My Relationship With Food

My Relationship With Food

Like most relationships, it is a ridiculously complicated one. Well, it used to be. I saw that a few weeks ago it was National Eating Disorder Week and I went back and forth about posting something about my own experience with the subject. I am not sure exactly why I waivered, other than it is a really sensitive subject for a lot of people, myself included. In sitting here today thinking about what I wanted my next post to be about though, I came back to this topic. I want to be as open, honest, and transparent on here with you all as I possibly can be and my relationship with food is definitely part of my story.

Before I begin, I want to be upfront about the fact that I will be talking about my struggles with eating in the following post so if that is a trigger for anyone this might be a good time to jump off this particular post! I also want to be upfront about the fact I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, nor have I ever sought treatment for one. This is just my story that I thought I would share in case someone out there can relate and might find some hope that things can get better as they have for me!

Back when I was in my mid-twenties, I was, as they say, trying to find myself. I had graduated college, was working a super boring but steady 9-5 job, was in a relationship of 5 years that I knew I wanted out of, and was waking up each morning feeling more and more out of control of my own life. I felt stuck. I knew the life I was living wasn’t the life I wanted but I wasn’t sure exactly what I did want or how to go about getting there without disappointing people, letting people down, or taking big risks that I wasn’t sure would pay off. 

Not knowing the next move to make, I stood still. I convinced myself I was being ridiculous because after all, I was checking all the boxes of what a responsible adult’s life should look like. But man, was I unhappy. Feeling like I couldn’t control the larger things in my life, I turned to “over” controlling the smaller things. It started with joining the gym. Innocent enough. I hired a personal trainer. Ok, not unusual. Then I started going to the gym two times a day, seven days a week. Problem loading.

I started waking up each morning thinking about when I was going to be getting to the gym. I beat myself up if I missed one workout. And of course, at the gym, I was primarily doing nothing but cardio. My only goal was of course to be as skinny as physically possible. I don’t think the word healthy was even in my vocabulary at the time, just skinny. I even fired my trainer because he kept trying to drag me into the weight section and I wanted nothing to do with it for the fear of getting “bulky”. Oh man, how misguided was I?!   

Naturally, this obsession with working out and being skinny quickly spilled over into what I was eating. No matter that I was working out several hours a day, just about every day of the week, I began to restrict my calories like a crazy person. Back then I would have told you it was all part of my quest for the “perfect” size zero body, but in reality, it was me trying so desperately to be in control of something in my life that I was willing my make myself sick to do it.  

My daily meal plan consisted of something like a handful of plain cheerios for breakfast, fat-free saltine crackers with a dollop of French’s Yellow Mustard and a stick of fat-free processed cheese product for lunch, and usually an energy drink and protein bar for dinner. Sometimes I would allow myself some plain chicken breast and on really special occasions some fat-free fro-yo for dessert.  

What is even crazier, I never bought anything at the store that had over 3 grams of fat per serving in it. I didn’t pay attention to the sugar or calorie count or if there was any nutrition in these products whatsoever. As long as the total fat number came in under 3 grams it was good to go in my book. I know, I know. Utterly ridiculous and so beyond unhealthy. I am literally sitting here cringing that I am even telling you guys that.

But hey, I got myself down to about 90 lbs or so which was all I really cared about. Now I am about 5’4 which means at 90 lbs I was probably about 20 lbs underweight. I was skin and bones. I thought at the time I looked amazing. In reality, I looked sick. I looked sick enough for family and friends to start asking if I actually was sick. Wanna know the crazy part? Them asking that made me feel slightly elated and even accomplished. It actually fueled my desire to not only maintain that very unhealthy weight but maybe even lose more weight!

I “lived” like that for almost two years. Hovering right around 90lbs, feeling so weak most days it was hard to get up once I had sat down, and subconsciously resigning myself to the fact that if I couldn’t control what was going on around me, I would control what was looking back at me in the mirror. Steadily declining health, a near nervous breakdown, and a trip to the emergency room later, I finally snapped back into enough reality that I quit my job, broke up with my boyfriend, and decided to take my life back into my own hands. It wasn’t quite as quick and easy as that, but in general, that’s what ended up happening.  

I also didn’t magically find myself right after I did all those things, but I did find so much happiness in living on my own terms that my obsession with my weight and what I was eating no longer had a place in my life. So what are some things I did to help turn such a negative relationship with food into the much more positive one I have today? Well, the first thing I did was…

It didn’t happen overnight, but the good news is, it did happen. It took work and not every day was perfect and honestly, I still have some days when I look in the mirror and for a brief second, I think I need to start restricting again. You know, just for a few days to drop a few pounds but I am now quickly able to banish those thoughts as unhealthy and unnecessary. My relationship with food today is on solid ground and as healthy as it has ever been. I see food as an ally or a tool I have in my arsenal that I can use every single day to live the healthiest life possible. Being able to shift this relationship into such a positive one has made my life so much better in so many ways and may have even saved it.  

Stay healthy and safe everyone!!



Building Muscle. Burning Fat.

Building Muscle. Burning Fat.

I have only done this one other time on this platform, but I am in the middle of a workout program that is totally kicking my butt in the best possible way and I decided I wanted to dedicate a post to it, more specifically the philosophy behind it! The program, which is actually a two-part program, called Muscle Burns Fat and Muscle Burns Fat Advanced, operates on the premise that the more muscle you build the more calories you will burn, even while you are at rest! For more details on the program itself and to see my results so far, check out my page MBF/MBFA under my Workouts tab, but today I want to mainly talk about this idea of how building muscle and strengthening your body is such an effective way to shed some pounds, lean out and of course get healthy.

Up until a few years ago, you would not have caught me doing this or any other workout that involved weight training. I had no desire to build any real muscle or get any stronger. My goal for a really long time was just to fit into a size 0 jean, and it honestly it didn’t really matter how I got there. I didn’t want to be healthy; I didn’t want to be fit; apparently, I didn’t want to be happy; I just wanted to be thin. Strike that, skinny! I have mentioned in previous posts how all I used to do was endless amounts of cardio, mistakenly thinking that was the only way to shed pounds and get the lean body type I was after. I completely avoided picking up any weights at all, exclusively sticking to the treadmill, bike, and occasionally when I was feeling adventurous, the Stairmaster.  

Sure, I was skinny for a while. Too skinny. But looking back I attribute that more to the fact that I probably only took in about 500 calories a day in the form of coffee and crackers. I cringe looking back on that time in my life because I was so misguided and honestly downright unhealthy. Three years ago, when I set out to lose the extra pounds I had put on, I started down that same ridiculous road. Not knowing any better, I jumped right back into doing nothing but cardio, hating every minute of it, and what comes as no surprise to me now, not seeing barely any results.

Long story short, I was on the verge of throwing in the towel due to sheer frustration and honestly boredom. Thankfully, I was committed enough this time around that quitting wasn’t an option. I knew I needed to find a better way of working out and I also knew enough to know I didn’t know enough. So, I researched. I watched videos. I followed “influencers” on Instagram. I tried to replicate what I saw them doing and I gained enough information to learn that I needed to incorporate strength training into my routine. But how?

I tried doing it on my own. I tried coming up with routines to follow and while I did see some preliminary results start to happen, I quickly plateaued and even ended up injuring myself. Enter a friend of mine who referred me to BOD and the programs that were changing her life and I finally broke down and gave it a try, thinking I really had nothing to lose and everything to gain!

The very first program I did on BOD was LIIFT4. This program combines strength training with HIIT training (High-Intensity Interval Training) and it is where I fell in love with picking up and putting down heavy things. Over the course of six weeks, I saw and probably more importantly felt my body change one muscle group at a time… and I was hooked! I was hooked on how much stronger I was feeling. I was hooked on how much quicker I was leaning out. I was hooked on seeing muscles grow in places I didn’t even know I had muscles. I was finally hooked on working out and was having a blast doing it!

Fast forward a couple of years to today, several rounds of LIIFT4 and a handful of other amazing programs later (you can take a look at all the programs I have completed on my Workout page), and here I am finished with #MBF and midway through #MBFA. I am stronger, happier, healthier, and in better shape than I have ever been in my entire life and I attribute so much of it to the fact that I fell in love with weight training over these past three years.

#MBF and #MBFA have taken my results and are kicking them up even one notch higher…maybe two!! The principle behind #MBF and #MBFA is pretty simple, yet so effective…the more muscle you build the more calories you can burn each day. You guys, you do not need endless hours of cardio and crash-dieting to lean out and lose weight! A much more fun and healthy way to go about it is to build lean muscle. How exactly does building muscle translate into losing fat though? Great question! For starters:

  • The very nature of muscle tissue makes it more active than fat is, metabolically speaking. What does this mean in terms of losing weight? It means the more muscle we build, the more energy we are expending. This is because as you build more muscle, your resting metabolic rate raises which is just a fancy way of saying you burn more calories doing everyday things…think breathing, and blinking, and yes, even when you are at rest and sleeping!
  • Building muscle itself is a calorie-burning exercise! Enter, afterburn! The beauty of strength training is that even after your workout has ended you keep right on burning calories in a process called afterburn. Afterburn, very briefly summed up, is how your body returns itself to its pre-workout state. During this period you are burning more calories than you normally would and it can last as long as 72 hours!  
  • You can’t starve yourself and build muscle at the same time. So no need to crash diet or be crazy restrictive! This was an especially hard one for me to wrap my head around, but in order to build more muscle, even lean muscle, you need to eat. Train more, eat more, healthy, nutritious food of course (the majority of the time) but you need to keep up your calorie intake in order to maintain the muscle you have and continue to gain more if that is your goal.   
  • If you do find yourself losing weight but also losing muscle at the same time, the best way to combat that is to up your protein intake. It isn’t unusual to lose muscle right long with fat if you are trying to shed pounds. The best way to ensure the most amount of muscle sticks around while the fat does not is to make sure you are hitting your protein goals each day.  
  • The number on the scale might not change, but you will look leaner! This was also a hard concept for my former self who was weight and scale obsessed to accept but it is very true. Muscle in fact takes up less space than fat does, so you can appear thinner without the scale moving. Fun fact: I threw my scale away years ago and it was one of the best, most freeing, decisions I have ever made!

Incorporating strength training into my workout routine has been nothing short of life-changing for me, and not only in a physical sense. Weight training has given me a level of confidence I didn’t use to have, it has given me a brand-new appreciation for my body and what it is capable of and it has helped me find a healthy way to meet my goals that don’t include starving or torturing myself with horribly ineffective workouts. It has also, and possibly most importantly, allowed me to find and keep the motivation to workout consistently for what I am positive will be the rest of my life. I don’t dread working out anymore. I now, in fact, love the feeling of picking up those weights, pressing play, and watching myself get stronger, healthier, and happier than I have ever been!  

Ready to give it a try?! Click below for a FREE sample workout….just be prepared to sweat! Go press play then be sure to come back and let me know what you thought!!


xoxoxo- Beth

Every 36 seconds…

Every 36 seconds…

someone in America dies from cardiovascular disease! Every 36 seconds you guys!! I heard that statistic today and I was absolutely floored!  I was floored and then felt immediately compelled to get on here and write about what a serious issue this is for our society and how it is one I think needs to be talked about far more than it is. And what better time to start the conversation than in the month of February which just happens to be Heart Health Month and, on this day, dedicated to all things love and hearts!!

Let’s start first with a few more seriously alarming statistics I came across from the CDC which really opened my eyes and help to illuminate the magnitude of this problem:

I knew Heart Disease was a major issue, but wow, just wow, I had no idea it was this big of a problem.  So, let’s break this down some more so we really get a handle on what we are dealing with here.  The term heart disease itself actually refers to several types of heart conditions, of which, as mentioned above, CAD is the most common.  Below is a brief explanation of CAD along with the other leading forms:

  • CAD or Coronary Artery Disease: occurs when the arteries carrying blood to the heart become lined with plaque (which basically consists of fat and cholesterol) and this plaque buildup (called atherosclerosis) causes the arteries to narrow.  When our arteries narrow, less oxygen can reach the heart muscle and big problems like heart attacks occur.   
  • Arrhythmia: refers to an irregular heartbeat; this can be slow irregular, fast irregular or just an actual irregular or abnormal heartbeat.  Arrhythmia can be caused by CAD as well as conditions like diabetes, sleep apnea, changes in the structure of your heart or it can occur as a result of a heart attack itself.
  • Congestive Heart Failure: CHF is a progressive disease of the heart that affects how efficiently the heart muscles can pump oxygen to the rest of the body.  Yet again CAD is often the culprit here along with diabetes and high blood pressure which all leave your heart too weak to pump the necessary amount of oxygen to the rest of our body.
  • Valvular Heart Disease: Just like the name implies, this is a disease that targets one or more of the four valves in the heart.  Valves can sometimes become weak or even start to leak with Valvular Disease which in turn affects the blood flow through the heart and makes an impact on how effectively the heart can pump.

There are a few others as well such as diseases of the heart muscle itself as well as congenital heart disease which causes problems to the heart at birth and happens in around 1 every 100 or so births in the U.S.  So now that we know a little more about what heart disease actually is, let’s get down to the really important part which is how can we prevent or at least lessen the risk of occurrence. 

In order to do that, we must understand what some of the most common risk factors are for developing one or more of the aforementioned diseases.  These will probably come at no shock to you, but risk factors for heart disease include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and excessive use of alcohol, to name a few.

It makes sense then in order to ward of heart disease eating right and getting enough exercise can go a long way in keeping our hearts happy!  But what, more specifically can we do?  Well a good place to start is to:

  • Make sure you know you risk!  Get that baseline annual physical each year to keep an eye specifically on your blood pressure and cholesterol.  If your blood pressure is on the higher side, limit your salt intake and cut back on refined carbs and sugars. If your cholesterol is in the high range, focus on eating whole, not processed foods and limiting red meat for starters (you can check out my post solely dedicated to the topic of cholesterol here). 
  • Make sure you are getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.  Aim for a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training and don’t forget to incorporate stretching into your routine to keep that blood flowing and your muscles and joints happy.  Getting enough exercise helps in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing other conditions that might put a strain on your heart like diabetes and high blood pressure. 
  • Choose Heart Healthy Foods such as:
    • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.  Adopting a plant-based diet has been shown to go a long way in reducing heart attack risk.
    • Whole Grains…Oats are an especially heart-healthy choice
    • Lean Proteins such as fish, legumes and nuts
    • Green and Black Tea
    • Healthy Fats such as Olive Oil and Avocado
    • Dark Chocolate (this might be my favorite one 😊)
  • Keep stress levels in check as much as possible.  I don’t think people realize just how damaging stress can be to our physical bodies. Being chronically stressed can be especially hard on our hearts due to the fact that it raises our blood pressure and heart rate making our hearts work harder to pump that oh so very necessary oxygen to the rest of our body. 
  • Get your Zzzz’s. Sleep is another area I think people tend to overlook when it comes to maintaining good health, especially heart health.  If you aren’t getting the proper amount of sleep every night (on average about 7 hours- check out my post dedicated to the importance of sleep here) your body doesn’t have a chance to recover and repair itself.  Lack of proper sleep also tends to lead to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even depression all of which can in turn lead to a higher risk of heart attack and heart disease. 

Smoking is obviously a big no-no and limiting alcohol consumption as much as possible also goes a long way in warding off heart troubles as well.  While all of the suggestion above seem like really obvious ways of maintaining good heart health as well as good overall health, it seems based on that shocking 36 second statistic we need to do a better job following through with them and/or encouraging our loved ones to do so as well.

I would be willing to bet there are very few of you out there who have not been personally touched or know someone who has been affected by this seemingly out of control disease. I know I have, more than once unfortunately, so let’s start talking more about it, taking it more seriously and in turn maybe we can prevent it from happening to someone else we know and/or care for! 

Lots of love on this day every other one!



Inflammation: The good, the bad, the necessary??

Inflammation: The good, the bad, the necessary??

Over the past three years, I have witnessed my body changing and responding in amazing ways to the consistent exercise and the much healthier diet that I have adopted. I have been able to transform my outward appearance, which was of course the original goal when I started out on this journey, but what I have come to realize is the changes that have occured from the inside out are the ones that have had the greatest impact on my life.

Putting the physical changes aside for the moment, one of the most striking ways my body has responded to this new lifestyle is through the noticeable reduction of inflammation that used to plague me on an all too regular basis. About ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC), an inflammatory bowel disease, that would leave me just about bedridden for weeks at a time. I struggled for a while to get it under control, trying several different medications, and combinations of medications until I finally found one that would successfully send it back into remission.  

The medication, however, didn’t stop the flare-ups, which would happen several times a year, it just treated them when they did occur. I won’t go into the details of what those flare-ups consisted of, but needless to say, they were very unpleasant and would leave me feeling drained, uncomfortable, and sometimes even in pain until I was able to get my hands on the very expensive pills I needed to fight back the inflammation causing all the issues. 

The inflammation associated with my UC and other types of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s Disease is what is considered Chronic Inflammation. The other main type of inflammation is Acute Inflammation. Acute Inflammation is the type you might be more familiar with so let’s start there. Acute Inflammation is actually the way our body fights infection, foreign bodies, and also how it begins to heal itself immediately after an injury. This is the inflammation I was referring to when I mentioned the word “necessary” above.  

Think about what happens when you say, get a splinter? Almost instantly, the area around the splinter turns red, gets warm and the skin around it might even start to swell up. That is your body’s immediate and very normal reaction to such trauma and is a sign that healing has already started to take place. Acute inflammation happens very rapidly and usually only lasts for a max of a couple of days. Chronic inflammation, again like the type that causes my UC, tends to come on more slowly and can last for months and even years.

The cause of chronic inflammation, while not always known, is often a direct result of your immune system mistakenly attacking normal tissue. Other causes are also thought to be obesity, smoking, intaking too much alcohol, long-term exposure to certain toxins and/or irritants, and even chronic stress. No matter what the cause, think of chronic inflammation as a response from your immune system that doesn’t turn off when it should. It is inflammation that hangs around long after an initial injury, infection, or exposure to a toxin is over.  

Chronic inflammation is particularly scary because it can actually alter your DNA and can play a role in the development of pretty serious and sometimes deadly conditions such as:

  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Lung Issues like Asthma and COPD
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s

Pretty serious right?! So now that we know how damaging chronic inflammation can be, what are some ways we can fight it? Well, the reason that I brought up my UC at the beginning of this article is that for the past two years I haven’t had one single flare-up! Time for an obvious disclaimer here…I am not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV, but I do know my body. And I while I can’t say with 100% certainty that starting to and staying consistent with exercise has been the magic solution, I do believe it has helped immensely.  

Exercise for me is not only really great for my physical health but works wonders as a stress reliever as well. And you guessed it…keeping stress to a minimum is another crucial way to keep inflammation out of our bodies. Meditate, take a long, hot bath, dedicate 30 minutes to getting outside and taking in some fresh air, roll on the floor with your dog, do whatever makes you feel happy, and helps you to unwind. Stress is a killer in so many ways, so limiting it through whatever means works for you should always be a top priority.

The third and probably most impactful way I have been able to get my inflammation under control is by cleaning up my diet. I have cut out red meat, greatly limited how much processed food I eat and have made a huge effort to include more whole fruits and vegetables into my diet. I have also added a daily dose of turmeric, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar to my regimen all of which have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Food, you guys, can either be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to inflammation, so choose wisely!  I created this handy-dandy little chart below for more information on what foods can help and hurt in the fight against chronic inflammation:

Keeping my chronic inflammation at bay is probably going to be a lifelong battle for me. For whatever reason, I am prone to it, suffering as I mentioned not only with UC but also with tendonitis, allergies, and even stomach ulcers a few times in my early twenties all of which have roots in an inflammatory process going on in overdrive in my body. The good news, in setting out to lose a few pounds, I ended up creating a lifestyle for myself that fights the good fight for me. This is just yet another example of how adopting healthier habits can have such unexpectedly amazing benefits. Once again you all, the moral of this story is to treat your body with just a little bit extra TLC and sit back and watch how it repays you in spades!!

Be kind, be well and eat your veggies!!



That time I overtrained…

That time I overtrained…

I have been on my health and fitness journey for just over three years now and to say I have fallen in love with the lifestyle would be a massive understatement.  I honestly look forward to waking up working out, fueling my body with nutritious foods, and prioritizing my health and well-being each and every day.  Three years ago I set out to lose ten pounds.  That was my one and only goal.  What I had no idea of at the time was that in the process of losing the weight I would gain so much more.

I gained my health back, but not only my physical health, maybe more importantly my mental health.  I gained my self-confidence back. I gained a purpose in life that I didn’t have before. I gained an overwhelming desire to push myself, to never stop learning and growing and to keep setting and knocking down bigger and better goals for myself each and every day.  In short, I lost the weight and gained a version of me that I could not be more proud of today.

The one and only problem I have run into with this new version of myself is my “off-switch” sometimes seems to be broken.  I am SO in love with this lifestyle and the benefits I reap from living it, I don’t want to let up for even just one day.  I want to workout everyday.  I want to push myself to lift heavier, run further, bike harder terrain, eat more vegetables, drink more protein shakes, so on and so forth that even when I know I need to take a day off, I have a really hard time doing it. 

Maybe I’m addicted to the endorphins. Maybe I am addicted to the feeling of pride that comes with accomplishing things I never thought I would be able to do.  Maybe it’s a little bit of both those things mixed with the fact that I have found workout programs (check them out here) that are actually fun, challenging, and offer so much variety that I never get bored. Whatever it is, I am here to admit today that I recently found out what skipping too many of those rest days can get you…hint: it is nothing good!   And let me tell you folks, I learned a valuable lesson and I learned it the hard way. 

I won’t go into all the down and dirty details but I will tell you that a few months back, I was pushing myself especially hard.  I was soaking up the last of the beautiful fall weather and getting out on my mountain bike as much as I possibly could, running on the days I wasn’t biking and of course hitting those home lifting and HIIT style workouts that I love so much in between.  I was more than overdoing it and I was overdoing it seven days a week. For a while I felt great.  I was noticing more muscle forming, my endurance increasing and my over all fitness levels skyrocketing.  Again, I felt great…until suddenly I didn’t.   

It seemed to come out of nowhere.  I went from getting stronger and faster, to getting slower and weaker.  Seemingly out of the blue I could barely run a mile without huffing and puffing and feeling like I was having a heart attack.  I suddenly had no desire to pick up my weights and press play on my favorite workouts. And what was probably the final straw that forced me to sit up and take notice was my anxiety was through the roof.  I mean, full blown panic attacks the likes of which I hadn’t experienced in years!

Of course, thinking I was stricken with some terrible disease, I googled all my symptoms and spent days obsessing over what they could possibly mean.  I went as far as to see my doctor, get a chest xray done, try a variety of allergy medications to rule out a particularly bad reaction to the apparently high levels of ragweed we were experiencing at the time, all to no avail.  The doctor didn’t have any answers for me, the Xray came back clear and the allergy medication didn’t even make a dent in the way I was feeling.

Frustrated, a little scared but unwilling to give up, I researched more.  I again tried plugging in all my symptoms to a search bar and amongst a whole host of crazy diseases most of which I couldn’t even pronounce, there it was.  The last thing I would have come up with on my own but probably the most obvious cause of my then current affliction, I was overtraining.  At first, I thought no way.  I am smarter than that.  I know my body better than that.  I am a lean, mean, in-tune with myself, fitness machine.  There is no way that I feel so terrible just because I hadn’t taken enough rest days.  Then I really seriously thought about it.   Not only had I not, not taken enough rest days, I hadn’t actually taken one at all in so long I couldn’t even remember when the last one was.

I had all the classic symptoms:

  • I was finding normally easy workouts to be hard, and hard workouts to be impossible – Decreased performance is like the most predominant sign you have overtrained, and this sign hit me like a ton of bricks.  I remember starting out what I had planned to be about a 3-4 mile run and after making it only about a half of a mile feeling like I was literally having a heart attack.  I couldn’t catch my breath, I was having pains in my chest and I sincerely thought I might have to call someone to come pick me up and drive me back to my house because my legs felt that heavy.  This exact same thing happened a second time to me about a week later but instead of happening when I was running it happened when I set out on a bike ride, one that I had done countless times before.   Again, I got a few minutes into the workout and all the same things started happening.  I had to turn the bike around and actually walk it all the way back to my car because I couldn’t even pedal the mile or so back. 
  • I was incredibly sore – I mean sore to the point I could barely walk for several days after one particular leg day workout.  I had done an 80 Day Obsession workout one afternoon that I had probably done at least five or six times before and woke up the next day with so much soreness I was almost in tears.  For at least two full days I was barely able to walk, trying to sit down was borderline excruciating and living on the 3rd floor of a condo building with no elevators got really painful really quickly.  I was sorer than I had been in as long as I could remember and what made no sense was I really didn’t do anything that extreme that should have warranted the kind of reaction my body was having. The soreness thankfully dissipated after about three days but it was definitely a warning sign my body needed a time out. 
  • I was having a lot of trouble sleeping – If any of you have trouble sleeping or are insomniacs you know how frustrating it is to be so tired but unable to get yourself to sleep!  I would lay down to try to sleep but I would either not be able to fall asleep and just lay there and stare at the ceiling for hours or I would end up waking up like a zillion times during the night…or sometimes both!  I wasn’t ever falling into that deep, REM sleep that is so important for our bodies to recover and repair themselves so I became like a walking zombie just going through the motions but not doing much else.  This lack of sleep night after night started to accumulate which predictably led me to my next symptom….
  • I was tired ALL the time – I mean that kind of tired where it is almost painful, I was so tired.   Extreme fatigue is probably a better way of describing it.  For days on end, I struggled to do anything and everything.  My body was tired, the brain fog was real, and my crankiness levels were off the charts.  Even thinking about doing anything was exhausting.  I willed myself through the days by just putting one foot in front of the other, not really accomplishing anything, just sort of existing.  This was a tough one for me because I am definitely one of those people who likes to be going and doing all the time.  I hate sitting around. I barely ever watch TV and in my mind I am always thinking of the next things I want to get done.  Not having the energy to get off the couch…talk about frustrating!!
  • I was losing interest – My level of exhaustion coupled with how sore I was finding myself even after doing the lightest of workouts started to lead me down the path of not wanting to do the things I had previously loved doing so much just weeks before.  The joy I once felt in being able to workout or get on my bike or set out on a run was replaced with dread because of how hard I knew even the lightest of workouts would be and the disappointment with myself that I was no longer able to perform at the levels I had so recently been capable of.  I started getting really frustrated, even angry at myself, at my body, at the workouts themselves and for the first time in years doubted I would ever again be able to workout, and enjoy myself, like I had been.
  • My anxiety was through the roof – I mentioned this one above but it was probably the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for me.  After a particularly nasty panic attack one day I finally realized my entire system (mind and body) was at the breaking point.  Having not had any real anxiety to speak of and certainly no panic attacks in close to two years, I was shocked that they had come back, and it forced me to deal with the fact I was not ok and could not continue down the road I was on.  The day I had this panic attack was the day I decided to really try to figure out what as going on with me and the day that eventually led me to discovering how real a thing overtraining is. 

Some other common and downright scary (if you ask me) symptoms of overtraining include increased headaches, irregular heart beats, increased incidence of injury, decreased appetite and/or weight loss and even reproductive issues in women!  Bottom line you guys, overtraining is real, and while it can be really tough to recognize and often mistaken for a ton of much more serious problems, it is can be pretty easily dealt with and overcome. 

In my case, I just took some time off.  I rested, I ate healthy nutritious foods, I drank plenty of water and I waited until I felt better to resume any intense exercise.  Just like everything else in life, exercise, especially intense exercise, should be done with a touch of moderation.  Going full on beast mode, every single day, week in and week out, does your body and mind no favors.  Rest is just as important to a fitness routine as training days.  Don’t be like me and learn this lesson the hard, and somewhat painful way. Schedule in rest days, stick to them and continue to thrive and crush those New Year 2021 goals!

Xoxoxo –


Let’s talk MORE about mental health…

Let’s talk MORE about mental health…

In honor of this past Saturday being World Mental Health Day, I wanted to send a big shout out to anyone and everyone who may need to hear this, it is ok not to be ok. And not only is ok not to be ok, it is also more than ok to admit it and talk about it! Mental health is such a strangely absent topic of conversation when we speak about getting healthy and taking care of ourselves even though it is just as important to be healthy on the inside as it is to be healthy on the outside. So, let’s talk about it right now. Let’s make it more ok not to be ok all the time. We live in this culture where so often all you see is a filtered version of the happiest-looking, most social, most out-going, most successful people around you which unfortunately I think is contributing to more and more people covering up how they may truly be feeling on the inside. 

I know I am guilty of this myself to some extent. While I do try to talk about my own struggles with mental health occasionally, I probably don’t do it enough mostly because I very much want this space to be as positive, motivational, and encouraging as I can make it. And while I have gotten my own mental health substantially more under control since I started taking better care of my physical self, I still struggle. I still have anxiety. I still have days I don’t feel as happy and motivated as others. So, part of why I am here today is to make a promise to all of you right here and right now, I will talk start to talk about my struggles just as much as I talk about my triumphs.

Another reason I am here talking about this today stems from a really interesting conversation I had just the other day. I happened to have the TV on while I was cooking dinner and a commercial came on for a drug to treat schizophrenia. A friend of mine who was over. heard the commercial and was astonished and maybe even a little disturbed (he is slightly older than me) that they had put that ad on TV because as he put it, “you never would have seen that or talked about that openly back in the day”. I found myself getting just the tiniest bit heated, not at him, but at the fact that there was even a time when talking about having a mental health issue or disease was frowned upon to that degree. I think for males in particular but even females as well, mental health issues have long been something we have been encouraged just to sweep under the rug and deal with ourselves.

So, in the spirit of being open and honest, I myself, have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for years now. I have talked about this on this blog before so I won’t go into a ton of details but I wanted to emphasize that for a long time having these panic attacks and living with higher than normal levels of anxiety made me feel inadequate. I was ashamed that I wasn’t able to control my mind better so I could be more “normal” which led me to suffer by myself and not seek out the help that I honestly really needed. I finally got to the point though that I started opening up to a few people in my life because I just couldn’t handle it on my own anymore and while it is very hard for someone who doesn’t suffer with the same thing that you do to understand exactly what you may be going through, I was lucky enough to have people who didn’t for one-second judge me.  Instead, they just listened and were there when I needed them.

Having been on the receiving end of the kind of support and compassion that finally led me to get a handle on my own issues, I wanted to share a few do’s and don’ts today you might want to be mindful of if someone in your own life seems to be having a hard time or is brave enough to come to you and share what is going on with them:


Speak up.  Like I mentioned above, so often people who are suffering might be too afraid to say anything. Often, however, if you are close enough with a person you might see signs that something is going on with them before they are able to articulate anything to you. Sit down with that person, gently explain what you have been noticing, ask them if they are ok or if they would like to talk. Let them know they matter to you and even if they don’t choose to open up right away, oftentimes just letting them know you are there if they want to can make the biggest difference.    

Offer to just be there and listen.  The first time I got up the courage to call someone when I was having a panic attack, I called my mom. She came and got me and we sat down at the kitchen table over a cup of hot tea and I told her what I was experiencing. We talked about it for as long as I wanted to, with her mostly sitting there just listening. The most important thing that came out of that conversation, however, was that I put my embarrassment aside, finally spoke up, and now had people who knew what was going on with me and were in my corner. I was reassured I could call them day or night if/when another attack happened and that put my mind so much at ease that I only wish I would have spoken up sooner.

Educate yourself. Having a greater understanding of what someone you care about might be going through can only aid in your being as empathetic as possible to their situation. While you will probably never totally understand what another person is experiencing exactly, being as tuned in and knowledgeable as you can be might assist you in not only knowing how you should handle the situation when they come to you but also can help in steering them in the right direction as far as getting the professional help they might need.   

Offer to explore options for getting help together. Having someone on your side, assisting you with looking into seeking out professional help to deal with your issues can make the whole process seem much less scary and overwhelming. Someone in the midst of dealing with mental health issues might already be overwhelmed just trying to keep their head above water, so offering to take their hand and start exploring ways to get them outside help could be just the encouragement they need to begin the process. Again, the value of not feeling alone to deal with everything on one’s own is so huge to someone who just might need that little extra push to begin the healing process.


Try to diagnose or fix the person yourself.  While being educated is great, unless maybe you are a clinical psychologist, better to just be there in a supportive role rather than to try to give advice to “fix” the problem.  Mental health issues are often much more complex than how they manifest outwardly, so again just being there to listen and offer support is your best bet when someone opens up to you. Be a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a safe space where someone can come and talk about what is going on with them, but steer clear of asking too many questions or trying to diagnose that person yourself.  

Offer up a story about how you went through something similar.  While this may seem like a helpful way to try to relate and make the person seem less alone, oftentimes it comes across like you are trying to shift the focus onto yourself and may not truly be listening to what the person who is opening up is really saying. Again, while it may be coming from a good place, you don’t want to seem like you are just waiting to have your turn to talk. Make every effort you can just to listen.

Say “this will pass”. Saying something like “this will pass” or “this feeling is only temporary” can sound very diminishing and often make the person on the receiving end feel ashamed for even bringing the issue up. While some mental health issues can get better with time and treatment, when the person is in the midst of suffering hearing something of this nature can sound very dismissive and like the person, they chose to confide in is just brushing off the problem. These are big issues no matter how temporary or permanent they end up being so if someone chooses you to confide in please take them very seriously because they may have already been suffering in silence for some time.  

While I do think recently the climate has started to slowly change to where it is more acceptable and less taboo to talk about mental health struggles, it really shouldn’t be something anyone is ever ashamed to share or admit to. Given all that we have been living through this year, it is especially important right now to speak up if you even think there might be something going on with you that is out of the ordinary or you are having trouble dealing with yourself. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all talk about what is really going on with us and maybe find a way to work through it together? There are so many people out there who might also be struggling with something very similar to what you are so let’s work on ending the stigma and make this conversation one it is perfectly ok to have!



10 Ways to Embrace the Beauty of a Fresh Start….

10 Ways to Embrace the Beauty of a Fresh Start….

I honestly believe the old saying is true, “sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together”. If you have been around long enough, I am sure you can think of at least one time in your life when something that at one point seemed right and good, suddenly or maybe not so suddenly came to an end only for something even better to begin. I myself can think of several times this has happened to me throughout my own life and while sometimes endings can be difficult and even sad, they almost always come with the promise of a fresh start and that all-important feeling of hope that something even better is right around the corner.

What is so great about life is that each and every morning that we are lucky enough to open our eyes we are given the chance to start over. Every single one of us is given a clean slate every day to do with it what we will and in my experience even when we decide to change up even one little thing in our lives that may not be working so well for us anymore or that just may have run its course, a chain reaction often happens. For example, almost three years ago I decided to start taking better care of myself. I didn’t go crazy and buy every diet pill out there or join the most expensive gym I could find and spend hours a day there but I did commit to eating out less and working out for 30 minutes a day to get myself on the right track.

That one pretty small decision snowballed into so many positive things happening in my life such as getting off the anxiety medication I had been on for years, starting this blog, reconnecting with old friends, and even getting a promotion at work and buying my first house! I had gotten sick and tired of the way I looked and felt and just decided it was time to start fresh.

That is how it usually happens though, right? We get sick and tired of the current situation we are in and finally decide to do something about it. And while sometimes the universe does it for us, we always at least have the power to control how we react to it being time to start over. By this point in my life I have of course realized that change is inevitable, so why not embrace it, make the best of it and come out the other side of it a better, stronger, smarter, and more badass version of you?! Below are some ways that we can shift our mindset from being tentative and maybe even afraid of change to being excited about the possibilities it might bring:

Accept that is it indeed time to make that fresh start. Make peace with the fact that a new chapter is necessary and begin to think of all the possibilities that lay in front of you as opposed to dwelling on what you are leaving behind in the past Take an honest account of your life and hold on to the things that make you happy and put behind you the things that don’t. Life is moving forward one way or the other after all, so why not live for what could be instead of what was.

Pull off the proverbial band-aid. If you have been thinking about it for a while, feeling the change coming, or just been hesitant to make that jump, my advice is just JUMP! Life is too short people! That little 6th sense that we all have telling us something is over, something is not right anymore, or something has run its course is very rarely, if ever wrong. Listen to your intuition and just go for it.

Work on changing old habits and forming new ones. So often in life we get into ruts because we just accept that the way things have been is the way it has to be. It is never too late to start over you guys. It is never too late to learn something new, to meet new people, to take up a new hobby or even just to alter a routine you have been in or a mindset you have had forever. Make conscious decisions to change what is isn’t working until you find what does.

Talk to someone.  Reach out to a friend or family member who knows you well and have an honest discussion about what is going on. Very often I find it is invaluable to get an outsider’s opinion as they may see things much more objectively than we are able to. We have the tendency to wear blinders when it comes to our own lives so talking through a situation with someone who is not directly involved in it may just provide us the right amount of clarity we need to finally make that fresh start.

Don’t wait for the “right time”. You will probably find yourself waiting a long time because there very rarely is a right time to do something that we might, at least at first, find scary. Don’t wait for a new year or a new month or even next Monday.  Decide, commit, and do everything in your power to get yourself where you truly want to be the instant you feel like a fresh start is necessary.

Don’t worry about what other people will think. This isn’t their life after all. You need to do what is right for you without fear of judgment or disapproval because you are the one who has to live with the decisions you make, not them. If you decide to stay in a situation that is not making you happy then you decided to live with it. If you decide to do something about it and are brave enough to take that leap, tune out any negativity that may come your way and celebrate the fact that you were strong enough to do what is best for you. But either way, do it for you. Not for anyone else. You have one life. Live it exactly how you want.

Get out of your comfort zone. Just because something is familiar and “normal” to you does not necessarily make it right. The normal reaction to pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones is to just not do it. Our comfort zones are warm and inviting, and well comfortable for a reason. But no real meaningful change happens there. We often have to get uncomfortable for a little bit to find something even better on the other side of the temporary struggle it will take to get there.

Try something new. Maybe you know it’s time for a change but you just don’t exactly know what that should look like. That’s ok! There are so many things out there that you can start doing or try for the first time to get yourself at least moving forward. Sign up for a race. Go skydiving. Join a book club. Take a class on something you have always been interested in. Like I mentioned above, oftentimes taking one step forward, making one small adjustment or baby step in the right direction can lead to much larger, more meaningful changes happening down the road.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is part of life y’all. I have failed so many times I have lost count but what I haven’t done is quit. Every time I have fallen flat on my face, I have picked myself up and started anew. Failure offers us a wonderful chance to take stock of ourselves, our actions, and our behavior so that we can avoid making the same mistakes again. I have come to the point in my life where I truly believe if you haven’t fallen you haven’t tried hard enough. Fail a hundred times if you have to because when that one time comes that you succeed all those failures will have been more than worth it.

Believe that you are worth it. Don’t settle you guys. You deserve all the happiness in the world, but guess what the world is probably not going to hand it to you. Love yourself enough to let go of things that are not truly making you happy so you can pursue what does. And don’t be reactive about it. Be proactive. Make that change. Go ahead and jump. Take it upon yourself to better a bad situation. Shed what is holding you back and find what makes every day a day you look forward to waking up and embracing life to the fullest.

Fresh starts come in all shapes in sizes. Sometimes they are major events like ending a long-term relationship you thought would last forever, or finally leaving that job you have been talking about leaving for years, or picking up and moving across the country just because you have always wanted to live somewhere else. They also might be smaller events like dyeing your hair pink just because you have always wanted to do so or adding to your family by adopting a new pet, or maybe it’s just waking up one morning and deciding to start eating healthier and exercising a bit because it is finally time to take better care of yourself. Whatever change you feel you may be needing, just go for it! I am not saying it is going to be easy or quick or painless but sometimes you don’t even know how badly you need it until you start moving in the right direction.

Stay safe and healthy out there you guys…and don’t forget to be kind to each other!!



5 Reasons My Goal for September Is To Practice More Yoga!

5 Reasons My Goal for September Is To Practice More Yoga!

Happy National Yoga Month to all my Yogis out there! Since we are celebrating all things yoga during the month of September, I thought this would be a perfect time to explore what this ancient practice is all about and how incorporating it into our lives can benefit us in a variety of ways. I had dabbled in yoga over the years and by dabbled I mean taken a class here and there mostly when a certain pushy friend of mine would bribe me with Starbucks if I got up at an ungodly hour on Sunday’s to attend a class with her. I neither loved it nor hated it but simply went because, well, it seemed like something I should at least try a handful of times before I wrote off completely. I will freely admit I went into those classes already having decided it wasn’t for me simply because I had this preconceived notion that it was a sleepy little practice that wouldn’t benefit my then goals of getting stronger and building more muscle. I went to the classes, made my friend happy, but never practiced it outside of those few select instances.

Fast forward to March of this year and the start of living the pandemic life and I decided to expand my horizons and give yoga another shot. I am not sure if it came about because I started sitting more, or if it was the amount I was running outside on hard pavement instead of on a treadmill that triggered this but I suddenly found myself with a significant amount of lower back pain. Not wanting to pop pain relievers like Tic Tac’s, I figured yoga could be a much healthier and more holistic approach to alleviating some of the pain and stiffness. I dove into a 3 Week Yoga Retreat (virtual) program and by the end of the 21 days, I was a believer. I felt more flexible, my back pain had diminished quite a bit and even more unexpectedly I actually felt calmer, more grounded and an increased connection to my body that I don’t believe I had ever experienced before. 

All those things shouldn’t really have been a surprise though because the very essence of yoga, which by the way goes back a whopping 5000 years, is the unification of the self, that is the connection of the mind, body, and emotions. Yoga really is a total body and mind practice and as I have found, if done with a little bit of consistency and dedication, can offer benefits that you may not even be aware you need. Keep reading for a few of the ways yoga has enriched my life:

5 Benefits of Yoga and the Poses You Can Use to Achieve Them

Amazing Stress and Anxiety Reliever

There is something very calming about focusing on only your breath and the present moment you are in. Yoga stresses the need to be connected to the here and now, not thinking about a hundred different things that either already happened or might happen. It is a practice centered around relaxation and re-connecting us to our bodies. Through the use of controlled breathing and gentle, targeted stretches, yoga has actually been shown to decrease the levels of cortisol in our bodies which is the hormone responsible for stress. Decreases in this hormone can help lessen or fight off anxiety and depression as well.

3 Poses for Stress and Anxiety Relief

  • Childs Pose
  • Half Moon Pose
  • Bridge Pose

A Natural Inflammation Fighter

This benefit is a big one for me as someone who was diagnosed with an inflammatory disease many years ago and has been fighting to keep it in remission ever since. Like I mentioned above, yoga is a wonderful and natural way to combat stress and studies have shown the more you practice yoga the lower your body’s inflammatory reaction to stress becomes. By combating how sedentary we have become, fighting that chronic stress we all find ourselves under (especially and particularly given the current situation we are living through) and helping to alleviate some of that constant tension we find ourselves living with, yoga along with an otherwise healthy lifestyle and diet can go along way in ridding our bodies of that oh so very damaging inflammation.

3 Poses to Fight Inflammation

  • Seated Side Bend
  • Warrior II Pose
  • Viparita Karani or in English, the Legs Up Against the Wall Pose

Great for Flexibility

Gaining more flexibility is something that I have wanted and frankly needed to focus on for a while now. I am not patient by nature so taking time to stretch each day is a struggle for me. Luckily one of the greatest benefits of practicing yoga regularly is greatly improved flexibility. One of the main goals of yoga is to increase range of motion in order to be able to move better while putting less stress on your joints. Less stress on your joints leads to a reduced risk of injury, less pressure, and pain especially in your back, shoulders, and neck region, and even better circulation. It also leads me to my next benefit which is improved posture.

3 Poses for Increased Flexibility

  • Cat-Cow Stretch
  • Triangle Pose
  • Downward Facing Dow

Improves Posture 

If you are anything like me and find yourself slouched over a computer screen for roughly eight hours a day getting a chance to work on your posture while reaping all the other benefits of regular yoga practice could not be more necessary. One of the major culprits that lead to poor posture is tight, stiff, and even weak muscles. Yoga gives you a chance to focus on properly aligning your body and lengthening back out your spine after being hunched over for most of the day. Many yoga poses are also very focused on strengthening your core which is another key component in having correct posture. Both your spine and your core work all day long to hold you upright so giving these areas a little bit of love and making sure they are strong and properly aligned is key.

3 Poses for Improved Posture

  • Hero Pose
  • Standing Forward Bend
  • Cobra Pose

Strength Builder

So my previous excuse for not doing more yoga more often because I wanted to focus on getting stronger was clearly misguided. The more yoga I have done, the more I realize there are definitely certain poses that have helped me get stronger. Ever tried the Chair Pose? Wow, does this move make my quads burn! Another one that comes to mind is the Drinking Bird pose. Another great move for leg strength, this one I feel the most in my calves. Another often overlooked benefit to yoga for strength training is it virtually hits all the muscles in your body in one workout whereas in traditional strength training you might only be focusing on your back or your arms for an entire workout. Yoga is an all-around strength builder and a great addition for anyone who is looking to build lean muscle!

3 Poses for Increased Strength

  • Tree Pose
  • Standing Split
  • Dolphin Pose

Whether you are looking to work on your flexibility and balance, tone up a bit or just find some stress and anxiety relief yoga is a great total body and mind workout you can do right from your living room. Along with the benefits I mentioned above, yoga has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, help manage diabetes, and can even help lower cholesterol and combat heart disease. It is a chance to get your body moving in a truly meaningful way while giving your mind a chance to slow down and enjoy being present in the moment. After all, your body thrives from movement and your mind from stillness. Yoga combines both these principles into one amazing workout that I highly recommend you give a go. Namaste my friends and Happy National Yoga Month!



Do I Need a Sugar Detox?

Do I Need a Sugar Detox?

I have been finding myself increasingly craving sugar throughout my days as of late. This is more than a little odd for me because I am DEFINITELY Team Salt. I have, for as long as I can remember, craved salt. I normally always reach for the chips in the pantry over the cookies and can eat pickles by the jar full! I attribute this mostly to the fact that I have naturally low blood pressure. Like it is not unusual for me to measure in around the 100/45ish range. That is just how my body has always been.

Recently though, I have been finding myself more drawn to the sweets rather than the chips and pretzels. My cookie and candy intake has noticeably increased over the past couple of months where it was almost non-existent before. I have taken my blood pressure a few times now (we have one of those handy dandy do it yourself blood pressure machines at the house) and it is still low, or in my case normal, so nothing going on there. Whatever the root cause, my increasing desire to stuff my face with sugary substances has led me to the decision to commit to a 21-day mini-sugar detox just to break the cycle before it gets any worse.  This was originally going to be my monthly goal intention for August, but keep reading for why I postponed it until now.  

I am also curious to see how I feel after 21 days of cutting back on sugar because I have been feeling a bit sluggish the past couple weeks and I am wondering if my increased cookie and sour gummy worm consumption has anything to do with it. I’m betting, yes. So, to kick things off, let’s dive a little deeper into why cutting back or cutting out sugar completely might be a good idea and a few tips on how to go about it:

Why is sugar so dangerous?

Obesity — We all know one of the biggest and most obvious dangers of consuming sugar, especially too much sugar, is the risk for obesity. In fact, with the cases of obesity rapidly on the rise all around the world, the intake of too much sugar is at the top of the list of reasons why. More specifically, sugary beverages such as fruit juices are largely believed to be the culprit when examining the causes of obesity. As if being overweight wasn’t bad enough, it has a direct connection to causing another really dangerous condition, diabetes. Obesity often leads specifically to Type-2 diabetes, which is a particularly scary disease that occurs as a direct result of the insufficient production of insulin which causes high blood sugar. High blood sugar and Type 2 diabetes can cause fatigue, slow healing of wounds, blurred vision, increased infections, crankiness, numbness and tingling in your extremities, along with a whole host of other issues. Along with being a leading cause of diabetes, excess or visceral fat can also lead to the next item on the list, which is all about your heart.

Heart Disease — The number one cause of death worldwide, you guessed it, is heart disease. And can you guess what some of the leading causes of heart disease are? If you guessed obesity and/or high blood sugar levels, you are right again and not to mention on fire! The intake of too much sugar has been directly linked to an increase in the likelihood of dying from heart disease which kills roughly 17 million people a year worldwide! One of the ways sugar is to blame is that consuming too much of it is directly associated with the development of atherosclerosis. This is a particularly dangerous condition where fatty deposits build up in your arteries, eventually leading to the potential for a fatal heart attack. Having watched one person in my life actually have a heart attack (thankfully they survived!) and several more actually pass away from them, this one really hits home for me. Keeping your heart healthy, your arteries clear and your weight in the normal range is so, so important to overall health, and limiting your sugar intake is a great way to ensure that and your heart remains strong and happy!

Cancer — I don’t know which is scarier to think about, having a heart attack or getting diagnosed with the Big C, but excess sugar consumption can lead to both! There are two main ways it is thought that excess sugar in your diet can lead to the development of certain cancers. Number one, obesity is directly linked to an increased risk of cancer, and as we talked about above too much sugar is a direct cause of obesity. Number two, overloading on sugar causes inflammation in your body which is a huge risk factor for developing cancer. More specifically, it is thought that too much sugar can lead to cancers of the small intestine, the esophagus, and in women, endometrial cancer. The link between sugar and cancer is not yet quite as understood as is the link between both obesity and heart disease, but there is enough evidence to suggest there is, in fact, a correlation. Not wanting to find out myself, I think I will go ahead and jump right into how I plan on lowering my own sugar intake….

How can we start to cut back?

Plan Appropriately — I waited until now to start my detox because I knew I had a vacation planned for mid-August and I didn’t want to go into with the burden of trying to limit my food choices. I wanted to go away, enjoy myself, and eat what I wanted. I knew I would have a much better chance, not to mention an easier time, sticking to my goals once I was back to my normal routine. You want to do everything you can to set yourself up for success when entering a sugar detox so taking a look at your calendar is a good place to start. This past week I got back into town and started really paying attention to the levels of sugars in the foods I was eating and have slowly started cutting back in a few areas. Keep reading for a few dietary ways we can begin cut down on the sugary cravings…

Increase protein intake. Protein is an excellent way to keep yourself feeling full and therefore less likely to snack on those sugary treats between meals. A good intake of protein, think around 30 grams, also does wonders to keep your blood sugar levels stable which will further help in keeping the sugar cravings away. A healthy amount of protein in your diet also helps with keeping our bones and tissues healthy, the oxygen flowing well through our bloodstreams, and aids in a strong immune system. Good sources of protein include chicken and turkey, both of which don’t contain any sugar, eggs, and canned tuna.

Increase fiber intake. Just like protein, an increase in fiber can also go a long way in keeping you full in between meals and your hand out of the cookie jar. Fiber is also incredibly important in helping to keep everything moving correctly in the bowel region if you catch my drift, as well as helping to keep our bones healthy and it even promotes healthy cholesterol levels. And if that wasn’t enough, fiber goes a long way in aiding with healthy weight loss! Fiber-rich foods include greens like spinach and kale, artichokes, avocados, seeds like chia and flax, and fruits like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.

Choose healthy fats. Not all fat is bad you guys! Fat, just like fiber and protein, is an excellent substance to keep us feeling full and satisfied all day long. Fat also helps to promote healthy blood sugar levels thus decreasing the likelihood of those dreaded mid-afternoon crashes that come with consuming too much sugar. Healthy fat is also really important for maintaining body temperature, keeping our lungs and brains working properly, and boosting our immune systems. Healthy fat can be found in foods such as olive oil, fatty fish, avocados, nuts like macadamia and almonds, and one of my faves, dark chocolate.

Sugar can be found in so many food items, from the obvious ones like cake, cookies, muffins, and candy bars to the less obvious items that can seem healthy until you read the nutritional labels like yogurt, granola, dried fruit and a lot of sauces and condiments like BBQ sauce, ketchup and tomato sauce. Sugar is thought to be addicting in the same way drugs and alcohol can get us in that when we ingest it our brains produce that happy little hormone dopamine that our bodies perceive as a rewarding feeling and even one of arousal. No wonder we crave it, huh? Maybe like me, however, you find yourself craving it a little more than normal lately. Maybe you are at home a lot more these days, also like me, and are therefore snacking on sweets more than you previously had. Maybe you just have always had a sweet tooth and think it might be time to get it in check. No matter that the reason, taking a look at how much sugar you are ingesting every day and being aware of what it could be doing to you could end up helping you avoid some really nasty diseases and heck maybe in the long run even save your life!