It’s been one year since I took my last sip of Diet Coke (you can read about why I gave it up on Fooducate). I gave up Diet Coke not because I thought it was the devil, but because I was simply drinking too much of the artificially sweet stuff.

Over the first three months, I pretty much went cold turkey. I initially felt the loss in my energy level, especially because (except for chocolate) I had no other source of caffeine in my diet. Although the initial fatigue eventually ended (thankfully!), I realized that what I missed most was the psychological lift—and the happiness—that Diet Coke brought to my life. I sound like a commercial, I know, but that’s really what I missed most. For some, it’s wine, for others it’s a martini or a coffee. For me, it was diet soda. And I know I’m not alone—so many of my friends also have (or had) a thing for Diet Coke or some other diet soda. It’s kind of sad that when we reminisce about our times drinking it, it’s like we’re talking about a dear departed friend.

When people ask me if I feel any different after having given up Diet Coke—and all diet soda, for that matter—my honest answer is NO. If anything, I don’t feel quite as satisfied, especially when I write for hours on end and need a lift or pick-me-up. Call me crazy!

Although I’ve tried several unsweetened teas, I don’t rely on them for my fix, especially because I prefer them with a little artificial sweetener sprinkled in. I don’t think artificial sweeteners are going to kill us, but I rather keep my intake of them low just to play it safe. I do drink Diet Snapple on most days, but I have much less of that than I used to have Diet Coke. I have even gone up to 10 days at a time without any caffeinated beverage when on vacation, though I’ll admit that on my caffeine-free days I definitely feel like I’m missing something.

Here are 4 Stressipes to help you curb or quit your habit once and for all. It won’t be easy–it certainly wasn’t for me–but it can be done if you choose to do it.

1)   Taper your intake. Instead of going cold turkey, make gradual cutbacks in how much you consume. For one week, keep a record of how much and when you have the diet soda and set a goal to gradually decrease each week. This will help you minimize headaches or dips in energy.

2)   Plan your fix. If you don’t want to give diet soda up altogether, try to figure out what time of day it means the most to you and have it then. If you know you like to have it early in the day when your colleagues are enjoying their coffee, that’s the time to enjoy it. Or you may find you rather have it when you’re out with friends at a restaurant or a party. When you do choose to have it, order or buy just enough to get your fix without going overboard. (Having a lot of ice in it can also help you have less but think you’re having more.)

3)   Drink by day. If you know you want at least some diet soda each day, try to have it before mid-day (12-2 pm, for example) so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. Having it too close to bedtime can theoretically keep you awake longer or not be able to sleep as soundly (not to mention you may need to wake up to go to the bathroom).

4)   Find alternatives. You may find you can swap the diet soda and feel satisfied with sparkling water with lemon or lime squeezed in, or with some fresh fruit slices or 100 percent fruit juice splashed in. Just be mindful that if you replace diet soda with something caloric (like fruit juice or a laced coffee beverage), you’ll have to cut calories elsewhere to maintain a healthy body weight. There are many tasty brands of unsweetened iced tea that you may like, but you may need to try a few before you find one you like—especially if you rather not use artificial sweeteners or real sugar to boost the flavor.

 (Read more about my thoughts on diet soda right here.)

Have you kicked the can? What strategies worked for you?

 

 

Print Friendly
Share on Twitter
click to comment
 
 

“If you’re like most Americans who want to stay fit and active, there’s a good chance that if you haven’t already (or recently) joined a gym, the thought has likely crossed your mind—especially as the new year approaches.” Read more of my blog post for US News & World Report’s Eat + Run.

 
Print Friendly
Share on Twitter
click to comment
 
 

In this monthly post, I highlight one person who embodies the concept of #moveitorloseit –a concept I share proudly on both Twitter and Facebook. To me, #moveitorloseit is not at all about moving it in order to lose weight…it’s about staying active and fit consistently, regularly, and enjoyably to stay sane and centered despite—and in the face of—the curve balls life throws you. It’s about not wasting the ability to use your body, and about strengthening (or at least preserving) your muscles and bones, and at the same time, keeping your mind sharp.

In November, 2012, my #moveitorloseit model was 40 year-old Aaron Flores, an LA-based registered dietitian. Read on to see what Aaron’s #moveitorloseit fitness goal was and how he planned to accomplish it–and then see what he has to say now, after meeting his goal!

 

BEFORE…..

"This is picture of me after my most recent training session. What I love about it is seeing how much I sweat after a workout. My sweaty shirt is like a badge of honor for me! I'm so proud that my body can move the way it does!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your specific #moveitorloseit goal, and when do you plan to accomplish it?

My #Moveitorloseit goal is to run the 2013 LA Marathon. It’s my first ever marathon, and I would love to finish in under 5 hours if possible. I run/walk and try to stay at a pace of about 11:00 minutes per mile. In the end, I know I’ll be happy to just finish!

Why did you choose this particular challenge? What will it mean to you to complete the marathon?

Why did I choose to do a marathon? Maybe it’s because I just turned 40. I felt the need to challenge myself. I completed a 100-mile bike ride almost 10 years ago, and that experience taught me that I respond very well to challenges. I also know that staying motivated to exercise on a regular basis is difficult for me.

Having struggled with weight for all of my adult life, I understand how important it is for me to stay active. But to be honest, I get bored unless I change my routine every couple of years. So my latest change came in 2011 when I started running. I found that I really enjoyed it. I ran a couple of 10Ks that year, but never anything longer. I’ve also always been fascinated, inspired and in awe of anyone who ran a marathon. In my head it’s always been the holy grail of races. I used to sit alongside the LA Marathon route and literally be in tears watching people run the race. I was so amazed and inspired that the participants could challenge themselves both physically and mentally.

So it was almost a perfect storm that took place: I’d been running and enjoying it, I’ve always loved the idea of doing a marathon, I needed a new challenge, and I was turning 40.  So after watching the 2012 LA Marathon, I said to my wife, “I’m going to run the 2013 Marathon next year,” and hear I am!

Have there been any bumps in the road so far? What has made training difficult or challenging, and what (or who) helps you stay motivated to continue?

The hardest part of my training so far is that I’ve had some issues with tendonitis in my feet and a sprained ankle that laid me up for about three weeks. It was early enough in my training that I knew that if I just kept my endurance up, I’d be OK. So I dusted off my bike and started riding again which really helped.  I forgot how much I love riding!

The other challenge that always comes up is self doubt. I doubt myself every night before my long run of the week. I think, “Can I really run 10 miles tomorrow?”  But in those moments, what I try to do is remember that my real goal is not just the marathon. It’s something bigger than that. I’m trying to enjoy the process of training and not just the end goal. I try to remember that 15 years ago, at 300 lbs, I could not have run a quarter mile and now I can run ten! That’s amazing right there! I remember that exercising helps reduce my stress, it makes me a better man, father, employee. It’s not about the calories that I burn, it’s about the way moving makes me feel.

What really keeps me going though is the image I have of myself crossing the finish line. I’m sure there will be a few tears of joy shed on that day.

What advice do you have for others thinking of running their first marathon?

Well since I’m a dietitian, I of course would stress good nutrition. Beyond that, my advice would be to turn off that voice in your head that says, “I can’t!” If you continue to doubt yourself, you’ll end up believing it. I believe in the power of positive thinking and if you are going to run a marathon, you have to be positive. The other thing that keeps me going is to remember that my goal is to finish.  Not to win but to finish. It’s not about the time I clock; it’s about the journey.

AFTER…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congrats on your first marathon!! Describe your marathon experience and what it taught you.

“I can finally say, “I did it!” After months of training, miles of running and many early mornings, I can now say I am a marathoner. Finishing the LA Marathon was something that I thought would literally never happen.  I’ve been asked what was the hardest part of the Marathon and I have to say it wasn’t any specific mile or event on the day of the run. The hardest part was the self-doubt before. I honestly never thought that I could complete the run as I was training. It was not until the morning of the race that I really knew that no matter what, I was going to cross that finish line. I wish I was faster, but I was not. I hoped for a better performance but it was not meant to be.  But despite that, I had a smile as I ran across the finish line. Even two weeks later, I am still amazed at what I’ve done. I am in awe of what I have accomplished and it all seems like a dream.  But this is not a dream. I am a marathon finisher and only because I committed to the journey. It is a choice I made. I chose to Move It so I won’t Lose It! If I can do it, so can you.”

Inspired by Aaron? How could you not be?! If you’d like to share your journey towards fitness and be a future #moveitorloseit Model of the Month, please email me your story (with a photo of yourself doing the activity/activities) at elisa@elisazied.com.

What inspires you to #moveitorloseit ?

Print Friendly
Share on Twitter
click to comment
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you have diabetes, it’s hard enough to deal with that, let alone worry about your weight. Thankfully, a new book by registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Jill Weisenberger called Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week is here to help. Check out my interview with Jill about her book below:

EZ: What makes this book different from other books that are aimed at those with diabetes?

JW: Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week doesn’t give a prescribed diet. There are many paths to a healthy plate. Since everyone’s diabetes, medications, food preferences and life are different, the diet should be different too. Instead of following rules and relying on willpower, my readers develop skills and learn to rely on these skills and strategies. The book spans a full year to give support and structure long enough for the reader to fully integrate their new plan.

EZ: Why is it crucial for those with diabetes to lose weight? What’s in it for them?

JW: The underlying problem behind type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance—when the body doesn’t use insulin efficiently. Weight loss improves insulin resistance. Dropping a few pounds helps people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes prevent or delay complications. Besides, losing weight just makes us more energized. The good news is that even small amounts of weight loss improve health and in a number of ways. It’s far better to lose 10 pounds and keep it off than to lose 50 pounds and gain it back.

EZ: Your book provides a one-year plan to help those with diabetes lose weight. What would you say to those who are anxious to lose weight and think a one-year time frame for doing so is just too long?

JW: Weight loss should never be a race. The one-year plan is important for the structure it offers. Losing weight is just plain hard, and the more structure and support dieters have, the more successful I expect them to be. Weight loss and the lifelong maintenance of that weight loss require lifelong behavior change. Rapid weight loss does little to help people develop the skills necessary for that.

EZ: What would you say to people who think they need to avoid all sugar or starchy foods if they have diabetes?

JW: They will be so happy to know that’s not true. The overall amount of carbohydrate is far more important than the type of carbohydrate. Make an appointment with a registered dietitian skilled in diabetes management to learn how to balance the whole diet without banning any food forever.

EZ: What are 3 takeaways from the book for those with or without diabetes who want to lose weight and keep it off? 

JW: (1) Set behavioral goals. Focus on changing your behavior and the weight loss and health improvements follow. (2) Understand that weight loss is not a race. (3) Expect that sometimes you won’t want to do this anymore. Plan for that now. To build motivation, make a Motivation Kit.  Collect those things that motivate you and keep them handy in a box or notebook. Add to it often. You might collect your list of reasons to lose weight, photos, magazine articles, inspirational quotations, affirmations, a picture of what you plan to reward yourself with— anything and everything that motivates you.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week from the publisher.

 

Print Friendly
Share on Twitter
click to comment
 
 

Here’s a delicious recipe from the latest cookbook, 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes, by culinary dietitian, Jackie Newgent. (And just think–the book packs in 999 others that will likely please your palate and those of your friends and family!)

This is one of my go-to recipes—for myself and for guests. The full-on Asian sensation of sweet heat turns angel hair into a high-flavored entrée topped with a confetti of crisp veggies. The cilan­tro finishes it with fresh aromatic appeal. It’s delicious topped with thinly sliced grilled chicken, too.

Makes 4 servings: 1 1⁄2 cups (1 cup pasta and 1⁄2 cup vegetables) each

Ingredients:

8 ounces whole-wheat or other whole-grain angel hair or capellini pasta
3 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 1⁄2 tablespoons naturally brewed soy sauce
1 1⁄2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoon freshly grated gingerroot
1 serrano pepper with seeds, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1⁄2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
1 cup snow peas, ends trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise
1⁄2 cup matchstick-size sliced purple or white cauliflower or jicama
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, ginger, serrano, and garlic in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Set aside.
3. Drain the pasta, add to a large bowl, drizzle with the oil, and toss till coated. Add the sauce mixture and scallions and toss again.
4. Just before serving, top with the snow peas, cauliflower, and cilantro. Serve warm, at room tem­perature, or chilled.

Nutrition information per serving: 300 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 350mg sodium, 55g total carbohydrate, 9g dietary fiber, 12g sugars, 10g protein

Recipe reprinted with permission from 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes by Jackie Newgent, RD (Wiley, 2012).

Full disclosure:  I received a review copy of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes by the publisher.

What’s your favorite way to eat angel hair?

Print Friendly
Share on Twitter
click to comment
 
 

Below you’ll find a guest post from Stefani Pappas, a nutrition/family studies student at The Pennsylvania State University, Schreyer Honors College, whom I had the pleasure to meet this past Summer. After I met this smart, motivated young woman who LOVES nutrition, I thought, who better than her to review a brand new book that recently landed on my desk—The Teen Eating Manifesto

 

 

 

 

The transition into college or living on your own can be stressful, and it’s during such times that teens tend to put health on the back-burner. Fortunately, to the rescue comes The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy by registered dietitian Lisa Stollman.

In this nutrition bible for teens, Stollman effectively shares many valuable nutrition secrets, such as how to be beverage savvy and how to satisfy a sweet tooth. The book effectively educates teens about the benefits of a nutritious diet and active lifestyle, and at the same time, helps them become nutrition savvy and make practical, doable changes in their day-to-day food and fitness behaviors that can help them look and feel better.

What I find particularly helpful are the sample meal plans, delicious recipes, and exercise tips. All of these components make the book easy to personalize to meet individual nutrition needs.

Aside from addressing our daily lives, Stollman also shares secrets for how to keep health a priority during tricky situations such as when we eat out, go to a party, and go on vacation.

In The Teen Eating Manifesto, Stollman also shares the latest in nutrition technology by giving readers access to countless health apps and websites. Because teens are so tech-savvy, they’re sure to love all the great technological tools that Stollman recommends, including apps that help you track your calories, plan your workouts, or navigate the supermarket.

I think of this book as the college student’s healthy living bible. It’s an educational, easy to read book that is sure to help teens eat and live more healthfully now and in years to come.

 

Full disclosure: The author sent us a free review copy of The Teen Eating Manifesto.

You can learn more about the book and author by visiting her web site here.

 

Print Friendly
Share on Twitter
click to comment
 
 

Jessica Simpson has been all over the news this past week. As the mother of 4-month old Maxwell Drew, Simpson revealed to USA Today that she “ate what she wanted while pregnant, and indulged in anything and everything including mac and cheese”–something she reportedly hasn’t touched since joining Weight Watchers (she’s a current spokesperson). Today she’ll be Katie Couric’s new show, Katie, to continue the conversation.

While Simpson hasn’t said how much weight she gained–is it really our business, anyway?!–the 32 year-old says she’s eating less, regularly working out with a trainer, and losing weight each week.

As reported in USA Today–and mentioned on the Today Show and other TV programs–Simpson has also said she’s no supermodel. “My body is not bouncing back like a supermodel. I’m just your everyday woman who is trying to feel good and be healthy for her daughter, her fiancé and herself.” As a registered dietitian and mother of two boys, I applaud Simpson for her honesty and relatability as she admits to her current struggle.

I won’t be a cynic by saying Simpson is telling all (or almost all!) to make her future success (which no doubt includes getting into a bikini–and perhaps doing so in a Weight Watcher commercial) that much more noteworthy. I do sense a genuine and authentic spirit in her plight. But let’s be honest– Simpson, a successful fashion designer and singer, is one of the lucky ones. She can afford to get help to get her body back. She’s being paid to follow and represent a reputable commercial weight loss program, and she reportedly works out with a celebrity trainer several times a week. Yes–she is more fortunate than most women post-pregnancy who have minimal or no help to get their bodies back. But to Simpson’s credit, no one can or should take full responsibility for her getting back into shape–after all, she’ll have to work at it like all of us, and she has already started.

Because Simpson is in the public eye, she may feel even more pressure than most to look good–and fast!–after having her baby. Remember how hard many were on her when she appeared in so-called “Mom jeans”–she spoke out then, and now speaks out again. Like most women, I’d be surprised if Simpson didn’t take all the negativity and criticism to heart. I know I would have.

Hopefully, Simpson can be a role model for those who want to get healthy and get back in shape after having a baby. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll inspire other women to not be so hard on themselves in the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I had my babies, about 14 and 10 years ago, respectively (yikes!), I had gained between 25-27 or so pounds with each. I breast fed both of my sons for 6 months, and it took me about that long to lose all the weight the first time and nearly double that the second time around. Did I feel pressure to lose the weight? I did miss my pre-baby body, but I knew that I would take care of myself by trying to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. I ultimately lost all the weight–and even a few pounds more–and have successfully maintained that weight loss for several years. My body is not the same as it was before having babies, but I would never trade in my boys–the best gifts in the world!–for perkier parts (if you know what I mean).

Several Facebook friends were kind enough to share their thoughts on having babies and body weight–check out what they had to say and weigh in right here.

If you’re a new mom out there, my best advice to you is to not pressure yourself to lose weight too quickly–especially if you’re breast feeding. You need extra calories to make milk and stay energized. Try to eat the best you can, and aim for a balanced diet with plenty of healthful, wholesome foods.

Incidentally, a while back I created a healthy get-your-body-back plan for new moms for  Parents Magazine for women who are at least 6 weeks post-partum. Check it out!

Please remember that as a new mom, hormones and lack of sleep contribute to how you feel–and sometimes you will feel badly about or be hard on yourself. Try to cut yourself some slack and not compare yourself to others–and be thankful to have a new baby to nurture and love. And sad as it may be for us in our thin-obsessed culture, when it comes to the human body, some women bounce back more easily than others. And some may never fully bounce back to where they were before they had a baby. It’s important to let the chips fall where they may and to take it one day at a time after having a baby. Try to get as much rest as much as possible, drink plenty of fluids, and most importantly, ask for help when you need it. And try to stay active and fit–#moveitorloseit, as I like to say–as often as possible. Walking is a free and effective activity that can easily be worked into your day both with and without your baby stroller in tow.

With time, and with a little nurturing, you’ll find that you’ll lose the weight. You may never have the exact same body you had before baby, BUT would you want to if that meant not having your baby? I doubt you would!

How did having a baby affect your weight and self image? Join the conversation below and on my Facebook page or forum.

 

Print Friendly
Share on Twitter
click to comment
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Preparation Time:  1-1/2 hours

1 beef tri-tip roast (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 medium mangoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 large Boston lettuce leaves (optional)

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Place bell peppers on metal baking sheet; spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Press 1 teaspoon paprika evenly onto all surfaces of beef roast. Place roast on rack in shallow roasting pan. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 425°F oven 30 to 40 minutes for medium rare; 40 to 45 minutes for medium doneness. Roast bell peppers in oven with beef about 30 minutes or until tender. Set peppers aside to cool.
  3. Remove roast when instant-read thermometer registers 135°F for medium rare; 150°F for medium. Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise about 10°F to reach 145°F for medium rare; 160°F for medium.)
  4. Meanwhile, cook barley according to package directions. Set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Cut beef into 1/2 inch pieces; season with salt and black pepper. Whisk lime juice, oil and 1/2 teaspoon paprika in small bowl until blended. Toss with beef, barley, roasted peppers, mangoes, green onions and cilantro in large bowl. Serve in Boston lettuce leaves, if desired.

Cook’s Tip: To quickly cool barley and prevent it from clumping, spread on metal baking sheet.

Cook’s Tip:  Mango adds an interesting punch to this salad, both with its sweetness and with a boost of vitamin C.

Nutrition information per serving*: 309 calories; 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat); 60 mg cholesterol; 246 mg sodium; 35 g carbohydrate; 4.3 g fiber; 26 g protein; 8.4 mg niacin; 0.8 mg vitamin B6; 1.3 mcg vitamin B12; 2.3 mg iron; 27 mcg selenium; 4.7 mg zinc.

*This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, selenium and zinc; and a good source of fiber and iron.

What’s your favorite way to eat lean beef?

Posted with permission from The Healthy Beef Cookbook (Wiley, 2005).

 

 

 
 

Recently, The Wall Street Journal featured an article about how Olympic gymnast John Orozco is forced to head home after some disappointments. Although this young man overcame injury and other challenges in order to compete at the 2012 Olympics, he didn’t do all he set out to do–and it certainly makes sense for him to feel that not having a medal to show for his efforts is a personal fail. The way I see it, the fact that he worked hard enough to compete on a world stage, and the fact that he did so many things so well are, indeed, wins.

Reading about John, and seeing him perform at and be interviewed about the Olympics, has made me think about the lessons the rest of us mere mortals can learn by watching them. It also makes me think about how we parents can use those lessons to guide our children–especially those who love sports and the thrill of competition.

So far, I’ve found the Olympics to be riveting. I have especially loved watching the gymnastics, the diving, and the swimming. And while my children are spending another week and a half at overnight camp and are unable to watch the Olympics (incidentally, just today, their camp broke their own Olympics…so excited for them!), I will continue to email them about Olympics (especially about men’s basketball!). When they’re home, I plan to talk to them a little about the ups and downs, the successes and disappointments, and how they can apply the lessons inherent in all of that to their own lives as they pursue their goals and dreams, both in sports or in life.

When I watch the Olympics, I cry a little when I see the look of exuberance on an athlete’s face when he or she medals. I cry when I see how proud the athlete’s parents, siblings, and other family members are as they watch from the stands. I cry when I see the tears of disappointment that stream from an athlete’s face when he or she fails to win a gold medal, or any medal at all. Hearing the athletes stories moves me, and they also inspire me. The sacrifices they make are so great, and I hope and wonder if, no matter what the results, they truly love what they’re doing and have enjoyed the process. But, sad as it may be, it’s easy to understand why not winning may very well make athletes have regrets.

As a little girl, I watched in awe as Dorothy Hamill took to the ice. With my hair cut like hers at age 8, I took ice skating lessons, which I truly loved, and had dreams about skating like her to win an Olympic gold medal. Falling off of a balance beam at age 7 (I did a split and waved my arms in the air, just as an Olympian would–before I fell, that is!), and falling down a flight of stairs at age 8, I recovered from both a broken arm and two broken vertebrae, still thinking I could be an Olympian. But by the ripe old age of 11, I remember deciding, once and for all, that while I truly loved figure skating, I probably didn’t have the talent, nor was I really willing to make the commitment and sacrifices necessary to train towards that goal. To this day, I have no regrets about that decision, and I still love to ice skate.

Now, as the mother of two sons–ages 14 and 10–who truly love basketball, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope to one day see them play in a national championship (or two). If they are good enough and want to play on their high school or college teams, you can bet I’ll be at many of their games–even if I need to fly there! But my one wish for them when it comes to sports and life is for them to do what they love, and to try to do it well..to dream big, and to work hard to achieve their goals and ambitions. Who am I to say they’ll never make it? I won’t lie to them and tell them they’re amazing if they’re not, but I will always support them and try to be positive. More than anything, I want them to enjoy the process of trying to improve and to play the best they can. I want them to be a team player, and to know there’s no “i” in “team.” And I want them to know that even if they don’t make a team they want to play for, or win an award, that doesn’t mean that their efforts haven’t paid off. I want them to know that one can learn so much just from being a part of a team, and from setting goals and working hard.

Although the lessons my sons may learn while pursing their goals and dreams may not be obvious, they will become ingrained in who they are, and who they become. And even if they won’t get to ultimately stand on a podium or enjoy a moment during which all their hopes and dreams are actualized, perhaps they’ll learn to see the light and take pride in how hard they’ve worked, and to be happy they really went for whatever it is they wanted in the first place.

When you win a gold medal, or a big championship, of course you should savor the moment and be proud. But I imagine that some who do so at some point realize that what goes up must come down, and there’s only one direction in which to go from that point on. Pessimistic as that sounds, it may be true–though it shouldn’t be. And shame on the news media, so quick to pounce on Michael Phelps for not winning a medal in his very first race in the 2012 Olympics. He’s now the most decorated Olympian in history–go Michael! He could have easily retired, but instead sought to extend his career and compete in these games when he could have very well rested on his laurels!

I want my sons to learn from these Olympics that even if they don’t reach an athletic or other personal goal they set for themselves, they can still aim for a personal best; for some, just staying in the game by continuing to play or do the sport or activity you love is enough of an accomplishment in and of itself. In my mind, while winning is everything to some–especially when it comes to sports–sometimes, simply putting yourself out there and trying the best you can should be, and sometimes has to be, enough. We’re all not meant to be Olympic athletes, or superstars. But we can all be good enough. I just hope my children can appreciate and learn from the stories of those who triumph, those who miss the mark, and those who fall somewhere in-between. There are so many lessons to be learned from all of these experiences if you simply seek to find them.

What lessons have you learned–or hope your kids learned–from watching the Olympics?

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you or your kids have a burning food, nutrition, fitness, lifestyle or all around silly question for Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson and current Olympic hopefuls? 20 of your questions will be answered by several amazing, inspiring athletes during the Summer Olympics.

As part of P&G’s “Thank you, Mom” campaign, Shawn and the other athletes want to tell you what you really really want to know, so please–post your questions* below!

*Feel free to ask Shawn a question, OR post a generic question to any of the athletes.

Disclosure: No goods or services were accepted in exchange for this post.

Print Friendly
Share on Twitter
click to comment
 
 
Page 5 of 19« First...4567...10...Last »