Teaching versus Learning

Being a parent is serious stuff. I take this responsibility on with a smile some days and with white knuckles on others.  When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to be the adult that could call all the shots. Now I realize that calling all the shots is exhausting and not at all the power trip that I was envisioning.  Part of being a parent, besides drinking out of the coffee mug that says “World’s best boss!” is teaching life lessons to our offspring.  My poor children have to withstand my attempts at taking advantage of every teachable moment that reveals itself throughout the day. This exhausts me so I can only imagine how tired the kids are of listening to me. My hand will be the first to shoot up in a room if asked, “Who here has tried and failed in a teachable moment?”  I have been guilty of taking the easy way out on occasion.  Some days I just don’t have it in me to explain to my daughter that life is not always fair or equal. Some days I just say “No, because I said so.”  I am thankful that sometimes I get that feather in my cap when a teacher or another parent reports that my child has behaved in spectacular fashion when in their presence. After a quick look over my shoulder to be sure that I am the intended recipient of the message, I break my imaginary arm patting myself on the back for a job well done raising our kiddos.  I also wonder to myself when I will get the chance to witness such behavior within the confines of Casa del Kuhel.

As my kids are growing up, I find that they are actually the ones who are teaching me. DO NOT – I repeat- DO NOT TELL MY KIDS THAT I ADMIT TO THIS!!!!  My 12 year old daughter is a budding model, fashion guru, social media aficionado and a new cross country runner.  My 15 year old twin boys are cross country runners, wrestlers and up and coming experts in the areas of all things involving airsoft guns, birds of prey and video games.  This eclectic group of souls has taught me so much over the years about navigating through life’s tough spots.  They have shown grace in times of social difficulty, perseverance in the face of self-doubt, compassion when seeing others in need, humility in times of victory and sportsmanship when handed defeat.    I write this blog post not to brag, but to remind myself that while there are teachable moments everywhere, some of them are for me to learn from and not to hand out.

The point- what is the point of this post and what the heck does it have to do with health and wellness?  There are times to teach and times to learn.  If we are lucky and smart, we recognize take every opportunity to learn. We recognize that although we might know a lot, we have much more to learn. Opening your eyes, ears and mind to new ideas and examples of how to improve ourselves is a vital key to moving forward.  So while it is true that I am a parent and a personal trainer whose job it is to teach, I am forever a student. I know enough to know that I don’t know enough.

I urge you to recognize this in yourself as well. Take in new information. Analyze it. Apply it to your life if it is a good fit. Something I find I have to say to my clients and my kids, “Get out of your own way!” I am in no way equating my clients to my kids.  The only correlation is that I’m trying to make is that I’m often teaching both groups something. Quit trying to tell yourself why suggestions can’t/won’t work.  Be open and you will be surprised at what can happen. The little things you learn and adopt will all add up to big lessons and big changes.  Watch and see what you teach others when you live your life as an example.  You won’t have to tell anyone anything.  Everyone is watching. They will see you changing your habits, your life and your body.  Who knew you could say so much without uttering a word?

I am so fortunate to be surrounded by so many excellent teachers in the form of my kids, friends, family and clients.  Who are your teachers and are you open to learning from them?

Until next time… Live Well!

Toni Kuhel



Do you measure up? Who cares?


It used to happen back in the day. Picture lining up in the neighborhood as team captains choose up teams for kickball, Red Rover, dodge ball, baseball, capture the flag or (insert your favorite team game here). If you are too young and haven’t had this experience, let me tell you, it was nerve-wracking. I was always the shortest and slightest person lining up. I can tell you I was never chosen first, and lots of times I was chosen last.

"I pick......you!"

Standing there amongst my neighbors and friends, I couldn’t help but compare myself. Who wouldn’t?  I mean, we were all standing in a loose knot, waiting for Bobby and Sally to choose the most promising athletes first. It was only obvious to everyone there that they were sizing all of us up. Who is the fastest? Who is the strongest? Who knows the game the best? OOOOOOOMG!!! It was enough to make you forget that you were supposed to be having fun.

The good news is that I no longer have to line up in front of Bobby and Sally. The bad news is that I sometimes pose as my own Bobby and Sally. Before you get the straight jacket, you should read a little more. I will work myself into a tizzy measuring myself up against others. I have all the same questions. It’s just a different era. When I start worrying about how much faster, stronger, smarter, thinner, wealthier, or luckier someone else might be than me, it is total disaster. Let’s face it. Someone is going to be ——-er than you…all the time.

I’m in total favor of healthy competition. It can be what pushes us to be more than what we thought we could be. Beware of that little monster that creeps into your brain that says you don’t measure up.  I battle this monster all the time and some days I win and some days I don’t.  The best way for me to avoid this battle all together is to be the very best that I can be. Competing against myself is the only race that should concern me.  I might be slower runner than lots of people I know, but I strive to better my performance every time I train. I race myself. This is truly comparing apples to apples.

I encourage to you to give 100% effort in everything you do. Be confident in who you are, your abilities, your gifts, and your strengths. You are no longer waiting to be chosen for a team. Unhappiness stems from comparison, so leave that mess behind. This isn’t just relative to fitness. You know this applies to life.

Until next time…live well! – Toni Kuhel

I “ran” a race!

As the registration for the Chicago Marathon 2012 opened this week, it reminded me of the first time I looked at that registration page.  I wonder how many of you are nervously looking at that page or one for a different race.

If you care to look back in my blog you’ll find several posts that cover races of varying distances. When I thought about standing at the starting line for my first 5K, I was nervous. Ironically, this was going to be my first race in preparation for my ultimate goal of my first marathon to take place in Chicago on 10-10-10.   I trained and successfully completed the Turkey Trot by running the entire distance.  BTW, any race with the word “trot” or “turkey” for that matter should not freak anyone out. These are friendly races and a great way for newbies to catch the racing bug.

As I got further along in my marathon training, it became obvious to my almost 40 year old- new to running- post childbearing (twins and one more) body that this was going to be a challenge like no other. I was wondering out loud to a neighbor about this crazy thing I was attempting. She introduced me to a concept by Jeff Galloway. He promotes a walk/run method to training and racing. Check out his website http://www.jeffgalloway.com/ .  Training and racing injury free was my ultimate goal and was I ever excited to know that someone had developed a program for it.

I know there are purists out there that think it doesn’t “really” count unless you run the whole distance, whatever that may be. To those people I say, “Run your race!”   To other people who are on the fence, let me tell you this. I have never participated in a race where a race official  has yanked a racer off the course when they started to walk the course. There are time limits and pace requirements, but all of them allow for the average person to walk parts, if not all, of the race. BELIEVE ME, I walked lots and lots of parts of lots and lots of longer distances. I had the same medal placed around my neck as the very first person who crossed the finish line.

See...my marathon medal matches the Kenyans' medals too.

I am in awe of those of you who can run long distances without a walking break. I have a few clients that school me constantly with their blistering paces and long runs.  I wish I could be a runner that makes it look like it’s no big deal to knock out a long series of 8 minute miles. Full disclosure…I ran one 8 minute mile and it almost killed me (not really, but it was UGLY).  If it is your goal to be one of these runners, you should definitely go for it.  I’m a big believer in setting and making progress towards your goals.

If you are looking to give yourself a little motivation toward getting more activity into your life, maybe a local 5K is in your future. If you have already completed a 5K and are looking for a bigger challenge, dare to dream of completing an 8K, 10K, half marathon or full marathon. Don’t let someone else (unless it’s your doctor) tell you that you can’t do such a thing. You should get clearance from your physician before beginning any exercise/training plan. You know I had to throw that in, and you know you really should do that.

Some training plans that might suit your training style





Redefine “runner” and you may find you are one after all.

Until next time…Live well! – Toni Kuhel

The Pursuit of Running Happy

November 2010 – I am an unhappy runner 😦                        

Soon after the Hot Chocolate 15K in November, the running mojo that carried me across the finish line of the Chicago Marathon 2010 got up and left me. I found it impossible to find motivation to run endlessly on the treadmill or to gear up and face the wintery streets of Naperville.  I could motivate others.  I fully believed my clients could achieve their goals and each and every one of them was making significant strides towards health and wellness.  But here I stood and doubted myself.  It was only in Florida this February where I was supporting my client Jessica in her first Run Disney event that the fog started to lift.  She was going for a personal best in a 5K distance after having to abandon her ½ marathon goal upon advice from her doctor.  It was at the “Happiest Place on Earth” that I found that elusive running mojo.  Until that light bulb moment, I ran only out of frustration. Needless to say that was not the best idea.  My state of mind affected my runs so much that I avoided them most days.   I don’t know if it was finally seeing the sun after months of gloomy winter days, spending uninterrupted time with a good friend and her family, the constant happy music that is part of the Disney experience, or the most awesome race expo ever, but I could feel myself believing I was a runner once more. I realized I hadn’t really set any fitness or running goals. It’s a bit like heading out on a road trip without a destination in mind. How could I plan my route without knowing where I wanted to finish. My goal the previous year was to cover the distances in all my races ending with the Chicago Marathon and to finish injury free.  Check and check!!!  Now what? 

February 2011 – I’m an inspired runner 🙂  

Time to set new goals -Feeling newly inspired I called my husband Alex in a frenzy and told him to sign me up for the Chicago Marathon 2011. I knew that the race would sell out soon and I had really put off the decision for a very long time.  He had witnessed my struggle to get moving with a purpose after the marathon blues took hold.  I think he thought I had lost my mind, but he also knew I was serious.  Knowing that running for the sake of running was not enough motivation, it was clear that filling up a race schedule was the only choice.  Dream Big! Think Big! Do big!

It wasn’t enough to just run the same distances/races again this year. I set another goal to set official PR’s (personal records) in all distances. This means adding speed work to my training.  Words like farklet,  800’s, 400’s, intervals, hill work, and tempo runs were all going to have to leak into my training vernacular.  This old dog is going to learn a lot of new tricks this year.

I still wanted to complete the racing season injury free so I decided to adopt a run/walk strategy for long distances.  I met Jeff Galloway at the Disney Race Expo and he shared lots of wisdom and motivation regarding distance training. 

Jeff Galloway and Jessica

 He is the father of the run/walk strategy and has trained thousands of runners for all distances.  Jeff Galloway took the time to talk to Jessica and me and sent us off with a can-do attitude.  I also decided that I would never run 2 days in a row.  My body responds best to a break from the pounding of running and it just makes it more enjoyable for me. That leads me to my last goal.

I want to run happy this year. I’m aware that it won’t always be a fun run, but I’m determined to find happiness somewhere in each run I do. My joy might come from the weather being ideal, the kids joining me, going farther, going faster, or it might be as basic as being thankful for just doing a run.  I’m going to soak up all the positive energy of race day. I’m going to enjoy the experience of race day including the pre-race excitement and post-race festivities when possible. I’ll try to shake off the pre-race nervousness or post-race disappointment I might have.

Having set these goals in February, you might be wondering how it’s been since the glow of Disney has worn off.  I have been adding speed work to my training and it has been brutal!!!!  It hasn’t killed me (yet), and I’m getting faster with each session.  I’ve remained injury free and have done a distance of 11 miles using the Galloway run/walk and it’s kept me from being sore.  I’ve been pretty happy for most of my training runs.

My first race for improving my time was a mixed bag of success.  My goal for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K was to just to improve 1 second faster than my 54:30 finish time last year. Last year it was snowing, windy and frigid.  This year it was 80 degrees, humid and sunny.  Bump #1 – I do much better in cooler weather and I hadn’t trained in any kind of heat yet. Bump #2 – I was nervous. I couldn’t help but feel the burden of my first time goal. Bump #3 – I missed my goal and finished in 55:22. CRAP! I fought feverishly to be positive despite that.   I know that you are supposed to slow your pace when temps are above 60 degrees. I know that if this was last year I would’ve finished with a time of about an hour.  These are the thoughts I tried to bring to the front of my mind after seeing the time on my Garmin. I did meet one goal. I had the best post-race experience EVER with my client/friend Renee. We drank our hard earned beers and stayed to enjoy the sun that we cursed during the race. We relaxed and danced like crazy people all day.  We laughed and ate and pretended it was summer.

Renee and I pre-Shuffle sporting striped socks to be a little wacky!


Post race reward


April 2011 – I’m a happy runner 🙂 🙂 🙂

So yet again I will look at this coming year as one full of learning.  While I’m busy living my life with my family, friends and work, I have things to work on.  I will eat right, sleep right, think right, and train right. Most importantly in terms of running… I will run happy.  How will you fill in this blank?

 I will __________ happy!

Until next time…Live Well!

Toni Kuhel

Is This a Trip or a Vacation?


My gosh! How did it get to be the end of the school year already???  This seems like the perfect time to address traveling with your posse. The idea of days on end with kids suddenly without the structure of a school day makes one feel like leaving home.  Learning to live well is tough enough when you can control your environment.  When you’re at home you control what is in your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer.  If you’ve made the commitment (if you’re not there you are on your way) then you have “real food” everywhere.  If you are normal then you also have a couple (just a couple) of items that you should have only once in a great while. Confession time…  my 2 things are fresh buffalo mozzarella and butter.  Activity-wise, you also have a routine.  You’ve scheduled your work-outs, found your three 10 minute “chunks”, and have your favorite walking routes around the neighborhood.  But what happens when you are NOT in control of your environment?  Now there are plenty of times when I feel I have no control of my environment, but that mostly pertains to my 3 little angels and 1 big one.  The actuality is that you can always control your choices and thusly it doesn’t matter what environment you are entering.  You don’t ever have to take a vacation from the healthy lifestyle you’ve created, even when you are on vacation.  Stop rolling your eyes long enough to see how painless it can be.

The Kuhel family travels each year and when the kids come (just about always) it is then a trip and not a vacation due to the amount of work that inherently comes with taking the whole circus on the road.  To be quite honest, making our lifestyle changes at home came a lot easier than making those same changes in other situations.  I really had to sit and brainstorm about how we could possibly do these things out in the real world.  Let’s face it.  The real world is loaded with choices that can lead us down an ugly path.  That’s why our nation is in the shape (round is a shape) it is in.  Here are a few ways we navigate our way through the dangerous sea called the vacation/trip.

  • Plan ahead:  Chances are you are not walking to your destination.  At least not the whole way, I hope.  That means you are either driving, flying or boating.  If you are traveling another way (rocket ship, hot air balloon etc.) planning ahead will serve you well too.  Most of these modes of transportation don’t lend themselves to having healthy snacks as part of the deal.  You are going to have to bring some “real food” or pay an unreasonable amount of money for a few acceptable choices.  The Kuhel family’s money tree in the front yard died so we watch our dollars as much as we can.  If your money tree is thriving, then go ahead and take your chances but sometimes it doesn’t matter how much money you have.  That gas station in the middle of nowhere isn’t going to give you fresh blueberries for a fistful of dollars.  You are going to get a questionable mystery meat sandwich, a 2 year old Twinkie, and purple liquid in a dusty odd shaped bottle. Mmmm mmmm good. 


Pack your snacks. If you are traveling a fair distance by car, be smart about it.  For long trips I suggest packing 2 coolers and a snack bag.  One larger cooler in the trunk or in the back of the minivan you said you’d never get.  Use one smaller cooler for the front of the car.  The larger cooler should be your replenishment cooler.  This one should have lots of bottled water, 100% fruit juice boxes, string cheese, re-sealable bags filled with single servings of grapes, carrots, sugar snap peas, small dark chocolate bars (gotta have treats) and anything else your family likes cold.  The smaller cooler should have smaller quantities of the same thing.  No one wants to travel with a giant cooler inside the car and there is no way a little cooler is going to get you past the state line. The snack bag should be contain re-sealable bags filled with single servings of walnuts, almonds, whole grain cereal, home-made trail mix, whole grain crackers,  pbj sandwiches, apples, bananas and containers of applesauce (don’t forget spoons). On our recent road trip, Renee was “snack manager” and she handed out snacks when anyone asked and monitored our inventory so we knew when we had to get supplies from the large cooler.  She is a control freak so this was a sweet deal for her. Also, no one else wanted the job. Traveling by air has restrictions on liquids so you are just going to have to buy water after the security check.  Your snack bag is obviously going to be smaller, but be sure to bring it.  Somehow I can’t justify $7 + (or something like that) for a box with $2 (or something like that) worth of marginal snacks.

That’s about all for part 1.  Part 2 to follow soon.

          Till next time…live well! Toni Kuhel

Shuffling Along

It’s been quite a while since I last posted.  My life has been put into overdrive and I’ve just now started to get a handle on it (sort of) so now it’s time to give you all an update on Team 40/10.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there is a blog post that is titled “Team 40/10” and that will let you in on all the details.  Team 40/10 has had a few developments.  Two of our Team members have made the transition to 40!!!! Happy Birthday Colleen and Marcia!!! We have added a few team members in Saudi Arabia that are joining us by adding workout updates and they have taken to walking as their training of choice.  We have one Team member that has been told by her doctor that a 5K is as much as she should attempt right now. We’ve also added another member that will be participating in a ½ marathon.  The whole point is that we are on a health and wellness journey together, no matter what the “marathon” goal.

So the most recent undertaking of Team 40/10 has been setting our next mini goal.  The combination of the endless accumulation of snow and ice, the holiday chaos, and the Turkey Trot safely behind me, has resulted in my training regimen suffering a tad. Without the sense of urgency, my motivation dwindled. It’s time to get back on the horse. Our team successfully conquered the Turkey Trot and we have now set our sights on the Shamrock Shuffle in March.  Why race organizers choose to take a perfectly lovely holiday and taint it with an arduous run is completely beyond me.  The Shuffle is an 8K which is up from the 5K we completed in November. “Baby steps” is our motto! I went on my first outdoor run of 2010 and let’s just say it was familiar…not in a good way.  I was immensely disappointed that my legs and lungs reverted back to non-runner status.  Watching my husband’s silhouette get smaller and smaller in the distance ahead of me was frustrating.  I’ll take this as a wakeup call to get back into the swing of things.  With a renewed fear of embarrassment at the much larger, more public, considerably longer Shamrock Shuffle, I’m ready to lace up my sneakers on a regular basis once again.

Further fear…ummm….motivation comes as Team 40/10 convened to review a training schedule for the ultimate goal of the Marathon in October.  As I sat there looking at Team captain Julie’s spreadsheet that modified an existing training schedule, I felt my jaw fall closer and closer to the floor.  My eyes left my sockets as I saw the total miles to be logged each and every week until Marathon madness would commence.  I started to sweat as I calculated how much time this would take.  I felt a bit dizzy wondering if I could actually do this incredible thing that only a small percentage of the population could say they’ve accomplished.  Thank goodness I was sitting because it was all a bit overwhelming.  But, I did put it out in the universe.  I did announce it to the blogosphere. I did tell myself that I chose take on this amazing challenge.  I also promised my fellow Team 40/10 members that we were in this thing together.  February 1st is when registration opens for the Marathon. I will be online, shaking like a leaf, committing once again to taking on this beast.  The truth is that I will be re-committing every single day to making choices that will increase my chances of starting and finishing the Chicago Marathon.  This is not unlike committing to a healthy lifestyle.  But first, the Shamrock Shuffle looms in the not too distant future and I must get my running legs under me once again.  Whether you are striving towards the Shuffle, a bikini at spring break, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a waistline of 35” or less, a class reunion in September, or just feeling better, remember to take baby steps.  One foot in front of another…one small change at a time…one good choice followed by another.  It will all add up and you will get there.

Until next time….Live Well! – Toni Kuhel

Team 40/10


As many of you know (if you’ve been paying attention) I will be running the Turkey Trot with my husband Alex, my friend and her husband.  What I haven’t shared with you is the big picture…the big, giant, humungous picture.  Spurred on by my friend Julie (Turkey Trot partner), we have created Team 40/10 (we all turn 40 in 2010) to run the Chicago Marathon in October next year.  You can stop laughing now if you’ve been reading my Tweets that declare a personal best of 2 miles non-stop outside and a first 5K non-stop on the treadmill.

I am practicing the fine art of finding motivation to keep up my running workouts.  I won’t disclose the identities of my fellow team mates, but I will say we are a collection of 4 high school friends. We have all been to each other’s weddings, our kids have grown up playing together, and apparently we are all equally delusional. If I think long and hard about our end goal of surviving and making a good showing at the marathon, I get breathless.  If I think about how tough the first 5K on the treadmill was and multiply it by 9, I get panicked.  If I look at the faces of friends when I tell them of this ultimate goal, I feel embarrassed.

I am not a runner.  I will become a runner.  I don’t run because I enjoy it.  I didn’t run at all before this proposition.  There is a famous saying, “If you see Toni running you better run too because something/someone is chasing her.”  The point being that I don’t run for the sake of running.   I am now running toward a goal.  I cannot express fully what a huge difference this has made in my workout mind.  My focus is different.  I’m always looking to improve something about my run.  I’m looking to improve my speed, distance, heart rate, endurance, strength, and injury prevention.  I understand I am very early in the process and a whole slew of obstacles could and probably will pop up over this training year.  But…hold on to your hats….I am ENJOYING running!!! I don’t think I’ve experienced the rumored “runner’s high” just yet. I think you have to run longer, but I’m really looking forward to making small improvements every week so that I can feel that “high”.

Team 40/10 is a thing of beauty.  We share our workout logs, our triumphs and challenges.  We encourage one another and share tips and info that we find on-line or from experience.  There is something to be said for community.  Our little community has kept us honest with our workouts and kept us belly laughing at our dilemmas.  I am not suggesting to anyone to take on this challenge.  This is my challenge to you- Figure out what will give structure and focus to your workouts.  What will light the fire under your feet to get you up and out of bed on those dark mornings? What’s going to make it worth it for you to get off the couch and move with a purpose?  Will it be emails to a workout confession friend, a personal trainer, Weight Watchers, a workout journal, or your version of Team 40/10? Whatever it takes, figure it out and do it.

Now what you all have to look forward to is updates on the trials and tribulations of Team 40/10 in addition to the follies of the Kuhel family.  Wrestling season has just started for my Evan and Jared, Renee has returned to her Jazz dance class and Alex has a renewed spark to begin running. The stories are about to get very good, or at the very least, very entertaining.  I’d love to hear about any goals you are setting.  You can do anything. My immediate goal is to complete the Turkey Trot non-stop with Julie – vertical and smiling at the end. I’m off to add another 5K onto my running shoes – gotta report to the team later and I’m not prepared to fess up to missing a run.

Until next time…Live Well! – Team 40/10 ROCKS!!! – Toni Kuhel  

I Don’t Feeeeeeeel Like It! (part 1)


Anything is possible if you are motivated enough.  For goodness sake, people are climbing Mt. Everest just because it’s there.  I need a touch more motivation than that.  Picture 10 bizillion dollars and a guarantee that I would not die in the process.  Neither is a possibility, so no adventures up that mountainside for me.   I would LOVE to say that I wake up every morning ready to seize the day.  Alas, this is not the case.  I could go on and on about how I struggle with finding motivation to go about all the aspects of my life, but I will spare you. You are welcome!What I will share with you are a few strategies that I use to increase my chances of doing what needs doing to live well.

Get to know yourself. I am motivated into action by a few things.

On good days, I’m intrinsically motivated (good angel sitting on my shoulder) to eat right, deal with stress, and exercise. That’s right.  I will do these things because making good choices is the right thing to do for my health and wellness.  I also choose to do these things because, at the end of the day, I physically feel better.

On other days, it’s good old-fashioned fear that moves me.  It is fear that I am going to feel bad, sick or guilty if I choose to sit on the couch, stress about nothing important, and eat a bag of salty-greasy-chip-os.  Some days I really do weigh this as a viable option of something to do for the day, but I do not enjoy feeling bad, sick or guilty.  I also fear the elastic waistband.  Enough sloth-like days in a row will result in a wardrobe punctuated with elastic waistbands.

There are some days when I’m motivated by what other people think.  Alex would love me even if I didn’t do one active thing for a week.  However, he would probably give me a look that I would interpret as “judging” me and that would be bad for everyone.  I talk a lot.  It’s no surprise that my friends know I try to live well. Catching me with a sack of chocolate chip cookies would be too much to let slide by without at least a comment.  It would probably also involve some pointing.

I don’t think being motivated by my conscience, by fear or by other people is so unusual.  Figure out what motivates you. You don’t have to announce it to everyone like I just did.  Be honest with yourself. I don’t like admitting that a committee of “they” has that much influence on me, but sadly it does. Once you know what is motivating, you can then choose how to go about your day. If other people are your motivation, then you can work hard at not being alone with said sack of chocolate chip cookies.  If your partner’s opinion moves you, then let him/her know you appreciate the support.  Make sure you return the favor and freely give well deserved pats on the back.

turkey trot

If you want to run a 5k just to see if you can do it, sign yourself up and make the commitment.  I have committed to participating in this year’s 5K Turkey Trot.  I’m hoping to not be mistaken for a Turkey. I’m also shooting for non-stop trotting for the entire distance.  The date is rapidly approaching, but I’m setting mini goals along the way.  I’ve just completed my first goal of non-stop 2.25 miles. Now I’ll start shooting for faster time within that distance and on other days, longer distance at the same pace.

You can also try to work towards being more self-motivated. It really is the most positive motivation and I am striving to be my very own, best cheerleader.  It’s the one motivation you can completely control. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this personal struggle.  I work on this daily and some days I’m successful….some days not so much.  This post is starting to feel long so check back in a while and see what I have to say in this series’ part II. Wouldn’t want to interrupt a possible sudden burst of motivation!

Until next time….Live Well! – Toni Kuhel

Are we coming or going? -Part 3

10 minutesWhat are we trying to fit in?  Eating right, exercise/activity, and stress management are all going to make it into your life.  This is the part where I ask you to get out of your own way.  Try not to succumb to that little voice that says “you’ve got to be kidding me.”  Thinking the way you’ve been thinking all these years has not gotten you on the path of living well thus far.  Change is good so embrace it!

Go and find that paper that you used to map out your week.   Take a good hard look at it and see what days are your “light” days.  Let’s face it.  Some days are better than others.  Take those better days and look at them as opportunities.  You don’t need to find huge chunks of time.  Remember, three 10 minute chunks of moderate activity, is as effective as 30 consecutive minutes. First try and see if you can find at least one 30 minute chunk.  If you can, use it!  Find an activity that you enjoy and fits your current fitness level.  If it’s fun you’ll be more likely to do it… see!


If you can’t find something you really love, just find something you don’t hate. Something I try to tell myself is “you only have to do it for 10 minutes”.  This is usually enough to get me started and of course I end up working out for more than that.  One thing that is inevitable is feeling better when your activity of choice is all said and done.  Keep a variety of choices for activity in your bag of tricks.  This will keep you from getting bored or injured.  Walk everywhere you can. Take the stairs whenever you can (even if it’s not a piano). Move quickly throughout your day. Carry things instead of pushing if you can.  Whatever it is that you are doing fitness-wise, make an effort to do a bit more every week.  Changes in your body and overall health depend on making progress.  Just a wee bit more time or effort can reward you many times over in the future.

Every day you should try and take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe.  Take a 7 second inhale, hold for 7 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds.  It works like magic and you should try it now. This blog isn’t going anywhere, I’ll wait.  Also try and listen to music that moves you. It doesn’t need to be a song you want to dance to, but it could be. It could also be music that calms you or brings back a favorite memory of yours. Compile a “happy track” on your ipod/mp3 thing.  It will be your savior on a particularly stressful day.  Try some silence.  Instead of flipping on the TV or the radio every morning when you come into your kitchen, try nothing.  If you start out every morning in silence, try your “happy track”.  Change it up and see what feels good to you.  Simply changing what you hear can have an effect on your mindset for the day. This will also probably catch your family off guard and everyone knows how much fun that can be.  Often times we don’t know we are in a rut until we make a change. Make a change!

Until next time….Live Well! – Toni Kuhel

Shake a Leg, a Tail Feather, Shake Something!

Shake a Leg, a Tail Feather, Shake Something!

What to avoid...

What to avoid...

I just finished watching that show (thank goodness for my DVR) about all those people losing gobs weight at a ridiculous pace for a grand prize.  You know the show.  I’m watching them do some wacky things. They compete in physical challenges that take all day and work out for 8 to 10 gazillion hours a day. I’m also watching them TOTALLY lose it.  Yes, gaining and losing weight is definitely tied to our emotional baggage.  But I think I might be sobbing if I was doing what they were doing even if I was emotionally solid as a rock and completely baggage free. I am neither of these things. Losing weight and leading an active lifestyle does not have to be torturous.  I don’t think torture is going to get too many people on the fitness bandwagon.  Last time I checked, my kids weren’t big fans of exercise that makes you cry.  You are going to have to make activity (some people call it exercise) part of your daily life if you want to achieve optimal health.  EWWWW.  That sounds just awful to some people.  If we are going to be successful we have got to make this concept easier to swallow.  It’s possible to get moving in the right direction. We just have get moving!

Expert suggestions:

  • Cardiovascular/Aerobic Exercise – 20 to 60 minutes/3 to 5 days a week 
  • Strength -train 2 or 3 days a week.
  • Stretching exercise at least 2 days a week.
  • Three 10 minute “chunks” of exercise each day can be as beneficial to health as 30 minute workouts. (Woo Hoo!!!)


family walking

Family cycling in nature




Kuhel Family challenges: How can we fit this in our family schedule? How can we get this to apply to the kids? Can we make it fun?


Kuhel solutions: “Working out” does not have to involve a spandex ensemble, a rack of weights, an elliptical or a wall of mirrors.  I’m especially psyched about being able to leave the spandex out of the equation. We are an active family and we’ve worked hard to help our kids embrace the idea of activity /exercise.  Here’s what we do to get our bodies moving with smiles on our faces (most of the time).

  • Make time. Before you slam the computer shut or yell “Yeah right!” take a breath and read on.  I know we are all burning the candle at both ends, stretching ourselves too thin and running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  I don’t want to beat a dead horse (couldn’t resist just one more cliché saying) but activity is important to our overall health.  Make the investment in yourself and your family.  I am now stepping off the soap box to clue you in on how we “make time”.  I’m not a work out – by –myself kinda gal.  I need people around me to motivate me.  Fear of looking like a slacker is quite motivating.  Also I suck my belly in a lot more so no one can shout “tighten those abs!” Clearly I cannot find this motivation in my bedroom or my basement so off to the gym I go.  My husband is similarly motivated by other guys on the basketball court.  He also prefers the treadmill at the gym because it is not located near the cat litter box (with our cat that doesn’t leave the basement) like our 15 year old treadmill is.  We schedule our gym times.  All of us schedule important things. No one says “I’ll go to work if I can squeeze it in” or “I’ll pick up the kids after choir practice if I’m not too tired.”  Schedule the time and keep your appointment with yourself. 


You have the time.  If you are reading this, then you have time.  I’m sure you spent some time emailing, Googeling, FBing, My Spacing, or blogging.  Reading my blog aside, those other things aren’t essential to your optimum health. Watching that show I was alluding to earlier can take up to 2 hours some weeks. That’s time.  Get up 10 to 30 minutes earlier. Watch one less TV show. Leave work  a bit earlier (gasp) a couple of days a week if you can swing it. Carpool to the kids activities so you don’t have to drive every time. If your life depended on it you would find the time for full-on work outs or “10 minute chunks”.  Guess what…it does.


  • Make fitness fun. We have a dog, Wally.  He is fun!  The kids chase him in our back yard and vice versa.  He is a good reason for the kids to take a walk.  The three kids go together and we give one the poop bag, one the leash, and one the cell phone.  Discussing who gets the poop bag is an argument that is part of the routine of getting out the door, but they do eventually get out the door.  We’ve taken the walk as a family so the kids know a short route vs. a long route.  Whatever we have time for, that’s what route they take.  I’m not suggesting you get a dog (I vote for a cockapoo if you do get one-Wally is awesome!), but if you have one or some other walkable animal ( I saw a cat once) then get out and hit the bricks. 


Other outdoor activities that don’t involve poop bags are bike rides, discovering walking paths, obstacle course races around a playground, and my family’s favorite, “Clam man.”  It’s a game that my husband plays with the kids.  It’s really just tag only Alex is always “it” and he makes this very loud gurgle-like sound while waving outstretched arms.  Why it’s called “Clam man” is a tad twisted and definitely a story for another time.  The point is that when we were kids we all played out in the neighborhood until the streetlights came on at dusk or until someone’s parent whistled or yelled for them.  Kids don’t do that very often anymore.  Weather permitting, encourage your kids to put down the video game controls, step away from the computer and get out of the house.  Show them how to play “kick the can” or take up “Clam man”.


Winter is rough. Rain is rough. Those days we have to stay close to home can give us a case of cabin fever.  We all know what it’s like when the whole family is forced into togetherness.  After a while, the electronics and board games have lost their luster.  It’s definitely a sign you all have to get moving. 

An impromptu dance party can work up a definite sweat.  At our house Renee is a dancing queen, Evan and Jared are works in progress, Alex has 2 moves (maybe), and I think I can hold my own as a dusty dancing queen. Blast the tunes and dance like no one is watching!  Close the blinds to make sure.


Kids of all sizes love to build forts in the living room. Send the kids to all parts of the house to collect pillows, cushions and blankets. You are going to have put aside your OCD tendencies in the name of fun.  Just remember to have them help you refold blankets and put away everything at the end.  Just think about how much carrying, stretching and reaching will be happening. 


My family loves a challenge.  Contests are fun and easy to individualize to your family.  We set a timer for 1 minute and count how many sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks or jumping lunges each person can do.  Call it a mini-olympics and make sure you include things that everyone can do.  Give “medals” to participants.  Change it up by increasing or decreasing the time and by switching up the activities.  Keep track and see if anyone improves the next time.  You might catch someone practicing on their own to get better results.


  • Build activity into what you are already doing. Everyone has mounds of laundry to do.  Pairing socks is a never-ending task.  I’ve enlisted my kids to do it and we’ve made it into a game.  I put an empty laundry basket on the other side of the room.  After they put together a pair of socks into a ball, they get to throw it and try to make it in the basket.  The trick is to make it far enough that they miss it a lot.  After each miss they have to go and get it and try again. You’d be amazed to see how many times they can make that trip.  They also don’t walk. EVER.  Running back and forth is a good expender of energy.


When putting away clean laundry, leave the baskets behind.  Go ahead and make your groups of piles and either do this yourself or have the kids do it.  Take one pile of laundry up at a time.  Strive for inefficiency.  That extra up and down the stairs could easily be one of your three 10 minute “chunks”. 

If any store, coffee shop, nail place, beauty salon, copy store, or restaurant is in walking distance of your home or work…you can see this one coming…go ahead and walk there. You’ll feel good about doing something for your health and you’ll save a few bucks on gas. 


Well these ideas are just a few of the things we do to keep our bodies moving.  These things along with the kids’ school gym time, wrestling club/cross country, and dance classes are ways we keep activity a part of our lives.  Now don’t think the Kuhels are always on the move.  We have been known to be a family of couch potatoes on movie night.  We also do not walk everywhere all the time.  Resist the urge to ram my car with your cart in the parking lot when you walked and I didn’t.  One thing I’d like to leave you with is that doing something every day is a good thing.  This is not an all or nothing proposition.  Do what you can, when you can.  Make it a priority for yourself and your family and it will soon become your lifestyle.


Till next time…live well! Toni Kuhel