Around every corner and under every rock you will find a “Fitness Expert”, especially in the social media realm, right?
Yup, everyone’s an expert. :-)
There are some fantastic (true) experts out there, that offer amazing and insightful information that will help us on our journey to better health and fitness, follow them! Read their books and blogs and posts, etc. and everyone else? Hmmm, take them with a grain of salt. :-)
Even better, do your own research, experiment with your own diet and training and become an expert.. of you!
I caution you about anyone who will a.) ‘push products’ on you, b.) suggest that their diet and workouts are the only way to go and c.) those who are inconsistent.. at best. You want someone who models a life you want to lead, if they haven’t figured out what works for them yet, give them a few years to gain some experience and knowledge, then check them out again.
And again, take the time to shape your own path to better health, do simple elimination tests to find out what you’re allergic to, pay attention to what foods make you feel energized (not high) and what foods make you feel sluggish and sick. Take out what’s harmful and add in what’s beneficial.
I’ve spent 400+ hours researching my current diet and workout plan and I’m not done yet. I want to always be growing in my knowledge of how my body works and how best to fuel it. And I encourage you to do the same.
Well, you don’t have to put in 400 hours, but you can start somewhere though, right?
Right. You little expert, you. :-)


Do you do anything in your life right now, that makes you feel like Superwoman? (Assuming you’re a woman, of course..)
Something that makes you feel invincible, powerful and ready to take on anything?!?

I do. It’s called Demolition. ‘Demo’ for short.
And I LOOOOVE it! :-)
So what do I demolish? Walls. Plaster and lath, sheetrock, ceramic tile, wood, concrete.. whatever.

Why do I do this?
Well.. my husband and I bought a 104 year old home that every single flippin’ inch needed remodeling, so we had to take out walls, lots of different flooring and various wood structures.

We’ve also been doing various demo and reconstruction projects for the last 17 years. We’re crazy like that.

It’s tough work, not for the faint of heart or those worried about breaking a nail. Depending on what we’re working on we can easily be covered from head to toe in dirt, concrete or sheetrock dust, and sweat. Yeah, lots of sweat, we are absolutely filthy when we finish.
So why would I do this?
Well, for one, because it needs to be done, and two.. because I can.
Yeah. I can.
Give me a wonderbar in one hand and a hammer in the other and I will take down ANYTHING.
And the grin on my face under my mask will be huge while I’m doing it.
Why? Because I love the fact that I am not only capable of doing this, but I can do it well.
What I (may?) lack in strength (compared to the opposite sex) I will more than make up for in stamina. I don’t quit till the job is done.
And when I’m done, I’m crazy tired and likely bleeding somewhere, but on the inside I’m on top of the world, ready and willing to take on ANYTHING.
In my own little world, I am Superwoman. (Powerful, capable and strong.)
But my husband (lovingly) calls me- Beast.
So I ask you again, do you have anything in your life that you accomplish that makes you feel SUPER?
Something that stretches you?
Something that’s tough?
Something that takes a great deal of effort and thus gives a great deal of pride once completed?
We need these things.
And this is not the same kind of ‘amazing’ that a haircut or new outfit brings, this is the kind of ‘amazing’ that can only come with accomplishment. With facing something tough and tearing through it. And coming out on the other side- victorious.
In the midst of our crazy lives where we are burdened with issue upon issue, we need pockets of straightforward success here and there to remind us that we can make it and we can succeed in very tough circumstances.
We are capable. We are Super. And we can handle Anything that comes our way.

Without these ‘successes’, these moments of awesome achievement, we start to shrivel, and doubt starts to creep in and ‘everything’ seems so overwhelming and we think we can’t make it if we don’t ‘escape’ (to get a manicure, a drink, or eat junk) so we can deal with life again.
You are so much stronger than you think you are. You may have forgotten this, but the fact remains. You may need to tackle and conquer something bigger than you to refresh your memory of your strength, but it’s there, I promise you.

While leading a group of college girls through a workout not too long ago, I told them of another benefit of exercise that’s often overlooked:
When we face a tough workout that we really don’t want to do or don’t think we can do, but we roll up our sleeves and do it anyways, afterwards, after we’ve pressed on, pushed hard, done our best and finished.. we get to enjoy the gift of accomplishment and we also realize that every ‘impossible’ task we overcome gives us strength and determination to handle the next one, be it in the gym or not. Working-out is a strength builder that carries much further than the walls of a gym.

Some will run to get a pedicure or go shopping when the going gets tough. Fortunately, life never afforded me those options. And I say “fortunately” because without those options, I was forced to develop my ‘perseverance muscle’, and it’s strong now.
Earlier I said my husband and I had been doing demo and rebuilding for the last 17 years, but I had forgotten about this photo here…
This is me and my brother and sisters (minus one) when I was 16 years old (I’m in the center not holding anything). Apparently my Mom looked at two short brick walls and a large L-shaped patch of concrete and it never occurred to her that we couldn’t break this down. She told us it needed to be done and using a sledgehammer we did it. We took turns destroying this sore sight in the yard, till it was no more. No gloves, no protective eye wear, no steel-toed boots. Just grit.
Was it ‘fun’ to do this? Maybe for the first few minutes, but those were (really) rough times, and I’m sure I welcomed the opportunity to work some frustration off. Would I have rather gone swimming or read a book or hung out with friends? Uh, yeah. But it was during these years that I was learning just how strong I was (we all were). Not by choice, we never choose adversity, right? But it’s in the fire, in those moments when we want to quit, but don’t because that option isn’t even on the table, that we find there’s really something in us, in all of us… that’s Super.
Thanks, Mom.

It’s only week #2 and I’m ready to quit.. help?

What is it about the two-week point in your quest to eat clean and lose weight that is so tough to get past? I’ve heard from many of you that you do GREAT for two weeks and then ‘something’ happens, and before you know it- you’re off track (again?).
We could talk forever about the reasons why… but can I just encourage you for a bit? Thanks, thanks (this is my favorite part). :-)

Look how far you’ve come.
No really, do it. When you started two weeks ago, did you think you could make it this far? It’s TOUGH to let go of junk food and sodas and sugary coffee drinks… etc..
VERY tough.
But you did it. YOU did it.
YOU started (which is the toughest part of all) when everyone else was still making excuses. (Do you need to reread that last sentence? It’s HUGE.)
YOU stepped up and took control of your life and your eating habits in spite of a very busy life.

Remember this.
Remember how hard it was and how much you worked to overcome the obstacles.
Remember every time you chose something healthy over something unhealthy. Remember how hard you worked to plan your meals so you would have good food to eat.
Remember.. and be proud of yourself.

Now let’s look forward.
You have a goal, whether its a number on the scale, a certain size pair of jeans, running a marathon, you name it.. but YOU have it. It’s all yours.
See that goal, take a few minutes to see yourself THERE. Finished.
No matter how you’re feeling right now, let me just tell you..
That goal.. YOUR goal is TOTALLY and COMPLETELY possible. Did you hear me?
It’s possible.
You just need to do one thing.

Keep going.

Don’t quit. Don’t try to figure out how you’re going to ‘do this’ for months or years.
Think about your next meal and making it healthy.
Think about kicking some serious butt in your next workout.
Take it one choice, one action, one decision at a time.

Don’t quit.

Take a deep breath (or six) and focus on your goal and do what it takes to stay in the game.
This is your life, and your goal and they are worth fighting for.
You can do this.
Yes, YOU can.
Now, go be the awesome, motivated, hard working, WINNER that you are.
Yeah, you can do that, too.

Dear 2011

Dear 2011,
Oh, what a ride it’s been!
Come on over, have a seat.. let’s me and you reminisce a little.

We started off the year at a cabin in Ruidoso..
I know, crazy, right? Robert and I actually on a mini 4 day vacation?!
WOW, what came over us?
We relaxed, took walks every day..
Robert carved our initials in snow..

we read books, Robert watched a million movies,
I got to workout in the beautiful snowy mountains and we planned.
Yes we did. We wrote out goals for the year.
One of my goals was to not do something because I was afraid. I have lived most of my life in fear and I have not done soooo many things because I was afraid. In fact I was even afraid to make that a goal of mine.. well, of course I was, right?!
For the first time I was really looking forward to the new year, I felt an insatiable hunger for growth and change (where did THAT come from?), I wanted to tackle some of the demons I had been wresting with my whole life and I wanted to step into who I was created to be.

February 1st, Stephanie and I started the first PrayFit group and I took on the 28 day challenge outlined in the PrayFit book.

Foolishly thinking that I had been working out for ‘awhile now’ so this shouldn’t be a problem. Oh WOW. By week three I was hoping to get in an accident or come down with the plague or something so I would have an excuse to quit. Oh no, not dramatic at all!!
But accountability rocks and I finished.
Can I say that again?  I finished.
Nothing of value comes without hard work.
We know this, right?
And completing things that seem so overwhelming gives us new confidence to try other things that seem ‘impossible’, don’t they? Why, yes.. yes they do! This is significant to me because it was the first of many difficulties I would encounter that would test what I was made of. My perseverance muscle was determined to grow in 2011, with or without me.

We continued the remodeling of our 103 year old home, wore our fingers to the bone, but we love her.. our home, she just feels like us. We enclosed and painted ‘my space’ (office, home gym, workshop), sanded and refinished the kitchen floor..

completely remodeled the downstairs bathroom and guest bedroom

refinished the fireplace..

and a couple of pieces of furniture..

painted the outside of the house and I planted flowers! And they actually grew!
Whew! I’m exhausted just remembering all this work.. lol

“Hungry!” came along in June. Out of nowhere, I thought… I have many people emailing me for fitness and weight-loss tips and texting when they need encouragement to get through a tough spot.. why don’t I start a facebook page that can help others who also need motivation and encouragement. And so Hungry! was born.

I love my Hungry! page and everyone who has come along for the journey. But what started out to help others has really helped me more than anyone, I think.. again,
accountability rocks. :-)

In June we also lost our beloved Abuela Vargas. She was 85 glorious years old.

How do you say goodbye to your Hero?
I don’t know. I still don’t know.
I decided instead to wake up every morning determined to live as passionately as she did, to persevere through every test and task I’m faced with and maintain a child-like silliness that will keep me young till the day I die, like it did for her. I love you, Grandma. I’m so proud to call myself a Vargas woman.

August brought another PrayFit group start-up (woohoo!) and September brought an Open House and House Blessing on our home, we enjoyed having our friends and family over to celebrate the gift of a ‘new home.’ It was also wonderful because I called- Game Over with remodeling for the year and it’s been very nice to not work on the house every evening. And Robert has been relaxing, and that’s always nice to see. :-)

I faced those demons that I mentioned earlier, and my renewed peace, energy and positive outlook is a result of having gone through the fire. See? It’s possible. Scary… but totally possible.
I learned so much, 2011, too much to write down in a simple blog post, but one thing that stands out is this: I am no accident, I have purpose and I know what it is now. I need to be spending my time fulfilling what I was born to do.

And so 2011, you are fading fast, in a few hours you will be gone. You gave and you took away.  When we started out together in a cabin in Ruidoso I would’ve never believed the year that was about to unfold. It was one of the most difficult years that I’ve had in recent memory, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because it brought me here.. now.. and consequently prepared me for all that 2012 will bring.
And so… thank you, and Adios.

Just begin.

Where ever you are is the best place to start.

So many distractions in life to take our minds off of what we’re aiming for, what we’re trying to become or finish. So many forks in the road.
So many excuses. :-)
The awesome thing is, we never have to wait for tomorrow or even Monday to start over. We don’t have to wait till we’re a certain size to go back to the gym and we don’t have to wait till we have our own act together before we can reach out and help someone else along. We don’t have to wait for anything to do what we know we need to do.
We just have to decided we want to start over. We have to want to.
The line is in the stand, just step over it. Don’t wait for an invitation or approval.
And definitely don’t wait for the right time, because you’re gonna be sitting there for a long time. :-)
It’s always the right time to do something good.

Where ever you are is the best place to start.

Eating test, Day 4-7 results

Day Four Results:
This may be a short post, haha.. I’m a little tired tonight! :-)
So, today was just off.. everything about it. The house was a zoo with work being done outside and inside all day long, literally like 8am to 6pm. I know it needs to be done but having three extra people here when I’m used to being by myself just wears on me and throws me off course. Plus Robert, my husband, said we needed to go pick out tile at 8:30am for the handyman and 9:30 had rolled around, I was ready and waiting and still had not left yet. I typically start my water (60oz) by 9am and eat by 10am then workout, but I couldn’t do that because we were going to be out and about and no convenient place to.. ehem, use the bathroom. I finally was able to start my water by 11 and ate at 12. It took a lot of willpower to get that water down first before eating, but I managed. So I got a little unintentional IFing (Intermittent Fasting) in there, going without for 17 hours.
I also wasn’t able to workout, which completely stinks. The handyman and Robert were working in the next room over and there was a lot of in and out traffic, it was just a mess. Then Robert leaves (last minute) out of town to go visit his family in Arizona at 7:30pm and we had a brisket that was just finishing up that I needed to shredded so I basically just nibbled on it as I was shredding it, until I was full. Very strange day.
I did not get my second batch of vitamins down, and I didn’t eat my second cup of fruit or eat my second piece of chocolate. This wasn’t intentional, I think I was just trying to catch myself coming and going and didn’t think about it much.
I dropped another 1/2 pound this morning, which was A-Ok by me.. I’ll take it! :-) I did feel today that I’m not getting enough fat in my diet so I had two scrambled eggs with chili powder. I just needed a boost and the eggs definitely did it. I don’t consider eggs to be dairy, so I don’t feel I went off course, they really helped me and I wasn’t hungry the rest of the afternoon. We’ll see if the scale agrees with that decision tomorrow. :-) Either way, it was the right thing to do at the time and I have no regrets. (I haven’t had eggs in many months.)
I saw a ‘treat’ today and was kinda sad for some reason, wondering if I’ll ever be able to fit it back into my diet. I know I will, it was just a minor pity party, I just gotta learn moderation, true moderation :-) As I mentioned before I had cut back on honey or dates or nuts before but never all of them together, but clearly these are my ‘terrible three,’ because cutting them out is causing me to lose, and if I want them in my diet on any level I’m going to have to find the sweet spot (how much I can have without gaining). But I also may just have accept that I have to cut them out, just like grain and dairy, we’ll see..
These are two quotes that constantly come to mind:
“If you want something you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do something you’ve never done.” And
“Decide what you want,
decide what you’re willing to give up for it,
establish your priorities and go to work.”

Four days down, three more to go.. :-)

Day Five Results:
I really wish I could’ve done this test on a more normal week, I feel like all I’m saying is how stressed out I’ve been. Well… today is no better, in fact today was the topper. I was tempted to eat forbidden foods more times today, than I can count. I didn’t give in, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so close without giving in, I was pacing the floor fighting with my self, mentally. Our tile guy was back and brought someone with him that I didn’t know, so that made things very awkward for me ( I don’t like strangers in my house). I had some important decisions to make about the bathroom and my husband was out of range, couldn’t be reached, so I was left with the decision process. The guys were here all day again and the ‘helper’ left the back door open so the sawing dust from the tile went all over the basement, all over and up the stairs, all over everything in the kitchen and everything in the dining room. The house was just in chaos. I was beyond stressed because I knew that I was going to be the one to have to clean it all up and it’s going to take forever. Several times I had to tell myself- you’re not hungry, you’re stressed! Eating (this or that) will not make this situation any better!
I took a lot of deep breaths and although I nearly punched a wall when I saw the dust all over everything I’m happy to say, I didn’t! :)
I wasn’t able to workout again today, and that may be some of why I’m a little wired. Working out is a fantastic release for me and I miss it when I’m not able to do it. My weight was the same this morning as yesterday morning, but I’m ok with it, maybe it was the eggs and maybe it was that I didn’t eat enough, because everything else was the same.
I do know for certain, that had I not taken honey, nuts and dates out of my diet this week and limited my fruit, and had I not been keeping myself accountable here, I would’ve likely indulged in them for all the stress I’ve been under. So though I say I wish it could’ve been another week, in truth it’s really shown me that I CAN make it through overwhelming circumstances without turning to food, even good foods and that I HAVE grown a lot stronger over the years than I had previously given myself credit for.
Yay, for small gains.. :-)

Day 7, Final Day
Well, here I am.
My ‘test’ is complete and I survived. :-)
I was down a total of three pounds on Saturday (yesterday) morning, but gained back a half pound this morning. Last night my husband took me to Stateline and we had baby back ribs and beans. Well, that’s what I had, he had ribs, beans, coleslaw and potato salad. I just so happen to LOVE the coleslaw and potato salad from Stateline but I only allowed myself two very small bites of coleslaw. But the beans were bad news for me and made me gain. It’s ok though, this is one of the reasons that I like to weigh myself every morning, even though some people might call it ‘a bit much,’ because I can find out immediately if something is making me gain and can eliminate it from my diet if I so choose to.
Today, Sunday, is when we typically go to our favorite Mexican restaurant after church with friends. Over the past year I have really watched what would make me gain weight from the weekend and it was one of the reasons I eventually decided to drop dairy and grain alltogether. Every Monday, without fail I would be 1-2 pounds heavier then on Sunday morning. So, anyways, because the beans caused me to gain overnight I decided not to eat them today like I usually do with my shredded beef. I asked them instead to give me a salad with vinegar and oil ‘dressing.’ It wasn’t as satisfying, but I have to remember my own advice and make the event about the relationships and conversations instead of focusing on the food.
I’ll be continuing with these same ‘eating rules’ for another week, just to see if I can handle it (yeah, I would do it just for that) and if I can eat ‘this way’ permanently.

Here’s a few things I learned or relearned this week:
1. I can’t wait too long to eat or I get majorly irritable and want to eat everything in sight. This was never done intentionally, but I have to make sure that I’m getting good meals/snacks in, or my defenses are way down and it’s extremely difficult to stay the course.

2. I have to have Protein, Fat and healthy Carb options in the house, available and ready to eat or I’m in serious trouble and my mind instantly starts thinking about ‘bad stuff.’ i.e. I need to be prepared.

3. I’m a lot tougher than I gave myself credit for. I know it may not look like much to just remove grain and dairy, honey, dates and nuts from my diet, but these were trigger foods for me and I was able to walk away from them for 7 days.
7 whole days.
To me, that means that they don’t have such a strong hold on me anymore and that I’m in control rather than feeling that once I start eating these foods I’m not able to stop. and that feels good. The war isn’t over, but this battle has been won.

4. Having the 2 small squares of 70% chocolate that I could eat everyday really made me feel I could let go of everything else. These ‘squares’ are so tiny you would probably laugh if you saw them, and I admit they were probably more psychological in nature for me than anything else because they’re not very sweet.  I also admit that my goal would be to one day not have ‘to have them,’ but it was important for me to not feel too deprived, again, I want a diet that I can do year round and not ‘feel’ like I’m dieting.

I realize that this whole ‘test’ may seem extreme to some, talking about losing or gaining a half a pound and taking ‘so many’ foods out of my diet, and that I may seem overly focused on my weight, etc. But the funny thing is, this was very freeing for me. I did not think about food all day, in fact this was why I sometimes went too long without eating, because I simply forgot about it. It was not a primary focus of my day. Once the rules had been set, I just needed to follow them. I’m not saying it was easy, but it provided structure for me. I had begun to develop habits of over eating a few foods and whenever that happens I need to take measures to restore normalcy and get my focus back on track. Plus, when you’re as close to goal as I am, your body will start to hold on to fat and you have to remind it who’s boss! :-)
So, I’m off on another week, same rules, I’ll report back at the end, to let you know how it went. But as far as this past week, I’m very proud of what I was able to accomplish and I look forward to what I’m going to learn in the next 7 days.

Eating Test, Day 1-3 Results

Day One results:
I always do good in the morning and through lunch, and that was true today also. The ‘cups’ of fruit felt like a lot so that was cool and I only had 1 ‘square’ of the chocolate. I made some chili ground beef in the afternoon that was pretty high in fat, so that really held me over through a typically rough time. I didn’t feel deprived today and in fact felt really full after dinner. It was the first time in, gosh, almost a year that I made a salad to eat with my dinner, it was a really nice change. I also made myself some grilled shrimp, so that was good. I can definitely tell I’m heading into ketosis, I can taste it and feel it in my legs, so that’s good.
Mentally, I was wanting nuts, I really love them. And I should definitely be able to eat them on this diet and because I don’t eat junk, so, I have to deal with that (mentally), I have to decide what I want more. The last time I cut nuts out of my diet (about two months ago), I lost 3 pounds in two days. Dangit I really love nuts and again, I struggle with the fact that others can have them but I don’t seem to do well with them. They’re healthy and yet they seem to make me gain. ugh. And that’s another reason why I’m writing this here, I want the accountability. I typically start the week saying no nuts or honey or dates etc.. then I forget or eat them anyways after a few days (because they’re healthy and other healthy people eat them, I reason). I know I have food issues, I’m a recovering emotional eater. and I know I can eat too much of some foods and just because they’re good for me doesn’t mean I cant abuse them.
So I’m documenting this week to see the areas I need to work on. I don’t ever want any food item to make me feel out of control or that I ‘have to’ have it. Food is meant to provide energy and nutrition. Period. Anything else and something is out of order.
So, that’s it! Day one is history, I did good and feel good about it. One down, six to go! :-)

Day Two Results:
I’m wrapping up day two and I gotta say I’m feeling a little strange right now, I should say, strange- but good. :-) My body definitely feels different, I feel a little shaky but I feel good because I’ve done good and haven’t gotten off course one bit! I was down a pound this morning and that was awesome and I felt less bloated. I think I may be allergic to nuts, I remembered this morning that off and on I’ve thought that for one reason or another and I’m wondering if that may be it. Anyhow, I didn’t think about nuts so much today but I did think about sweets and chocolate. I only ate a half a piece of 70% chocolate today, it was about a 1/2 inch x 1/2 square after dinner and that was enough. Around three o’clock this afternoon I was wanting some and I thought, hmmm.. if I eat it now I may not have it for later when I really want it so I better not. And it ended up that I didn’t need much later after all.
This has been very interesting for me, I know I’m only on day 2 but it’s been good because I coach a lot of people through this detox or ‘cutting’ phase and I realized that it has been many years since I went through it myself. So, it’s been good to experience it again. Oddly enough these past two days have been tougher than when I cut grain and dairy out completely.. I’m not sure why but I think it has a lot to do with the honey and dates, (which are healthy in and of themselves, in moderation) but I think I may have jacked up my already jacked up system by overloading it with so much sugar, to the point that even when I cut way back, I was still on a bit of a sugar high. The key word is- moderation. I really need to get the definition of that word tattooed on me somewhere.. :-)
My workout suffered today, bad.. I hit a wall into my second set and… oh wow!! I just realized I had 3 instead of 2 cups of fruit today! Oh man! Yesterday I ate my first cup of fruit in the afternoon and the second after dinner. I did the same thing today but I ALSO had a cup during my workout! Gosh, I CANNOT  believe I did that! Oh well, so much for “doing good.” We’ll see if it effects the scale in the morning. :-)
Anyhow, I’m not quite sure whats going on with my workouts, but this is the second day I had to cut it short. I literally could not do one more rep. I typically tell people not to workout during a detox because they might be pretty weak, but I guess I really didn’t think  limiting fruit and cutting out the dates, honey and nuts was going to make that big of difference. I had done it off and on for the last few weeks. But I’m glad to be wrong, getting these “sweets” out of my system may be the key to dropping this stubborn 4-5 pounds that crept back on. Well, I hope so anyway.
I’m craving something right now, but I really don’t know what, I’m not really allowing myself to drift off mentally and think about what I can’t have. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on all the good things in my life and how blessed I am. I know that sounds cliche, but it works for me. Our emotions and even our bodies ‘follow’ what we think about and dwell on and rather than think about what is ‘out of reach’ I want to dwell on my blessings. :-) I think the issue may be that I’m really switching from carb burning to fat burning, and so the cravings have increased. At least now I know what’s going on, and can be happy about it, back in 2007 I had no idea that I was in ketosis and was freaking out, thinking I was dying or something… :)
Life is good, and I know once I endure this tough part and get the sugar out of my system, it will be smooth sailing from there.

Day Three Results:
Well, it’s Wednesday night and I’m at the end of day three! Woot, woot!
Before I get into today there was some things I neglected to mention yesterday, one was that it’s so important to have a variety of good (allowable) foods in the house if you’re trying to cut some not-so-great (for you) foods out of your diet. I was waiting (for two days) on some chicken and broccoli (from my husband, long story) so I was stuck with eating only chili ground beef and shrimp, as my protein sources. Typically, in the past, when my only protein source was steak, I didn’t really have a problem with it, but something about knowing that I can’t have some of the foods that I want that I really need variety with other foods.
Ok, so this morning I was down another pound, wow! That’s a lot for me so quickly, so it’s exciting. I guess that extra cup of fruit yesterday didn’t do any damage. Now last time I cut out nuts I lost two pounds, maybe three.. so this is interesting and I’ll see tomorrow how it goes when I weigh in. But I’m happy about my progress, it gives me strength to keep going.
I’ve thought a lot these last few days about if I can eat like this for… forever. :-) I don’t like to do extreme or crazy diets and I never do them, actually but I do from time to time like to remove things from my diet that I feel I’m beginning to ‘need’ or look forward to, too much. Coming from a history of food issues, I’m very sensitive to any foods (or anything really) that I turn to instead of people, God or working through things. Last night after I wrote about the day, something very stressful came up and I instantly thought about the other square of chocolate that I could eat. In fact I was heading to the kitchen to get it when I stopped myself. Now, technically it was ok to eat it because I had allowed myself two squares per day and I had only eaten one.. but in my book, I was not allowed to eat it because I wasn’t hungry for it and I was turning to sweets to ‘make the situation better’ or to help me get through it.
I didn’t eat it and I’m proud of myself for that, I was very aware of what I was doing and was able to ‘talk myself down’ so to speak. This is how I did it, I took a serious deep breath and said: “This chocolate will not make this situation better, right? Right. This situation is tough but it’s not the end of the world, is it? No. Let’s put it aside for tonight and deal with tomorrow and stay the course.” (Another deep breath) Do I sound like a quack for talking to myself? Eh, probably.. but I’m ok with that, I do it all the time. :-)
In the morning, I was able to take care of it with a clearer head and was very happy to have gotten through it, without turning to food to ‘help me.’ I have been able to do this for a few years now but that doesn’t mean that that (strong) habit to run to food doesn’t kick in, it does all the time, but I’m aware of it and most importantly I want to grow out of it, I want food to be put back in it’s rightful place in my life and that is being used for nutrition and energy and nothing else. Not to bring me happiness, make me feel secure, make me feel like I measure up or anything. It was never supposed to be those things.
Today was a rest day for me (from my workouts) which was good because I was a bit weak still, I start off the mornings great, no cravings, not hungry, etc. The real rough time for me is in the afternoons, about 3-4pm.. that’s when I could eat a candy store! eeks! But I’m trying really hard to eat before I get too hungry so I can stay on target.
I have lost a little bit off my stomach, not quite an inch, but I’m getting there and I’m curious to see if I will gain some tomorrow because I pretty much ate the same amount today and didn’t work out. hmmm :-)
My arms are pretty sore from my workout yesterday.. good ol’ DOMS, gotta love it. :-)

Staying on track at a party

Even if you didn’t know what the date was, you would know the year-end holidays were right around the corner by all the articles that pop up about surviving holiday parties when you’re dieting. They’re everywhere. But as I’m writing this, we’re heading into Summer, which for my family means lots of back yard birthday bar-b-ques, etc.
So what do you do when you’re heading to an event where you know there’s going to be lots of forbidden foods? Do you just say, “oh, well.” and plan on getting back on track the next day? Do you try and tough it out? How much is too much?
So here are some standard tips:
1. Don’t go hungry.
2. Don’t drink your calories.
3. Don’t hang out by the food/snack table.
4. Allow yourself one small treat so you don’t feel deprived.
5. Offer to bring food to the event so you’ll at least know you have something to eat.
These are all good tips, but lets break these down a little bit..

1. Don’t go hungry.
I happen to think this is a really great tip (this also could be applied when going to the grocery store, by the way), because when we’re hungry, our defenses our down, we pretty much want to eat everything in site because, dang-it we’re hungry! Something happens when we get to that level of hunger, we don’t think as clearly, we stop thinking about our goals and all our hard work because all that’s on our mind is eating. This seems like such a simple tip, one that would be so easy to do, just grab 2-3 ounces of protein or a handful of nuts before you walk out the door so you’re not starving when you get there. But I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people (who are trying to lose fat) say, “oh well, I can start over on Monday.” Or a hundred other ways to say- “I have no self control.”
You already know this but do you mind if I say it again?

Your success will be equal to your work

Little work will always equal little success and lots of hard work will always equal great success. This doesn’t just apply in the gym where we tend to think of the ‘work’ it also pertains to what we don’t do and what we don’t eat.  For me, that’s just as tough. But I approach an event or party the same way I approach a workout, with determination and grit. It’s no different to me. I want to succeed in my workout just as bad as I want to succeed in not getting off track at a party.

I’m sure you’ve probably heard that once you’ve tried something that’s forbidden (and this can apply to anything) it gets easier and easier to give in to it, till your defense is completely gone. Well, the opposite is also true, when you resist something that’s forbidden you get stronger and every time you resist it,
it gets easier and easier to do so, till it’s no longer a temptation.

Off the top of my head I have successfully stayed on track through 7 events in the last 2 months. What, am I counting? Uh… yeah! I love being able to say that. While so many around me are making excuses and already regretting, I’m holding the line. I’m just as proud of that number as I am for new personal records I set in my workouts.
So, that got a little long winded, bottom line: eat something healthy before you go (no really.. do it!) and approach your eating with the same determination that you do your workouts.

2. Don’t drink the kool-aid, i.e. stick to drinking water.
You’ve heard it a thousand times- don’t drink your calories, don’t drink your calories, don’t drink your calories. Right? You know that, right? :-) They’re more concentrated and you can easily go overboard with one sugary beverage (and who drinks just one soda?). So… what are you doing… drinking your calories? Try sticking to ice cold water (Yum!) or unsweetened ice tea with lemon to get you through, you’ll be glad you did.

3. Don’t hang out by the food/snack table.
This  is pretty obvious, but in case it’s not, let me explain. You’ve heard the expression- out of site out of mind, right? Well, that makes the opposite, also true. If its right there within eyesight and you can see the food and smell the food, etc. it’s almost impossible to resist getting seconds or thirds, or grazing when it’s so close by. It’s also, nearly impossible to stop thinking about the food and focusing on it and telling yourself- one more wont hurt. Just try getting your food, walking away from the table, sitting down with some friends and making the event about relationships and good times without the food being the focus. After all, it’s usually the conversations that make a get-together memorable, not the food.

4. Allow yourself one small treat so you don’t feel deprived.. well, maybe.
If you’re someone who can eat just one cookie or one small handful of chips, this tip is for you. If you’re not, it’s not. Some people can eat a very good meal even in the face of great temptation if they know they will get to have a small treat afterwords. Small being the key word. While others, cannot have that treat without it sending them into a downward spiral. So basically you need to be honest with yourself. You know you best. For me, it just depends on the day and I have to be honest on that day about which category I fall into. Typically though, I steer clear of all goodies and bad foods and go with an extra portion of fruit salad. While fruit is allowed on a Paleo/Primal diet, I don’t eat very much, so this would be a treat for me. This decision can really make or break your success, so decide before the event what you’re going to do and ask someone to hold you accountable for it.

5. Offer to bring food to the event so you’ll at least know you have something to eat.
This is a fantastic way to prepare a delicious dish that everyone will love AND make sure you have a side to enjoy with the meat that’s served. When you tell everyone it’s healthy and that YOU made it, they just might stop looking at you funny for eating your hamburger without the bun. Well, maybe.
Here are some great sites  that I use for delicious, healthy recipes:

Don’t be put off by the fact that these are low-carb or Paleo/Primal recipes, that just means that they use real, whole ingredients instead of processed ones, i.e. they’re healthy for you. :-)
So there you go, have a great time at your next event and approach it with confidence that you can not only survive but thrive with these tried and true tips. I would love to hear your strategies, and don’t forget to tell me in the comments below or on facebook how it went!

A Strong-end or a Weak-end?

So, hypothetical scenario here..
Monday rolls around and you’re ready for it. You’ve done your meal prep for the week, lined out your workouts and workout days, refilled your five gallon jug of water… man, you are READY!!
Skip forward to Friday.. you’re on a serious “healthy lifestyle high,” in fact you’re glowing and people are asking you if you got a raise or if you’re in love, WOW, you feel great! Not only did you get in all your workouts and all your water, but you successfully avoided Mary’s  3 dozen donuts “gift” to the office and politely turned down your brother’s insistence about ‘just trying’ some birthday cake and ice cream AND…drum roll… you dropped 2 pounds.
Can life get any better? I mean, can it?!?
Woo hoo! Cart wheels! High fives!

Then 5 o clock happens and it is officially the weakend!!
Oops, typo. That should’ve read ‘weekend,’ right?
It’s the end of the week, work is over, it’s time to play, its the WEEKEND!!
But so often and for so many of us it becomes a ‘weak end’ to an otherwise strong week, right?!
So, what happens?
What it is about letting our hair down and loosening the tie at work that also seems to carry over to our healthy habits.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Time off work does not constitute time off from a healthy lifestyle, or at least it shouldn’t. Either you believe the way you’re eating and taking care of yourself is healthy (good for you) and long term or you don’t, and your actions will prove it. I know, because I used to do this..uh, A LOT.
Up and down, up and down, tightening up, loosening up, back and forth…

Imagine telling your Dentist that you only brush your teeth Monday through Friday and the weekends.. you just, you know, kinda play it by ear, if it happens, it happens but you don’t want to over do it, because that’s like, fanatical to do it everyday.

What nonsense. We don’t take 2 days off from this healthy habit, so why should we do it with our eating and exercise?
Now, I’m not talking about scheduled carb loading or having one ‘off plan’ item or meal, I’m talking about figuratively letting your hair down and throwing out what you know to be healthy.. for a few days in the pit. And it is a pit that has to be crawled out of, right?

So, here’s some things to think about that may help with this vicious and self-sabotaging cycle.
1. Lose the “I deserve it” mentality.. well, kinda. You’re right, you’ve done really well all week and you deserve… something, but eating a bunch of junk is NOT a reward and can often set you further back then where you started from. I’m not sure when along the line we started to ‘reward’ ourselves with bad stuff but seriously, that’s like a child winning a track race and you say, “Awesome, way to go, you’re the best.. here, sit down and start eating this 5 pound bag of sugar, you deserve it sweetie!!” Ridiculous? Uh, yeah! Yet, I used to dip my foot (and sometimes my whole leg) back into the sugar laden junk on the weekends, all the time. You’re right, you deserve a pat on the back, you have taken steps to improve your life and get your health back on track, it’s very tough to do, so reward yourself with a verbal, “Good job!” “Way to go!” (I do it all the time), and stay the course. Be kind to yourself, reward yourself by staying on track.

2.  Is this a diet or a new you? A diet is something you go on and off, right? I tried nearly every diet out there, I went on them and theeeeen I went off them. But when you decide to clean up your eating habits, get rid of the processed junk and start getting some exercise on a consistent basis, that’s a life style change, it’s not something you go off of, this is a new you. Do you cease being you on the weekends? Of course not. This is who you are now, you are healthy, strong, and focused, you don’t want to take a break from that.

3. The best way to never have to deal with the dreaded Monday “regrets and hangovers” is to not fall off the wagon on the weekend. That was crazy, overly simplistic, wasn’t it… I’ve never had a ‘real’ hangover, heck, I’ve never had a drink, but I could write a book about food hangovers, I’ve had enough of them for all of us. Again, you’re eating really well, and suddenly the temptation is greater than your resistance and BAM! You’ve eaten something you shouldn’t have. It was all fun and games for the 4 seconds it took you to eat it then… THEN, maybe moments later, maybe a day later, it hits you. And you get to walk around for a good day or two trying to rid your body of that substance that you don’t normally eat or drink. It stinks. Plain and simple. Your head hurts, you may be lightheaded/dizzy, feel nauseous, sleepy, etc.. Yuk.
So, how can we avoid it? Uh.. don’t eat a bunch of junk that’s not part of your eating plan.  I haven’t done this in many months, and guess what? No Monday morning regrets and/or hangover. Wow, what a concept.
(And yeah… it’s going to happen sometimes, and when it does, the important thing is get right back on and get moving in the right direction again.)

4. Failing to plan.  We’ve all heard the saying “Failing to plan is just planning to fail” and yet we do it all the time. We all KNOW that fresh food and produce doesn’t last as long as processed junk but we still try to make it 7 days without going back to the grocery store. Try planning on going every Sunday and Wednesday or whatever days work for you. Plan to have two days out of the week where you do meal prep. Just plan for it. Put it in your schedule. If you go into the weekend and you have none of your healthy foods prepped and ready to go you’re just planning to fail (fall off the wagon). Also, plan when you’re going to get some exercise in. Unless the weekend is your scheduled rest days, they should not be taken off from exercise. Plan a hike, or swim some laps, but plan something to keep you focused on staying fit.

5. Lastly, if your eating plan is so strict it has you pining for the weekend to get some relief, you might want to take another look at it. I try a lot of things in my diet, taking stuff out, adding stuff in, constantly changing things up. But one thing I won’t do is make changes that I can’t live with forever. I’m not into quick fixes and temporary weight loss ideas, I want to eat in a healthy way that’s sustainable for me. When I was pondering the decision in February 2011 to take out grain and dairy, I thought about it long and hard, weighing pros and cons. I decided to ‘try’ it, and haven’t looked back, I love it. And I can eat this way for life. Finding a plan that is healthy and works for you won’t feel like a diet and will likely eliminate the ‘need’ to cheat, so do some research to find a good healthy fit for you.

And here’s my bottom line.
What do you really want?
No seriously. Stop for a minute and answer that question, just so you and your body are on the same page.
Do you want to be healthy and fit or do you want to eat a bunch of food that you know is unhealthy and will leave you feeling miserable and a few pounds heavier? It’s that simple really. Once you get this clear in your heart and mind, it will remove a lot of the questions of should I or shouldn’t I?
Here is one of my favorite quotes:
“Decide what you want, decide what you’re willing to give up for it, establish your priorities and go to work” -Hunt
I hope you have a great weekend, or should I say, I hope you have a strong-end to a great week.

For when you just dont feel like it

Typically I’m pretty excited about working out, it hasn’t always been that way, but when you start seeing small changes in your body it tends to motivate you..well, at least it does me.
So, today was not one of those days. It was time to work on abs, I was laying down on the mat and thinking.. MAN, I’m just not feeling it today. I was sluggish and feeling out of it. But there was no reason for me to be feeling this way, I had had plenty enough to eat, not to much, not too little, I had waited my typical 35-40 minutes after eating and I should’ve been ready to go.
But I wasn’t.
My ab workout was 4 rounds of the following:
25 Crunches
25 Reverse crunches
25 Decline sit-ups
Plank for 1 minute

Followed by 4 rounds of the following:
25 Crunches
25 Reverse crunches
25 Decline crunches
25 Bicycles

So, I start any way.. and by the middle of round 2 I’m already thinking of excuses of why I could/should stop. The mental war has started and I can barely concentrate on counting my reps for all the back and forth in my mind about stopping or continuing on. My stomach did feel like I had some sort of funky virus or something, but I knew I could keep going, it was a bit painful and crampy but I also knew that I could work through it… if I wanted to.
At the end of round 3 I’m laying on the mat looking up at the ceiling and I’m starting to verbalize what I’m feeling.. ” I am just not feeling it today..” “I feel so out if it..” “I’m just not up to it..”
I sat up and caught my reflection in the mirror and something spoke through my own mouth and said, “You’re not quitting, so don’t even think about it, I don’t care if it takes you 3 hours, you’re finishing, so let’s go.”
And that was it. I laid back down and started round 4.
About the end of round 5 the energy kicked in and I was moving like someone lit my pants on fire and I finished all 8 rounds and then did 3 rounds of HIIT for my cardio.

So what happened? How did I keep going when everything in me wanted to quit?
It’s simple.
I eliminated the option of quitting.

It’s amazing the things you can accomplish in life when you don’t give yourself the option to quit.

Lets think about that for a minute, what are two goals you would’ve achieved, just this last year had you not quit?
I can tell you two for me:
1. Learn Spanish
2. Finish the first draft of a script


On the flip side…
At the beginning of this year I decided that I was finally going to learn how to knit. I had wanted to for years but never “had the time.” So, I find the time (miracle, right?) and I go to my first class (very excited), and right off the bat, found it to be pretty difficult. I had crocheted for many years and didn’t think knitting would be that much different, just using two needles instead of one hook, right? Boy, was I wrong. The class was kinda noisy, I was having a tough time concentrating, my pinky finger on my left hand is still messed up from all the demo work we’ve done on our house and I had to learn to knit right handed and, well, I’m a lefty (you think writing with the opposite hand is tough, try knitting!). I had all kinds of excuses for why I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I would. I was frustrated. But I made myself practice for 15 minutes a day anyways. It still was not clicking. My instructor said I was doing great but it was very difficult and not enjoyable. And then in the third class, sensing my frustration, she asked me point blank if I wanted to quit and try crocheting again.
I kept my eyes on my needles afraid I may take her up on it..
“No… I’m not quitting,  I said “I may switch back to crocheting after the 10 week course but I’m going to finish the knitting class.
I’m sure you probably know where this is going…
Now? Well, I love knitting, not just like it or think its fun, I love it and look for a few minutes here and there during the day when I can sneak away to knit a little. I know it’s the artist in me, I love creating something out of nothing, but it’s relaxing, calming and enjoyable now (even if everybody thinks I’ve fallen off my rocker for even trying it). And to think for a tiny moment I thought about abandoning it just because it was tough.
Makes me think about other things in my life that I’ve quit over the years.
I’m no ‘perseverance hero,’ I’ve listed two things above that I started and quit last year, but I want to be someone who sees something to the end and doesn’t quit just because things get rough. That’s who I aspire to be.

So let’s get back to the mat. You’re laying there and soooo not wanting to even get started on your workout. Let me ask you this. Do you always feel like loving your spouse? Do you always feel like going to work? If you said yes to both of those, come here so I can smack you, cause you know you’re lying. :-)
No, we don’t always feel like doing a lot of things, but like they say in marriage courses.. (yeah, I’ve had to take a few over the years)

“do it any ways, your feelings will follow your actions.”

If you want the benefit of a good marriage, you’re going to have to do the work. If you want the benefit of a paycheck, you’re going to have to show up and do the work. If you want a nice healthy, toned or muscular body you’re going to have to do the workout.

Eliminate the option to quit, take it off the table, it’s not negotiable, set a goal, start and then finish.
And when its over your sense of satisfaction and pride for having completed something that was difficult will be so huge, I just might see it from here. :-)

Here’s a cable scarf that I knit recently, makes me wish for cooler weather NOW just so I can wear it.