A Shift in Perspective

Isn’t it amazing what excuses we tell ourselves when we fail to make time for things we have committed to, or even the things we enjoy doing?

Like this blog, for instance. I love to write. Like really love it. And I love the idea of taking time for myself to write here every day – or even just a few times a week. This is something that I have committed myself to doing time and again, recommitting every few months with a renewed vigor. “This time for sure! This time I will make my list of post ideas and work on one to publish every 2-3 days. This time I’m really going to do it!”

Then without fail I enthusiastically throw myself into the creation of one grand post. I publish it. I feel amazing and creatively fulfilled and can’t wait to begin work on the next one.

And then a day passes.

And then another. And another.

My list of blog post ideas goes untouched as the excuses start to dim the rosy glow of creativity and satisfaction that had enveloped me following my previous post.

“I have to run errands today.”

“I don’t really feel like writing.”

“I don’t have any good ideas today.”

“This post isn’t perfect.”

“No body will care to read that.”

“My baby is taking too much of my time today.” (This is, in fact, a somewhat valid excuse I think. My almost 5 month old is still quite needy and dependent on me, as most 5 month old babies tend to be. I am writing this right now at 9pm after he has fallen asleep in my arms).

But I think the biggest limitation I put on myself was my initial intent of making this a health/nutrition/fitness-y type of blog. I find myself struggling to come up with new and original post ideas that fit within these categories (when there is already SO MUCH out there), and have not even allowed myself to consider writing about other subjects.

But what if I didn’t just have to write about these things?

What if I were just to write?

I started this blog at a time when I was trying to transition from a teaching career to one in the fitness industry. I cared so much about getting stronger and having abs and counting my macros and having a popular Instagram.

But then I got pregnant. And eventually had my little baby boy. And my entire perspective on the universe changed so drastically that things that used to seem really important to me, all of a sudden diminished in their importance.

Don’t get me wrong, I still work out every day and lift heavy things. But my goals have shifted dramatically. I just want to lose the last little bit of my baby weight and stay active and healthy – not because I want to look like a fitness model, but because exercise makes me feel good, physically and emotionally.

I still love to cook because I am passionate about the process of cooking. It is one of my favorite ways to relax. But I don’t care about creating “macro-friendly” recipes that will somehow become Instagram famous and be shared around the internet. I just enjoy eating deliciously healthy food and sharing it with my family.

I don’t put time or effort into my Instagram because I don’t care how many followers I have anymore. The time I spend playing with my little guy and experiencing all his giggles and wonder at the big wide world is much more valuable. These are passing moments that are much better experienced with a fully present heart and mind, not moments to be constantly recording and uploading for others to ogle at.

This baby, little Noah, has changed my life and put so much into perspective. I find myself milking every last drop of joy out of each moment of the day. I have never felt so engaged and satisfied with my life.

Rather than letting him be an excuse for not writing, I’m going to use him, and the beautiful moments we spend together, as inspiration for writing.

And not just him (even though he is like, 96.3% of my life right now). But I am going to write about whatever I want. Fitness, books, food, me, gratitude, quotes. Whatever comes to mind, inspires creation, and contributes to my happiness.

Isn’t that what having a blog is all about?

Sunday Rituals

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Clean out your fridge weekly.  An organized space lends itself to an organized mind.  Plus no one likes old food in their fridge.

We all have them.

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, my Sunday ritual consisted of recovering from Saturday night.  Maybe sauntering to a midday brunch with friends where I would continue my “recovery” with bottomless sugary mimosas that left me feeling sluggish and out of commission for the rest of the day.  Daytime drinking coupled with poor food choices throughout the weekend would leave me feeling bloated and guilty on Monday morning.

Daytime drinking is also not very conducive to the productive sorts of activities that promote readiness and success for the upcoming week.  I arrived at work on Monday not only feeling a complete lack of physical rejuvenation, but a lack of mental revitalization as well.  Somewhere along the way, as I matured and started integrating more mindful and healthful habits into my life, I found my Sunday priorities drastically shifting.

There is something so satisfying and refreshing about waking up on Monday morning knowing that things in your life have been literally and figuratively put back into their proper places.  I no longer drift through my Sundays dreading the week to come, rather I intentionally prepare myself to be as successful as I can for the week.  I am a firm believer that how you spend your Sunday will completely set the tone for the following week.  If you fail to prepare, you will be frantic and stressed on Monday morning, and that attitude will carry itself throughout the remainder of the week.

It is important to engage in activities that make your home feel organized, as well as your mind.  This way you can arrive into the week with a tranquilly clean slate.  Exactly how you choose to prepare for your week is up to you, but here are the activities that I engage in every Sunday (yes every) in order to ensure that my life is in order.  Some of these things may seem boring or mundane, but I find that I actually quite enjoy my Sundays and even look forward to this process.

5 Sunday Success Habits

  1. Cleaning – I am actually the most OCD person, so I tend to clean a little bit each day rather than saving it all up for the weekend.  I wake up with so much energy on Sunday mornings that I usually spend about 30-45 minutes doing this first thing  just to get it out of the way.  Whether I need to sweep the floor or straighten our bedroom, I just. DO. IT.  Keeping your space clean and organized will help your mind stay organized.
  2. Laundry – Is there anything better than starting the week with fresh smelling clothes? This is especially true when you basically live at the gym. I never start Monday morning with dirty clothes in the hamper.  Also, never leave dirty clothes on the floor or on “that chair” (you know the one).  It literally takes .037 seconds to throw those socks into the hamper *ahem men in the house ahem*.  If you like multi-tasking like me, throw one load of laundry in and then start your cleaning while the clothes wash.
  3. Church – Maybe you are not very religious.  I haven’t always been, if I’m being perfectly honest, but we go to an amazing church (check it out: Vous Church) here in Miami.  Every Sunday we leave the sermon SO PUMPED to be our best selves.  It’s a chance for self-reflection and a chance to refocus on what is important in your life.
  4. Groceries/Mealprep – My boyfriend and I have been mealprepping our lunches for almost two years now.  Every Sunday we go together to get all our groceries for the week (usually Trader Joe’s because it’s awesome) and split the cost down the middle.  We generally get exactly what we need, no excess.  And if we decide on Wednesday we want to eat something that’s not in the house? Too bad, put it in on the list for next week.  This is an amazing way to save money and to avoid food waste. The mealprepping process is messy and experimental when you’re first starting out.  But with practice you will get it down to a science and figure out exactly what you need.  We probably spend about an hour grocery shopping, and 2-2 1/2 hours cooking each Sunday.  I usually take this time as well to reorganize and clean out the fridge.
  5. Gratitude Journaling – Some people make this a daily habit.  I choose instead to take 15-20 minutes each Sunday to reflect on the week that has just passed, as well as the week ahead.  I set my intentions for the week and this helps me to start Monday morning with the most positive mindset possible.  Cleaning your house is important, but I would argue that cleaning your mind out each week is even more important.

That’s it.

These are the things that I cannot go to bed on Sunday without having completed.  If I do, I feel very thrown off and unprepared.  Even with these 5 essential activities, there is plenty of time left in the space around them to relax and recharge.  Use this time to catch up on reading, catch up on work/emails (if that’s something necessary for your Monday success), or even catch up on sleep.  Technically I don’t think its scientifically possible to “catch up” on sleep, but naps are always nice 🙂

If you are a keen observer, you will notice that I did NOT include working out on this list.  The truth is, I go to the gym just about every Monday-Friday, and most Saturdays.  So even though I am just a little obsessed with crossfit and working out, I am completely okay with taking Sundays to recover.  Sometimes we go for a nice, sunny walk with our pup, other times we just spend time with family, friends, or each other.

Last, but not least, GO TO BED EARLY.  I cannot reiterate enough: get a full, restful night of sleep on Sunday night.  If you start Monday morning grumpy, sleepy, and exhausted, not only will your Monday obligations be challenging and unpleasant, but I promise that this will carry throughout your week.  As I mentioned, you can’t just catch up on sleep, so it’s important to get at least 7-9 hours each night.

Happy Sunday, friends! I hope you all have a productive Sunday full of gratitude and good energy!

YOU GOAL GIRL!


So much to look forward to in the coming year.

Since it’s the last day of 2018, I’d like to take a quick intermission from my pregnancy series to talk about goal-setting and some goals I have for the upcoming year. I don’t really like to use the term “resolution” – that word conjures up images of grand schemes that fizzle out after the first couple weeks of January. To me GOALS is a more long term way of looking at New Years Resolutions. You can make and stick to goals at any time of the year, not just beginning on January 1st.


Goal-Setting 101

I’m not sure where I first heard about it, but I think the simplest guideline to setting goals is to make sure they are SMART. I mean obviously you don’t want to set dumb goals *eyeroll*. But if you just say your goal is “to lose weight”, for instance… how would you even know when or if that goal has been met? So make your goals…

  1. Specific – write down your goal using specific language rather than ambiguous terms. What do you want to accomplish, where and why? “I want to lose 15 pounds” is much more specific than lose weight. Also, what specific steps can be taken to attain that goal? “I will go to the gym 4 days a week” or “I will not eat desserts 6 out of 7 days of the week.” Those are both very specific steps that can be taken to help you achieve your goal of losing 15 pounds.
  2. Measurable – make the goal something that you can actually objectively track the progress of. You can’t track an ambiguously phrased “lose weight”, but you can step on a scale each day to measure how much of the 15 pounds you’ve lost. Seeing the progress in real time will actually do wonders for your momentum and motivation.
  3. Attainable – YES, even goals are confined to the laws of physics. I know, I know, we all wish we could just have one million dollars by tomorrow, but this is not a realistic or attainable desire. It is attainable to make a goal to “save up $5000 in 6 months” or something like that. It is attainable to “lose 15 pounds by next Christmas”. Make sure the goal is actually something that you can achieve and not just a wild fantasy you have, otherwise nothing but frustration will ensue.
  4. Relevant – I guess this means a goal you set should be something that’s worthwhile to you while also in line with your other goals. Your goals should complement each other and help push you to be exactly who you want to be.
  5. Time-bound – I think this might be the most important of them all. Exactly by WHEN do you plan to meet your goal? “I want to lose 15 pounds.” By tomorrow? As if. Set a time limit. “I want to lose 15 pounds by June 30, 2019.” Thats about a 6 month time frame. Not only would this be perfectly feasible, but the sense of urgency that a time limit sets will allow you to stay focused and motivated.

I want to mention one more goal-setting guideline that is not included in this model but I think is absolutely CRUCIAL. WRITE YOUR GOALS DOWN ON PAPER. Put them in a place where you will see them and be reminded of them daily. Each day ask yourself, “What have I done today to bring myself closer to my goals?” Every day you should do at least one thing, no matter how small, that will propel you forward. Going back to the theoretical weight loss goal, maybe the one thing you did was make the choice to not eat the donuts your coworkers brought to work. AND THAT’S A HARD CHOICE, TRUST ME, I KNOW. But every day you have the chance to make little choices that add up to big changes. If you just have your goals floating around in your head, it will be harder to take real-life steps toward them. Writing them down makes them tangible.


My Goals for 2019

So what are MY goals for 2019?? I may have a couple…

Maybe that last goal isn’t quite measurable or specific, but that one may be the most important to me of them all. I am going to be a mom. It is still crazy to me but each day I will do whatever I can to make sure that little baby feels loved and safe.

Each of these is important to me for different reasons, but they are all intended to help me be the happiest, healthiest, and most successful I can be. Some of these goals are stepping stones to even longer term goals (education, career, etc.). I have been especially overwhelmed lately with the concept of getting a graduate degree, especially with the unexpected little bundle of joy that will be here before I know it. My goals have had to shift a lot from what they would have been were I not now growing my little family.

But that’s okay. That’s just life. Life is unexpected and will always throw curveballs your way. What’s important is the ability to remain flexible and adapt and grow with those changes. Maybe 2018 didn’t end for you exactly as you would have planned, but you’re about to have 365 brand new, shiny and fresh chances to make the most of each day, to grow and to learn and to appreciate all of the blessings that life gives you. You are breathing and you are alive and this coming year is going to be SPECTACULAR. ✭

Some Thoughts Regarding Alcohol

We’ve all been there.  Especially if, like me, you went to college away from home. You were 18 years young, and finally got to experience that sweet taste of freedom and cheap, watered down beer.  I am 110% guilty of falling down this college-drinking rabbit hole and gained more than the freshman fifteen.  I had immense difficulty losing (and maintaining that loss) until recent years.  What starts off as benign college fun can turn into something more sinister, and even affect your health.

 

Isn’t alcohol what being an adult is all about?!

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It’s the culture – you go to house parties, go out for drinks with your friends every weekend night starting on Thursday (Thirsty Thursday is a real thing, people), you sneak pregame drinks in your dorm room.  But this doesn’t stop at college, it carries over into after work happy hours three days a week, and turns into “needing” that glass of wine (or four) every night after work just to wind down.  I was that chick at college parties that would literally HOARD room temperature bud lights in my purse, just to be stocked up when the party inevitable ran out of booze.  I firmly believed that you could not go out and have a “fun” weekend unless it involved a whirlwind of cocktails and bad decisions.  Needless to say, I entered into adulthood with a very unhealthy, “all-or-nothing” relationship with alcohol.

My junior year of college, I started working out because I seriously wanted to shed that freshman fifteen – which at this point had become more like the freshman 25ish.  I became obsessive about counting the calories I ate, never once stopping to give second thought to the calories I DRANK.  Yes, I lost some weight due to eating lower calorie foods, incorporating lots of veggies, hitting cardio 4x a week with mild strength training (I had yet to discover crossfit!!), but I always seemed to kind of plateau.  I never quite got to the level of fitness and health that I wanted.  I thought I was doing everything right!  Oh, the frustration that ensued!

Alcohol goes straight to the a** (and belly and face and joints).

At this time I was still drinking a lot of wine on the weeknights – you know, because that’s what adults do, right?! – and going out to drink on weekends Friday through Saturday.  And don’t forget about mimosa-fueled Sunday brunches.  That’s a lot of empty liquid calories.  Like, a lot.  One mimosa has about 160 calories with 9 grams of sugar.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever had just one mimosa… yeah I didn’t think so.  Multiply that by 4 or 5 and you’re staring down the barrel of almost 1000 calories, just from your brunch drinks alone.

And there’s the other sneaky thing about drinking: it affects your eating habits as well.  When you’ve had a few drinks, all of a sudden it becomes so much easier to make poor food choices.  Who cares about that 1 am pizza??? I’ll tell you who doesn’t care: those three beers, two tequila shots, and four vodka sodas you consumed in a span of 3 hours.  And what about the next morning when you wake up cranky, dehydrated, and feeling like a jackhammer wrecked your whole body?  Definitely gonna need a triple stack of pancakes and/or a giant plate of sour cream chicken enchiladas to soak up those bad decisions.  And then the downward spiral ensues.

As I started to maintain a healthier lifestyle throughout the week, it became so much more noticeable how crappy I felt on the weekends after countless drinks and junk food.  By every Monday morning, I felt like an inflamed whale, only to get right back on track and feel great again by Friday night.  This cycle of healthy week, boozy weekend, Monday morning guilt lasted for years.  I thought this was normal, along with my IBS issues that came along with it.

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Here we encounter a prime example of me not following my own advice and drinking a beer.  Inflammation and gastrointestinal issues ensued post consumption of this beer.  But it was really hot out and this beer was refreshing and provided a great photo op. (Taken with Moment lens.)

Alcohol: the other macronutrient???

Now I am certainly not saying alcohol is terrible or that you should NEVER drink it, but in my personal experience I have just found that overall I feel better when I don’t.  I don’t need to get blackout wasted to have a good time, and I’d rather just not experience the post-drink inflammation and blues.  If you are trying to lose weight, an easy way to boost your progress is to seriously limit or cut out alcohol altogether.  Remember, alcohol is NOT a macronutrient that your body needs.  On the contrary, your body views alcohol as a toxin, and will always preferentially burn any alcohol that enters your system.  That means any carbohydrates, fat, or protein that enters your system at the same time as alcohol will not be processed.  I repeat, ALL OTHER METABOLIC PROCESSES WILL CEASE.  All of a sudden, you have all these extra carbs, fats, and proteins floating around in your body, so what happens to them? They get converted to fat and stored for later!

So next time you go out for dinner and drinks, remember that when you drink a lot of alcohol, and eat excess calories, the alcohol is hindering your body’s ability to metabolize that food.  Again, I am not saying to never drink.  It’s just no wonder so many of us gain the freshman fifteen when we are poor college kids drinking alcohol all the time and eating fast food at 2 am after a night of partying.

The key is to find BALANCE.  If you must drink, save it for special celebratory occasions.  And when you do drink, don’t drink to excess.  Have a few drinks, and remember to drink water so you don’t get dehydrated.  And try not to give in to those late night alcohol-fueled munchies: they are not your friend.

New Gut, New Me – Part 2 of My “Healthy Gut Experiment”

So my two week elimination diet has come and gone, and will probably be sticking around a little longer, for reasons I will elaborate on shortly.  I had totally intended to write a post at the one week mark, and then again at exactly the two week mark, which would have been this past Saturday.  But life kind of just happened to get itself right in the way, as it so frequently seems to do.  I am so proud to say that I was actually successful in completely sticking 100% to the goals I set for myself (in regards to diet at least).  I usually go into any sort of elimination phase with a “so-so” mindset, like “Oh I’m giving up cheese, but it’s okay if I just have a little bit of this feta with my dinner.”  And then the next thing you know I’m housing a whole wheel of brie cheese.  This time there was no brie involved.  I did not eat cheese for the full 14 days.

I even bought myself a colada (Cuban espresso blended with sugar for those non-Miami folks out there) 12 days into the elimination.  I bought the coffee.  Didn’t drink the coffee.  Decided at the last minute that I had more willpower than that and ended up sharing it all with my coworkers.  But in the end I successfully eliminated coffee from my diet for the whole two weeks as well.

The first week went by uneventfully.  Overall I felt sort of better, because I wasn’t drinking any alcohol which meant I was sleeping better and feeling more clearheaded.  And removing the caffeine resolved a lot of my anxiety.  I have been making a conscious effort to drink more green tea in the mornings, as well as decaffeinated teas such as Trader Joe’s Ginger + Turmeric Herbal tea.  Ginger and turmeric are both high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and supposed to work wonders for your digestion.

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But despite my efforts, that first week I DID NOT EXPERIENCE ANY NOTICEABLE IMPROVEMENTS IN MY DIGESTIVE HEALTH.  I still felt bloated and had major abdominal discomfort.  I still was not able to use the bathroom on a consistent basis.  I felt more than a little physiologically and psychologically frustrated.  But despite this frustration I remained persistent, hoping that maybe after two weeks I would notice a difference in my health.

And then on Monday of the second week, a miracle happened.  I was finally able to use the bathroom WITHOUT the aid of medication (constipation is definitely not fun, my friends -_-).  And then again on Tuesday.  And Wednesday.  And Thursday.  What’s more, I felt good, no GREAT, the whole week.  My stomach was not uncomfortable, I felt full of energy, I had a lot of good days at the gym.  I cannot say for certain that it was the lack of coffee, cheese, or alcohol, because during all of this time I was also not eating bread, grains, or anything with gluten.  Not because I was specifically eliminating them, but because I already know from experience that my body does not digest these substances very well (In fact, I finally got tested for Celiac’s and will find out the official results in about a week).

The only thing I guess you could say I sort of cheated on during these two weeks was the alcohol.  The second week was rough, mainly because I found out my little cat has lymphoma.  I spent almost the whole week in and out of the vet’s office, worrying myself sick.  I was sad and decided to have a glass of wine this past Thursday, after going 12 days without.  Even though my stomach had been feeling great the whole week, I woke up on Friday feeling less than stellar.  I could not use the bathroom that day.  What was the one variable that changed?  The alcohol.

On Friday I didn’t drink, and felt normal again on Saturday morning.  Then on Saturday night I had two vodka soda’s at dinner.  Can we guess how I felt on Sunday morning??? Yeah.  So there you have it.  A two week elimination diet has led me to the conclusion that I’d rather not drink at all.  I’ve never really been addicted to alcohol per se, but I’ve definitely overdone it more than a few times throughout my  life.  It’s been years since what you could call my “partying” days, but these days if I ask you to meet me at the bar, I’m probably talking about my crossfit box.  There comes a moment when alcohol just kind of ceases to be worth it.  I think this was that moment for me.

So now I’m about halfway into week three, and I still haven’t added cheese or coffee back into my diet.  Perhaps I will re-introduce them slowly, gradually (because let’s be honest, there are few things I love more than cheese)…but why ruin a good thing?  This was only supposed to be a two week experiment, but given the success I’ve had I think I will continue it a little longer.  I have my doctor’s appointment next week to find out the results of my bloodwork and abdominal ultrasound, but it seems to me the gastrointestinal issues I’ve been experiencing my whole life are nutrition-related.  Fingers crossed that I’ve finally solved this mystery once and for all.

I cannot emphasize enough, if you are experiencing any sort of bloating or gastro issues, carefully analyze what you are eating!!  Maybe choose one potentially aggravating item (such as cheese, bread, or lactose) and try removing it for 2 weeks-30 days. You don’t have to remove three at a time like I did, because that might be a little extreme. But, what’s the worst that can happen?  You might find out that you actually are not intolerant to that food item!  I’d say that sounds like a pretty good outcome to me.  And if you do feel relief after elimination, you’re just one step closer to lifelong health and wellness.

Spring Cleaning

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My life is about to change.  A LOT.  I’ve been in Miami for 5 years and my boyfriend has been in Miami almost his whole life.  We have both been itching to get out and experience living in a different (read: cheaper!!) city.  When we are ready to buy a house there is NO WAY Miami would be an option.  I am from Dallas and recently found out my grandmother’s health is not in great condition, so we saw this as a perfect opportunity to not only move over there to spend time with family, but as a stepping stone to save money for our future house.  All of this has happened rather quickly, and the moving process is well underway.

But this is not the point of this post.  As I have been packing up my apartment, I have been reflecting on just how much STUFF I have.  Clothes, shoes, and jewelry that I never wear.  Hair products and makeup that I never use.  Kitchen tools that I don’t need.  Books I bought six years ago and never “got around” to reading.  This list of utterly useless junk that I haven’t touched in over a year (or in some cases years) is endless.  It is simply not necessary for me to move halfway across the country with all of these material things that are not of use to me.  What’s more, what if they would be USEFUL to someone else? Someone in need who hasn’t been as fortunate as me to be able to mindlessly buy a pair of high heels from Target??? High heels which were worn NOT EVEN ONCE.

All at once the realization hit me that all of these things aren’t just creating clutter in my physical space, but in my mental space as well.  Having more clothes just means more laundry which means more stress.  Unnecessary clutter barrages our mind with stimuli and makes relaxation more difficult.  I’ve been at work the last few days and just trying to mentally sort through all of the crap I have to literally sort through has been causing me anxiety.

I have spent years collecting things, following the misconception that more stuff equals more happiness.  But this is just NOT TRUE.  It is not the new dress or the new pair of earrings that will make you happy.  The memories you create whilst wearing those items will do more for your life satisfaction than the dress or earrings ever will.

The more I box up things to give to those in need, the lighter and more mentally clear I feel.  I don’t need all these things.  Getting rid of these things is allowing those that are truly important to rise to the surface.  I’m not saying you have to literally throw away all your clothes, but if you  haven’t worn something at least 2 or 3 times throughout the last year, I promise you can live without it.  I challenge you to undergo a round of spring cleaning, revisit your closet, your kitchen, your life.  Eliminate those things which are not essential and make room for things that matter more.  Make more room for new clothes, new friends, new experiences.

Get rid of the unnecessary and “It is astounding what will flow into that space that will enrich you, your life, and your family.”