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



Stepping Out!

Stepping out of your comfort zone can sometimes feel like jumping off a ledge.  Isn’t this why it’s called ” a leap of faith?” The idea can take your breath away, get your heart racing, and make your palms sweat.   What is all this drama all about? It’s the kind of reaction that keeps us from taking risks. It can keep us from being everything that we could be.

Change is good. Isn’t that what old people told us when were kids?  This was supposed to comfort us whenever something changed that was totally out of our control.  As grown ups, it is something we have to tell ourselves  to make it through  those uncomforable shoves out of our comfort zone.

The idea of voluntarily pushing past our boundaries is a kind of self torture. Why the heck does anyone want to venture past their known, cozy life. Why be uncomfortable? Why take the risk? What will happen if I do XYZ? Stepping out doesn’t have to be some huge undertaking. It can be deciding to go to a party where you don’t know so many people. You could try a DIY project that you previously would hire someone else to tackle. Would you dare forego a favorite dish at a restaurant to try a dish the waiter suggests?  The possibility that your life could be just that little bit better..well, that  makes the risk worth taking.

Now what would you risk to make your life a whole lot better???  I know this is a healthy living blog so I’ll have to say that increasing your level of activity and making better food choices is pushing past many people’s comfort zone. I think the risks to your health are far greater if you don’t choose to get out of that cocoon of comfort.

This is what I risk every single time I lace up my running shoes- it's totally worth it!

I’m in the midst of taking a large leap of faith.  I’m willing to risk all those visceral reactions and “oh well” moments for the possibility of doing more, being more, making as much positive change as I can.  It’s all very cryptic, but the details are not the point. This post is all about taking a risk to be a better you.  Are you so comfortable that there isn’t one thing you could better by risking being uncomfortable? Maybe there is something.


Until next time…Live well!

Toni Kuhel

Warning…Attitude Adjusment in Progress!

It’s a gorgeous day! I’m ready to take on this day and all
it has to offer. Let’s get some things done today!!!

Ugh! I hate my job. My legs feel like lead today. Probably
won’t get a run in.  Why the heck am I
doing any of this? What’s the point?

So….what side of the bed did you wake up on this morning?

Health goes beyond the way we look, our weight, our body
composition, our cardiovascular endurance and our clothing size.  Our mental health is definitely a factor in determining
our success in achieving our goals in all those other markers of health.  Let’s be clear. I’m not an expert in mental
health. You’ll have to go to your health care provider for anything beyond the less
than optimistic attitude.  I’m just here
to remind you that attitude is everything.

I know that the weather, your children’s behavior, work
drama, friend drama, spouse drama (life is full of drama) lack of sleep can all
be overwhelming.  I have been standing
there in your shoes or some version of your shoes.  Let’s face it. If we choose to do so, we can
go spiraling into the depths of despair pretty quickly if we lose our
grip.  How the heck do we hang on tight?

There is something to be said for gratitude.  I’m not saying that everyone has a fantastic
mansion, a perfect child, or a lucrative career for which to give thanks.  Being thankful for the little things in life
can color your day with optimism in a way that a doom and gloom attitude can
ruin it.   It is your choice to focus on what’s going
well versus wallowing (like a pig in slop) in misery.

We have all been there.
It’s the 17th day in a row of miserable weather, everyone in
the house is yelling or crying, there are 2 more pounds showing on the scale, there
is no coffee, the car’s fuel light is on, traffic is at a standstill, late for
an appointment and it is only 8:30 in the morning!  Now is the time. You are faced with a
choice.  Continue on with the attitude
that the day is on track for winning “Craptastic Day of the Century” or adjust.  Time to hang on to what’s important.   Is any of this life threatening or life
changing?  No-check.  Do I have shoes on?  Yes, phew! -check.  Will it always feel like this? No-check.

Don’t mistake my suggestion to choose another, more positive
attitude for putting my head in the sand.
We do need to face the things that make us miserable. We can’t ignore
the cat barf on the carpet.  I will say
that I have been guilty of lying on my bed wondering what I did to have everything
go so wrong. It would have been so easy to just continue lying there letting
the world go on around me.  I had to
choose to be the one to make things happen. I had to choose to make things
different and if I couldn’t make them different, I could choose a different
attitude about it.  I had to choose to
clean up the cat barf in my life.  It’s
not easy to believe you have that much control. It is true.

Did you know that stress makes you fat? Did I get your
attention?  The hormones released in our
ancestors to provide extra energy to out run a hungry animal are released in us
when we are aggravated with our boss. Our bodies don’t know that we are sitting
at our work desk and not running for our lives.
This extra energy that was meant to power our legs toward a safe cave is
instead getting stored as belly fat because we don’t need extra energy to be annoyed
in the office. Unless you are running for your life you are going to get/stay
fat around the middle.  So determine if
it is worth the belly fat to let negative thoughts continue to swirl around in
your head.

Do what you can. Accept the things you can’t control.
Control what you can. It’s not essential that every single day be bursting with
positivity. Who needs that kind of pressure? It is essential that you try to
make the most of every day.  A day viewed
through rose-colored glasses is much prettier than one viewed between blinders
that only see what is not going well.
What are you going to be wearing today?

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

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 1


Are we coming or going? – Part 1

It’s time for another series! Woo hoo!!! Translation – too much for one blog so I’m splitting it up so as not to add to your constant feeling of being overwhelmed. You’re welcome. Enjoy!

It seems as if each day is filled to the absolute brim.  The day is can sometimes resemble a rollercoaster ride.  You get on, it goes up and down, upside-down, twists, turns, and it goes around again.  Eventually you get off, but then you just have to get on again tomorrow.  If you are lucky, it will pause on occasion.  Your roller coaster ride might look like mine complete with kids (and all the stuff that comes with them), work, food preparation, and cleaning etc.  You might have a day that consists of a 12 hour work day, commuting, and classes.  Whatever the case may be, everyone seems to think there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things that need doing.  I came to this conclusion after completing my extensive research.  My very unscientific research consists of chatting with everyone:  the neighbors on my driveway, co-workers at the school, friends at lunch, parents at my children’s various activities, and the many strangers I feel the need to bond with while I’m out and about running errands.  Most likely, your life is some kind of crazy.  I’m constantly working to try and slow this rollercoaster down so that we can have the time to actually get around to living.  I’m not sure how it got this crazy but as I’ve always said…the Kuhels are a work in progress.  This craziness is an excuse that many of us are accustomed to using as the reason we can’t do the things we need to do to live well.  As a family we’ve come across some ways to surpass the chaos and make health a priority.  I have a few ideas on how to handle living well in the midst of living crazily.

Time – What time?

If you have extra time on your hands and you are not living well, go ahead and look over “Is today THE day?” blog. This blog is reserved for those with seemingly insurmountable time constraints.  I say “seemingly” because at first glance, maybe even after a few long hard stares, making time to live well can feel very unlikely.  Just thinking about how to wedge in ANYTHING else can be that hurdle that keeps you and your family from making changes.  The good news is that with a bit of creativity and compromise, you can just change how you do what you already do, without trying to carve out those non-existent extra hours in a day. You know that saying “work smarter not harder”?  I wish I was the genius that thought up that little nugget, but I’m okay with having credit for just trying to adopt the concept.  You are going to have to stop having your pity party and saying things like “Well if I had tons of time and money I could be in great shape with a personal trainer, nutritionist, and a personal chef.”  I have uttered that exact sentence myself over the years and that wishful thinking got me nowhere in a hurry.  For most of the general public, ideal time and monetary scenarios are not a reality.  After growing tired of waiting for the money tree to grow in the front yard, I realized that you have to do what you can with what you’ve got.

  • Get a handle – Take some time (make some time-this is your life we’re talking about) to put your typical week down on paper.  Make sure you plug in all your obligations.  Include commute time, prep time, wait time.  Put it all in a format that makes sense to you.  You can use your PDA, a day timer/planner, spreadsheet, paper and pencil, or a napkin and crayon (it’s some people’s reality – don’t judge).  Be as detailed as possible to help this problem solving process along. So…”work” for an 8-12 hour block is not going to help you very much.  Pay attention to your day and figure in any breaks,  traveling to meetings, typical number of trips away from your desk, hours at your desk/work area, study time, TV time, specific chores, car pooling etc.  You are probably going to have to blink several times when you look at all you are doing during those precious hours each day.  You may find yourself feeling something.  You are going to pat yourself on the back for being an overachiever, realize you have some time that could be better utilized,  see that you are chasing your tail because you are not too organized, come to the conclusion that you are simply overextended, or likely you will feel a little bit of all of these things.  So in the end, it’s all there in black and white (or purple crayon).  Your life and your family’s life in a nutshell for you to dissect.
  • Get real– Now it’s time to face the music and get comfy cozy with your reality.   Resist the urge to further fill your days if you see some dead space.  Resist the urge to poke your eyes out if you see no dead space.  Do embrace the idea of scanning your days with an eye toward efficiency.

If you find yourself trolling the aisles of the local drug-mart several times a week because you discover no more toilet paper on Monday, no more cat litter on Tuesday (garbage night) , index cards for a school project on Thursday, and a Sunday night dark chocolate bar emergency, take notice.

Try and keep a list of your most used items in your house and when you start getting low (don’t wait until you are staring at the last empty roll of toilet paper on the dispenser) make a check mark.   When you get enough check marks, go and get the stuff in one trip.  My kids are notorious for last minute “needs” for school and it is best not to have the economy pack of dark chocolate bars lying around, so some of this running around is unavoidable.  LOTS of running around is avoidable so plan, plan, plan. This kind of planning is applicable to your grocery shopping, picking  up dry-cleaning, shuttling your kids from place to place, getting yourself from place to place and so on and so on.

Plan your routes to hit several places in one shot.  Resist the urge to run out for just one thing. I KNOW you have more than only one thing you can take care of while you are out.  Take a second and you can save yourself lots of time and aggravation.   You will discover some time previously lost along with your mind that you lost last week racing to the store while someone was sitting patiently because they forgot to check the TP situation BEFORE sitting. We’ll talk more about what to do with your new found time in just a bit.

Okay, so a bit will be in the next blog.  Take some time and try to get your daily life sketched out and we’ll cover a bit more next time.  Come back and see what’s next.

Until next time…Live Well! – Toni Kuhel

Go on ahead – I’ll wait here.


Go on ahead – I’ll wait here.

Pat yourself on the back! You have had your moment of enlightenment (ahhh haaa-cue beams of sunlight) and you get IT.  You have wrapped your head around the importance of health and wellness and it is on the top of your list of priorities.  Are you standing there all alone?  Go ahead-look around.  Chances are you might very well be standing in that sunlight all by your lonesome.  You really can’t expect everyone to catch on as quickly as you have.  You can wish it, hope it, pray it, imagine it, but don’t go expecting it.

If I know anything, it’s that you can’t make anyone believe anything they don’t want to/aren’t ready to believe.  I also know that making significant behavioral changes is difficult if your environment doesn’t support the changes.  Blah, blah, blah.  (Translation – You can’t do this stuff when the rest of your world is doing the EXACT opposite of what you are trying to do.) By environment I mean your physical environment and the people within it.  My physical environment on most days is my house that is bursting at the seams. My people are my husband and my kids.  They make for a fun, active, and occasionally challenging environment.  I have started and stopped and started and stopped this journey towards weight loss more times than I care to count.  It’s only this time that I’ve changed it to a journey towards health and wellness. Go figure but a great little bonus has been significant weight loss. Yipee!!  You’ve heard me refer to Alex as a “naturally thin” person.  Yeah, so obviously he was not equally inclined to journey down the path of sacrifice for the glory of weight loss.  He’s one of “those” people who gives up pop (or soda depending on your neck of the woods) and loses 7 pounds.  He can also shovel gobs of cheese and chips with no visible ramifications whatsoever. I, conversely, think about cheese and chips and they magically end up on my hips.  I give up diet pop and…tah dah…nothin’.  My kids-they were blissfully unaware, thank goodness, to their mommy’s ongoing frustration with weight.  My peeps did not make my journey easy.  It wasn’t their journey.  The Kuhel family is happy to report that we are now on the same journey (cue beams of sunlight and throw in a choir of angels while we’re at it).  Come along with me as I share how this miraculous happening came about.

  • Get on the right track already!

I will say that my stops and starts were, in part, a result of being on this road all alone.  I also did not have an internal GPS at the time so I was COMPLETELY on the wrong road.  Weight loss was the destination when health and wellness should have been the X on the map.  In reality that X is perpetually hovering in front of us.  It’s something that we have to work at and strive for daily.  Weight loss was never and shouldn’t have ever been the focus for my family.  It turns out it that it shouldn’t have been my focus either.  Now let’s be real. I wasn’t exactly dismissing the fact that my pants were falling off. I am a woman after all.  For me, it was a reframing that was totally necessary.  Once the goal was to “live well”, everything started to make sense.  Funny thing is, when you do things that are good for you, you become healthy.  Your body does not want to be overweight.  Your heart does not want to pound outside of your chest after walking a flight of stairs.  Your muscles don’t want to cramp up following a lap around the track.  Your body does not want to fail you at the age of 40 (that’s the next big number for me-insert your next big number).

I love my family.  Some days I don’t like everyone so much- you know those days- but I LOVE my family every day.  Once I realized the importance of health and wellness, I knew it was something that I had to have for my family.  I really had to have a heart to heart talk with my husband.  It wasn’t a long talk, but it was one of the most important ones we’ve had.  It wasn’t a long talk because it made so much sense to want what’s best for all of us.  It really was just a decision away for us.  It is only a decision away for your family as well. Now your significant other may be a harder nut to crack.  You need only to open those stubborn eyes to the fact that a healthy life is so much happier than an unhealthy one.  Changes made now will pay you back many times over in the years to come.  You are not asking to go where no one else has gone before.  It’s not scary. It’s just an initial choice to live better, followed by daily choices to support a healthy life.  What is scary is a life that is lived based on a series of unhealthy choices. Kids are easy.  It’s no big mystery that they have big eyes and ears.  Who hasn’t heard a little one say “Oh @#$!” in an eerily familiar tone at an inopportune time?  Big and little kids alike will internalize what they hear and see.  It’s up to you to fill them up with the right stuff.  Talk the talk and walk the walk.  My children will be the first to tell you that they DO NOT want a lecture on the virtues of anything…at all. It’s amusing and frustrating that they seem to tune out the stuff that you make a point of making sure they hear.  Equally amusing and frustrating is that they hear and see things that you go out of your way to keep from them (see above mentioned example).  So save your breath and fistfuls of hair and go the indirect route.  You’ll have to adjust these suggestions to fit the ages and maturity of your kids/partner/roommate etc. Give them small bits at a time.  Try to give them the same bits as many times as you can.  “What bits?” So instead of a monologue about the evils of trans fats, corn syrup, or some unpronounceable ingredient, show them that a short list of ingredients on a package is best.  If they don’t recognize the ingredient as food, it probably is not whole or “real” food. Tell them real people eat real food.  Most of the kids will get that point.  Always take the stairs when possible.  They’ll ask why you are walking up the stairs instead of riding the escalator or elevator. Tell them that you will always walk because you can. My 3 kids would routinely race toward an elevator to vie for the honor of being the one to push the button.  This would always be followed by the other 2 howling “IIIIII wanted to push the button”.  THAT is enough to make a mortal want to take the stairs.  Renee is the last of the converts to walking the stairs, but she wouldn’t dare ride the elevator without us – yet.  I am full of helpful “bits” so read and take away what makes sense for your situation.   Add a few new bits every so often.  Be consistent.  Your message must be clear.  This is not a means to an end.  This is a lifestyle and it’s just the way it’s going to be from now on.

  • Get your whole act together.

My initial point was that your healthy lifestyle has a much better chance of sticking if the life around you supports it.  One of my most frustrating past struggles had to do with food preparation.  While I was trying to eat like a rabbit, the “others” were gorging themselves on bags of chocolate chip cookies and greasy burgers.  Neither of these choices was good for anyone.  The “others” were going to be sick and I was going to be, just as soon as they were out of sight long enough for me to grab those greasy bags myself. The key for me now is to cook whole food for EVERYONE.  No one is going to eat garbage and no one is going to starve themselves eating 3 carrots, a wedge of iceberg lettuce, and piece of cheese for dinner.  We are successful at eating well on most days.  The Kuhel kids know that we eat balanced meals.  I’ll even make a plate and keep one component off.  They can tell you if the lean meat, good carbohydrate, or vegetable/fruit is missing.  It’s what they are used to now.  As I am writing, I am looking at an empty plate that used to have piece of cheese pizza on it.  It is now in my belly.  My sons, daughter, and husband have matching pieces of pizza in their bellies as well.  Guess what…it’s okay.  We have it once in a while. Remarkably, we used to be able to eat a whole lot more of this cheesy pie only it also had pepperoni or sausage on it too.  None of us can tolerate much of it anymore.  Isn’t that a kick in the pants!  Our bodies don’t want gobs of pizza either!!  Who woulda thunk it? Everybody eating healthy food makes it easier for everybody to eat healthy food. Soon your bodies will reward you by serving you well.

We don’t walk this earth alone.  We don’t function in a vacuum.  We need each other.  You ALL deserve this healthy lifestyle.  It is not that you need to trudge along in misery together.  Change, even if it is good for you, is one of the hardest things to do in life.  Give yourself a fighting chance to get what you deserve by surrounding your family with the right mind set.  Change a little at a time.  A lot of little changes add up over time to one very important change…a change of lifetime.

Till next time…live well! Toni Kuhel

Is Today THE Day?

new day


Is Today THE Day?

THE Day…is it today, next Monday, January 1st, or 6 months before that class reunion? As you may or may not know, my day came after a series of events.  It started with thinking that losing “baby weight” was probably out of the question as my baby turned 6 years old.  It continued with hearing health and wellness expert speak about health and wellness.  It hit me like a ton of bricks after my mother had a devastating stroke.  My day finally arrived that day.

Let’s think about your day. My first two cents comes in the form of me yelling in your ear “TODAY IS YOUR DAY!!”  Don’t make the mistake of waiting for some arbitrary day to start making those healthy choices.  When you wait for THE day-that day circled in red on your calendar- you begin what feels like a death march.  You do things like eat an entire cheesecake believing that it will be the last time you’ll taste that creamy goodness for the rest of your life.  You drink 3 margaritas telling yourself that after THE day you’ll be drinking water with lemon during your next girls’ night out.  I know some of you will have that ceremonial last supper that represents the end of all bad food choices by completely gorging yourselves. 

Don’t waste time. Try to remember that life is long…hopefully.  You didn’t develop your habits overnight.  They’ve come as a result of gradual changes over time.  It is this kind of change that is everlasting. Let’s get that pendulum swinging in the direction of health and wellness.  Start with thinking “both/and” versus “either/or”.  Instead of saying that pop or soda is the devil, drink a large glass of water before you grab that carbonated beverage.  You may or may not be thirsty enough to drink it.   Instead of passing that pizza up all together, have a hearty salad first and then have the pizza if you have room.  I guarantee you will not have as much room for the pizza as you would have if you jumped right in to that cheesy slice first.  Adding versus taking away always feels better to me and I’m guessing for you as well.  ANY change you make, no matter how small, is definitely worth doing.  This also goes for exercise or activity as well.  I have been there. Completely motivated, bordering on manic.  I’ve taken 2 exercise classes back to back or been over confident in the weight room.  The morning after is never a pretty thing.  Activity like that results in creative swearing, awkward hobbling, and usually a lot of over the counter pain relievers.  What I suggest is to just do more.  That’s right.  Just do more. I understand that it sounds a bit simplistic, but why does it have to be complicated?  If you are a couch potato – you know who you are – get up and walk for 10 minutes.  If that feels okay, then go ahead and walk for 15 minutes the next day or go for two 10 minute walks instead.  If you have been active in the past, take it up again, but start realistically.  If you used to work out 5 days a week, try starting with 2 or 3 days at first. 

These gradual changes apply to your family as well.  You know that the “others” in your household will rise up against you should you try to instill a slew of drastic changes.  Who needs that kind of additional drama?  Swearing off fast food all together may be impossible.  I know this is the case at my house.  I try desperately to plan ahead and not get caught in the drive-thru lane.  Alas, I’m not Wonder Woman and I’m okay with this reality.  We, as a family, eat very healthy about 80% of the time.  What’s that look like? No one in the house ever skips breakfast. We all pack lunch 4 out of 5 days during the week.  There are always 2 servings of vegetables or fruit with every meal.  Fruit bowls are full of apples, pears and bananas so we grab those first.  When we do get fast food we share fries instead of getting a box for each of us.  We drink water or milk.  When we have something that is not so good for us, we balance it by doing something that is good for us.  Good for us ideas can be a long family walk, a glass of milk and an apple with dessert, or making sure that we have extra veggies the next day.

You know where you are.  Now is the time to take yourself and your family forward.  These changes are meant to reward not punish. You all deserve a healthy and happy life. In the midst of all the chaos of life, take the time to make health and wellness a conscious part of your daily routine until it becomes routine.  As I think about my mother who didn’t take the time to make healthy lifestyle choices. I hope and strive for a different life for myself and my family.  Health and wellness may not be a priority until you don’t have it. Don’t take your health for granted because it may just be a day away from being something very different. 

Make today THE day!

Live Well,

Toni Kuhel