How to support friends and family trying to make healthier choices

Going through my own journey and helping many others work on their own journey, I’ve learned a few things about how to support people and not derail them. Many times people feel judged or even sabotaged by people who they are closest to. I don’t believe anyone does this on purpose and maybe just need a few ideas on how to word things during this time 😊

Don’t judge! Just don’t do it. The choices of another person are not your own. Maybe you enjoyed running and she enjoys yoga or strength training – great! You are different people. One of my favorite phrases I heard last year is “don’t should all over others”. LOVED it! Most people should on others because they think they are helping and sharing information. Unless you are the coach, listen and support. It’s really that simple.

Don’t be weird about food. Don’t add judgment to your friend’s choice. It can be as simple as offering food in a weird way. “Am I allowed to offer you cake” for example, leaves your friend with no good answer. Yes, elicits judgement and so does no in that scenario. Simply offer as you normally would and she will make her decision. When she does, remember it’s not you so no judgement. (I hope this goes without saying, but NEVER say “I thought you were trying to lose weight”)

Suggest different activities. Maybe you miss the social time with your co-worker over cake in the office kitchen. Now that she avoids it, you miss chatting. Try suggesting a walk around the office or eating lunch together. More often than not, it’s not the food itself but the time together. The same is true for getting drinks after work. Again you can go for a walk or try an activity together.

Most importantly- LISTEN! Change is never easy and always brings up emotions we don’t expect. Be there for your friend and/or family member and they will be there for you. It really is that simple 😊

What would you add or take out? What’s the best way someone helped you make healthy changes?

Tracking movement vs food ~ reward vs punishment?

Over the last few years wearable fitness trackers have gained popularity and for good reason. It’s fun to see how much you move in a day and give ourselves a mental high-five!

Interestingly, we feel the opposite when it comes to tracking food. Somehow, we see more failure with food tracking – even when we are making good decisions.

Like most things, this can change with perspective. What if, we competed with friends over eating different colored vegetables? Probably sounds lame, but I’d bet you never thought you’d compete with friends over how many steps you walk in a day ;). It could even be something like cooking dinner at home or packing lunch for work.

Here’s a challenge: pick a group of 5 people (friends, family, co-workers, whomever) and challenge them to a healthy eating competition. Take a photo (it can be fruit, veggies, a meal you made, a snack, etc) post it to Instagram and use #SFHWhealthyeatingchallenge and tag me @susanfishback and your friends! Β Post between January 3 – 13 and I’ll pick a winner of $20 to Trader Joe’s – if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s, we’ll figure it out ;).

Have fun!!!

When your big race is canceled

Over the fall, I began increasing my mileage with my friend. She was training for a half marathon and it made sense to increase my miles too. I was no where near a half marathon, but really enjoying our 6 mile runs.

My friend signed up for the Hyannis Marathon which offers a half marathon and 10k option. She was doing the half as a part of the Cape Cod Half Marathon trilogy. I thought it would be great to push myself for the 10k. I even talked my husband into running the longer distance. A few other friends were joining in and we were all excited to run this race.

Then Cape Cod turned into a snow globe. We don’t even have as much snow as Boston, but it is a lot and the roads are still pretty bad. Of course, it keeps snowing. Seriously, an inch, 4 or 6 just for fun inbetween storms.

All of the snow has made training more difficult. The roads simply aren’t safe and that leaves my friend the treadmill. Of course, we don’t own a treadmill and the gym has to be open. Safe to say, training hasn’t been ideal; but I’ve stuck with it. I was so excited for the race to get outside on the road again!

Yeah, apparently the roads that are unsafe for training are also unsafe for racing. Go figure ;). The decision was made Monday to cancel the race. That’s right, no reschedule. No other 10k available. No half marathon trilogy. No Boston qualifier (doesn’t affect me but I feel for those that it does). This is a big training race for Boston and many runners have been left out in the cold.

Runners are resilient and will continue to train. A local running store is offering a free fun run in a few weeks. We hope to get out there and get a 10k under our belts, but it isn’t the same. There is something fun and exciting about putting on a number and crossing the start and finish line. There is magic in seeing that clock as you push it for the finish line.

That opportunity has been lost for the moment. I have begun looking for other 10k opportunities. Honestly, it is a hard distance to come by. There is one option on the Cape that happens to coincide with the 5k the boys are hoping to run. Another option is in Boston, but is on Father’s Day and in the middle of youth sports playoffs.

We will continue to look for races and train. For the moment, it feels a lot like when this happened…

So close, yet not there ;).

In the meantime my friend and I have traded in our sneakers for ice skates while the kids are on vacation.

I’ve also been having fun taking part in an Instagram yoga challenge. The canceled race will become a bump in the road, but it stinks at the moment.

Have you had a race canceled? What is your favorite distance to race? Has the snow canceled an event you were excited for?

January ~ A little bit of everything

I knew my miles would be a little off as we were going on vacation; however I hadn’t planned on 2 feet of snow and 5 consecutive snow days. Oops ;). The treadmill and I are working on our relationship and it’s getting better.

January brought a lot of different weather on my runs. Most of my runs were in the 30 degree range and often with some brutal winds. We did run in single digits once and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Luckily after the frigid run, we went on vacation and ran in warmer weather. I jumped back into it when we got back and luckily the temps were in the thirties. Then came the snow πŸ˜‰

I have accepted the treadmill and have had two good runs at the gym. It looks like the treadmill and I will be friendly for the foreseeable future. With a little luck, the roads will clear up and I’ll be outside soon enough πŸ™‚

How was January for you? Do you have a treadmill or rely on the gym? What’s your favorite distance to walk or run?

Flexibility vs Mobility

I hate the word flexible! Almost everyday, I have a student tell me she’s not flexible. Here’s the problem, flexible is subjective. I am more flexible than many people but not at all flexible for a dancer.

Somewhere along the way, it became a reason to not try. If we let flexibility, or lack there of it, become a reason not to do something – we lose mobility. For example, if we don’t reach for our toes because we can’t touch them. We lose mobility in our hips that allow us to pick things up off the floor.

If we don’t work to extend our legs off the floor, we will shuffle our feet walking as we lose mobility in the hip flexors. The same is true for reaching up, to the side, etc. We need to work our joints, tendons and muscles in all directions to keep them fluid and functional.

I realized while teaching that any exercise perceived to require flexibility caused many to shut down and stop trying. Once I changed the focus to mobility and sometimes fluidity of movement, the effort changed.

I believe that one can gain mobility just as one can gain strength. There are many thoughts on stretching before or after exercising. I enjoy stretching so I often do it after a workout, but it doesn’t have to be a separate entity.

Many exercises require mobility. Of course yoga and pilates, but so do dead lifts, burpees, jump squats, shoulder press, chest fly, and lunges to name a few. Sometimes we just need to change our focus a little and the benefits of our fitness program increases greatly!

Do you consider yourself flexible? Has it stopped you in the past? What’s your favorite exercise that increases mobility and strength?

Oysterfest ~ Friends, Hills and Fun!

Last year, Oysterfest was one of our favorite races. It was far more challenging than we had realized going into it, but we ran with friends and attended the festival when we were done. Who doesn’t like live music, seafood and a beer with friends after a difficult race?

I had remembered last year was chilly pre-race and thought a lot about clothing options. I went with capris, t-shirt and light weight sweatshirt. My husband had a hat on the counter and I thought to grab my own (best idea of the day).

We enjoyed a pretty sunrise on our drive down Cape (which is actually north) to Wellfleet. We drove the course before picking up our numbers and there were those hills as we had remembered. Somehow, they had grown to mountains in my memory. Driving them, they didn’t seem as scary.

We picked up our numbers and met up with our friends. As we bounced around to stay warm and did a little yoga pose for fun (and stretching) we chatted about last year’s race. We were excited that my husband had his watch on this year and we would know what the elevation is.

There are three hills in this out and back race (so you climb and descend 6). The race began at 7 feet above sea level. The first hill is 61, the second 55 and the third 57. No wonder my quads were crying for mercy πŸ˜‰

I ran the first part of the race with my running buddy. She keeps me working hard to keep up and I always feel pretty good. It was running with her that I had my best time in August. I sent her ahead near mile 2 as I knew I needed energy for that last hill.

I felt pretty good going into the race. My running has been funky this month with travel, but I’ve still put in some decent runs. Hills are difficult to find on the Cape and it’s hard to be ready for them. I remembered feeling strong on them last year and was hoping for the same success.

It seemed I was ready to give in and walk just as we reached the top of each hill. No matter how big the hill was, the top came at exactly the right moment. I was able to keep trucking and enjoy the down hill that much more.

As I ran and warmed up, I took my hat off. I watched people peel off layers expertly. I kept going with my long sleeves which I was thankful for at the finish. The cold wind took care of that heat as soon as I stopped moving.

Luckily, we all brought a fresh change of clothes and pulled a Clark Kent in our cars before walking up to the festival. Sadly, I have an old iPhone (new one has been ordered) that doesn’t hold its charge and I didn’t get any pictures from the festival.

In the end, I finished the race in exactly 33 minutes, shaving just over 3 minutes off last year’s time! If I’m honest, I was hoping for 4, but am happy with 3. It’s been fun to re-run a few races and have something to compare it to.

What’s your favorite post race activity? What fall festival is your favorite?

Yoga: Fear, Ego and Practice

When I began taking yoga, years ago, it was as a dancer. I had a very specific goal – increase strength and flexibility. Many of the poses in classes I attended were “easy” for me and I simply didn’t “get” it.

In many classes, instructors would remind the class to leave their egos at the door. In other words – don’t show off. This was a personal battle.

Eventually, I would take a class to support a friend and my practice changed forever. I surrendered my ego and focused on myself, on my mat.

Yoga is extremely important in my life, but it hasn’t been about the difficult poses. It has been about the experience.

Well, it turns out this was a lot like running. Seriously, I’m competitive and love pushing my body to new places. I gave up on the hard poses because I was scared of failure (and falling on my head).

It is also hard to find classes on the Cape that show you how to get there. I need to feel how something works. In other words, I need a teacher or friend to help me pick up my feet.

When I decided to participate in the FitFluential and MPG Mondetta yoga challenge, the last week instilled fear. The dreaded scorpion was towards the end of the month. I had never come close to trying and frankly it scared the living daylights out of me.

Could I do it? How do people even pick their feet up? Well, my friend ego stepped in and pushed me through my fear.

I asked another instructor to help me. I know – no brainer, but harder than it seems. Thanks to friends who helped me get my feet up (and take the picture) I overcame my biggest yoga fear!

Do I feel a complicated pose makes someone more of a yogi? Absolutely not. I think it is trusting yourself and your instructor that takes the practice deeper. This is different for everyone.

I was excited about my accomplishment all day! I learned that it’s ok to let your ego push you through the fear and to trust the practice.

What have you tried that scares you? Does it make you nervous being upside down? Do you practice yoga?