Posted by: Brenda | March 30, 2012

Day 26: Getting Ready to Go Home

I can’t believe it’s been a whole month already. I’m excited to be going home tomorrow morning, but at the same time I am scared. I won’t be in the “bubble” anymore. I am so thankful that I have a supportive family who are all willing to support me on my path to being healthy.

Our first morning class today was on overcoming exercise obstacles. We covered all the excuses that we normally would give (such as, I’m too tired, I can’t keep up, TV, etc.). We covered how you can do strength training on the sofa (you don’t need to look at your arms to do bicep curls). We also went back over things to do for negative self-talk. The first step was to detach from the situation and re-focus on your goal (whether to lose weight, or just be healthier).

The 2nd step we covered was the “4 second rule” which means that every 4 seconds, readjust your body as if a prophet is about to speak. A good example is if someone asks “So how much weight did you lose?” and you answer with “Well, I learned it’s not about the weight, it’s about how I feel about myself in my body.” If the person repeats the question, with something like: “But I thought you went to lose weight?” you can respond with something like: “What part of me being comfortable in my body did you not understand or like?” Guaranteed the person asking is going to be extremely uncomfortable having the tables turned.

Finally we were instructed to write a letter to ourselves with all the “nuggets” we’ve picked up while here and put it into a sealed envelope. On the outside of the envelope, we wrote “For Emergency Use Only” and were told to put it someplace we can find it when we get home. The letter is to help us if for some reason we just don’t feel like exercising. We were taught that if that situation arises where we don’t want to exercise, we are to ask ourselves 3 questions:

  • Am I too stressed? – If yes, than exercise
  • Am I sick? – If yes, than rest and recuperate
  • Am I just bored with my fitness routine? – If yes, than change it up

If we are unable to answer these questions, than we let it go. If the same thing happens a 2nd day, we let it go. However, if it happens a 3rd day, we are to read our letter and than walk as fast as we can for 10 minutes. After that 10 minutes, we can ask ourselves whether we want to continue with the exercise. One good thing to remember, is you do not have to go to a gym to get strength, cardio or flexibility training into your life. You can do strength training while watching TV, you can go for a cardio walk outside and you can stretch in between.

Posted by: Brenda | March 28, 2012

Day 24: Nurturing the Whole Self

The one lecture we attended today was on nurturing our whole self. We went over ways to nurture our body, mind, heart and spirit. I tried to leave out ones that I covered in a previous post. So without further ado, here is the list of additional things you can do to nurture yourself:


  • Sleep
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Take a bath
  • Accupuncture
  • Deep Breathing



  • Therapy
  • Have a cup of tea
  • Visualization
  • Decrease judgment
  • Self-compassion

Spiritual/Creative Self

  • Writing
  • Photography

We also went over several stress reducers. Things like preparing the night before; prepping your lunch and snacks for the next day, setting out your clothes and anything else you might need at hand first thing in the morning. The best stress reducer we went over was not shopping for clothes with critical teens or skinny friends.

Posted by: Brenda | March 27, 2012

Day 23: Focus on the Self

The first lecture of the day was on strategies for the minute (mi-noot) minute (min-ute). Several of the strategies we’d covered in previous lectures, such as putting energy into relationships that matter to fill you up. We also went over how if you’re always waiting for the “change,” it’s always in the future (i.e. When I lose 10 pounds…). We covered acknowledging our own needs and not always putting everyone and everything else first. The one thing we covered that was new, was to respond instead of react. Reaction is mindless, familiar and knee-jerking. Responding is a moment-to-moment choice that allows you to create space, pause and allows you to give yourself permission to take your time.

The second lecture I attended today was on body positivity and messages from the past. The first thing we covered is how we as women (and a society) equate thinness with being healthy, even though that’s not always the case. One way I learned to move towards body neutrality when criticizing my body is to ask myself “What has my body done for me today?” The answer can be as simple as getting out of bed, or reaching the top shelf in the grocery store. We also went over how there is always going to be someone ahead of us on the path, and always someone behind us. Finally, we did an exercise to describe our bodies at various stages of our lives, events/experiences and the impact they have had on our current thinking/behaviors.

Our final class of the day was on eating in restaurants and how to create balanced meals while dining out. We went over 3 ways that we can change our current patterns:

  1. Cooking frequency – even if it’s only 1 night a week
  2. Quantity – cut the entrée dish in half and take the 2nd half home for another meal
  3. Balance – Add more vegetables or removing a starch

One other thing we discussed was having a “closure” habit to let your brain know your done. Something such as having a piece of gum, brushing your teeth when you get home or even having a couple of individually wrapped chocolates (like Hershey’s Kisses or Lindt truffles). We also learned that if we really want a specific dessert, we can frame our meal around it by just adding protein and vegetables (like a chicken salad).

Posted by: Brenda | March 26, 2012

Day 22: Upper Body and Self Defense

Today seems to be all about exercise for us. Right after breakfast we had an upper body strength workout and all I can say is doing lateral raises after having worked out your triceps and biceps is hard! I do like the fact that we get a break between classes, so we’re not killing ourselves.

This afternoon we had a class on women’s self-defense and were taught that, if going for a walk, to leave a note with where we’re going and when we’ll be back. We were also taught that it’s a good idea to be friendly with your neighbors or a familiar face at the local convenience store, so you can use those as “safe” zones. After the lecture portion, we were taught how to break several holds an attacker could use. The main concept drilled into our heads, though, was “distract and escape.” I’ll definitely be taking this knowledge home with me.

Posted by: Brenda | March 24, 2012

Day 20: Road Trip and a Movie

This morning right after breakfast, one of the ladies and I headed to Windsor, VT for a nice little morning trip. We visited Simon Pearce and got to watch the glass blowers at work. You have to admire the people that take years to learn the skill and even then, never really perfect it. I can’t wait to show my husband the beautiful tealight candle holder I bought! I will add a photo of it to this post, once I’m home next week.

Tonight, I’m going with 4 other women to see The Hunger Games and I can’t wait. I haven’t been to the movies in so long. We’re going to have dinner out so we can get to the movie theater early. I’m hoping we can all sit together (hence why we’re going early). I know it’s going to be late when we finally get back tonight, so tomorrow we’re all going to be tired.

Posted by: Brenda | March 23, 2012

Day 19: Exercise Plateaus and a Cookie Jar

This morning we had a really informative class on how to avoid exercise plateaus. We went over how high weight and low reps will build size and strength (think body builders) and low weight with high reps will build shape and strength (think your average person). I also found out that Pilates is considered strength training (I always thought is was felxibility). We learned that if you’re using a cardio machine (like an elliptical or treadmill) that interval training is your best bet. An example of a treadmill interval would be (total time: 29-32 mins):

  1. Walk 4-7 mins at 2.7 mph and a 1% incline
  2. Stretch
  3. Walk 5 mins at 2.9 mph and a 2% incline
  4. Walk 5 mins at 3.1 mph and a 0% incline
  5. Walk 5 mins at 3.0 mph and a 1% incline
  6. Walk 5 mins at 2.8 mph and a 3% incline
  7. Walk 5 mins at 3.2 mph and a 0% incline

A good rule of thumb if you want to design you’re own interval is if you’re increasing the speed, decrease the incline and vice versa. If there’s no variety you end up with the “training effect.” In other words, you’re stuck at a plateau.

We had a class this afternoon on creating a “cookie jar” (not a real one). We took a look at different emotions that might drive us to eating and came up with alternatives for those particular emotions that effect us the most. For example, some of the alternatives I listed for boredom are cross-stitch, write for 10 minutes, and plan a weekend day trip. I color-coded my little strips of paper and wrote down a key, so I don’t forget what color goes to what emotion. I have orange for loneliness, white for overwhelmed, yellow for boredom, etc. I think my cookie jar is going to be a huge help to me once I get home.

Posted by: Brenda | March 22, 2012

Day 18: Eating Scary Foods

So this morning I took part in the lower body conditioning class (strength training) and then went for a 30 minute walk. I’m wishing I had tried harder to avoid the bigger hills around here because my leg is now swollen and hurting (not surprising). However, at least I got out to do something today and wasn’t completely lazy.

After lunch we had a class on eating scary foods (like chocolate covered pretzels). We learned that eating a high fat breakfast can increase cravings for high fat foods later in the day. We were also taught the 4 major thinking errors:

  • self-fulfilling prophecy (“I can’t eat brownies in moderation”)
  • all or nothing (“I’m not going to eat any birthday cake” or “I’m just going to eat the whole thing”)
  • last chance (“I better eat these peanut butter cups now because I’m not going to have them in the house after today”)
  • learned helplessness (“I can’t stop myself”)

We also reviewed the 3 principles for Mindful Eating:

  1. Wait for hunger (Am I hungry now?) – Consider the result based on your response
  2. Eat what you want, but focus on the 3 T’s (taste, texture and temperature) – if you can’t figure out what you really want, you may not be hungry
  3. Focus (on short-term and long-term)
Posted by: Brenda | March 21, 2012

Day 17: Healthy Eating

After breakfast we had a class titled ‘Redefining Healthy Eating’ and we got tons of great information on nutrition and healthy eating. I learned that saturated fats and trans fats increase cholesterol and trans fats also feed into insulin resistance. We were also told that even if a product is labeled as “Trans Fat Free” it can still have less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving, so reading labels is important. Look for words like: partially hydrogenated, margarine and shortening. If you see those words in the ingredient list, than the food still has trans fats (and though you might get a negligible amount in one serving, just think about how much you could potentially be getting once you finish the box or bag).

We also went back over the EWG‘s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. The Dirty Dozen are fruits and veggies that contain the highest amounts of pesticides or other chemicals. You should try to buy organic or local as much as possible. The Clean 15 are the least contaminated. If you have farmer’s markets in your area, those would be a great place to start!

Another thing we learned about today is Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3’s can lower inflammation in the body and help reduce cardiovascular disease, diabetes, insulin resistance and more. If you don’t like fish, Omega 3’s can also be found in Pumpkin seeds (1/4 c. is about a serving), Flax seed (1 Tbsp. ground), hemp and chia seeds (think chia pets). I also didn’t know that nuts and seeds can help lower your blood pressure.

As for Omega 6 fatty acids, they encourage inflammation in the body and can be found in things like corn oil, soybean oil and vegetable oil. They are also in safflower and sesame oil, but since we generally ingest both in such small quantities it doesn’t really make a big difference in our bodies. Good oils to use in your cooking are olive, peanut and canola (watch out on this one though, as it can be genetically modified).

We also learned about plastic leaching into foods that are hot, acidic or high fat (like oils). It’s a good idea to look into ways to reduce plastic contact with your foods (like buying oils in glass containers, or swapping them into a ceramic/glass bottle when you get it home). Other ways to reduce plastic contact with food is to use parchment paper when putting food into plastic bags. Just make sure to label the bag clearly!

Posted by: Brenda | March 20, 2012

Day 16: Connecting to Your Heart

Today was less about exercise and more about how we see ourselves. Our first lecture was on connecting with your heart. We learned that connecting to your heart is really just showing kindness to yourself; something I almost never do. We were given several journal-writing suggestions:

  1. One line journal (only writing one sentence)
  2. Write questions in your dominant hand and answer in your non-dominant hand (doesn’t work for those that are ambidextrous)
  3. Drawing/Doodling
  4. Mind Mapping (creating a spider web of things about you: work, movement/exercise, things to recharge your battery, etc.)

After lunch, we had a class on how we see ourselves and our bodies. I took several things away from this class. Number one is “change the way you see, not the way you look,” meaning you can’t change feelings, but you can change how you think about yourself. One other resounding message that has been repeated frequently while I’ve been here is that no food is “bad” or “off-limits,” it’s what you say to yourself afterwards. I think 10+ years of the diet mentality that foods are “good” and “bad” is going to be hard to break.

Posted by: Brenda | March 19, 2012

Day 15: Exercise and Fitness

The head cold is still trying to hold on in my sinuses, so breathing while doing cardio is tricky, but I’m glad I can finally join back into the movement classes. I’ve found myself really stiff over the last few days from lack of moving. I was glad to get to the upper body strength class this morning.

This afternoon we had a lecture on the muscles and how they work. We also went back over how to stretch a muscle after you’ve worked it. It was a good refresher class. This afternoon was our aquatics class (which I finally got to participate in). It was so much easier to work out in the pool, and I will definitely keep it up once the pool in our apartment complex is open for the summer.

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