Monday, April 12, 2010

Inspired By: Rachael Wilcox-Periera

   I've had some setbacks, and I'm trying to recover emotionally from my recent weight gain.  It's taken a toll on my motivation and dedication to getting healthy.  To pick myself up, I've decided to look to someone who has always been an inspiration, a role model and a girl's best friend,  

Rachael Wilcox-Periera


She has been a leader to me in athletics and has motivated me to move since we were on the high school soccer team together.  She has shared with me (and now you) her secrets to staying fit and fabulous (and motivated!) while raising two beautiful little girls and obtaining her Master's Degree.  Rachael truly inspires me to run a little further (even though I hate it!) and to push myself.  I even got my butt on that treadmill for 2.2 miles today, thanks to her!  Here's what she had to say:


K: How do you manage your time and fit exercise in? 

R: Set realistic expectations and make it a priority!

Realistic expectations: I have exercised regularly since I was in high school.  Ideally I’d like to work-out about five times a week but I can tell you that RARELY happens.  I set realistic work-out schedules; best case scenario (5-6x/wk), likely (3-4x/wk) and worst (1-2x/wk).  I’m usually between likely and worst case scenarios but I’ll take whatever I can get. As long as you maintain a basic level of fitness, you can pretty much bounce back into ideal shape whenever you can dedicate more time.  I think many people give up if they can’t achieve the ideal work-out schedule.  Anything is better than nothing!  And health benefits occur with only 90 minutes per week (reduce blood pressure, reduce risk of diabetes, decreased cholesterol, etc.).

Make it a priority: Exercise is a priority in my life.  Sometimes exercise takes a back seat to family obligations, school, work or unexpected events but other than that I make sure exercise comes first.  Those closest to me know that it’s important and they respect my priorities. 

I often try to combine exercise with socializing since I find it hard to have time for both. I enjoy the camaraderie of athletic groups and enjoy the relationships that I’ve established through them.  It’s also a great way to surround yourself with others that share the same goals and push you to achieving them.  Research shows that friends are the greatest influence of exercise and eating habits so find others that share the same goals and make it a priority.

K: How many marathons or half marathons have you run?

R:  I have completed three 10 mile races, six half marathons, two full marathons and five 25K trail races.  The half marathon is my favorite distance; you can be race ready in a short period of time as long as you run regularly and it doesn’t take a toll on your body or your life.  Training for a marathon takes a much greater level of time and commitment.  Life balance is important to me and I find it hard to commit to the time demands of training for a marathon without it taking a toll on my life.  Check out Rachael's race times HERE.


K: What are your goals right now? fitness goals?
 

Personal/professional goal: Finish my master’s degree in Kinesiology with a focus on Sports Management, expected May 2010.  I’d also like to continue with my education and pursue a Ph.D.  But it will have to wait a few years, being that school has taken time away from my family and I don’t feel like it’s fair to them at this point.

Fitness goal: I just ran the Goofy Challenge (half and full in same weekend) so I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I’m always looking for a new challenge (time, distance or different type of race) since it keeps me motivated. I haven’t decided yet but I may try to improve my marathon time or try an ultra race.

I’d also like to get back into strength training. I haven’t had a regular routine in the last few years and it’s important for muscular strength. It’s also a great way to boost your metabolism. My goal for this year is to get into a regular routine and stick with it.

Goal setting is important; make sure your goals are attainable and realistic.  For example, if you don’t have time to dedicate to training for a marathon, try a half marathon instead. Research on motivation for first-time marathon finishers’ showed that only 30% of people that had committed to the goal actually completed the six month training program and the marathon (Havenar & Lochbaum, 2007).  Hence the importance of setting realistic and attainable goals.


K: How do you balance family with your fitness regime? 

R: I run very early on the weekends, that way it doesn’t affect my family’s weekend activities. When I was working full-time, I used to get up early and run before work. It was hard getting into routine but once I got going, it was great to get it done early. My kids also understand the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle; I’m hoping they might want to run with me when they get older.

K: What is your fitness regime? 

R: Usually running 4x per week. If I can get a day or two of cross training (biking) and/or strength training then I’m happy.  Ideally, I’d do cardio 4x/per week, strength train 2-3x/per week and cross train 2x/ per week.  But as I mentioned before, that rarely happens.

K: Do you worry about what you eat? What is an average day like?

R: Yes! 

I usually gain about 5 lbs when I reduce my running mileage, even when I’m still running and cut back on calories.  I would gain more if I stopped working out completely, but I won’t stop to find out!  I’ve watched my diet since I was young but I’ve learned not to obsess about it.  Moderation is the key; make dietary lifestyle changes that you can maintain and manage. 

I eat frequently, probably six small meals a day. Foods that I eat frequently: almonds, cottage cheese, apples, bananas, lettuce, broccoli and black beans.  I often take a snack with me when I go out along with a bottle of water.  Eating out has gotten easier with healthier options as long as you are familiar with the nutritional content of food and conscious about portion sizes. Be conscious of beverages too, many people forget to take into account what they drink.  It’s probably one of the easiest dietary changes you can make, switch to unsweetened beverages or water.  And skip the specialty coffees; they are loaded with calories and fat.

Long distance running is great for weight management; I have to admit that I enjoy not having to watch my diet as closely when I run long distance. If I cut back on training then I’ll definitely have to cut back on calories.  I’ll keep running!!

K: What motivates you to run?
 

R: Good question! 

Research states that motivations for running a marathon are more closely related to intrinsic behaviors (personal achievement, goal achievement, enhancing one’s personal life, etc.). I would say I am now mostly motivated by personal achievement. 

My personal motivation has changed over time.  I started running in high school as a way to train for sports. I continued running since it was always the most efficient way to achieve my goals (weight management, sports training, stress reliever, etc.).  Over the last several years, I would say that I’ve continued to run as a way of relieving stress and problem solving.  I always feel better after a run; it seems to clear my head. Exercise metabolizes stress hormones; running seems to do that more efficiently for me that any other forms of exercise.

Running a marathon also made me realize that I am capable of so much more, as long as I was committed to my goal.  People are more likely to adhere to fitness programs when they are intrinsically motivated (Weinberg & Gould, 2007).  My best advice is to make sure you are doing it for yourself and you are committed to achieving your goals.

K: What advice would you offer those who are struggling with weight loss and fitness goals?
 

R:
Do it for yourself - I’ve talked about this earlier, you’re more likely to stick to your goals if you are doing it for yourself.

Find a partner or group – Surround yourself with people that influence you positively and will help you accomplish your goals. A partner or group will provide more support than anything else. 

Make lifestyle changes – Make lifestyle changes that you can continue.  Don’t give up foods that you love, just eat them in moderation.  Otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for failure.  Forget the fad diets; eat a balanced diet with carbs, protein and fats. 

Don’t compare yourself to others – Everyone is different, don’t worry about anyone else.  Focus on your goals and what you’re doing to achieve them.  Everyone is different so each program must be customized to take your body type, goals and lifestyle challenges (work, family, etc.) into account.

Exercise MUST be included in your program – If your goal is to lose weight, you MUST incorporate exercise into your program.  Dietary changes alone will not successfully help you lose weight and keep it off.  Building lean muscle mass is essential for proper weight loss, it helps boost metabolism.  Lean muscle mass burns more calories at rest, the more lean muscle mass you have the higher your metabolism.

Yo-yo dieting wrecks havoc on your metabolism.  Every time you diet and lose weight by cutting calories, you are essentially tampering with your metabolism.  As soon as you increase calories, you gain weight.  When you lose weight without a proper exercise program, you are more likely to lose lean muscles mass.  And if you regain weight, you are more likely to gain adipose tissue (aka fat).   In essence, dieting makes you fatter.  Make sure you incorporate exercise in your program to effectively loose weight and keep it off. 

Books that have influenced my lifestyle

      1.  The New Fit or Fat by Covert Bailey – I first read his books back in 1995. I love Covert Bailey, he always          
           said, “Diets don’t work!”   He has a passion for health and fitness and is an inspiration.
The New Fit or Fat

     2.  The Zone by Barry Sears and Bill Lawren – first developed to improve athletic performance, use it as a      
          guide not a literal way of eating.  The important thing to remember is that you need carbohydrates, protein         
          and fats in your diet.
The Zone: A Dietary Road Map To Lose Weight Permanently : Reset Your Genetic Code : Prevent Disease : Achieve Maximum Physical Performance

     3.  Eating for Optimum Health by Andrew Weil – I love Andrew Weil’s books; he has an impressive background and covers all aspects of health.  He doesn’t preach losing weight, rather eating for optimum health.
Eating Well for Optimum Health: The Essential Guide to Food, Diet and Nutrition

   4.  The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz – given to be by a coworker years ago, four guiding principles that everyone should live by.  They are simple and the book is an easy read, this book changed my thinking.
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book

       5.  Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman – something I think everyone should read.
Emotional Intelligence

       6. The Power of Now by Eckert Tolle – I’ve read a few of his books.  My thinking had already been      
          transformed but this book provided the context around my thinking. 

Power of Now