What to Do When Shift Happens
Ugh! I was fully prepared to begin a 90 day Nutrition Challenge this past Monday, when I got a phone call that derailed my preparations and intentions. I got a call letting me know that my elderly mother is facing a health challenge and I have been called to go there right away to help care for her for an undetermined amount of time. Since that phone call last week I have been packing up my Denver Apartment so I can drive from Colorado to Coastal Virginia within the week. I’m really feeling what it is like to be a part of the sandwich generation right now. Earlier this year, I moved back to Denver to be near two of my children during a crisis. Now, as my mother’s only surviving relative, I’m heading to Virginia to support my mother through her health challenge. I am grateful that I have the flexibility to pick up and move right now, as I’ve been able to show up to support my loved ones this year. However, that doesn’t mean that these cross-country moves only months apart are not stressful and disruptive to my life and work flow. This is EXACTLY what I’ll be sharing with you during this post, “How to maintain, or get back on your program.”
I had planned and prepared to run this Nutrition Challenge from beautiful Colorado, sharing beautiful mountain pictures of Colorado as I hiked as part of my fitness regime. I had stocked my little temporary kitchenette with the supplies I would need to weigh and measure my foods, journal, share my recipes and daily meal plans. The intention was to demonstrate how easy it is to learn to eat in a way that you can get your body to work for you, achieve your goals and be the best, healthiest version of you. I had planned to share my personal goals and progress with you (and I will still do that). Hmmm … what to do?
The Only Thing You Can Count On is Change
There is only one thing you can count on—change. There WILL be changes and life challenges, and it is easy to get off track at these times. That has already happened to me. This was a motivator for me to lead a 90-day challenge. I have the opportunity to share what I know about weight loss, the program I used 10 years ago to get in the best shape (and health) of my life, and to stay in great shape, and to demonstrate how this program works and can easily fit into your lifestyle. Sometimes even wonderful changes can cause stress or throw you off track. Things like a vacation, holiday, a new marriage, a change in your location or job, or a new baby or member in your household. Then there can be more stressful changes such as injury, illness, losing someone through death or divorce for example. My challenge is that for the second time in a year, I am moving across the country to help with a family crisis—part of the dilemma of some of us who are in the sandwich generation. So I’m packing, moving, settling in, and taking the role of caregiver, all with less than two weeks. My food shopping, eating and fitness routines will all need to change with this move; not to mention I need to practice some self-care to take care of my own health and well-being while packing up, driving from Denver to Coastal Virginia, and then settling into a new, temporary situation to care for and assess the needs of my elderly mother.
When Life Shows Up
Life events may throw you off, and surely will from time to time. I’m going to show you in this program what to do at these times. It doesn’t matter if you fall off your program. It will happen to everyone from time to time. It is more important that you get back ON your program of healthy eating and lifestyle habits, and that you have the tools so you know how to do it. The faster you can get back on the better. However, if you fall off your nutrition program for a while like I have, then it is very empowering to know that you have the tools and the knowledge to turn your body and your health around, and achieve the healthiest version of you whenever you are ready to jump back on. I have spent the past 3 weeks planning, preparing and am ready to implement the program, but I’m going to take my own advice … and postpone the beginning of the full on program where I plan to share my own program, tips, recipes and exercise. Instead, my posts will be about how to practice self-care and make the healthiest choices that I can during a time of some pretty intense stress and changes. I wonder, how many of you have spent an extended period of time caring for an elderly relative? I have done it before, and just as my physician friend warned me, it isn’t an easy job.
During times of Stress
During times of stress or challenge, your goal should be to maintain your current weight, health and fitness. It is not the time to push forward to the next level. If you are able to maintain during these times, consider it a “win”. It is a time for doing the best you can, and to make the best choices you can in your current situation. It is not the time begin a new program, which could actually add to your stress. Additionally, when under stress, your body actually produces a hormone (cortisol) that makes it more difficult to lose fat. I didn’t want to let anyone down because I’d promised to start a 90-Day Challenge this past Monday, but after reflecting on it, I realized in order to follow my own advice and to give participants the best experience, I need to do something different. I realized this it is NOT the time for me to be an example of how to do the program at 100% or move myself to the next level (following my own advice). What I CAN do is share with you my personal challenges, how I will make the best choices I can under some challenging situations. I’m looking forward to getting settled so I CAN focus and make my health my priority.
Here’s What I Can Do
I’ve committed to myself that I am going to do the very best I can to take care of myself and my body during this stressful time. I am totally ready to be on a consistent health/fitness program and make it my priority. I thought this was the perfect time, and I am tired of living in my “goddess clothes” which are very flowing and forgiving along with my yoga pants. I want to fit back into my size 4 jeans. However, while packing up an apartment and preparing for a cross country move, two very long days of travel, then unpacking and settling, along with knowing that I need to jump right in to help my mother, and giving myself a few days to settle and assess my situation before I can be the example of the lifestyle habits necessary to lose weight. There will be so many situations and circumstances that are not really in my control. Breathe in and breathe out —it will be okay.
Here Are My Challenges
Here are my challenges and what I’m going to do about them.
I’m Packing up my Denver Apartment and getting ready to haul myself, my car and all that I had in Colorado across the country!
Half of my cooking tools and utensils are being shipped to Virginia, and the rest of them are already packed. So, right now, cooking and being in control of exactly what and when I eat is a challenge. Also, I’m doing my best to conserve, and to use whatgroceries I have here. Last night, I did have a wonderful delicious and healthy meal. I love fish, and this meal was prepared with cod and dover sole that I had in the freezer and needed to use. white fish I had in the freezer and needed to use, Cod & Dover Sole (my protein), Spinach (a little bit of carbohydrates) and slivered almonds (fat). You can click here to get the recipe: Recipe for Dover Sole and Spinach I added about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rice to my plate, and I had a delicious and nutritious meal with the right ratios of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Lucile’s Creole Seasoning that I used in this recipe comes from a Lucile’s Restaurant which has several locations in the Denver Area. I was delighted to find that I can purchase their seasonings online from their website at Luciles.com.
Responses to Stress
I’m Paying Attention to my Body’s Responses to Stress … and they are Very Real. This past week has given me a reminder that I am not invincible and I need to take care of myself!
Yesterday I took a “down day”. During some periods in my life, when I’ve been under stress my blood pressure will escalate and this has been one of those times. I have occasionally experienced “panic attacks”, although I hadn’t had one since I was a teenager until recent years. My blood pressure has been high over the past week, and I was taking measures to de-compress, destress, and get it back to normal … under 120/80. I’ve been monitoring my blood pressure several times each day. I’ve spent some time focusing on relaxing with meditation and yoga, I added magnesium supplements to may daily regimen. My efforts and attention to this have paid off – this morning my blood pressure was down to 117/78. NOTE: If you know or suspect your blood pressure is high, go to your doctor and discuss it with him. My choice of “handling this on my own” wasn’t ideal, and could have been dangerous. However, I know my body and believed I could take some positive steps to get my blood pressure back to normal. I was lucky—it is working. Still, I will keep monitoring how I’m doing with the goal of my blood pressure once again being under 120/80 regardless of the situation. The lesson here is that you CAN take measures to improve your health. Chronic Stress is the #1 factor in many major health issues. Knowing how to manage stress is so important. None of us are immune to stress, how we handle that stress is another matter.
Healthy Eating On the Road
Well … I could say, “what the heck—it’s only 2 days”, and eat whatever is available while I’m traveling. However, I’ve decided I am not going to do that. I’m packing and taking some healthy meals with me, right off of my nutrition plan. Not only will this save me money not eating in restaurants, but I know my energy level will be much better eating the right size healthy meals as much as possible. I already realize that I will miss at least two days of exercise, and I won’t be drinking the ideal amount of water. I need to pack a 25 hours of driving time into about 36 hours, so I won’t be stopping much.
I’m planning on packing some meals in a jar to go in my cooler. Here’s What I’ll be packing:
- Yogurt (or Cottage Cheese) fruit Parfait
- Italian Meat & Marinara Stew – See below for how I made this with what I had on hand.
- Tropical Mango Chicken Salad from Trader Joe’s
- Turkey/Cheese Roll-ups
These recipes are all about being “simple, fast & easy” not to mention delicious and made of the best quality, real foods (as opposed toprocessed foods) that I have available. I’ve already packed two containers, each with a cup of 2% Daisy Cottage Cheese (protein), 2/3 cup frozen mixed berries (carbohydrate), and about 9 whole raw almonds (fat). Before I leave I’m making another recipe from things I found in the freezer. I’ll call it an Italian Stew, with 1 pound of extra lean ground beef, a frozen package of Harvest Hodge Podge for vegetables, and a jar of organic marinara sauce, all from Trader Joe’s. I’ll spice that up with some garlic and maybe add a little Lucile’s Creole Seasoning. I’ll check the recipe and if I need a few more carbs I may add 1/2 to 1 cup of cooked brown rice to the recipe. This will make 4 servings. I’ll put them in containers, freeze two to be eaten after I arrive at my destination and I’ll take two unfrozen for the road. The frozen containers will help keep the unfrozen food cold during my trip, too!
Last, I recently discovered the Tropical Mango Salad at Trader Joe’s and I have a bag in my fridge. It is a complete salad in a bag and it is delicious! I’m going to add about 7 ounces of cooked, chopped chicken breast to that salad mixture and carry it in a container on the road.
So for now … my cooler is packed, and I’ll be hitting the road in a couple of hours.