See Ya Later, Sugar

I started the sugar weaning process today. After too many weeks of enjoying holiday cookies and candies, as well as jumping back on the soda wagon… it’s got to stop. GPP starts their Sugar Detox Challenge on Monday, but Neil has suggested making it a little less painful by weaning yourself off the addicting stuff, rather than going cold turkey.

So that’s how my day has been. How’s yours going?

I thought I’d show you what I ate today because I haven’t done that in a long time. Something else I haven’t done in far too long is play with my DSLR camera. So, I pulled that out, too.

simple oatmea 

Breakfast was a simple bowl of oatmeal, cooked in the microwave.

  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • Sprinkle of chia seeds
  • 1/2 banana
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (contains added sugar)
  • 1 cup water

Most mornings I have a cup of plain Greek yogurt with some cereal or oatmeal, banana, chia seeds, PB2 and cinnamon added. It’s a habit I got into with the Skin In The Game Challenge that I’ve just kept up with. Easy way to get in a bunch of protein and stay full for a while.

Today I was just feeling something different.

coffee and water

I’m working on rebuilding some good health habits, including getting my gallon of water in daily, so I challenged myself to get in 24 ounces (a Contigo bottle) of water before touching any coffee or tea. Success!

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Most of the day was pretty lazy, but I did manage to complete .2 Continuing Education Credits (CECs) for renewing my ACE Personal Trainer certification at the end of this month. Just like a lot of other professions, I need a certain amount off CECs to be elligible to renew my certification—ACE requires 2.0. I’m almost finished with them… only .2 to go! On Monday, Jeremy and I will be renewing our CPR/AED certification. Lots of learning going on around here these days!

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While I was studying, the boys were enjoying the sweet sunshine we were blessed with today. Both of the dogs love sunbathing… there is a noticeable uptick in their attitude and happiness when it is sunny.

I took a study break in the middle of my course to eat lunch.

sandwich apple pickles

Most days I have a sandwich with cheese and a piece of fruit. It’s an affordable, easy option that doesn’t require much time or effort to prepare. Today I also had some pickles—my father-in-law made these with cucumbers raised from his garden. They are so good.

mexican casserole

Jeremy’s Dad made Mexican Casserole for dinner tonight and invited us to have some. We had actually planned something really similar to make, but it didn’t really make sense to make it when there was basically the same thing already cooked with plenty to spare.

chobani cheese snack

Later this evening I had a Chobani (that does have added sugar—I know) and a cheese stick.

I also decided to have a small ice cream cone. I had been craving sugar like crazy all day long since I wasn’t munching on candy or sipping on soda, so I decided to have this small indulgence. Still an improvement… but goal for tomorrow is even less sugar.

I’m going to sip some tea for the rest of the night and probably enjoy a movie with my husband.

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Struggling with motivation

Happy New Year! The Holidays went by pretty fast this year, with all the busyness of moving home and all just a week before Christmas. It’s hard to believe the first weekend of 2014 is about to begin and I’ll be turning 27 this year. 27 used to seem so old to me. These days 27 doesn’t feel so old… I still feel like a teenager most days.

Sometimes I act like a teenager ,too.

Since moving home, I’ve really been struggling to find and keep motivation. I never thought I was the kind of person who cared for working out with others—it’s okay sometimes, but I prefer going solo in the gym. However, I’ve noticed my motivation to go out into the cold garage gym on my own is pretty low… I guess even though I don’t necessarily want to be working out with someone else, it’s nice to have some company around. Someone to commiserate with, perhaps?

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I could have used someone to commiserate with today because GPP’s Daily Workout kicked my ass so hard that I threw in the towel.

After moving back home, I took a few weeks off from seriously working out (I did exercise a time or two, but it was wishy-washy at best). That time off, along with all the sweets and junk has caught up to me and I feel like I’m hitting a wall with all my workouts this week.

Truthfully, I think I’m just aggravated that I’m not coming back guns a blazing after doing so well in the Skin In The Game challenge I completed before Thanksgiving. I’ve been on a bit of a downward slope since that challenge ended.

At first I justified my worsening eating habits by “needing” to eat through our fridge and pantry before moving out of our apartment. And now that we are home I’ve used the holidays, as well as our families as an excuse. Neither mine nor Jeremy’s families are healthy eaters. His parents (whom we live with) eat out a lot and even when they do cook it is often things I wouldn’t normally eat.

Luckily, our living space has its own kitchen, so all of the excuses involving our families are really lame. And need to stop. My poor eating has been a result of my own choices—not saying “no thanks” when we have something planned for dinner, but Jeremy’s parents want to go out, not choosing healthier options most of the time when we do choose to go out, and mindlessly eating way too much sugar.

It’s funny. GPP Challenges seem to come along right when I need them. I really needed the accountability that the Skin In The Game Challenge gave me. And it helped a ton! Next week GPP is hosting it’s annual Hellth Week. (Yes, that is the correct spelling.) A week of tough as shit workouts to not only kick your ass, but help you recommit to your health.

In conjunction with Hellth Week, GPP is also hosting a Sugar Challenge. No added sugar (natural or artificial) at all next week. Time to detox.

Hopefully somewhere in the midst of Hellth Week and kicking the sugar I’ll rediscover my motivation.

Stay tuned.

Hiding out in Kentucky

Hey guys! It’s been over a month since my last blog post because as soon as we returned to Michigan after spending Thanksgiving with our families, it was time to pack! Jeremy and I had two weeks to organize and pack up our entire apartment before moving back to Kentucky (until Jeremy finds a post-Masters job). But really, Jeremy was studying, completing projects, and writing papers during this time… so I did 95% of the packing and dismantling of furniture.

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Thankfully, we were able to get everything into our U-Haul and got moved home without any incidence. Since returning back to Kentucky over a week ago, we’ve just been settling in and getting ourselves sorted. We’re currently living with my husband’s mother and father until we have a better idea of what our future holds.

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I purchased an Olympic weight set a few weeks ago off Craigslist for a great price and we moved it back with us. My father-in-law has been kind enough to allow me to use the garage for my workouts. I can do about 90% of the GPP stuff I want to do—just need to build/buy a squat rack. The garage is chilly at the beginning of the workout, but usually by the time I’m done I’ve ditched my over shirt and end up in a tank top.

I’m sure it will get colder as the months go on, but I feel blessed to have the space to lift weights after living in Japan for 3 years and having almost no room and definitely no heavy weights.

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The job search will begin soon (probably after the Holidays), but in the meantime, I’m continuing to do some freelance work for the gym I previously worked for, as well as wanting to begin some private personal and group training. I also have some CECs I’m working on finishing up to complete my personal training recertification in January 2014. I can’t believe I’ve already been certified for two years.

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And in case you’re wondering, the dogs are doing wonderful. They’re quite comfortable and enjoying the slightly warmer weather in Kentucky. It’s great to be able to get back to walking them daily, too, now that we have the time.

Skin In the Game Challenge Recap

On October 7 I started an Optimal Health Challenge with GPP Fitness. I’d hit a slump in my training and was feeling pretty blah. I was getting in most of my workouts, but eating pretty crappy and just kind of drifting along with no goal. GPP’s Skin In the Game Challenge was just what I needed to re-light the fire under my ass.

You can see more about the challenge and “rules” by clicking the above link.

Participants were asked to create at least 3 goals (one for physical health, one for nutrition, and one for lifestyle health) and decide how much “skin” ($$$) they wanted to put on the line and risk losing if they did not reach their goals.

My goals were:

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I didn’t set any goals based on numbers or weight loss because I wanted this challenge to be a stepping-stone for a healthier lifestyle in general, not a quick fix of some sort. Also, I am a healthy weight and any weight lost is for merely vanity. Basically, I just needed some consistency in my life, especially with food.

I decided to take progress photos along the way, instead of focusing on a number on the scale.

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September 30, 2013 – a few days before the challenge began

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Mid-October 2013

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Early November 2013

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Late November 2013

At first, I attempted to follow GPP’s Burst Cycle diet as it is written, but very quickly realized it was not enough calories or nutrition for my active lifestyle. I felt like crap for the first few days and had absolutely no energy.

I ended up modifying the BCD to fit my needs, cycling three days “on” with very clean eats and sticking to a 40/30/30 macro split, and one day “off” as a burst day, where I ate mostly clean, but indulged in whatever I’d been craving without worrying too much about macros. My diet sort of ended up being a combo of Burst Cycle and IIFYM.

A few weeks into The Challenge I realized how much I was loving the more muscular physique I was starting to develop. I wanted more! My focus shifted and I began to concentrate on building strength and muscle, which meant I needed to eat more! I continued the BCD pattern of 3 days “on” and 1 day “off” and stuck to the 40/30/30 macro split, but increased my calories to fit my goal.

Did I Achieve My Goals?
Yes! I put $50.00 on the line and will be getting $40.00 of it back. (Every time you went off plan you could pay a penance of $2.00. All money collected from failed goals and penances are going to a food bank.)

I achieved 5 workouts a week every week of the challenge. There were 51 days in the challenge and I paid penance for 5 of them, meaning I stayed on track 90% of the time. I’d say 90% is pretty darn consistent. My husband has been very, very busy with Grad school, so it was nice to make sure we were spending quality time together regularly no matter how busy we both were. And finally, my ability to wake up at the same time each morning improved.

Was it worth it?
Absolutely! There was a $25.00 buy-in for the challenge and then whatever Skin you wanted to put on the line (and hopefully get back!).

The one thing I really wanted to get out of this challenge was consistency. I’ve always struggled with over-indulging in the things that should be treats and not focusing enough on clean eating. Moderation has never been something I was able to make work because I didn’t understand how to balance treats and clean eats. Rotating the 3 days “on” with 1 day “off” helped me to understand how treats in moderation looks and feels in practice.

I also started to feel really strong and see a lot of progress in my arm and back muscles.

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What will I take away?
I plan to continue with the general principles of the BCD and IIFYM mixture I’ve been using, along with calorie counting. It works for me and I love the way I feel with this “diet.”

I will also continue with my 5 days a week of GPP workouts. GPP recently released a Shaping Bias (Bodybuilding) protocol that I am considering adding to my programming. I really enjoy heavy weight lifting and find it very motivating and I just want to keep going with that.

My focus will continue to remain on staying healthy and getting stronger—not on a specific number on the scale.

PB2 Almond Protein Muffins (recipe)

It’s been one of those days… the weather is quickly getting colder, grayer, and just plain dreary and icky. This kind of weather really makes my mood take a beating. Where’s the sunshine? ‘Cause that’s what I’d really like.

Instead, we’ve been cuddling and wearing toe socks.

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Chugging protein shakes post-workout, in this cold weather, hasn’t been going so well—I’ve kind of just been skipping them because I have NO motivation to drink anything cold (and warm protein shakes are gross). So I thought today was a great opportunity to make some protein muffins that I could look forward to after my workouts.

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Another big inspiration for baking these? Using up some of our pantry supplies. We’re moving in *gulp* 3 weeks and have way too much food in our apartment, still. Making some muffins sounded like a great way to put some of those ingredients to good use. Recipe below was inspired by this post.

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PB2 Almond Protein Muffins
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 12 tablespoons PB2

  • 1/4 cup ground flax

  • 1 scoop plain protein powder

  • 1/4 cup almond meal

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • cinnamon to taste

  • 1/2 cup 0% fat Greek yogurt

  • sweetener of choice to taste; I used Stevia

  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped

  • 2 medium bananas, mashed

The muffins turned out great and will be awesome for a quick post-workout snack that’s pretty high in protein. They’re just lightly sweet (but you could add more sweetener if you wish) and have a good nutritional profile.

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Let me know if you try these!

I am not a morning person

Most mornings I snap a quick selfie as I am getting ready to head of to the gym and post it on Instagram. My hope is to inspire others to start their day with exercise.

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This morning I received a comment on one of my photos commending me for being a morning person. The commenter also said they didn’t know how I did it and they could never drag themselves out of the bed to workout in the mornings.

I had a quick laugh to myself as I read this comment because here’s the thing:

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Now, I preface all of the following by saying that if you have no interest in working out in the morning and you prefer to workout at a different time of day, that’s fine—as long as you get your workout in. However, if you struggle with fitting in a workout or you procrastinate it all day and often end up skipping it, I highly suggest morning workouts.

I am not a morning person. Not even close. Most days I literally have to roll myself out of bed and that’s even after laying in the bed for 5-10 minutes after my alarm has gone off, trying to pep talk myself into actually getting up. Feel free to ask my husband… it drives him crazy. HE is a morning person and wakes up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to tackle the day, often before his alarm even goes off. We couldn’t be more opposite.

I used to only workout in the evening, but I noticed an emerging pattern: I was often tired or lazy at the end of the school/work day and didn’t feel like dragging myself to the gym. I missed far more workouts than I should have because of this and had a terribly tough time mustering up the motivation to get moving in the evening.

So, after college, I decided to try working out the morning. It was quite the transition for this night owl. I had to get my butt into bed earlier, which sucked. I had to stop hitting snooze, which sucked, too. And I had to make a choice: was an extra hour of sleep more important than my goals? (Note: I rarely get less than 8 hours of sleep a night.)

Eventually I decided I wanted to reach my fitness goal—at the time it was finishing my first marathon—more than I wanted the extra sleep. But, as I transitioned to fitting my workout in before work, I realized I was becoming more consistent and I didn’t have to worry about my day getting in the way of my workout because it was already done! I also noticed I had more energy and didn’t feel like I needed to chug two or three cups of coffee just to make it through the day. Not surprisingly, I was also starting to make better health and food choices during the day. I mean, when you’ve already woke up and kicked ass in the gym, why wouldn’t you try to fuel your body better?

But here’s the kicker: It is still a choice everyday for me to decide whether I will sleep through my alarm or roll myself out of bed, eat breakfast, and hit the gym before the rest of my day takes off. Two years later and it is still a choice, not a natural habit for me. Knowing myself it will probably never be natural for me, but that’s okay. There are still days when I choose to sleep in and I almost always regret it later, but I rarely regret getting my workout in first thing!

Life As of Late

Five months, the last time I really blogged, is a long time, all things considered. And yet, I feel like almost no time has passed and nothing of much importance has happened.

But I guess it isn’t completely true to say nothing has happened in those five months, so let’s catch up to where I am today.

 Work
Friday, I ended my employment as the Service Director of the gym I’ve been working at since last September. I’m extremely thankful to have had this year of learning and growth and insight in the fitness industry. I do plan to continue working in the industry, but not on the management side of things—my focus moving forward is to put my personal training, GPP training, and spinning certifications to good use and begin building my client base.

As of this moment, I am still working from home a bit and teaching my spinning class until mid-December.

Home
My husband, Jeremy, and I realized only a few months after moving to Michigan that this probably wouldn’t be where we’d settle long term. There’s lots of reasons for that, but I can’t deny a big one is the weather! The winter is just a bit too cold and too snowy for our Kentucky blood. 

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Jeremy will graduate next month from the University of Michigan with his masters and we’re jetting out of town and back home to live with his parents for a bit while we both work on figuring out our next step and finding long-term employment. It will definitely be weird to not be “on our own” after so many years of living away from home, but I think it’s the right thing to do for now.

Fitness
I haven’t done much running since the 5K I PRed at in July. I went out to Utah later that month and attended a weekend-long certification for GPP that really sparked a fire within me to continue pushing myself hard with their programming. I have seen such great results and feel so good following their workouts, which makes it really easy to be passionate about GPP. I’ve also gained a lot of muscle and strength in the last few months thanks to learning a lot about how to fuel my body better.

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I’m currently wrapping up a Skin In the Game Optimal Health Challenge with GPP that ends next Wednesday. I’ll be sure to recap after it ends and tell you more about my experience.

Dogs
Link and Magus are doing great! 

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They really have become quite the two-some. Most days they play and play together until one, or both, pass out or a nap.

Magus joined our family in June of this year and he’s really settled in well and holds his own. I think he’s pretty content and living the good life (if I may say so myself).

Blogging
I’ve been a stay-at-home dog mom (hah!) for less than a week and I’m already going nuts inside. I hate boredom and not feeling productive more than almost anything. So, it seems it’s time to start writing a little bit more and get the crazy outside of my head.