Struggle

I was in South Florida the other week at my hotel getting ready to film at the kitchen set for my new tv show, Food Quest. I had time before I had to be on set so I decided to head out for a run. As I pushed open the hotel front door, I realized how windy it was. I decided, like any good runner, to head into the wind on the first part of my journey and be able to take it easy on the way back.

 

As I ran, struggling into the wind, I felt like I was enduring it. The wind was strong with heavy gusts between the buildings along the way. It was work and not once did I forget that it was windy out.

 

A I turned around, my whole perception changed! All of a sudden it was quiet and almost peaceful. Very quickly I forgot about the wind and started to enjoy my surroundings.

 

I noticed that as I turned around, I was a grateful for a reprieve from so much wind but then I quickly forgot about it. Instead I almost had a hint of pride as my stride got longer and I felt faster with a smooth, strong gait. I had to remind myself that the wind that hindered me on the first half of the run was now my friend pushing me from behind. I became grateful for that same wind as it guided me back to the hotel.

 

I think we are like this in life. When we struggle, all of our attention is on the struggle. We can’t wait for the struggle to be over. Once it is over, we quickly forget and can sometimes let pride sneak in thinking we are succeeding on our own. We aren’t. We were self absorbed in our own struggles and maybe could have forgotten about them for a bit by reaching out and helping someone else in need. 

 

Sometimes life is calm. Calm enough to enjoy your surroundings and feel like you have things under control. Life seems easy. You have hit your stride. Remember to feel grateful during these times. It is not by your own steam. Sometimes that wind that you had to push through is the very same wind that will turn you around and get you back to your finish line.

 

Winter Discipline

Well, it is still winter here in New York City. Even though it has been a mild one, I still find that I am stir crazy and waiting for spring. Little purple crocuses were just starting to bloom in Central Park and then we got hit with a ton of snow. It can be discouraging. For those of you who live in warm sunny weather year around, bear with me in this article.

 

I have had to find ways to keep my mind happy while being alone in the big city. Normally when it is nice outside, I can go for a long walk or head over to Central park to hang with a wonderful collection on human beings, but it is cold outside! I need a change of plans! Being self employed and having my own hours to get stuff done out of my apartment leaves a lot of wiggle time to juggle things around. I find that I am happiest when I stay on top of things and be disciplined with my time and tasks. I also have to watch what I eat while cooped up during these winter months. It would be way too easy to sit back and hibernate while shoveling in more food than I need. (Do you love that verb “shoveling”?)

 

I love going to my health club and find that I am spinning a lot. Not only does the fellowship of a class help me but I love the competition and also the knowledge of burning a ton of calories. Since I have to sign up a day early, I find that I look forward to working around my spin class and organize it around all my other activities. It is nice to look forward to a crazy spin class.

 

I also have a “spa” tip called hydrotherapy. After my work out and then the steam room, I head to the showers to get clean but also use that time to stimulate my lymphatic system. I am super hot coming out of the steam room and when I go into the shower, I put on the cold water for 30 seconds before turning it to the hot setting. During body washing, shampoo and conditioner I make sure that I turn the cold water on for 30 seconds three times in between the 3 minutes or so for the hotter water. This helps me pump and circulate my lymph system removing waste products and helps my immune system kick into action also. I feel vibrant when I come out of the showers! Our lymphatic system plays a vital role in removing waste products that we are exposed to daily. Don’t get me started in all of the toxins around us! The hydrotherapy also helps me have healthier hair, glowing skin, less stress and improved energy levels. BONUS.

 

When it is cold out, I also love to have a tea in the afternoon. I have found an interesting tea called Jiaogulan that claims to be the herb of immortality. I can’t make those claims and wonder who can but I DO find that I like the tea with both the taste and how it makes me feel. It doesn't have caffeine but I also don’t want to drink it late at night!

 

So, if you find you are struggling with winter blues, try stimulating yourself in one of the ways above, stay disciplined and let me know how you do! You are not alone!

 

Why Am I So Tired?

As I have aged, I have found that I have to “guard” my energy levels. I have to make wise decisions about where to use my energy and if I have a super busy day, I make sure that I rest that night by laying down with my feet up. Sometimes I have to miss out on night time events or I won’t make it through the next day! Do any of you suffer from this? I have friends who have a ton of energy and can’t understand that sometimes, my energy just runs out and there is nothing left to give. They seem to go and go like an energizer bunny while I need to lay down.

I didn’t know that I had thyroid problems until after I had had my third son at 33 years old. I was at a doctors office filling out forms for my oldest son who was 8 and having allergy problems and there were categories on the questionnaire with symptoms associated to glands and organs. I was reading and filling out the form for him, while saying to myself, “Hey, I have all the symptoms of a thyroid problem!”.

I found an endocrinologist in Beverly Hills who was old school and looked at many symptoms not just a blood test to determine that I did indeed have low thyroid. In my case, Hashimoto's. He felt my elbows to see if they were dried out and he made me do an ultrasound on my thyroid to see if it was enlarged, which it was with nodes. He also made me hold out my hands flat, palms up (like you were going to feed a horse) and looked at the length of my pinky fingers compared to the ring finger next to it. Both of my pinkies were shorter than the joint on my ring finger. I can see you checking your’s right now! He said that a shorter pinky than the joint of the ring finger may mean that thyroid runs in the family on one or both sides…

I started to take thyroid hormone and have been on a roller coaster going on and off of thyroid hormone for 20 years now. I even wrote an ebook about my “struggle” called My Thyroid Journey I know many of you have thyroid issues and would love to know what others have learned. I tried a couple of different medications for my hypothyroidism and decided that I felt better on Armour thyroid instead of the synthetic hormone. The synthetic claims that the dose is more accurate than Armour but only helped me feel better for 3 weeks and then didn't seem to work for me anymore. I wanted to be as natural as possible so I went back to the Armour.

As I aged more, I found that the thyroid alone wasn't enough and looked to my medical doctors who practiced using more natural ways, to find out what my problem was. I was put on elimination diets and anti inflammatory diets to calm my system down. I had run a marathon at 46 in New York and had GAINED about 15 pounds while training, instead of LOOSING weight. I had to find answers not only to feel better and have energy but also because I wanted to look good.

So, let’s introduce Cortisol levels. After asking around and doing a lot of research I found that the high cortisol levels probably had me gaining weight from too much running (stress) . I am still learning about cortisol but know that too much cortisol makes you retain weight around your middle and feel drained. When I feel drained, I tend to reach for food to give me energy and make me feel better. How many of you know that can be a roller coaster ride?

I feel like I have gained and lost 15-20 pounds for the last 20 years. What worked to lose weight when I was 20 doesn’t work anymore. I used to be able to go out and run 10 miles and the weight would come right off. Now, it just exhausts me and makes me feel run down so then I eat more to try to feel better. YUCK!

If any of this resonates with you, then I suggest that you find a medical doctor who can run a variety of tests on your blood to see if any of your levels of hormones are off. Cortisol testing can be done over a 24 hour period using your urine or saliva. Urine may be more accurate from what my doctor said as it measures more of the cortisol in the body. My wish is for all of us to feel our best so we don't miss any of the pleasures that this life can bring us.

Still Running

As many of you know, I grew up swimming. From the age of 6 on, I swam at my local YMCA 3 days a week with swim meets taking up every Saturday until I hit high school. Then in high school, things picked up. I had daily swims and then “two a days” swimming and lifting weights (51/2 hours a day). It was hard work but it paid off in more ways than just winning races. Our girls’ swim team was undefeated for the four years I swam there! It taught me a great work ethic and the never give up attitude that still stays with me to this day.

It was easy to stay in swimming even when things got intense because it was a family affair during my years at the Y and then all my girl friends were on my same team in high school.

Then, after graduation, things changed. I no longer had a support system to continue swimming with friends, as none of us wanted to even see a pool! I also didn't have a coach to push me. I didn't have weekend events planned around swim meets. Instead, I was discovered and moved to NYC right out of high school to live on my own in the “Big City” and start in the modeling world.

Not only did the modeling world want me thin, (so I didn't and couldn't eat much) but it wasn't easy to find a pool to work out in and I didn't want the muscles. I had starved the muscles off when I was discovered during my senior year of high school.

Now I had a problem, I had grown up with a swim family to support me so I felt alone in New York City and I was used to working out regularly. Back in the 1970’s, there weren't as many gyms and frankly, I didn't know what to do with myself with no coach yelling at me and telling me my workout routine. I realized that I had a body that was used to hard exercise to stay fit and happy.

It took me awhile to find a new exercise to love (because pools and the smell of chlorine didn’t hold as much appeal). I finally found a way to stay in shape and be able to do it almost anywhere in the world; running! I started to run when I was 21 years old and after being an athlete for all of those years, couldn't run for more than a couple of minutes without getting a stitch in my side. What a wimp! I would walk and run until I had gone 3 miles or 30 minutes when I first started and then one day, I found that I didn't have to stop; I ran the whole 3 miles without feeling horrible and  actually felt good! From then on, I added miles and started to run races. I had always been competitive and running races was a good fit for me!

I never dreamed of running a marathon but a friend flew into town back in January of 1985 to run the Jacksonville Marathon. I went with him to the expo to get his race packet for the race and got the marathon “bug”. He asked me to run part of the race with him to keep him company and I ended up running the whole thing and crossed the finish line with him in a 4:35 or so! That was it, I was hooked!

Right after that, Fred Lebow hired me to be was the spokesperson for the New York City Marathon. I ran my first of 5 New York Marathons in 1986, 6 months after giving birth to my first son.

Now, over 30 years later, I still find that I love to run. It makes me feel good about myself. I am blessed that all my joints and bones are still healthy and that I can get out and run wherever I am in the world. I hope you have found a sport that you still love to do!

Golf for a Cause

Golfing for a Cause It is that time of year where the weather is great and many charities have organized golf tournaments to raise money for their good causes. I just came back from a week of back to back golfing events that did just that, raise money! Many events have used celebrities to not only bring more interest to their events but also to get big clients in with their foursomes to be able to spend some time on the golf course with their favorite celebrity.

The first stop on my “golf tour” was in Santa Rosa, California for the Schultz Celebrity Golf Classic hosted by John O’Hurley, where I got to play on the beautiful Mayacama Golf course (one of the top 100 courses in the country) with Richard Coombs who helped to start the event and also Bruce McGill a wonderful actor. There was also a dinner the night before at the Francis Ford Coppola vineyard which was fabulous. Since the event started, they have raised over 5 million dollars for children charities in Sonoma County. One of the highlights of the event for me was a passionate speech by a young man who was practically homeless and talked about how the Catholic Charities helped to turn his life around due to the money raised at the event.

I then flew to Greenville, Mississippi in the Delta (which is hard to get to) for Steve Azar’s golf event. It was 2 days of golfing in the lovely Mississippi weather with some great people. Steve had some terrific musicians who could also play golf so we were entertained for the whole weekend. Much needed money was raised to help local children’s charities there. Steve has his own foundation called St. Cecilia Foundation at www.sascf.org http://www.sascf.org/. It was my third year attending and I had a great time meeting new friends and seeing old ones. My golf game improved on the course as it was flat and not a lot of places to get in trouble!

I left super early Sunday morning to drive hours to the nearest airport to catch 2 planes to get up to Nebraska where my final event was for Larry the Cable Guy. It was the Git-R-Done Golf Classic and it was filled with laughs and some great people. I had never been to Nebraska before and found the town and the people to be lovely. I got to play with friends of mine from the American Century Golf event in Lake Tahoe, Jonathan and Cyndi Thomas. I played that event last year with 90 other celebrities and came in last place with even Charles Barkley beating my final score! (I had just started to golf after taking 35 years off to raise kids)

Spring Cleaning our Bodies!

Depending on where you live, spring has arrived (or will come quickly) and it is time to look ahead. Since we all want to look our best, we need to take stock of our bodies. Many of us have been hiding under layers of clothes and eating more than normal in order to stay warm, and now is the time to come out from under those layers! How can we prepare for the upcoming season? We prepare our hearts, minds and bodies by cleaning out the negative and focusing on what is good and right and healthy.

Spring is a time to open windows for fresh air and clean out the house. We can clean out our bodies as well as detoxes that I cover in my ebook, Lean Clean, found on Amazon.com. I think spring cleaning our bodies is important. Think of how much better you will feel getting rid of toxins that accumulated during the winter months. Cleaning out our bodies helps us to feel better internally and therefore feel better about ourselves.

Spring is also a time for us to readjust the way we take care of ourselves. We need a new mindset that helps us make healthy choices. If we have gotten into a bad habit during the dark winter months, now is the time to expose it and come clean! No more hibernating with a bag of chips and sitting on the couch! Join a club or a group that makes you get out of the house and MOVE somehow. A new yoga and Pilates class would be good for us all, while others can be more vigorous and find a running or biking club and starting counting the miles. 

If you take a vacation in the spring, think about a healthy one. There are numerous spa vacations that help to restart and refresh ourselves. Spending the day with relaxing treatments or scrubs, and then having a chef prepare a healthy meal, may be just the thing for you right now. If you can't find the time for a healthy vacation, you can still find the time for new, fresh recipes to eat. We have to spend time preparing food. I find the fresh, unaltered food is not only easy but good for us. I try to eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables with some beans and nuts added to stay at a healthy weight and feel good about myself. 

Other ways to refresh ourselves is to re-establish old friendships that we may have neglected during the dark winter months. Don't wait for the phone to ring, pick it up and reconnect with friends that you have been thinking about. It may even be good to meet them to exercise together! I will be spring cleaning with you!

Finally, find time to reconnect with God. Take time for a grateful hike or a stroll along a favorite pathway. It is good to practice being grateful for all you have been given. It is also a great way to refresh and get ready for a fantastic spring ahead!

Education

I want to talk about education in the Health and Fitness industry. As many of you know, there are many health options; the right diet, exercise programs and supplements to take. There is actually so much information out there that it can become too confusing. Different articles seem to contradict each other. There more you read and study health and fitness, the more conflicted you can get. 

So what is the right diet? Which exercise program should you follow? Which publication or fitness trainer? You won't like my answer as it depends on many factors such as age, lifestyle, fitness and health goals.

Let's start with diets. I wrote an ebook on diets called, Dieting Lessons, which can be found on Amazon. In it I cover different types of diets and identify goals people use to base finding a diet program. First of all, "diet" is a bad word that brings up hunger, pain and denial. I have tried almost every "diet" out there over the years and I have found that I do much better with an "eating lifestyle" instead of a diet. I focus on what I can eat and have educated myself on why I eat certain foods. I believe vegetables and fruits can bring life to the body and I also believe that processed, fast foods can cause disease in the body. I have learned that it is much better to focus on good foods and why they are beneficial to my health and even mental clarity and energy levels.

So, one aspect of finding the right eating plan is to eliminate "diets" that are too restrictive or take too much prep time. For some, time is a key factor in what they eat. For others, they have so much time they can make their own special foods daily. Finding foods that react well or badly with your body is also important. What I have found is that sugars and processed foods make me feel sluggish and brain dead, so I avoid them. Deep down, you know certain foods may taste good for a moment but are detrimental down the road. Examine that and make a healthy change!

Fitness is also a vastly covered topic. Most people I know throw up their hands. They decide to do no exercise or their same old routine, as learning new exercises can be painful as well as confusing. Let's face it, if we try something new and we feel too sore or tired the next day, how much do you want to bet that it won't be a new exercise that we desire to go to again?

So what do we do? How can we get educated about fitness? First of all, I think you have to realize that your same old routine might need an upgrade. You have to be open to try new exercises or take on a new spot. One way to get a new insight on working out is to go to a gym and ask for a personal trainer or fitness evaluation. Most gyms would be happy to help you. What I am at the gym, I am constantly looking and asking why people do certain exercises certain ways. The guys near the free weights love this! I am constantly trying new classes to target different muscle groups.

As far as publications to read, there are way too many to list and you may know some that I haven't heard of! There are very conservative ways to educate yourself, like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. Then there are much more radical sites. I get lots of alternative health newsletters from many sources to see what is out there.

When it comes down to education, you will seek out that which you truly desire to change or expand. If you see it, you can change it. Start thinking of how precious you body and health are to you. Health and vitality won't last forever so it is wise to maintain what you have. This is a healthy, easy way to start on the path to better health and fitness. So go seek and learn something new today and apply it to your health!