Wellness Wednesday: How to Jump Start Your New Year

We all know that eating less and moving more are part of a healthy lifestyle. This time of year, many of us are looking for ways to “make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.” Here’s what’s helping me get back on track after the holidays.

Cookies, cookies, everywhere

Last year—well, just three weeks ago—I found myself downing spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk right out of the can as I binge-watched yet another holiday movie. Shocked? Not me.

This didn’t just happen. It followed a month of baking/eating Christmas cookies/etc., hobbling around on a broken toe (no running, barely walking), a long cold-weather snap that knocked out the community pool heater (no swimming or water exercise), and buying the super-sweet milk to make flan for Christmas Eve then opting for a lighter dessert. The holi-DAY had morphed into a holy-MESS of too much indulgence, too little exercise, and a whole lot of excuses.

Weight Watchers support

I am fortunate in having an ally with a perpetually extended hand of rescue—Weight Watchers. Two weeks ago, I went to my WW meeting. I weighed in—acknowledging the scale is the price of admission—sat my butt in a chair, listened, learned, laughed, and shared these cookies. Sharing cookies at Weight Watchers?!?! Yes. They are built on a base of black beans! Here’s the WW recipe for Chocolate Mint Bars.

Then, I got back to the program that helped me lose 30 pounds a decade ago—and keep it off ever since—through an active, supportive community, both online and in person. It’s an essential component of my health. Weekly meetings give me laughter and face-to-face accountability. The WW online community gives me 24/7 support, tips and tricks, and friendship.

You might want to check out Weight Watchers for yourself if you, too, need a healthy jump start into the New Year.

WECOACH support

My exercise ally this New Year is Laurie Denomme at WECOACH Workouts. Laurie was my mentor when I taught in South Florida active senior communities, and she has now developed an online exercise program (both water and land classes) that helps her students rediscover the joy of movement. I have shared WECOACH Workouts with my South Florida neighbors—aka The Mermaids—who gave their Top Ten Reasons we love this program.

Laurie has just launched her new 28-day program, Everyday Cardio 1.0 which helps us understand how our bodies work in this way:

Knowing what we should be feeling in our bodies helps us to get dialed in to the intensity we need to get the results we want.

Laurie Denomme, WECOACH Workouts

This week, I had the privilege of having the warm pool to myself, with my toe nearly healed and the day cool but sunny, and I pressed play on the new “Cardio Jump Intervals.” Before I knew it 50 minutes were gone, 300 calories were burned, and my entire body was humming with wellness. Check out the timeliness of Laurie’s coaching tips (knowing what we should be feeling in our bodies) in this brief excerpt from the class!

Jump started!

Back on my lifestyle track of eating well and moving often, with half the cookie weight behind me, I’m feeling confident that 2023 will be the best year yet. As Laurie says at the end of each class:

Well done!

Laurie Denomme, WECOACH Workouts

Wellness Wednesday: Exercise Doesn’t Guarantee Weight Loss, So Why Do It?

I’d like a good swim or long walk to earn me a Snicker’s bar, but that’s not how it works.

As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise.

Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, cited on Oprah.com

So, why exercise if it’s not about weight loss?

I posed that question to my friend Marlo Scott, owner of First Class Fitness and Wellness and a former colleague when I taught exercise classes to active seniors in nearby Boynton Beach. Marlo, a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, holds a Masters degree in Health Education and is on the faculty of Broward College.

Although exercise alone doesn’t guarantee weight loss, it does make us healthier by reducing blood pressure, the risk for diabetes, arthritis pain, and depression and anxiety.

Marlo Scott

Exercise reduces blood pressure

The Mayo Clinic explains the correlation: physical activity makes your heart stronger = pumping more blood with less effort = reducing the force on your arteries and lowering your blood pressure.

Exercise reduces risk for diabetes

The Joselin Diabetes Center says that exercise alters fat to release a protein into the blood system, helping to improve glucose tolerance.

Exercise reduces arthritic pain

The Aquatic Exercise Association has partnered with the Arthritis Foundation to develop pool-based classes that use water’s buoyancy, resistance, and pressure to facilitate movement and relieve arthritic pain. I was an AEA-certified instructor before my 2019 illness, and being in water gave me back my body after losing so much muscle mass in the ICU.

Exercise reduces depression and anxiety

The Mayo Clinic says that exercise releases feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals, and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Getting more social interaction lifts the spirit. And the positive feed-back loop about knowing you’re doing something good for yourself brings you back for more.

Above all, find something that you enjoy! Have fun while you move.

Marlo Scott, First Class Fitness and Wellness

You can find out more about Marlo Scott’s fitness and wellness work here.

Weekend Wildcard: Poet Kate Hutchinson’s Abecedarian Pandemic Poem

Today, I am sharing a timely and thought-provoking poem by fellow blogger poet Kate Hutchinson (bio below) as she looks back at the year of pandemic. It’s an abecedarian poem, a new term for me but a logical one: she takes a look at COVID, from A to Z. I found it inspiring my thinking back with gratitude, sorrow, and perspective.

It All Matters

Antiseptics. Air for our lungs and air hugs for our hearts.

Boxes of beans plus blue skies and bikes and bare feet.

Clorox on the shelf along with cat food, chocolates and coffee.

Doctors, yes, and drive-thru windows and drive-by birthdays.

Exercise, elastic waistbands, evergreen trees in the yard.

Facts over falsehoods . . . and Facebook. Food kitchens.

Gloves and newly-gray hair and grandparents on screens.

Hospitals full of heroes plus houseplants and hummingbirds.

IV drips, igloos outside restaurants. Vivid imaginations.

Jeans, jammies, jigsaws, Jeopardy! and Jupiter kissing Saturn.

Keeping our distance but keeping the faith. Kindness.

Libraries, leaves greening then falling on lawns. Love.

Masks and music and movies and mothers and miracles.

Nurses, oh yes. Newspapers and neighbors on the front porch.

Oximeters, ovens full of bread. Open minds, open hearts.

Personal protective equipment. Pets on laps and leashes. Poetry.

Q-tip swabs and questions on quarantining.

Remdesivir plus reading, reading, reading.

Steroids, sourdough starter, and solos on balconies.

Too much toilet paper and time on treadmills. Tireless teachers.

Ultraviolet light and unsung heroes all around us.

Ventilators. Vaccines! Vegetables from our own gardens.

Windows kept open and long walks and wine.

X-rays of lungs, experts who temper our expectations.

Yeast and yarn and yoga and yearning for normal.

Zoom gluing us together under zillions of stars.

~ Kate Hutchinson

The golden sunset peaks through the clouds above the horizon on Juno Beach, Florida last Thanksgiving. Photo: Jane Kelly Amerson López

From “Both Sides of the Window,” Kate Hutchinson’s blog:

Kate Hutchinson recently retired from teaching high school English, and she has on occasion taught poetry writing at a local university.  Her first chapbook of poetry, The Gray Limbo of Perhaps, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2012 and is available at their website (linked to the right). A full-length collection of her poems and prose-poems, Map Making: Poems of Land and Identity, was released by THEAQ Press (Rosemount, MN) in 2015.  It is available through Amazon or directly from the author upon request.

Kate has had poems and short essays published in many literary magazines and anthologies since she began writing professionally in the early 2000’s, and several of her pieces have earned recognition in local or national contests.  Her poem “Fowler Ridge Wind Farm,” winner of the 2010 Mobius literary magazine poetry contest, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  A second Pushcart nomination came in 2018 for a golden shovel poem written on the day of Elie Wiesel’s death, which uses the Emily Dickinson line, “Hope inspires the good to reveal itself.”

Blogging is Kate’s way of forcing herself to write and think about the deeper elements of life amidst the daily demands of job, family, and home.