Goals · Health Journey · holistic · Life · Uncategorized

The gym or the kitchen: where do I begin?

Many people express a desire to “get fit” and adopt a new routine. While this is wonderful and makes me heart oh-so-happy, it can be a tough road to travel in the beginning. This journey is littered with ups and downs and moments of elation followed by moments of self-doubt.

In a previous post Push: Start I made the statement that it’s just not very realistic to try to change everything all at once. It’s overwhelming and intimidating, especially if it’s all brand new to you. Most people can navigate a kitchen, but can’t navigate a grocery store or nutritional labels properly. Most people can throw a stone and land on about 3 gyms nearby, but have no idea what to do once they get there, and therefor don’t go. Sound like someone you know?

When it comes to making changes to your health or fitness, each person is going to be better taking an approach that fits their life. There is no one-size-fits-all. Hopefully what I will share will bring a little light to the situation and help you to move forward in your journey towards health.

There are many reports and studies that state that when it comes to weight loss, fitness progress, and physique reconstruction, nutrition will be doing 70-80% of the work here. Ever heard of the line “you can’t out train a shitty diet?” It’s true. Now, there are those few types of people that have crazy fast metabolisms and can literally eat anything and everything and not gain weight. While this sounds like a dream to most of us, this can be a big problem when those individuals have the desire to put on muscle. It takes a lot of structured eating, and meticulous diet tweaks to ensure that their bodies use the food in the proper way for muscle growth.

Since nutrition is the major player here, it would make sense to get that part on track first, right? But how, when there are sooo many different diet theories out there claiming to be the best? It truly boils down to bio-individuality. Everybody is different, and every body requires different things to perform optimally. Take a moment to think about your current diet – not what you are doing to lose weight, but diet in terms of what you consume on a daily basis. Are those foods serving you the way you want them to? Do you wake up every day feeling light and happy? Do you feel full of energy throughout the day and find yourself to be productive? Does bedtime pose very little issue when it comes to falling asleep and staying asleep? If you didn’t answer yes to all of these questions, we may have some work to do!

There are diets out there that food shame certain food groups. While the low carb crowd like to omit fruit from their diets, the vegetarians eat these foods pretty freely. Some spout that animal protein is terrible for you, while others claim that soy based proteins are not at all a better choice. What’s my suggestion? Simple.

First off, you want to see some progress quickly? Cut the processed foods from your diet. I hesitate even calling those items food, as most of the ingredients on their labels are not recognized by the average person or even pronounceable. Real, whole foods – found in nature – are the key to your success. It doesn’t even have to be fancy, raw or cooked, you will be doing your body a great service to make these foods the bulk of your daily intake. Imperative vitamins and minerals are found in these foods and designed to supply our body with what it needs to survive and thrive. Some simple changes are found all over Pinterest and Instagram such as substituting zucchini noodles for pasta, olive and coconut oils for canola and vegetable oils, and lettuce wraps in favor of bread and tortillas. Pretty simple, right?

What if you are already eating clean and still seems to be stuck? Maybe something you are eating is not agreeing with your body. This could be on a level that isn’t as noticeable as say hives or other severe reactions. Fatigue, bloating, digestive issues, skin problems, and mood fluctuations are all examples of symptoms that can be traced to food sensitivities. This doesn’t mean that you are allergic and can never have these foods. Chances are you may just need to spend some time balancing your gut and allowing your body a break from the constant stress of digesting foods that pose problems. The simplest way to do this is to cut out the major offenders: sugar, wheat, soy, dairy, msg, alcohol, legumes (including peanuts), and eggs if you think they cause you problems. Try omitting these things from your diet for a minimum of 3 weeks and take notice how you feel. If you think you aren’t noticing any changes, try reintroducing that food back for a couple days and then take it away again and monitor your body. When I did this, I noticed my body would react suddenly any time I had wheat or dairy by bloating, gas, and stomach pains. Sometimes I would experience brain fog and light headedness. For me, it wasn’t worth feeling like that just to have a Subway sandwich. I cut those foods out for about 8 months. After that I began bringing them back a little at a time. Now, I can handle both in small amounts without much issue. It’s all about trial and error here!

Once you have a good grasp on your diet, other things in life seem to become easier to squeeze in. With an emphasis on clean eating, you’ll notice increased energy, effortless weight loss, clearer skin, more confidence and a renewed zest for life. Who wouldn’t feel more motivated to get their butt to the gym or outside for a run?

To sum up, you can squat all you want, but if you follow that kickass workout with a plethora of pizza, tacos, and ice cream, you will not see much in terms of losing weight or muscle definition. This of course does not mean you can never have those foods. It’s about balance. I recommend treating yourself to a meal of your choice 1-2x over the weekend, and staying on track the rest of the time. If you notice yourself having insane cravings in the beginning, remember it’s the sugar monster that the processed food industry left behind and soon he will settle down. Be patient and be consistent.

If you would like to discuss some ways that you can turn into a clean eating machine, feel free to reach out to me. I would love to help you in any way that I can! And with that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes about food:

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” – Michael Pollan

Xoxo – Ame

Goals · Health Journey · holistic · Life · Uncategorized

Just Breathe…

What would you say if I told you that you have the potential to cut the chances of developing cancer by as much as 400%? Or that you can slow the aging process without spending a dime on surgery or fancy creams? That you could improve your mood without any side effects of medication? That you could improve the quality of your sleep without waking up groggy or disoriented? That you could help reduce cravings for processed carbohydrates (aka junk food), and actually stabilize your blood sugars – naturally? I’m willing to bet you may be thinking: what kind of wizardry is she speaking of??

Breathing.

Yes, that’s right, breathing. More specifically diaphragmatic or soft belly breathing. This has been shown to produce amazing results in everything I’ve listed above, and more. Not only will practicing for as little as 10min a day help reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, but it also helps you to handle stress more effectively and generally makes you healthier overall!

It’s a very simple, low cost and time investing tool that could really make all the difference in your life, and the lives of those around you. And now I’ll tell you just how to do it!

  1. Find a comfortable position, either laying down or upright. If you are sitting, relax the shoulders down. Place one hand on your abdomen.
  2. Relax your belly. This is where the magic happens.
  3. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs and expanding your belly. Hold this breath for 5 seconds or more.
  4. Slowly exhale by using your belly to push the air out, and repeat the cycle for 8-10min. That’s it!

Not only is this simple, but you can practice it ANYWHERE without drawing any unnecessary attention to yourself. They say the best times to do this is first thing in the morning, or right before bed. I have also done this while waiting at the dentists’ office, riding the bus, and sitting at my desk at work.

This isn’t only for adults, either. I have recently introduced my daughter to this practice (she’s 8 by the way). While she only had the ability to stick with it for about 2min, the effects were evident immediately. We tried this technique with her one night at bedtime, lying next to each other and simply breathing. After a few breaths she rolled onto her side and fell asleep instantly! She also woke the next morning much easier than in the past, and I believe she slept a little deeper that night.

Studies also show that children who battle with attention disorders, anxiety, depression, and anger issues can benefit greatly from soft belly breathing. That, along with a healthy diet, is cheaper than any doctor visits or ridiculous medications. Win-win!

I encourage you to try this every night for a week… then journal or write down what you noticed about yourself after completion. I’ve noticed that I have been able to handle my own anxious tendencies, sleep better, and that little things that used to flare up my temper no longer bother me. All without medicinal intervention! So give it a shot, you have nothing to lose, and so much to gain!

Xoxo – Ame

Goals · Health Journey · Life · Uncategorized

Push: Start

When it comes to wanting to upgrade your life, your body, or your habits, it can be VERY overwhelming to know where to begin. Should I start with a gym membership? A kitchen overhaul? Jump into the newest, hottest diet trend? Attend yoga classes? Adopt a meditation routine? Start running every morning? Follow a bunch of people on social media and do as they do? Not that any of these are bad things to start with, but let’s be honest: no one in their right mind could do a complete 180 and change EVERYTHING they are doing (or not doing) overnight. This is real life, after all.

Okay, take a breath, we will get through this together. The biggest thing to remember is that age old saying: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. A true transformation of habits occurs slowly, steadily, and one at a time. This makes for lasting success for the long haul, which is good for everyone involved.

But where to begin? That’s up to you, as we are all different. First, take out a sheet of paper and write down 5 things you believe you need to change in order to reach the goal you would like to one day accomplish. These things may seem as intimidating as climbing Mt. Everest for now, but bear with me. Look at those five items and pick one thing you want to start with. For example, let’s say you would like to begin drinking more water and less sugar filled drinks like soda or fancy coffees from Starbucks. It can be scary and overpowering to think that at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning you are no longer allowed to have those drinks. Instead, make a small goal for yourself, something easily attainable. When I began adding more water in, I did it slowly. Adding an extra 8oz to what I was drinking every day and increasing by another 8oz each week. This technique will naturally crowd out the drinks you desire to give up, but with much less stress and withdrawals. Currently, I’m up to a gallon or more of water a day. Eventually, you’ll see that the water truly quenches your thirst, and the beverages of your past no longer serve you the way they used to.

This technique works with the gym as well. Start off with looking at your schedule. What can you realistically commit to, without too much shuffling of your normal activities? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. There may be time here and there that you don’t even realize is open for a quick HIIT session or group fitness class. You do NOT have to do this every day, either! Again, start small. Waking up one morning and saying: “self, starting today we are going to go to the gym 7 days a week and that’s that” can be a recipe for failure. Talk about pressure!! Generally, when people jump head first into something new, they tend to beat themselves up over every little set back and can actually be easily convinced to give up and slide even further backwards from their goals. No Bueno.

But Ame, I am a single mom and I don’t think I can make it to the gym often enough for real results. That’s totally understandable. My daughter was 4 years old before I was able to sneak out of the house on a consistent basis to make it to the gym. This only works however if you have someone to babysit during that time, and that is usually the kink in the chain. Believe me, I get it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find 20-30min a few times a week to do a quick sweat sesh in your living room. OR you can include the family in your workouts. Grab the kids, their bikes, and your running shoes and take it outside. A rousing game of tag on the playground counts if you work up a sweat! Even setting up a relay race or obstacle course in the backyard can have you fitting into your skinny jeans in no time. Not to mention how much cooler your kids will think you are!

What about something we all could use more of? I’m talking about the most underrated, underutilized, and most common thing people skimp on: SLEEP! I don’t think I’ve met anyone that said that they think they sleep too much. This is something I struggle with a lot.  I like to be Wonder Woman and Super Mom, but sometimes, I feel more like the Crypt Keeper by Friday afternoon and end up spending my weekend far less productively than I’d like to. On the regular, I average between 5-6+ hours a night of sleep. I’m not one to wake up multiple times, so I would mostly consider that a steady sleep. However, when on a long weekend at a friend’s cabin recently, I noticed that my body would easily sleep 8 hours uninterrupted. I would wake (without an alarm) at the same time every morning, feeling refreshed and full of energy. So what’s my plan? Getting to bed an extra 15-30min each night for a week or two, and slowly increasing that once I have a handle on the small change of routine. We all know we are more productive when we are rested, yet we don’t make time to ensure our bodies are getting the rest and recovery they desire.

So what’s the point of all of this? I believe it boils down to marking your goals higher up on your list of priorities than they are currently ranked – but doing it slowly. A little bit here and there; a minor tweak to your daily routine to make room for something you long to have. In some cases, this will require some sacrifice. In my case, I have sacrificed tv time, and happy hours. But for me, these were things I didn’t mind not participating in. What will it be for you?

If you’d like to connect and brainstorm some ways we can incorporate new things into your life, feel free to reach out to me! For now I will leave you with this thought to chew on: You define what is important to you by what you dedicate your time to. Heavy, huh?

Xoxo – Ame