Bringing Your Body Into Balance

My 100+ pound weight loss is what grabs people's attention. However, my weight loss was merely a side effect of finally taking my health and happiness into my own hands and finding that perfect balance. Body, mind, spirit. It all matters.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What's Your Excuse?

When I talk about diet and/or exercise to clients, I get an array of responses. I also get a whole boat load of excuses. Okay, I'm not gonna lie, the clients that I feel most compelled to help (other than the ones with NO excuses who are raring and ready to go) are the ones who simply say "I just can't help myself, I love junk food" or "I know I need to exercise but I hate it." It's not just about the fact that they are being honest with me (although that helps a lot) but rather that they are being honest with themselves. 

Meanwhile, I've got the morbidly obese clients who swear up and down that they eat a perfect, nutritional diet and just can't seem to lose. Yes, there is such thing as a true thyroid issue but they are few and far between. In fact, I've had spouses, friends and family members often confide in me exactly what these clients truly eat. Okay, I can even deal with this. Pride is a powerful force so I get it. Unfortunately, I can't sit there and tell you how to control and prevent binges if you swear you've been eating nothing but chicken and broccoli for years. But, again, I get it. 

Then there's the common excuses: "I don't have the time" (I never hear people say they don't have time to take care of their kids, weird??), "I'm this way because I'm depressed" (no, more than likely, you're depressed because you're this way. Your hormones are out of balance, you can't move freely, you're probably sleep deprived and you're starved for nutrients). And my personal favorite "I'm this way because [insert person's name or situation here] made me this way." I'm not going to lie, these are the people that I feel the least motivation to help. Everything always happens TO them and they have no power over it. They are the eternal victims. I have very little patience for self-proclaimed victims. Sorry.

However, today I had what had the be the most interesting and worst excuse I've encountered so far in my career. I was speaking with a new client and my interview turned, as it always does, to nutrition. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: So how do you feel about your diet.

Her: Oh no, I don't diet.

Me: Well, good, I don't believe that people should technically diet. What I'm asking is how do you feel about the quality and nutritional value of the food you eat.

Her: I really don't want to change my diet.

Me: I understand change is hard and I'm not saying you have to eat perfectly but you're inevitably going to hit a wall in your weight loss if you don't at least make some healthy changes to your diet.

Her: Well, actually I can't eat a healthy diet.


Her: I tried eating healthy once and it raised my potassium levels dangerously high. The doctor said so! And, come to find out, all healthy foods have it, bananas, even kale (end of list apparently)


Her: So yeah, I just want to focus on exercise because I'm not going to change my diet.

So, basically, she is saying her doctor has told her that eating a healthy diet is dangerous for her health. I don't believe this, by the way. As little as most doctors know about nutrition, the one thing they've been taught to regurgitate whenever the topic of nutrition comes up is "eat a balanced, healthy diet." 

Okay, so makes for a funny story for me and she surely doesn't believe this so no problem there. The excuses clients make to me basically go in one ear and out the other. At the end of the day you are either ready or you're not and it doesn't matter if I call you out on your BS. The result will be the same. You do the work and I will be your guide. So your excuses to me won't harm our time together. It's your excuses to yourself  that do the damage. And we all have them. Here's some of the greatest hits of my past excuses as well as what my new replacement excuses are:

Then: I had a bad day. I deserve to sit down and chill and maybe have some take out.
Now: I had a bad day. I really need to get in a good sweaty workout to make me feel better. Then maybe if I'm still craving some comfort food I'll have a little something naughty while I'm making dinner.

Then: I worked out yesterday, I don't need to work out today.
Now: I worked out yesterday, and it's gone. Now it's today, I'm not sore or tired from overtraining, so time to work out again.

Then: My son is just being too demanding and we are stuck in the house on a rainy Sunday, I can't possibly squeeze in a workout.
Now: My son is being too demanding and we are stuck in the house on a rainy Sunday. If I don't get in a good workout and work out this frustration, I may lose my freaking mind.

Then: I ate bad for breakfast, guess I'll just eat bad for the rest of the day. OR, I ate bad for breakfast so I guess I'll starve myself for the rest of the day (and then it reverts back to the first version once I get really hungry again).
Now: I ate bad for breakfast, guess I'll eat really healthy for the rest of the day to make sure I get my body all the nutrients it needs and balance my blood sugar.

Then: I can't afford to eat healthy.
Now: I can't afford to NOT eat healthy because the cheaper stuff isn't actually real food. (Oh, and it turns out, when I'm not eating out constantly, my food expense ends up being the same)

Then: I don't have time to exercise.
Now: Oh wait, I have 10-15 minutes to scroll through Facebook, I could do a quick HIIT workout instead.

Then: The people around me aren't eating healthy, how can anyone expect me to?
Now: The people around me aren't eating healthy, maybe they will see me eating healthy and be inspired. I should eat better than ever when I'm around them.

Then: I'm tired because I need sugar.
Now: I'm tired, I better not eat sugar or I'll be even more tired in a little while.

And so on.

Have you paid attention to your own excuses? Not so much the ones you tell other people but the ones you tell yourself. 

Notice them.
Challenge them.

Change them!

It won't happen all at once but just becoming aware of your excuses and taking the time to challenge them will start to set off change. All changes start right between our two ears. Even if you don't act on your new, positive excuse, just think it anyway. Start reprogramming your brain and eventually it will start coming up with these new excuses on it's own. Then, BAM!, you suddenly find yourself working out on a Friday night even though it's cheat night and you worked out every day this week. Why? Because you now have every excuse in the world to do so!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Confessions of My Affair

So I promised on my Facebook page today that I'm going to go back to my blogger roots of being completely and unabashedly honest about my life. A great place to start is with an ongoing affair I've been having. Very few people have been aware of this until now. This affair has hurt me many times and seems to get worse as time goes on. However, I willingly go back for more. It's as if I am drawn back, powerless to the allure of it. I just can't help it. It makes me feel so good. Yet, soon after, it makes me feel so bad. 

The object of my unquenchable desire? Cheese.

I love it. I mean I LOVE it.  Ooey Gooey hot sharp cheddar calls to me. Little hunks of feta make a good salad a great salad. A meal seldom feels complete without cheese. Not a big deal, right? Well, no, not right. In addition to it comprising WAY too many calories of my diet, it makes me feel bad after I eat it. My stomach starts cramping, my sinuses swell up, my throat gets sore and I feel an overall sensation that I can only describe as "yuck". 

WHY can't a quit cheese?! I have conquered postpartum depression with diet and exercise. I have lost 100+ pounds "the old fashion way" and gained crazy muscle. And throughout my life I've cut out cigarettes, soda, diet soda, energy drinks, sugar, bread, soy products and about anything else tasty you can think of. What is the allure of cheese that makes it so impossible to kick? 

Well, from what I've been researching lately regarding food intolerance (which is what I quite obviously have), we tend to crave the foods that hurt us the most. It's something about the body preparing itself for the assault the food is about to make on our bodies so it releases some happy hormones or something. Whatever the cause, I can't seem to cut the cheese (actually I can....quite often after eating it actually...oh come on, you can't have a cheese post without a good "cutting the cheese" pun).

Here's my theory as to why....I HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO MAKE ME FEEL GOOD!!!! Okay, that's not true. I have exercise, I have people who I can laugh and have fun with, a son that lights up my life, good movies/books that help me grow and the occasional alcoholic indulgence (yes, yes, I know, more on this another time). Okay, but cheese is the only thing I have left that really really makes my mouth happy! And exercise is awesome but you can't melt it on veggies and make them taste delicious.

And, keep in mind, because I refuse to cut out the healthy foods that my body actually needs, it's also making me go over my calorie limit each day. In fact, the only reason I don't gain weight and can actually still see improvements in my body is because I work out like a mad woman and practice intermittent fasting. Otherwise, I have no doubt that my little love affair with cheese would be written all over my body.
What's a cheese lovin' girl to do? 

Well, I think I will start by keeping it out of the house, which I do more and more often. I will ask my loved ones to nag me about my cheese consumption in their presence, I will pay close attention to how unbelievably shitty I feel after I eat it (which should be enough!!), I will continue to educate myself on why it is not healthy for me (although I eat raw organic cheese for the most part so the evidence isn't stunningly horrible against it) and I will continue to be open and honest about it on my blog and Facebook page until I feel mounting pressure to quit if for no other reason to save face but, ideally, to inspire and motivate others to kick their bad habits as well.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


November has become the month of gratitude. Although we all know we should be grateful all the time, and it's something wonderful to strive toward, it's also nice that there is now a month that has seemingly became dedicated to it.

A few weeks ago I signed up for a 21 Day Gratitude meditation program scheduled to start on November 4th. The morning of November 4th passed without me doing as I resolved, starting my gratitude meditation. Why? Well, my time is limited to be sure. However, I do have a little free time, as most of us do. And, as many of us do, I have fallen into the habit of using my precious free time doing idle things such as playing games on my phone or checking Facebook.

I suddenly realized that my priorities are most definitely out of line if I can't dedicate 10-15 minutes of my free time to focusing on being a happier person because I'm too distracted by my iPhone. Thus began my November phone fast.

I deactivated my Facebook account and deleted the games off my phone. November 5th (yesterday), I spent my morning coffee time doing my first gratitude meditation and, as a result, started my day in such a positive, constructive way compared to the mind numbing way I usually start it after 20-30 minutes of Ruzzle and Facebook memes.

Now might be a good time to state that I am in no way against Facebook (although I think I am officially against phone games, I don't know that we should have such easy access to such things). I love Facebook, it's how I connect with many of the people who I love and how I stay informed about important things going on in the world and in my own community. December 1st, I will be back on Facebook. But my intention is that it will be back in its compartment where it belongs.

So my first benefit of my little "fast" was that I entered my day with a sense of gratitude and purpose. Actually the first day's gratitude meditation was about living your purpose. I already feel with all my heart that I AM now living my purpose. However, entering my day consciously aware of this helped me to give so much more to others and, as a result, get so much back in return.

Last night I laid down in bed and this is when I would usually turn on my phone and pull up Facebook for a little "me time" while I get good and tired. Instead, I pulled up (amazing website, soooo totally recommend it!) and watched a short movie called "Serotonin Rising" and was so happy and inspired when I rolled over to go to sleep. I woke up and watched my second gratitude meditation and I am entering this day with my new assignment of giving my thanks to the universe by remaining focused on my life's work instead of going through my day in a distracted haze.

What I'm doing may be a little extreme for some and that's fine. It may, however, not be extreme enough for others. We need to be open to the idea of removing that from our lives which distract us unnecessarily from what's important. Life is beautiful and exciting and full of wonder, but we are going to miss it if we're playing Ruzzle when the miracles happen.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Make Your Body Crave It

This is me at the gym early this morning before work. I barely had any time to squeeze in a workout this morning and had to choose between showering and washing my hair and working out and, well, you can see what I chose. (Ladies: Wet wipes, leave-in condition, a curling iron and a good strong deodorant work wonders!)

How did I get here? To the point where I would rush from dropping my son off to the gym where I would bust my butt as hard as I possibly could for 35 minutes before having to get ready for work in a crazy mad dash of 7 minutes? Well, it all started when I was overweight and miserable and never moved. I thought feeling tight and achy and anxious and sad were normal. Turns out I was wrong. 

I've talked in the past about how my addiction to exercise started to form (during some of the darkest days of my life, when I was 275 pounds and lived my sad life under the shadow of a severe case of postpartum depression). However, I don't know if I've ever talked about exactly how this addiction feels now. 

Well, let me share. When I wake up in the morning, my body feels stagnant and only half alive. My mind is pretty much right along with it. Coffee helps a little but I can feel that it's a false kind of "waking up" that I'm feeling. Whether I'm at home working out (which I don't exactly love) or at the gym (which I do totally love), I have the same "drag" that I think we're all familiar with. My legs have a little bit of a lead feeling. It's kind uncomfortable for my feet to leave the ground. I kinda want to lay down and take a nap, maybe have some cake. However, I know what's on the other side of that heavy feeling and my body has come to crave it.

On the other side of that feeling is the most alive, intense feeling most of us will feel in our day to day lives. Our problems shrink somewhere mid-workout. The heaviness is replaced by a lightness that I feel each time my feet leave the ground (for about 20-30 seconds at a time anyway, then I gotta take a break before that light feeling returns).

I feel powerful, I feel determined, I feel proud and empowered that I once again busted down that "I wanna lay down" feeling and threw down yet again. And when my workout is over? I feel truly awake. I don't mean "it perks me up", I mean, my body vibrates at a higher level, my mind is clear (and even clearer when I'm eating properly). My legs have a slightly shaky, wrung out feeling that I've grown to love. 

When I wake up the next day, I'm tired again, and now I'm sore! I love being sore. It's my tangible evidence that my body is, once again changing. It also reminds me that it's time to move again. Nothing makes soreness worse than sitting still! So I find a way to work in another workout. Some days I get off work early enough that I could squeeze in a quick workout before I pick up my son. I don't prefer this because I love to start my day off with a good workout. I don't feel pulled together or even as motivated to eat healthy if I haven't worked out that morning. Likewise, I feel like my day is incomplete if I go to bed that night without working out that day. Rest days have become what exercise days used to be for me. I have a very "I'll do it tomorrow, I promise" mentality. 

So how do you start to crave exercise? Force yourself just once to do it and pay attention to how you feel mentally and physically afterwards. You'll feel more in control. Your body feels better. You feel hopeful, like you're headed somewhere. I have 2 lists in the back of my planner. One is titled "How I feel when I do the right things" and the other is "How I feel when I don't do the right things". Days that I eat horrible and/or don't work out, I reach the end of my day in a sad state. The world looks bleak.

Perhaps the biggest reason I work out is because it's what fuels me in all areas of my life. I can't put my finger on it but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the more I push myself in my workouts, the more I can push myself in life. I gain confidence and clarity with each successful workout. 

So, find an exercise you enjoy doing so you'll stick with it. Pay attention to the whole process. Recognize that the uncomfortable feeling at the beginning of your workout is completely normal and you are not, in fact, going to die. You will find that, over time you grow more comfortable with being uncomfortable. You'll start to see progress in ways like improved insulin regulation (which you'll recognize as less cravings and more energy) and a control over your body that you didn't know existed. Then, one day when you least expect it, you'll wake up to find your body craving exercise like it used to crave cake....although you may still crave both.

Here's some other random reasons why being fit rocks:
  • Steps no longer get you out of breath
  • Better coordination, less tripping.
  • Okay, ladies, you're gonna love this. A stronger core makes you feel everything below the belt at a much more heightened level. Climaxing is easier and better. ;-)
  • Everything from tying your shoes to checking the mail just seems easier!
  • That uncomfortable feeling during exercise starts to fade and becomes easier to override.
  • Oh, and then there's the whole, living a long, healthy life and setting a good example for your children and everyone you love thing.
  • And one of my favorite things about being fit is the control I have over my body! I kind of referenced this when mentioning you trip less and feel more, erm, down south. I used to feel like a floating head. I was so out of touch with my body and had trouble controlling it. Now, I like to take steps two at a time simply because I can. One of the reasons I love Zumba is because I love how fast I can now. Although plyometrics (lots of jumping) isn't my favorite thing to do for fun (although it gives you lots more results) I DO enjoy how easily my feet now leave the ground, how light and athletic I feel and how I land like a cat. I love being able to have such amazing control over my body now and I'm always motivated to keep working harder to see just how good it can get.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What You Didn't Know You Needed To Know About the Gym

I am a gym rat! I love the gym. I love the clank of the equipment, the whirl of the treadmills, the crappy music and even the sometimes weird, flashy outfits. I love it all. Give me some lifting gloves, good music in my headphones and some iron and I'll see you in 1-2 hours! Love it. Love it. Love it.

However, this was most definitely not always the case. I used to feel such anxiety when I went to the gym. I felt like everyone was staring at me, wondering why the fat girl was in the gym. Then, add on top of that, not knowing what the heck I was doing. I felt like a fat fool, and my gym memberships usually collected dust (along with my gym bag) until I finally would cancel them convinced I'd start again later. Maybe New Years, after I had worked out at home for a while and lost some weight first (which also never seemed to happen).

I see it now in my clients. The unease. The feeling that everyone is staring. Convinced they don't belong. They are somehow different. So here's what I know about the gym that may make it easier for you to walk into your own the next time......

You will never know what to do if you don't ask! It is stressful enough to go into a gym where you aren't comfortable without walking in clueless on how to operate anything or even where everything is located to begin with. At the gym where I work part time, we have an amazing program that is free of charge where we will work with members and teach them how to use all the equipment and set them up with different workouts. While most gyms might not have anything nearly this involved, they will probably offer some kind of orientation. You may have to ask for one. Ask! You're a paying member! If they offer nothing, pay for just a single personal training session and ask the trainer to teach you how to use all of the equipment. It'll be the best money you've ever spent in a gym!

The two giggling women on the treadmills are NOT laughing at YOU!....Neither are those men on the other end of the room. This is actually a fear I somehow forgot to have when I was overweight and new to the gym environment but I see it in so many of my clients. People often go to the gym with their friends for two reasons, it is more fun and it is more comfortable because THEY are often self-conscious too. Often, they never look up, only down at the treadmill and at each other. They get in their own little world and cut up and have fun to make the hour pass. They don't even notice you doing squats and, if they do, there's really nothing funny about squats! Unless if you are just doing some kind of bizarre exercise that no one has ever seen before or just in some kind of way trying to draw attention to yourself, I promise, they aren't laughing at you!

Which leads me to my next point. No one thinks it's weird or funny to see an overweight person at the gym. This is what seems to keep overweight people out of the gym the most. However, oddly enough, people almost always feel the exact opposite about overweight people working out. They respect it. Especially if you're really working hard. Okay, I'll admit it, if you sit on a recumbent bike eating a doughnut, they're probably going to judge you. But if you're red faced and huffing and puffing, they're gonna admire the hell out of you!

You shouldn't skip the gym because you've had a bad day. A horrible day is a PERFECT excuse to go work out. Take each stressful moment you've had in your day and sweat it out! Leave every ounce of stress and anxiety on that gym floor! Exercise is THE BEST medicine for stress and anxiety! I am living proof! (In case if you're new to my blog, I cured postpartum depression through exercise and proper nutrition.)

Waiting one more day really does matter. All those days you've been skipping?....They've added up to years! If you work out today, you'll feel so glad you did. You'll look at yourself in the mirror tomorrow, and not feel hopeless. Perhaps the most discouraging thing about being obese is this: You can eat perfectly, work out religiously for an entire month and STILL be obese! It feels like you'll never get to your ideal weight.

In fact, I have to say, having just recently gained about 10-15 pounds and plugging away at them these last couple of weeks, it's sooo much easier than trying to lose 10-15 pounds when I still had 100 to go. This is for a few reasons. First, it's easier in general to move, which makes exercise much more pleasant (or at least tolerable). Second, my hormones are not all out of balance like they were when I was obese which means food and exercise affects my body differently. And, perhaps the biggest motivator, I can work out and eat good for a few days and see results in the mirror and in the way my clothes fit. However, when I was larger, the actual pounds fell off much quicker. I remember I had a friend I would text each Monday after my weigh in with texts like "down 5 pounds this week", "down 7 pounds this week". Now, I'm extremely happy if I can manage to lose 2 pounds in a week. Which doesn't happen many weeks. But, overall, much easier and motivational.
So, in the beginning, when those giant drops started to dwindle to the standard 1-2 pounds lost, I had to learn to shift my focus from the "superficial" results and, rather, focus on the immediate, internal results. I would really pay attention to how my energy level was after a work out and my mood in general. Perhaps the biggest motivator of all was really focusing on how proud of myself and in control I felt when I DID work out opposed to when I didn't. Notice everything. Do you feel more positive? Do you sleep better? Control your cravings better? More energy? Does your back ache less the next day? THESE are the things that will keep you going when the scale starts slowing down. 

You should go even if your workout buddy just canceled. seriously, it wasn't your "sign" not to go! Workout buddies are a tricky thing. My boyfriend is my best workout buddy ever. Like me, he's a total gym rat. I can always count on him to be by my side, pushing me to the point of exhaustion. We joke and laugh which makes the workout fun and he always keeps me motivated. BUT I'm lucky! Most people's workout buddies....quite honestly?...suck! Because most people, quite honestly? Aren't motivated yet! It is estimated that only 15% of the population works out on a regular basis. So right now you are trying to become part of that 15%. If you've got another person who is trying to do the same and you both are depending on each other to get to the gym then, guess what?! You have MORE than an 85% chance of failure. So, you have two options. If your workout buddy keeps dumping you to go home and watch American Idol with her hubby then dump HER! Either decide you are going to go by yourself or find a friend who is already part of that 15% and ask them to drag your butt to the gym with them every day!

Crotch sweat/swamp butt is normal!! I remember when I first joined a gym many moons ago that one of the (many) things that made me self-conscious was the line of crotch sweat that would be on the seat after I used a piece of equipment. News Flash: Your crotch sweat is probably smaller than mine! My boyfriend and I joke that I leave a "Y" on the seat while he leaves more of a "T". Some people just leave a big honkin' sweat puddle....which is totally rude. Clean up your sweat guys! But, bottom line, your bottom is gonna leave a line. :)

It's okay to make faces! I've trained a few women who won't work too hard because they are worried they are going to grunt or make an unattractive face. Look around folks!! The people making the ugliest faces are usually the ones in the best shape! No one is going to be like "haha, look at the face that woman who is working hard is making". 95% won't even notice, the other 5% will admire you for pushing yourself. I make the ugliest faces imaginable when I work out. However, my goal is not to be attractive in the gym, it's to work hard so I can be attractive everywhere else.....oh, and um, to be healthy and junk too.

Strength training is not just for meatheads!!! Women, lifting weights will NOT make you big. Oh, you're the exception? No, you are not the, seriously, you're not. I thought I was too. I'm almost scrawny and I curl 25 pound dumbbells. When I was heavy, my arms were tree trunks. Turns out that was hard, solid fat on my arms wrapped around tiny muscles, not bulging biceps. Men, lifting weights almost definitely will not make YOU big either. Getting really big takes hard work and specific diet. That's just for men. For women, forget about it. We need testosterone to gain muscle and we just don't have very much of it! Muscle is hard to get. HOWEVER, we want it!!! YOU want!!! When it comes to metabolism, I want you to look at it like this: our bodies are vehicles and calories/energy/fat stores is fuel. If our bodies are made up primarily of fat, we are a little 4 cylinder, fuel efficient car. It takes very little energy/calories/fat stores to get us around. However, if we are primarily muscle, we are a Hummer. Extremely fuel inefficient and burning up calories/energy/fat stores all over the place. Not at all fuel efficient. We want to be Hummers!!! The reason most people start gaining weight in their 20s is because that's when we start losing muscle (approximately 1/2 pound of muscle a year). That means that, if we are eating the same amount of calories in our 20s, 30s, 40s+ that we did in our teens, we will gain weight. UNLESS, we offset this loss with as much muscle mass as possible!

And, on that note, The free weight section is not just for the men! I see it constantly. Women walk in the gym, hop on a piece of cardio equipment, and an hour later they leave. As I just mentioned, strength training is essential! Furthermore, long extended cardio is not an effective way to lose weight! I love to drag women kicking and screaming into the free weight section and introduce them to the joy of true strength training. I've seen many fall in love with it. There's a reason the men flock to this section. It's where the results happen! Very little can take the place of unsupported, free weight exercises. Ladies, this is YOUR area too! Men will not drop their weights and turn to stare in disbelief if you walk into "their turf". In fact, they're probably so wrapped up in what they're doing that they won't notice you've walked in at all! If anything, they'll admire you for "working out with the boys". And, ladies, that's at ANY size! The bigger you are, the more admirable it will be!

The stability ball will not pop!! Overweight people, take note. These balls are meant to hold a LOT of weight. Some balls can even hold up to 750 pounds. Check the ball to make sure it's a little mushy (not too firm, not to soft) and that there's no bulging seams. Then sit that tushy down on that ball and get to work. You'll be fine! ....same goes for treadmills.

So, there you have it. The gym seems scary because it's unfamiliar. The more times you set foot in there, the more comfortable you will become. If you are a member, you have just as much of a right to be there as anyone else! Make sure you pick a gym that isn't a "meat market". A good sign of a meat market would be women working out in sports bras only. A more conservative gym will not allow this. The YMCA is a great family type place, so definitely check it out if you have one near you. Make sure you find a place that makes sense in your life. Close to work or home? Good hours? Child watch if needed? Then take the leap and just go! Also, keep in mind, anytime we make ourselves uncomfortable and step out of our safe and familiar zone, we grow as individuals!

Good luck and I'll see you at the bar. (That's gym'd know that if you went.)


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 28 of 28 Day Challenge: Final Challenge

For our last challenge, I'm going to start by telling you a story. Grab your popcorn.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was completely obsessed with a boy. And a few months later....this girl was completely obsessed with another boy. And so on. Along the way she never focused on herself, except....when a boy broke her heart.

Okay, big surprise. That girl was me. I was boy crazy growing up. Although not the most interesting or exciting story, it was the story of my youth and, sadly, the story of my post-divorce adult life until I met the most amazing person I'd ever met. Myself.

It turns out I am the best company for myself and I never break my heart. I am always there, just waiting for attention. And when I get that attention (from myself) I feel more alive and focused and hopeful. Problem is, I never really consciously put this together for most of my life. However, on some level I always knew it. At a very young age when a boy would break up with me (which, let's face it, during our grade school years, is a pretty common occurrence, or it was for me anyway) I would somehow know that the key to getting over him was to really focus on myself. I would buckle down in my school work, try to lose weight (my eternal battle!) and clean my room. 

As an adult there's much bigger things to focus on but there's still the basic elements of self-care that always matter. I won't rehash the troubled relationship that I've mentioned possibly 100 times in this blog but I'll just pull two key points out of it. First, I learned how I did not, ever again, want to be treated. And, second, I finally became consciously aware of how focusing on myself during the most heart wrenching moments, instantly made me feel more energetic, more hopeful and positive and more in control of my own life. 

If you're new to my blog, here's a couple past posts that really sum up my growth and experience throughout those two years. I've put them all in chronological order because it's like I can read them that way and see my development and awareness unfolding:

Kicking the Habit: My Addiction to a Man (this seems to be the post where I really started to "get it")
I Don't Accept Myself the Way I Am
It's All the Shame
Out of the Ashes: A Budding Romance

So, yeah, it comes off as pretty pathetic to chase after love and acceptance but that's exactly what I spent a big chunk of my life doing. The crazy thing is, when I finally stopped looking for it everywhere else, I found it within myself. 

Once I learned this little "trick" of focusing on myself (on a more conscious level) I took it and ran. Every time I felt out of control in any area of my life (not just the guy department), I would refocus even harder on what was important to ME. What would make ME a stronger, healthier, more awesome person. I wrote a blog post about this called What I Have Control Over.

Although I still have my days where I struggle with self-acceptance, I can honestly say that, over time, I truly fell in love with myself. Despite my countless flaws and shortcomings, I am my son's loving and proud mother, I am my mother's daughter, I am the sister who loves my siblings and niece and nephew to no end, the person who sits and cries with clients, the person who sits and cries to stupid songs in the car, the person who sits and cries other random places with very little incentive to do so, I push as hard in the gym as "the boys" and my mind is constantly reeling with new ways to help others AND myself. And about a million other things all ranging somewhere between "amazing" and "horrid" that make me so imperfectly perfect. I am complex and awesome and so uniquely me and I will not be humble and not acknowledge how worthy I am of my own love and attention. AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU!!! You are worth your time and focus!  Stop being humble, stop being selfless. It is doing no one any good and certainly not you. It is time to focus on YOU!

And here's the super duper cool part! The more you redirect focus back onto yourself, not only do you have more love and energy to give to others, but you suddenly begin to love yourself as well!  Anything we invest time, energy and attention in is sending the message to our subconscious mind "this is something important!"

So here is your challenge for today....and beyond. Focus on you and observe how your energy and emotions shift when you do so. Every chance you get. Use the past challenges as your guide:

All or Nothing
Get Your Brain in the Game
Get Uncomfortable
Move It Anyday
Love You Where You Stand
Make a Swap
Bite It, Write It (this one always makes me feel VERY in control!)
Make a Swap

These are just guides to get you started but your challenge is to pay more attention to what is going to make your life better. Doing this will not only (gasp!) make your life better over time. It will also instantly redirect your energy toward you instead of toward whatever energy sucking black hole of a problem you might be focusing on at the moment.

Okay, ladies who are still hung up on the guy. I have one more little nugget of wisdom because I know how hard it can be to stay focused on yourself when you're in this situation (and I get a large number of messages from females who talk about how much they can relate to the pain I've expressed in previous posts). As you focus more and more on yourself and grow as a person, you become a magnet of sorts to men. They are inexplicably drawn to you. This isn't just physical appearance I'm talking about. I noticed this during my little spurts of self-focus when I still had a large amount of weight to lose. Men love nothing more than a woman who loves herself and is too busy to focus on him. So if your focus needs to be "he will regret the day he ever let me go" then, girlfriend, use that shit! Use whatever motivates you. My mother has always told me, "there's no such thing as bad motivation." Funny thing is, once you arrive to a place of self-love and acceptance, not only will you not want him anymore, you won't care if he wants you either!!

Whatever is stealing your energy in life right now, TAKE IT BACK! And give all that energy to yourself instead!

So that's the end of our 28 Day Challenge but this is just the beginning of your new, slightly better, slighter different self. In 28 MORE days from now, you will be 28 days older no matter what you do or don't do. What will you do?


Day 10 of 28 Day Challenge: Time's a Wastin'

I challenge you for one day to a eliminate the biggest time waster in your life. For many I am guessing it is surfing on the Internet. However for you it may be different. Maybe for you it is Facebook stalking your ex-boyfriend along with any girl you see him communicating with on his page, or maybe you find yourself losing hours to Candy crush. What ever your personal time sucker is that's what you should consider a eliminating. Just for today! Can't handle the thought of not doing it all day? The...n resolve to only do it a half a day or even two hours.
So if you are sitting there right now scratching your head unable to figure out a single unproductive thing you do all day long, Your challenge, my friend, is exactly the opposite! If you are overworked to the point that you have zero time to goof off, take that time today! Set aside at least 15 minutes of quiet solitude doing something that relaxes you and restores your spirit.
However I am guessing that most of us will fall into the first category. So take the time that you usually waste and either use it for true relaxation such as meditation, prayer, exercise, or extra sleep or use it to continue today's challenge and tick some things off that to-do list that haunts you.
Regardless of what you choose and what category you fall into, resolve that you will arrive at the end of this day feeling productive and with no regrets.

Day 25-27 of 28 Day Challenge: DON'T live in the moment (Last Weekend Challenge!)

"Live in the moment! There is no past, there is no future, there is only now."

Okay, this sounds so nice and, yes!, sometimes we should most definitely stop and take everything in and live completely in the here and now. However, those of us who struggle with the "instant gratification syndrome" (i.e. picking the cake now over the better, healthier body later; shopping now instead of paying the house payment on time) don't necessarily need to always follow this advice.

For our last weekend challenge, I've decided on the habit that I believe we should focus on changing. It's a habit that I try very hard to always do and find it very beneficial.

For the next 3 days I challenge you, before each and every action/decision/etc., to momentarily ask how your future self will feel about your present self's decisions. Here are a few of my own real life examples:

  • When I'm actively trying to lose weight, I eat a large meal around 4-5pm in the afternoon (previously my "binge time") and then I floss and brush and I'm done eating for the day (this works for me, but might not for everyone). Sometimes I get hungry again before bed or just get cravings. However, I ask myself how I will feel when I lay down to go to sleep in a little while with food on my belly. Likewise, I think about how I will feel the next morning when I'm not as well rested (because my body was busy digesting food instead of resting and repairing) and I have the frustration, guilt and feeling of failure for not sticking with my goals. I have the ongoing food question of "how will I feel about eating this when the taste is gone out of my mouth?"
  • When I don't feel like working out I think about how I will feel in 30min-1 hour from then when my workout would be over both if I did do the workout and if I didn't.
  • When I want to eat my son's peanut butter Panda Puffs cereal for a snack, I think about the sugar headache and energy crash I will get afterwards. Not to mention, I'll be eating his treats in front of him which will remind him they are there and he will want to eat them too. Then my future self will not only feel guilty for giving my son sugar but will also have to deal with the 5 year old blur of chaos that will be bouncing off the walls shortly thereafter (and, remember, I still have the energy crash....HOW does sugar affect us SO differently?!?!)
  • When I want to sit down and play some mind numbing game on my phone during the precious hour here or there that I might actually have some free time, I think about how I will feel about how I spent that hour when it's over. Will I feel energized and refreshed like I would if I spent it cleaning, organizing, reading, working out or even taking a nap?
  • And when I want to stay up late when I have to get up early the next morning, I think about how I will feel when that alarm clock goes off. Will I be glad I stayed up late? Likewise, when my alarm clock goes off at 4:30am, and I'm tempted to hit "snooze", I think about how I will feel when my future self has to drag out of bed at 5:30 anyway with the knowledge that she didn't start her day off with a good blood pumping, metabolism boosting workout.
  • Sunday food prep is another time that I definitely consult with my future self when I just don't feel like doing it.
  • Another huge one is when I struggle with whether to spend quality time with my son or spend that time doing something else that could wait. I envision myself when he's 18 (or even much younger) and wants nothing to do with me. Or, if he's a troubled teenager. Will I feel good about the time I spent with him or will I regret all the times I took him for granted and didn't give him my attention when he begged for it.
Okay, so you get the idea. For the next three days, I challenge you to live in the future. Before you begin (or DON'T begin) each task, consult with your future self. How will you feel an hour from now? A day from now? A year from now? 20 years from now?

Set an hourly reminder on your phone if you need to. Post notes all over the place. Have friends/family remind you. Try very hard to adopt this mentality. The effects can be amazing!

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 24 of 28 Day Challenge: Lists, Lists and More Lists

I am a list maker. I mean, I am a compulsive list maker. I literally make lists of the lists I need to make. And this falls right into line with a few of our recent challenges. Being in control, focusing on what's important, clearing out all those "to do"'s, all mixed into one.

The reason I have become a big list maker is because my head can get all scrambled with a million thoughts of things I need to do swirling around inside, making me feel out of control. If you haven't figured it out yet, I put quite a bit of emphasis on our need to feel in control. Especially if we are struggling with an addiction such as overeating, drinking, etc. because nothing will make us break down and turn to our addiction like feeling out of control.

So your challenge today is to make lists at every opportunity you see to make them. To get you started and hopefully give you a better idea of what I mean, I'm going to give you guessed it! A LIST of all my running lists I have right now.

  • A master packing list (everyone needs one of these!!! Especially if you have kids). Packing for vacation isn't nearly as stressful as it used to be when I have a master list of everything I could possibly need.
  • In addition to this, I have a toiletry bag list as well. This is my bag with all my little travel size things like shampoo, condition, deodorant, etc. I go thru the list to make sure everything is stocked and filled before I pack it up.
  • A gym bag list....and this is just a subcategory list of the one I have for my "gym right after work" list which includes dinner/snacks, drinks, etc. for my son if we're not going home first.
  • A "staple" list. This is a list of all the grocery store items I know I'm probably going to need every time I go to the store. Not only does this save time when I'm making my week to week grocery list, it also ensures that I'm always prepared with all my healthy convenience foods for the week. And I think we all know the importance of being prepared when it comes to food!
  • A daily goals list. This is my newest and one of my favorites. I actually am using an app on my iPhone called "Good Day". It lets me list my goals and then rate how good I did each day on a scale from 1 to 5 (which I REALLY like, opposed to just a black and white "yes" or "no"). Right now my daily goals list includes.
    • "PJ" (Quality time with my son)
    • "Gino" (Something every day to nurture & grow my relationship)
    • "Good Deed" (Do a good deed for someone for no reason)
    • "Don't eat late in the evening"
    • "Exercise 6x week" (I really love that I can rate it too so if I don't push hard, I don't feel right giving myself a "5" just because I worked out)
    • "Career" (Something that helps me meet my career goals)
    • "Check Off a 'To Do'" (Do something I don't HAVE to do today, such as paying a bill that's not due for two weeks, cleaning my car, etc. Anything that could wait but I do it just to get it done)
    • "Healthy eating"
  •  I also have a running "do eventually" list. This one is probably the most important for my sanity. If something is just nagging at my brain that I know I need to do soon but not necessarily now, I put it on an ongoing list in my phone's notepad. It gets it out of my head which frees my brain up for more important, constructive things. 
  • My list of what's important to me to help keep me on track and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. My son, my health, my career (can't be an out of shape trainer!!), my loved ones who are always watching, etc. Some of the things that used to be on my list before I lost the weight were some of the following:
    • Not get winded walking up the stairs
    • Not worry about breaking wobbly chairs
    • Fitting into regular clothes and having more choices....You get the idea. Anything that motivates you toward your goals. 
  • And my final list is actually a dual list. I have them side by side in the back of my planner. The first one is titled "How I Feel When I've Had a Successful/Productive Day" and the second is "How I Feel When I've Had an Unsuccessful/Unproductive Day". I actually listed these out on days when these feelings were real and fresh (after each of the aforementioned days). Just having them there to read the contrast of how I will feel when I arrive at the end of my day if I've done the right things or the wrong things for myself, helps keep it so much more real in my head.
Okay, challenge time, and the last of it's kind actually. This weekend and Monday's (final) Challenge will be a bit different. Even if you're not a list maker like I am (and, let me just say, I never used to be!), I challenge you to give it a try just one day. Look around your life. Where can you get your head a little straighter with a list or two....or twenty?


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 23 of 28 Day Challenge: Let Go

Today's challenge is one that is extremely important to me and has helped me possibly more than any other single change I've made. Over the years I have learned, to a very large extent, how to let go. Now, don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that I always do, it just means that I know the steps for letting go and I'm always actively working to achieve it in various areas of my life. I wrote a post about one of my experiences with letting go a year or two ago: Letting Go.

Let me start by saying, stress is inevitable. Bad things are going to happen and there is no way around it. However, we often invite stress into our lives that needn't be there and the more stress we have the less energetic and in control we are in ALL areas of our lives. Here's a few of my own "for example"'s:

  • I stopped watching the news. I used to watch a lot of news, especially after 9/11. I started to notice that I would feel anxiety before I even turned the t.v. on. I would go on political rants and get into unpleasant debates with people. In addition, I would watch a lot of real life murder mystery shows like "Snapped". After time I realize that these didn't just stress me out, they depressed me. I took it a step further actually and stopped watching basically all t.v. but that's another challenge altogether. Now I'm on a semi-permanent news fast. I hear about the most important things things from clients/gym members as well as family and friends (although, they mostly don't talk about it with me because they know my stance on it). Some people say this is hiding my head in the sand. I don't agree at all. Knowing all the details of why we might go to war or about how some guy dismembered his wife is not going to make me a more highly functioning American/world citizen. But NOT knowing these details makes me a happier, more loving, more forgiving person which DOES make me a better person. I'm very much of the mind "think globally, act locally." That's why, if I AM going to learn about current events, it's going to be things like what products contain GMO's and which companies support Monsanto or which super centers sell products obtained in any sort of immoral capacity (unfair trade, slave wages, etc.). THESE are the things that light me up and energize me because these are definitely the things I feel I have a shred of control over (supporting local farms, buying organic, fair trade, revealing unhealthy practices of food producers to friends/family/blog followers/clients), opposed to a war that I don't have very much of a say so in. If nothing else I can help create a better local environment for those who are trying to stop a war, make a political change, etc. I'm not suggesting that what I do is the right thing for everyone. What I AM suggesting is that we all choose something we are passionate about that will make us feel positive and hopeful about ourselves and the world around us.
  •  I stopped asking about the latest gossip. There have been times in my life where someone I wasn't directly related to was behaving in a manner that affected a person/people who I was directly related to. It bothered me very much and would consume my thoughts, sometimes filling my heart with such unbelievable anger that I would want to seek out revenge. One of these times was quite a few years ago and it impacted my entire family on some level or another. However, it seemed to anger me more than even the people it most directly affected. So I finally asked my family to stop sharing the details with me unless it was something horrible/legal that happened or if they needed someone to talk to. This was hard for me, the not knowing, because it made me feel out of control. However, I quickly realized that knowing the details ALSO made me feel out of control because there was nothing I could do about it. And on top of that, I felt such anger when I knew. So I might as well pick not knowing. This is around the time in my life (my late 20's) when I really started to turn my attitude around in a lot of ways and I'm convinced this decision helped me very much. Likewise, a similar situation happened in the very recent past. However, I've once again decided to remove myself from knowing the details. While I'm always available as a "shoulder" if someone needed to talk, me knowing every ugly thing that transpires does nothing for my mental well being and doesn't help the person who is being directly affected. Not knowing, on the other hand, is so liberating! And I'm a happier, more loving person so I can offer everyone in my life way more love and support than when I'm hung up on details that I can't control.
 Other miscellaneous things I do to reduce/avoid stress:
  • Try to always leave on time so I don't get road rage every time someone goes 2 miles under the speed limit.
  • Never let my laundry pile up! This one is a big one for me. I used to let it get out of control and it was a big pile of energy sucking stress. Now I combine a LOT more colors than I used to (and everything turns out just fine!) and don't let myself accumulate more than two loads at a time. 
  • I try to make my bed every morning!!! "Messy bed, messy head!"
  • I try to never say or do anything that will cause me stress later. These include argumentative responses to friends' posts on Facebook, badmouthing someone behind their back, telling lies, etc. Anything that I could foresee coming back to "bite me in the rear" I just don't do!
I will add that I am SOOOO not perfect at letting things go. I am actually the queen of dwelling on things. But, all the more reason, I try to avoid it ever needing to get to a point where I need to dwell on it. When there's a looming deadline, I just do it. I'm not nearly the procrastinator I used to be. 

So what stress can you let go of today? It's back to what we've discussed in a previous challenge. What do you have control over?


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day 22 of 28 Day Challenge: The Shame Thing

I've written a couple of blog posts about shame that you will need to take time to read in order to understand/do this challenge. These outlines the explanation of what shame and your "shadow" is as well as my own experiences on thoughts on the subject.

It's All the Shame
The Shadow Effect: Acknowledging My Dark Side

Your shadow is your shame. All the stuff you replay in your head. Your regrets. Your mistakes. The things you punish yourself for over and over again. It's everything from your deep dark secrets to the stupid thing you just can't believe you said that's constantly playing on a loop in your head. This is your time to forgive yourself and set yourself free. Stop hiding in the shadows. Acknowledge that you have a dark side (as  does everyone else) and don't just forgive yourself, EMBRACE it! Make it part of who you are.

The movie "The Shadow Effect" talks about how you can't have light without darkness. Once we stop trying to push down all those parts of ourselves that shame us and, instead, assimilate them into who we are, we are then free to fully embrace all that is wonderful about us.

Face what shames you today and decide that you are STILL enough. Then step into the light.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 21 of 28 Day Challenge: Edit Your Movie

Whether or not we are aware of it, we have a constant internal narration of our lives all day, every day. Many of our narrators are quite harsh and insulting to us. 

I want to take a moment to share what habit I decided to work on for the first weekend of our 28 Day Challenge. This was actually at my boyfriend's urging. I am working on changing my inner dialogue. This is definitely something I have always struggled with. In many areas of my life I am much improved, such as exercise. Where I used to say things like "I'm not a runner" "I'm clumsy" etc. I now say "I'm an athlete" "I'm capable of anything". 

However, there are other areas where I am in much need of improvement. So that is what I have worked on this weekend and, you know what?!?! I'm seeing improvement. Even if I don't believe what I'm saying, it's still working. For instance, I have a bad habit of "what if"-ing the heck out of a situation until I'm a wreck and convinced something horrible is about to happen. Even when I was a kid, I was a worry wart and always feared someone I love was about to die or just that something bad in general was going to happen.  So it's easy, even with me consciously changing my inner dialogue in the past, for it to creep back in when I'm not paying so attention. So, since that first challenge weekend, when I catch myself in a negative thought loop I say things in my mind like "All is well. Everything is exactly how it should be and good things are going to happen." And it calms me. Even though I might not believe it in the moment, it STILL calms me. And, after a couple weeks of consciously doing this again, I find my mindset shifting and the world, quite honestly, looks different. A little brighter actually.

Changing our inner dialogue can change the world around us, as we see it. I intend in the near future to talk more about self-love but I wanted to share a past blog post of mine called Shut Up Liar! that talks about silencing the negative inner voice and replacing it with a positive one of self-love.

So your challenge today is to pay attention to that inner voice and correct it with something positive every time you feel a negative, self-defeating thought creep in. Do it even if you feel stupid. If you're alone, do it out loud! Our brains are simply organic computers that be can reprogrammed with a different, more positive, software program.

Take it a step further and post notes to yourself everywhere! "You're beautiful!" "You're worthy" "You're healthy" "You're amazing". It doesn't matter if you believe it. It doesn't even matter if it's true!!! Fake it til you make it!

P.S. Tomorrow's challenge will somewhat be built on today's, so set reminders, post those notes, do whatever you can to start the reprogramming process today so you can better handle tomorrow's challenge.


Day 18-20 of 28 Day Challenge: It's That Time Again. Weekend Challenge!

Here we are at our 3rd weekend challenge. Now's a great time to sit back and assess your progress (or lack thereof) at this point. If you've had zero success, this means you're aiming way too high. "But changing something so tiny and insignificant isn't going to make a difference, Tammi". Okay, so how have those big changes you resolved to make the last two weekends worked out for you. Are you a little better than you were a few weeks ago? Or are you perhaps a little more deflated and discouraged by your failure? Ask yourself, "where would I be right now if I had made even just the smallest change? Would I feel successful? Inspired? Would I be just a little healthier and better than I previously was?" If you fall into this category, aim lower and succeed this time around!

For those of you who have had success: Yay! I am so happy for you! Now it's time to build upon those changes by choosing one more tiny change that will set you up for success. Look back over your past weekend successes and revel in them. Really soak in that feeling of accomplishment and let it power you forward into this weekend.

We have one more weekend challenge coming up and I'm planning something a little different so make this weekend count!

I'll be out of town this weekend so I might have limited communication with you all but I look forward to reading your successes next week. Good luck!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 16-17 of 28 Day Challenge: Bite It, Write It

Confession little raw food experiment (a.k.a. all I could eat fruit extravaganza) caused me to put on about 5 pounds. After a little research I've learned that, yes, certain people do extremely well on very high carb, predominantly fruit diets. However, I am not one of them. It generally seems to be people who tend to be naturally thin with a more delicate bone structure. Not me and not me. They are called carb burners. I appear to be a mixed burned but predominantly fat and protein, which is funny because that's the exact diet I was eating and thriving on before. However, all is not lost. My complex carbs will now basically be all fruit (instead of all those corn products I was using as a bread substitute) and waaay bigger salads and veggie servings. That being said, it's back to grind, gotta get these 5 pounds off. Although I have to say, I'm enjoying where the fat has distributed itself this time around...if you catch my drift. Regardless of how how aestetically pleasing I may find my new fat stores (or anyone's excess fat stores), they're not healthy, hence they must go. 

Therefore, it is food log time. From time to time I like to track my food intake for a few reasons, and this is where you ALL come in. Keeping a food journal is for more than just those who want to lose weight (although it's almost a must for weight loss, at least in the beginning). Tracking foods does the following:

  • It makes you realize what you are and are not eating.
  • It helps you to determine your ideal combination of carbs/protein/fat. Mine seems to be, respectively, 40%, 30%, 30%.
  • It helps you notice patterns (like fatigue after a meal heavy in carbs or fat or cravings after a sugary snack or even binging on chips after talking to your mother-in-law).
  • It, quite simply, makes you more aware of the whole eating process.
I really wanted to do a challenge every day except for the weekends but I really feel like 2 days is the minimum that is going to be helpful here. Truly, I always have my clients record a minimum of 3 days so I hope you'll appreciate it and continue.

You can record it simply with a pencil and paper but, if you have a smartphone, I encourage you to find an app to use. I'm using one called "Lose It" and I really love it because under "my day" it shows the breakdown, by percentage, if my protein, carbs and fat. If you use pencil and paper it would be a great idea to include how you feel (physically and emotionally)  before, during and after each meal/snack. If you use the app or don't want to write that much then just simply pay attention!

You will be shocked what you can learn about your eating patterns by doing this. 


Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 15 of 28 Day Challenge: Make a Swap

Today at a staff meeting, I had something I haven't had in a really long time. A Zone Perfect bar. I almost forgot how tasty they are. I used to eat those things like candy bars. Actually, I mean that more literally than you might think. 

Along my weight loss journey, I found ways to swap things out for new things that were more conducive to the body I was trying to achieve. One such thing was swapping out candy bars (and Nutty Bars) for Zone Perfect Bars. Let me clarify something right now. Zone Perfect bars are not healthy, not even close. However, they have more protein in them than candy bars, hence the switch. More protein meant less of a spike in my blood sugar which would not only lead to increased fat storage around my midsection (through the release of more insulin) but more protein also assisted me in building muscle (my little fat burning machines I like to keep all over my body). So where my afternoon snack was once a candy bar (or two), it because a Zone bar (or two). Now I would never dream of having it for a snack because I understand that, although less severe than the candy bar, it would still cause a blood sugar spike not to mention the energy lag that would follow shortly after. However, this was all a process and, at one time, Zone Bars served a very practical and helpful purpose in my life. 

So what's one swap that you can make that you know you can live with? 

Whether it be Marlboro lights for Marlboro reds or thin crust pizza for thick crust, just one swap that doesn't seem so miserable. Another suggestion I would make for someone who can't kick the soda/flavored drink addiction. Try swapping it out of a mixable BCAA powder. There are actually some pretty tasty ones out there and, while still not ideal from a health standpoint, BCAA's can at least assist in muscle development. Another swap I made for quite a while was from beer to liquor because of all the calories it saved (again, this is not necessarily a healthier swap, just a step in the right direction to help us achieve our goals).

The only thing I do not suggest is full fat to low fat switches (like low fat cheese, fat-free cookies). These are not satisfying and you end up eating more. Not to mention fats can slow down how quickly the sugar is absorbed into our bodies so it causes less of a sugar spike.

What will your swap be?


Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 12-14 of 28 Day Challenge: 2nd Weekend Challenge!

Okay, it's time for the 2nd weekend challenge in which we change one little habit. Now you may be thinking this is a good time to re-try a habit you tried to change last weekend and failed.....wrong!

If you failed last weekend's challenge, then you didn't follow instructions. So let's try this again. Pick one habit that you are ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY, BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT, POSITIVE you can change! If you didn't succeed last weekend, no worries. It just means you had a learning experience and you have a better point of reference for deciding which habit you intend to change this weekend. If you did succeed, congratulations!!! Now just make sure you're sticking to that new habit as you introduce your next new habit.

So here's a few more examples of what your new little habit might be:

One piece of fruit or a veggie per day if you're currently not eating any.

8 oz (even 4 oz) of water in between each soda you drink.

Taking 3 deep breaths and visualizing yourself as someday being smoke free before you light up a cigarette each time.

You get the idea. Small, small, small. Something you can easily do and succeed at. Future success is largely determined by past success. It's called self-efficacy (which means, in this case, our belief in our ability to change). Every time we succeed with any habit, no matter how small, we set ourselves up for bigger success in the future. Check out last weekend's challenge for additional information on how change leads to more change.

My personal challenge for last weekend was to redirect negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. My challenge this weekend is to start my day with a big glass of lemon water to detoxify and wake up my organs. What's yours?


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 11 of 28 Day Challenge: Love You Where You Stand

So, I've got some "back-up" challenge posts for days when I might not be feeling so inspired. However, they're sitting each day collecting dust because, as I go through my day with my mind focused on different ways to challenge and change ourselves, I am bombarded with examples and ideas.
Today is no different. I decided on an impulse today to trade my pre-work strength training session in for a yoga class that lined up perfectly with the time I arrived at the gym today and ended just in time for me to get in a quick HIIT session before I had to start getting ready to start working (yes, one of the perks of working at a gym).
I couldn't have picked a better way to spend my time both for my body (which was stiff and sore and in great need of a good stretch) as well as my mind which has been becoming a bit "noisy" and distracted from what's important lately.
Okay, truth time. I am the stereotypical female who compares myself to all other females, both good and bad. "She has better arms than me, I have a better butt than her, her hair is longer, she's more flexible, I'm younger than her, I'm older than her"'s a constant competition where I sometimes win and often lose. But honestly, when we participate in this competition, everyone loses. We don't connect with others or even with ourselves. We live externally and are never truly "at home" and at peace within ourselves. 

The funny thing is that I was never like this when I was obese. I actually embraced what was beautiful about me and what was beautiful about others and never perceived the two as not being able to coexist together. However, between losing weight and recognizing that I didn't turn out to be the perfect, flawless person I'd always imagined I'd be and certain people along the way openly comparing me to others as well and expressing disappointment when I didn't measure up, I have lost that "blind" love and acceptance of my appearance and status in life. 

How I feel about myself in any given situation is often directly connected with how I feel about those around me. Especially, because of past experiences, if I'm with my boyfriend. If there's a female anywhere around who I perceive as more attractive than me, I feel like he must be disappointed to be with me instead of her. However, slowly but surely, I realize more and more as time goes on that I don't need to be even nearly the most beautiful woman in the room for him to perceive me that way because, as he always tells me, no one else is ME and I can't help but believe maybe he's being honest because this is how I feel about him as well. For me, it's like comparing apples and oranges. It's doesn't matter who has the biggest biceps or the lowest body fat percentage because there is no other man in this world that has the complex arrangement of thoughts, feelings, ideals, genetics, etc. that make up the man I love so much.  Sooooo why can't I perceive myself that way as well? Why can't I love myself because I am so perfectly me? Well, more and more I can. But, many days, I have quite a ways to go.
Today, however, and in a yoga class of all places (one of my usually very insecure places) for some reason I can't quite explain except that it's a notion that has been progressively creeping into my subconscious more and more, I let go. I stopped caring if my arms looked flabby when held straight out to my side. I equally stopped noticing who's were more or less flabby than mine (news flash, ladies, most all of us have fat that hangs under our arms in this position so let's stop hating ourselves for it).
Instead, I started to look around with love and acceptance. I saw beauty everywhere. Every size, every age, everyone had a beautiful light shining within them. The light of God, humanity, life, whatever you choose to call it. As soon as I perceived everyone in that room as beautiful, I instantly perceived myself the same way.
I have carried that throughout my day and life looks so different today compared to just yesterday. Where I saw an elderly lady on a bicycle yesterday who I couldn't possibly relate to, today I see beautiful eyes, a bright, sincerely happy smile and wisdom that I can't help but admire and hope to one day possess myself. Instead of the overweight woman not working hard that I generally get annoyed with, I saw myself a few years ago, literally scared to get out of breath but so desperate to change that I would once again put myself out there and try. What a wonderful way to experience myself and others! If I can only hold onto this feeling each and every day!
But we only have this day. And in this day let's all embrace what's beautiful about everyone and everything. And, in the process, learn to love ourselves exactly where we stand in this moment. This doesn't mean we can't always strive to be better. In fact, it's all the more incentive to improve upon ourselves. Think of those you love the most in this life. Think of how you treat them with gentleness, acceptance, forgiveness and how you want only the best for them in life. What could we do for ourselves if we love US the same?

So go out into your day and recognize beauty everywhere and, most importantly, within yourself. 


Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 8 of 28 Day Challenge: Day 1 of 21 Day Challenge...Recommit!

It's time to recommit!

The newness has worn off. The promise of a new, perfect you in 28 days has faded. Real life has happened.

It's time to recommit yourself today. Not just to this challenge but, more importantly, to working toward a healthier you.

Did you skip a day or two? Or maybe you tried a challenge but it just didn't pan out?

Well, you're in luck. Today is a "review day". It's do over time. Welcome to the first day of the 21 Day Challenge!....Okay, it's still the 28 Day Challenge but you get the point.

Today you actually have three challenges.

Two challenges are required repeats for everyone:

Lose the "all or nothing" mentality. It doesn't matter if you haven't done perfectly on the challenge. This isn't a pass or fail exam. This is a guide toward slowly developing new habits and thought patterns that will make your next challenge, whatever it may be, easier. Remind yourself of your decision to abandon your "all or nothing" mentality a week ago and recommit to it.

Do something today that makes you uncomfortable. It can be something as easy as looking someone in the eye and saying "hello" if that is what you uncomfortable. But the more uncomfortable it makes you, the more you will grow.

Then pick one more of the three options below:

Educate yourself about something that's important to you that you'd like to change. Whether it be nutrition or the benefits of exercise or the importance of a good night's sleep, let it be something important to you that you're interested in knowing more about. Follow the link for more suggestions.

Change one small, manageable habit that you are ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE you can change. Set yourself up for success.

Didn't take that walk yesterday, here's your do over!

The point of today's challenge is, most importantly, to remind ourselves of the "all or nothing" trap that makes us fail time and time again. This challenge does not have to be 28 days. It can be 28 months! 28 years! And this challenge is just an example. This applies to your life on a much larger scale. Don't let apathy make you frozen where you sit, unable to change for years. Recommit now to yourself! You are worth it. And the more times you recommit to yourself and invest time in your betterment, the more you will automatically perceive yourself as more valuable and worthy of self-love and care.

If you're still struggling with re-motivating yourself, read my blog post:

Good luck!


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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 7 of 28 Day Challenge: Move It Monday

What better way to start our week than with movement. This challenge is not about losing weight. This challenge is about waking up our minds and our bodies through exercise. For different people this challenge will mean different things. 

For the people who struggle with adhering to exercise at all, here is your challenge.

First, here are some blog posts I've made on the subject of exercise that may help motivate you to move:
 Second, I highly recommend you don't pick any form of exercise that you dislike. In fact, I recommend the exact opposite. Do something you enjoy. Even if it's something as simple as taking a walk with your kids. As long as you're up and moving more than usual, it counts!!

The goal right now is just to create a habit. And this will be a habit you only have to commit to once a week. On Mondays. That's it! You will just resolve to move in some kind of manner for a minimum of 10 minutes, one time a week. Who can't do that?! I really urge anyone who hasn't tried strength training to give it a go. Strength training is one of the first ways that I got truly hooked on exercise.

Whatever you choose to do, if you exercise once a week for four weeks, you will have began to create the habit of movement. Then you can build on it from there. Your body is very good to adapting and expecting certain patterns. You may find that after 4 weeks of Monday evening walks that your body and mind tells you it's time to lace up even though the challenge is over.

Okay, for those of you who already exercise on a regular basis. I have a different challenge for you. Shake it up! In you're in a rut, always doing the same thing, do something completely different. A good example is that I have a tendency to do Zumba every Monday night for my cardio. Okay, this is actually a horrible example because I love love love Monday night Zumba and have no desire to do something else instead! However, what I can do is resolve that I'm either going to do some ab work before or after or I'm going to push way harder than I usually do (although I push pretty darn hard! can you not in Zumba?!). The third way you can shake up your Monday workout is to get up super early before your day usually starts and get your workout out of the way first thing. I have a blog post that pleads The Case for Morning Exercise.

So there's three ways you can shake up your Monday if you're already a pretty dedicated exerciser:
  • Do something completely different and create some muscle confusion
  • Push yourself harder than you usually do
  • Get your exercise in before your day begins
And remember, exercise is not just for weight loss and athletes. We are made to move! Exercise alters our hormones and actually changes our brain chemistry!! The more we exercise the more we will notice things like improved memory, improved concentration, better sleep, appetite control, lower stress levels and the lifting of the infamous "brain fog". 

I am always recommending this book but it's because it's sooo good. Check out "The Spark" by John J. Ratey (also available on audio). It really helps you to understand and appreciate the science behind exercise.

So, Happy Monday! Let's Move!!


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weekend Challenge! Day 4-6 of 28 Day Challenge: Change Leads to Change

Why do we do the things that hurt us? It's almost as if we have no control over our actions at times.

Here's the deal. Our brains are amazingly good at remembering how we deal with certain situations. When stress occurs our subconscious mind says "don't worry, I got this! I've totally dealt with this before and I remember exactly what we do, we [insert bad habit, smoke, drink, watch t.v., etc.]." This frees up the conscious mind for any new situations that occur.

Likewise, if we always eat potato chips when we watch t.v., as soon as we sit down with the remote and no chips, something just feels weird.

We are creatures of habit and our habits are woven together into a complex fabric that is meant to cocoon us in a safe, reliable pattern and keep us alive. And, at one time, this was exactly what we needed to survive!

Before there were houses and guns and grocery stores full of food, our habits were what protected us from the biggest threat to humanity....the unknown. If we ate a berry that was unfamiliar or ventured into a part of the wilderness never before attempted, we were likely to be met with our untimely death in the form of food poisoning or as a predator's meal.

However, now our habits are doing exactly the opposite of what nature intended, they are quite often killing us. At the very least, they are stunting us. Making our world small and making the world outside seem too big and scary.

So how do we change something that is genetically encoded in us?

We tear the fabric.

All of our habits are dependent on all of our other habits whether we realize it or not. When we change one thing, anything, it disrupts the whole, previously, well oiled habit machine. Our foundation becomes unstable and that is when we can swoop in and make other changes. 

There is actual science behind this. The times we are most vulnerable to change is when our lives have been disrupted. One of the biggest times of disruption studies indicate to be childbirth. Shortly behind this are divorce, death of a loved one and moving. 

But it doesn't have to be a big life change to disrupt the foundation of our habits. Here's the really cool part. And, remember, there is actual science behind this. Changing something really tiny can make changing the bigger, important things possible. It can be as simple as picking up your pencil with your left hand if you usually pick it up with your right. 

However, we're not going to change something as insignificant as this. But what we are going to do is change something that we are absolutely positive we can change! Our first challenge was to ditch the "all or nothing" mentality. Here's a great time to put that into practice. You are NOT going to set a goal of working out 6 days a week if you haven't laced up your tennis shoes in two years. You are NOT going to vow to eat perfectly if you binge on chips every night. Instead, you are going to ask yourself "what do I KNOW I can do?" An example might be eating one piece of fruit a day if you're currently not eating any. It could be vowing to go for one walk a week if you're not currently walking at all. Whatever the habit is that you decide to change, remember that you are setting yourself up for success. 

If you're a chronic over eater, here's a blog post of mine you may want to read: You Can Change

The reason you need to set yourself up for success is two-fold. First, for the aforementioned reason. When you change something, anything, you make future (and bigger) changes more possible. You are changing the patterns in which you do things. Second, every time you succeed, you increase your confidence in your ability to succeed.

Which leads me to our first weekend challenge! I intend to have a challenge similar to this each weekend in which we will dedicate 3 days to focusing on changing one habit. We will choose a different (always small) habit each weekend. Here are a few more ideas of small, manageable changes:

  • If you are a smoker and you smoke, say, a pack a day. Resolve you are going to smoke 18 per day instead. Even 19. Whatever you KNOW you can do.
  • If you eat horrible all day, every day. Resolve that you will start your day with one healthy meal. Or even just start your breakfast with one healthy thing. Whatever you KNOW you can do. And nothing more. 
And you'll do this for 3 days. Remember, little, little, little changes. I can't emphasize this enough.

If you want to repeat yesterday's challenge a little more in this area and learn the science behind change, check out the book "The Willpower Instinct" (available in audio form as well). This book helped me soooo much.

Good luck guys and let's offer each other lots of support throughout the weekend!


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