Eating My Way To A Healthy Lifestyle – The Low FODMAP and PALEO Diet

Lately, friends and gym buddies have been noticing more of my progress and asking me what I’m doing and about my diet. First off, I had a lot of digestive issues last year, when I was working out even harder than I am now, and I think getting those issues under control is really what has helped me the most. There already was a lot of muscle under this skin, I just needed it to show more! I am definitely thankful for the issues I have had because I’ve learned a TON about food and how to eat healthier in order to still build muscle and burn fat.

So many people will argue my diet with me though and tell me that it’s too strict and I don’t have to eliminate everything that I do, or that my issues are just different and this type of diet won’t work for everyone. Others will say I need “count my macros” (Laura Wadsworth – This blog post I dedicate to you!) or keep track of my calories to learn how to effectively eat my way towards a healthy lifestyle.

Well, if that stuff works for you, then that’s great. But is that really a way to live – by counting each carb, fat, and protein in each meal that you have daily? Not for me! I work out pretty hard though so the best advice I can offer you when it comes to working out and finding a diet that’s right for you is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! There are certain foods that affect you adversely, and its finding them and eliminating them from your diet that can make a world of difference, making weight loss truly simple!

Here are some main points regarding my diet and how I am eating my way to a healthy lifestyle:

  • I eat 8 meals a day. I LISTEN TO MY BODY and when I’m hungry, I eat something healthy. Yes, this has me eating every 2 ½ – 3 hours and its fabulous!
  • I do not eat any processed foods.
  • Each meal (for the most part) includes a protein and a carbohydrates in the form of vegetable.
  • I do eat healthy fats still but keep them at a minimum right now or eat them in the morning. (I love a rice cake with some peanut butter on it alongside my eggs!)
  • I eat my carbs after my workouts only.
  • I avoid simple carbs all together and ONLY eat complex carbs.
  • I avoid gluten and dairy. I do eat greek yogurt sometimes and will have a slice of Cabot Cheese (because its lactose free) when I’m having a cheese craving. Sadly, my cheat meals have included some Goodberry’s Frozen Custard as well but it is a big setback for me when I do that!
  • I use Almond Milk only.
  • I eat all natural foods with all natural ingredients. Yes, I eat peanut butter, but I eat the Crazy Richards brand where the only ingredient is Peanuts – no palm oil!
  • I use olive oil sparingly.
  • I use coconut oil and coconut spray when I cook meat and veggies.
  • I watch my salt intake but still use sea salt and Zoe’s Kitchen seasoning is my favorite dry seasoning. (I just use it sparingly.)
  • I only use dry seasoning and the only condiment I use is mustard.
  • I don’t eat a lot of fruit. I eliminated fruits all together at one point but am now starting to incorporate them back into my diet.
  • I eat low fructose fruits and veggies as I follow a low FODMAP diet. (SEE BELOW FOR MORE INFO.)
  • I avoid all fake sugars and only use Stevia. (This should be used sparingly though as more than 3 packets a day can add up and be less effective.)
  • When I may want to sweeten something up, I use a dab of honey or real maple syrup.
  • I eat a TON of fish, lean chicken and turkey. (Red meat is something I have recently eliminated but I recommend eating it only once every couple of weeks.)
  • I do not eat beans, corn, or potatoes.
  • The only grains I eat outside of my morning gluten free oat bran are brown rice and quinoa.
  • The only food that comes in a package that I do eat is a LARABAR, as these are easy to take on the go and also great treats to satisfy some of my sugar cravings.
  • Outside of the LARABAR, I avoid dry fruits.
  • If I eat nuts, it’s on a workout day only and I count them out. I eat 13 macadamia nuts.
  • I use Shakeology protein powder which is free of fructose and all those horrible processed ingredients that most proteins include and also is a Superfood. (Ask me for more info if you’re interested. You can order it from me as well!)
  • I eat as healthy as I can during the week and cheat a little bit on the weekends still.
  • If I have a chocolate craving, I will have a little piece of chocolate as close to 100% cocoa as I can find. (Lately, I’ve only been finding 85% cocoa bars in stores.)

Back in January I started following a Low FODMAP diet with a Paleo focus. Here’s a breakdown of some info for those of you who do not know about FODMAP or PALEO.

To better lay it out for you, here’s a fabulous chart that I found helpful when deciding what foods to avoid. I wish I could say I follow this EXACTLY, but I don’t, and I definitely still have cheat days that do throw me off. I do love the foods that are allowed under this and I really don’t miss the foods that are in the red.

Paleo Fodmap 1 Paleo fodmap 2

The Struggle Is Real

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I’m back at blogging after a hiatus in which I only slightly feel bad about! Long story short – I had a lot of life changes that led me to alter my diet and workout plans. I still don’t have the abs that I want but I have some pretty sexy oblique’s that I’m happy about.

Let’s play catch up real quick. I’ve been training for the 20 mile ruck challenge called “Go Ruck Challenge” that takes 12-18 hours to complete, begins at 9pm at night, and requires me to carry a 25lb sandbag in my ruck. The challenge takes place on September 12, 2014 in NYC and I’m doing it with some friends in honor of Remembrance Day. Training has been a blast so far but right now I’m in the zone and ready to step it up a notch with my diet and exercise program again.

So I’m back at strict dieting, this time better than ever with the help of famous internet sensation, Pauline Nordin, creator of the Fighter Diet. (See my Progress Pic page for my before pictures which technically can be the after pictures from my first attempted shred.)

Now that we’ve cleared this up, I want to focus today’s blog post on CHANGE and TRANSITION. Throughout our lives there are many times where we encounter transition periods in which specific events may occur that lead us to ultimately change our lives. From a spiritual standpoint, I would like to explain that these types of transitions can occur many times throughout one’s lifetime as we grow and become better versions of our true self. Our experiences during a transition as such are meant to be challenging, but they may also leave us doubting or questioning ourselves, our direction, or our abilities. This is the struggle of life, my friends, and there’s a very infamous saying that we all seem to throw around often these days…. The struggle is real.

So how do you handle your struggle?

Honestly, I can remember always turning to fitness in my early times of despair, where I first had “big girl” emotions surface. I remember fighting with my parents and getting so upset with them that I would just run right out the door and start running around my neighborhood (not even wearing workout clothes mind you). My dad always said that running was good for the mind and would enhance your mental state, enabling you to have more mental clarity and focus. I found this to be a valid point, so overtime I developed some sort of fitness routine for myself that would help me think through certain “struggles” that I was having in school or relationships and offer mental clarity to the situations.

I’m going to share something personal about myself with you right now, and for those of you still reading up to this point, I want you to know that my reason for sharing my story is to help you open your mind to something concerning your struggle as well.

Today I’m still in the middle of a transition period that has actually steered my fitness journey and I’ve been in this transition for a couple years now. I’ve been divorced a little over 4 years now and while it’s not something I like to advertise, it’s a part of my life that I don’t feel I should hide. That relationship actually came to end quite amicably though and so a new transition began and I entered the dating world again. Soon after, I began seeing someone who I wanted to see a future with very badly because I truly believed he was everything I was seeking in a mate. This relationship, if that’s what you could even call it, was truly disastrous and l left me really emotionally damaged afterwards. For years now I’ve been dwelling on what happened, questioning myself and everything I did, but more importantly WHO I was as a person. I really was in love with this person and because it didn’t work out (not to mention completely fell apart the way it did), I felt so inferior, like there was so much wrong with me that I needed to fix and that I needed to make changes in my life.

I thought about who I was before this relationship. I loved myself, I trusted myself, I was proud of myself, I embraced my successes and handled my failures appropriately – even through a divorce! But then I felt kind of lost and soon became more critical on myself and I began questioning myself and my other relationships/friendships.

While some of my friends hate that I give this guy so much credit for where I am along my fitness journey, my anger towards the situation completely shifted to my workouts. Even after we stopped speaking, I wanted prove to myself that I could be on his level. I ran further and faster, I built muscle and strength, I increased my endurance and I set goals for myself that I never thought I would set. That situation sparked something in me and now 2 years later, I’ve truly come to embrace everything that happened and be thankful that it did.

Part of learning from our struggles is letting go of our struggles. I handle my struggles by turning to a good run or an intense HIIT workout. I’ve found that focusing on ME in this way, has been what I’ve needed to do while I’m in this transition. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the things we need to and sometimes we find ourselves dwelling on situations that bothered us and brought stress into our lives. I know I’ve dwelled on my past long enough and I see this year as a turning point, where I conquer my demons, turn negatives into positives, and simply get back to ME.  While I’m at it… I think I’ll get some abs. 😉

See your struggle for what it’s worth. Make the change. Embrace the transition.

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The Snow Day Master Award Goes to… my Ninja friend Stuart.

Okay, so the first reason why I love my gym is because of the trainers.  When I first moved to Raleigh I was recommended to O2 Fitness where I began with the networking membership so that I could try out each location.  After taking organized fitness classes at different gyms, I decided that I was tired of the typical group fitness class and wanted to attend the classes taught by the trainers at the Seaboard Station location.  It was the class where I met my trainer, as he was taking it too. Doug’s Shred and Shed.  Noticing his sexy calves, I thought to myself that this had to have been the best gym for me.  And then I started training with Rainey!

About a year ago, I began doing Jake Giamoni’s Bootcamp class, so I basically picked up another trainer with him as well.  This class was the endurance builder I needed and when I go a certain period without this class (because of my travel and work schedule), I miss it so bad!  There are people of all ages and physique’s at Bootcamp that listen to what Jake has to say to learn proper form during tougher exercises and ways to take care of their bodies in the ways of diet, injury, and overall personal gain.  Jake is also an MMA fighter and will be engaging in another fight at Bull City Brawl on February 8th in Durham.  Stay tuned for my blog update on that one!

Then there is Stuart Smith, who is the Ninja of the group and is also training for another fight at the Bull City Brawl.  Stuart and Jake are good buddies and Stuart totally looks up to him.  He absolutely listens to everything Jake says.  Smart guy, right?  Anyway, being in the gym with both of these guys as they prepare for this fight is a very radical experience.  Do you ever play that game with your friend where you take pictures of people doing weird, funny, or incredible stuff at the gym and send them to each other?  Well, if you saw some of what these guys do in the gym, you’d want to take a picture or a video and send it to a friend.

So friends, take a look at Stuart being a Ninja at the gym today.  He has also decided that he will be joining our Go Ruck group.  Sarah, and B.G., another trainer from O2 Fitness, are on board as well! (And I hope Jake and Megan follow behind them in signing up for Go Ruck too!)   So the Snow Day Master Award goes to this guy… I call these “flying over the box jumps.”

My Diet Secrets Revealed… and SNOW!

My dog, Sage, is so excited to play in the snow right now as this is her first big North Carolinian snowfall! She hasn’t seen snow in about 3 years and when she was younger, she used to run wildly fast through it all around the yard.  Yes, I will be that girl taking my dog for a long walk around the neighborhood in the snow. If she wants to run, I’ll run with her too.  After coming back in from outside last, I turned on the news where the reporter mentioned seeing some runners out. She then exclaimed, “This is a serious layer of ice forming, and everyone needs to take this seriously! Please stay home and off the roads if you can avoid it.”  Naturally, I laughed. But then in moments like this, I have to stop and think about how I split my face open on the half pipe at Tough Mudder. I don’t think throwing yourself violently onto a plaster wall compares to jogging in the snow though. 

The thing about a snow day is that you just want to stay inside.  I’m a highly active person so I hate to stay inside for too long.  Tomorrow, my gym will most likely be closed, but I have plenty of work to catch up on that will keep me on the couch with my laptop too.  Here goes a shout out to my sister, Meghan, and her boyfriend, Scott.  They got me a pull-up bar for Christmas and Scott was the successful person to get it put together. I am probably going to do two-three pull ups each time I get up to go to the bathroom, and keep in mind, I’m now consuming at least 128 ounces of water per day!  Additionally, I am drinking coffee again to help fight some of the cravings I have.  This is just proof that you can always find time to work out if that’s what you really want to do.  There are ways to incorporate more activity into your lifestyle!

Now back to my cravings. I’m mainly craving sugar and I think that’s from the alcohol withdrawal.  It’s now been 28 days since I’ve had a drink! Though I’m still feeding this craving in a way, I am finding low sugar options and eating more fruit.  The Apple Cinnamon rice cake is my favorite “general crave” curbing snack and cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapples, or strawberries have been my go to after dinner “sugar crave” curbing fruit.

I worked out twice today and I feel like I seriously ate my butt off as well!  Tonight, after my second workout of the day with Sarah, we made dinner at her house.  I made a plain ground turkey burger with a side of sautéed zucchini, red peppers, and red onions sprinkled with a little bit of dill, no salt, a tablespoon of oil, a dollop of ketchup, and a side salad with one capful of the vinaigrette dressing that she had. (Normally, I would be using flax seed oil as a dressing though.)  This was meal number 5 of the day for me, which was later followed by a cup of coffee, a bowl of cantaloupe, and a protein shake. 

Turkey burger, veggies, and salad with just a few tomatoes.

Turkey burger, veggies, and salad with just a few tomatoes.

I am doing a low fructose diet that consists of removing any artificial sugars and preservatives, and basically no processed foods. If I am looking at a label of something, I’m looking to ensure these 3 things: 

 1.  It has around 5 ingredients or less.

2.  It does not have sugar syrups in them, such as cane sugar.

3.  It does not include fructose, maltodextrin, dextrose, or sucrose.

 

When I first began doing this diet, LaraBars were my favorite go to snack.  I couldn’t wait to eat a LaraBar!  My favorite is the Banana Bread because to me, it tastes EXACTLY like banana bread AND only consists of three ingredients – ALMONDS, Dates, and Unsweetened Bananas.  Dates are still a high fructose fruit but I will let it slide for a little bit since I want to learn when I can enjoy this savory snack.  Many people argue that bananas are not good for you either, but bananas are low fructose fruits that can be included in my diet.  Therefore, I will continue to eat these, just in a healthy moderation.

A low fructose diet is also gluten free and dairy free.  However, I still eat egg whites with one whole egg (scrambled), small amounts of cottage cheese and greek yogurt, and occasionally one small sliver of cheese.  I’m keeping my dairy portions very small and very sparse.  Almond milk has become my favorite base for a protein shake and my breakfast shake always includes a couple tablespoons of Chia seeds.

I would also like to point out, that I do not eat too many raw foods as these do not digest very easily.  I am consuming my vegetables cooked as much as possible.  The last time I ate a raw vegetable, it was broccoli as a side to my late afternoon snack consisting of a turkey cutlet.

So bring on the snow day tomorrow! I’m ready to think even more about what I’m eating and give my pull up bar some use.  I will probably switch up my exercises on it and focus on abs as much as I can too.  That’s the whole point of this process, right?

Tough Mothers!!

A fun weekend spent with my mom shopping for new items for my house now comes to an end and I sit here engaging in a group text with a bunch of “moms” as we sign up officially for Go Ruck.  Our group is going to “rock it,” in the words of Shelby, and I’m excited to be joining the toughest mothers I know on this amazing adventure.  (They’re bringing their hardcore husbands with them of course, some of whom are Army and have been through far worse than what is entailed in this event.)

I wouldn’t be doing this event if it weren’t for Shelby though, so I’m very thankful to join her and her mama friends as we embark on a 20 mile, 12-18 hour daylong event based off a day in the special operations selection process.   Shelby and I go back twenty three years to when our families lived near each other in Fort Bragg.  Prior to that our dads were also fraternity brothers at Florida Southern University, her mom and my dad went to high school together, and our grandmothers played bridge together.  Crazy awesome connection, right?!

Shelby is the reason why I COULDN’T WAIT to do my first Tough Mudder by the way.   She is 7 years older than me, married to a wonderful man with 3 children, Ari, Chloe, and precious little baby Beckett, and she does all these hardcore adventure races that are true butt kickers!  She recently conquered a crazy weird illness during a difficult pregnancy and will now be working from the ground up to train for this event too.  I have no doubt that she’s going to ROCK IT though.

So we have Shelby, Andrea, Faiza, and Renee.  All moms, all in amazing shape, all ready to beast out and take on NYC together!  Andrea has abs of steal and should be some famous fitness figure right now because she’s sporting a super rocking body for a mom of 2 little ones thanks to her Crossfit workouts.  She is the reason why I decided to blog as she recommended I do this to keep track of my progress better.  (Thanks Andrea for the great idea!)  Then there is Renee who is a Rogue Racer, Tough Mudder, Crossfitter, and Faiza, another Tough Mudder.  Go Ruck seems to be the next step for all of us!  What do you think we could possibly find to do next?

I feel like such a lucky gal to have a friend like Shelby, who together with her husband, decides she’s going to make her fitness freaky friends take on a challenge such as Go Ruck where we will be getting hazed throughout the streets of NYC on September 12th in honor of Remembrance Day.  This is a great opportunity to test my physical and mental ability (again) and I can’t wait to do it with the women I want to be just like when I grow up – the Tough Mothers!

Shelby, Me and Faiza at Shelby's last big birthday party!

Shelby, Me and Faiza at Shelby’s last big birthday party!

Andrea, Kirk, Shelby, and Adam during their last Tough Mudder.

Andrea, Kirk, Shelby, and Adam during their last Tough Mudder.

Andrea doing something that is incredibly hard but she seems to be handling this just fine!

Andrea doing something that is incredibly hard but she seems to be handling this just fine!

Renee getting it at Crossfit!

Renee getting it at Crossfit!

Making It Happen!

In action at Bootcamp by Jake at O2 Fitness.

In action at Bootcamp instructed by Jake at O2 Fitness.  I love it when he partners me up with his girlfriend, Megan!

After going solidly strong for 22 days now without alcohol, I find myself looking down at the scale and wondering why it’s not looking any better.  I have noticed a slight difference in loss of body fat so far so I guess that is good but I’ve come to the conclusion that I have got to get even stricter with my diet right now.  I’ve got to remain focused on the outcome that I desire.  I can do anything I put my mind to and I know it.  Saying this totally reminds me of a story from last night.

Sarah, my new BFF, came over to my new house to check out the progress I’ve made with organizing and decorating and to help me figure out some ideas for how I could paint.  (BTW – I just moved into a house directly in front of Sarah.)  In the process of looking around and discussing our ideas, she stopped and said to me, “I cannot believe this.  A few months ago, I was begging you to move into my neighborhood so we could be closer and hang out all the time and now it’s really here!  You totally made that happen!”  I stopped and laughed and told her a story about one of the best compliments I think I’ve received in my life. 

During a post college sorority reunion a few years ago, an old Alpha Gam sister of mine, Beth Granahan, and I were catching up on old times at the local bar (Bar 202) when my friend Ken walked up.  Ken is always so quick to throw out compliments to people so when he met Beth, he proceeded to tell her that I was such a wonderful, awesome person. (I’m totally not gloating okay.. just listen..)  Beth’s response was, “Oh no, let me tell you about Jamie.  Jamie is that girl that gets an idea in her head and she makes it happen.  She would just decide she wanted to do something and then low and behold she would make it happen and we’d all be sitting here asking ourselves, ‘how did she do that?’”   I truly believe that is the best compliment I’ve ever received and I think I will always remember that exact moment because of how it made me feel.  I think it was then when I realized the level of confidence I really do have in myself.

So now back to reality here – I’ve got to make this whole abs deal happen, right?!  I’m eating proper veggies, fruits, fats, carbs and protein, and doing everything BETTER than what I was doing before, so why isn’t it working?  Why am I still just maintaining?  After doing more research and reaching out to body builders in different forums, I’ve come up with a few tweaks to my diet plan that I will implement strictly for at least the next 5 weeks. 

Here are the main things I need to focus on, with some exercise notes included too:

1.  Drink more water all day long.   Currently, I’m drinking 80 ounces of water but I definitely need to step this up and start consuming at least a gallon (128 ounces).

2.  Take in 30 grams of carbohydrates in 3 meals – Breakfast, Pre-workout, and Post-workout.  No more carbs for dinner!

3.  Take in 25 grams of protein every 2-3 hours.  As much as I say I’m consistent with this between protein shakes and meats, I think I can do better.  ((However, I’ve also been learning a lot more about meats these days too and I’m thinking I might jump on the Jim Morris bandwagon. He’s a 78 year old Vegan bodybuilder. Learn more about him here.))

4.  Do not mix fats and carbs in the same meal.  I don’t do this too often right now but I plan to be a lot more conscious about it. 

5.  Use flax seed oil.  It’s been recommended that I do a spoonful of flax seed oil with the protein I eat.  I can also add this to salad and fruit.

6.  Prepare meals more and have snacks readily prepared for “on the go.”  I am starting to do this every Sunday night, but I’m going to stay on top of it a lot better and maybe create more options for myself.

7.  Continue to lift heavy.  I shouldn’t have a problem with this because my trainer, Rainey, really wants me to bulk up at the moment.  I’ve decided to shred instead.  So as we counteract each other on this, I’m still winning (shhhh don’t tell him), because he’s continuing to increase my weights.

8.  Do more interval runs and less endurance runs.  I have such a hard time with this because I love my 5 mile runs (okay 3-4 mile runs most of the time).  To compromise here, I’ve decided that I’m going to increase my cardio by at least 20 more minutes per day.  There’s a guy at my gym, just this sexy guy named Chad, who lifts for an hour and then does cardio for at least an hour as he switches to the stair master after the treadmill.  I totally admire his workout style so I’m committing to at least 20 more minutes of cardio after my weight lifting workouts.  That’s a solid start I think.

So now it’s time to hit the gym and start making it happen!  After all, this has been one of the BEST ideas I’ve had yet!  😉

Awareness.

Sage and Simple Truths

Today was a Jay day!   (Jay posted that enlightening quote on his Facebook page that I blogged about in my previous post.) I had the chance to catch up with my dear friend Jay for breakfast this morning.  We shared intellectual conversation as we discussed success and how the power of awareness is what truly helps to bring you there.  It was almost a foreshadowing for how my night would end!  Let me explain…

Tonight is my first Friday night in my new house! After unpacking my favorite items, kitchenware and books, and then taking my dog for a nice long walk, I sit on my air mattress to finally take a break.  Organizing my bookshelf really made me take a look at the knowledge I’ve gained from the books I have read.  (Not to mention, made me wonder why I have 4 Italian dictionaries and still don’t know how to speak it!)  I have a whole shelf dedicated to spiritual and religious books, another dedicated to political, one for poetry and classic novels, then the “know how” books about fitness, marketing, selling, business, followed by fiction and reference books.

As I remembered obtaining and reading each of these books, I opened to the first page of the ones that had been gifted to me and read what was written inside.  By the way, when you give someone a book as a gift, you should always write a note inside or sign it so that the person remembers receiving it.  I love the explanations my dad writes on the first page of every book he gives me as a gift.  Tonight I selected a short one to read before going to bed that I found highly appropriate for my first night in my new home.  The name of the book is Simple Truths; subtitled Gentle Guidance on the Big Issues in Life.  Inside it reads, “To Jamie.  Christmas 2003.  For the time when you move forward on your own, may the wisdom found in these pages bring clarity to some of life’s complex issues. Love, Dad.”  This book is divided into chapters from education, work, money, possessions, giving, travel, to parenthood, elders, and death. 

I thought about the date on the inside.  Where was I in 2003?  I was looking forward to graduating from college in the spring, and enjoying my last year as a Senior.  It was my favorite year because I finally made really good grades and partied a lot less. If I skipped class, it was most likely because I wanted to go for a run instead. I didn’t read this book back then.  Instead, I tucked it into an open spot on my bookshelf to save for a later time and it had become a forgotten little hard back book among many others.

Coming back to the present situation, I haven’t worked out in a few days because I’ve been moving.  I was kicking myself earlier for not wearing my Garmin watch to track the amount of calories I burned, but I still don’t think it would make me feel any better about missing a decent run.  However, this evening is ending so perfectly for how my day began.  Tonight, in my new house, I feel hopeful and excited about what my future here will be.  I don’t mind that I didn’t get the chance to run. Tonight is all about relaxing on this air mattress and becoming more aware.

Going the Distance… GO RUCK!

The other day, my friend Jay posted some of his own “words of wisdom” for business acumen on Facebook, with a lovely picture of a building under construction in downtown Raleigh.  Jay’s status read, “Question why we perceive less risk in leading ‘ordinary’ lives. You’ll find much less competition doing the extraordinary.”

He received a lot of great feedback, but my favorite comment was from his dad. I just love people like this!

Johnny Dawkins I’m going to quote you, My Son, in my speaking across the country. The air is thinner the higher you go, and so is the competition. “Keep plugging!” Enjoy the journey, JLD III

This quote touched a lot of people that morning but it meant a lot to me because of where I see myself at this point in my life.  I’m actually becoming a grown up now and I’m no longer interested in being ordinary.  I want to do everything and anything I can that will make me better and encourage me to improve myself in ways that make me “extraordinary.”

We seek to discover our motivation that will ultimately lead us to acquire “greatness” through different avenues.  Some of us read books about self-improvement and self-awareness.  Some of us attend motivational speakers and leave with takeaways that we actually apply to real life situations.  And others, like me, get up every morning and hit the gym or venture off on a run, bike ride, or hike, to help satisfy a craving for mental clarity.  (This is done much more effectively without alcohol by the way!)

I became a runner because I didn’t want to let stress get the best of me.  I found that going for a run was a quick way to blow off some steam and contemplate over reasons why I was even feeling bugged in the first place.  This determination led me to where I am today.  I’ve completed a bunch of races, ran a half marathon, finished my first Tough Mudder (with a huge gash in my face), and am now looking forward to training for the most ultimate challenge yet – Go Ruck!  I CAN’T WAIT to test my strength and mental ability even further with this challenge!!  (I also have some pretty RAD friends to embark on this journey with and for that I am most grateful as well!)

My dad always said that “no matter how good you are at something, there is always someone better than you.”  While this statement has always kept me humble through my accomplishments, it’s also been a driving factor behind my self-improvement. I know that I’m not the prettiest girl, the skinniest, or the most hardcore, but I’m not going to stop going the distance, moving forward, and striving to be extraordinary.   Maybe I’ll even get some abs along the way…

Here’s a sneak peak into the Go Ruck Challenge!

Go Ruck!

New Year’s Resolution Schmezolution

Congratulations!! You made it your New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get fit!  Now do it!

Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve had so many people reach out to me and tell me that they really enjoy reading my blog and that I am such an inspiration to them.  It’s been wonderful hearing from so many of you, not just because I haven’t heard from you in a while, but because you are all completely helping me stay motivated when you reach out to me with feedback!  So this blog post is for you and your New Year’s Resolution Schmezolution.  I say it this way because I want to convince you to make it lifestyle change, not just a temporary plan.

A little bitch note for you – My friend Morgan and I were in the locker room at O2 Fitness the other day, discussing and complaining about how we’ve been adjusting our workout schedule, as well as regiment, to work around the New Year’s Resolution crowd.  I responded back with, “Give it a couple weeks and half these people will peter out and stop coming. And then we can all resume our normal workouts!”  Sad. But true.

DON’T PETER OUT!!!!

Here are some tips from me for sticking to your lifestyle change, long enough to make it a lifestyle change.

  1.  Surround yourself with better people – those who eat healthy, workout consistently, and enjoy a great quality of life.  This year I’ve made a lot of new friends who are fit and healthy and it has definitely made me ONLY want to have people like this in my life.
  2. Keep track of what you are eating.  I use My Fitness Pal and I do share my diary publicly for those of you who are looking for food ideas.  My advice to you on this is to not input the amount of calories burned from your workouts into it because then it will deduct from your overall daily caloric intake and you will think you need to eat more.  On days you work out really hard, just eat an additional snack.
  3. Set a gym schedule and stick to it!  If you found time to workout this weekend then you should be able to find time to workout next weekend.  Make it your schedule.  My workout schedule stays the same, and if I get too busy with a work function to work out when I normally would, I take a rest day.   Monday – Lunchtime Bootcamp, Tuesday – Lunchtime Train Session, Wednesday –  After Work, Thursday –  Lunchtime Bootcamp or 5pm Train Session, Friday – After Work, Saturday – 10am Bootcamp, Sunday – 1pm – 4pm.  I utilize my weekends for longer workouts because I can find more time for myself on these days.  And yes I work out in the middle of the day and go back to work and, no, I don’t always shower! 😉  Who cares, I got that workout in, didn’t I?
  4. Learn how to handle your bad influences!  I go out to dinner with friends all the time.  Just because they want to eat a big juicy hamburger, doesn’t mean that I have to also.  I also gave up drinking for 3 months but spent last night out on the town completely sober.  One of my girlfriends was visiting from out of town and is only here for a week and she was TOTALLY trying to get me to drink and have fun with her.  I stuck to my guns.
  5. DISCIPLINE yourself. It will be hard. It will be tempting. You will want to cheat. You will want to give up.  Tell yourself you are better than that donut in your office break room.  Tell yourself you are too good to cave into that big fatty meal that sounds so delicious.  Tell yourself that you will not be WEAK and that you will BE STRONG TO GET STRONG!  You can do it; you just have to have the willpower.
  6. Don’t succumb to being tired.  Everyone is tired.  I went out last night and didn’t even drink, yet I woke up this morning even more tired than a day when I would.  (Thanks to the lack of alcohol that wasn’t causing an insulin spike in my body!)  I walked in the gym yawning this morning and thought to myself, “I am not really feeling this workout.”  But as soon as I got done with a 3 mile run, I felt so invigorated and so much better and was ready to come home and start getting things done at home!
  7. Learn how to workout.  I was just a runner up until a year ago when I started training with Rainey.  I chose to train with him so I could learn how to work out.  Sure, group fitness classes are great, but there comes a time when you get so used to the same workouts that they stop doing it for you. You need to change it up and focus on different muscle groups with each workout.
  8. Learn about food.  This is something I’m still doing, mostly by researching food.  My sister offers great suggestions but she is way stricter on her diet than I am.  I use Sriracha to baste onto my food and she says there is too much sugar in that for her. (There are 2 grams of sugar in one serving, but I like the fact that there is no FAKE sugar in this product.)  I use peanut butter on top of my rice cakes as a snack and she says she hasn’t eaten peanut butter in months. So what.  People will tell you a lot of different things about food but that doesn’t mean that you should listen to them.  Learn what you want to eat, and WHY.  I have pretty much memorized all the calories that are in most of the foods I eat, and know how to have a balanced diet.
  9. Balance your diet.  Things to focus on here – drink enough water, take in enough calories, eat enough carbohydrates through vegetables and fruit, make sure you snack, eat consistently every 3 hours to keep your metabolism up, get your fiber in (even if you have to add flax seed or chia seed atop your meals), eat healthy fats, and stay consistent!! I fell victim last year to trying different fad diets and it totally screwed up my digestive system.  Consistency is key!
  10. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, and LEARN!  I follow a blog that I truly love for inspiration and workout ideas.  It’s called the Daily HIIT blog and you will often see me repost for them on Facebook.  My sister also follows a lot of fitness figures on Instagram and she gets a lot of her new workout and food ideas from seeing what other people are doing.

AND LASTLY –  BE POSITIVE ALWAYS!

We are all here for each other in this game.  Don’t make your New Year’s Resolution a Schmezolution.  Make 2014 the year that you changed your life for the better!  Get rid of the negative and turn your life into a positive!

Thank you all for supporting me and encouraging me to do better as well!  All of you who have reached out to me are truly making it easier for me to stick to my new fitness challenge!  I hope I can help you stick to yours as well!

Dinner Is Served

With the holiday’s wrapping up, I’ve found myself succumbing to all the holiday treats I said I wouldn’t!  My mom made my Aunt Lena’s famous Italian cookies, we celebrated my sister’s boyfriend, Scott’s, birthday with cupcakes that were leftover, and for breakfast we’ve had left over crumb cake everyday.  It’s been HORRIBLE!

So tonight I decided to make dinner for the family.  For all of you who have asked me to blog about healthy food ideas, tonight’s dinner is for you!  It was so incredibly simple and took about 30 minutes total to whip up.

Sriracha Style Baked Chicken with Bok Choy and a Baked Potato topped with Greek Yogurt  (I don’t have a picture of the Baked Potato though, sorry!)

Sriracha Style Chicken

I basted the chicken with a little bit of olive oil and Sriracha and topped it with some dried Cilantro for kicks.

Bok Choy

Cut the stems off the Bok Choy first and sautee them in a little bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then add the leaves. Add a dash or so of salt as you cook it.  Be sure to wash this vegetable enough and dry it off before throwing it in the pan.

Overall, My Fitness Pal told me that the portions I ate with this meal totaled around 600 calories.   I had 2 little cutlets, 1 cup of the Bok Choy and 1 medium sized baked potato with about a 1/2 cup of Fage greek yogurt on top.  Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream!!