Intentionally Healthy

Intentionally-Healthy

When we first arrive to Jamaica for Peace Corps and a recent photo from a friend’s wedding.

“You look good.”

“Wow. You’ve lost a lot of weight.”

“You look stronger.”

“You lost some weight around here.” (a friend says as she points to the sides of my stomach)

These are the comments I’ve been getting from people who haven’t seen me for two years while we were in the Peace Corps. Apparently, I look different now since we’ve returned, which begs the question:

What did I look like before?

In all seriousness, the comments have been nice and flattering. I am probably in the best shape of my life, at least since my high school days. I actually probably weigh around the same as I did in high school as well. But the most important thing is how I feel today.

I feel healthy.

Like many, college was the start of my decline in health. The combination of $5 large pizzas from Pizza Time (my college mates know what I’m talking about), the belief that I can eat anything without any effects, lack of sleep, and no exercise slowly and literally added weight and pressure to my life. At my peak I was about 185, breathing heavy, and unable to do many physical tasks without tiring easy. I don’t feel that I was ever at a point where I was too concerned and, thankfully, I never had to confront any of my unhealthy habits because of health related reasons. In fact, I didn’t even realize anything was wrong because (and here’s the most important thing) I didn’t think anything was wrong.

In the summer of 2007, I met Michelle. She was active. She probably wouldn’t describe herself as athletic, which is fair. She’s also not competitive like me. She doesn’t work out for any other reason other to be healthy.

Our fist date was a hike. I remember it being physically challenging and whether she was aware of my physical condition or not,  she asked if I wanted to run with her. Daily! I liked how active she was and had been wanting to take better care of myself. Like most Americans, I knew what I needed to do (say it with me): eat healthier and exercise more.

I just wasn’t doing it.

A lot of people have been asking me what I’ve done to get healthy, and so I thought I’d share my story and some tips:

Tip #1: Choose to be Healthy

It starts with a choice. Almost everyone knows or should know the magic formula for a healthier lifestyle (say it again): eating healthier and exercising more. So if we know what we need to do, why don’t we do it? You’ll hear many reasons for this. “I don’t have the time to exercise,” “I don’t like exercising.” “I don’t like the gym.” “The gym is too expensive.” “Healthy food tastes awful.” “Healthy food is too expensive.” These are all of my own reasons that I have used to justify my choice for an unhealthy lifestyle. The thing is, I didn’t realize that being unhealthy was a choice. I knew being healthy was a choice, but I never thought about the fact that all of my reasons (excuses) for avoiding a healthier lifestyle was because I was CHOOSING to avoid it. I was choosing to be unhealthy. It got me thinking, “Do I really want to be unhealthy?”

The biggest hurdle anyone faces regarding a healthier lifestyle is the choice to do something different, especially if it means fighting comfort. For me comfort is food and idleness. I love food and I love vegging out. I confess. I can be extremely happy watching Hulu/Netflix all day and eating. That’s it. I’m sure many people would agree. That’s my comfort. I avoided exercise because of the pain and physical exertion it gave me. Eating and doing nothing didn’t give me any of that.Thus the main predicament: Do you choose comfort, which leads to an unhealthy lifestyle, or do you choose a healthier lifestyle full of activity and healthier meal options? It’s a choice.

In the beginning of my mindset transformation (because that’s what it was), I thought that a healthier lifestyle meant giving up comfort in its entirety. Goodbye, fried chicken. No more desserts. No more Wicked Tuna episodes on Hulu. In all actuality, it was more about balancing out my lifestyle. I came to see that I was spending more time and energy engaged in unhealthy choices than healthy choices and activities. It was as simple as that. I needed to balance the equation. But it started with a choice:  I wanted to be healthier.

Tip #2: Set Realistic Goals to Achieve Bigger Goals

EXERCISING
On our first run I suggested that we go for 3 miles. Michelle- who regularly ran 4 to 6 miles per day- said, “How about 1.5?” Thankfully, I listened to her. This was the start of a very important lesson.

You often hear of failed dieting attempts. Exercise programs that don’t work, etc… One of the biggest reasons for these failures is unrealistic goal setting. Every single workout or diet programs will show you pictures of successful results. We Americans are result-driven. We want to see tangible results before we do something. This isn’t bad, but it inflates and distorts our definition of success. Wanting to look good or lose weight aren’t bad goals. But many people don’t consider other factors such as time and physical capability, and most importantly, one’s personal efforts that increase or decrease a person’s chance of achieving their goals. You may want to lose 20lbs but is it realistic and healthy to do it in one or two weeks? Probably not. I may want to run a marathon at some point but am I physically able to at this moment? No. You have to be realistic.

So let’s say your goal (like mine was) is to run a half-marathon. Is that realistic? At the time, it wasn’t for me. So the first realistic goal I set was to start running 6 days a week, between 2-3 miles. Once I got into the routine of running, I then set another goal for myself: use a training schedule that would get me ready for a half-marathon in 3.5 months. Here is an example of one. There are a lot of different training schedules out there with varying time lengths, based on how fit you are, or how busy your work/life is.

These little victories added up, which meant I had the confidence I needed and the experience to take on bigger and bigger challenges. Every time you set and accomplish your goals, it feels easier to set new goals at new levels. You build upon your success. You use the momentum you’ve created. But it only works if you set realistic goals and keep taking small steps. After a while, you’ll look back at all the little things you have done to see you’ve accomplished an enormous feat.

EATING
Similar to exercising, it’s important to set realistic achievable goals with food. “Go big or go home” should not be your motto. It should be something like “slow and steady,” or one of my favorite Jamaican proverbs, “One one coco, full basket” (meaning little by little and you’ll complete your goal). For example, if

My $2.50us Fried Chicken Lunch

Jamaica taught me to LOVE fried chicken

you LOVE and eat fried food all the time, it might be difficult to give up completely. Start then by giving yourself some structure. Maybe fried food only for 1 day of the week and just for a month to begin with, just to accomplish something. You might be saying, “Do people really have a problem with fried food?” Yes, I did. At one point in Jamaica I was eating fried chicken almost 5 days a week.

Once you’ve accomplished a small goal, you can start setting larger ones. The overall goal with eating is to have INTENTIONAL CONTROL over your eating habits. Here are the main things I struggle with eating (your challenges may be similar or different):

  1. Portion Control: I love to eat good food. If presented with said good food, I have this feeling I need to eat it like I’ll never get something like it again.
  2. Avoiding Added Sugar and Salt: Sugar and salt in general are not bad, but excessive use is, and I’m guilty of that.
  3. Avoid Fried Food: I LOVE fried food.
  4. Avoid Processed Food: Since I’ve started cooking more, this has gotten easier.

Again, these are my struggles. If you are trying to get healthy, ask yourself what are your struggles. Notice desserts is not on my list. I don’t crave them the way Michelle does. She knows. For me, the list represents areas that I have had trouble controlling myself. I’ve had to practice and find ways to control myself regarding these things (still working on them). The most important part is being aware of these challenges and taking action to meet these challenges.

Tip #3: Find a Workout Companion

Running DC

Running in D.C.

I was lucky to have met Michelle and have her in my life. In regards to fitness, she is an amazing partner. She has always enjoyed an active lifestyle and was patient with me as I slowly increased my fitness capabilities.

Finding someone to be active with is a huge factor in being successful in a healthier lifestyle change. A good companion does not need to be physically fit themselves, like a trainer. Instead, you both should have the following:

  • Shared commitment in achieving whatever goals you have set for yourselves.
  • Willingness to be a good accountability partner
  • Reliable and loyal
  • Encouraging and supportive
  • Able to self-motivate as well as well as motivate others (IMPORTANT)

Like any relationship, you have to be able to give as much as you receive. It needs to be an equal partnership. If you are looking for your workout companion to motivate you and get you out of bed to do something, then they are a coach. If you are waiting for them to make big changes in their lives before you make changes in your own, then you are using them for inspiration. The best relationships are the ones where you are making changes for yourself, motivating yourself, and finding support from your companion who is doing the same thing in their own lives. You aren’t dependent upon that person and they aren’t dependent on you.  You need to be strong enough and willing to do things you need to do on your own. A work out companion is that extra support and boost that makes the overall experience so much better. Life is so much better shared.

Tip #4: Don’t Give Up

One of the greatest pieces of advice Michelle taught me was the importance of NOT GIVING UP. If you made a goal, let’s say to exercise for 6 days of the week, and you miss one day. No problem. Don’t let that be an excuse to give up. The very next day, get back to it. The hardest part is when you stop for awhile and try to find the motivation to start going again. It’s the worst. It’s true that life happens, but it’s also important to be intentional and make the effort to get back to accomplishing your goals asap. The longer you wait, the more likely you’ll give up.

Of course, there will be other challenges.

When we started running, the hardest part for me was running during the fall and winter seasons. If you can get through the cold, wet Pacific NW mornings, you will feel that you can exercise anywhere. I had a hard time waking up and getting out of the door on those dark (and I say it again, cold, wet) mornings to run. However, every time I did, I was proud of myself and it got easier, and easier to wake up and get going. It became a part of my routine, my life.

In my life, I’ve never found I had an issue with motivation to start something, I’ve struggled with following through and completing my goals. I used to give up often.When you keep going, especially on the days that it’s tough, you are teaching yourself that this new lifestyle you are trying to commit to is who you want to be. After awhile, what was once new becomes habitual, and more importantly, becomes a part of your daily routine. It becomes who you are- part of your identity. However, if you give up, what lessons are you teaching yourself?  What will your identity be then?

Overtime, if you commit to daily, healthy activities, it will feel unnatural to miss a day. Your life will be flipped. I now feel like a part of me is missing when I don’t do something active. Being active is part of who I am today. I made it who I am today.

Glacier National Park Highline Trail

A break on a 12 mile hike that I wouldn’t have been able to do a couple of years ago.


So Where Are You At Right Now?

What is going on in your life as you read this? What goals do you have for your life regarding your health? Do you want to lose weight to look good? Do you want to climb a mountain or do a specific hike or finish a race? Do you want to have better control over your eating habits?

This is your life. What do you want it to be?

I’ve learned that nobody else can motivate or make me healthy. In the end it’s my choice and my will that matters the most. Yes, others can inspire me, but ultimately, I am responsible for my own health and choices. I’m still a work in progress. I still struggle with the issues I spoke of, but I haven’t given up. If you need a workout companion, let me know. If you need advice and help with food, let me know. If you’re ready to start but don’t know how, let me know.

Let’s make the choice to start today.

-J

Colorado: Rocky Mountain Awesomeness

On our epic road trip for 2014, one of the most highly anticipated places for us to visit was Colorado.

When I was 16 I visited once and fell in love with the snow packed mountains. I think this was mainly because it was so different to what I grew up with in Hawaii. 15 years later and I was once again, captivated by the mountains, the lakes, the sun, and what seems like the healthiest bunch of people in the entire United States. I heard stories of 300+ days of sunshine and endless amounts of outdoor activities to choose from. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up in Colorado if/when we finally decide to settle down.

Here’s some highlights and great travel information from our visits to Fort Collins, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Denver.

Fort_Collins_Colorado_Travel Rocky_Mountain_National_Park_Travel Denver_Colorado_Travel

Announcement: Our New Business

Though we’ve actually been in business for several months now (some of you may or may not have known that) and have several clients, we wanted to officially introduce our new company:

JandM-Logo-01

special thank you to Becca at RSJ Creative for our awesome identity


A Conventional Solution for Unconventional Living

A lot of people have asked us how we afford to live unconventionally. “You have to make some sort of income, right?”  Yes. One of the things we discussed prior to returning from Peace Corps was the idea of starting our own company, one where our services could be done from a computer connected to the internet, to allow us the most flexibility and mobility.

What Kind of Company?

Consulting was the best word we could think of that could hold all the ideas we had of services we could provide. It allows us to do a wide variety of things, which is what we wanted. We don’t want to be known for one specific thing. We want people to hire us because of who we are, our skills and experiences, our values and passions. We are branding and marketing ourselves.  We both believe that this is not a long-term career company, but a conventional way (having a job, so to speak) for the time being to live unconventionally. Since we also know that being very vague is not the best way to market ourselves, we narrowed it down to:

Project Management

  • Brand & Identity Development
  • Website Development
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Event Coordination

Michelle and I love being in charge of projects. We love to coordinate and implement programs. Projects can range from helping a small business owner get their business online to helping coordinate events and conventions. If there’s something we can’t do ourselves, we have a big network of talented folks who we can contract.

Social Media & Website Management
Because of our experience in blogging and managing websites, we were contacted by a few people to help them with their social media accounts and manage their online presence (websites).  We do everything from creating original content, uploading blog posts, engaging with an organization’s audience on facebook, etc.. We also have a lot of experience teaching people the basics of how to use online tools for themselves.

This is mutually beneficial for us and clients as we can do this kind of work anywhere we have internet.

There are tons of things we can also do that we didn’t list which is the beauty of why we started our own consulting company. The most important thing we want to get across, though, is that we want people to see that, as individuals and as a team, we can provide a lot. We have a range of professional and personal skills, and now, the time and flexibility to work on a wide range of projects.

We’d love if you would help us and connect us to people who might need our help. You might have a conversation with a family member, friend, or co-worker and be like, “I know a couple that could help you out.”

We want to be that couple.

Our Company Websitehttp://www.j-and-m.org/

Side Note: Housesitting

We still have available housesitting dates for late October to Thanksgiving for 2014 and beginning of 2015 from January to May. If you or someone you know needs housesitters, let us know. Here’s the link: http://jeddandmichelle.com/house-sitting/

Epic Road Trip 2014 Recap

Epic_Road_Trip_2014

Our Epic Road Trip of 2014 is over. For one month we traveled from Portland to Seattle; to Canada’s Vancouver B.C.; Kelowna B.C., Banff (in Alberta); back to the states to Glacier, Montana; Salt Lake City; Fort Collins; Boulder; Denver; Boise; and back to Portland. About 5,500 miles in all.

We participated in a World Domination Summit, helped friends with their backyard project, got to attend a wedding of two dear friends, went to another Continue reading

Thank You Mr. Williams

Robin-Williams copy

Dear Mr. Williams,

We’ve never met. I can’t say I really know you. I haven’t seen all of your movies. I’m surprised that I even remembered that you were from Canada. All I know is that when I learned of your passing a couple of days ago, it felt as if a part of me was broken off and torn from me. I went from denial, to shock, to sadness. I checked with Facebook and Twitter hoping the news was a hoax. It wasn’t. I didn’t realized I cared about you that much.

As the day went on, I read tribute after tribute from your friends and family. People who knew you much better than I did, people who loved you, who were inspired by you, who will miss you. I choked up. Tears ran down my face. I’ve never been emotionally saddened by the passing of a celebrity. I realized I was going to miss you.

What’s strange is that till a couple of days ago, I didn’t really think about you. I didn’t know what your schedule was, where you were at, what you are were doing at the time. But over these past couple of days, I can’t stop remembering you. Now that you are gone, I remember how much you mean to me.

Hook-robin-williams-26577002-1200-799The first movie I ever saw with you in it was “Hook”. You portrayed a man that cared more about his career than his family. A man who had forgotten what it was to dream and to imagine. A man who forgot to play. A man who needed to remember what was truly important. You were Pan the Man. Only your ability to be serious, fun, adventurous, and childlike fit that character.   Even though I was 8 at the time, you made me believe that life was and could be magical, that we had forgotten this. I believed.

genie-aladdinWhen I was 13, I auditioned for the school play. Of all the songs I could have picked, I thought of “Friend Like Me” from “Aladdin.” I did it because of you. I loved the personality you gave to the character of Genie. I tried my best to do all of the voices, the different intonations with my voice. You gave such life and joy to a lot of your characters and Genie seemed a great reflection of you. Fiercely loyal.  Incredibly humble and compassionate. A major goof. It also reminded me of the person I wanted to be.

mrsdoubtfireYou were such a genuine person that I would forget that you were acting. In “Mrs. Doubtfire” I was touched by the way you portrayed a father who would do anything to be with his children. I think of that often. The love that one must have to go to extreme measures to be with the ones they love. In my own life, will I have that same courage? Will I love so deeply?

robin-williams-7But it’s your role in “Good Will Hunting”, the lessons I learned from you in that movie, that changed how I see life today. I was that cocky brat like Matt Damon’s character. I’m not as brilliant, but I definitely thought I knew enough in life to think I had most of it figured out. Things like love. I was wrong. I remember you explaining that love was about the little things, the special moments you get to share with someone that nobody else knows, the good times and the bad. And then you said:

“You don’t know about real loss, ’cause that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.”

I was in a point in my life where this was true. I never dared to love anyone that much, not even myself.

You see Mr. Williams, though you played many roles, you might not have known how big of a role you played in my life or millions of others. Though I never knew you, it felt like you knew me. I could relate to you. You possessed that rare talent to make us laugh, make us cry, to comfort us, and to remind us of how special life is. That is why I feel like something was abruptly stopped, torn, and broken in my life. You are an important icon for our generation.

Though I can never imagine what you went through in your life, I can only hope that you knew how thankful people are for you, how much they loved you, how much they will miss you.

Thank you Mr. Williams for being a huge part of my life.

Rest in peace.
-J