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I’ve started this a thousand times.

I’ve started writing this blog post roughly a thousand times in my head. I’ve edited it, I’ve redrafted it, I’ve added, I’ve deleted… but I’ve never actually stopped to write a sentence down.

Our little one came in-

(sorry about that- she was crying and needed to be held… now, where was I?)

Our little one came in November and turned our family of 3 (husband, myself, and our dog) into a family of 4. To say she’s given us a run for our money is an understatement.

I’ve always been pretty protective of my schedule and my routine. I don’t like to deviate too much from what I know and am familiar with. Let’s just say that babies throw that ALL out the window. It’s been a total and complete adjustment, but in a good way. And to be honest, it’s taken me a few weeks to be able to say that- to say that it’s a good thing.

Change is hard. And harder for some (my hand is WAY up).

She cried a lot those first 5 weeks, and didn’t sleep a lot. I felt like a human milk machine. Showers were few and far between, while the tears rarely ceased (for both of us). I felt empty and defeated at the end of most days, just thinking “This is it? This is life now?!” There were times I mourned* the loss of my freedom and ability to shower each morning and eat a hot meal while it’s still hot and just get in my car and go to the store in under an hour. (*mourned=sobbed uncontrollably)

Luckily, it’s getting easier. She’s crying less and sleeping (a very little bit) more. Or maybe I’m just getting used to the sleep depravation- it’s anybody’s guess. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the kindness of others. It takes a village to raise a child, and even telling a mother that she’s doing a great job sparks a fire that I cannot describe in words. Feeling that love and support helps to refill my tank.

It’s a slow process. And I’m a constant work in progress.

As I became a bit more comfortable with my role as Mom, I longed to do the things that helped me feel like myself again- working out and eating things that aren’t necessarily  Spaghettios or Oreos. (Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE those and still enjoy them from time to time, but I also know they don’t make me feel as good as my leafy greens do.) I’m ready to start feeling better about the new person that I’ve become- inside and out.

It’s Love Your Body Week at UND- one of my favorite times of the year. I love the idea of celebrating yourself no matter WHAT. Love your body or not, it’s a great reminder that there is always something to be thankful for.

A friend asked me what I loved about my body the other day. The truth is, since having a baby there isn’t much. Sometimes I like the way my hair falls. And I like my eyes- they seem to be one of the only things that didn’t change with pregnancy and birth. Almost everything else stretched and expanded. It’s incredibly frustrating to have nothing that fits unless it has an elastic waistband or extra fabric gathered around the middle or 3 sizes bigger.

But this friend is one of the more resilient, thoughtful, and positive people I’ve met in my life; she helped me to remember that my body is not just a size. And I suddenly felt as though I had permission to look at my body with love and acceptance as I thought about it’s capabilities.

This beautiful body created and carried and delivered a baby (that’s pretty bada**). My legs carried me for many miles throughout the pregnancy, despite sciatic nerve pain that brought me to tears some days; and now they help me rock.and rock and bounce.and bounce.and bounce.and bounce until our little one finally quiets and drifts off to sleep. My arms are strong enough to carry her from place to place and give her a bath almost every night- a favorite time of the day for both of us alike. My mouth allows me to make funny faces and noises that bring a smile to her sweet face…oh how I love those sweet little smiles.

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Geez, when I stop and really think about it… my body is pretty dang awesome. Sure, my clothes may never fit the same again… or at least not for quite awhile… but in the meantime it’s doing exactly what I need it to be doing. And I LOVE it for that, and I accept where it’s at- stretchy waistbands and all.

And now I turn to you, Dear Reader, and feel inclined to ask:

What do YOU love about YOUR body?

Keep Moving

I tried to get off the couch last weekend, only to realize that this baby inside of me is slowly robbing me of my ability to bend and move as easily… and sometimes, at all. Now I knew this day would come. I’ve had moments of struggling to bend over or get up off the ground… but not like this. This was laughable– like a turtle stuck on its back. I think my loving husband and dog enjoy the show every time I get up to use the bathroom or grab a snack.

When I sleep at night, it’s become a major feat to roll from one side to the other. Occasionally I will stop for a breather when I’m on my back. And to get up when I need to pee? Let’s just say I’m glad we have a firm mattress or we’d be in some SERIOUS trouble.

In the very beginning of my pregnancy, I was often so tired and winded that working out was something I dreaded and barely made it through, but I was determined to keep moving. I figured that by my 7th month I could possibly be couch or bed bound because this was my first pregnancy and you just never know about those things, so I made pact with myself to move while I could. I also mapped out strategies like looking into a swimming pass to help relieve the potential aches and pains I heard so much about.
But for the time being, I wanted to keep moving. Walking the dog. Making it to the gym most days of the week. Dusting off the ol’ walking videos in the basement. Zumba-ing my heart out. Whatever it took.

I’m proud and relieved to report that I’m at the point of “any day now” with my pregnancy and I am still able to take our dog for a “long walk” occasionally (FYI: “Long walks” are anywhere from 1.5-2 hours… “Walks” are around an hour… and “Barely Even” means that we walked 30 minutes or less) Granted there are days where she more or less walks me, but we get there. And back. And then collapse on the couch until it’s snack time- which cannot be missed.

I was thinking about it while being walked by the dog the other day… I cannot believe how fortunate I am to still be able to walk that long. Granted, it takes me a lot longer to walk a shorter distance thanks to constant potty breaks and occasional leg pain/numbness… but still. I’m moving.

And do you know why I think I’m still moving like this? Because in the beginning I kept moving. I stuck to my commitment. (I also LOVE double stuffed Oreos and peanut butter/peanut M&Ms, so I told myself I had to find some sort of “balance.”) No matter what the reason, I stuck with it for the past several months. And I truly believe it’s made all the difference.

Now… you may be reading this thinking, “Who cares?! I’m not pregnant. This is irrelevant.” But try to see the big picture. It’s been about making a commitment to physical activity or something to do with living a healthy life and sticking with it… and then seeing results. So maybe the scale isn’t where I’d like to see it at this point in my pregnancy, but I’m still moving. And I hope it will continue to be a reward with a faster labor and delivery. I guess we’ll (hopefully) find out soon!

What kind of commitment can you make today? It doesn’t have to be a big, huge, extravagant goal. You don’t have to walk forever like I do (for me, walking is thee BEST therapy). Start small and work your way up. I bet it will surprise you how amazing and capable your body is when you push a little bit at a time.

So what you do say?
Let’s make your pact…

Winter: You WIN.

I’m going nuts. (Like, even more crazy than the norm.)

This winter is breaking my will. Yesterday I did so many “laps” around my house trying to find something to occupy my time that I started crying- CRYING!! After a series of questions from my husband and tissues, we determined that I’m stir crazy and just tired of being so cold.all.the.time. (Seems like a logical reason to cry, amIright?!)

My story is not unique. I think pretty much all have nearly reached breaking points in what has turned out to be a long, polar-vortex-ridden winter. It’s March and we’re still waking up to ridiculous-below-zero temperatures.

My friends… as much as we hate to hear it, to think it, or to believe it… we must press on and hold on to hope that warmer weather is on its way. And not just a “temporary warm up,” I’m talking about lasting above zero temps. In the meantime, I think it’s important that we take care of ourselves and each other.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, and perhaps even more prominent this year. People suffering from SAD often feel tired, moody, or depressed for a length of time on an annual basis. It’s more common to see SAD around the winter months, but it may also be experienced in Spring/Summer. Treatments include light therapy, psychotherapy, and medications.

If you aren’t diagnosed with SAD, you might still feel the symptoms (and if you’re like me, you can add stir crazy and anxious to the list). This is the part where taking good care of yourself becomes really important:

  • Drink plenty of water to keep flushing out your body and avoid dehydration. Establish and then keep a consistent sleep schedule- even on the weekends (make sure it’s enough).
  • Fruits and vegetables are also an important part of staying healthy; vitamins and minerals from these foods will help you- inside and out, head to toe.
  • Get off the couch and MOVE. When it’s -50 outside, the last thing anyone wants to do is jump in the car and go workout, but trust me on this one: just get there. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to take a days off because of the cold, but I can tell you I’ve never regretted going. I’ve also “treated” myself to some new workout DVDs (dancing ones are my favorite, because we’re all dance stars in our living rooms) for those days where it is absolutely impossible to go anywhere (we’ve had our share of those as well).
  • Do what delights you. Find your creative outlet and go wild. I’ve gotten quite a few puzzles put together this winter, and I couldn’t be more excited every time I open up a new one. (And if puzzles don’t scream “go wild,” I’m not sure that anything does!)
  • Think positive. I know, this is one of thee HARDEST things to do when you live in a place where it hurts to breathe… but do your best. Surely there are GOOD things in your life that give you reason to be thankful and smile? If not- look harder.
  • Make sure you are keeping in contact with the people who make you happy. Find fun reasons to get together and laugh (gym dates? trying a new sport like cross country skiing using equipment from the Outpost? lunch dates? book club?). Talk about life, or the Olympics, or the latest award show, or whatever you enjoy. Even though I’m a self-proclaimed social butterfly, there have been long spurts of time in the past few months when I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone besides my husband and our dog- and even that was a struggle. In those moments, I’ve been thankful for the gentle nudges and lunch dates with friends and family- something that I could look forward to.

I’ve given you a few things to help you get through the final stretch of this crazy winter we’ve been having…

Now tell me: What would You add to the list?

 

I don’t do Change. Well, maybe.

I am a creature of habit, and a craver of routine.

I find ways to make peace and feel balanced in my day-to-day, and when it “works,” I stick to it.

I’ve heard over and over that it’s better to “mix it up” at the gym, but I was hesitant. I like my elliptical- it’s safe, it’s predictable, and I can watch all of my crappy reality TV shows while working out.

This winter brought a few “bubbles” in my routine- via blizzards, vacations, and boredom.

The first time the Wellness Center closed because of weather, my heart dropped. It was totally throwing off my routine and I had no clue what to do. (I realize that this sounds totally ridiculous now, but I’m not known for always being real “mellow.”) I decided to dust on my Zumba DVDs and get my groove on.

AND IT WAS FUN!

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I’ve made a commitment to staying healthy, and until it’s nice enough to hit the ski trails or go for a walk outdoors, I have to continue finding ways to keep my word.

As this seemingly-never-ending winter continues, my elliptical boredom is starting to set in. I decided to dust off another set of DVDs I had yet to even open after purchasing them over a year ago. Well, the new DVDs KICKED.MY.BUTT (and I like to think I’m in pretty good shape)! We’re talking dripping sweat in 1/2 the time of my machine routine. Not only that, but I was hurting the next morning- a great indication that I was effectively working out.

I started thinking about why it took me so long to open the package of those new workout DVDs. The answer rang loud and clear:

Change.

I struggle with it. It might be uncomfortable, or hard, or not as safe, or unsuccessful…

But seriously, who cares? If I fail, I will just have to find another way. And if you never try, you’ll never know.

So tell me, how are YOU going to shake up your healthy lifestyle routine this month?

Student-Athletes and Alcohol Use

Student-athletes may be under more pressure than just the average college student.  Student-athletes are expected to perform well in the classroom, and to perform for their coaches and teammates when it’s game time. Unfortunately, for some student-athletes, this stress is not always handled in the right way. Research shows that athletes tend to overestimate the amount of alcohol that their teammates and friends consume (Martens, Page, Mowry, Dmann, Taylor, & Cimini, 2006). It is proven that athletes often have larger groups of friends than non-athletes which may account for part of the misconception, but it also puts athletes at greater risk for binge drinking behavior (Nelson & Wechsler, 2000). College athletes report a higher rate of binge drinking (57%) than their non-athlete counterparts (48%) (Nelson & Wechsler, 2000).

Consuming 5 or more drinks in one night can affect the brain and body for up to 3 days after consumption, interfering with the athlete’s ability to learn new plays and strategies.  Athletes’ use of alcohol has no direct benefit to their body or training because the high calories in alcohol cannot be converted into energy for the body (Firth & Manzo, 2004). So when athletes of any kind are feeling stressed with school, practice, traveling, and competition, they shouldn’t turn to alcohol as a way to relax. It only will put you more behind.

Stressed by Finals?

If you’re like me with finals right around the corner your stress levels have gone up with studying for test, projects, or papers. DeStress Fest Poster - Dec 2013 (2)However there is a way to help you cope with these added stress levels, exercise.  Aerobic exercise is a great way to help lower your stress levels even if it is a thirty minute quick workout. Usually weekends are my days off from working out but I was starting to get stressed and couldn’t focus so I came to the UND Wellness Center and used the 30 minute circuit (located on the upper level). I felt so much better after that quick workout. I had my focus back and my stress levels I could feel were lowered. I finished my homework stress free and I could enjoy the night, while not having to focus on my homework instead.  stress2Head to the Physical Activity Booth during the FroZEN De-Stress Fest at the Memorial Union Loading Dock this Wednesday (Dec 11th, 2013 11am-2pm) to learn more about how Exercise helps improve brain function & take stress away during stressful times (like FINALS)!

-Kelsey Olson, FLEX Intern, UND Wellness Center

Gobble til you Wobble?

I ran across this saying while looking for a festive picture this morning and had to laugh. It wasn’t long ago that I lived by that motto throughout the holidays. From the time I woke up to the time my head hit the pillow, I thought about what bar or cookie, side dish, or “main event” I was about to indulge in. I ate until I was ready to burst, and usually had one more bite- JUST to be sure I wouldn’t feel hungry in 10 minutes.

Yikes.

I think about that mentality now, and I just think: Yikes.

Although our society often makes this time of year about the food, the expanding waistlines, the food comas, and the once-a-year delicacies we are about to indulge in… I challenge you to do a little reframing this year. For me, Holidays have become more about the togetherness, the fun traditions (like digging out my “Festive” Thanksgiving sweater vest), and love of others, rather than the food on my plate. Don’t get me wrong- I have my favorite foods that I enjoy as well, but now I try harder to concentrate on the conversation rather than the fork-to-mouth ratio.

One of my favorite things is now a bundled up brisk walk around the block with my aunts and cousins mid-afternoon. I know, it sounds crazy when you consider the temperature and quite often the wind, but it’s a great way to catch up with each other, get energized and burn off some of those extra almond bark pretzels I’ve enjoyed.

I want to hear from YOU!
Have you made any changes to the way you approach the Holiday season? How do you stay on track?

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WELL-O-WEEN

Now that Halloween has past, it has kicked off the fall and holiday season.  This is also known as Well-o-ween.  During well-o-ween we have to remember to stay healthy!

A few ways you can stay healthy during well-o-ween are listed below:

  • Maintain your exercise routine or start exercising.
  • Exercise can help beat the fall blues and it will keep your immune system strong.
  • Don’t forget to keep eating fruits and vegetables
    • With all the holidays and change in temperature sometimes we forget how important fruits and veggies really are.
    •  Kale, pumpkin, apples, sweet potatoes and pomegranates are a few things that are in season right now.
  • Flu seasonGet your flu shot; this will prevent you from being sick.
    • Get enough sleep and maintain stress
      • This helps fight off the flu.

 

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Resources: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/8-fall-tips-healthy-living?page=3  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roshini-raj-md/health-tips-for-fall_b_3896728.html

 

 

Specialty Group Exercise Classes

Have you ever wondered “Why should I pay for group exercise classes when there are free ones on the schedule?”

Believe me, I’ve wondered the same thing. – but then I realized one of the MAJOR benefits that come from these classes.  I’m the type of person who doesn’t like being surrounded by a TON of people when I exercise.  I usually workout at the Wellness during times when there are NOT a lot of people in the building – but I’ve always wanted a little extra guidance and motivation with my workouts without the many faces all trying to do the same things as me at the same time – like in group exercise classes.  Let’s face it – I can get stuck in a rut sometimes, even as a personal trainer.  So my choices for the extra guidance & motivation as well as the major change up to my routine was either hire a personal trainer for an hourly rate OR look into the Specialty Group Exercise program.  Since I was a college student at this point – I was like any other college student and strapped for cash I had to decide what was more budget friendly, but still getting the same results.  The answer?  Specialty Group Exercise.

So when I discovered Boxing which was offered as a Specialty Class (a few years ago) – I fell in love with the SMALL class size.  There were only 8 people in my class and I got some very valuable attention and training at about 1/12th the cost of a personal training package!  Strapped for cash

I had never pushed myself so hard in a workout in a long time.  Sure in the past I’ve always had my good workouts that left me sore the next day, but in this case someone was there holding me accountable making sure I wasn’t letting myself become complacent and take the “easy” route.  They encouraged me when I didn’t feel that great about myself,helped me meet my fitness goals and kept me moving!!

Now while Boxing isn’t here this semester (bummer I know!) – I know there are some great options to choose from – there is ViPR which is brand new and puts a fantastic Outdoor 4spin on strength training – taking you back to some very functional work in a new light.  Reformer Pilates (which I’ve taught in the past) that is a great CORE workout that helps with balance too – after teaching that class I always felt stronger than when I wasn’t teaching!  Rise & Climb is a completely NEW concept – this class will teach you how to become a better climber, become a stronger climber and will get you into the wall during the off hours (now ladies – who couldn’t use a little upper body strengthening?  Am I right??)  And lastly Beginner’s Mediation Yoga – which will help you center yourself spiritually & emotionally to be able to help find yourself & help keep you calm in the waning moments of the fall semester.  Registration is going on NOW for all of these so I encourage you to sign up too before all the spots are gone!  Head to the Wellness Center website NOW!!!

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I hope to see ALL of you trying something new!

High Five?!

Let’s face it;

sometimes you just.don’t.want.to.go.

You know- to the gym.

The thought of changing your clothes, tying your shoes, putting your hair in a ponytail, driving/walking to the building… it’s all too much. And sitting on your couch watching the latest episode of Real Housewives seems way easier and probably more fun.

I recently suffered a “don’t-want-to-go” day. The weather is changing, and it’s borderline perfect for outdoor activity/must go back indoors to work out. What’s a person to do?

When I get into a rut, I try a few different things to get unstuck:

  1. Change into gym clothes as soon as I get home. No in-between sweats. Straight for the real stuff.
  2. Pick a time you’re going to leave. And then STICK to it. No excuses, even if it means setting an alarm. Sometimes I’ll plan for a time that will get me there just in time to tune into a favorite show.
  3. Switch up your routine. Do you always run on the treadmill for 1/2 hour regardless? Maybe you need to add a little biking, weight lifting, or even some intervals to the mix. You can really go on a ledge and take a class (Zumba is one of my favorites) or join intramural team or even try your hand at the rock wall.
  4. Call a friend and make a gym date. If you cannot go at the same time, just let them know when you’re going to keep each other accountable.
  5. Get some new music and save it for the gym.
  6. Psych yourself up! Dance around the house as you are leaving for the gym. It’s time to CELEBRATE GOOD HEALTH!
  7. … and finally, remember how good you feel after you finish a workout. If you go with a friend, end with a high five. ESPECIALLY on the toughest days. Every bit of effort is something! (Full disclosure: on more than one instance I’ve been tempted to run around and high five people at the gym who look like they would like to be anywhere else but at the gym. So if I ever run up to you with my hand in the air, you know why.)

As the weather gets colder, it’ll get easier and easier to talk yourself out of a workout. Start your mental training TODAY by developing an exciting routine; and keep it fun, fresh, and full of HIGH FIVES!

high-5

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