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.

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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Day 9 of 28 Day Challenge: Just Freakin' Do It Already!

Today's challenge topic was very easy to settle on because I recently had some personal experience with it. I've actually had experience with it in the past as well and learned how important it can be but, just as with anything and anyone, sometimes we have to be reminded even when we know the truth because I guess we forget!

There is a phone call that I have been dreading making for a solid week. I mean, every time I thought of making this phone call I felt sick to my stomach and anxious. I knew that it was going to be a very unpleasant and awkward conversation that most certainly would not end well. It was like a tiny dark cloud following me around wherever I went. I suddenly thought today, "Oh my gosh, Tammi! Just freakin' do it already! You've experienced the anxiety of this phone call dozens of times by thinking about it instead of just experiencing it once when you actually do it!"

So I did it. And it wasn't as awkward and unpleasant as I thought it would was WAY worse! It was horrible, seemed to go on forever and ended extremely unpleasantly. And, when I finally hung up? I felt GREAT! Even though it was unpleasant, it was over! I was so relieved. At the same time, I was a little frustrated with myself that I hadn't just freakin' done it a week ago.

Which leads me to today's challenge. Pull out your to-do list. Not today's to-do list but last week's and next week's. The stuff you've been putting off for way too long as well as the stuff you're putting off until the last minute. Do as many things as you can on the list. Make it a game. The "How Many Things Can I Finally Do Today" list. Think how amazing you're going to feel at the end of this day.

Look around right now. Find the most annoying and stressful thing in the room and tackle it. The pile of mail that's been building up. The yucky pot that's been soaking in the sink for a day. Just go on autopilot and DO IT!

You will feel so in control and amazing that your mind will start clearing, your creative juices will start flowing, life will somehow look better even though it's pretty much exactly the same. Try it!

There is SO much in life that we can't control. Once we start taking command of the things we CAN control, life seems much more manageable. Here's an old post about how I help myself feel in control when I'm out of control that talks about this very thing: What I Have Control Over.

Take control of your life one little annoying pile of crap at a time!


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 3 of 28 Day Challenge: Get Uncomfortable

"Do one thing every day that scares you."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

I wrote a blog post a while back called "I Don't Accept Myself the Way I Am" that I encourage you to read when you have the time. Basically, I discussed how, during my weight loss journey, I realized that I kept stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things, taking risks, and exposing myself to potential failure. At the time it was not a conscious effort, I think I was just fed up with the status quo and felt I had nothing left to lose. I was searching for something and I didn't know what it was. However, that "something" I found was not on my couch or in my refrigerator, nor did it show up in one of my many t.v. shows I followed. That "something" was right outside of my comfort zone.

Now I make myself uncomfortable on purpose because I have come to learn that this is where the growth occurs. And when we grow, the big things look smaller and the impossible things suddenly look possible.

One of my favorite ways to make myself uncomfortable is to go on a very challenging hike. The reason I like it is because, once you get out there, you absolutely have no choice but to hike back. Well, I guess you always have a choice but the alternative is to lay down in the woods and starve to death. When I get back from a long, seemingly impossible hike, I sit down in the car (usually with a cut or scratch somewhere on my body....cause that's just how I roll) and let the feeling of accomplishment wash over me. I leave the foot of the mountain just a little different, a little stronger and more confident, than when I arrived. It's a subtle shift that I'm sure no one can see but me. Likewise, a hard workout does the same thing for me. Maybe not on such a grand scale but each and every workout in which I push myself past that point where I want to stop and get a burger and make myself really uncomfortable, I become just a little better, and I don't mean just physically.

So your challenge for today is to make yourself uncomfortable. But I challenge you to do this every day. Whether it's making yourself physically uncomfortable by taking the 5 flights of stairs to your office, whereas you usually take the elevator or striking up a conversation with someone in a check out line. It doesn't matter what you choose, the only rule is that it has to make you uncomfortable.


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Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 2 of 28 Day Challenge: Get Your Brain in the Game

Educate! Educate! Educate!

It's all over my blog, it's in my 5 Steps to Permanent Weight Loss, it's on my bio hanging on the wall of the gym where I work part-time, and it's coming out of my mouth constantly when I talk to clients. But, for some reason, most people don't think it's important. Okay, I get it, just because I say it doesn't mean that you should believe it. But, since you're doing my challenge, I challenge you to do it today!

Take a little time today to learn about something that you want to change. I, once again, have to use my recent experience with going raw as a "for instance". Never a big fan of fruit and definitely not a veggie lover (although now I loooove fruit and like veggies pretty well!), the thought of going raw was not very appealing. However, I had heard enough whispers in the health world about it to know I needed to give it a closer look. So, preceding and during that first week that I went raw, I spent every spare moment reading about or watching movies on the subject. When I was at home chopping fruits and veggies, I had YouTube videos playing in the background. As soon as I put my son to bed at night and got everything done, I sat down and read on the subject until I was ready to sleep. Movie night with the boyfriend? Yup! Raw food. Driving in the car? Raw food podcasts. I absorbed the information until it became such a part of my thought process that I felt compelled to reach for the fruit bowl. This is how I have changed every single thing in my life so far. I've become obsessed with it.

Educating yourself on a subject does two things. First, it makes the abstract real. Knowing "fruits and vegetables make you healthier" is much less motivating than knowing "fruits and vegetables are the building blocks of life, each contains a much more complete list of macro and micro nutrients necessary to function at a higher level than any other food group, and when your body has life giving foods instead of dead things to nourish it, it is free to fight disease and slow the aging process, not to mention uncloud your mind and lift your spirits (true story!)." Second, and perhaps even more importantly, the more you read/watch/listen to what's important to you, the more it shifts from your subconscious to your conscious mind. Two of my favorite quotes that talk about this are "Thoughts become things" and "Energy flows where attention goes." What we think about is what we are telling both our subconscious and conscious mind to pay attention to. So, if we are constantly thinking about pizza, that is what we will continue to think about. We will notice every pizza joint, every pizza conversation, every reason and excuse why we should eat pizza. Likewise, if we are constantly thinking about fruits and veggies, we will start to find "excuses" to have just one more salad before we give into the pizza craving.

Okay, so my example was eating raw. But you must find what's important to you. If you want to quit smoking, first educate yourself as thoroughly as you can on the effects of smoking on your health. But don't just focus on the negative aspect. Instead, after you are certain you understand the effects, tuck that knowledge under your cap and start seeking out things that you would enjoy doing that require clean lungs. I used to smoke in my early/mid 20s, and had since I was a teenager, then I found a fun aerobics class with awesome music and a meditation at the end that I loved going to with my mom. I was very overweight and out of shape at the time but I just loved it and enjoyed so much how I felt when I was done. However, I would get into my car afterward and light up a cigarette. After a while, I started to really pay attention to how good my lungs felt after I got done working out and how sticky and yucky I felt as soon as I smoked a cigarette. I finally quit smoking and then started paying attention to how it didn't feel like I was breathing through a straw during aerobics after a few days and then how I could take deeper breaths all the time and it finally felt like the air would go all the way to the bottom of my lungs where it didn't before. Focusing on the positive effects of not smoking helped me finally quit. I ended up dropping out of that aerobics class and didn't start working out again for a very long time. But it drastically improved my health because I never started smoking again.

So let's get our brains in the game. Pick your subject. What are you going to educate yourself about? Need some ideas? Here's a few things to get you started if you're not quite sure where to start.

  • Effects of sugar (or other ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, etc.) on the body
  • Raw Food. Your goal doesn't have to be going totally raw. It can simply be wanting to add more fresh fruits and veggies to your diet. Here's my blog post on raw food to get you started.
  • Going wheat free
  • Importance of a good night's sleep
  • The benefits of exercise. Here's some posts of mine on the subject:
  • The science behind willpower. An amazing book to check out on this subject is "The Willpower Instinct" by Kelly McGonigal and "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. Another pretty good book is "Excuses Begone" by Wayne Dyer.
  • And for anyone involved in a nasty breakup (or on again/off again relationship) who's finding themselves unable to resist the urge to send just one more crazy text or "farewell forever" message, check out these books (and they're all available on audiobook as well):
    •  "It's Called a Break Up Because it's Broken" by Greg Brehrendt and Amiira Ruotola, this one is my favorite!
    • "He's Just Not That Into You" by Greg Behrendt. Anyone who has read my blog knows of my own experience in this department and I understand just how destructive this can be to your health (mentally AND physically). If you fall into this category, I highly recommend that this is what you focus on (educating yourself) because as long as all of your focus is on another person, you will never be able to improve upon yourself.
These are just a few ideas but make sure you pick something that is important to YOU. Knowledge is power! Your body is the single most important thing you will ever own in your lifetime. Take time to learn about it. In doing so, you will appreciate it so much more and, in the process, you will be less apt to do something damaging to it. Don't just learn....BECOME COMPLETELY, ENTHUSIASTICALLY AND ROMANTICALLY OBSESSED WITH YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING!!!


Haven't joined our group yet? It's not too late. Sign up here.
And don't forget to "like" my page on Facebook where I post motivational material on a consistent basis to keep you focused on what's important!

Day 1 of 28 Day Challenge: All Or Nothing

Yay! Day One of our challenge has arrived! Best day! This is the day we change our lives!!! We won't have any problems staying on track and in 28 days we will barely resemble the people we once, no. Wrong.

Day 1 of a challenge is the best day because we haven't faced real life during the challenge yet. We haven't had our first craving or stressful day yet. All we have is promise. A promise of being a better version of ourselves combined with a slightly fuzzy memory of what has derailed us in the past.

Here is what I can promise you. In the next 28 days, you will screw up. Simple as that. You will fail. Period.

There, I said it. I said what they don't want to say and you don't want to hear.

Now comes the good news. It is not all or nothing! Yes, I called it failure for the dramatic effect, but when you don't do something perfect, that's not failure. That's life baby!

So, Day 1 challenge. Ditch the "all or nothing" mentality. Period. That's it. That's your challenge.

You're probably thinking, "What the heck kind of challenge is that?! This blows. I'm out of here!"

Well, try it for a day first. Really pay attention to how many times you face that very mentality.

"I ate a burger for lunch, my whole day is shot."
"I broke down and smoked a cigarette, guess I'll start again tomorrow."

Today's assignment is to recognize any time you do anything good for yourself. If you are part of our challenge group (it's not to late to sign up  here), feel free to share your list of good things you did for yourself with your teammates by posting on the group page.

This shift in your mindset will help prepare you for other challenges to come in the next 27 days (and beyond). This day is all about what you did RIGHT! There will be no such thing as failure.

For example, I have a desire to eat a raw vegan diet but I just can't seem to make it happen. So I am currently doing a "Raw Til 4" thing. This is where I eat completely raw until 4 pm each day. I don't focus on the fact that I'm eating cooked foods in the evening or even on the fact that I, literally, just had a handful tortilla chips with my 2 pm avocado and tomato afternoon snack. I'm focusing, instead, on each and every time I take a bite of a ripe, life-giving piece of fruit and how I'm sending the message of "I love you and I'm taking care of you" to my body. The "naughty" stuff? That's just life!

I understand that, if you're still in a place where eating cooked food after 4 pm doesn't seem like much of a failure (and I may have even gotten an eye roll), let me give you a better example. Earlier in my journey to health and wellness, I would have huge binges of horrible foods late at night that made my stomach feel like it was going to rip open. I started shifting my focus even then. I would start to think "Okay, I just did something a little damaging to myself, so what can I do good for myself?" I would read motivational material that informed and inspired me. After my food started to digest a little, I would give myself a little "internal baptism" in the form of a big glass of water (something that, at the time, was definitely something to be proud of because I used to despise drinking water). I would sometimes work out at 2am just because I was wide awake and bummed about the way I had spent my day, the foods I had ate, etc. Or I would gently wash my face, floss my teeth, moisturize at the end of a day of "failures" just to feel a little redeemed.

I stopped focusing on the pizza I ate and started focusing on the salad I ate before the pizza. Instead of beating myself up about the healthy meal that I never ate at all, I focused on the walk I took when I didn't feel like it and how good I felt afterward.

Bottom line, I shifted my focus from what I was doing wrong for my body and my mind to what I was doing (and could do) right.

In case you are having a hard day and can't seem to think of anything good to do for yourself, here's a list of ideas, and don't forget to check back other days throughout the challenge when you just need a pick-me-up in the form of a good deed for yourself by yourself.

  • Take 3 deep breaths! It's simple and takes a few seconds. This actually signals the body to relax and reduces cortisol levels (which can be beneficial both mentally and physically)
  • A big glass of water
  • Go to bed early
  • Wake up earlier
  • Go for a walk
  • Eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable
  • Post a note somewhere highly visible saying something positive to yourself (more on this another day)
  • Log off the computer!
  • Reduce your t.v. watching time
  • Do something you've been putting off (more on this one too!!)
  • Post a message in our group asking for support
  • Start making your own checklist of things you'd like to start doing good for yourself

What can you do right for your body and your mind today? Set a reminder on your phone. Post notes around your house and/or workspace to remind you of this notion.

I look forward to reading your successes!

Now is a good time for me to reign you back in and make sure you're not still desperately searching for the huge assignment that's going to change your life. But remember, "all or nothing" is gone! Day one. It's gone. At this very moment, you MUST stop expecting that you are going to somehow, after a lifetime of not doing so, change your entire life in a few short days. It doesn't work that way. As I often tell my clients, "this is not a movie montage, this is real life." So shift your focus now from the big picture, to the tiny little corner of the picture and zero in. We are going to do this in 28 little baby steps.

I made you a rather negative promise at the beginning of this message. Now I'm going to make you a more assuring, yet realistic, promise to wrap this up.

If you accept each little challenge (or even just most of them) I give you over the next 28 days and do them to the best of your ability (or even just most of your ability), you will reach the end of these 4 weeks as a slightly better version of yourself, capable of slightly better things.....and then maybe we'll do another challenge.

And if you're just still completely under enthused by the prospect of small, manageable changes, ask yourself how those big, all at once, always on Mondays and New Years changes have been working out for you. In a month from now, you will be one month older no matter what you do. Resolve to be one month better!


Haven't joined our group yet? It's not too late. Sign up here.
And don't forget to "like" my page on Facebook where I post motivational material on a consistent basis to keep you focused on what's important!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Raw Truth: My Experience With Going Raw

I want to start this by saying, if you don't have a lot of time, just scroll down and (a) find the movie I've provided a link for and watch it at your convenience and (b) find the bullet point list and you'll see what I learned and experienced on my one week raw fast.

Now, on to the long version....I am a cheater. I cheat basically every day. I'll clarify what I mean. I would say that at some point each day, at least once, I eat something I shouldn't eat. However, along this journey, my cheats have become less severe in size as well as in level of unhealthiness. For instance, at one time, a cheat could very well have been a plate full of corn chips with a ton of cheddar cheese melted on top, late at night, and I may have possibly gone back for seconds. Now, let me make sure you understand, this has been DURING my weight loss journey. I emphasize this because I see it time and time again  in my friends and clients (and, formerly, in myself), the whole "I screwed up, I failed my diet again" mentality. I now look at these cheats as, just that, a cheat and then I'm back on track and it's just part of living.

Now my cheats are more things like cheese on my salad, or fajitas and a few chips and salsa on non-cheat nights. Maybe even a FEW chips with cheese melted on them. Well, that was before I attempted to go raw. Now cheese is almost always off the menu. Along with sour cream and cottage cheese. Dairy has been a hard one for me to give up but the effects of going off of it, combined with the effects of trying to eat it after going off of it, have convinced me, just as I finally became convinced with sugar and wheat, that dairy is NOT my friend. 

It turns out that my raw journey has been very similar to my previous journey(s) in that I am taking some important things away from this experience. I have naturally dropped a couple more bad habits and naturally picked up a couple. I didn't have to struggle, I didn't have to deprive myself, I just educated and experimented, two HUGE keys to success.

Instead of trying like hell to resist the urge to eat cheese on my chips because I know it will deter my weight loss efforts, I now know not only what ugly, yucky things can be in conventional cheese and how the cows are treated, but also how I am going to feel after I eat it. This is something I never quite connected in the past because my diet was clogged enough with cheese that I was constantly feeling the effects. Headache, stuffy nose, slightly irritated, swollen throat and fatigue. And, um, stinky gas. Yes, the illusion is over. The jig is up. I fart. Shocker, I know.

So while we're talking about my farts, let's talk about what meat and whey protein do to the air around me. After being off of both for a while, it is almost instant as soon as I eat any animal protein. My stomach starts churning and then my son starts fussing at me (I think I liked it better before he could talk).

Now for the highlights of my experience with going raw.

I first resolved to eat raw for one week after learning more and more about the benefits of eating raw and finally after watching this video: Raw For Life (there are two parts but I only recommend the first part because the second is a series of long, greatly in depth recipes that end with two really obnoxious skanky girls who kind of ruin the video, so do like I do when I watch Titanic and only watch the first part and you'll walk away much happier).

I started with my boyfriend on a Sunday. It really helps to have someone in one's life to make changes with. I am so blessed that I not only have a family that values health and development but now a boyfriend as well who, just as me, is always looking to grow and change as a person. I value this trait a lot in a mate because I have come to understand just how much this can hinder or add to my success. However, it doesn't have to be your family or your mate, it can be a friend at work or even someone you set out to meet online for the specific reason of offering one another support. Bottom line, social support is a huge indicator of adherence to any lifestyle change.

That first day was hardest in a way because we were going through processed food withdrawals (a.k.a. I wanted some freakin' cheese!). However, in another way, it was the easiest because I was right at home all day and able to juice and cut up fruit until my little heart was content.

I'm going to break it down now to a bullet point list of the major things I learned and experienced on this diet.
  • Lots of fruit is okay! I've always heard that we shouldn't eat a lot of fruit because of the way the fructose affects our blood sugar. However, the more in depth I read into the idea of eating mostly fruit, the more I learned that, when eaten alone, our body metabolizes fruit waaaay different than if it's cooked or paired with processed food. Bottom line, the water and fiber slow down the absorption of the natural sugar to a point where very little if any of the sugars are actually dumped into your bloodstream. When I eat a bunch of fruit for breakfast (and I mean a bunch, one apple would make me miserable and hungry, you can't be afraid to eat on this diet!) my belly is satisified and I am full for a long while. There is no energy crash at all!
  • We should be using the bathroom at LEAST once a day. 2-3 is ideal. Nuff said on that subject.
  • Horrible stinky farts on a regular basis are NOT normal.
  • Food really can be medicine or poison. Eating a mostly raw diet (which I am still, weeks later, continuing to do) make me feel better in every way imaginable. I am more energetic, I wake up easier in the morning, people are actually commenting on how good my skin looks AND, you guys are going to love this, it is improving my skin elasticity! My face looks younger and my belly firmer.
  • I am convinced our bodies do need SOME cooked food. That is my personal experience with eating raw. Toward the end of the day, my body wants cooked food. My theory is that my metabolism and digestive system is starting to slow down for the day and needs foods that are easier to digest. My dinner has, many nights, consisted of things like green beans, new potatoes and lightly steamed kale.
  • I don't need to be perfect to see drastic improvements. But now I can't help but wonder what would happen if I could do better!
  • Which leads me to my next (and first) point, I am a cheater. On this raw diet, I cheated every day at some point. Whether it was wrapping my veggies in a corn tortilla or the night I threw a little steamed shrimp into my dinner, I am a cheater and that is okay! I can still be healthy and see great results as the cheater I am. And, as time goes on, I cheat less and less....naturally! Without trying! Because, as the saying goes "When you know better, you do better."
All and all, I would say that my initial experience with going raw was a great success. However, this is just the beginning! I am so excited with my initial results that this blog post is the preface for a series of blog posts that I am about to start doing. They will be part of a 28-day challenge I am going to start on my Facebook page and for any blog followers that would like to do it as well. I have a lot more raw food information (links, books, etc..) as well as non-raw food related information I'm excited to share.

This challenge will not be raw food, or even weight loss, specific. Rather, this 28-day challenge will be about improving our behaviors and ourselves in the process. The reason I have chosen to do this challenge now is that, along with be so inspired and motivated by my recent experience, it is the month of my son's 5th birthday and I want to give him the best gift I can possibly think of and that's a new improved mom with more energy and vitality to ensure I can give him the attention and example he needs to carry him through the rest of his childhood before, in a few short years, I release him to the world with only his upraising to guide him. But, in addition, I want to give this to myself and to all of you. Stayed tuned!!!