Posts for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Stress Management Exercise

By Linda Hogg, RD, LN, and Julie Walker, Take Control Staff

Stress is one of the biggest roadblocks that exists when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. It often keeps us from getting to what really matters in life, our health and wellness. We can try to exercise and eat right, but when we get overwhelmed with stress, we get distracted and tend to abandon any plans to put our energy into what truly matters: day-to-day action steps toward health and living well.

Stress roadblocks needs to be addressed head on. Otherwise, stress becomes common-place, never budging out of the way. Stress builds slowly, and since it creeps up on us, we may not see it building until it’s overwhelming. Before your stress builds so high that you’re paralyzed, use the following exercise to stay ahead of it.

Early in the morning, or by mid-day, make a quick list of today’s stressors. Divide a piece of paper into two columns: the first column is for things you have control over. The second column is for things you do not have control over. As you brainstorm today’s tasks, keep the process simple and quick. Examples of things you have control over include doing a chore, paying a bill, making an appointment – stressors where you can identify clear action steps, or that have simple solutions.

In the right-hand column, write down the things that you don’t have control over – only time could solve them, or possibly a decision or action by another person. The decision or action needed to make these go away would not be in your control. The uncontrollable stressors may consume your thoughts. They may even keep you up at night, when in fact, they need to be put to rest so you can focus on what’s controllable. If the list of uncontrollable stressors is overwhelming, take a moment to tear off that side of your paper, tear it up, and throw it away. Let it go for the day. Turn your focus to what can be wrapped up.

Ultimately, you need time to focus on what is controllable, and what actions steps you can take to chip away at those stressors. The practice of writing down your stressors makes them, well, less stressful. Often the list is shorter or more manageable than you imagine. If the list is larger than you imagined, take a moment to prioritize it. If you’ve over-committed your time for the day or the week, look for things you can reschedule or cancel.

When you take a few minutes to be pro-active with your stressors, you free yourself emotionally to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle habits. Eating healthy and exercising are two of the best ways to reduce stress. To get there, give this exercise a try. Take a moment each morning to inventory your stressors, and remove the roadblocks which build up if left unaddressed. From there, you can move on with what plans you have to make you more healthy!

 

Reap the Rewards

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Ever find yourself saying, “I know it wasn’t good for me, but I ate it because I wanted to reward myself”? Sometimes we get so focused on achieving our daily goals, we forget to stop and celebrate in a way that actually supports the goals and healthy lifestyle we’re designing for ourselves.

Rewards are something we give ourselves to celebrate achievements, but also ways we maintain our motivation to continue our pursuit and practice of living healthy. When you reach a milestone, it’s important to reward yourself and celebrate your achievement, especially since milestones are typically set a few months out and require consistent effort to achieve. Just knowing that there’s a tangible reward awaiting can help you reach your goal!

The same as it is with setting goals, setting rewards should be unique to you and something you are willing to work for to receive. Be specific about the reward and make it something you really want.

Consider these suggestions for your next reward:

  • Buy the new workout jacket, running shoes, workout pants, or heart rate monitor that you’ve been eyeing
  • Get a massage
  • Buy a personal training session or a specialty exercise class that you’ve been wanting to attend
  • Plan a vacation or weekend getaway
  • Schedule a new adventure, like zip-lining or white-water rafting
  • Go to the movies
  • Splurge on the good seats to a concert performance
  • Get a manicure and/or pedicure
  • But a great book, album, or movie that you’ve wanted
  • Schedule a day off to relax and enjoy a good book or watch your favorite movie or TV show
  • Purchase dumbbells, a medicine ball, or resistance bands
  • Buy new tool(s) or supplies for your favorite hobby

Remember, every reward should be something you’re willing to work for; and should support the goals you achieve. Be creative – set a reward that is unique, exciting and motivating to you!

IN CONTROL – Person of the Month: Meriem H.

By Kat Van Fossen, Take Control Health Coach

I chose Meriem as our Person of the Month because of her positivity! Her outlook is not only the glass is half full, but she also figured out how to use the other half. Meriam showed bravery every step of the way – she was not afraid or intimidated to either lose weight or to stop smoking.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? I was tired of being overweight, and tired of struggling to lose it by myself.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health?  I wanted to get healthier for both my kids and for myself. I was always on the go, so I had no idea how to fit exercise or cooking into my lifestyle. I need someone to give me some guidance on how to fit everything into my life.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? Not only did I need to lose weight, but I was smoking to keep from gaining more weight. Smoking was my biggest obstacle, because I was so afraid that if I quit smoking I would gain weight. Enrolling in Take Control gave me the tools to take on both problems at once. I was able to quit smoking and at the same time work on losing weight. The combination of being able to do that really set things in motion.

What did you do to stay motivated? Change was really hard because I had such a routine in place. But once I started paying attention to what I was doing, I was able to bring a newfound intention and focus to my habits. That awareness allowed me to truly “TAKE CONTROL” and break the robotic-type of behavior and routine I had been following. Once I put the intention in motion, things got so much easier and easier. Once things got easier, the motivation really increased. Taking the time to stop and look at my habits, and choosing to tweak them for the better really empowered me.

What have you gained through this process? I gained a lot more confidence in myself, and the drive to do better, not only for myself, but also for my family.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? My attitude has improved, my happiness has increased, and my stress level has decreased.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? I would say try it! I was worried at first, but my health coach Kat eased that worry quickly. It didn’t matter if I had a good month or a bad month, she was positive and helped me gain confidence. Many weight loss programs want you to spend money for food, videos, or products. Take Control encourages you to work with what you have, and slowly add the changes into your life. But the key aspect was that you are a making the decisions throughout the process, not just doing what they say, you are in involved the whole way.

Results:

  • Stopped smoking!
  • Lost 33 pounds
  • Gained confidence
  • Improved attitude
  • Decreased stress
  • Gained mindfulness
  • Gained happiness

26 Tangible Practices for Self-Care and Self-Love

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

This year, it seems as though I keep hearing the term “self-care” everywhere. “What are you doing for self-care?” I continue to be asked. What is self-care, why do I keep hearing about it, and why is it all that important anyway? Well, until recently, I hadn’t really dug into what the term really meant. On the surface I knew it meant daily practices that gave me an opportunity to treat myself well each day. But the term is really about a deep connection, and genuine respect, for yourself; and the tangible art of expressing kindness to yourself.

Self-love is not just a concept in our head but unfortunately, we’ve been taught for a long time that if we’re not constantly working hard or taking care of others, we’re being selfish. What we’re not taught, is that taking care of yourself is actually the only way we can truly care for, or give to others. If you don’t work on yourself, if you don’t take time to express love for yourself, you don’t feed your soul, and you can’t authentically show up and be loving to anyone else.

Self-acceptance, self-esteem, and self-compassion can get us through painful times in our lives, help us to bounce back from failure, teach us to love others better, and help us reach our goals. For many of us, however, self-love isn’t a given. We’re not all taught the deeply valuable art of holding ourselves with kindness, and truly treating ourselves well.

Changing our thoughts or our emotions by simply deciding to do so can be challenging, but there are ways to accomplish this through the art of choosing physical actions that support different thoughts. When self-destructive thoughts start shouting in your head, you can decide to do something — to take an action of kindness toward yourself, and behave as if you love yourself unconditionally. Doing so sends messages to the subconscious mind that you actually do love yourself, and deserve the kindness you’re experiencing.

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay

As we slowly learn how to love ourselves better, we start to expect others to treat us with kindness as well. We start to realize that of course we love ourselves. Of course we deserve love.

So how do we live in self-love? Just like anything else: we practice.

If you’re like me and weren’t taught the art of loving yourself, the list below may seem trivial at first, but commit to putting at least 1, if not more of them into practice, every single day. You’ll see a noticeable change in your overall outlook on life. Pick one from the list and start today.

  1. Buy yourself fresh flowers.
  2. Clean your house or apartment.
  3. Organize your work space and files.
  4. Eat while focusing only on your food.
  5. Make a list of fun activities to do and post on your fridge.
  6. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself.
  7. Each night before bed write down the happiest moment of your day.
  8. Start the day with two minutes of meditation.
  9. Wear clothes you love.
  10. Put your fork down between bites.
  11. Get eight hours of sleep.
  12. Read a good book.
  13. Buy something you’ve always wanted.
  14. Be of service — volunteer, help a friend, etc.
  15. Compliment someone today.
  16. Get your sweat on. Go for a hike or long walk.
  17. Smile.
  18. When you grocery shop say, “I am choosing this for my body because I love her/him.”
  19. Stand up straight and tall.
  20. Try something new: dance classes, cooking lessons, yoga.
  21. Invite your friends over for a girls’ or guys’ night.
  22. Call your mom and tell her you love her (or your dad, sister, etc.).
  23. Play with your pet without distraction.
  24. When someone offers you a compliment, simply say, “Thank you.”
  25. Clean your fridge and fill it with fresh foods.
  26. Hire a personal trainer, life coach or counselor.

What other ways do you practice self-care? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Easy No-Cook Lunches, AKA the “Adult Lunchable”

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Packing a lunch is a great way to stay on track with your health goals. Sometimes it’s hard to get ideas for what to pack. Some office environments have limited kitchen resources, or you have limited time to cook.

Try no-cook lunches, or what I like to call “Adult Lunchables.” These are also referred to as Bento Box lunches. You’ve likely seen pre-made kid’s Lunchables at the supermarket – boxes of crackers, cheese, meat, etc. This is a healthy twist on that idea. The varieties are endless — you can pack anything you like, from the classic crackers, meat, and cheese, to more complex combinations with wraps or salads.

Adult Lunchables are both easy to put together, and easy to eat. Preparation is fairly simple — keep some go-to options on hand. I’ve put together some ideas in categories. If you pick an item from each category, it will help you create a balanced meal. The goal is to make it simple, but add variety without overwhelming ourselves.

For example, I put together a lunch with the following: 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup berries, 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter, and 1 cup of raw veggies. That combination includes protein from the yogurt, carbohydrates from the berries and veggies, and fat from the peanut butter. You can certainly add or subtract items and amounts to make sure you eat enough calories for your body.

Categories

Protein:

  • Greek yogurt – ½ to 1 cup
  • Cottage cheese – ½ to 1 cup
  • Hard boiled eggs – 1 to 2 eggs
  • Canned Tuna or Chicken: one tin or pouch
  • Deli slices: 3 ounces, look for nitrate and nitrite-free options
  • Leftover grilled chicken or other protein: 3-4 ounces
  • Edamame: 1 cup
  • Chickpeas: ½ cup

Carbohydrates:

  • Whole grain crackers: for example Triscuits (6-8 crackers) or a single serving based on the box of crackers you choose
  • Whole wheat tortilla: 8 inch in diameter, or look for high fiber options
  • Whole wheat pita
  • Serving of fruit: apple, banana, grapes (1 cup or 32 grapes), berries (1 cup of any variety), kiwi, orange, 2 cuties or mandarin oranges
  • Unlimited vegetables: carrots, celery, sliced cucumber, sliced bell peppers, salad greens

Fats:

  • Individually portioned nut butters: peanut butter, almond butter, or keep a tablespoon with your designated jar and stick to 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • Servings of nuts: pistachios (40 nuts), almonds (23 almonds), cashews (16-18 nuts)
  • Avocado: ¼ to ½ of fruit
  • String cheese, or 1 ounce of cheese
  • Guacamole: 2 tablespoons
  • Olives: 10-12 small to medium sized olives of any variety.
  • Olive oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Salad dressing: 1-2 tablespoons
  • Hummus: 1-2 tablespoons

Below is a sample week with some combinations I put together to create a balanced lunch. This may also give you some ideas to build your own “Lunchable:”

Monday
6-8 Triscuits
3 ounces of deli slices
1 string cheese or sliced cheese
1 cup berries
Carrot sticks
1-2 tablespoon hummus

Tuesday
1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup blueberries
1 tablespoon almond butter
Cucumber slices
2 tbsp. hummus

Wednesday
Whole wheat tortilla
Lettuce or other salad green
Sliced cucumber, bell peppers, onion
½ of a ripe avocado
1 tbsp. hummus
Small apple or orange

Thursday
Whole grain crackers
Chicken salad-made with 2 tbsp. Greek yogurt, mustard to taste, salt and pepper
¼ of an avocado
Celery and carrot sticks
Serving of grapes

Friday
Whole Wheat Pita
Tuna salad-made with 2 tbsp. Greek yogurt, mustard to taste, salt and pepper
Sliced cucumbers
Apple
1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter

Monday
Two hardboiled eggs
Grapes (1 cup or 32 grapes)
String cheese
1 cup Veggies sticks
2 tablespoons hummus

If you want something complex, especially with the summer weather, then prep ahead a veggie-rich pasta salad with healthy fats like avocado. You can also prep fresh fruits salads at the beginning of the week to accompany your lunch and save time.

For additional ideas and inspiration check out 25 Healthy and Photo-Worthy Bento Box Lunch Ideas from greatist.com.

What great lunches did you put together? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Summer Workout Chart

By Richel Stropky, Take Control Health Coach

Summer officially begins June 20th! You may not be inclined to head to the gym this month, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a summer workout chart. Pick your category, then pick your activity — whether you’re completing chores, or spending time with friends and family, there is something for everyone.

CHORES
Wash your car

Mow the lawn

Play a game of chase or tug-of-war with the dog

Paint or stain the fence

Wash the dog

Wash the house windows

Sweep the sidewalks, patio or deck

Clean out the garage & gutters

Volunteer to walk dogs from humane society each week

Ride your bike to the local farmers market

PLAY
Hike to a place to pick berries or just for a picnic

Fly a kite

Toss a Frisbee

Climb a tree

Play at a water park

Rock Climb

Power skip

Road race

Ride a roller coaster

Visit the State Fair

Ride a horse

Build a sand castle or walk on a beach

Play Sand volleyball

 WATER
Kayak

Water Ski

Paddle board

Tread water or on your back

Rope Swing

Fly fish

Play fetch with the dog

Run through the sprinklers with the kids

Have a water balloon fight

 FAMILY
Relay race

Sack races

Play a game with the kids: tag, flag football or Red Rover

Join a kickball league

Have a family fitness scavenger hunt

Jump rope

Power skip contest

Raise money for a local charity with a car wash

Play badminton or croquet

RELAX
Watch the sunset

Play relaxing music as you cook dinner

Enjoy an outdoor concert

Eat a meal outside

Read a book in a lawn chair

Buy a hammock

 

What did we miss? Add your suggestions in the comments!

IN CONTROL — Person of the Month: Jill B.

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

Jill is the perfect example of how addressing stress can make you physically healthier. She really focused on creating a lifestyle that would allow her to decompress to help her manage her stress levels, and manage to lose weight as she hoped, but also saw an added benefit of lower blood pressure. She’s really a great example of how simply living healthier produces the side effects of risk reduction benefits without focusing on them directly. It’s simply just a side effect of living healthy and treating herself right. Just the right amount of self-care in each day created those benefits.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? It wasn’t a conscious effort on my part, but rather a phone call from the Take Control program itself. My health screening results put me on the spectrum as a candidate for the program. When I received the phone call to join the program my reaction became, “Why not? What do I have to lose?” I was curious to see what a health professional could do to help me turn my poor health screening results around to a positive direction.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health? Simple and numerous. I did not feel comfortable in my clothes (I was already stretching for the “fat clothes” hidden in the back of my closet), I was embarrassed to see myself in photographs, I felt bloated/heavy, I dreaded wearing shorts or tank-tops in hot weather, I was always tired, and I was ALWAYS hungry.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started? What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? The biggest obstacle was my own mind. Fighting the internal struggle to tell myself to make better eating choices, and to tell myself to stop eating when I knew I had enough. There has always been an inner voice telling me it was okay to have a little bit more, have a little something else that was salty or sweet, I’m not quite full yet, etc. What a challenge to have your biggest enemy living inside you, there’s no getting away from yourself. The accomplishment was using rationale. I had great advice from Take Control health coach Linda Hogg. Once I had my healthy plate in front of me, Linda suggested that I put my fork down between each bite, add a sip of water and then wait 20 minutes after I was done with my meal to decide if I was still hungry. About 95% of the time my fullness would kick in and I wouldn’t even be thinking about my meal ~ I was ready to do something else.

What did you do to stay motivated? The best way to stay motivated is remembering how good it feels when you make the right choices. Find the activities that clear your mind, that make you smile, that make you glad you got off the couch. Eat the foods that sustain you, give you energy and nutrition. Consistency is key. Get into a routine that works for you and stick to it. If you are enjoying the routine and it melds with your lifestyle it will become a natural habit and less of a “chore”.

What have you gained through this process? I have gained the knowledge of what is healthy and nutritious for my body to function, what I enjoy doing to clear my mind and help me sleep better at night, and how to deal with the inner self that doesn’t want to break the bad habits. Most importantly I learned why I thought I wanted more food. What was the void I was trying to fill? I knew I’d had enough to eat, so why do I want more? Thanks to health coach Kelly Sedgwick for helping me realize that our dinner time was actually a social time with my family. We had family dinners at the table each and every night with my daughter. After my daughter graduated and left for college, our dinners are a lot less social. The void was actually just missing my daughter and the one part of the day when we had each other’s attention. I learned that I could get up from the dinner table and give her a quick phone call to check in and see how she’s doing.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? The difference I see in myself is a better understanding of what works for ME. I can’t follow someone else’s plan and expect to see the same results. Once I started understanding what cleared my mind, what made me smile, what made me feel better, what gave me more energy the health had no choice but to follow. After working with Take Control for a year and putting everything “behind the scenes” in place, I started losing weight. Everything fell into place once I learned why I was stress eating, why I wasn’t sleeping, why I felt so heavy, why I wanted more food. So instead of just focusing on the scale – which was the only thing I had been doing before – I went to the root of why I was making poor choices. Not only do I feel better on the inside, the shedding of the weight is a reflection of me feeling better.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? As stated above, the most helpful thing I learned was finding out what works for me and my lifestyle. I hate the gym and did not want a personal trainer, but I discovered that I absolutely love walking my dogs in our fields. I look forward to it each day. It clears my mind, I enjoy watching the wildlife that lives in our fields, I inhale the fresh (and sometimes crisp) air, and I loved watching my dogs explore and play. Additionally, understanding the reasons why you’re making poor choices can really help you identify the root of the problem and get you back on your way in a positive direction.

Jill is great inspiration to those who might struggle and feel like they should be doing more to really see big changes. Living healthy isn’t just about numbers and you’ve really learned the value of that – mental health is the ultimate reward of living healthy.

Results:

  • Weight loss of 34 pounds
  • Inches lost: 18
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol
  • Gained nutrition knowledge and awareness of food triggers
  • Identified the activities that she enjoys that help clear her mind and reduce stress
  • Better sleep
  • Addressed background issues that blocked healthy choices

IN CONTROL — Person of the Month: Marlena S.

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Marlena was persistent despite a lot of things that were thrown her way. She was always positive, and had a great mindset. Marlena didn’t let the tough times bring her down, instead she pushed past them.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? After age 30, I developed thyroid-related health issues that caused severe weight gain. Nothing I did to lose weight worked. This went on for over six years. Then a co-worker told me how successful she had been with Take Control, and encouraged me to at least look into it. Trust me, I was not convinced. Because no matter what success story I heard from someone else, if I tried it, it didn’t work. And we all know how depressing and discouraging that can be. After I found out there was no cost to me to join Take Control, I realized I had nothing to lose, and at least I could say I tried again.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health? Even though I am generally a very positive person, severe weight gain takes an emotional toll. The excessive weight affected me physically, emotionally, mentally, and even socially. I stayed away from people because I didn’t want to be seen. I wanted to make changes because I wanted to feel healthy, more energetic, and happy. I wanted to get in better shape, increase my energy level, and enjoy the things I used to, like hiking, fishing, cliff diving, rock climbing, and camping. Things I used to do, but had literally become breath taking. I have two teenage boys, and I wanted to be able to go have fun with them again without being in pain afterward.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  The biggest challenges were severe health issues that resulted in multiple surgeries. Being a single mom of two teenage boys has been challenging, because I don’t want to burden them with my health issues. My biggest accomplishments were staying positive, disassociating from a lot of the toxic people who were in my life, and meeting a lot of new, wonderful people. I have lost a lot of weight. I went from a size 22-24 pant size to a 14. I can now go hiking, walking, climbing, and hunting; and I hang out with my kids and friends. I am not nearly as depressed as I was. I am much more energetic and happy. I feel like I look like my normal self again.

What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? My biggest obstacle was staying positive — not just for myself, but for my children as well. I had a hard time making myself exercise. So I set appointments on my calendar to walk until it became a habit. I struggled with accepting things I couldn’t control. I overcame that by coping with things that were out of my control, and focusing on changing the things that I could control. I like to laugh, play, and spend time with the people I love. I want to be a good example for others who are going through difficulties.

What did you do to stay motivated?  The phone calls from Alicia kept me motivated. I know at times she may not have been sure of exactly what to say, but she always came up with something encouraging despite the situation. She was always very punctual and easy to talk to, and had suggestions to help me stay on track. I used a web site to keep track of my wellness plan, and used the additional education resources. I found that the more involved I became with different activities, the more motivated I became. The additional benefits really motivated me as well.

 What have you gained through this process? I have gained a friend, self-confidence, and self-worth. Take Control has helped me to not only set feasible goals, but also follow through with completing them. Which has helped me in all aspects of life.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? I can see my toes without having to squat! I feel better, my skin is clearer, and I can find nice clothes to wear at any store. I am more active and ready to just go, it is no longer this long debate with myself about the pros and cons. I don’t look in the mirror and nitpick about my clothes and how they fit, or if I’m fat. I am more comfortable in my skin now than I was when I was a teenager.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? My advice is that no matter what you have tried that has failed, never give up. You are the only one who can really make a difference. You have to take the first step to start the process, and you will not regret it. If it is easy, then you may be doing it wrong, or it isn’t worth doing. When it is hard to do, it is usually working, it is worth doing, and you will see results. Follow the instructions and suggestions, set up reminders and calendars so you don’t forget to do the things you want. Remember that there is no such thing as fast changes. I have been in the program for a year, and I am still working on it. My favorite quote is: “Live like you’ll die tomorrow, act like you’ll live forever.” Have fun, don’t judge others, and treat others the way you want to be treated. (Not the way they treat you.) Life can be short, so make sure you let the good people in your life know how much they mean to you, and let the bad ones go. Remember only you can change you, and you cannot change others. Don’t worry about what other people think of you, they don’t know what you are going through. If anything, feel sorry for them and treat them with love and kindness. Misery loves company, and there is usually a hidden reason behind their actions. Don’t expect people to make a difference in your life, work to make a difference in theirs.

Results:

  • Weight loss of 63 lbs., and has continued to lose weight since completing the program
  • Besides weight loss, she is a great example of being persistent and never giving up
  • Maintained a positive attitude
  • Disassociated from toxic people
  • Dropped five pant sizes
  • Can now do activities she previously could not
  • Decrease in bouts of depression
  • Much more energetic and happy

 

 

Why it’s Okay to Struggle

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Making lifestyle changes or a major life transition is hard. Every person who is working to improve their health struggles along the way, and feels uncomfortable. Sometimes we fight the uncomfortable feelings, because we don’t like it. We forget how much can be learned from being uncomfortable and struggling. Some of our greatest lessons and insights come from these moments.

This is especially true when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. Exercising, losing weight, or making any healthy change is never easy. It’s easy to forget this. Creating and following healthy habits is a process and a journey unique to each person. The journey will be full of challenges, but also full of success. You must be willing to embrace the tough times, and find each lesson that comes with struggle.

When you notice yourself struggling during your personal health journey, ask yourself whether or not the change or choice you made was right for you. A lot of times our goals or choices are created with an intention of what we think will be a good fit. Sometimes it turns out that the goal is not a good fit. Rather than question yourself about your motivation, take another look at the goal you set and try a different method of accomplishing it. Changing your plan doesn’t mean you failed, it just means you need a route that’s a better fit for your personality or life. Or, if accomplishing you goal via the first route is something that you feel strongly about, keep trying. Whichever route you take, you will learn, grow, and move past the struggle.

In the end, your successes will be the culmination of your struggles, lessons, and persistence. So I encourage you to embrace the process – particularly when it gets uncomfortable. The struggle will lead you to incredible personal and physical strength.

It’s Okay to Be the Turtle

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

A common frustration I hear from clients is disappointment about slow progress. Many feel like they should be further along, or expect greater change more quickly. However, habits don’t change overnight. It took months, or even years, to develop the habits we have, whether they are good or bad. So it is safe to assume that it takes just as long to change them.

In fact that is an important lesson we all learn in life at some point; that with time and commitment change can happen. It is perfectly ok to be slow, in fact, I encourage you to be slow. You have far more opportunity to really learn and evaluate what works and doesn’t work for you, versus rushing through a quick fix. Besides, how many times has a quick fix lasted long-term? Rarely, in fact, most of us become more frustrated and discouraged as a result of the quick fix schemes. And I get it, the quick fix is so tempting. It seems as if everyone around you is trying them, but remember to look at the long-term. How many stuck with it for the long term? Typically not long. And the reason is that most quick fix ideas are not sustainable or they don’t fit you.

Losing weight, making healthy lifestyle changes, or changing a habit is like a marathon. At first we are excited for the challenge and feel motivated, and head out fast. Then we hit mile 10 and wonder what we were thinking. Finally, we hit a hill and think we can’t do this, and then we finally see the end of the race, and we think I did it! All the while going slow, having ups and downs, but fighting through to the end.

As they say, nothing in life worth having is easy. Neither is your health. It takes hard work, patience, understanding and flexibility. So, the next time you feel like your progress is slow, take a step back and look at just how far you have come. Remind yourself of the big picture, what your end goal really is, and you will see that you are right on track to being successful. Truly the key to long-term results is creating change that makes sense for you and fits the lifestyle you envision.