After my mentioning a bit of a battle with fatigue yesterday a very dear friend enquired as to wheather or not I was taking into account the need for rest days in my workout routine. I am grateful that she asked. One of the reasons that I as so specific in my “action steps” is so I don’t become too “gung ho” and start feeling that I am failing if I’m not going full force 7 days a week. This is just as big a blunder as not getting in enough exercise. With my tendency toward obsession I have been guilty of this in the past. So, I want to take a minuite and talk to you about the importance of balance in your wellness approach.

     I am not a body builder or a marathon runner but a lot can be learned from listening to the workout phiosophies of serious athletes. I frequently read about the dangers of overtraining. If your workouts are too frequent with too little rest in between you actually hamper your progress. The muscles in the body need time to recover and repair. Likewise, waiting too long between exercise sessions can cause the size of fat cells to increase, let muscles weaken, and cause you to feel less motivated to get back into routine. How Long Should You Really Rest Between Workouts by Jan Muller suggests taking one to two days off each week with no activity and spacing those out throughout the week. I personally have set my goal at 4 days a week of exercise with 3 days of rest. Activity is important but so is downtime.

     Your food intake works much the same way. Eat too many calories and you gain pounds. Eat too few and the body thinks it’s starving and tries to hold onto it’s weight. It’s important to eat enough calories to keep your brain and body working at full capacity, but few enough to lose the extra pounds you are working so hard to eliminate. Never go under 1000 calories. If you haven’t found the calorie range that’s right for you try signing up for SparkPeople as previously suggested. Once you’ve entered your height, current weight, and weight goal it will help you chose a calorie range that should work well for you.

     The ultimate goal shouldn’t be to lose weight quickly at all costs but to become a happier, healthier, more balanced self. Add a little play along with your work. Enjoy a bite of chocolate at the end of a healthy meal. Treat yourself to relaxing soak in a bubble bath after a hard workout. My wish for you my friends is balance and blessings each and every day!

Think Yourself Thin


   It’s been a little harder to stay encouraged today. Some of the “newness” that goes along with the New Year has worn off. Sickness has invaded Casa De Johnson. Tony has been down with strep throat, Katie has had a virus, and I seem to be battling a bit of un-diagnosable fatigue. It would be way too easy to dwell on negatives or make excuses. I know I could justify a few extra calories to “get my strength up” or a missed work out to “rest up”. However, as I look at comments from my Slimdown with Sandee Facebook Group pals I am reminded how truly the encouragement we need is often” just a word away”. I love to see the little “keep it up” and “way to go” references. They make me take a deep breath and go at it again, even when I’d considered staying in my seat. Thank you, pals, for your encouragement.

     As grateful as I am for the support of friends, it’s important that I not become too dependant on it. What if I don’t have a cheerleader near by? What if no ones makes a “comment” today? I need to be able to be my own cheerleader! 

    Earlier this week I read a Facebook comment from my friend Sherri, stating ” You know you’re in the right frame of mind when you say I get to work out today instead of I have to work out today.” It’s amazing the difference just a word makes in the way we think about a thing. It’s a totally different feeling isn’t it? I “have” to vs. I “get” to.  Words and thoughts are powerful things. This reminded me that I had some very important tools in my arsenal that I wasn’t currently using to my advantage, Affirmations! Why had I let these lapse?  I need all the strength and confirmation I can get. Don’t you? Daily Affirmation time has been reinstated!

     I am a big believer in the power of  positive thinking.  Affirmations  (thoughts or statements in support of an outcome I wish to achieve) keep me moving in the right direction. I have a list of simple sentences that I have collected. Each reinforces a concept that is helpful to me in becoming more healthy and reaching my ideal weight. Below is my list.

  • I look forward to workouts.
  • I’m on the road to fitness.
  • I am losing weight this very minute.
  • I love myself just as I am.
  • I feel lighter today.
  • I am encouraged by every success.
  • I value effort.
  • I am motivated by challenges.
  • Overcoming obstacles excites me.
  • I love long walks.
  • Losing weight is fun.
  • Failures motivate me to try harder and succeed.
  • I love endorphins.
  • Sweat is sexy.
  • I look thinner today.
  • I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that I get when I exercise.
  • I learn from my mistakes.
  • I forgive myself when I am imperfect.
  • I choose to be slim, strong, and healthy.
  • Healthy is beautiful.
  • I reject negative thoughts.
  • I have the energy and the power to change.
  • Everyday I get more control over my health.
  • My thoughts influence my body.
  • My positive beliefs create my successful outcome.
  • I know and believe that I can control my weight.
  • My ideal weight and shape is within my control.
  • My desired outcome will be achieved.
  • I shall attain and maintain my ideal weight.
  • I enjoy how I feel when I make healthy choices.
  • I feel more powerful when I am fit.
  • My weight loss is permanent
  • Success is waiting for me.
  • I love the feeling of making progress.
  • I love foods that help me be thin.
  • I love foods that give me energy.
  • I love foods that don’t weigh me down.
  • Losing weight is fun.
  • Exercise is fun.
  • Healthy foods are delicious.
  • I love to move.
  • I am going to fit into the next smaller size very soon.
  • I enjoy being healthy.
  • Being healthy makes me feel energetic and powerful.
  • My body is getting stronger, slimmer, and healthier every day.
  • I am ready to be healthy and thin.
  • It feels good to have a toned body.
  • I create energy when I work out.
  • Each workout brings me closer to the ideal me.
  • Exercise gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  • Health is extremely important to me.
  • Health and Fitness are within my grasp.
  • I am committed to doing what it takes.
  • I am motivated.
  • Fitness gives me confidence.
  • I deserve healthy food and a healthy body.
  • My healthy choices are an act of thanksgiving to the Creator.
  • I am in the process of creating the body I always wanted.
  • The “temple” deserves respect and proper care.
  • It will feel so nice to fit into smaller sized clothes again.
  • I will succeed in being my ideal size and shape.
  • My body is to be kept beautiful and healthy.
  • I’m having fun getting in shape.
  • I enjoy life more and have more fun when I am fit.
  • Water is refreshing and satisfying
  • Water makes me feel full.
  • Water satisfies my food cravings.
  • I feel good when I eat small amounts.
  • I feel energized by healthy foods.
  • Every time I exercise I enjoy it more.
  • I am serious about my fitness.
  • I work daily to reach my goal.
  • I am getting my whole life into balance.
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • Getting strong makes me feel capable.
  • Strength is sexy.
  • Being healthy makes life easier.
  • As I strengthen my body, I strengthen my confidence and self-esteem.
  • I will be lean, firm, and strong for life.
  • My sleeping habits are improving.
  • I am grateful for the ability God has given me to be active.
  • I am thankful for the healthy foods God provides.
  • Everyday I am more healthy and happy.
  • I give God the glory for all the strength he gives me.

     I encourage you to make your own list of affirmations. You are welcome to start your list by borrowing from mine. They aren’t original. This is a combination of statements, scriptures, and ideas that I have borrowed from others along the way. There are many ways you may choose to use your affirmations. Maybe you will read a few each morning. Maybe you will make little notes to post around the house as reminders. These could be a slide show or screen saver. I’ve decided to borrow “I GET to work out today!”  from my friend Sherri and post it in my family room near the exercise equipment.

     As you are adding new positive thoughts lets also work toward eliminating the negative. We all talk to ourselves, whether we realize it or not. Over the next few days, start “listening” for the inner conversations. When it’s time to exercise are you thinking or feeling “Oh no” or “Here We Go!” When you are preparing lunch is it “I can’t have a burger” or “I get to enjoy a delicious wrap!” We talk ourselves into and out of many things every day. Start being intentional in your thoughts. Decide what you want, and learn to think accordingly.

     Do you catch yourself playing down the positives or failing to celebrate the accomplishments? Are you greeting the weigh in with phrases like “I only lost one pound”? Are you understating your accomplishments in your workout? “I walked just one mile”. Don’t discredit your achievements.  Play up the positives. Give yourself credit for evey effort and every success.

     If you’ve ever read The Pondered Path by Vicki Jansen you’re probably familiar with terms like “inner critic” and thought “police man”. For some of us these voices go all but unnoticed. For others they play very real roles in our lives already. You may be aware of the little voice that justifies eating the ice cream even when you’ve already gone over your goal calories or points for the day. However, you may not really notice the “Critic” in the background saying “It doesn’t really matter anyway, you’ll never lose all the weight.” This is where the “Police Man” comes in handy. He helps keep the “trouble makers” at bay by pointing out their existence, determining their usefulness, and shutting them down when they are out of line. The “Police Man” can also escort up to the front of the line the inner-coach whose shouting, “You can do it! Go for the apple instead. Finish strong!” Good for you, “Police Man”.

     As you spend the next few days really paying attention to the conversations that take place in your mind, I want you to use your Inspiration Journal to make notes about these inner dialogues. Who are the “key players”? The Critic? The Justifier? The Accuser? Who needs to intervene? The Police Man? The Coach? The Cheerleader? Write about the battles going on in the brain. Work on understanding what flawed thinking may be blocking the road for you and how you can set it right.

     We must learn that talking to ourselves isn’t a sign of insanity but a sign of strength. Lets start to understand the inner dialogue and use it to create our success.

Rear View Mirror – Evaluating Week 3 and Stepping Into Week 4

     One of my favorite parts of the weight loss experience is after I’ve lost a few pounds my hubby will being to make comments on how my body is changing. One of his observations about every 10 lbs is that I’m getting “elephant pants” again. This is a reference to that point where I’ve lost enough weight that my pants are baggy in the rear. Only four weeks in and less than 8  additional pounds lost and he’s already making comments. Isn’t he sweet?
     At the beginning of weeks 4 of being back on track, the biggest thing I’m noticing is how much better everything feels. My stamina is improving and I’m beginning to enjoy the exercise so much more. I’m eating healthy foods and craving things that are good for me. I’m feeling full faster on less food. My energy levels are up and I feel better in my own body.

Weight Watcher's leader and Zumba Instructor Angel Chadwell shared this with our Slimdown With Sandee Facebook group recently. Doesn't it feel great to be this far into our success?

     I mentioned last week that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So, some new habits should already be in place for us. Things like checking the to-do list, going to the healthy snack basket, getting on the treadmill in the morning, and eating breakfast are all now becoming routine. The “healthier lifestyle” should begin to feel real, genuine, and permanent. Claim your new life of activity and wellness and enjoy it!
     At the beginning of each new week I strongly encourage you to look back over the past week and see how things went and then create a plan for the week ahead. Please see “Stepping Stones” if you have not assessed your progress and created “Stepping Stones For Success” previously.
     As you look at your written goal in your “Inspiration Journal” and your weigh-in results on the Weight Tracker do you still view your goal as realistic? If you are losing weight, even slowly but consistently, good for you! If you have a goal but no progress to report or no efforts to evaluate by the beginning of week four, then you need to re-evaluate whether you are treating your weight loss desires as “a goal to achieve” or as simply as “a dream to fantasize about”. Are you making and following a to-do list? Have you created action steps? If it’s only been a dream up to this point, it’s time to make a decision. Are you ready to commit?
      I am set to reaffirm my goal as-is, “To weigh 135 lbs by 12/31/2012. (a loss of approximately 40 lbs in 1 year). ” My most recent weigh-in still leaves me ahead of schedule on reaching this weight.  I feel confident that it is achievable and will work toward this end with vigor.

     As I look at last weeks action steps I read “I will continue to eat nutritious meals and limit my daily caloric intake to 1600 calories. I will continue to speed walk at least 4 days a week for no less than 1 mile each day. I will walk no less than 8 miles during the week. I will add one additional exercise session that includes toning and cardio together. I will officially weigh-in once this week, marking my progress on the Weight Tracker tool.”
     I did everything I set out to do but after reviewing the week I think I want to make a couple of little changes to the action steps for next week. On 2 of the 4 days that I walked I walked 3 miles. I have also added toning and cardio to the mix. I will keep the goal to walk a total of 8 miles during the week but I won’t require myself to spread walking out over “at least 4 days”. 3 days of walking and 1 of toning would work just as well. So I will eliminate the “4 days” piece.
     My action steps for the week of 01/22/2012 read as follows: “I will continue to limit my daily caloric intake to 1600 calories, focusing on good nutrition in my choices. I will continue to speed walk no less than 8 miles during the week and include at least one combined toning and cardio exercise session. I will officially weigh-in once this week, marking my progress on the Weight Tracker tool.
     I am finding the “to-do list” very helpful. I was able to accomplish everything on it this week and looking back over the past blog entries there are a couple of things I want to add. In order to help my metabolism stay strong I am adding a daily dose of fish oil (EPA  and DHA Omega 3) and minimum 8 hours of sleep to my “to-do’s”. Are there things from the 10 Ways to Increase Your Metabolism that you wish to add to your list? I have already made my collage and slide show, but if you haven’t you might want to add a Create Your Cravings project to your list. I also have my support systems in place. My husband Tony is my “Wellness Buddy” and my daughter Katie is my “Cheerleader”. My cousin and Zumba Instructor Angel Chadwell brings so many things to the table that fill the “Coach” role in my life, having been through this weight battle herself. If you don’t have “Team YOU” in place, it’s Time To Recruit. Add it to the list.
     Here is my “to-do”  list for the week of 01/22/2012:

To-Do List:

1. Plan Weekly Menu (See Plan To Eat Fabulous Foods.)

2. Grocery Shop (See Stocking The “New Me” Pantry.)

3. Refill Snack Basket (See The Real Food Fight .)

4. Weigh In (See Weigh In Wednesday.)

5. Organize Outfits and Gear (See Get Your Rear In Gear.)

6. Speed Walk a Total of 8 Miles

7.  1 or More Toning/Cardio Sessions (10 Ways to Increase Your Metabolism)

8. Take 2000 mg Omega 3 Daily (10 Ways to Increase Your Metabolism)

9. 8 hours of Sleep Nightly. (Breaking The Barrier)

10. Track Exercise in Miles or Minutes Daily.

11. Keep a  Daily Food Log with Calorie Counts.

12. Grade Last Weeks Efforts (See A for Effort.)

13. Assess Past Week’s Efforts (See Assess for Success.)

14. Create next Stepping Stones Sheet

     Week 4 Here We Come!!!!


Let’s Stay In For A Walk

Roanoke's 1st Annual Give Thanks 5K was held inside, at Valley View Mall.

     I’ve had several people ask me for a solution to their exercise dilemma while discussing the role of cardio activity in their weight loss plan. I often hear statements like “I don’t have a treadmill, so I can’t walk in the winter.” or “I would like to exercise but I don’t have anywhere to do it.” Folks, there is no magic machine or location required to move. Just move.

     When I was a teenager, my regular routine was to speed walk or jog 4 miles a day at the local track. If the weather was bad I would take the same amount of time that I usually spent there and simply use it running in place in front of the tv.

     Lately I have been doing most of my walking on a treadmill, but Monday Tony and I decided we wanted to walk together. The weather was a bit icky so we went to a local mall. Each lap around the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg, VA is 1/4 mile. 6 laps around the ground floor of Valley View Mall in Roanoke is 5k. Mall walking is becoming more and more common. Some malls even have walking groups and special programs for their local walkers.

     Can’t leave the house or want a guided walking program? Try a DVD workout like Walk Away Your Waistline, by Leslie Sansone. My sister-in-law was nice enough to pass this one along to me. I tried the 3 mile walk for the first time recently. It’s a nice little twist on traditional walking. Leslie is very fun and upbeat and the waist-band allows you to get some toning in as you go.

     Anywhere you are you can walk, jump, run in place, punch, dance, or play the pounds away, even inside your own home. So, no excuses. Move!

Time To Recruit


     Since the new year began I have enjoyed sharing thoughts and encouragement with Facebook friends who are also on a weight loss or weight maintenance journey through our “Slimdown With Sandee” group page. It’s amazing how far a “Way to go!” or “Good for you!” goes toward making you feel that you really are accomplishing something. Likewise, the “I’ve been there” or “It happens to me to” are a great comfort when the going is tough. This is just a confirmation for me of  how important it is to have good support systems. Is there someone in your life who will really support you in your weight loss goals?

     Today I want you to think about what kinds of support systems you have or will put in place. Begin by thinking about who you know and what roles they are capable of filling. Maybe you don’t have one person in your life who can give all you need. Maybe you need an entire “team” of weight loss supporters. You may choose a buddy, a cheerleader, a coach, or all three.

     “Weight Loss Accountability Partners” or “Wellness Buddies” are pairs of people who have a similar desire to lose weight and are committed to helping each other achieve it. My husband and I began our weight loss efforts together at the beginning of this year as “Wellness Buddies”. I have twice as much weight to lose but he is just as committed and our plans and approaches are much the same. Together we make sure we plan and eat good meals, get plenty of sleep and exercise, and stay mindful of the goals we’ve set. Is there someone in your life who is as eager to see success as you are? Are they the kind of friend who can cheer you on, comfort you in your distress, and tell you what you need to hear even when you don’t want to hear it? If so, latch on to them and make a pact! This is the kind of partnership that can lead to real life change.

     My already thin daughter Katie isn’t going to walk a weight loss path with me but she is supper supportive. She tells me regularly how very proud she is of my efforts. She reminds me how happy I will be when I reach my goal. She even points out how disappointed I would be if I skip out on a workout and how much better I will feel when I am through. She is my cheerleader!

     A “coach” is the one who tells you to forgo the piece of cake because you will regret it “when weigh-in rolls around” or to not slow down on the last lap, but instead to finish strong! This is the person you turn to for sound advise and guidance. Someone who has already succeeded in what you wish to achieve makes the best coach. Maybe you have a trainer, diet group leader, or fitness instructor who has walked the path and will help keep you on goal. 

     Go to your Inspiration Journal now and spend some time planning who you can recruit to fill these roles and which kinds of partnerships will work best for you. Don’t put this off. Once you have made a firm decision on who to add to your plan, contact them and ask if they would be willing to be a part of your success. Go “Team ME” !

     Be careful, however, not to let having someone to be accountable to take the place of being responsible to and for yourself. Cheating on your eating plan when no one else is looking or fudging on the workout log numbers won’t end in success. Let others be a shoulder to lean on and a crowd to cheer you on, but don’t ever fail to be your own best supporter.

Create Your Cravings


     Have you ever noticed how much your “cravings” are affected by what you see? I can be sitting on my own couch, minding my own business, watching some innocent little tv program when all of a sudden BAM! There it is, a commercial for a Whopper with Cheese or an Oreo Blizzard! Suddenly, I feel THE NEED. You know what I’m talking about.

     Maybe you are at your desk working away when a coworker whispers “There’s leftover birthday cake in the break room” or walks by with a donut. The cravings commence.

     After recognizing this tendency in myself I began to think,”If seeing a yummy food can create a powerful desire to eat it, then why not use that to my advantage?”

The latest collage, created last night while watching tv. Yummy! Makes me want fruit and berries.

     Several years ago I created a “Cravings Collage” to keep in my kitchen. This piece of art was a collection of pictures featuring folks enjoying yummy, healthy foods.  When I would enter the kitchen looking for a snack I would often notice a picture of a lovely lady totally taken with some luscious strawberries. Yummy! Now I wanted strawberries. Sometimes it was the girl picnicking on Wheat Thins that would lead me into temptation –  the good kind.  For 140 calories I could enjoy an entire serving of these yummy little crackers. Add another 90 for a cheese stick and I’d be satisfied for several hours. There were lots of snack options pictured, and there would always be something yummy for me to choose from and feel good about.

    Now, it’s your turn.  Wheat thins and strawberries may not be your faves. Thats ok. Maybe you love peaches and cottage cheese, or apples and peanutbutter. If you spend a little time browsing the ad for your local supermarket or a common ladies magazine, it won’t be long before you find at least a handful of healthy foods you really enjoy. Begin to collect pictures. You can use these pics to help you begin to crave healthy, low-calorie foods. Maybe you want to create a poster like I have done or use magnets to put a few of these pics on your fridge. The artist in me enjoys the projects, but my techie husband isn’t seduced by the crafting. For him grabbing some images off the net and turning them into a series of revolving screen savers or putting them together in a digital picture frame sounded like a more fun idea. You can probably think of ways that I haven’t to use visual cues to create your cravings. Be creative and enjoy the process.


Weigh In Wednesday – Breaking The Barrier


     About a year before being officially diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer I gained 50 lbs. in a single 12 month period. I haven’t seen a number below 170 lbs. on the scales since 1996. I have weighed as much as 232 lbs and have lost and gained weight at different points along the way.  I have done low carb diets, prescription diet medication, extreme exercise, and all sorts of “fad” or fanatical approaches. I have gone from 183 to 172, from 195 to 178, from 200 to 183. Now with the balanced approach to dieting and exercise, treated as permanant lifestyle changes, not only have I kept off over 50 lbs. for more than a year’s time, I am proud to report that I am under 170 lbs and never going back! Today’s weight 169.8. Yay!

Me, finally under 170!

I got to add the 170 lb "Virtual Me" to my chart! Another goal reached. Yay me!

         Why was 170 lbs. a “barrier” for me? I’m sure there could be several reasons, including not working closely enough with my doctor to keep the thyroid levels adjusted as the weight changed. I also began to emotionally see the number as the unbreakable boundry. In addition, I was using approaches that were too full of rules and frustration to keep observing for the long term. Don’t let your “barriers” be road blocks. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

     Are you dealing with a barrier that doesn’t seem to budge? Check out this article from Runner’s World for ways to break through.


Runner’s Weight Loss Tip

Breaking Down Weight-Loss Barriers

That pesky number on the scale not budging yet? You may have encountered a few roadblocks. Here’s how to get around them and back on the path to weight loss.

By Nicole Falcone Image by Mitch Mandel From the April 2009 issue of Runner’s World

Roadblock: You’re not catching enough ZZZs

Research has linked sleep loss to obesity and suggests that people who don’t get enough may weigh more. And a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who get less sleep eat more snacks, especially high-carb ones. Without enough sleep, says Heather Gillespie, M.D., a sports-medicine physician at UCLA, your energy levels, immune system, and mood drop—the only thing up (besides you) will be your appetite. But that doesn’t mean you should cut out your morning runs to stay in bed. Routine is key for weight loss, says Lisa Dorfman, R.D., director of sports nutrition and performance at the University of Miami. Consider going to bed an hour earlier or try switching your workouts to later in the day.

Roadblock: You eat energy-dense foods

A hamburger is an energy-dense food—meaning it packs more calories than less dense foods, like vegetable soup and a turkey sandwich. Less dense foods have a higher water content than fats and carbs, explain researchers in a 2007 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, which found that people who lower their energy density lower their weight. A more recent study from the same journal found similar results: Those who eat a lot of energy-dense foods weigh more, have a higher intake of trans and saturated fat, and eat fewer fruits and vegetables.

Roadblock: You’re stuck in a color rut

Many runners get the majority of their calories from carbs all the time. “I call it the flu diet,” says Dorfman. “Everything is bland and white.” But research supports a colorful diet: A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating colorful berries twice a day for eight weeks helps lower blood pressure. “Eat at least five colors daily,” says Dorfman. “so that you can be assured you’re getting enough fiber and protein to help steady blood sugar and feel more satisfied after eating.”

Roadblock: You only run

Running 15 miles a week burns roughly 1,500 calories—but to lose a pound, you need to cut 3,500 calories a week. Bottom line? Running alone won’t cut it; if you want to lose weight more quickly, you need to adjust your calorie intake. In a study in the 2007 American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers followed participants for a year and found that lean and overweight adults who restrict their calorie intake by an average of 300 calories a day lose nearly 25 percent of their body fat. People who just exercise but don’t eat fewer calories lose just over 22 percent. Both regimens worked, but your best bet is to combine the effort.

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