Why am I not seeing results??

Why am I not seeing results??

One of the most frustrating parts of any fitness journey is when you feel like you have been busting your butt for a solid length of time but are not seeing the expected results. 

Sometimes this happens a few weeks into a brand-new fitness journey, sometimes it happens a few months or even a few years into it. For the purposes of this post, however, I am going to focus on when this happens soon after you have started or -restarted a new fitness routine.

On average, if you are consistently working out each week, you should start to see meaningful changes happening within 6-8 weeks. Considerable changes, we are talking about an overhaul of your body and fitness levels, take about 3-6 months. There are a couple of main reasons that you may be either slow to see results or are feeling like you aren’t seeing them at all aside from just not having been at it long enough. These reasons can include:

You Haven’t Fixed Your Diet 

The old saying, “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” is so true and in my opinion probably one of the leading reasons you aren’t seeing results from the hard work you are putting in with your workouts. One of the most beneficial things you can do to start getting your nutrition in line is to cut out processed, packaged foods that are often loaded with extra sugar and salt and focus on eating whole foods as much as possible.  

A piece of advice when it comes to finding and incorporating whole foods into your meal planning is to shop on the outside isles of the grocery store and then cook as many meals as possible at home with those whole, fresh ingredients. Meal prepping for days that you are going to be on the go and need something already made and ready to eat to keep you from reaching for that bag of chips or candy bar is also key!  

Finally, I cannot overstate how important it is to get enough protein when we are talking about meeting and maintaining your fitness goals. Protein is highly important for not only repairing and rebuilding muscles after a workout, but the essential amino acids that protein sources like meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy provide help to build new muscle tissue and at the same time burn stubborn fat. On top of all that, eating protein with every meal helps you feel fuller for longer than just filling up on carbs and fat alone.  

If your nutrition is already in line, keep reading for a few more possibilities that may be holding you back…

Strength Training Isn’t A Priority 

This issue was a huge one for me at the beginning of my own health and fitness journey. I was hitting the gym at least 5-6 days a week, spending the majority of my time on cardio machines like the treadmill and elliptical and wandering into the weight room only when it was empty enough for me not to feel embarrassed for being in there in the first place.

Guess what? That approach did not work at all. While cardio is an important piece of any fitness routine, it shouldn’t be your only focus if you are looking to slim down.  

If you have been around my blog for a little while, you may remember I dedicated a whole post (#MBF) to this very subject….how building muscle through strength training is a great way to burn fat. Basically, the more muscle you are able to build, the more fat you burn, even while at rest! Who doesn’t want to burn fat even while you binging your current Netflix obsession?? Take a look at my #MBF post for more details on exactly how this works, but in the meantime, if you haven’t been hitting the weights or at least doing bodyweight exercises up until this point, start incorporating them into your routine now. If you are a little unsure about how to go about this, I have a few suggestions on this one also!

What ended up working for me was beginning to follow a weight training program I could do from home with just a few selections of dumbbells. I wanted to learn how to lift weights properly, with the correct form, and in an order which would be the most effective use of my time, so I did a little research and ended up diving into the program, LIIFT4 (click here for a FREE sample workout of this awesome program!). I am not exaggerating when I say that one decision changed my life. I fell in love with strength training and by the end of the program, I saw muscles I didn’t even know I had…I was hooked!

Another suggestion is if you are more a gym person, but still unsure how to go about lifting weights properly, just ask someone there for some guidance. I would be willing to bet that person who looks like they know what they are doing in the weight room would be happy to share some knowledge with you to help you get started. After all, they were once a beginner too!

You Aren’t Prioritizing Rest

As counterintuitive as this one might sound, rest is a key component in a successful fitness regime. This is one that became a real issue for me about a year into my own journey because I got to the point where I had found programs that I genuinely enjoyed doing so much and that I was seeing such great results from, that I never wanted to take a day off. 

Really, I am being serious! I wanted to workout 7 days a week because I was having so much fun doing it and oh yeah, those endorphins can be addicting! 

Pushing your body 7 days a week with no rest days, however, is a big no-no and can actually be setting you back on your quest to get fit. So, take my advice and build rest days into your own routine!

Nowadays, I typically build two rest days into my own weekly routine, depending on what program I am following and how much I am doing other workouts like riding my mountain bike and running. One rest day for me is typically a full rest day where I really give my body a break and let everything heal and repair itself and the other is usually an active rest day where I do something like go for a long walk, do some Pilates, or yoga or take my pups for a hike.  

A few good signs your body is in need of a rest day or two are if you waking up feeling sore, you are more tired or moody than normal, or you feel a bit under the weather. You may also feel dehydrated despite drinking enough water or you might even notice that your heart rate is a bit elevated. These are all clear indications you have pushed your body hard enough for the week and it is time to let it rest. Build these down days into your workout routine and I bet it will help jump-start your progress again if it has stalled.  

You Need to Mix Things Up

While I totally understand that most of us find comfort in routine, being comfortable while working out is not going to get you the results you are looking for. If you find yourself doing the same workouts, in the same order, with the same weight selection for an extended period of time this might be a contributing factor to the plateau you will inevitably find yourself in. While I do applaud the fact that you might still be consistently showing up if you don’t also switch things up once in a while your body will get used to the routine and your progress with cease.

It is only really when your body is challenged and forced to adapt to a new move or a higher weight selection or an entirely new workout altogether that meaningful progress can be made. For me, switching things up Is not only really great for my body and progress but also for my dedication to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The more variety I can incorporate into my workouts the more likely I am to continue to want to do them.

I do everything from weight training, to HIIT workouts, to running, Pilates, Yoga, and of course mountain biking, just to name a few. Not only do the different workouts keep things interesting for me but the unique aspects of each of them target different muscles and focus on different but equally important components of a complete fitness routine such as strength, mobility, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. Most importantly, just continue to challenge yourself. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut or are just coasting through workouts it is probably time for a change.  

Plus, you might discover a new kind of workout that you really enjoy which is always a bonus! Check out my post “I can become a ballerina at 40 right?” for how I fell in love with Barre workouts after prematurely writing them off as something I would never like or benefit from. Challenge your assumptions people! You never really know until you try!

The reasons I listed above are just a few possibilities as to why you might feel like your progress has stalled during your fitness journey. Another really viable alternative is that you actually are still making progress; it just might not be reflected by the number staring back at you on the dreaded scale. A lot of the time that number might not be going down because you are building muscle at the same time you are burning fat. Remember muscle is dense and you could be shedding inches off your waist while getting stronger at the same time. If this is the case, ask yourself, “do my clothes fit better?”, “do I have more energy?”, “is my stamina increasing?”. If yes to one or more of those things, you are making progress, and congrats! The scale is by no means the end all be all, remember that!

If you are neither losing pounds nor gaining muscle AND all the things I listed above are not to blame, check things like portion sizes of the meals you are eating, have an honest conversation with yourself about your stress and anxiety levels which if high can be causing weight gain, and of course it is always a good idea to get in and see your doctor in a case like this. Several medical conditions like a low-functioning thyroid, to out of whack hormones, to an overgrowth of yeast in your body could all be to blame here as well. Most importantly, just don’t give up on yourself! Chances are with some small tweaks you can get back on track and continue to reach for and knock out all those awesome health and fitness goals you had set your mind to!



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!!



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!




Monthly Goal Intention – May is for Macros!

Monthly Goal Intention – May is for Macros!

A big reason I started this practice of setting a monthly goal intention was to hold myself accountable to learning, growing and bettering myself all year long, not just at the beginning of the year for like 30 days or until I got distracted by a million other things that life throws at us. I thought setting a goal each month would re-focus and force me to really take the time out to zero in on something I could be doing better or maybe something I have been meaning to explore or try to implement into my own health and fitness journey.  Well May’s intention falls into the later category of something I have been really interested in learning about and potentially introducing to my new(ish) healthy lifestyle, and that is the idea behind counting macros.

If you are even remotely involved in the health and fitness world, chances are you have heard the term macros at some point and probably also know that people count and track them as part of their nutrition program. That right there was the extent of my knowledge on the subject before I sat down to write this post.  I knew enough to know counting macros was a way to track how much of what nutrients you were eating at any given sitting but not much else.  As I have mentioned before, my main focus these days is to really get my nutrition in line.  I have found, fallen in love with, and gotten great results from a pretty full-proof workout program that I can do at home which has really saved me considering the current circumstances we are living under (for more info on these workouts click here!), so I have really turned my attention to bettering how and what I am eating.  While I have cleaned up my diet substantially since my drive thru for every meal day’s, I feel like I am still pretty far away from where I want to be.  With my workout program, there is no guess work.  I show up, press play and the platform takes literally all of the researching, planning and guesswork out of my hands.  Unfortunately, when it comes to my nutrition, being left to my own devices hasn’t been working out as well for me.

One of my main goals for this year is to build more muscle.  In order to do that I knew for sure I was going to have to up my protein intake and balance out how many carbs I have been eating.  The problem was I had no idea how many grams of proteins, carbs, fat, etc. I was actually taking in and what my target numbers should be.  Enter tracking my macros!  I had heard plenty of people talking about doing this as a way to ensure they are getting the proper mix of nutrients to meet their own goals so I figured this would be a good place to start to get myself on track and take a more scientific approach to my own nutrition.

I thought I would share here today a basic overview of what I learned through doing my own research in case you all might be interested in this topic of counting and tracking macros as well.  Let start at the beginning with….

What are macros?

The term macros itself is short for MACRONUTRIENTS.  Macronutrients are in essence tiny little molecules that our bodies rely on to give us energy and are what make up the calorie content of our food.  The three main categories of macros that you want to be aware of are:


YOU NEED CARBS! Let me say that again….YOUR BODY NEEDS CARBS!  They are not the enemy and should not be treated as such.  Here again it is time for a disclaimer….when I talk about stuff like this I am referring to most people.  If you have underlying medical conditions, food allergies, are on some certain types of medication, etc. this may not apply to you, but in general what I am talking about applies to the majority of the population.  Ok, back to carbs.  While carbs often get a bad rap as a major contributor to all of our weight gaining issues, really they are the most important energy source our body has.  When we take them in, our bodies break them down into sugar and we use that to fuel just about everything we do, especially those high intensity workouts that I have really grown to love.  On top of giving us all that energy they also make us happy! 😊  Yep, carbs are linked to the production of serotonin in our bodies which as you may have guessed is the hormone that makes us feel happy!  Now of course there are good carbs and not so good carbs.  For instance, fruits, veggies, beans, lentil = good carbs.  Cookies, candy, fruity beverages, chips, french fries = bad carbs.  Put the good in, get the good energy, happy feelings out!


Fantastic for building muscle but did you know it also does some other pretty cool and not to mention important things for our bodies? Like what you, ask?  Well it helps to transport oxygen through our bloodstream which creates energy for us.  It also helps to build and repair our tissues and muscles, makes enzymes in our bodies which power our chemical reactions like hormone production and release and also regulates blood sugar to prevent insulin spikes. Not to mention protein is a building block of such things like our hair, nails, bones and even skin.   As a bonus, eating protein even makes us feel fuller with less food!  When we ingest protein it actually slows our digestion down, keeping the food in us for longer and then of course in turn making us feel fuller longer.


Fat, just like carbs, gets a bad wrap but we do need to intake a certain amount of it to keep our bodies happy. It has some of the same benefits that protein does in that it helps to stabilize blood sugar and is also slower to digest which keeps us fuller longer.  Now fat does have a higher calorie count than both protein and carbohydrates so you have to be careful not to over do it, but it does also help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K which in turn does promote healthy weight loss.  Fat also does wonders to keep our bodies insulated and our temperatures maintained as well as our hormones regulated and in addition it helps to promote brain and nerve health.  Sources of good fat are nuts, avocado and fatty fishes.

How do you go about counting them?

Counting macros can be a little tricky but a good place to start is knowing how many calories are in 1 gram of each of the three types.  The breakdown goes like this:

Chart 1.2

Now that we know that, another good piece of information to keep in mind is the general recommendations for how much of each nutrient to try to shoot for each day.  While individual goals may differ from person to person depending on what you are trying to achieve, in general it is recommended that adults aim for the following:

Chart 2

Now, for instance, if you are like me and are focused on building more muscle while staying lean, you might want to shoot for something more like this:

Chart 3

If you are simply focused on losing weight, this is what is recommended:

Chart 4

So let’s say you shoot to intake about 2000 calories a days.  If you were following the guidelines that I am for adjusting your macros to gain more muscle, that would mean that 40% of your 2000 calories should come from protein, 35% from carbs and 25% from fat.  Once you decide on that, the next step is to break down those percentages into how many grams of each nutrient that equates to, which would look something like this:

Carbs:          .40% x 2000 calories = 800 calories from carbs

Protein:        .35% x 2000 calories = 700 calories from protein

Fat:               .25% x 2000 calories = 500 calories from fat

But wait, there’s more….you then have to take the total calories and divide them by how many calories  per gram each nutrient has in it to get how many grams you should be eating each day.

Carbs:          800 calories ÷ 4 calories/gram = 200 grams

Protein:        700 calories ÷ 4 calories/gram = 175 grams

Fat:               500 calories ÷ 9 calories/gram = 56 grams

Whew ok, that was a lot of math and I am not a fan of math.  It was my least favorite subject in school and the only class I ever got a C in.  I’m ashamed of that till this day, but luckily for me we live in a world where instead of pulling out my #2 pencil and graphing calculator every time I want to track my macros, I can pick up my trusty smartphone and download any number of apps to do all the hard work for me!  There are lots of app choices out to help you count and track your macros, but the top 3 I have come across in terms of popularity are:

  • MyMacros+ (This is the one I use!)
  • MyFitnessPal
  • LoseIt!

The basic idea is that you enter in all your stats, like age, weight, activity level, etc. to get set up and then you record what you eat throughout the day.  Out pops a nice little pie chart like the ones above that tell you where your numbers fell that day.  The first couple days I started using the MyMacros+ app I was pretty surprised how far off target I was in terms of my protein intake.  Even though I do consume a superfood protein shake a day and eat a good amount of fish and veggies I was still coming in lower than I needed to be to build the muscle I want.  I have since started to sneak more protein rich items into my daily meal plan and am slowly getting closer to hitting my numbers.

Pluses and Minuses to Tracking Macros


  • Much more purposeful eating – I am finding this is a HUGE benefit for me! I think a lot more about what I am going to eat now during the day because I know I will have to track it in my little app and I want my calories to count.  It’s not that I didn’t want that before, but there is definitely another level of accountability when you are actually logging your food choices in and can see how well you are doing throughout the day.
  • It’s sustainable and flexible without being restrictive – I can still eat things I like such as my dark chocolate and occasional glass of red wine so it doesn’t’ feel at all like I am dieting because well I simply am not. Where counting macros differs from counting calories is you not counting how many calories you are eating, instead you are focusing on what type of calories you intake to make sure you are getting the proper mix of nutrients.  You can still indulge in treat foods if you build them properly into your count which is the part that makes this technique sustainable where traditional calorie-restrictive diets in my opinion are not.
  • You can lose weight or gain muscle depending on how you tailor your numbers This is an actual tool to help you achieve your goals! Much like my workout programs that have been developed by actual fitness professionals and only require me to show up and press play, counting macros takes a scientific approach to nutrition and the guesswork out of it almost completely.  I now know exactly how much of what I should be eating each day and if I find myself off track throughout the day I can load up on what I am missing and/or cut back on what I am getting too much of to keep myself aligned with my goals.
  • Ensures you are getting the right mix of nutrients to maintain a healthy lifestyle – Tracking and counting macros is a great tool to ensure you are getting the right mix of nutrients in order to reach your weight loss and/or body goals. But aesthetics’ aside, getting the proper mix of nutrients is important for a variety of other health reasons as well. Hitting your macro goals each day ensures your immune system is functioning optimally (super important right now, don’t ya think?!), gives your metabolism a boost and also increases your energy levels.  And just as a side note, while there are a variety of supplements you can take to help meet you numbers, it is always best to get your nutrients through food simply because you body can more easily and effectively absorb them.


  • Potential to trigger disordered eating – If you have a history with or a tendency towards disordered eating, counting macros might not be a great idea. While it is not about restriction, you are focusing on the calories in everything you eat.  Being that focused on food could be a slippery slope if you are someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past.
  • If you don’t set proper goals you can end up missing the mark nutritionally speaking – Like I mentioned above, you can still build in food you enjoy eating as long as it fits into your numbers for the day. What you need to be careful of is that you are eating foods that not only fit into your goal numbers but are also good, quality sources of the nutrients you are aiming for.  For instance, as I mentioned above there are good, complex carbs and bad carbs, good, healthy fats and bad fats.  If you are eating the right amount of carbs but they are all coming from “junk” food like potato chips and cookies well then you really aren’t doing yourself much good.  Try to eat as many whole foods as possible and stay as far away from the processed foods as you can!
  • Be careful of nutrient deficiency – Much like eating the wrong kind of foods, you need to be careful your macro goals don’t lead you down a path where you are restricting one or several kinds of foods too much and in turn become deficient in certain nutrients. Nutrient deficiency can wreak all kinds of havoc on your body from causing fatigue to having brittle hair, nails and bones, to even causing personality changes and anxiety and depression.  Make sure you are still eating a well-balanced diet while trying to keep in line with your goal numbers.

It’s always a good idea to speak with a doctor or nutritionist before starting any kind of eating/meal plan but I hope you were able to learn something about what macros are and how useful it can be to track and count them from the info above. I sure learned a lot writing this and as I have been tracking my own macros now for about a week I have learned a lot about how far having the right information at hand can go when trying to meet my own goals.  I feel so much more empowered now to make better food choices simply because I am paying so much more attention to the quality of the food I am eating.  I feel like with this new tool I am on track to eat more consistently, reach my goals quicker, and even get to know my body better.  Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to our health you guys! The more you know the better able you are to live the healthiest, happiest and most fulfilling life possible!




Taking back some control….

Taking back some control….

Right now more than ever, we may be struggling with feeling like we are out of control.  At least where I live, we have been under stay-at-home orders for a while now.  I haven’t been able to see my family, friends or my co-workers for almost 6 weeks. I am working from home, eating at home, spending my weekends at home, remaining six feet away from most other humans, and even limiting how much I am going out to the few places we can still go like grocery stores just to minimize any risk.  Most of the time, honestly though, I am pretty ok.  I am staying plenty busy with work throughout the week and on the weekends, I have really tried to be productive by cleaning, organizing and fixing up my house, studying for my upcoming exam and of course I am staying consistent with my workouts and nutrition.  But I have had moments where the isolation does gets to me.  There are times it just seems too quiet around here and almost like the walls are closing in.  In those moments, I quickly remind myself that while I can’t control everything that is happening around me, I still do have the power to control a whole heck of a lot.

So today I wanted to share some of things I focus on when the uncertainty of these times and maybe a little claustrophobia starts to creep.  I make a conscious effort to shift my focus from dwelling on what I don’t have the power to dictate to what I do, such as:

My attitude

I can decide to be positive or negative. I remind myself this too shall pass and life will get back to normal.  Dwelling on all the things we can’t do right now doesn’t make anything better.  I am busy making plans for when we are able to roam around freely again which gives me positive goals to focus on and steps to take right now to achieve those goals. I made a pact with myself when this all started that I was going to remain positive, focused, and driven.  Having a positive mindset allows my energy levels and confidence to stay highly, helps me to be more productive at work and makes me an easier and more pleasant person to deal with in all of my relationships…besides being negative in my opinion can just be flat out draining! SMILE you guys, the world needs as much positivity and joy as we can radiate right now!

My physical health

I decide every single day to move my body. I either do my home workouts, go for a long walk with my pups or a run in my neighborhood, or a combo of all the above. Staying healthy has never been more important you guys. Help your immune system out and try to be active for at least 30 minutes a day (for more info on helping out our immune systems, check out my recent post, “Staying Healthy…How can we help our immune systems right now?” If you can get outside, even better! Get some steps in, your heart rate up and as a bonus get a healthy dose of Vitamin D while you are at it!  Not only is this so important for your physical well-being, but I find the positive effects it has on my mental well-being might be even more valuable right now! Just the change of scenery alone does wonders for my frame of mind each day!

What I eat

I have made a conscious decision to stock my fridge, freezer and pantry with 90% healthy food and 10% treat food. I find if I set myself up for success by limiting how much junk food I have access to I am far more successful in meeting my nutritional goals.  Plus, I continue to make it a point to have my daily Superfood Shake which again goes a long was in supporting my immune system and filing in all those nutritional holes I might be otherwise lacking in my every day diet. One of the silver linings to this time at home is I have been exploring a lot of new recipes (I am working on getting the good ones them up on this site shortly!) and have really been enjoying the process of cooking.  I am exploring yummy new ways to cook with some of my favorite healthy ingredients, like the lasagna I made with cauliflower yesterday,  and as a bonus I am finding cooking to be a really great stress-relieving activity for me and something that brings a really nice sense of calm into my life right now.  I would call that a WIN WIN!

My effort levels

This could be effort that I am putting into taking care of myself, or effort I am putting into my job, my relationships, or a many number of other things.  What is important to focus on is knowing I have complete control over how much of my energy I am delegating and to what I am putting it into.  I am a firm believer that life gives you back what you give it.  If you give it 100% you will see amazing results.  If you give it less, you really can’t be disappointed when you get less back.  I am continuing to focus my efforts as much as possible on bettering myself during this time so again when we come out the other side, I am stronger and in a better place than when we went into it.

My mental health

While I know we can’t always control how our brains react to things, there are ways I can try to promote a healthy mental state. I have been making it a point to practice at least 15-20 minutes of yoga or Pilates each day which has really been helping me to slow down my mind and stay present in the moment more.  I also know when I start to feel overwhelmed or anxiety creeping in it is a good time to pickup the phone and talk to a family member or friend.  Getting outside each day for about an hour has also done wonders to keep my head clear and in a good place. Besides, it always makes me happy and puts an actual smile on my face to see how much my dogs are loving our new, longer daily walks!

How often I practice self-care 

Supporting my mental health also means indulging in some self care every so often. I have made it a point to take a much-needed Epsom salt bath at least once a week these days which does wonders not only to relax me but also to help my sore muscles recover after the workouts I am subjecting them to.  I also have been de-cluttering and organizing my house a lot which may sound weird for a self-care practice but has made me feel a ton better about my surroundings and also happy that I am using my time productively. Self-care isn’t selfish you guys.  You need to take care of yourself before you can even begin to think about taking care of others.  That old saying really is true, you cannot pour from an empty cup!

How thankful I am

I remind myself constantly about how thankful I am for things like my health and the health of my friends and family, but I also make it a point to tell other people that I am thankful for them. I usually am pretty good with “Please” and “Thanks You’s” but I am particularly aware of some of the sacrifices people are making right now to keep things going for us.  I am talking about the store clerks, delivery drivers and especially the healthcare workers who are going above and beyond right now and are on the front lines of this pandemic.  I am trying to say an extra loud THANK YOU to all these people when I do interact with them as their sacrifice is not lost on me at all.

My breath 

My anxiety has improved dramatically over the last two years since I committed to staying on top of my fitness and nutrition, but it is only natural that in the crazy times we are living through right now anxiety levels would be slightly more elevated than normal. I have really come to rely on controlling my breath when anxiety starts to creep in these days. As soon as I feel even a little twinge of being overwhelmed, I make a conscious effort to stop what I am doing and take a few deep, cleansing breaths.  Almost instantly, I feel much calmer and more centered.  Breathe in, breathe out and focus on just being in the moment until your mind calms down.

What I put my time into

I made a very deliberate decision that while I was spending so much time at home, I would seriously limit screen time. While I am normally not a big TV watcher, I knew with the extra time on my hands it would be easy to fall into a bad habit of turning it on and losing hours of my life in front of it.  Instead I made up my mind to put my energy into doing things that would get me close to my goals once this whole thing is over.  I am studying, writing, reading even doing puzzles instead of watching TV and of course staying as physically active as possible.

What I do if at first I don’t succeed

Failure is part of life you all. No one is perfect and honestly it would be a little boring if we were.  I fail constantly. I failed a million times before I found a workout program that clicked for me. I failed a bunch of times trying to find a healthy relationship with food.  I have failed in my inner-personal relationships, at work, in school but my mindset has really grown to accept these failures as learning experiences. If I can come out the other side of a failure having grown as a person, it really isn’t a failure at all.  Now I put my all into everything I attempt and if I succeed great, if I don’t, I learn.  Just fail forward you guys, don’t beat yourselves up too much and keep on trucking towards whatever goal you have in sight!

Who and what influences me 

Unfortunately not everyone is going to be your cheerleader. I have definitely come across people since I have started on my health and fitness journey that just don’t understand what I’m doing or why I am doing it. They haven’t necessarily been working against me, just not exactly for me.  These are the people I try to encourage to join me in some fashion, either in doing a virtual workout with me or trying one of my healthy recipes that have become a staple of my meal plan or even by giving them a packet of my superfood shake to try for themselves.  If they don’t bite, I smile, tell them I am always here if they change their minds and go about chasing after my own goals.  After all, I am not doing this for anyone else.  This journey is about me and for me.  I hope to be able to inspire others along the way but I don’t take it personally if I can’t reach everyone!

How open I am to learning

A big part of growing up, is learning that you really never stop learning. Over the past couple years especially, I have been so open to learning as much as I can about as many things as I can, and I have been loving every second of it!  I don’t know about you all, but as a teenager and really well into my twenties…ok ok, maybe even my 30’s, I was pretty convinced I had everything all figured out.  I was going to do things my way no matter how many people, facts, or signs life was giving me telling me I was wrong. But since I humbled myself enough about two years ago to realize I needed to do a ton of research to figure out how to best live a healthy lifestyle, I have fallen back in love with learning and take every opportunity I can to expand my mind.  One of the mantras I now live by is, never stop learning!

How often I ask for and accept help 

We all need it sometimes. And there is no shame in that at all.  This was also another hard lesson I had to learn probably because I am too stubborn for my own good most of the time and like to be able to do everything myself, but that is just not real life.  Whether it’s that we just need some emotional support, someone to talk to, a helping hand with a work problem, or a relationship issue, or something more tangible like help moving or changing a tire, there is no shame in being a little vulnerable every now and then.  Instead of seeing this as a sign of weakness like many of us for some reason might, we should see this as the incredible sign of strength that it is.  Be open to both giving and receiving help and I bet you will find fulfillment in both!

One other thing I am controlling these days is how much I watch/listen to the news.  I find it to be pretty negative if not down right scary a lot of the time so I choose to tune most of it out because I know if there is something major I need to find out a friend or family member will let me know what’s going on anyway.  Along with limiting exposure to potentially alarming information and the things I already listed above, there are a ton of other things I can also control such as how neat my home is, how many times I call my family and friends to check in on them, how honest I am with myself and others, how many times a day I smile 😊, how I am spending my money, how open and non-judgmental I am, and that’s just to name a few!  Things happen you guys. We can’t always avoid bad situations or prevent negative events from occurring but where our control lies is in how we react to these things.  Do we give negative feelings, emotions, events and even people our time and energy, or do we shift our focus to either learning from these negative sources and growing because of them or ignoring them altogether and finding instead something positive to focus on.  Take control where you can, use it to improve your own life and keep looking and moving forward…after all that is this the direction life is taking us so lets make it the best, happiest and most fulfilling ride possible!

Keep staying healthy and safe you guys!!



What makes this time different?

What makes this time different?

In asking that question,  I am trying to get to the bottom of why I have been able to make a meaningful lifestyle change that has enabled me to reach my health and fitness goals this time around when all the other times I previously attempted it, I failed quickly and spectacularly?  Why am I so motivated to stick with it this time? Why have I been able to commit to and complete 5 different but equally challenging workout programs over the last two years?  Why am I able to continue to pick that steamed vegetable side over the side of fries (most of the time 😊) that I used to order or to choose to take the stairs over the elevator every time that is possible?  And most of all, why am I enjoying the process so, so much these days that I can’t even imagine ever going back to the way I was living?

In order to answer those questions properly, we need to back it up.  I mean wayyyy up.  Like back to the beginning of my story when smart phones weren’t a thing, we had to look at paper maps to figure out how to get somewhere new, and the closest thing to Google we had was the card catalog at our local library.  Man, those were the days.  Also, yes I am that old.  But anyway, having put some thought into this whole question of why this time has been different, I realized that back when I was growing up is really the last time up until now that I can remember genuinely enjoying being active and healthy.   I played sports from day one pretty much.  I learned to swim before I could walk and was in the pool on a swim team my entire childhood.  On top of that, I played basketball, softball, ran cross country, and even played a bit of soccer all throughout elementary, middle and high school.  And I loved every minute of it.  I loved getting up at 4am to get in the pool for practice before school.  I loved the 7am swim meets on Saturday’s even though a lot of the time the water was absolutely freezing.  I loved practicing every day after school. I loved practicing on the weekends with my dad. I loved competing, not only as part of a team but against myself.

While I am no longer competing to win a blue ribbon at a swim meet, or practicing my little ass off to get that starting point guard post on the varsity team, I am competing against myself every single day to be better than I was the day before. That competitive spark is back in me and more than anything these days I don’t want to let myself down.  Even back when I was growing up, it’s not that I liked to beat other people so much as I like to prove things to myself.  I like to work as hard as I possibly can and see the fruits of my labor being realized.  I like to push myself further than I thought I could go to prove to I am capable of doing hard things.  But that competitive spark didn’t just randomly decide to reignite because let me tell you before this last time, I tried and failed many, many times to get and stay healthy and in shape.

After my teenage years when I went off to college and beyond there were suddenly no more teams to join.  No more teammates relying on me to get up early and get my ass in the pool.  No more medals to win or PR’s to break.  This is when the struggle became real. This is when the fun stopped.  My weight fluctuated.  I tried starvation diets.  I tried endless hours of cardio.  Then I would get frustrated, swing the other way, and eat anything I wanted without setting foot inside a gym for months at a time.  There were times I was so thin it was scary and there were times I was much heavier than I wanted to be, and let me tell you, neither one of those versions of myself were healthy.  Two years ago, that all changed.  I finally had enough of the yo-yoing. I wanted to lose ten pounds, get my mental health under control and make a real, lasting lifestyle change. I knew it would be different this time because I wasn’t giving myself the option of failing.  I even remember exactly where I was when I made this commitment to myself.  Crazy the things we remember in life, huh?

That day started about a 6-month long process of doing exactly what I had done in my previous attempts to lose weight which was pretty much not eating a lot and finding the closest treadmill and making it my best friend.  Can anyone guess what happened next?  If you said I almost threw in the towel because the process was tedious and not sustainable you would be 100% correct.  But this time I had real motivation on my side so instead of giving up I doubled down.  I knew I needed to shift the way I was eating and working out to find a long-term solution, not a short-term fix.  So what did I do?  Well, it was a combination of a few things that I want to share below just in case someone out there is reading this and is on the verge of giving up and/or debating if it’s even worth starting again.  Just keep reading a few minutes longer and maybe some of the mindset shifts I made this time around will help you as well:

I found the fun again!

Like I talked about above, wayyy back in the day, exercising and being healthy was fun for me. I knew I needed to find that enjoyment again if I had any chance of achieving my goals for long term success.  I found that fun in the at-home workout programs that have changed my life!  I credit these programs with a large part of the success that I have had over the past two years because they are challenging in way that I can’t even describe but also so much fun to do!  There is also a ton of variety….everything from yoga, to Pilates, weightlifting, HIIT, tai chi, cardio, boxing, Plyo, you name it and I would be willing to bet you can find it on this workout platform.  I was the biggest skeptic going into this you guys.  I thought no way am I going to be able to achieve my goals, let alone enjoy working out from my living room! I also knew, however, that what I had been doing wasn’t working and I was rapidly headed for yet another failed attempt so really, what did I have to lose?  Not to mention several of my friends, family members and even two co-workers of mine swore by these programs, so I signed up, pressed play, and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself!  These programs are also keeping me sane right now in the midst of all the craziness going on around us!  I have not missed a beat with my health and fitness goals because I am able to do these workouts at home.  In case you are interested, I will link my top three favorite programs I have done so far as well as where you can you find the free trial of ten of the latest workouts below:

Click to access FREE_BOD_Workouts_Int_20200319.pdf

I realized it was a combination of eating right and exercising. 

You really can’t have one without the other when you are trying to get healthy.   You can read a little more about this in a post I wrote a while back called, It Takes Two…, but the gist is nutrition and fitness go hand in hand.  If you are looking to create a meaningful lifestyle change you have to be consistent with your workouts and on top of what you are eating.  My genius idea in my previous attempts to get skinny was to eat as little as possible.  Like I am talking a handful of crackers a day, which most days would be just enough to keep me from passing out.  I literally cringe when I think how dumb, and not to mention, reckless I was back then.  I realized this time around it wasn’t at all about getting skinny.  It was about getting healthy.  Now every meal I eat I try to do so with intention and the purpose of fueling body with the nutrients it needs not only to be healthy but to maximize the efforts I am putting in with my workouts.  The more I move, the more I need to eat.  I see food as an ally now.  I use it to help me feel and look my best and most importantly I finally have a healthy relationship with food these days.  I don’t weigh myself at all.  I eat when I am hungry and I stop when I’m full.  My energy levels are up, my sleep quality is a ton better, my anxiety is all but gone and as a bonus my pants fit well which goes a long way in assuring me that my fitness and nutrition are both on point!

I educated myself.

And still am! I put away the mentality that I knew everything I needed to know about how to get my butt in shape and I started researching.  And I continue to do it to this day.  There is so much information out there about living a healthy lifestyle I will probably never be able to absorb even a fraction of it but I try to learn something new every day.  These days I am mostly working on learning about nutrition because that is my weaker point.  The workout programs I follow take the guesswork out of how to get in shape, how to lift properly, how to maximize your efforts, etc. so my focus is now on learning how to fuel my body properly. Currently, I am trying to educate myself about macros because I don’t think I am eating enough protein to achieve the next goals on my list. The point is I humbled myself enough to ask questions and most importantly to challenge my assumptions.  A perfect example of this is I swore by endless hours of cardio for weight loss until I discovered from listening to other people and doing my own research how amazing weightlifting is to shed those unwanted pounds and get leaner.  Take your health into your own hands you guys and invest time into learning how to properly manage it.   Read articles, study what other people who have been successful are doing, get to know your body and body type, have clear goals and make a plan about how to achieve them in a smart, safe and healthy manner.

I was patient.

I stuck with it long enough this time that I got over that hurdle of wanting to quit and started to see change happening. I quickly realized that a fatal flaw of mine in the last several go arounds was I was looking for a quick fix, not a long-term solution. This lesson was probably the hardest one on this for me to get through my thick skull as I am not a patient person by nature, but I knew from all my failure before that I had to become one.  I finally recognized that meaningful change was not going to happen overnight, but it would happen if I showed up every day for myself and put the effort in. I continued to work on my goals even on the days and sometimes weeks that I didn’t see any progress being made because even though I couldn’t see the changes happening, I could feel them. I actually think I noticed the change in my mental and emotional health long before I saw any weight fall off or muscles start to form.  Just feeling better, happier, and more calm gave me all the incentive I needed to keep going.  Eventually the weight started to come off and I could see the outward changes as well.  While it feels like I woke up one day and suddenly saw all my hard work starting to pay off, in reality it was happening from day one.  You guys, this is a slow process, especially in the beginning but quitting won’t make it happen any faster!  Stick with it, find enjoyment in the process and just know changes are happening each and every day.

All of that being said, I don’t what you to think that I wake up every single day feeling like I want to go run a marathon or lift weights until I can’t move anymore.  And I sure as heck don’t wake up every morning being thankful that I am going to walk into my kitchen and find my superfood protein powder instead of donuts, but the majority of the time I really enjoy the process of living a healthy lifestyle these days.   I have found the fun again and my competitive nature is back in full effect.   I am motivated to keep going so as not to let myself down.  And what’s more, is even on the days my motivation isn’t there, my dedication still is.  I am dedicated to maintaining the results I have gotten thus far and building on them to achieve bigger and better goals.  I have put in a lot of hard work to get where I have over the last several years and I have no plans on letting up. And my experiences in getting to this point are also why I am here today, and why I started this blog. I think so many other people out there have been where I have been.  Where we start, stop, start, stop and start and stop workouts or diets or a combination of both over and over and over again until we are so frustrated we end up not even starting anymore.  Break that cycle and stick with it you guys please!!   Write out your goals, post them somewhere you have to look at them every day and make a conscious decision that nothing will get in your way of achieving them!  And guys, make it fun because life is entirely too serious otherwise!

Hope you all are staying safe and healthy!!!





Staying Healthy: How can we help our immune systems right now?

Staying Healthy: How can we help our immune systems right now?

First and foremost, I hope you all are safe, healthy and surviving ok right now!  Unless you have been living under a rock recently (which honestly I wouldn’t blame you for!), I am of course saying that because of a certain virus (that I am not even going to name because frankly I am tired of hearing its name) going around that have most of us just a little bit freaked out to say the least.  Going on day four of being quarantined and working from home, I have decided to really limit how much of the news I am taking in mostly to retain some of my sanity and hope that this will pass relatively quickly. All the coverage did get me thinking though, it would be a great time to write a post dedicated to our immune systems and how we can maybe help them out just a little especially in a time like this.  Even without the imminent threat of a serious and potentially life-threatening respiratory virus upon us, we are constantly being barraged by germs, bacteria, infections and all around yuckiness that in most cases our wonderful and amazing bodies fight off for us, a lot of the time without us even knowing it’s happening!  Our immune systems are so incredible that they can even sometimes sense cancer at its very earliest stages and fight it off all the while we were none the wiser we were ever in danger!  Pretty amazing, right?  So let’s take a slightly more in depth look at what are immune system is comprised of, how it works and how we can lend it a helping hand!

What exactly is our immune system? A VERY basic overview….

Our immune system is a pretty incredible and very complex system that is made up primarily of our:

  • Bone Marrow
  • White Blood Cells
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Thymus
  • Spleen

It is charged with the incredible task of fighting off infections, bacteria and diseases of all kinds from the common cold to the Big C, aka cancer.  Basically, it attacks anything foreign to our bodies that just shouldn’t be there.  Turns out we encounter literally BILLIONS of germs each day and our immune systems are so good at their jobs they can distinguish the good from the bad (not all germs are bad apparently!) by sensing tiny little “danger cues” at the molecular level.

The first line of defense for our immune system is actually our skin (the largest organ in our body).  Along with our skin, our corneas, mucous in our respiratory and GI tracts and mucous in our GU (genitourinary) tracts also provide physical barriers and have immune functions to help fight off the bad germs that are trying to make their way in.  Germs primarily get in through our eyes, nose and mouth (which is why not touching your face right now is being so heavily stressed!).  Luckily, like I mentioned above the mucus in our noses, tears in our eyes and even saliva in our mouths all have immune fighting properties to try to kill whatever germs have made it that far.

If one of these bad germs, viruses, bacteria, etc. do happen to make it past these first lines of defense, the rest of our immune system jumps into action to try to eliminate them before they makes themselves at home in our bodies, starts to reproduce, and then causes all kinds of havoc.   Apparently, our bodies are perfect breeding grounds for bad germs to multiply so stopping them before they can take hold is critically important to our health.  In a VERY high-level, brief overview of what then happens if a bad germ, aka. Antigen, to call it by its proper name, does make its way into our bodies, our immune system quickly reacts by making antibodies to destroy it.  And if that wasn’t enough, our immune systems even have their own memory so the next time that same antigen attacks, they can jump into action even quicker because they remember how they fought it off the last time.  If you have ever wondered how vaccines work, it is by exploiting our immunes systems ability to remember. Basically, each time you get a vaccine you are being injected with a very small amount of the very virus you are hoping to protect yourself against so that your immune system becomes familiar with it and develops a plan around how to fight it.  Pretty interesting stuff, right?  The human body is truly amazing the more you learn about it!

So how can we give our immune systems a boost?

Just like with so many other things health and wellness related, our immune systems can be helped or hurt by the choices we make and the lifestyle we live.  So what are some things that we are either doing or not doing that affect the strength of our immune system and its ability to respond when we need them:


Oh boy, this is a big one! We all know of course that when we are sleeping our body is hard at work repairing itself.  Well sleep also does wonders for our immunes systems basically by giving them a break.  Because there is very little other activity going on in our bodies while we are sleeping, our immune systems have a solid period of time to solely focus on fighting that virus, infection or disease that is trying to invade.  To get a bit more technical with it, while we are asleep our immune systems release a protein called cytokines.  These proteins not only promote sleep itself, but also serve to stimulate production of cells that help with tissue development, growth and maintenance as well as helping to regulate inflammatory processes.  And as someone with an inflammatory disease, I can tell you how important helping our bodies fight inflammation is!  Not getting enough sleep has been shown over and over again to trigger our brains to release a stress hormone that leads to more inflammation in our bodies which again is no bueno for disease development and progression.  For some tips on how to get more/better sleep check out my post “Zzzzzzzz…..”

Eating Right 

Fueling our bodies properly can go a long way in helping fight of viruses, diseases and bad bacteria. While it is always a good idea to eat nutrient-rich foods, it is especially important in a time like this in order to help your body remain as healthy as possible and your immune system strong.  You can actually ward of illnesses by making smart food choices, think eating that side of spinach instead of the french fries that are calling your name.  Some of the major food categories to be focusing on to strengthen your immune system are:

Citrus – This seems like probably the most obvious food group to reach for when thinking about helpful foods to be consuming at a time like this.  Citrus fruits and veggies are full of Vitamin C which we all know is a miracle worker in fighting off illness.  Vitamin C works its magic by inhibiting histamine release in our bodies and reducing inflammation at the same time.  And histamine, just in case you weren’t aware, is that nasty little substance that causes our runny noses, itchy eyes and yucky congestion we tend to get with allergies and colds. Another huge benefit of Vitamin C is that it increases the production of white blood cells.  Those are the guys that actually fight off infection.   Load up on citrus foods like oranges, grapefruits, lemons limes, leafy greens like spinach and kale and even bell peppers.

Seafood/Shellfish – Unlike citrus foods, seafood may not be the first food group that comes to mind when you think about immune boosting foods but it’s a great option!  Let’s start with shellfish….besides being pretty darn tasty in my opinion (I am from Maryland and we are all about our crabs here!), a lot of shellfish if full of zinc!  I have actually been swearing by zinc for a lot of years and make sure to start popping zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold.  Zinc, just like Vitamin C, helps our immune systems in the creation of white blood cells, which again are essential to fighting off infections. And if that weren’t enough, Zinc also increases the number of cells that are used to fight off cancer and help with wound healing.  Good choices in shellfish to reap the benefits of Zinc are crabs, mussels and oysters. You can also find zinc in items like frozen fruits and veggies, squashes and root vegetables as well as proteins like beef and lamb.

As far as other seafood is concerned, varieties like mackerel, herring, and another one of my faves, salmon, are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids which give our immunes systems a nice boost in strength as well.  Omega-3’s, which are also found in nuts, specifically walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, tofu and even avocados, to name a few, also go a long way in combating inflammation in our bodies.  And just like the zinc in the shellfish, the Omega’3’s in seafood also aid in white blood cell production, more specifically the production of a type of cell called macrophages, which can seek out and destroy harmful bacteria.  Most nutritionists actually recommend getting two servings a week of fatty seafood in general…maybe aim for an extra serving this week!

Seeds and Nuts – Both of these food choices, not only make for a great snack in place of less than healthy potato chips or again our beloved french fries, but they are packed with a healthy serving of Vitamin E which is an extremely powerful antioxidant.  What makes Vitamin E so crucial right now, it is works wonders in fighting off respiratory infections, which as we all know by now is exactly the type of virus, that again I refuse to mention by name, is.  Vitamin E is crucial to how your immune system functions and is also a fat-soluble vitamin meaning it needs fat for it to be absorbed.  Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds are all full of healthy fat along with Vitamin E which makes them the perfect vehicle for our bodies to absorb this oh so important vitamin.   Peanuts and hazelnuts are also really good sources, as well as our beloved avocados and other dark leafy greens.  So grab a handful of nuts when you are feeling a salt craving come on or whip up some guac to add to those salads, burgers and tacos! 

Yogurt – With so much of your immune systems work going on in the gut, it is essential to keep this particular part of your body in good working order.  Yogurt can go a long way in keeping your gut happy with the live, active cultures most brands contain.  These cultures work by stimulating your immune system to fight off potentially harmful diseases and they help to keep your digestive tract clean and free of harmful bacteria.  Yogurt also contains probiotics which further help your immune system by producing antibodies that fight off illness, disease and infection.  My only caution with yogurt is when picking one, watch out of the ones that have a lot of added sugar.  Greek yogurt is a great option as it is a good source of probiotics as well as Calcium and Vitamin D.  Vitamin D itself is also very good for the immune system as it is thought to also boost our bodies disease fighting responses.

Other really great food options to give your immune system a boost are garlic, some spices like turmeric and ginger, green tea, oats and barley and even mushrooms.  Try to incorporate some of the above suggestions into your meals as a great and natural way help your body ward off all the yuckiness around us, especially right now!


You guys I know this would be a good time to just stay in bed all day, eat a tub of ice cream and just not face the world. I have had moments where that’s exactly what I want to do, but continuing to move our bodies, getting as much physical activity as we can and not letting the stress and anxiety we are all feeling overwhelm us will also go a LONG way in keeping us healthy.  Exercise, even just brisk walking, has been linked to an increase in our bodies production and circulation of T-cells (or to get technical about it, T-Lymphocytes) which are an integral part of our bodies immune systems.  The more these cells get around our bodies, aka circulate, the more quickly they may be able to identify and fight bacteria, germs and pathogens that are present but shouldn’t be there.  Exercise may also help to flush out our respiratory systems and airways which can get rid of the bad bacteria that may have made it in.

Another excellent reason to incorporate or continue to incorporate exercise into your new daily routine, is it’s a huge stress reliever.  I have talked many times before how starting and maintaining a regular exercise routine has basically eliminated my panic attacks and drastically reduced my daily anxiety and that is coming in even more handy right now as we are all feeling a bit unsure and anxious about the immediate future.  My regular workouts have been literally saving my mental health over the past week or so in that they give me an outlet to get out that built up anxiety and frustration but also they give me something positive to focus on.  Exercise of course has been shown to increase the release of “happy” hormones like endorphins and decrease the release of stress hormones like cortisol.

I feel so fortunate that I decided two years ago to sign up for the at-home programs that I do to this day because all of the gyms in my area are closed for an indefinite amount of time.   I have been able to continue working out as I always have and again it is the one thing keeping me sane right now!  If you guys are finding it difficult to workout while  your gyms are closed or are just looking for something that will keep you sane and healthy during this difficult time let me know and I can get you set up with the programs I am doing.  Also check out my WORKOUTS page on this blog for FREE trial workouts and/or a free 14-day trial in which you can access a wide variety of the programs I regularly do.  Here is the link to access the 14-Day Free Trial. If you need any guidance about which program might be best for your or if you want a virtual workout partner let me know as well…I would be happy to help!!

As we navigate the craziness around us right now and our “new normal” it is so important to take the best care of ourselves that we possibly can to not only keep ourselves healthy but all those around us as well.  While we may not be able to control everything that is happening currently, we can take control of our physical and mental well-being.  Hopefully the info and tips I provided here on how to give our immune systems a helping hand will be useful in weathering this storm and coming out on other side stronger and ready to jump back into normal life.  Please let me know how you are all doing and just remember, hang in there, this too shall pass!  Sending lots of love to you all….



Monthly Goal Intention – January

Monthly Goal Intention – January

This year I thought I would do a little something different when it came to my personal goal setting.  I have decided I am going to set one goal each month that has to do with something I am working toward on my health and fitness journey.  Now this could be anything from my nutrition and eating habits, to my workouts to even something like my mental health and self care practices.  I think this might be a more effective way for me to target specific things throughout the year and keep up with my resolutions even after the hype and energy of the New Year dwindles down.  So, for January I have decided that my goal is to cook and meal prep more in an effort to stop reaching for those quick and easy processed foods as much as I have been.  As I mentioned in my previous post, “A few small nutritional reminders to keep our bodies happy & healthy in the new year”, nutrition is definitely the weak spot in my overall health journey and I have vowed to make 2020 the year that I get more of a handle on it.

While I have definitely made some solid progress in the nutrition department, I still don’t feel that I am quite where I should be in terms of fueling my body with the best possible options to help it thrive.  I do have a ton of food allergies that I have to work around, but I think I have almost been using that as an excuse to not try as hard as I should be to cook more and grab quick, pre-packaged options less.  While I don’t eat out hardly at all, like maybe once or twice a week if that, I do tend to hit the grocery store and still reach for those dreaded processed foods that are in all honesty pretty terrible for us.  I have never been all that interested in eating or food itself so for me just finding something quick to get me through the day has always been my MO.  But as I get more and more immersed in this world of health and fitness, I am realizing how very unhealthy that mindset it.  Most, not all, but most processed foods are sorely lacking in anything redeeming and pretty full of bad for us ingredients.  More specifically they are:

  • Full of Harmful Chemicals – Such as MSG, artificial sweeteners, BHA (which is a type of preservative both in foods and the packages a lot of food comes in), and a whole crap ton more which I can’t pronounce so figured I would skip trying to type also. These compounds have all been linked to several types of cancer, can damage our thyroids, have negative effects on our hormones and can wreak havoc on our fertility.  YIKES!  They are basically toxic to our bodies but staggeringly processed items still make up about 60% of the food we eat!  No time like the present to change that statistic you guys!!
  • They are addicting! – We already have a portion control problem, especially here in the US, where we are led to believe we need to be eating a lot more than we actually do and processed foods contribute in large part to it. I won’t go too much into the issue of portion control now, for more info on it though check out my post, “Portion Control: Know When to Say “When”, but it is a big problem with serious consequences for both our waist lines and general levels of health.  Prepackaged, processed foods are actually engineered to make us want to eat more of them!  Yep, they are made to be uber salty, overly sweet and generally exceptionally pleasing to our brains which makes us want to keep reaching for them long after we should have stopped and walked away.  Very sneaky food companies, very sneaky!
  • Low in Nutrients – So you are basically just eating empty calories while doing nothing to help your body along the way when you choose a processed food option. Most of them lack fiber, along with many of the other necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants our bodies needs to run at their best.  Not to mention, prepackaged foods are often high in trans-fat, which again is the bad for you kinda fat that will clog your arteries, contribute to high blood pressure and high cholesterol and can increase your risk of many forms of cancer.  Choosing whole, unprocessed foods goes a long way in getting your daily intake of all the stuff we need to avoid so many diseases and maintain optimal health.
  • High in Sugar – And more specifically, High Fructose Corn Syrup which is even worse than actual sugar! Besides just packing on the pounds and slowing down our metabolisms, excess amounts of sugar can also lead to higher cholesterol, a fatty liver, diabetes and again even certain kinds of cancer.  Most people actually get the majority of their sugar intake from processed foods and beverages and probably don’t even realize it.  Adding all that extra sugar is just another way the food companies make their products too appealing to resist.  Our brains are really happy when we get that sugar rush but our bodies are screaming at us to stop!  Listen to your body you guys, they almost always will lead you in the right and healthiest direction!

So, of course the bottom line here is processed, prepackaged foods are NO BUENO!  While I logically know this to be true, the problem still remains that they are just so dang easy to reach for when you really don’t care what you’re eating but just need something to ward off that dreaded LBS (low blood sugar) midday.  I guess this is where willpower, planning and keeping my goals in sight comes into play.  The one thing I have on my side is I really do enjoying cooking.  In fact, I used to do it allllll the time before I was diagnosed with all my food allergies.  Cooking was a creative outlet for me as well as a bit if a stress reliever.  I liked searching for new recipes to try, then experimenting with different versions of them until I found something that was a crowd pleaser.  Having vowed to start cooking more and been back at it for the past couple weeks, I am once again reminded of all the joy it used to bring me. While I do have to put quite a bit more thought and research into everything I cook and eat these days, it is well worth it both for the mental and physical benefits it provides me.

I’m off to a pretty good start with this goal of mine for January but to make sure I stick with it for the rest of the month and then hopefully the year and beyond there are a few things I think I need to do to set myself up for success.  For instance, I know I need to:

  • Plan, Plan, Plan! – As with most things health and fitness related, the more you plan the higher the chance you will be successful.  I know I need to make more of an effort to plan out larger chunks of my meals, not just the one or two days in advance that I have been doing. I need to consistently plan out each week’s meals for all seven days, do one big grocery trip a week and stock up on all the ingredients I will need.  This planning phase also needs to include some research into new recipes to try out and new ingredients to incorporate into my ever-expanding arsenal.  There are so many wonderful, healthy, whole food options out there that I haven’t tried yet or haven’t made the most of in their different forms that I know there will be endless options to keep me interested and fulfilled.
  • Prepare and pack my lunch ahead of time – Lunch is the meal that gets me. I have my breakfast down as it is almost always some variety of my superfood shake, dinner I almost always cook and usually do so pretty healthily, but man lunch is what gets me.  I will freely admit I am lazy when it comes to this meal.  I usually just grab a can of soup with my favorite gluten-free crackers or a cup of yogurt (I am currently obsessed with the So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut brand) or just a protein bar that I make sure to always carry in my bag with me.  While they aren’t the most unhealthy things I could be eating, like the fast food I used to grab all the time, they are mostly prepackaged items as opposed to the whole, fresh foods that I could and should be eating.  I just need to make more of an effort to put together healthier options the night before so I can get up, grab my meal out of the fridge and head out the door.  Again, with just a little bit of thought and prep I could seriously improve my nutrition by making my lunches just as healthy as my other two meals.
  • Be committed but also realistic – While I do want to explore new recipes and make much more of an effort to cut down on my lazy eating, I also need to plan for life. Life is busy. Life is hectic.  Life can sometimes throw you curve balls.  Keeping that in mind I know I can do more to plan for the days when life doesn’t go exactly how I thought it would.  I think keeping easy and quick but also healthy backup meals on hand, such as my favorite protein pasta, frozen fish filets and even just a salad I can toss together will be key for the days that life is just well, life.  I know sometimes meetings run late, after-work social activities pop up, or I will just get home and be too tired to follow a new recipe and that is ok.  I also know sometimes I will just want to throw a frozen cauliflower pizza in the oven and pour a glass of wine at the end of a long day and that is ok too.  Moderation you guys, I am a firm believer in it!  Along the same lines, cheat meals are also going to still be key for me.  Most Fridays night are eat-out nights which I eagerly look forward to and use as both as a tool and a reward.  Allowing myself this flexibility is a key in my opinion to achieving my larger, overall goals.  We need to be able to give ourselves a little bit of a break every once in a while so we don’t burn out and end up quitting altogether.

As I am sitting here typing this post today I have a big pot of lentil stew simmering (check out the pics below along with the superfood shake I ate this morning)  that I made up this afternoon and a batch of homemade gluten-free cornbread in the oven as well.  I had a blast putting it all together today (also it has been a great way to spend a snowy Saturday!) and will have plenty of leftovers for several meals this week.  January’s goals are off to a good start if I do say so myself!  I am feeling really motivated to keep this momentum going and happy that I am making more of an effort to take care of my body.  I want to keep getting stronger, continue to build more muscle and knock out even more of my goals this year and I know continuing to improve upon my eating habits will go along way in getting me there.

Stay tuned for my February post which will be all flexibility.  This is another area I keep saying I am going to work on but admittedly have not been doing such a great job with.  If you guys have any resolutions or goals you set for the year and would like to share….I would love to hear about them (and see below for a quick poll about this site, please and thank you!!)!   In the meantime, have a happy and healthy weekend everyone!



A few small nutritional reminders to keep our bodies happy & healthy in the New Year…

A few small nutritional reminders to keep our bodies happy & healthy in the New Year…

Happy New Year to all of you beautiful people out there!  How is 2020 going so far for you?  Did you make resolutions for the next twelve months?  Have you started working on them already?  In setting my own intentions for this year I think it is always a worthwhile exercise to look back and see where my strengths and weaknesses were in achieving my goals over the past couple years.  My strengths I believe are in my commitment. I have all the desire in the world to be the healthiest version of myself and all the enthusiasm to work as hard as I need to in order to achieve that goal.  I think one of my biggest weaknesses, however, is that sometimes I get overly enthusiastic! I tend to set really big, lofty goals and end up making drastic changes to my everyday life in order to achieve said goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. While this may seem like a good idea that is surely laced with all of the best intentions, if I have learned anything over the past couple years it’s that making drastic changes in any part of our lives usually doesn’t set us up for success.  I think to truly be successful in making a permanent change, the best way to go about it is by taking baby steps.  Make a few small changes at first and then build on those until you reach the end goal and that goal has become your lifestyle.

One of my primary intentions for the new year is to really work on my nutrition.  I have come a long way in this department but still feel between fitness/working out and what I am eating, the eating part is where I still need the most improvement.  So I wanted to write this post today to remind both myself and maybe some of you out there about some basic nutrition information that could possibly help us in achieving our health goals this year.  In no particular order, see below for my top 5 nutrition recommendations:

Eat More Fiber –

Fiber is so important to our overall health, but I feel like sometimes it is overlooked as something we need to make sure we are getting enough of. According to the American Heart Association, we should be getting about 25 grams of fiber per day (based on a 2000 calorie diet).  Why is this so important? Well fiber does some amazing stuff for our overall health in addition to what most people think of when they think of fiber…which is moving waste through our digestive tracks and out of our bodies.  Fiber also helps to control and even improve blood sugar levels, controls weight, can reduce heart disease, lower cholesterol and even fight some cancers!  And again, these are just a few of its benefits.  One of my favorite benefits is that it also is very good at reducing inflammation…which for someone with an autoimmune disease that revolves around inflammation is super important!  So what are the best sources to hit our 25 grams of fiber a day?  See below for some of the best sources of fiber:

    • Whole Grains
    • Nuts
    • Legumes
    • Oats
    • Green Peas
    • Squash
    • Avocados & Artichokes
    • Fruit – especially raspberries, blueberries, pears and grapefruit

Choose the Right Fats – Not all fats are bad!  

In fact, our bodies actually need some fats in order to perform at optimal levels. That’s right, we need to eat some fat!  Omega-3’s in particular are a great example of a fat that is super healthy for us to consume.  They are extremely heart healthy, they help to reduce inflammation, can regulate both blood pressure and cholesterol levels and can even prevent and/or fight some autoimmune diseases…..just to name a few benefits!   Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are two more examples of beneficial fats.  They both fight high cholesterol by reducing your LDL levels, also known as the bad for you type of cholesterol (for more on cholesterol check out my post, “A little about cholesterol”) as well as helping give our cells energy, regulating our hormones and even helping with the absorption of some nutrients.  So where can we get these good fats from?  The following foods are great sources of them:

    • Olive Oil – the Extra Virgin kind is the best
    • Nuts, yep even Peanut Butter!
    • Seeds – Think Chia & Flax Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds & Sunflower Seeds and even Sesame Seeds
    • Avocado – where my guac lovers?
    • Coconut Oil – I use this to cook with pretty regularly. It is great to use to line your pan with when sautéing veggies
    • Fish – Very high in Omega- 3’s especially the fatty fishes like salmon, albacore tuna, herring and mackerel

The fats we want to stay away from are the trans fats.  These can typically be found in the processed foods that are all over our grocery stores and more specifically in baked goods.  These fats are very bad for both heart health and your weight as they contribute to heart disease as well as diabetes.  Do yourself and your body a favor and severely limit your intake of these fats if not avoid them at all costs!

Load Up On Veggies – 

Seems like a pretty obvious one but if we are honest with ourselves, how often are we actually incorporating this food group into our meals? Hopefully the answer is all the time, but if it’s not here’s why you should make more of an effort to do so this year.  Most veggies are:

    • Rich in vitamins and antioxidants which fight illness and diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases
    • Are low in both fat and calorie content
    • Help with keeping blood pressure low due to being high in potassium
    • Many are full of fiber, which as explained above, is very important for overall health
    • High in water content which is another great way to stay hydrated

And these are just a few of the reason’s veggies are our friends!  According to the National Institutes of Health, we should be striving to eat 2-3 cups of vegetables a day.  And these days there are so many ways to incorporate them into your daily meal plan other than having to eat a salad every single day!  I am a really big fan or butternut squash.  Throw one in the oven and top it with your favorite sauce and it’s just like eating a really healthy version of your favorite angel hair pasta, only so much better for you!  Cauliflower is having a moment now too!  This is another really nutritious vegetable that now is being used to make pizza crusts, “chicken” nuggets, cauliflower rice and even cauliflower steaks!  I love a good cauliflower crust pizza topped with some extra veggies like peppers and mushrooms and light sprinkling of cheese for dinner.  It’s like being able to indulge in your guilty pleasure with none of the guilt!

Protein is not just for building muscle – include it in every meal!  

Protein is not just for body builders or people who are in the gym 7 days a week. We all need to be eating enough of it for a variety of health reasons, such as it:

    • Supports Immune System
    • Keeps Blood Sugar Levels Stable
    • Good for your bones
    • Helps fight fatigue
    • Ok yes, does help build muscles by repairing and rebuilding our cells

Just be careful you are choosing the right kind of protein.  A good tip here is to swap out processed meats for lean meats.  Think less hot dogs, lunch meats, and even, I’m sorry for all my bacon lovers out there, less bacon.  Instead choose items like canned tuna and skinless chicken or turkey. Salmon is also a great goto, just try to choose the wild caught, not farm raised.  I personally have even gone one step further and for the most part these days only eat plant-based protein in an effort to lower my cholesterol without the use of prescription drugs.  I load up on things like lentils, legumes, protein-rich veggies like broccoli and spinach and of course my favorite the chickpea.  There are also a lot of great plant-based meat substitutes that have hit the market recently…just make sure you are including protein in every meal right along with your veggies.

Less Soda, More Water – 

Well honestly less sugary drinks period. That includes fruit juices, sugary sports drinks, and yes even those super fancy, super delicious latte macchiatos I was once addicted to and especially love….they gotta go!  I was never a soda drinker, and actually do enjoy drinking water which I know sounds kinda weird but I had to make a big effort in reducing the sugary, high-calorie coffee drinks that I really had become addicted to.  Whether it be the Frappuccinos, sugary iced-teas, the couple cans of soda a day you find yourself downing or even the couple glasses of fruit juice you drink because it is made with fruit so it has to be healthy…these things are packing on the pounds or at the very least preventing you from losing them.  They are filled with sugar which besides the weight gain can also lead to health problems such as:

    • Diabetes
    • Calcium Depletion in your Bones
    • Headaches
    • Higher Blood Pressure
    • Kidney Damage
    • Even some cancers

Enough reasons to put done the sugary drinks, I think so!  Make your body happy, healthy and running like a well-oiled machine with those 8 glasses of water a day and I promise you not only see but also feel the difference!  I would be willing to bet your energy levels will go up, your weight will probably come down a bit and your skin might even start to glow a little brighter!  If you want a little more in depth information on why water is so important to our health as well as exactly how much you should be drinking check out my post….”Drink Up!  H20 that is…”.

There are obviously a million other things I could bring up when it comes to nutrition but always keep in mind that everyone is different and every body is different. We all may need slightly different things when it comes to our daily intake of vitamins and nutrients, but I think the above list is a good overall reminder of what we should and should not be consuming.  I myself am also going to be working on preparing more of my own food at home, having something with me at all times so I never get overly hungry and just enjoying the process of eating.  Food should be a friend and ally to us you guys.  It can do wonderful things for our bodies and overall health and with just a little bit of thought and planning we can both enjoy what we are eating as well as get the most out of it to maintain optimal health.  I heard someone the other day say, “Every time you eat something you are either feeding or starving disease” and I couldn’t agree with that more!  Let’s make this year that we value our bodies enough to only feed it good, wholesome ingredients and watch how it responds with all the energy, gratitude and healthy days in return! 😊



Staying healthy at our 9-5’s…

Staying healthy at our 9-5’s…

For a lot of us, including myself, a typical weekday involves going into an office, sitting at a desk and staring at a screen for hours and hours on end.  Anyone else get stiff and maybe even sore by the end of the day? I sure do!  Anyone else feel like their 9-5 is more like an 8-6?  Yep, me again!!  The more active and health conscious I have become over the past two years, the less I like being sedentary for any prolonged amount of time. I love being in motion and I love being active so sitting at desk for 8 hours a day is a real challenge for me.  To avoid all the pitfalls that come from office life and being sedentary for so much of the day I have started incorporating a few different techniques into my daily work routine to help combat some of the negative side effects that come along with our work lives.  I thought I would share some of my suggestions today for all my friends out there who are also chained to a desk and a screen like I am:

Set a timer or alarm to remind you to get up and move  every so often:

My Apple Watch alerts me when it is time to stand up and move around, but you can also set a reminder on your phone or computer to go off every so often telling you it is time to get up and stretch your legs. I would recommend that every 60 minutes (30 if you are ambitious) you get up and at least do a few stretches or take a stroll around the office.  Heck maybe instead of sending that one email, go walk to your coworker’s office and respond in person or better yet take a walk to the water cooler and refill your bottle so you’re getting some steps in and staying hydrated!!  At the very least stand up, do a few stretches, work on your flexibility and get the blood flowing again. Sitting down too long has been shown to lead to poor circulation, weight gain, even more serious things like heart disease and anxiety/depression!  I also tend to think giving your eyes a break from that darn screen every so often during the day is a must as well!

Use your lunch break to be active:

Ok I have said this one a million times, but I can’t emphasize enough what a huge difference this has made for me in the pursuit of my health and fitness goals!! I would say in general we all get at least 30 minutes to an hour for lunch each day…use that to be as active possible!  I make it a point, no matter how busy my day is, to spend a portion of my lunch hour being active.  I either take my laptop over to my office gym and get the next workout in my program done, use it to take a walk/run around the paths I am lucky enough to have by my building or even just use the time to get a good foam rolling or a stretching session in. I can’t tell you how refreshed and refocused I am for the second half of the day after I have taken this mid-day break.   Getting my workout done on my lunch break also frees up my evenings so I don’t’ have to worry about rushing home and getting it done after a long day or risk missing it altogether because a last minute work happy hour pops up, or a friend wants to grab dinner at the last minute.  Again, the goal here is to just be active for a bit to break up the amount of time you are sitting on your rear throughout the day.

Office Yoga:

This is something my boss implemented about a year ago to help us all stay healthy both physically and mentally. We have a scheduled yoga class every other Tuesday for an hour right around mid-day.  We are lucky enough to have a yoga instructor come in to the office, we all get our mats out and spend our lunch hour stretching and clearing our minds.  It is a great way to disconnect, get re-centered and take time out of a busy day and week to release some tension.  If getting everyone together and bringing in a yoga instructor in isn’t realistic where you work, there are also poses you can practice solo at your desk.  A few examples are:

  • Seated TwistThis is a simple one that just requires you to sit straight up, take a deep breath in, rotate your torso all the way to one side, exhaling, and then inhaling and repeating to the other side. This is a great stretch for your back, helps to elongate your spine and even helps keep your hips loose.
  • Wrist & Hand Stretch This is a really great one for all my fellow office workers who sit and type, type, type away all day long. I don’t know about you, but my wrists, particularly my right wrist which I use to move my mouse around all day, gets cramped by the end of a long day. You can do this stretch by simply extending both arms out with your palms facing up, bending your wrists down and making circles in either direction with your wrists.  I add a little extra stretch by using one hand to bend back my fingers on the other hand as far down as my wrist will comfortably allow and holding for about 5-10 seconds.  This really gives your forearm a nice stretch and keeps the knots away.
  • Forward FoldThis is one of my favorites as it stretches out both your back and your hamstrings all at once. All that this pose requires is for you to stand up for a few minutes, fold forward and hold this fold for 15-20 seconds while you are letting your shoulders and arms hang lose. Slowly roll up and repeat.  I do this stretch a few times in a row while taking a big breath in and out and I feel a million times better instantly.  I feel my blood flowing again, my energy levels go up and even my stress levels go down.  This pose is also just a great full body that really unlocks several large muscle groups that tend to get tight when we sit too long.

Keep Healthy Food on Hand:

One of the biggest pitfalls of working in an office is there always seems to be donuts, pastries, cookies, pizza and/or chips laying around ripe for the pillaging! Between sitting for long hours and mindlessly snacking on these less than healthy options or in some case stress eating throughout the day, gaining weight rather quickly is a definite possibility.  For me, eating healthy is much more difficult than working out so this takes a bit more willpower but is equally if not more important to commit to in order to stay healthy at work.   In order to avoid reaching for the junk food, I knew I needed to have healthier options available to me when cravings hit. I first started by making it a point to pack my own lunch every day. I was spending a boat load of money eating out each day not to mention I wasn’t always picking the best meals options from the choices I had locally (mostly fast food).  I also make it a point to bring my superfood shake to work with me in the morning which fills me up until lunchtime so I am not tempted by those early morning sweets.  Keeping healthy snacks on hand is crucial as well especially if you are anything like me and like to graze on food throughout the day.  Some suggestions are:

  • Cut up fruit
  • Apples and peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt (I like to add honey and berries to mine)
  • Nuts – Almonds in particular are a great snack
  • Hummus and carrots
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Protein Shake (click here for the one I use)
  • Cottage Cheese (great source of protein – sprinkle a little cinnamon on it for a sweeter treat)

I also keep some dark chocolate in my snack drawer for when that sweet tooth craving hits because it inevitably does each day immediately after lunch.  By switching up my routine and bringing my meals with me to work I have not only saved a ton of money but I also feel so much better throughout each day now because I am not eating junk. I have more energy, my concentration is better and I can focus throughout the day without the crashes I used to have nearly every morning and afternoon.

Get your co-workers involved:

I promise you, they will thank you….eventually! 😊 When I started getting active, I quickly looked for races to sign up for to help keep me accountable to my goals and people to drag along with me to make the experience more fun.  I was able to talk a few co-workers into doing a 5k with me as well as a mud run the first year.  They were reluctant at first to say the least but after we crossed the finish line of both races we all had huge smiles on our faces and were eager to find more to sign up for.  Now I have twice as many co-workers eager to join in every time I find a event I want to do!   We have completed several 5k’s, a Color Run and just last month we had our biggest turn out yet for our third terrain race with almost the entire staff participating and even some who signed up their family members as well!  These races are so much fun and a great team-building experience as well.   A few ladies in my office have even started joining me on the days I workout on my lunch break in order to get some training in for the next event we all sign up for.  Bringing fitness into the workplace I think has even made our team function better in our everyday work duties which is just an added bonus to all the fun we are having after working hours!

Just because you are stuck behind a desk the majority of the week does not mean you can’t be healthy!!  Along with my suggestions above, just make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day, washing your hands and using hand sanitizer every so often because let’s face it an office can be a germy place, and heck maybe even swap that elevator out for the stairs each day (if you can) and see what a difference that makes!  I also recommend blue light blocking lenses to help ease the strain on your eyes from that harsh computer screen.  I have the blue light blocking tint on my prescription glasses but you can also get non-prescription blue light glasses if you already wear contacts or you’re one of the lucky ones that don’t need glasses or contacts at all.  The bottom line is whether you actually go into an office Monday through Friday or even work from home but still find yourself sitting at a computer the majority of the day, staying on track with your health goals and making it a priority to take care of yourself isn’t impossible. Like most things health and fitness related, small changes to your daily habits can make a big difference!!  Happy Monday y’all!