Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to School - Sleep, Eating & Physical Activities

For many of us whose children attend school outside of the home (public or private) this is a time of year when we are rushing to get school supplies, school clothes & shoes, the new back pack and that really cool pencil pouch.  OK maybe not rushing, some people actually plan ahead and all this done early in the summer.  I'm not one of those people, I confess.  Stress and pressure are my friends.
While it is important to prepare all the material stuff needed, apparently, on the first day of school, we also have to focus on the child and making sure they are prepared mentally and physically.  
I have to digress here and say something about the school suppliesReally? She's in third grade, she needs all that paper to write on?  She better be working on a dissertation or some long physics problem to be using so much paper in one school year.  Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm shopping for others as well.  Don't get me wrong, that's cool, I don't mind donating school supplies, I just wish I was given the option and not feel pressured to buy and send in a 24 pack of pencils, a dozen glue sticks, six composition notebooks, a two inch binder and 2 packs of loose leaf paper for my 3rd grade kid. Anyway, it seems I took off in a new direction for a moment.  
But as a parent we need to place to focus back on the child's health.  It is extremely important to discuss nutrition, sleep (seems teens need to stay up late and get up late which doesn't fit in with their current school schedule-oh shucks!), physical activity AND personal hygiene.  I don't mean their daily bath and brushing their teeth - that's a given or it should be anyway.  I mean the hand washing before eating, not drinking from other people's drinks and washing those grubby hands as soon as they walk in the door.  Kids touch everything.  Ugh!
About nutrition.  Boy in my house new habits have to be established.  Not because they eat poorly, I think in general my kids eat pretty healthy.  I don't really buy junk food.  I mean we usually have chips and salsa, crackers to eat with cheese or in soup and our fantastic friends might bring over their most delicious brownies.  But none of these things are eaten in excess so I don't worry about it.  The new habit is getting up at the crack of dawn and eating a healthy breakfast before 6:30 in the morning.  
Apple pb tower 
Photo by TowerGirl
Some ideas we like to share - 
Hot breakfast - oatmeal, cream of wheat, pancakes and waffles, eggs and toast.
Cold Breakfast - High fiber, whole grain cereal with low fat or no fat milk, yogurt with granola, fruit & yogurt, mini bagel with peanut butter, hard boiled egg
After school snacks - apple with peanut butter, cheese stick and green apples, hummus and vegetables, fruit or fruit smoothie
The biggest concern, however, might be lunch time.  Most or many kids bring lunch to school, some buy the school lunch and that's fine if they make the right choice. I was able to make them pack lunches until the first two hit high school years then it was just embarrassing to carry around a lunch bag. Well forgive me, mam/sir for wanting you to eat a good meal.  Appearances mean a lot more I guess. However, that's only one meal in the day and although they may not have too many "good" choices to make, they need to know how and why to choose healthier options.
Listen here, this is important stuff --
With the rate of childhood obesity growing in the United States, it is up to us parents to help kids make better choices in any situation, stay active and live a healthier lifestyle.  You can't expect one child to be on a diet while everyone else enjoys the goodies.  It's not happening and it's not fair to the child to be singled out.  So what do you do?
You (the entire family) should adopt new healthy eating habits because everyone should be eating healthy.  You limit sedentary time and go do something fun and active TOGETHER.  You encourage everyone to live healthier.  Yes, that includes you - the one that makes the meals, serves the meals and buys the groceries.
That's my rant on nutrition for now because I can go on for ever.  I hate to sound like we live this perfect life, like we never eat junk food or indulge in a most delicious ice cream or brownie cake.  Oh we do. Trust me on that.  We enjoy eating the food we like, but moderation must be taught and exercised, and as the parent I also encourage (enforce) portion control.  There's a time and place for everything.
So now the kids are going back to school, we're done shopping for supplies they probably wont ever use and clothes they'll outgrow by the fall and the shoes they'll wear out before Christmas.  Let's go shopping for the food they WILL consume at home and put your focus on those meals.  If they eat at school for lunch, again, it's one meal of many.  Think about it, the more you enforce healthy eating at home, the more likely they are to choose healthier meals at school.  But if they don't, again, one of many meals in the day.  
Stay Well

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wellness on Vacation or After

Let me be completely honest here... it is hard getting back to the gym after a vacation! Plain and simple truth.  Ideally we want to exercise on vacation.  We even look up nearby facilities, attempt to use nature as form of exercise and even plan to eat well. We know we don't work nearly as hard at any of this while we're vacationing... ok maybe it's just me, but if you're with me and agree, tell me about it.

In February of 2010, after moving to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba I started working at the gym teaching five classes a week.  Spinning(r) and one I named "TBC" or Total Body Conditioning.  Later my regulars called it "Terie's Boot Camp," how appropriate.  The classes became intense, sometimes, insanely difficult but each time we knew we were getting stronger, faster and our endurance had more than doubled from when we started.  Then school let out and everyone started planning vacations "off island."  As we planned we discussed all the things we were going to eat because we don't have those available here and each time we followed that with "I will exercise so I don't lose all that I've accomplished." Good intentions. Did you follow through? Did you really work as hard and eat as healthy as you planned?

I walked on the wet sand and felt it the next day, on two separate occasions we did a mini beach bootcamp. It was fun but not nearly as hard as if I was leading a class.  We rode tandem bikes on the boardwalk for an hour.  OK that was a challenge, it was a workout.  Other than that I battled the waves once or twice and the rest of the time we spent walking in the mall, on the boardwalk, on the beach or to and from the beach, etc.  Seeing the family was awesome, seeing Josh, our first born now in college was amazing. Our vacation was truly great and I loved seeing my friends as well.  With all the people seeing that was going on there seem to be a lot of food involved and mostly food I don't see on a regular basis or better yet, food I don't have to prepare--yeepee!!

So I was active but no real TBC or Spin workout to speak of and more food than usual....ahem and more wine, which translates into some endurance and strength loss.  Five months to trim the fat, get faster, go further and in 10 days you feel like you're starting all over again...ugh, that stinks!!

I decided to jump into my classes the day after we arrived on island.  Yes I thought I was crazy too, but there's no point in postponing the inevitable.  If I wasn't teaching I would still be in that class because I need to get back what I lost.  Spinning(r) was a little difficult, TBC was hard but I made it through and now I know exactly where I am and what I need to do to make improvements.  I am also teaching two additional classes in the evenings for the next two weeks so that should really give me a boost or knock me down for good :-)

We're back to eating healthy meals, drinking lots of water, getting plenty of sleep/rest, and of course, getting in shape with all our physical activities.  Can't wait to finish my Dive certification this weekend and hopefully, going Kayaking early Sunday morning.

There's a moral to this story, I promise.  When you go on vacation plan to eat well and get in some exercise because if you don't plan chances are you will do absolutely nothing and eating healthy will go right out the window, you know, until after vacation. So plan and if you do at least half of that then you're in better shape than not doing anything at all.  Planning establishes accountability and that alone will motivate you to try harder to move and eat healthier while you're away.  After the vacation jump in feet first. Get back in the routine, get back in the gym and the healthy lifestyle you had before.  Don't let the tired days that follow a vacation keep you from what you already know works.

I'm glad to be back and excited to see my hard work deliver the same amazing results!!

Stay Well,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Recovery Mode

Photo credit: on vacation

For the last few months I have been more active then I have ever been in my entire life, except maybe when I first joined the Marine Corps 20+ years ago. My focus has been more on what I can do to give the people in my class a good workout, balancing what we do from one day to the next and from week to week to ensure that we work every muscle and to include every aspect of fitness into every class, including flexibility, endurance, strength, etc.

While focusing on what to give them I have been giving myself that and then some.  I am in the process of getting my Dive certification, I spend a lot of time in the pool or the ocean with the kids and I've been Kayaking at least once a week.  There there are the walks/runs with the dog and playing soccer.  WOW.  Reading all this seems overwhelming but I have truly enjoyed everything I've been doing.

Until the day before my departure to the states-- on VACATION -- I was in high workout mode.  Teaching 7 classes a week, swimming, diving, running, walking and biking with the kids. It's been one heck of a ride.  One would think I was already on vacation with all the activities going on in our lives.  But no, that's just everyday life.  I kind of like the idea of feeling like I'm on vacation when I'm just living life one day at a time, sort of like feeling like my job is not really work because I'm having fun.

So this week I have been on super recovery mode and this came at a perfect time.  I usually plan to continue my workout routines when I'm on vacation but I chose this week to not exercise at all.  In fact the only exercise consisted of cooking, eating, drinking, and chasing down my toddler.  Not overdoing it and definitely keeping it as healthy as one can but enjoying every bit of every day.  Just before leaving I was experiencing a pain in my left forearm, not sure what it is or was because while resting the pain has gone away.  Same thing with my right and left knees.  Over training? Possibly. I need to re-evaluate what I'm doing and when so that I can avoid these issues.

I strongly recommend recovery time for everyone, not only because it's good for your body and mind, but also a good way to reassess the current routine and make adjustments that will improve ones physique without injury.

Everyone, go exercise, eat well and recover!

Stay Well,