11 Nov 2010
We got a chance to chat with Heather Shugarman of Then Heather Said about how she stays in shape, her healthy living tips and her a-ha moment. She plans to run a race in all 50 states and to that we tip our hat at her & the positive outlook she left us with after this interview. Enjoy!
1. Have you always lived a healthy life?
As a young adult in high school and college, I never paid much attention to what I did to my body. I didn’t think about food, much past eating what I liked to eat. My favorite foods were no doubt greasy pizza, take out Chinese food, chicken sandwiches, and BAGELS. My freshmen year of college I’m pretty sure I ate a bagel at every meal. I didn’t care about vitamins or nutrients. I didn’t monitor portion size or consider produce intake. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and soon the “when” morphed into anytime I was hungry, sad, bored, drinking, frustrated, angry, celebrating, or near food. Eventually the correlation between food and emotions was such a blurred line I didn’t even realize it had come to a point I should be concerned.
I played sports for part of high school, and enjoyed outdoor activities with friends for years afterwards, but I was never one to exercise regularly. During times I felt I needed to “work out more” it was never to take better care of myself, but instead to try to transform my body into something I thought it needed to be. These periods of extra gym sessions would last a few weeks at a time before I got too busy, too distracted, or too lazy to continue.
2. When did you have your “a-ha” moment about living healthier?
I didn’t start paying attention to my health until the spring of 2009. It started when I was a bride-to-be planning a wedding, and feeling like I should participate in the popular idea of a “Bridal Bootcamp” during the planning of my wedding. At the time I had a horrible self-image and thought that if I tried hard enough, I could be happy with myself by the wedding day. I started counting calories and working out at a gym with my fiancé, but it was to lose weight for vanity, not for health.
It wasn’t until my (now ex-) fiancé called off the wedding six weeks before we were scheduled to say “I do” that I had a bit of a wakeup call. During the next several weeks, I really started to examine my life and my habits. I asked myself some hard questions, and consider my motives in doing certain things. It was during this time when I realized that I wasn’t doing what was best for me, my life or my health, in so many areas. I made a pledge to try and find a happy, healthy peace within myself, and to star making one healthy decision at a time in a quest to be the best version of myself I could be. At the same time, I knew that healthy living is more than nutrition and fitness, and wanted to find a balance in all areas of my life.
3. Is it ever a struggle to stay healthy?
I’m at an interesting part in my “healthy living” journey. I am at a point where I have maintained a 35 pound weight loss for almost a full year. However, I am not necessarily at a “healthy weight” according to my doctor. I still have 20-30 pounds to lose to be considered at a healthy weight for my height and build.
However, I see myself with healthier eyes than ever before. I am proud of my body and the stories it tells, even if they aren’t stories of perfection.
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a struggle to stay healthy, because I personally consider the often frowned upon “unhealthy” moments as part of a balanced life. Yesterday I ate six homemade oatmeal cookies throughout the day. Was it the healthiest food choice I could make? No, perhaps not. But I don’t regret it. I enjoyed the cookies, and I move on.
Having days where I don’t “eat clean” remind me that I actually enjoy eating a more balanced, clean diet now. When I don’t have a lot of produce during the day, I find that by dinner time, I am craving vegetables. I like the way eating lean protein, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables makes my body feel, and perform. I like the way going for a walk after dinner makes me feel more energized than a sugar free Red Bull. I like the rush of adrenalin and feeling of pride that comes over me after a great run, and the learning how to push myself to the limit without over doing it during a workout.
The trick for me, sometimes, is remembering these feelings. We all have days, or weeks, or seasons when we feel less motivated to do what we know we should. Not just in eating right or working out or taking our vitamins, but in all facets of life – how we spend our money, how we spend our time, how we respond to people who upset us, and so much more. Remembering the emotions that I feel when I make good decisions in any of these areas, help me to continue to make these good decisions.
4. How do you stay motivated / what do you do on the days you’re not feeling so motivated?
When it comes to exercise, if I’m not feeling motivated, I assess my situation. Am I avoiding a work out because my body is tired and could really use the rest? If so, I may trade in my plan to run with 10 minutes of living room yoga (even if it’s simply laying in corpse pose )
Sometimes I send an urgent text to a friend or I tweet an SOS message asking for motivation. Having someone else tell me that I won’t regret the work out, or I’ll thank myself come race day always helps me refocus on the big picture.
Am I procrastinating because I am feeling lazy? I might talk myself into getting my butt up to work out by setting “Not Until Boundaries.” I may have plans to watch a Netflix movie, but I tell myself “Not until 20 minutes of Strength training!” A new magazine arrived in my mailbox and I want to read it? “Not until I finish my training run!”
Once in a while, however, I allow myself a lazy day. It’s important for me to remember that it’s MORE THAN okay to skip a work out every once in a while for the sake of skipping it. Choosing to spend an extra hour crafting over taking a bike ride every few months is not going to kill me, and it may be the mental break I need from trying to live up to a false perfection we so often strive towards.
5. What do you do to stay in shape?
Last week I sprained my ankle, so I’m on a slight hiatus, but I truly love running, and especially training for and completing races. I love to listen to a favorite podcast while I jog through my community, breathing in fresh air and waving to my neighbors. I get lost in the rhythmic motions and stride, and love accomplishing goals – no matter how small. Reaching personal distance records has been especially thrilling for me this fall, but I also love the feeling I get when I tell myself “run as fast as you can to that tree, then you can walk to recover.” Each time I reach that new distance, or push hard past the tree, I feel myself standing a bit taller.
6. How do you encourage healthy living for your family?
This summer, my siblings and I started a tradition we hope to carry on annually; The Shugarman Sibling Race Series. On July 4th we all ran a 4 mile race when they came to visit me for the holiday. Next summer we hope to continue on the tradition with a new race in a different location. I would love to see my parents get involved one day, too! Maybe our next event can be a run/walk!
7. Do you find it easy to feed your kids nutritious food?
8. What’s a great piece of advice you’ve received about healthy living?
I’ve got 3 pieces of practical advice on healthy eating:
1. If you don’t think you like a vegetable, try roasting it. The flavors change and there is a good possibility you’ll like it!
2. If you’ve hated it since you were a kid, give it another go. I make no promises, but I have come to learn that as an adult I love green peppers, onions, beets, and so much more, all of which I despised as a child.
3. There is no one food out there that can’t be “healthified” to taste great and provide your body with the good stuff. I make my own versions of some of my favorite “not-so-healthy” meals, and I have come to like some of my healthy versions just as much, if not better than the originals.
9. What’s your current favorite song that makes you want to move?
I recently wrote a post about my ridiculous music habits,( http://thenheathersaid.com/2010/10/19/find-nothing-but-faith-in-nothing/ ) where I share that my taste in music that is mostly songs from when I was in high school and college. There are a couple more current songs that make me want to move when I hear them:
Good Girls Go Bad – Cobra Starship
We are Golden – Meka
Also, some of my favorite running songs are fairly slow in tempo:
Brooklyn – Wakey!Wakey!
Monsters to be Named – Elliot Fitzgerald
Heart of the Matter – India.Arie (cover)
10. What’s your favorite attune chocolate bar flavor?
I love the Mint Chocolate I tried recently! In my mind, you really can’t go wrong when joining those flavors.