Tag: exercise

Movetober Challenge – Check-In 1

A day late, dollar short…isn’t that how the saying goes? What do they say about 3 days late? Oh man. I failed in my first week in more than one way!

If you can forgive the negligence, this is the first check-in for Movetober and I learned a lot during the first week of the month!

So when you’re traveling, exercising and eating well are immediately pushed to the back of your mind. It’s like your body knows that I left my general zip code so everything important is now historically archived until you return. Needless to say that when I was out of town for 2 days, all attempts at exercising was futile. And if I am going to be perfectly honest, day 3 didn’t happen either because I was mentally and physically drained.

Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t move or meet my calorie-burning goal, at least per my iWatch, but I certainly didn’t adhere to my planned regimen. In fact, I forgot to even pack workout attire -not that it would’ve mattered because I had zero unscheduled/leisure time.

So week 1 was a wash and when it came to check-in, I was so busy with all of the tasks that normally would’ve been done during my vacation that I was go-go-go from 8:30 AM till I passed out.

Now that I have admitted defeat and confessed, I am back on the bandwagon. I even increased my goal on my iWatch and am trying to wake up earlier to make sure that exercising isn’t forgotten – even when I come home late and exhausted. I am keeping myself honest and realizing that perhaps my goals were a bit more aggressive than what I can actually accomplish. So am I giving up? Nope. But I am going to make sure that I am staying honest and staying committed!

So inquiring minds want to know… Do you prefer at-home workouts or do you go to a gym? What regimen do you use in the gym or at home?

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Movetober Challenge

The weather has shifted officially. October is here and we are in the home stretch of 2019. I officially am consuming PSL everything.

So with the holidays quickly approaching, I want to kick myself into high gear and prepare for the inevitable, and absolutely never avoidable (no matter how hard you try), holiday feasting and festivities! So with that being said, starting October 1st, I am starting my own fitness challenge!

Some of you may recall my weight loss from the past year and how I ballooned at 200 pounds after some major challenging life milestones. I was not eating healthy. I had stopped taking care of myself. I then had compounded health issues which kept making matters worse. I was getting depressed. I didn’t want to interact with friends or family. I wanted to burrow my sorrows in junk and then cry about how I viciously kept doing that. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I hated myself.
That is why I harbor so much on getting healthy, being healthy, and that this is a journey and not a race!

So for the month of October, I am renaming it to Movetober and initiating a challenge – GET MOVING! My goal is to hit the minimum of the items on my calendar below. Every week I will do a Sunday check-in starting with the 6th and share results, obstacles, and wins!

If you want to join me, print the workout calendar above, follow me on Instagram, and comment below! I cannot wait to share results with you and make Movetober a success!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you ever participated in a fitness challenge before? What areas do you want to work on – lose weight, gain muscle, maintain?

5 FRUGAL Tips for Self-Care

Let’s take a second to think about our daily list of to-dos. For a good percentage of us, there is family, work, household (includes the cooking, cleaning, and upkeep), friends…and in some cases like mine, school. So what is the one thing we have forgotten? Ourselves.

It isn’t uncommon to put everything and everyone over ourselves thinking that when our cup runneth over with helping others, that is all we need. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Plus with technology consuming the majority of our lives from the television to our cell phones, it is so easy to lose track of time and end up in a downward spiral of YouTube videos or Amazon shopping. Dare I say that some of us even feel guilty, or are made to think that putting ourselves first is selfish.

There have been many times that I have ‘crashed’ or ‘burned out’ because of the fact that I have given over 100% of myself to everything else in my life. Eventually, my body, my spirit, my mind -they all shut down because you can only run on adrenaline for so long before you putter out -just like a car without a full tank of gasoline. And yet I repeatedly find myself starting the vicious cycle after I recuperate – seemingly never learning my lesson!

However, I am the first to admit that if I am not taking care of myself first, then everything else will topple over like a bad tower of Jenga blocks. So I have started to incorporate some self-care techniques to help myself be a better me – all at no cost which makes it an easier pill to swallow if you will. While these may not be appropriate for everyone, they have been working for me and those around me – I have even received feedback that people have noticed a change in me!

1 – Incorporate sleep. Simple enough, right? Well, do you know how many hours your body needs to feel optimal? I personally need between 8-9 hours of sleep -any less and I am a shell of myself; any more and I actually am sluggish. So I have my phone set with a reminder on when I need to be asleep by, give myself a 30-minute buffer to take care of my nighttime routine, and am in bed. This took a long time to get used to the routine, especially when I am submerged in a great Netflix movie, doing homework, or spending time with friends/family. But I know that without my proper sleep, I am not myself so I force myself to make sleep my number one self-care tactic.

2 – Exercise daily. Sounds insane, right? We are always complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day but if you think about the fact that there are 1,440 minutes in a day, making 30 for exercise doesn’t seem so bad. Now I am not saying you have to go to the gym every day or become a triathlon athlete, but if we can make it a point to do some form of exercise every day, you are helping promote a better self. Exercise is proven to have long term benefits with reducing heart disease, reducing weight, and so much more. But think about reducing stress – 30 minutes of brisk walking to clear your head after a long day or 30 minutes of low impact yoga before your day starts to start off on the right foot… This will also help your body catch up to your mind and help establish proper sleep at the day’s end – just don’t start to exercise less than 2 hours before bed!

3 – Learn that saying “no” is healthy. So often we are told that “no” is essentially a bad word. We should always say “yes” and welcome the responsibilities. But think about the last time you said “no” to someone or something…did the world stop? Saying “no” sometimes can be self-empowering because you are taking control of your self, your actions, your choices. And this gives you the opportunity to reassess what you are saying “yes” to before making the promise for one…more…thing. Saying “no” could also help prevent burnout because you are not adding yet another event, assignment, or chore to your plate.

4- Schedule “me” time. Just like you schedule a meeting, schedule time dedicated to just you. So you can paint, knit, read, sew, meditate, or whatever you want during that time but it is your dedicated time. Start with just 15 minutes and adjust as necessary. This is the time that is exempt from anything else but you. I have personally made some time at the start of my day, waking up earlier so I can get my time to do whatever I need to – check my emails, respond to text messages, read, exercise, meditate or try to map out the winning lottery numbers (a girl can dream). I then dedicate 15 minutes at the end of the day to recap, plan, and reflect.

5- Use positive language. So what does that mean? Well, let me ask you a simple question – how do you describe yourself when something didn’t go as planned? Do you say: “I am so stupid”? Or how about when you need to describe yourself physically? Do you say: “I am overweight.” or “My hair is messy” or “I feel frumpy”? This is all negative language and it feeds into a cycle of unhealthy behavior. Changing the negative adjective for something more positive can lift you up and alter perception. So “I am so stupid” becomes “I am going to ask for help” or “I can try this again”. You can do this with others too – instead of saying “I’m sorry for being late” try saying “Thank you for waiting for me”; this cuts the negativity and acknowledges positive actions!

Sure there are plenty more steps that we can take to start to take better care of ourselves, but this is not a marathon -it’s a journey. So every step towards better self-care, improved mental health, improved physical health…that is what matters! And sometimes finding a frugal way to make those improvements are even better!

So inquiring minds want to know… What do you do for self-care? Do you have any other techniques to share? How do you make time for yourself?

Smoothie Recipes – Week 02

As promised, though a day late, the smoothies from last week. Despite Monday being Memorial Day, I made it a point to keep up with the 5-day streak! In fact, I used Monday as a test day to see how a recipe I had planned for later in the week would be.

Just as a reminder, please check out Week 1 – Smoothie Recipes for a recap on what protein, collagen, and other ingredients I use in each smoothie. Also, I do not use any MLM products nor do I do any juicing – I want to make sure I get ALL of the nutrients from my smoothies…fiber and all.


Monday (Memorial Day) – Key Lime Pie
Greek Yogurt, Spinach (for color), ice, protein, one whole lime, lime juice, honey, organic graham crackers, collagen, and Maca. The liquid base was water.

Tuesday – “Pick Me Up Tuesday”
Old-fashioned oats, dates, greek yogurt, iced coffee (I used actual coffee I froze in an ice cube tray), collagen, protein powder, Maca, Greens Powder. The liquid base was almond milk.

Wednesday – Key Lime
Repeated Monday’s recipe!

Thursday – “Going Banana Nuts Thursday”
Banana, chia seeds, almond butter, Maca, cinnamon, walnuts, collagen, protein powder. The liquid base was almond milk.

Friday – “Going Choco-Bananas”
Banana, cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, Greens Powder, protein powder, collagen, Maca. The liquid base was almond milk.


The biggest hit this week was “Going Banana Nuts Thursday” by a landslide! Also, key lime came in second though I still want to manipulate that recipe for a future smoothie!

I have also been dabbling in non-dairy yogurt as an option because some of my friends are steering clear of dairy right now. The only issue I have noticed is that non-dairy yogurt is much more watery than regular or Greek yogurt. In order to maintain a smoothie consistency, I have to cut some of the liquid that I use.

I have also started to add some Creatine powder to my husbands’ smoothies because he is deficient, which we found out after some blood work, and he is looking to start building more muscle mass.


Comment below if you are going to try any of these or are interested in learning more! Do you have any recipes or suggestions for me to try?

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Amazon Favorites – April

So it is almost June and I am way behind! I had to take a couple of weeks off because of an illness (see last post for more details) but now that I’m back, I need to get on schedule!

Also, I will be rolling out two new series for my IG and blog! First will be my smoothie recipes and menu. I will post more about this during the week, but my smoothies are daily concoctions that I make for myself, my husband, and some of my friends and have seen amazing results! One of my friends has lost over 15 pounds with just the smoothies alone! The second series will be about skincare. I am not a makeup junkie, but I am all about taking care of my skin and my body. Every Sunday will now be Skincare Sunday and I will test and report on different skincare items; some may be first impressions, others may be tried and true.

But on to the Amazon favorites! I will link each product below, or the closest version if it is not currently available. Please please remember that Amazon prices are subject to change! Also, for the sake of transparency, each link is an affiliate link but it does not change the price or cost you anything.

This is one of my favorite investments for my small kitchen! If you know me, you know I love to cook, but sometimes cooking all weekend to meal prep is impossible and cooking every night is simply not going to happen. So purchasing this beauty (even though April’s purchase was a gift because I have 2 at home), has been a lifesaver. It has helped cut down on cooking time, keeps meats moist, and has made sure we eat out less because of “dump and cook” meals! I even make our doggie’s human-grade food every week and they have gotten so much HEALTHIER!
Click here for the 6 quart (currently $69)

Do you have curly hair or hair that tangles often? Have you been using a wide-tooth comb? Do you fear every time you have to detangle? Say no more! That was me too until I found this brush that I could have sworn was a gimmick until I detangled my curly hair – wet AND dry. This brush fits in the contours of your hand so it is easy to hold and with short/long bristles, it easily brushes out even the worst knots. And the best part is that it also massages the scalp without any damage. I barely have any fall out when I detangle too which is night and day from what I would be left with before.
Please do not hesitate and get this! Just keep an eye on the price because I got mine for $9.99 and it is now $16.

Once I started to hit the gym more for muscle building and not just weight loss, I needed something to help protect my neck and shoulders from the barbell and I came across this wonder! For only $12.49, I use this every time I do squats, pelvic thrusts, and any other exercise where the barbell is resting directly on my body. I keep this in my gym bag and clean it after every use. It provides a lot of cushion without disrupting the exercise.
It comes in multiple colors but I bought my black one here.

Available in multiple colors and sizes, I have bought this blanket 3 times over -once as a gift and twice for our master and guest beds. Every time someone stays over or we crash for the night during the summer months, this blanket is amazing! It is light weight but still warm enough that when the AC is blasting, you are not cold. It has a little waffle design on there so it is aesthetically pleasing while being functional. It is not warm enough for winter but we use it during spring, summer, and fall without any issues! It is great quality and washes easily in the washing machine and can be dried as well.
Each size and color is a different price, but I bought this one for the guest bed for $35.99.

Another item I have on Subscribe & Save is this collagen powder! This is a new addition to my daily protein smoothies that I make to help my bones, my skin, my hair, and joints. It is unflavored and will mix easily in any smoothie or shake. All you need is a scoop (included) and it makes a world of a difference. It is easy to digest too so there is no need to take 6 tablets or try and drink a flavored concoction. I purchase one every month.
You can give this a try too by purchasing it here.

So tell me… have you tried any of these products? What is your opinion? Are you using something that I should try? Comment below!

Health: Weight Loss Check-In

So I know that my heading is a play on words but so often nowadays a photo outnumbers a picture! Plus in this circumstance, the proof is in the pudding.

Okay. Enough “Dad-isms”.

I sincerely wanted to share an update on my health journey. There have been a number of changes just within the past couple of weeks!

First and foremost, while I loved OrangeTheory, the schedule wasn’t ideal for my workdays and I guess the word got out because the classes were always packed! Therefore I had to terminate that membership…for now. And since CycleBar started to become more like SoulCycle: The Teenie Bob edition, that member was also cancelled.

But locally we have a full fledged gym, similar to LA Fitness if you have seen those. I was fortunate enough to get a discount because of where I work and signed up myself and the hubster. This was one of the best moves we have made! We can go on our schedule and spend as much or as little time as we want. We can do cardio or machines or weights or participate in classes or swim… And even though we don’t have a trainer, YouTube has become a great way to educate oneself on exercises and regimens!

But more importantly than how I exercise is what I am eating. They say weight loss is 80-90% diet and 10-20% exercise and I believe it! I am not doing a fad diet or signed up for a coaching program or drinking detox anything. I am eating cleaner, more vegetarian and making myself my own smoothie every weekday!

I will update you more on the smoothies and new items that I introduced into my diet in my next post but I wanted to leave you all with photographic evidence that what I am doing is working!

In just my face alone my hair is more radiant, my skin is clear, and the shape of my face has slimmed down a lot! And before you try and call my bluff, these are both done with the same filter and in natural sunlight and yes I am wearing makeup in both photos. These are one year apart almost to the day and you can now see my cheekbones again and my jawline whereas before my face was more round that oval.

It isn’t easy and there are some days I look in the mirror and want to say it doesn’t matter or it’s not enough but that defeating behavior is what got me to balloon in weight in the first place. Down almost 25 pounds in a healthy way without giving up my vices or taking medication is arduous but doable.

And the best part is when I step on the scale, which is just one indicator in my health journey, and can say I hit my first milestone and each day gets better. And my support system has also made each workout or shedded pound that much more rewarding.

So here is to the next phase of the journey! Please let me know if you are interested is being a part of the journey too.

Healthy Journey – You Are What You Eat

Yesterday I was speaking to a friend of mine and she asked me an interesting question which started a 30+ minute conversation and then got me thinking that maybe I should make a post about this… We chatted about how I am working on my health and losing weight and regaining my life back. She was very happy for me and asked me what I changed in my diet to support the weight loss because it is common knowledge that weight loss and fitness is more than just exercise and it in fact starts in the kitchen!

While there is more to my fitness journey than food, like supplements and vitamins, no one wants to read a 20-page blog post (I’ll save that for my dissertation). Below is a view into what my diet consists of and why.

Breakfast

This is always drilled into us as the most important meal of the day and the skipping this is detrimental. Well, I have to admit that breakfast is almost never on the table (ha, literally) for me -weekdays or weekends. I usually wake up around 6:30am during the weekdays (and that is after hitting snooze a few times) and have to get ready for work and out the door in a little over an hour (yep, I push it close). So sitting down to have toast or cereal or oatmeal…none of that is on my morning list of things to do. So long as I have a few minutes to have my coffee and grab the headlines, I am good to go.

Now you could say I should wake up at 6:00am and make time for a meal but beyond time, I am also simply not hungry. I do not want, nor find the need, to consume calories when I am not hungry. It is almost like eating just for the sheer fact of eating and that is not at all necessary. In fact, the days that I eat breakfast like when I am on a vacation or at a conference, I feel sluggish and bloated.

So what do I have? I have my coffee with almond milk and agave, along with a few vitamins that I can take on an empty stomach, and I’m good to go. I gave up dairy milk about 2 years ago and haven’t looked back though I do consume dairy-based cheese and ice cream so this is not due to an lactose intolerance. I just simply did not like the taste of dairy milk nor did I like the treatment of cows to get said milk but that is for another day. I use agave over stevia or sugar or any other sweetener for a few reasons. Agave is a natural sweetener from the blue agave cactus so if you have ever had tequila, you’ve basically had agave. It has a lower glycemic rating than sugar and because it is liquid, it will mix better in hot or cold beverages. It has a slight earthy taste by itself but once mixed with my coffee, it cannot be tasted. I have tried stevia and have not liked the taste or aftertaste so I stopped testing the 1385 variations I found in the grocery stores. I don’t like other sugar alternatives because of the chemical compounds and eventual breakdown (equal and sweet-n-low have been linked to unsafe levels chlorine once dissolved).

Morning Snack

If I start to feel hungry, I will grab a handful of raw or roasted, unsalted almonds. Almonds are low in fat and have been recently linked to heart health when consumed on an empty stomach because it acts similar to fiber in pushing out that gunk. I may also have a banana to help with my potassium intake and my very small sweet tooth.

Lunch

This is always the heaviest meal of the day for me because I know I am going to be able to burn it throughout the day. I will make sure that I take the time to eat my meal too because a lot of times we are rushing through the day and scarf down whatever is available. I bring food from home that I cooked earlier in the week whenever possible and will make sure it is balanced with some sort of starch and some protein; when I have a salad, I will make sure to have a protein like tuna or chicken and a few crackers. This will keep me going throughout the day without feeling hungry. I also make sure to portion out my food and will usually only take one small individual-sized Pyrex with my whole lunch. Quick to heat and easy to eat.

Afternoon Snack 

When I feel a 3pm-dip coming on, I always have some sort of snack on hand that is not a candy. bar, a donut, or some other heavy food. Again, I tend to turn to a handful of almonds, a piece of fruit, or dark-chocolate raisins. Sometimes on the weekends, I will have some string cheese and a few crackers since I know dinner will most likely be late. If it is going to be a long day, I may snack on a protein bar or a granola bar as well. I will also have a detox tea without sugar or honey -this just helps keep my tummy full and regular without bloat or gas.

Dinner

First rule for me is that I will not eat a heavy dinner. Second, 7pm is my cutoff. Why? Because I know I need to be in bed by 10pm and sleeping by 10:30pm — sleep is one of the other BIG weight loss and healthy actions for the body and I need at least 8 hours. So when I do eat, I tend to have a like protein like chicken or fish and always have to have some sort of vegetable -salad, corn, asparagus, broccoli…

When I do workout, because of my work schedule, it happens to be at 6 or 6:30 in the evening so when I do eat “dinner” it is always after 7pm. When that is the case, my “dinner” is almost always the same –a good-sized bowl of greek yogurt with granola that I buy at Sprouts or Whole Foods and I will add chia seeds and flax. The chia seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein while the flax is a fiber-source; the yogurt is full of enzymes that help regulate my digestive tract as well as, for women, help with our lady parts; the granola serves also as a fiber and expands in the stomach to help me reach that “full” feeling and not feel deprived. Sometimes I may change things up and add a few shakes of my “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning from Trader Joe’s or a little honey for a hint of sweetness.

Dessert

Never ever deprive yourself of something because that is when you will fall off the wagon and spiral. Now I do not tend to have a sweet tooth but when I want something sweet, I have yogurt ice cream bars in my freezer which surprisingly are delicious (coffee flavored of course) or some fruit -cherries, watermelon, figs and peaches are my favorite when in season.

Water

Now this is what I like to call my secret weapon since I refuse to count calories, cut carbs, or heaven forbid drink those disgusting and useless shakes. Water is the staple for our bodies since we are over 70% water and every organ and system needs water to sustain operation. I actually have an app on my phone that reminds me to consume more water so on my days when I have horse-blinders on and forgot to even eat, I will always remember to drink my water. I drink over 100 ounces of water a day and when I have a workout day, that is the bare minimum.

When I feel adventurous and have the time, I like to add some flavor to my water by adding fruit or herbs. This helps keep things different, adds some vitamins and minerals, and serves as motivation to drink more. It is amazing how adding a few strawberries to your bottle will make you want more water.

Water also helps keep me feeling full so I will always drink a glass before a meal and I will have at least one glass during my meal, whatever that may be.

Miscellaneous

As I mentioned before, I do not and will not deprive myself of the things I enjoy just to shed a few pounds faster because when you have a “cheat day” or a special occasion, you are essentially counteracting everything you do on your other days and may even feel depressed which is detrimental to the success of the journey.

So when I want a beer or some wine, I will consume it in moderation and will make sure to balance it out with my meal, my workout, and my water consumption. For example, if I have a bottle of beer with dinner, I will have a glass of water as well. If I have some popcorn or chips, I will make sure that I will go an extra 10 minutes or take a small walk. If I have some tempting gelato or pizza, the next day will be a salad and few extra ounces of water.

I also have to mention that I will not turn to meal supplements like SlimFast or shakes that promise to help you lose weight. I have done more than enough research and those are all a part of fad diets. I do have protein powder in my kitchen and protein bars at my desk at work. I will admit that I have tried quite a gambit of shakes and meal replacements in my day and they are not effective, especially long term. Yes, you may feel better the first few days, but the longer you deprive yourself, the worse it gets and the harder it is to stay on track. Also, if you want the vitamins and minerals that these powder drinks offer, you may want to look at actual vitamins that your body, based on your needs, will actually help.

So tell me, what diet have you tried that has helped you? What is your daily food regimen?

Healthy Journey – Currently In Progress!

I want to preface that this is the first post of many regarding my fitness journey, but this is not the only thing my blog is about — there will be plenty of other goodies coming up!

Some of you may know that 2017 was a tumultuous year for me and my family. I started a new job with a very long commute, I got married, I postponed my honeymoon, I moved back in with my parents (and husband!), I survived my first hurricane with no power for a week, I relocated across the country in 4.5 days, I started a new job, and ultimately I had to give up some of my independence. So with all of that, the number one thing that took a back burner was my personal health!

I have always had some health issues and the past few years have been particularly problematic with medications and treatments. Those led to other issues and weight fluctuations which doctors wanted to start additional tests, treatments, and medications. Then I started a position that was extremely stressful which taught me just how taxing stress is on one’s overall health! Fast forward a couple of months and I am now driving across the country with my husband, two dogs, and a trailer which needless to say was QUITE stressful in itself.

Before I knew it, I stepped on a scale at my doctor’s office and hit 200 pounds. I had my blood work done and my stats were not at all ideal. It was at the point that I was gaining 1-2 pounds per week. My clothes no longer fit. I couldn’t sleep. I felt sluggish. I sat all day at my desk at work. I couldn’t wear anything other than flats and by time I got home, my feet were twice their normal size. Then I tried to take off my wedding band and it wouldn’t budge. That is when I lost it. I literally sat on the floor of my bedroom and cried. And cried. And then I decided I had enough. Enough medications, enough testing, enough doctor appointments, enough feeling sorry for myself, enough putting myself second.

So my husband and I, on April 13th, 2018, took measurements of our bodies as well as photos and decided that we were going to put ourselves first. He opted to use the gym in our complex and I enrolled at CycleBar to start spinning. Somewhere between sweating like I was in a sauna and being yelled at by the coach (she is amazing), I started to feel like me again – I found me.

Two months after starting spin, I decreased my 4x a week attendance to 2x a week and introduced Orange Theory Fitness. In the two months I had lost 16 pounds and wanted to start getting some of my strength back. So I opted to start going to Orange Theory 2x a week and push myself well outside of my comfort zone every time, but I know this is an uphill battle. In fact on July 7th I was able to jog on a treadmill for the first time in almost a decade!

Now I know that a lot of people say this but I really do not like to post photos of myself, especially in a bikini, especially when I was at my worst, but if I can prove to inspire just one person to get up, I know that this will be worth it. Ladies and gentlemen…the scale may not reflect the changes my body has undergone these past 3 months, but my non-weight victories are clear!

It is only the beginning, but through continuous physical activity, saying “yes” when my body wanted to say “heck no”, making some dietary changes (more about this in a future post), and wanting more out of my life, my health journey is clearly underway.

Now tell me… what health goals do you have? What questions do you have on exercise regimens? Comment below!