Caroline Shannon-Karasik’s Afterglo

Getting back on track

We all slip off the health wagon every now and then. Whether it’s too many cookies or too little movement of the body, it’s easy to let life get in the way of our best intentions.

The hard part is changing them.

A few years ago, I had stepped outside of my healthy nook for far too long. One rest day from running became several weeks, then a month, and before I knew it, I was a world-class runner to and from the couch and freezer for a pint of ice cream.

One night, my sister Amanda called me and begged me to join her for a run then next day. She can be quite persuasive and I lacked the ability to say “no,” so I agreed to join her, figuring there was no better moment to feel my booty jiggle behind me with each step I took.

By the time my alarm went off the next morning, I had already thought of every way I could get out of the commitment. But before I knew it, she was standing at my front door, her usual chipper self, and I was lacing up my shoes.

Here’s the deal: While I had been engulfed in on-and-off-again-lazyass-dom, my sister had been running every day, eating really healthy crap and completing the Washington, D.C. Marine Corps Marathon.

Yep, that’s right, folks. She hadn’t just been running, she had been running so damn much that I distinctly remember praying that on that very day – if only today! – her stupid swishy ponytail just said, “Alright, I’ve had enough!” and fell off as she merrily jogged ahead of me. Then, we might have had a reason to just stop.

But it didn’t. And, instead, I had agreed to run one of our city’s hardest hills because I have an ego problem that keeps me from making sensible decisions. That, and the fact that I am a bit of a masochist, did not help my run with Barbie on crack.

It did not help at all.

Of course, instead of being intelligent and starting out slow after taking such a long exercise sabbatical, I decided to go all out. I have never been good at understanding such silly terms as “easing into it” or “beginner” or “sane.”

So, top off my Type-A personality with my juiced up sister and you know that there was no way I was going to be able to pry my abused body out of bed the next day.

That day was difficult and that moment of actually taking the first step was even harder, but I was so grateful for the fact that I did. It was a moment in my life when I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to step out of my funk.

Been there? Want to get back into, or even begin, a healthy lifestyle? Consider these tips:

1. Implore the help of a friend. Even if she’s a total nut job, like my sister, it will be harder to say no to her than it will be to yourself. Set goals together and mark your progress along the way. Mutual encouragement will keep you both wanting to keep the momentum going. And when you have a “down” day, you’ll know exactly who to call for a pick-me-up.

2. Try something new. If you used to be a Jazzercise queen, then it might be time to dust off those dancing shoes and try Zumba classes. Look for fitness deals on Groupon or LivingSocial that allow you to score a package of classes or stop by a studio to see if they offer a new student discount.

3. Adults need incentives, too. Treat yourself to a new workout outfit or massage to reward yourself for small accomplishments along the way. These little perks will make it easier to head to the gym or opt for just two bites of that cake instead of eating the whole damn thing.

And please remember: These changes aren’t going to happen overnight. (Bummer, right?) I understand that we all want quick results, but each time we set the bar too high we also set ourselves up for failure. That’s because the big, large picture of what you are seeking is often quite intimidating. For example, if you are seeking to drop pounds, the end result might seem so far away that it will keep you from even trying in the first place.

Do me a favor and just take the first step. Lace up your shoes and get out the door or pack a healthy lunch for work the next day. What will happen next is not relevant, but I will tell you this much – it will feel better than that pint of ice cream. Most days.

Hey, it’s about balance, right?

Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the upcoming author of a gluten-free healthy lifestyle book, set to be released in January 2014. She is the author of the popular gluten-free blog, and is currently training to become a certified health coach. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at

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