning, attitude and determination can you cultivate to meet your goals and still be sane and content with your life.

This week I found myself not dealing with much of anything because I couldn't figure out where to start. So I started nothing (except those things that had urgent deadlines or consequences, and that filled my time nicely alone).

Now I'm re-evaluating and trying to catch up. I'm making a list of my committments and taking note of the things on that list I can change without derailing my long-term plans. Phew---it's work.

Bottom line: Moderate your Balance and Balance your Moderation. Just like the other wellness stuff, it takes planning, the right attitude, and determination. Make it fun, keep a healthy perspective, and don't get down on yourself when you're not balancing perfectly---just adjust and move on....And then laugh about it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Help! Please :)

Hello Friends,
Welcome to Thursday, and good luck to those of you participating in the Corporate Challenge tonight! I won't be there to cheer you on, as I previously thought, but I know you'll tell me all about it afterward!

Running is an interesting sport (is it a sport?)---some people hate it, some people love it, some people love-hate it (that would be me). I've gone in spurts of running and not running throughout my lifetime, but never taking it too seriously.

Now, I've signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon in October in Washington DC. There are a couple reasons for me to do this.
1. Joe wanted to and wouldn't sign up because he missed general registration--so the only way to get in is through raising money for a charity--and he didn't want to ask people for money. So I said I'd do it too, and convinced him the fundraising would be no big deal.
2. I think it would be great to say I've run a marathon.

That's it---no big goals (besides to finish before they open the road back up to traffic), no aspirations for wellness or anything. Although, I hear the psychological high is pretty good at the end. We spent a long time deciding which organization to donate to--and decided on one that supports kids who have autism. I have a special connection to this cause, which stems back to when I worked at Hanscom Air Force Base and led a phys ed/motor skills class for the group of special needs middle school kids on base. My two favorites (I know, not supposed to have faves, but who can help it?) were autistic, and I learned a lot about autism and children by spending time with them.

So, if you are inclined, I'd like to ask you to consider donating money to a really great cause (and as a side effect you'll be helping Joe and me enter the race). We decided we would both raise the required $500, and whatever our combined leftover balance is at the deadline (sept), we'll split the cost. You can donate on the secure website to either Joe or me, and you'll get a receipt from the organization.

Thank you :)

The cause:

The Organization for Autism Research

OAR is a national non-profit that provides practical information to the autism community by funding research studies whose outcomes offer new insights into the development of individuals with autism, with an emphasis on education, social life, and employment. OAR's information programs provide guidance on the best therapies and treatments for those living with autism.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A New Normal

Yesterday I was talking with someone who is trying very hard to maintain the determination to stick with all the little changes she's made. She hasn't really seen big results, and she's having a tough time seeing the benefit of just doing the little things---even though the things she's doing aren't too difficult or dreadful.
We talked about how sometimes it's helpful not to gauge progress by measureable tangible results in the beginning (especially if there aren't any yet). One of the best ways to see if you've progressed is to look at your "normal." Has your normal changed? Before, did you never go to the gym and now you go once a week without thinking twice about it (...and maybe your ultimate goal is to go 4 times)? So, your old normal was to never go and your new normal is to go once. So maybe your next new normal will be to go twice! Or maybe in the past, you never ate vegetables and now you eat two servings a week---New Normal!

So another way to look at your baby steps is to use the concept of creating a New Normal----make a little change comfortable, easy, and second nature....and then move on to something else. Part of it is about staying in the moment, being comfortable and content with where you are, and then being flexible and accepting the process of change.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Choose Your Battles

Sometimes we try to focus on too many things at once---we want to fix all our problems and make everything better and right at the same time, and because we overload ourselves with change in order to do this........we end up making no detectable progress. I say no 'detectable' progress because I think every time we try something new in the right direction it is progress in some way. We'd just prefer to only consider it progress if the change sticks.

Spring is a great time of year in the Northeast part of the country---things are just really coming alive, and people are sort of waking up in a similar way. It's easier to be motivated than it was before. We want to wear warm-weather clothes and go on vacations. Maybe our kids are almost out of school, and our schedule will change along with that.

It makes my job a little easier when spring rolls around---people are more likely to come to me for help or to ask questions, rather than me having to feel like I'm 'selling' wellness. I won't complain about that!

The point here is that if we don't focus on a couple things, we tend to be a little scatterbrained and not get as much accomplished. It's a great time to set some goals. Try some new things. Rather than trying to quit smoking, exercise 5 times a week, eat more veggies and fewer donuts.....pick a couple goals just for this week. Small, manageable things you can do that will make you feel good and that you're likely to experience success with.

Then branch out a little next week. Check in, get a walking buddy, do something for fun. Celebrate the good weather, wear short sleeves and flip flops---or whatever makes you feel really springy. Get excited about what you can do to make some wellness improvements, and if it doesn't quite work out---try something else!

Monday, May 25, 2009


Sometimes as adults, I think we forget to play. We go to the gym for the sake of burning calories. We go on a walk because it's good for our hearts. We eat vegetables because they have phytochemicals (phyto-what?).......

Can't we do things for the sake of pure enjoyment? Joe and his nephew Kyle, and my nephew Matthew are really good at this---or at least Joe can act like it for the kids' benefit. On Saturday, we took Matthew to the playground and then to the Jump Club---I'm not sure who had more fun, Joe or Matthew. They both ended up with some brush burns and Matthew was totally sweaty and worn out by the time we were done. They ran, jumped, slid, played, climbed....all the stuff that used to be fun when we were kids. I didn't play as much, having worn the wrong shoes and no socks (you can't play in Jump Club with bare feet or shoes). Actually, grown-ups are not supposed to play in there at all, but we went in the evening when no one else was around except two high school-aged employees who didn't seem to notice that Joe is three decades older than Matthew.

It had a dual impact on me---one, I was super happy Matthew had so much fun and it was good exercise for him (and maybe a little bit for Joe). It was also a sort of revelation (again) that we place too much importance on physical tangible results--what is this going to do for me? For my health/weight/heart?

When was the last time you played? Went outside with a young child and played tag or t-ball or just ran in circles? Went on a leisurely bike ride where the miles and speed didn't even matter?

What a great feeling to just play with no expectations about health attached! You might be surprised that you feel more benefit from this than a hard workout.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Detox or what?

To detox or not to that the question? Maybe the real question should be: How do you detox? Because we all should. I think the word detox has an association with it that can really freak people out---they automatically assume it means something extreme and weird (ever heard of the Master Cleanse?).

The bottom line for detoxing is that we should all do it, and all it really means is to reduce and clear out the number of toxins in our bodies. We are exposed to toxins through the food we eat, the environment, the products we use, etc. If we want to detox, or cleanse our cells, we just need to decrease the amount of toxins we encounter.

You can do this in a focused program, like by eating lots of organic veggies and fruit for a week. Or you can take a detox approach to life---just think about ways you can decrease your exposure to toxins on a daily basis. Maybe you switch to natural kitchen and bathroom cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. Maybe you buy organic produce 50% of the time. You could get outside in nature and take deep breaths of clean fresh air. There are many many things you can do to reduce the toxin-load on your body.

It can be just like any other area of wellness---pick something small that doesn't sound dreadful, and just try it out! Maybe you won't feel a significant difference, but your cells will thank you :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Get Back Up!

When life knocks you down, what's your response? Do you stay down for a bit, pondering the meaning of being knocked, before you pick yourself up? Do you stay down till someone else picks you up? Do you jump back up and hope nobody saw you down?

Whatever your method, take a minute to think about why and how you respond to challenges. What makes it worth it for you to get back up when you're down?

When I did my dissertation I asked women what makes them place a high priority on their health---why do they make healthy choices and sustain them over time?

They answered in all different ways---some people wanted to set good examples for their kids. Some wanted to avoid disease, or it was about fear of disease. Others had just always done things that way.

Some people had faced a crisis, hit the bottom of the barrel, swirled around there for a bit, and then realized their only way to survive was to take care of themselves.

I want you to think about why health issues, and other choices you face, warrant improving and stepping up to the plate. Why be positive? Why fix your problems and face your issues? You could probably exist by choosing the less noble, healthy, or proactive way.

A common thread for all decisions in health (and generally in life) is that although the WHAT impacts the outcome, the WHY and the HOW are the most important factors--they are what make you who you are and they create meaning in your life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


"The steps are slow but they are noticeable, which is all that matters. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives and we are going to meet our goal. Time does not matter, only progress." --Roxann

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pep Talk

In the last week, I've felt like my job is less about coaching and more just to give pep talks. I'm not sure if it's the time of year, the weather, the astrological aligning (or unaligning) of stars and planets....but dang, you guys are grasping for motivation to keep on working toward your goals.

Regardless of the reason, pep talks are good! I have friends and relatives who call me for them---I put on my pep talk hat, dish out a little motivation, a little tough love, and some encouragement....and we don't usually hang up with them feeling any worse :)
I have my list of go-to people to call for a boost too.

What do you do to get your motivation back when it is slipping away?

One person I talked to finds something inspirational to read or watch---this is a great idea. Read something that demonstrates how a person faced an obstacle and overcame it.
Check out this story about Dick and Rick Hoyt:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A p.s. on the SPF

Guide to sunscreen use:

1. Look for labels that say "broad spectrum" or UVA and UVB protection. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are good ingredients for sun protection (Of course, I like the natural brands without all those weird ingredients and parabens and junk---but zinc oxide seems ok for now).
2. Wear at least SPF 15 anyday you will be outside for more than 20 minutes (even on non-sunny days because up to 80 percent of UV rays can penetrate clouds).
3. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you go outside and re-apply every 2 hours (even at SPF 60--it starts to breakdown when exposed to rays).
4. Use a shot glass size amount of sunscreen for each application and cover all exposed skin--even the tops of ears and tips of toes---consider wearing a hat to protect your scalp!
5. Re-apply waterproof sunscreen when you get out of the water---it's not really waterproof, just resistant and it leaves uneven protection after you've gotten it wet.
6. Sunscreen has a pretty stable shelf life, but doesn't last more than 3 years (or the exp date, whichever is first)---and will not last as long if you leave it in the car or other extreme temperature exposures. If it separates, changes color, or smells weird, junk it.

Please note: This information is for adults. Children and sunscreen are a whole different story...

Chuck the Guidelines

I often get questions regarding what I think a person's goal should be for weight loss. It's such an interesting question---and I can't answer it. I mean, I could, but I don't think it would be a responsible thing for me to do. Most people know the old height weight charts are pretty useless, but people are still grasping for some kind of guideline.

We also mostly know that what we do and how we live are more important than pounds on the scale, but it's difficult to change our way of thinking about it. We know that skinny people can be unhealthy and being overweight doesn't always indicate a poor health status either. There are many reasons for losing weight, and just as we all have different reasons, we also all have different needs and appropriate goal weights. I enjoy working with people on figuring these things out for themselves.

Recently, I was discussing weight with someone who is pretty slim. She has a goal to lose a couple pounds, and people really give her a hard time for this goal. They tell her she is small enough and they treat her like she's crazy for having this goal. My opinion is that if you're living in a healthy way and you can reach a lower weight---and you want to---then you should. If you're happy and healthy where you are, then just be there.

Sometimes people who are overweight indicate that I don't understand anything about what they go through because I'm not and have never been overweight. In some ways, they are right. But please don't assume that a thin person does not work at being thin, just as you surely wouldn't assume a heavier person doesn't put effort into improving their health or losing weight.

We are all different.

A little bit crazy all in our own ways.

We weigh what we weigh today---we live how we live. We can work to improve ourselves, and this can be a negative or positive experience. I vote for the positive, non-judgmental, experimental, fun way of it all.

Be who you are and say what you feel; Those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter.

Just as you refrain from judging a person, their appearance, their lifestyle---don't judge yourself either. Improve yourself because you care about yourself and your well-being. If you have other reasons, then let's just work on that :)

And remember, what anybody else thinks about you is none of your business!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Baz Was Right

Remember that Baz Luhrmann song that came out several years ago----called Sunscreen?
He was so right about that. Sunscreen is more important than we give it credit for---"we" being the lucky ones who live in this Rochester climate.

I was reading an article in Cosmo the other day (yes, there was an actual article tucked in with all those advertisements!), and it talked about sun exposure and long-term consequences. In places like Florida and California, people are almost obsessed with protecting their skin. They wouldn't dream of going outside without sunscreen and/or a hat. We, in the northeast, think differently. Since we live in the dim dingy darkness for most of the year, when the sun comes out we rationalize not protecting our skin because we have been so good and unexposed for the majority of the year!

We go out with no protection, and in fact, we love to have the sun beating down on our unprotected skin. When we were younger, we may even have baked ourselves to a bubbly crisp a few times or done things like use baby oil to get a better tan/burn. The article I read said that people doing this type of thing are actually putting themselves at higher risk for skin cancer than those who live in a sunny climate and have a moderate tan (a tan provides about SPF 12). Although this tan/SPF does not mean there is no underlying damage to the skin.

I recently went to a medical spa to check out what types of things they offer, and one of the things they do is assess the skin using a special camera. It rates your skin on many different categories, one of them being sun damage. The woman told me that how someone's skin looks is not necessarily the best indicator of what is going on underneath or what damage is there. However, the younger you are when you start caring appropriately for your skin, the better off you will be.

Do you wear sunscreen? Sometimes women have it a little easier in this category (is that possible?) because we can buy makeup and skin care products that have SPF 15 or so------It's not that men don't have the option in moisturizers, it's just less likely for men to use them. If you haven't, you should try :)

Here's a lesson on SPF:
Sun Protection Factor tells you how long you can stay in the sun. So an SPF 15 means you can stay in the sun for 15 minutes longer than with bare skin before you begin to get burned. SPF 50 means 50 minutes, etc. As we know, everyone is different, and this means the translation is not 100%---you may be able to tolerate a few minutes more than the person next to you.

The point is, don't mess around with the sun! When you're 40, 50, 60, 70, will be thankful if you cared well for your skin throughout your life....and it's never too late to start.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Getting to Santa Monica on the 405

I was talking to my cousin yesterday---and I love her, but she is extremely dramatic. I used to say I lived vicariously through I get tired just by listening to stories about her life. She always has goals. She is a very driven and motivated individual, and she always follows through on her plans. She once went to Thailand and Cambodia for Christmas vacation...she has backpacked through Italy by herself, and recently went to Alaska for fun. Not that Alaska can't be fun, but it's just so cold.

Anyway, she works in the entertainment industry, which is very fast-paced, and she knows a lot of people. Something she said to me yesterday not only made a lot of sense for her in her life and escapades, but I thought it could also make a lot of sense to everyone.

She spoke with someone about her recent life lessons and actions, and when it came down to talking about what she wanted and how she has actually been living.... the person said to her---Kristen, you're trying to get to Santa Monica on the 405..... but the 405 doesn't go to Santa Monica---you have to take the 10.

It was a revelation for her (but yet, she knew it all along). How often does that happen to you? I see it a lot---people tell me that it's not that they didn't know what they should/need to do, they just needed to hear it again or in a new way.

So, answer three questions:

1. What do you want for yourself (goal)?
2. Is what you're doing going to get you there?
3. If not, what will?