Tag: weightloss

Fitness Challenge – Take Two!

So when I say “challenge,” I mean this as a challenge to myself. I want to challenge myself to push a little farther, a little harder, and consistently. I want to make myself number one while still making time for everything I have to complete. I want to be healthier. I want to enjoy the holidays and get myself ready for the next chapter of my life – The Family Chapter.

That means I am challenging myself to pick myself up where I fell in Movetober, dust myself off, and get right back at it. That is why this month will be filled with some intense exercising and healthy meals!

My promise to you is that on October 31st, I will post my measurements, weight, and photos to show where I am starting and effective November 1st, I will be pushing myself to do better! Yes, I will be moving at one point during the month, but I will just simply need to factor that in since now I have a plan and am not surprised by changes…

This month, I am also working on my fitness when and where I know I can – at home. While I love going to my smaller gym, getting there after a long day can seem impossible. Plus, getting in a quality full gym workout is not always 100% possible – there are days where time is not on your side. So in lieu of over-promising and under-delivering, I have opted to join the LSF family!

Change is good.

If you don’t know what LSF is, Katie Dunlop is a Certified Personal Trainer in Orange County, California, that I have been following on YouTube for months now. She also has her own website and app that you can follow with easy but effective workouts even when you’re crunched for time.
I found myself really gravitating to her plan because of her story – she was overweight, unhappy with fads, and with a thyroid condition, she opted to take charge of her life and find her happiness. Sounds familiar…

So I paid the 1-month membership, got 7 days free, and downloaded her app. I have previously participated in some of her free workouts and I have to say that they really drum up a sweat!! So I know that I am in for it with her app workouts but I want to continue my journey and improve my health – NO EXCUSES.

If you want to join me on the journey, follow my Instagram at @msbelladaniela. I will post updates and even chat live! I want you all to be a part of this journey and keep me responsible!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried LSF or another workout routine? How do you make time to stay physically active?

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Smoothie Update – Quick Morning Protein Coffee

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but alas, the time has come!

With a lot going on in my life, finances, traveling, reorganization, and, if we are being honest, the need for more time for myself, I must bid adieu to the “Smoothie Club”. But fear not! The Smoothie recipes, especially the new recipes I try (like an upcoming Chia Latte or Maple or Pumpkin in the coming months) will be posted on here. Like today’s simple yet satisfying smoothie:

Vanilla Coffee Latte:
– 1 Cup black coffee
– 1 Cup Almond Milk
– 1 Scoop Protein Powder (I use Combat Protein Powder)
– 1 Tbsp Maca Powder
– 1 Tbsp Grounded Flax
– 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
– 1 Tsp Grounded Cinnamon
– 1 Scoop Collagen Powder
– 1/2 Banana
– Ice

For several months now, I have had a number of my friends ask me to make them the shakes that I drink as they have noticed a significant difference in my physique, my energy levels, and my skin. I had no problem with helping them on their journeys as well, so was born the “Smoothie Club”. However, there is always a cost associated with these smoothies…and time. Now I may sound a little conceited but my time is valuable and I need time to focus on many juggling priorities including my well being. So while I continue to write content about a healthy lifestyle, I need to practice what I preach.

In fact, I will be starting my workout regimen on here which has been super basic but yielded high results. I will also be adding some food recipes including some video footage – just bear with me as I am still no YouTube sensation! Additionally, I will be showcasing some other exciting content including my recent financial health series and some tried & true tests which will include my personal review of items from makeup to skin care to hair care and so much more.

So I hope you continue to join me on my journey for a healthy lifestyle and all the components thereof including financial, mental, physical, and spiritual! And if there are any topics or products you would like for me to look into, please let me know in the comments below!

Smoothie Recipes – Weeks 03 & 04

Sorry that week 03 never got its own week of glory! That week was super busy with classes starting up again. But have no fear, this is a two-fer Sunday post with both week 03 and 04!

Now that week 04 is over, we will be starting back at week 01 and making some small improvements and throwing in a curveball or two – especially since I try to use fresh produce whenever possible and the summer months allow for some great variations!

I also want to share that these smoothies are not for someone that is on a low-carb diet. Though predominantly vegetarian and organic, these shakes allow me to essentially have a meal replacement and often times, two meals are replaced because I am simply not hungry. Each shake varies but they are between 280-350 calories. I do sip them throughout the morning, and sometimes into the afternoon, so I do not find myself snacking as much either. Those that are also a part of the “shake club” are getting a daily dose of at least one serving of vegetables and one serving of fruit, though many shakes are upwards of 3 servings. I also shop weekly for my produce with the exception of the powder supplements and any frozen items.

Remember that each shake contains Combat protein, collagen power, Maca powder, and unless otherwise noted (*), Amazing Greens.
Okay, so disclaimer is out – now on to the important stuff!

WEEK 03

Wake-Me Up Monday*
Cacao Powder, Banana, Coffee (straight from the Ninja after cooling), coconut flakes, vanilla extract, and flax. The liquid base is: almond milk

An Apple a Day Tuesday*
Apples, walnuts, oats (soaked from the night prior), cinnamon, spinach, yogurt, and chia. The liquid base is: almond milk.

Green-a-colada Wednesday
Banana, pineapple, coconut, spinach, Greek yogurt, and flax. The liquid base is: water.

Friday Eve Blues
Blueberries, blackberries, tofu, walnuts, flax and Greek yogurt. The liquid base is: coconut water.

Cheesecake Friday*
Strawberries, non-dairy sour cream, honey graham cracker, cinnamon and ice. The liquid base is: almond milk.

The obvious winner of the week was Cheesecake Friday. This was very indulgent and very rich, even though it was low in fats, dairy-free, and surprisingly not high in calories. It genuinely tasted like a cheesecake and even non-“shake club” members thought it was relatively spot on!
The second place winner was An Apple A Day Tuesday as it mimicked an apple pie!


Week 04

Cup ‘O Sunshine Monday
Carrots, banana, Greek yogurt, mango, papaya, and pineapple. The liquid base is: orange juice.

Watermelon Delight
Watermelon, Greek yogurt, lime juice, mint and ice. The liquid base is: coconut water.

Berry Glad It’s Already Wednesday
Blueberries, blackberries, mango, avocado, chia, honey and peanut butter powder (or almond butter). The liquid base is: coconut water.

Power Through Thursday
Mixed greens, apples, cucumber, zucchini, lime juice, banana, ice, turmeric and ginger. The liquid base is water.

Strawberry Shortcake / Peaches & Cream Friday*
Strawberries, vanilla extract, graham cracker, cinnamon, oats (soaked from the night before), almond butter. The liquid base is: almond milk.
Peaches, vanilla extract, graham cracker, cinnamon, oats (soaked from the night before), almond butter. The liquid base is: almond milk.
This day had two variations due to the availability of frozen strawberries. So “shake club” had the strawberry shortcake and Hubby & I had the peaches & cream.

This week’s winner was actually Wednesday’s shake! It had a lot of flavor without being too overpowering. Also, Friday’s shake was the second choice.


I honestly have to say that after 4 weeks of doing these daily shakes, I do not see an end in sight just yet. I enjoy making these and enjoy getting a good jump start to my day. I don’t snack much anymore. I don’t eat as much -even for dinner. I have more energy, less of a crash in the afternoon, and have noticed a difference with my recovery from workouts as well as the length & strength of my hair, skin and nails.

If you think you want to give these a try, please let me know what you think! I am always open to feedback and suggestions. If you have any tried and true recipes, please let me know!

Next week I will be covering my current blender situation – and no, I do not have a Vitamix, as well as which blender is next on my radar since these are becoming a staple in my household.

Smoothie Recipes – Week 01

It is officially the end of week 01 of my smoothie series and as promised, I want to update you all on the recipes used, and since several of you have inquired, my protein of choice! I will add links to the every day items below if I can find it from Amazon but please know that some of these, like my protein powder, I get at Costco or other retailers. In fact, this month, Costco has a sale on my protein powder so you know I am stocking up!


Let’s start off with the products I use every shake. If you plan to make any of the recipes below, please do not forget to add these items!

Combat Protein Powder
Don’t be scared by the “cookies & cream” flavor because you do not taste it! This protein powder only has 2 grams of sugar which is one of the lowest I have seen in a protein that still tastes good. And over 25 grams of protein. It also have different types of protein which means it has a long lasting benefit.

AmazingGreen Green Superfood
One scoop of this is added to help me get my 3+ servings of fruits and veggies a day! It is full of organic greens, fruits, and other vegetables. It blends easily and tastes great! It is gluten free, organic, and does not add any additional sugar.

Collagen Peptides
I mentioned this is in one of my recent posts, but this is added every day!

Maca Powder
This is a new addition to my shakes, but there have been a number of intriguing benefits that have been uncovered by this root vegetable (think potato-esque). It has been consumed for years in Peru and has said to have benefits for both men and women including: increasing energy and stamina, helping balance hormones including during menopause, promoting athletic endurance and recovery, improving immunity levels, and boosting blood circulation.


So on to the weekly recipes including the top 2 favorites of the week!

Manic Monday*
Fresh Orange Juice, chia seeds, frozen peaches, fresh banana, cucumber, lime juice, celery, and flax. The liquid base is water.

Green Tuesday
Mixed organic greens (kale, spinach, lettuce), raw and fresh zucchini (3 slices), cucumber, dates (2), raw and unfiltered honey, and ice. The liquid bases are aloe water and almond milk (50/50).

Mint Chocolate Wednesday*
Fresh mint, cacao powder (think raw and unsweetened chocolate), fresh banana, matcha powder, old-fashioned oats, Greek yogurt, and flax. The liquid base for this is almond milk.

Thirst Quenching Thursday
Cucumber, baby organic spinach, lime juice, celery, fresh and raw zucchini, fresh apple, beets (this has to be steamed – do not add completely raw), frozen peaches, chia seeds, and ice. The liquid base for this is water.

Berries & Cream Friday*
Fresh strawberries, frozen blueberries, Greek yogurt, fresh banana, and honey. The liquid base is almond milk.

The top two favorites this week were: Berries & Cream Friday and Mint Chocolate Wednesday!

All of the ingredients included are customizable to your preferences and how much you are making. If you would like for me to be specific on exactly how much I include, please let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out my IG for day-to-day updates on the shakes of the week!

Do you have a favorite shake that you make? What are your preferences for ingredients? Do you prefer coconut milk or almond milk? Comment down below!

Health: Weight Loss Check-In

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!