Month: November 2016

Inspire the Best You 5K Run/Walk

Let’s face it, races are expensive. They are fun experiences though and exciting!

I’ve set up a virtual 5K race on Facebook: Inspire the Best You 5K Run/Walk for anyone, anywhere to do on Saturday, January 28th! It’s completely free and anyone who wants to take part can participate. You do it whenever that works best for you and wherever you choose! You can even share your training plan and progress on the Facebook page and let us know how you’re doing along the way.

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For me personally, I was having a hard time finding a race near me that would help me train for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon that I’m signed up for, coming up in May 2017. The ones I did find that seemed interesting cost anywhere from $30-50. That’s expensive, especially when money is tight. The whole process had proven difficult for me so I decided to create my own virtual 5K race and invite you all to join me! Feel free to share with your friends or simply invite them to “race” with you!

 

~Bonnie~

 

Top 8 Apps for Healthy Living

There are many apps that have helped me along the way in my weight loss journey. Some have obviously helped me more than others, but the ones I mention have all helped a lot in some way. Most, if not all, of these that I mention here are free apps. Like most of us, I didn’t and still don’t have money to spend on a bunch of apps so that comes in handy!

1) SparkPeople

SparkPeople is the app I used the most. When I first joined the website, I did not have a mobile device that allowed me to download the app. So I was using the web browser on my iPod Touch to log into the mobile version of the site to do things like log my food, water, exercise, and weigh-ins. I also read their articles from there. That practice helped me feel motivated and inspired much longer than I would have otherwise because there was a lot of good information in the articles. I read any and all of the articles that applied to, or that interested, me. They have the articles broken up into groups such as nutrition, fitness, motivation, wellness, and more. Once I was able to download the app, I was able to post on the mobile chat, read other people’s blogs, and see what my friends were up to on their pages via the friend feed. I became more involved in SparkPeople because I could access so much more, and that in turn helped me stay even more focused.

(A similar app is MyFitnessPal, it just depends on your preferences).


2) Pep

Pep is an app created by SparkPeople in early 2015 as a photo sharing platform. It is a place where you can share pictures about your healthy living choices. For example: what you’re eating, what exercises you’re doing, Fitbit stats, inspiring quotes, and your exercise scenery. I enjoy posting to the app with pictures of my healthy meals and snacks, quotes I find particularly inspiring or motivating, screenshots of my Fitbit stats, and scenery from my walks. The app is kind of like Instagram in a way, but specifically for those striving to live healthy lifestyles.



3) Fitbit

Since I use a Fitbit One, I also use their app on my phone. It syncs my Fitbit’s steps, calories burned, floors climbed, fitness minutes/exercise, water intake, and also sleep quality and amount if I choose to do so. It can also sync nutrition information from SparkPeople or MyFitnessPal. That is an awesome bonus if you use either site for your nutrition tracking.

(Another alternative if you don’t have a Fitbit or other step counter gadget is Runtastic’s Pedometer app).



4) MapMyRun

This is another app I’ve used time to time for tracking the distance I walk or run when out training for races or simply getting exercise sessions in. It has an option to save your workouts in addition to tracking distance, time, and speed. When you get done with your workout and need to stretch, rest, or do something else, you can take a peek at your workout information when you’re done!

(Some other apps that do similar are Nike+Run Club, Runkeeper, and Runtastic GPS Running).



5) Pinterest

Browsing Pinterest for inspiration has become a great tool for me as well, as long as I’m careful to avoid any of the unhealthy or unrealistic weight loss solutions advertised there. I personally like to use this app to find inspirational quotes or pictures, tasty healthy recipes, workout ideas that will work for me and that sound exciting, and much more depending on what I’m looking for at the moment. As anyone who uses it knows, it is a very visual app which can be very pleasing! Sometimes I just browse and don’t really find anything that strikes out to me, yet I leave it feeling inspired and motivated to live healthier.



6) iHeartRadio

iHeartRadio has allowed me to listen to good music while I workout or just to help improve my general wellbeing by reducing my stress levels. My favorite station on there is K-Love, which is a Christian music station, because it helps me feel inspired and reminds me that God is always with me. Sometimes I will listen to the “workout beats” station as well while I’m taking my walks, especially when the K-Love station isn’t getting good reception, but I vastly prefer it over any other.

(Pandora is very similar, it just depends on your tastes!).



7) YouTube

On YouTube, I can search for workout videos or ideas when I need to change things up or find a new workout routine without spending money on them until I know if they work for me or not. Some of my favorite workouts ever are Leslie Sansone’s walking videos, Biggest Loser videos, and kickboxing workouts. Trying new videos of these types allows me to change things up and challenge myself while still doing a workout that fits my needs. Not only that, but I can watch music videos that help me feel motivated or keep me entertained while I exercise.



8) Google

At this point, you may be wondering what Google has to do with healthy living. I personally use their web search app to research things last minute, in the moment, or to prepare ahead of time for various happenings. Some of the ways I use it is to see how to cook things healthier such as how long to bake chicken for example, find out how many calories is in something when I can’t find out that information on SparkPeople, and much more. I’ve always preferred Google so it’s been pretty easy for me to use it when I need it!


What are some of your favorite apps that help you live a healthier life?

~Bonnie~

My Morning Self-Care Routine (That Sets Me Up for Success)

“When you arise in the morning,
think of what a privilege it is to be alive-
to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
-Marcus Aurelius

Having a morning routine for myself is what helps me get my day off to a good start. I’m still playing around with what I do in the morning to accomplish this, so it is a work in progress right now. However, there are a few tasks that will need to stick because they are just that important to me. I adopted this routine by piecing together things that help me start my day off on the right foot and that’s so important to me and my goals. My life has been very chaotic the past few years, until very recently, and I was never able to set up a morning ritual that benefited me during that time. So this past summer, I started thinking about what kind of things that I could do after first waking up each day that would make me feel good and more positive and more centered.

#1: Reading my Bible. Admittedly, I don’t do this as often as I should. However, I try to remember to do it every morning and when I accomplish this, it helps me get into a better mental space. It sets the tone for the rest of the day as it helps me spend time with God and get centered with the right priorities. Right now I’m working on a “read the Bible in a year” plan that I picked up from church which doubles as a bookmark, helping me keep my place. I’ve fallen behind already but I am determined to do my best to keep up and am already noticing the difference it makes for me each day. Reading the Bible each morning reminds me that God always has a plan and is always with me.

#2: Making a to-do list or daily plan. This usually happens the night before, but sometimes won’t happen until the morning of. Either way I do it, I can still consider it a part of my “morning routine” because it is a task that helps me see all the things I need to do each day, in one organized place, which in turn helps me get more things done.

#3: Coffee! Caffeine is necessary for me most mornings in order to get me going. It helps me wake up and is just a tasty, feel good morning drink. My favorite way to drink it is with some creamer that I find delicious such as hazelnut, peppermint mocha, or anything with chocolate as I’m a total chocoholic. Coffee, coupled with a satisfying yet healthy breakfast, can also set the tone for the rest of the day. If I do it right, it makes me feel successful, healthy, and content. Some of my favorite breakfasts lately are oatmeal with banana diced and mixed in, a small cinnamon raisin bagel with a banana or oranges on the side, or Special K Protein Plus cereal. I like to make sure I get some kind of good protein and/or fiber in my breakfast because it contributes to the satisfied feeling. If I were to allow myself to eat whatever I wanted for breakfast and it wasn’t healthy, it would leave me feeling icky and cause my whole day to be off nutritionally, and I can’t have that!

#4: Watching an uplifting show/movie or browsing online for uplifting and positive posts. It helps me wake up more and set my mind up to feel positive throughout the day. If I’m careful about avoiding negative messages that may appear, this can be an invaluable tool in my morning routine. It sets the stage for a positive mindset. For example, when I’m on Facebook I focus on funny posts, Bible verses or other positive spiritual posts, and maybe even leaving positive comments on friends’ posts if I can.

#5: Exercise. This is one that is a hit or miss kind of thing for me right now, as far as mornings go, but I definitely want to work on it as I move forward. I know that when I do get a walk or something else active in during the first hour or two after I wake up, it helps me to feel refreshed and on top of my life.

#6: Writing. Since I am a writer through and through, with a lot of my working from home involving writing of some sort, getting it in soon after I get up and moving is beneficial all around. It helps me get started and feel more productive as the day begins. I need to be able to write my blogs and book(s), make notes to plan blog posts and other projects, and much more. It can be a great way to stretch my writing muscles, which is just as beneficial to me as stretching my actual muscles, each morning.

“You’ll never change your life
until you change something you do daily.
The secret of your success
is found in your daily routine.”
-John C. Maxwell

Even though I’m still working on making this into a more steady routine, it is proving good for me so far. Whenever I’m not able to perform this routine, I am more likely to be grumpy and simply feel off. It is my morning me time and is very valuable to me for that reason as well. Without it, sometimes I will feel loss and less in control. Therefore, it’s good for me all around to keep up with most, if not all, of these morning tasks.

What is your favorite part of your morning routine, or the part you can’t do without?

 

~Bonnie~

What Inspired Me to Start Losing Weight

“New beginnings are often disguised
as painful endings.”
-Lao Tzu

Ever since I was a young child, I have battled with being overweight. It was nothing new to me. Most of the time it wasn’t that big of a deal. However, a lot of the time I wished I was skinnier, but who of us doesn’t? I had tried many times to lose weight by eating less or exercising, and sometimes both at the same time. Nothing had ever clicked for me though, even when I knew that it had to be a whole lifestyle change. That is indeed a big part of losing weight, and should never be discounted, but it isn’t the whole battle. There is a big mental change that needs to happen in order for us to realize that it is a permanent lifestyle change, no matter what happens or what we do from that point forward. What ultimately brought me to choose to do it now and got me going on the best journey of my life were my three big wake up calls.

Wake-up call #1: Flying cross country to California and needing a seatbelt extender both ways in March 2014.

Talk about embarrassing! It wasn’t only the seatbelt extender aspect either, it was also the fact that I felt as if I were overflowing in the plane seat. It was very uncomfortable, to say the least, simply because I was afraid to encroach on my neighbors’ space. The flight back home was an overnight flight and I was so tired. I had to rest my head on the seat in front of me in order to go to sleep. That sounds about as restful as it actually was. It’s hard enough for me to sleep while flying but to be leaning forward, against the seat in front of me in order to sleep without risking leaning to the side, made it that much more difficult. Flying gave me the wake up call that I had not realized how big I had gotten in the past couple years. I was horrified! I knew I needed to do something to lose weight and started to get myself on board with walking a lot and cutting back on my dinner portions over the summer to lose about ten pounds. I thought that would make a world of difference at the time.

Wake-up call #2: Returning to the hectic life I led, rarely coming first, and hitting rock bottom by applying for social security disability because I truly felt I needed it.

A lot of things happened between the time I returned from my trip and the time that I actually started my weight loss journey. I feel as if these events helped cement the fact that I needed to do something about my weight and wellbeing in general. Shortly after I returned, my brother took an agreed upon trip to California as well, while I took care of his two young sons. I had at least one of the boys the whole eight days he was gone, but most of the time I had both. Then in April that year, my mom had her second major surgery. It was scheduled and we had been expecting it for a couple months, but surgeries are stressful and difficult for everyone. This surgery was on her neck and her last one had been on her back, so it was also new territory for us. We all got through it and her healing process wasn’t as extensive as we had thought it would be. Not long after her surgery, my brother ended up sick and in the hospital for a few days. That left me to take care of his boys again. This time it was unexpected and that much more stressful, especially after the previous events we had been through. Finally, in May I applied for Social Security disability. I had been considering it for years due to mental disorders, a joint problem, and some other issues that I had had for many years. I truly felt like I needed it at the time but knew it would be a long process. Only a couple weeks after applying, I started my weight loss journey. I had hit rock bottom, providing me with no choice but to work my way up from there!

Wake-up call #3: The big, dreaded, weigh-in!

We had gotten a double stroller after searching and searching for one, about five days before I started my journey. It was my way to take my nephews out for walks and get more exercise and activity in while I babysat them. It was also a step towards independence and even entertainment for all three of us! One evening, I just decided that enough was enough, and if I didn’t weigh-in right then, I probably would never start my weight loss journey. So I stepped on the scale and stood there staring at the weight I had reached, a whopping 309 pounds! That was the final push to get me started. I had vowed to myself to never get over three hundred pounds, yet there I was! I immediately joined SparkPeople, a weight loss support website that I had been a member of twice before, and plugged in all the information it asked for to set up a plan for me to lose weight. Then I eased into the healthier living journey of losing weight, cutting calories in a healthy way, adding in exercise, and starting to drink more water.

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction
ends up being the biggest step of your life.
Tip toe if you must, but take the step.”
-Naeem Callaway

All of the things that happened following my return from my trip to California showed me that nothing was going to get better in my life if I didn’t make a decision to make my own life better. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it helped push me in the direction that I needed to go, to get to the mental place to lose weight and make it a lasting journey!