Antioxidants! Oh Yeah!

So, for a while there, my skin was looking amazing. Dewy & fresh! At 34, I find it harder and harder to naturally accomplish this look as time goes on. But, here I was, with a bright face that looked years younger than it did when I was in my late 20s. Then, in the past couple of weeks, poof! It was gone. Suddenly and without warning.

What happened?

Being a little on the shallow side at times, I mourned the loss of my fresh, dewy skin while desperately analyzing what I was doing different to so quickly lose it. I'm still doing my HIIT cardio which I am a firm believer in, not just for the metabolic effects but for how it increase cell turnover which improves skin quality among less vapid health benefits. I was taking time to thoroughly rub in my moisturizer which also helps with the dewy look. Drinking enough water? check. Getting enough sleep. check. Taking my vitamins and omega-3 supplement? check, check.

I had pretty much decided that nature had caught up with me and this was my new face. And I had come to terms with it because my skin still looked good, just no longer great.

While planning my menus for the rest of the week, lightening struck! A couple weeks ago I decided to really buckle down and see what I could do with this body before bikini season. I upped my protein count and, without thinking, reduced my fruit and veggie intake. I had traded my oranges and organic apples for protein shakes. My spinach and broccoli for...well, protein shakes. Shame on me! I knew better!

To say that I knew better is actually an understatement. I have long preached the importance of antioxidants to anyone who would listen. I knew that they were, in essence, life itself. Now, here is the proof, clear as the dull looking nose on my face.

Ironically, I made myself less attractive in an effort to make myself more attractive. More importantly, I lost sight of what is important opposed to just what looks good. So, I still hope to don a bikini in a hard, doughless body by summer but my new goal is to do it in a way that is true to what I know to be the most important goal of all, being as healthy as I can possibly be.

I choose to feel good for the rest of my life, opposed to looking good in a bikini this summer. But, with a little luck, some tweaking and a lot of dedication, hopefully I can have both!

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Time for a New Challenge-Bikini Time Baby!

I love to constantly set new fitness challenges for myself so I have something for which to strive. I generally set goals that involve noble things like more endurance, ability to do a pull up, etc. Well, this one is purely shallow baby! I have never, once, in my whole life, felt good in a bikini. Or a bathing suit at all for that matter. This is my year!! I'm close enough to a bikini body for the first time that I really think I can pull it off by summer with a lot of dedication. I will post pics on here on June 20th (the first day of summer) either way so here's hoping I can pull it off! 64 days and counting!

My plan....

Well, it's still in the works but here's my basic outline and I will be updating this with lots more detail in the next couple of days:

Here is my meal plan.

I need to continue to tone while probably losing about 3-5 pounds of body fat (notice I said FAT not WEIGHT, there's a huge difference) to really reveal the muscles I've been working so hard on, especially those abs. I keep seeing them occasionally peeking through this layer of, let's call it, padding on my belly and I'm anxious to see what they actually look like!

My Workouts

Zumba in the p.m.

Upper Body

Cardio/Abs a.m.
Zumba in the p.m.

Lower Body


30 Day Shred (awesome total body workout)

I'm gonna measure myself today and post a beginning picture as well as my beginning measurements.
Wish me luck and, please, anyone feel free to join me with your own program that works for you! This is gonna be OUR summer!!!

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Learn to Love Exercise

I used to hate, I mean HATE exercise. As soon as I would become short of breath I would start to feel a panic rising within me and my body and mind would be screaming "STOP!" in unison. So I would. For years my workout routine consisted of the first five minutes of workout DVDs, maybe 2 minutes on a stationary bike, 10 seconds get the idea.

I never understood how in the world some people could exercise the way they did and decided that my body just wasn't made for exercise or I wouldn't feel that way. 

Well, what I didn't realize at the time was at the exact moment I felt the overwhelming need to stop was when change was starting to take place in my body. Change is uncomfortable. We don't like to be uncomfortable. It is in our nature to resist this discomfort. However, this resistance is simply a reflex that can be reprogrammed simply by becoming aware of the process.

By now we most all know how muscles tear down and build back up stronger. But there's not a lot of talk about the other type of discomfort that may cause you to stop or back off in the middle of your workout because, if you are new to exercise, you feel a scary, unfamiliar feeling. This feeling is lack of oxygen, or breathlessness.

When you push your body past its previous comfort zone, you become out of breath. The reason for this is because your body does not have enough oxygen to supply all of your muscles with the energy it needs to perform this new task. But if you push anyway, and get out of breath (if only for 30 seconds at a time) your body says "Oh crap! I better get more efficient if I'm gonna have to start doing this!" Your heart and lungs, as a result, become stronger. Your lungs are able to send more oxygen to your heart with each breath. Your heart beats slower because it is able to pump more blood with a single beat. Your cells are able to better extract oxygen from the blood. Your body becomes a more efficient machine.

This improvement happens every time you become out of breath! How exciting! 

So the next time you feel that panicky feeling (which will subside after time) and you think it's time to stop, just recognize that this is your body's pre-programmed response to change and that you know, at that very moment, you have started to change and improve.

Hungry Again?!

I have a big appetite. Always have. Guessing I always will. Even with the elimination of wheat (which drastically reduced my appetite), I still, on some days, find myself in a bit of a "calorie crunch" by the afternoon. Meaning, I'm close to my calorie limit and still starving. So, here's a bit of an "inventory" that I take when I find myself with a bottomless belly:

  • Have I drank enough water? We probably all know this one by now, sometimes "hunger" is actually "thirst".
  • Have I gotten enough sleep? Lack of sleep causes an imbalance of hormone levels which can increase appetite.
  • Have I eaten enough protein? If you are not meeting your protein needs, your body will keep telling you you're hungry even if you've eaten a whole bag of potato chips.
  • Have I eaten enough fat? Good, healthy fats are not only very satisfying but help maintain hormone balance which affects appetite.
  • Have I eaten too many carbs? Too many carbs (and/or sugar) can screw up your blood sugar and cause the famous "sugar let down" where you stay hungry and crave carbs for the rest of the day. Remember, carbs, especially simple carbs, are metabolized the same as sugar in your body. Don't look at sugar content, look at carb content.
  • Have I eaten too little carbs? Likewise, you don't want to eat too little carbs either because your body needs carbs to function. How much? It depends. This is where my rule #1 for lifestyle change comes into play. Educate yourself about yourself.
  • Have I had a good cardio session lately? Cardio temporarily reduces most people's appetites.
  • Have I strength trained extra hard lately? Sometimes you really do need extra calories if you're building muscle.
  • Am I eating enough calories? You never want to reduce your calorie intake too low and, likewise, you don't want to remain in a calorie deficit for an extended period of time. Its best to have days in which you "re-feed" yourself by eating at your calorie limit. How often should be determined on how your energy & hunger levels are during your deficit.
  • Have I eaten enough (literally) filling foods today? If you are surviving on protein shakes and bars (sometimes a necessity, I agree), you are taking in concentrated calories in the form of "small" food. Your belly is still pretty much, literally, empty. Sometimes a big bowl of soup, a plate full of veggies or even a bigger protein shake can provide all you need to finally feel full.
  • Is my hunger physical or emotional? If your belly isn't hungry, its probably your brain which means you have some stuff to deal with. Step away from the cookies and deal with it!
  • Am I eating frequently enough? One of the biggest things I started doing to eliminate binges is to eat frequently. Some days that means eating something every hour! Excessive? Hmmm, I'm gonna say, judging by my results, no. Just remember, I'm not eating cake every hour. I might have 5 egg whites the first hour, a serving of nuts an hour later and so on. Low calorie, high quality.
  • Have I consumed artificial sweeteners? Artificial sweeteners make you feel hungry and trigger cravings because when your tongue tastes something sweet it tells your body that sugar is on the way. Your body does everything that your body does when this is truly the case then it waits. When the sugar doesn't gets pissed.
  • Am I doing something that I associate with eating? Sometimes if I'm watching t.v., going to the movies, driving by McDonalds, etc., I "think" that I need to eat. When I really analyze this I often realize that there is some sort of "trigger" in my midst (t.v. is my biggest trigger which is one of the many reasons I don't really watch it anymore).
So you've gone through the list, tried everything, and you're still hungry? Eat! And eat now before you get any hungrier and lose control. While you're still rational, fill your plate with quality, low calorie, whole foods (as in, single ingredient foods: lean meat, fruit, veggies, etc.), chew slowly and give your body what it obviously needs.

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It's the First Day

I did it a million times. Whether it was the first day of the month, the first day of the week or, the big one, the first day of the year. I was convinced THAT was my day!

However, you will never suddenly wake up one day and change everything about your life that needs changing and never look back. So instead, stop waiting the first day of something and realize that every day is the first day! Every single day is an opportunity to make a little, tiny, itty bitty change that will snowball one day into a new life.

So, it's April 1st. Go ahead, make a change. But decide it's going to be a small, controllable change that you can live with for the rest of your life.