Featured

It was time for a change…

Thanks for joining me!  I’m just a regular person who decided it was time for a BIG change!  This is my journey to finding good health, a happy life and the best version of myself.  I am hoping by documenting my journey here I may be to help others who are facing some of the same issues as I am!

xoxoxo,

Beth

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
– C. S. Lewis

post

Advertisements

Hold yourself accountable….

Because, well you owe it to YOURSELF!  One of the biggest revelations I have had since starting this health and wellness journey  is that I need to be kinder, gentler and more appreciative of my body.  Our bodies are really incredible machines that do so much for us on a constant basis that it is only fair we should do everything we can to help them thrive.  Not to mention, we are only given one body and I don’t know about you but I want to keep mine happy and healthy as long as I possibly can!

One thing that has truly caught me by surprise since I have been paying more attention to nutrition and sticking to a consistent workout schedule is just how many parts of my life have improved.  I sleep a ton better,  I have almost completely eliminated the constant headaches I was having, I haven’t had one sinus infection all year (normally I have several pretty bad ones) and I no longer feel constantly run down like I had been for, well, years.  And that’s just to name a few things!

For pretty much the entirely of the year the 2017 I felt like complete and utter a$$.  I was beyond run down, constantly sick and on antibiotics (I absolutely hate taking medication btw), barely sleeping and only just making it through the day with the little energy I did have.  Because of this I pretty much stopped being active, wasn’t working out, wasn’t paying attention to what I was eating and so naturally I gained weight and lost confidence.   My physical health was poor, my mental health was poor and I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin for the first time in a really long while. I almost got to the point of not even being able to recognize the person I had become, I had let it get so bad.

When I had finally had enough and wanted to get my butt back into shape I accepted what I knew I had to do all along which was hold myself accountable.  No one else was going to improve my life for me.  No one else was going to force me back to the gym.  No one else was going to take away the junk food and replace it with healthier options. I had to want to do these things for myself.  I realized I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and I wanted a better quality of life and honestly to be proud of myself again.

One of the very first decisions I made was that I was going to go to the gym 4-5 times a week, each week no matter what excuse I could conjure up in my brain. I also decided that every time I completed a workout I was going to snap a picture of  myself in the mirror.  I never intended to ever let anyone see these pictures but they were a way for me to track my progress and again hold myself accountable along the way.  I soon realized I was looking forward to working out just so I could take these pictures at the end of each session.  They really forced me to be honest with myself about how I had let myself go and gave me motivation to keep going back each day to continue to get closer to how I wanted to look.  While these pics started off pretty cringe-worthy, several weeks into my new routine I could see some results, small as they were, they were definitely there!  This documentation was very motivational for me in terms of being able to see that my hard work and dedication to this new lifestyle was actually paying off.

Once I got back into the gym and started being active, healthier eating and paying more attention to what I was fueling my body with followed pretty naturally and quickly.  I became interested in finding foods that would help me achieve my goals and keep me on this path to feeling better than I had in a very long time.  My diet naturally transformed into one that incorporated a lot more whole foods and a lot less of the processed, packaged foods I had been eating because they were quick and easy.  I am so much more aware of everything I put into my body now because I want to help it work at the peak of it’s ability.  I want to be healthy and strong and I know in order to achieve those things I have to eat nutritious foods.

There is no shortcut to better health you guys.  We can’t snap our fingers and drop ten pounds or go to the gym once and expect results.  We also can’t eat one salad and then follow it with ten cookies and wonder why we aren’t losing weight.  Getting healthy and staying healthy is truly a life long commitment.  It requires you to make good decisions every single day.  Some days are easier than others.  Truth be told, I don’t feel like working out every day.  Some days I want to eat an entire pizza and sit on my couch.  Those are the days I pull out my phone, look back at where I was six months ago and remember why I started on this journey in the first place. I don’t ever want to go back to feeling or looking that way again and mostly I don’t ever want to mistreat my body they way I had been.

For me documenting my journey through pictures, social media posts and even this blog has been so helpful in keeping my motivation strong and my accountability in check.  I have gotten so much encouragement from people out there, people I don’t even know, who are also on the same path as I am. I have even  been able to help some people in return which has been truly rewarding for me!  Since I have started documenting and sharing my story its been pretty incredible the support that I have gotten and while sometimes I have to push myself out of my comfort zones to do it, I have only gotten more motivated and stronger as a person because of it.

Six months ago, heck, even two months ago there is no way I would have considered showing a transformation picture.  But recently I put one out there (see below)  because I truly am proud of how far I have come and I want people to know it is possible to improve your life if you really want to.  You just have to take that first step!  Find something that works for you, whether it be a workout journal, a training buddy or a even a fitness tracker.  Whatever you do, hold yourself accountable to it and I promise your body will respond in amazing ways and pretty soon your life will as well!

IMG_6405

xoxoxo,

Beth

 

 

 

To carb or not to carb….

For me this is not even a question!  I LOVE carbs.  If there was a word stronger than love I would use it to describe how I feel about carbs.  I know I’m not alone in this feeling.  Most of us have a fondness for all things bread, pasta cookies and crackers.  And while carbs have gotten a bad rap over the past several years, I myself don’t think it is carbs themselves that are to blame.

For the first several decades of my life I was definitely a carb-a-holic.  I wasn’t that into eating meat (was even a vegetarian at one point), ate a salad every once in a while but for the most part I loved my bread, bagels, pasta and cereal!  I was one of the lucky ones that was able to eat as many carbs as I wanted and turn around and burn them right off.  They gave me energy to workout and lead a very active lifestyle.  Fast forward to being diagnosed with all the many food allergies I have today, and my love affair with carbs turned bitter sweet.  All the foods I once enjoyed eating were off limits and the ones I was left with did not offer the same sort of energy supply that my precious wheat based options once had.

When I became unable to eat the foods I had been eating most of my life, my biggest struggle (other than seeing commercials for Pizza Hut and wanting to leap out of my chair and eat the TV) was that my energy levels plummeted.  I wasn’t able to workout like I had been, wasn’t nearly as active and because of this gained some weight and generally felt blah. This is something I have struggled with for the better part of the last ten years now and it has only been in the last several months with the addition of the shakes I am using and renewed attention to the foods I am eating that things have started to turn around.

While carbs these days are linked to weight gain and a slew of other negative things, in reality carbs are a great source of energy and can be extremely beneficial to you.  Humans have been eating carbohydrates since the beginning of ,well, humankind.  We only recently have become a society struggling with obesity and the diseases that come along with being overweight like diabetes and heart disease.  It stands to reason then that carbs may not be the culprit in what is making us unhealthy and overweight these days.

The main purpose of carbs, which can be broken down into three categories, sugar, starch and fiber, is to supply us with energy.  Where people started going wrong with them was not eating them in their whole, unprocessed forms.  Carbs in their natural states such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains can be extremely healthy!  They offer a ton of nutrition, important healthy compounds and clean sources of energy that our bodies need.  These carbs are usually loaded with fiber which our bodies use to keep us digesting properly and things moving along (if you catch my drift).

When carbs are refined is when things start going awry.  Refined carbs or simple carbs are things such as white bread and white rice, fruit juices, soda, ice cream and our beloved pasta.  A hard lesson I have had to learn on this new journey I am on, is generally speaking if a food item comes in a package you should think twice about eating it. This definitely holds true for our carbohydrate sources.  In general, packaged goods that contain carbs are not the good kind of carbs to be eating.  Also generally speaking, over indulging in these refined carbs can lead to weight gain and all the fun things that come along with extra pounds.  They also tend to strip away the good fiber you do ingest.

Examples of good carbs are nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and whole grains.  If you choose the healthy kind of carbs to eat you stand a much better chance of maintaining a healthy weight, having the energy you need to live an active lifestyle and avoiding those health risks that everyone fears developing.  I know this doesn’t sounds like a ton of fun, as it is much more enjoyable to open a box of donuts and indulge as opposed to picking up an apple or peeling an orange and chowing down.  Again, everything in moderation!! No one is saying don’t eat a donut every once in a while but if you are looking to get healthier, maybe lose a few pounds and improve your overall wellbeing try to minimize the processed foods and incorporate more of the whole ones into your meal plan.  You will be amazed at how much your energy levels will increase, how much better you feel and how thankful your body will be!

xoxoxo,

Beth

Food is not the enemy….

Although it took me a lot of years to realize this, finally accepting that food should be an ally has been a HUGE revelation for me.  My personal relationship with food has been a really interesting one.  It’s been filled with ups and downs, rocky roads (pun totally intended) and more than one wrong turn.

Truth be told, I have always been one of those people who eats to survive.  I never remember a time in my life when I was ever obsessed with food, or turned to it for emotional support or to fill a void that I wasn’t getting in another part of my life.   I also have never really had an issue putting down my fork when I am full and very rarely eat out of boredom.  Food doesn’t bring me any real pleasure.  In short, I eat because I have to.

While this doesn’t sound at all like a bad thing for maintaining a healthy weight, it honestly has caused me quite a bit of trouble in the past.  For me, my struggle with food comes in the form of poor nutrition mostly due to indifference.  For a very long time, I simply would eat easy, quick items such as crackers or pretzels that I deemed “healthy” because they were ridiculously low in fat.  Back in my twenties (I am pushing 40 now….please don’t repeat that!) my idea of a healthy diet was eating food that contained less than 3 grams of fat per serving.  I kid you not, I would only buy things that met this criteria because I was much more concerned with the size of my waist then fueling my body with the nutrition I needed.  If I was a size zero I was doing it right was my mentality.  Wow, how insane right?

I paid no attention to the nutritional value of food, instead just grabbing the easiest, no fuss option I had in my cabinet usually while I was running out the door to work.  I could literally go days without eating much more than dry cereal and some saltines.  I ate as much as I needed to in order to get by without passing out but was careful not to take in more calories than I felt my extremely small pant size would allow.  This was a crazy mix of complete indifference to my health and total obsession with not gaining a pound.  Instead of seriously committing to a workout routine and healthy eating plan to achieve the body I wanted, I chose to just eat bland, nutritionally devoid food that lacked any calories or fat because I really didn’t care what it tasted liked anyway.

Fast forward to my late twenties, and my relationship with food took an even crazier turn.  At about 28 I was diagnosed with A LOT of food allergies.  I had started breaking out in rashes and hives while eating, my mouth would tingle and sometimes my throat would even begin to feel tight.  After seeing an allergist and having a bunch of blood work done, I found out I was allergic to everything from wheat, to rice to barely, malt, hops and even oats.  I have touched on this part of my life in other posts but just to re-cap, it was a shocking and scary thing for someone like me who pretty much existed on carbs and carbs alone.  All of a sudden, all the eating habits (unhealthy as they were) that I had relied on for a good part of the past decade were instantly thrown out the window.  Now instead of food being something I barely paid any attention to it was something I had to put a lot of thought into every time I had to eat anything.  And there was no learning curve or time to adjust.  From the very second I got the call from my doctor I had to immediately cut out everything that had been the go to staples of my everyday meal plan.  No more crackers, cereal, pretzels, bagels, cookies, or even protein bars.

Needless to say, this required a massive shift in the way I thought about and handled food moving forward.  Now eating for me required a lot of thought, planning and  researching before I made any food choice.  I had to be ultra aware of what I was eating which was hard enough when I was at home but close to impossible for me when I was eating out.  You would really be surprised how many things have wheat in them like sauces, gravy, even Twizzlers, which I used to love!!  I went from eating to survive to eating and hoping I would survive!  Ok, that may be a little dramatic, but it does often cross my mind that I might eat something mistakenly and have to whip out my epi-pen to avoid my throat closing up on me.  You would think this would have been a turning point for me in paying more attention to eating the right way and not just to avoid passing out.  Well, that’s not exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, I really just fell back into the same bad habits I had before I developed the allergies.  Once I got accustomed to the restrictions I now had, I just sought out quick, easy, grab-and go gluten-free options.  While these options were fewer and more far between (also quite a bit more expensive), I managed to find crackers, pretzels and even some gluten free animal crackers that worked with the constraints of my diet and I went right back to eating with no thought to variety, nutrition or even really taste.  This time I ate an even smaller variety of food and eating really became a chore.

It wasn’t honestly until about a few months ago that my attitude toward food really changed.  I realized that I was getting out of my body what I was putting in and that was a huge reason I was feeling tired, bloated, anxious and borderline depressed.  Once I added nutrition shakes to my diet things really clicked for me.  It was that small change, just drinking one day, that really made the light bulb go on for me.  I was clearly missing key vitamins and nutrients eating the way I had been for so long and as soon as my body started getting those things my life really changed.  A few weeks into the the shake routine I had doubled my energy levels, I started sleeping better, my panic attacks decreased significantly and I was able to get in really good workouts that were producing results I have never in my life seen!

What the shakes also did for me was forced me to take a good hard look at food in a much different way than I really ever have.  After experiencing what a huge difference the proper nutrition can have on so many aspects of my everyday life, I have started really investing in what I am putting in my body.    I see food now as an incredible ally in being healthy, feeling good and achieving my goals.  Before food was definitely the enemy for me.  I viewed it as necessary evil.  Today I actually look forward to exploring new recipes,  trying different cuisines and finding ways to make delicious meals that also help my body perform at it’s best.

Food can be an incredible tool, if used right, to achieve physical, mental and even emotional health.  Take a little bit of time and think about what you are going to eat.  Put some thought into what goes into your body.  Meal-prepping is a wonderful way I have found to stay on track for the week (I won’t go too much into that right now cause that topic in and of it’s self could be a whole post).  Keep healthy snacks around, especially if you sit behind a computer all day long at work.  Incorporate fruits and veggies as often as you can into meals.  Small changes to start will have you seeing big results!

Eating is no longer a chore for me and that is a wonderful feeling!!  Don’t let an unhealthy relationship with food, no matter what the nature of that relationship is, stand in the way of your health and well being guys. While I wish I would have learned this lesson sooner, i am SO SO glad I finally did.  Better late than never!!

 

xoxoxo,

Beth

 

 

I don’t own a scale….

Really I don’t!  And honestly I never have and probably never will.  Let’s be honest….we can all tell by the way our pants fit if we have lost of gained (gulp) a few lbs.  There are a few reasons I don’t believe that owning a scale is a healthy thing (for me personally) but the predominant reason is I know myself well enough to know I would become obsessed with the number staring back at me each day.  And no, I don’t think I could be trusted to only step on it every once in a while so to avoid the drama of it all I just don’t have one anywhere near me.

Also, to be honest I have never been what most people think of as overweight.  I have a naturally small frame but that does not mean that I can’t and don’t gain weight and there have not been points in my life where I have had extra layers of flab I have been less than proud of.   A few months back when I decided it was time to get off my lazy butt and get back into the gym it was because I knew I had gained a few pounds and I wasn’t loving the way I was looking or feeling (mentally or physically).  I wasn’t sure how much weight I had gained until I went to the doctor and they forced me on to a scale.  Seeing that I had gained over ten pounds really shocked me a little bit and was the extra motivation I needed to really start paying attention to my health.  So far I know this sounds like a glowing recommendation for why you SHOULD get on a scale but wait, there’s more.

Almost immediately after seeing that inflated number at the doctors office I kicked it into high gear, changed up my diet and started hitting the gym at least 5 days a week.  Within a few months my pants were much looser, I could see some muscles forming that I hadn’t seen in years and my overall well-being was markedly improved.  In a follow up visits to the doctor several months later, I was almost excited to get back on that scale and see how many pounds I had lost.  When the nurse told me what my weight was and I realized I had only dropped four pounds I was immediately disappointed.  I really thought I had lost those ten pounds and maybe even more.  I went home, slightly ashamed with my perceived lack of progress and definitely feeling a little dejected.  The next several days I did manage to get to the gym but I had lost a good deal of the spark and motivation I had previous to the last weigh in.

Then after a workout where I kinda went into it just to get it over with, I looked in the mirror.  I saw someone staring back at me that I almost didn’t recognize.  I saw muscles, specifically ab muscles that I hadn’t seen maybe ever.  I saw a figure I was proud of.  One that I almost couldn’t believe was mine.  I realized that the number on the scale really wasn’t reflective of the progress I had actually made.  My body looked significantly different to me than it had early in the year when I first started on this health journey.  I realized I had indeed made large strides in getting back to a strong, toned physique.  And just like that I was proud of myself and all my motivation came rushing back with a renewed force.

The problem with scales is that they don’t tell you the complete story of the health of your body and they are by no means an accurate representation of the your overall well-being. While I had only “lost” four pounds what that weigh in did not tell me was how many pounds of muscle I had gained among other factors.  After all, muscle weighs substantially more than fat.  The numbers on a scale are so subjective and can be influenced by so many things such as how much water a person has drank that day, what they have eaten, how much sodium was in the food they have eaten, their hormone levels that particular day….I could go on and on and on.  For me, as is the case I would guess for a lot of other people out there, I had put so much stock into what the scale was telling me I almost let it derail a really important lifestyle change I was attempting to make.

To continue the honestly here, even before this journey I started on early this year, I never trusted myself enough to own a scale.  I am someone who gets easily fixated on things whether healthy or unhealthy when it comes to my weight.  I’ve known for a very long time it would not be smart for me to weigh in everyday if I wanted to keep my sanity and avoid starving myself to reach a number that may or may not be (most likely not be) a healthy body weight for my frame.  I sincerely want to get healthy this time around, not stick thin.  I want to take care of myself from the inside out and so far that mentality has made all the difference in the world.  I am no longer concerned with what size my jeans are or obsessing about each and every calorie I am taking in over the course of a day.  I am primarily concerned with FEELING good and that has in turned translated into me seeing my body take the shape of someone I am proud to look at in the mirror.  This is a completely new feeling for me, one I didn’t even have when I was a size double zero. I am putting in the hard work and making the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve my goals and it has nothing to do with a number on a scale.

I want you all to know that if you are working hard to change you life, lose some weight, get in shape or just want to tone up a little, take cues from your body not a machine.  If you are feeling better, have more energy, are sleeping better and just generally feel like you are getting healthier keep at it!  Your body is thanking you and letting you know in all the right ways you are on the right track.  Please please please don’t obsess over a number every single day.  While it may be helpful to weigh in every once in a while, don’t get crazy and give up if some weeks that number fluctuates the wrong direction.  Getting healthy is often times a slow process that by no means follows a straight line of continual improvement.  The most important thing you can do is stay consistent to your goals and trust your body will respond to your hard work.

xoxoxo,

Beth

Weekend Warrior(ing)…

TGIF all my beautiful people out there!  If you all are anything like me, this time of the week, Friday afternoonish, is one of  my favorite points in the whole week.  The entire weekend lays before us and after working hard all week I am soooo ready to take it easy.  That being said, the weekends for me don’t mean a pass to go crazy and throw my healthy lifestyle out the window completely.  Honestly, I am too Type Aish to really even  do that now that I have committed to this new way of life where I am putting my health and wellbeing first. I’m loving the way I feel, the way my body is responding, and I don’t want to throw that all way because I push aside my new healthier habits each weekend.

I use the weekends in kind of a two fold type of way.  First, I usually allow myself my one big cheat meal of the week on Friday nights.  Most likely this involves my favorite, tacos and margaritas, or sometimes a cauliflower pizza from California Pizza Kitchen. This meal usually holds me over for the week so I don’t feel completely deprived and can let loose a bit on the healthy eating constraints.  The flip side to this easing up on my diet on Fridays is I usually use the weekends to get in longer workouts.  The weekends for me provide a great opportunity to get a good, solid workout in without having to feel rushed like I normally do during the week. When the weather is nice, I try to get some physical activity in outside like hiking, bike riding or even just taking longer walks with my puppies.  I combine these activities with weight training in the gym and I usually am looking at a few hours of being really active before I even know it!

The weekends also offer me a great chance to switch my workout routine up from the normal quick, rushed workouts I usually do before or after work during the week. It is so important to keep your workouts fresh and interesting or you run the risk of getting bored with them, eventually plateauing and then possibly quitting altogether.  The weekends are also usually the time I incorporate my longer cardio workouts in.  While I have been focusing more on gaining muscle and strength through weight training, a few times a week I still do cardio sessions along with the HIIT workouts I spoke of in a previous post. Cardio is so important to do for overall health you guys!   Truthfully, I usually don’t love those long treadmill or elliptical workouts, but even if you just add 15-20 more minutes onto a workout session you are burning quite a bit more calories than you would even think!  So when you get the chance to sneak in a few extra moments, do it!  For me, I have the time to do this on Saturday and Sunday and I jump at it so I know it’s done for the week.

See below for a few tips I try to keep in mind over the weekends.  These are things that have really helped me stay on track and I hope will help you too!

Slide1

Now everyone go enjoy your Friday and the rest of the weekend!

xoxoxo,

Beth

HIITing my goals…

You guys, one of the biggest struggles for me and I know for a lot of you out there as well is simply finding the time to workout.  Between working a full time job that often is more than full time, and spending a minimum of 3 hours in traffic everyday commuting I struggle constantly with even finding time to breathe let alone get a workout in!  This can be one of the biggest deterrents for people when they make a decision to get in shape and also can be how many people with the best of intentions get derailed early on in in the process.

While to some extent you just have to want it bad enough to prioritize your health and well-being, there are also alternatives to having to get back in your car each day, drive to the gym, fight over machines and share sweaty locker rooms.  I myself, am one of those weird people that actually likes being in a gym, but I am also one of those people who has very few hours in the day to spare.  My solution….while I do make the effort to get to the gym a few days a week mostly because I really like using all the different weight machines it has to offer, on most other days (about 3-4 days a week) I workout right from my living room for about 30-40 minutes.   I have recently discovered this amazing training technique called a HIIT workout.  HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and it is as intense as it’s name proclaims it to be.

HIIT workouts basically involve you expending high amount of energy in short, intense bursts.  These intense bursts are then followed by periods of low-intensity active rest cycles.  The beautiful thing about this style of training is these workouts typically only last 20-30 minutes and you can do most of them anywhere you like….aka. your own living room!  They are designed so you get an amazing fat-burning workout in a very short amount of time.  The other incredible thing about this workout is the effects last long after the workout is over.  They are great for revving up your metabolism and then keeping it revved up long after you are on to making dinner or folding that pile of laundry that has been staring at you for two weeks.

I recently started on a HIIT style program where I only have to workout 4 days a week for about 30 minutes.  Who doesn’t have that time to dedicate to bettering yourself???  The particular one I am doing is an 8 week program that combines some weightlifting and high-intensity cardio.  So far I am absolutely LOVING it!  I mean it combines two of my favorite things…picking up weights and doing a very short amount of cardio!  It also ends each session with some core work which I have been really focused on since challenging myself to get at least a four pack of abs at some point in my life!   The only caveat to this style of working out is that the results you get from it depend completely on how intensely you are committed to those short bursts of high-intensity action.  If you do give it your all for those 45 or so seconds per activity you are potentially burning between 260-370 calories a session.

If you want any more info on the program I am using now just let me know!  Also, I have included below a sample of the HIIT routine I started out doing when I was new to the idea.  I still use this routine about once a week honestly because I really enjoy how it makes me feel.   You guys, we only get one body.  Please, please, please make the choice to take care of the one you have.  If you can find 30 minutes (which is roughly only about 7% of your whole day) to prioritize YOU, you can get in shape.  Do this for you. I promise you won’t look back at the 30 minutes you spend on your body and think it was a waste. As they say, the only bad workout is the one you don’t do!!

20 Minute HIIT Workout

xoxoxo,

Beth