According to Cher, “If fitness came in a bottle, everyone would have a great body.”
Ain’t that the truth?!?

I don’t know about you, but for me exercise is one of those things I dread doing even though I know it’s good for me. It takes discipline, commitment and hard work. Now that I’m out of work and have more time on my hands, I really can’t use lack of time for an excuse any more. These days, it’s more like lack of motivation.

Believe me, I’ve come up with every excuse in the book NOT to exercise – “too busy,” “too tired,” and, of course, “there’s always tomorrow.” I know… lame, lame, lame! But, then I had an epiphany. Actually, I took a good look in the mirror and noticed I have a few more layers around the middle – I’m starting to look and feel like that inflatable robot in “Big Hero Six.” Okay, maybe not quite that bad, but I’m getting there!

Don’t want to look like this guy from “Big Hero Six”! Courtesy Walt Disney Animation Studios.

My final wake-up call came when I had trouble squeezing into my fail-safe “big girl” jeans. I decided then and there it was time to end my slothful ways and make exercise a part of my daily life.

My plan is to walk on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes at least 4 or 5 days a week and work up to 50-60 minutes every day except Sunday (that’s my day off).  I’m also going to incorporate strength training into my exercise routine, 2-3 days a week. I should probably dig out that yoga DVD I’ve been meaning to try too. When the weather permits, I’ll starting walking and biking outdoors, maybe I’ll even take up tennis again.

When I feel the urge to throw in the towel, I’ll just remind myself it’ll be worth all the effort once I’m able to fit into my skinny jeans and wear sleeveless tops without looking like a bat in flight. An even better incentive… active people are healthier and live longer than the typical sofa spud!

Staying motivated is going to be my biggest challenge, so I did some research and compiled a list of ideas to help me lead a more active life. If you’re having trouble finding the time or the desire to exercise, maybe these tips will inspire you too.

* Make exercise a priority. Think of it as something you do on a regular basis, like brushing your teeth, so it becomes a habit instead of just a “when I feel like it” kind of thing.

* Ease into it. If you’ve been inactive for a while, start with 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise. Try walking around the block or on a treadmill. If you’re short on time, break it up into two 15-minute sessions. Work up to 40-60 minutes of exercise at least 5 or 6 times a week. Even though you may feel a little tired at first, chances are once those endorphins kick in you’ll want to keep going!

Fitness Trackers with Mobile Phone* Count your steps to stay on track. Get a Fitbit activity tracker or a regular pedometer to record how many steps you’re taking each day. They add up quickly. Park farther from the door at work or the mall. Take the stairs, instead of the elevator. Every bit counts, and gets your heart pumping.

* Mix it up and find different ways to be active – take Pilates, yoga or spinning classes, swim, jump rope, dance, bike, hike, play sports outside or games on your Wii, or workout with exercise DVDs… anything to get off the couch and get moving. To relieve boredom and keep the momentum going, try exercising to upbeat tunes. If you make exercising fun, you’ll be more inclined to stick with it.

* Get an exercise buddy. Ask a friend, neighbor or family member to join you on your morning or evening walk, play tennis or racquetball, take a fitness class or hit the gym together. You can support and encourage each other as you work out, plus it makes you more accountable if you’re doing it with someone else. In other words, if one of you tries to skip your workout the other will guilt you into doing it.

* Come up with an incentive to stay on track. Sign up for a charity walk or run, strive to get into shape for a special event like a wedding or class reunion, or a tropical vacation. (I have a friend who wants to slim down for a cruise next winter so she has pictures of bikini-clad models on her refrigerator for inspiration.) Or, maybe you just want to improve your overall health. Whatever the reason, having a specific goal in mind will help you stay focused.

* Be realistic. Let’s face it, you’re not going to lose that muffin top or those thunder thighs overnight. It’s going to take dedication, discipline, sweat and time (and patience!) to reach your fitness goals. The main thing is not to give up!

No more excuses now! Keep the Nike slogan ingrained in your brain… just do it!


I’m Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep

Last night I managed to get six hours of sleep, which is pretty good considering most nights I’m lucky to get four hours of shuteye. Health experts recommend eight hours, but unless I’m in a drug-induced coma that’s not going to happen.

For one thing, I’m a light sleeper, so the slightest movement on my husband’s side of the bed can roust me from a deep slumber. It doesn’t help that he sounds like a cross between Darth Vader and Chewbacca when he snores either!

Schnarchen beim Schlafen
Need to find a way to keep Mr. Snorelax from disturbing my slumber!

Sometimes I wake up thirsty so I’ll down a big glass of water and end up making several trips to the bathroom. Then there are the hot flashes (or in this case, night sweats). One moment I’ll feel like I’m lying on a bed of coals and kick off my blankets to cool off. The next thing I know I’m shivering like a featherless bird. So, I hang one leg out of the covers and hope for the best. All I can say is, these sleepless nights are making me groggy and grumpy, and I’m just plain tired of being tired.

Turns out chronic sleep deprivation is a common problem for a lot of people, especially older adults, and according to Web MD it an eventually affect your health, weight, mental capacity, work performance, and safety. I’m doomed!

I decided to do a little research to find causes and solutions for insomnia.  Here are a few things we can all do to get a better night’s sleep:

Set a regular bedtime schedule. Go to bed and set your alarm at the same time every day. Dang! I guess that means no more sleeping in on weekends!

Exercise. Even though most experts don’t recommend a strenuous workout right before bed, moderate exercise up to an hour before bedtime helps relax your body and clear your head.

Checking the phone
Keep smartphones and other mobile devices out of the bedroom!

Power down your electronic devices. Glowing screens from your cell phone, tablet, laptop, and TV can increase brain activity, making you more alert and less likely to fall asleep. They also screw up your body’s ability to produce melatonin (the hormone that induces sleep). So, no texting, checking messages on Facebook or watching the news in bed, okay? Better yet, banish your mobile devices from the bedroom while you sleep.

Watch what you eat and drink. Stay away from foods that cause heartburn (e.g., tomato-based sauces and citrus juice) and carbs like cookies and chips (they raise your blood sugar level) in the evening. If caffeine affects your sleep, switch to decaf or don’t have any caffeine after noon. (I know if I have a Diet Coke or a piece of chocolate after lunch, I’m wired all night.) Avoid alcohol a few hours before bed, too. It may make you sleepy at first, but it also acts like a stimulant, causing you to wake up frequently during the night. If you must have a bedtime snack, go with something light like a bowl of cereal with milk or a handful of plain almonds.

Don’t bring your troubles to bed with you. I admit, I’m a worrywart. If I have something on my mind, I tend to toss and turn all night. You, too? Then try writing down what’s bothering you and deal with it the next day.

Create a relaxing environment. Block out noises with ear plugs and draw the curtains, blinds or shades to block out bright lights (or wear a sleep mask). Play soft music or nature sounds to lull you to sleep and try meditating to reduce stress and calm your mind. Check out these meditating techniques to unwind before bed.

Lower your thermostat. Per, the ideal room temp for optimal sleep is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your bedroom is well-insulated and ventilated, too. A room that’s hot and stuffy or cold and drafty isn’t exactly snooze-worthy.

Check your bedding. If you have trouble getting comfortable in bed or wake up with a sore neck, your pillow may be the problem. If that’s the case, try a MyPillow®. It’s amazing! Also, make sure your mattress provides adequate support.

Try natural sleeping aids, like these:

Chamomile – a cup of warm herbal tea is known to relieve anxiety and promote relaxation.

cherry-juiceTart cherry juice – research shows having two glasses a day helps improve the quality of your sleep.

Lavender – the scent has a soothing effect so you fall asleep faster. Try making a lavender sachet and keep it under your pillow.

Melatonin Supplement. I’ve tried this remedy and it seems to work for the most part, but it’s meant for short term use. Be sure to read the label carefully before using.

Find more natural sleep aids at

Now it’s time to catch some zzzzzz’s. Sweet dreams!