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Posts by Stephy
I’ve been putting off reading Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement address to the 2016 UC Berkeley grads – knowing it would bring out the feels. I read it this morning to help fire up some inspiration – sure enough, it hit me just like I expected…
The entire speech is poignant, funny and meaningful, but here’s what resonated with me the most…
“when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning.”
‘Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful. Try it. Start tonight…”
‘Build resilient communities. We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections to one another. Be there for your family and friends. And I mean in person. Not just in a message with a heart emoji.’
Scotty’s cancer battle profoundly changed me. And, while I do at times find myself getting dragged under by the minutiae of life, I try my hardest to focus on being thankful and choosing joy. It’s about perspective – my life could be a lot worse as I found out. I choose to be thankful and look for the meaning and joy in every day. It sounds schmultzy, but it’s true. Life is way too short to hold onto anger, be resentful, let fear control you or hang out with toxic people.
Thank you goes out to Ms. Sandberg for sharing her very personal, intimate experience with the world. By sharing it, she is helping others find meaning in their challenges. I’m glad I finally read it – it was definitely worth it.
I didn’t see any weight loss this past week, but I also didn’t see any weight gain – so it’s still a win. I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t bother me though. I have been on point, eating well, no crap snacking and exercising as usual. You would think my body would step to it and show results. Although in fairness, I am about to hit that monthly time, so it could be the cause of the lack of results this past week. I’m going to go with that and see what next week’s weigh in produces. My clothes are looser and I have had more than one person mention that I am looking leaner -so I am going to try my best to focus on those positives. It’s not easy though. I want proof!!!
I’ve been doing a lot of exercises to open up my shoulders and chest during strength training. Not only is my posture less than stellar in general, I also tend to pull in during boxing as well. I’m becoming more excited each workout to see the changes happening to my arms. shoulders and back.
I’ve also been mixing things up too. Solidcore has opened in Ashburn, so I bought their opening rate special and will be adding that to my weekly schedule one day a week. With boxing and Body by Wayne training — it’s a pretty well rounded fitness routine that includes Core, Strength and Cardio Work. With two rest days each week –which I know I get asked about constantly. Working out is my stress releaser – it’s hard to take rest days but I schedule them just like other stuff.
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I’m down another 2 pounds this week. Which means I’m down 6 pounds in 3 weeks. Seems adding more protein, cutting out the majority of processed crap/extra snacking, and being focused – in addition to appreciating how much better I am feeling..mentally and physically has made all the difference. Funny how the old fashioned/no gimmick way works if you commit (which is the hardest part).
Slow and steady — is the name of the game; 1-2 pounds a week.
The other thing I have noticed, besides feeling better and my pants aren’t cutting off my breathing is my face looks less puffy. It’s one of those subtle things that most people don’t even notice but I do. I had been eating gluten and dairy at least once a week regularly for months, and it was causing inflammation and puffiness. I am starting to see that go away now that I am 3+ weeks into re-energizing.
So-am I doing anything mind blowing or off the charts to see progress? Nope.
First, my mind is right. I am all aboard on this — committed and focused and present.
Second, seeing progress and hearing about my progress from my support system around me. I try to surround myself with uplifting, awesome and like-minded people who give me props and understand the importance of lifting one another up- so we can all win.
Finally, I am making sure that when I go to eat – my first thought is what am I going to eat with protein. I am so used to eating more carbs – no matter the form – that I have to really make an effort to include a protein source each time I eat. I have not been eating enough protein overall. And even though it’s only six pounds, I have had a lot of comments about how much leaner and cut I am looking. I haven’t changed up my fitness routine all that much, but I am considered very active – so I definitely need more protein.
I have been using an organic veggie protein powder that I mix in my Ninja blender with almond milk and ice to get more protein. I also have been adding in a really great tasting and healthy super food/protein blend powder to give it an extra boost. The blends are made by a small company: Philosophie. I read about the founder Sophie and her products via an article a while back. Here’s the description from the website…
Each of the Philosophie Superfood + Protein Blends is vegan, raw, gluten-free, and has absolutely no filler ingredients. The detoxifying Green Dream blend, beautifying Berry Bliss blend, and energizing Cacao Magic blend contain nothing but the purest, most healing ingredients that have been deemed “superfoods” due to their exceptional nutrient density. Because these blends can be added to absolutely any food, it is easy to enrich every meal with the amazing health benefits of the world’s most potent superfoods. When the body receives optimal nourishment from these wholesome, plant-based sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals, it more readily releases unneeded material and toxins, leaving you feeling renewed and vibrantly healthy.
I have tried all three blends and like them all – although the Cacao Magic is my favorite because CHOCOLATE. I also read a pretty good review/comparison of another super food blend that shares my same views about Philosophie: Smoothie Food Fight: D’Vida vs. Philosophie.
So, there you have it – I’m sure you can sense my energy and excitement as I get closer to my goal — and I gotta be honest, it feels so good to be excited about it again.
Have you heard of the Mediterranean diet? Here’s the basics…
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
- Enjoying meals with family and friends
- Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
- Getting plenty of exercise
Recent research has shown that eating this way can cause weight loss and help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes and premature death: Science Daily: ‘Mediterranean’ diet linked to lower risk of heart attacks, strokes in heart patients.
“A ‘Mediterranean’ diet, high in fruit, vegetables, fish and unrefined foods, is linked to a lower risk of heart attack and stroke in people who already have heart disease, according to a study of over 15,000 people in 39 countries around the world. The research also showed that eating greater amounts of healthy food was more important for these people than avoiding unhealthy foods — a ‘Western’ diet.”
In addition to lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke, the Mediterranean diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a reduced risk of breast cancer.
If you look at the basics of this approach, you can call it whatever you want. It’s eating healthy: not eating a lot of processed foods and exercise! (I’m sure many of us love the drinking red wine part!) No shockers, no surprises. Most if not all major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases.
When I am on point, this is very much how I eat – although I do use Kerrygold butter and don’t eat legumes often. I am also gluten and dairy free (minus the butter!) for sensitivity issues Through trial and error, I have found that Dairy causes eczema and congestion for me and gluten seems to cause me gut and fatigue issues. So, when I do partake in eating them – it’s after careful deliberation on the pros and cons of what’s being eaten.
Want to learn more? Mediterranean Diet 101: A Meal Plan That Can Save Your Life
Weigh in again this week — I’m down 1.5 more pounds and about .5% lower in body fat (2.5% lower total). So, it wasn’t a whirlwind amount, which bummed me out a bit, but it is lower. And before anyone lays into me, I realize that in the grand scheme of how much weight I have to lose, it’s actually a good amount to be down. I know this! But you know how you focus and stay on point and then get that sort of let down feeling when you see the number? Yeah – i felt that. It’s so damn easy to put weight on, but to take it off – seems double the effort.
And earlier this week, I craved some carbs big time. With the focus on more protein and no crap food — I haven’t been super hungry and for the most part, not even a little tempted to go hog wild. But the other evening, I wanted nothing more than carbs – so I had them. I opted for some crunchy rice rolls. So while not the worst thing I could have chosen (no gluten, soy, GMOs) – it was empty calories and I of course ate the entire package because stuff like that are like potato chips to other people. I can not eat just one — But the next day was a new day and I moved on…
I know that if I want to reach goals I set for myself, it’s all about focus, patience and acknowledging any and all steps that get me there and that set me back.
12 day stats:
- 4.5lbs lost
- 2.5% loss in body fat
- More energy
- Better Sleep
- Skin looks better
Working out with a personal trainer has been challenging and fun. I am learning to appreciate as well as just get used to having individual attention throughout 30 minutes of training. There is no where to hide or skirt around the reps or exercises which has me pushing myself farther than usual. For some of the work I am doing, Wayne has me lifting lighter weight for higher reps to increase muscle tone. Previously, I was used to going heavy for strength training. I am now learning to incorporate both concepts into my training to improve my overall fitness.
Here’s a good article about low vs high rep strength training and which approach is better (or are they?): High Reps vs. Low Reps: Which is Better?
And here’s info on some recent research about low weight, high rep training: LOW-WEIGHT, HIGH-REP EXERCISE INCREASES BONE DENSITY
Currently, I am scheduled for 2 weekly training sessions with Wayne and then I hit up boxing 3x a week, including one 12 round (1hr 15min) class. As I mentioned before, working out has not been an issue for me for years now. I can’t imagine not being active. My challenge has always been eating — and the reality is, it will be always be a challenge whether I like it or not.
I just completed a full week of the Body by Wayne challenge and guess what? I lost 3#s and 2% body fat in 6 days.
What am I doing, you ask? Here are the high level things that have been on point this week for me…
Focused strength training
Wayne has been guiding me each PT session on what strength training to focus on — and then supports, instructs me as I take on whatever challenge he has in store for me. I’m still boxing 3-4x a week as well.
Tracking my food intake
I’m back to square one and need to track my food so I can get real about what I am eating. I started using Fatsecret.com, which like many other programs out there, has a large database of food/nutrition info and counts my calories and calorie breakdown. It has been helping me be more mindful of what I am actually eating – which is key.
Added more protein
Most women don’t eat enough protein – it should be 30% of your total caloric intake for the day. It’s daunting most days, but I am aiming for around 140g of protein each day. To get that much, I am drinking a protein shake as one of my snacks using almond milk. The shake powder has around 20g of protein, and then I’ve been adding Cacao Magic, which is a superfood and protein blend with 10x the antioxidants of green tea, more magnesium than 3 cups of broccoli, and more calcium than a glass of milk. It adds another 10g of protein to my shake and tastes pretty good.
I needed some attention plain and simple. It’s been helpful to have someone else on my team, holding me accountable for the commitment I’ve made and getting excited when I did lose the weight this week. I am usually everyone else’s cheerleader –which is a role I love – but it’s nice to have someone (whether I am paying them or not) to be as invested in my progress as I am.
The good/bad news is there is no one special, outside of the ordinary thing I’ve done this past week to make progress – I’ve been focused, present and excited to take on the challenge of getting back on track. Outside of nutrition, it’s a mental game! And just like with any skill, you have to continually use it to make progress.
This was waiting for me on my Facebook wall when I got into the office this morning by Scotty –
“Remember our 18 year anniversary? We had to cancel our dinner reservations because we forgot you had to take our daughter to that annoying teen show/concert thing. Do you recall how both of our kids were sick, coughing up lungs and leaving tissues all over the house for the dog to get? How about battling with the kids over the dishes even though it would be easier for us to just do them, but we don’t because we are teaching the kids responsibility? How we ran errands separately so we can divide an conquer? Remember how I sang “Girl you don’t need makeup” to you, and you stopped me saying that the song is not actually a nice thing, and then you sang Kanya “18 years 18 years..” and I stopped you reminding you how that one isn’t appropriate either? Happy Anniversary – I can’t imagine taking on the world with anyone else and still have as much fun as we do. I love you and can’t wait to see you after work… after I run errands to get the kid’s meds and whatever else you remind me that I forgot to do.”
True to my personality, I added…
“remember how I said I wouldn’t be mad at you at all today — and then I got mad at you. And how i forced you to take a selfie?”
I don’t have any special magical advice to share about marriage. It’s a lot of work, there are peaks and valleys. We do genuinely like each other as well as love each other. We laugh a lot. We treat each other with respect, even when we are angry (which does happen). We like hanging out together. Above all else though, we are committed to one another. It’s us – in it together.
This pic is me after my 30 min session with Wayne. I was crushed. Fair to say it was a very long day. I did a 6A intense boxing workout, then worked my day job, and then went in for my PT session (add in parenting duties too!) Wayne didn’t do anything I wasn’t comfortable or unfamiliar with — the focus was strength training – dumb bell arm work, back squats, push ups and a few other things, including a long session of db walking lunges. When I say long — I mean it felt like it was miles. After the session, my muscles twitched for quite some time, i drank a ton of water and I felt the soreness start within minutes. Now that’s a good session.. Wayne said that he could tell I was a ‘worker‘. Truth.
As for my clean eating — I am now on Day Three. The first two days weren’t that big of a deal, but today I woke up with a headache and just feel sluggish and cranky. I am warning everyone that interacts with me that cranky Steph has arrived. Fair warning to them all. I’m not starving, but I am craving sugar and carbs. To combat them, I am drinking water and/or herbal tea whenever I feel the cravings creep up. I am peeing a lot more thanks to that strategy…
Wednesday evening I got out the good ole crockpot and made some Cilantro Lime Chicken, which I figured would last me a few days but my family liked it too –so it only covered me for dinner that evening and lunch the next (because I packaged some up right after it was ready to eat!). I am going to make some more – it was that good!
As I sit here, I can feel the soreness every time I move. It’s not immobilizing or anything but it’s a sign that I worked hard. And although I am bit achey and cranky from this clean eating detox period, I can feel the excitement start to flood back with this challenge – which is a good thing.
My next session is Sunday, so stay tuned…
After sharing my last post, I read this article: I’m a Fit Chubby Girl and I’m Sick of People Telling Me I’m Unhealthy which I thought was relevant and timely. While I see the point she is making, I am not necessarily of the same mindset when it comes to my own health. For me, I don’t want to be the chubby fit girl because I know mine is caused by the nutritional choices I have been making. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a fanatical nut about it all either. It boils down to I am not happy where I currently am and I don’t feel my best. If the author feels she is at her best –more power to her. Healthy living is what matters in the end – not the number on a scale. Keep exercising and moving your body on the regular.
This is an easy recipe! Feel free add/subtract spices as you prefer…
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- A handful or more of chopped cilantro
- 1 med onions (sliced or diced)
- Juice of 2 limes
- Salt/Pepper to taste
Dump it all into your crockpot and coat the chicken. Set it on low for 5-6 hours. My crockpot then goes into warm mode. It’s very tender when it’s done and easy to shred. I served it as is with a side of broccoli. The following day I mixed up the broccoli with it and put a bit of natural, organic salsa in it. So two easy, delicious clean eating meals which could have lasted me even longer if it weren’t for my family enjoying it!
I’ve been struggling lately — struggling to find the motivation and joy in my fitness routine and struggling to stay focused on good nutrition. In fact, the truth is I have all but fallen off the nutritional wagon. It started about two years ago if I am being honest – when I was laid off from my job and I went into a funk. I kept my work out routine up but started to slip and slide down with regards to eating. And although I don’t eat gluten or dairy on the regular, it has been creeping back into my weekly diet. I’ve been frustrated with the lack of interest and attention my fitness instructors seem to display lately as well. One thing I know when it comes to me having a successful workout – I feed off of the energy and attention of my instructors.
It’s all added up to a perfect storm of frustration and lack of motivation and here’s the brutal truth: a 25+ weight gain over the past two years. My friends say “no way”, “you can’t tell” and other words of support when I share my weight gain frustrations but I see it. And it’s hard to reconcile because of how active I am. I know it boils down to my lack of focus on nutrition. I do eat well overall, those salads I eat during lunch are real- I am a sugar addict and a carb snacker. Evenings are the worst for me…
Add the lack of nutritional focus with the lessening motivation to really hit the workouts and training hard, it’s not going to end well…
I need help
When I feel I need some help and guidance, I seek it out. So, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and met with a personal trainer, Body by Wayne, yesterday. I was nervous because I have never worked one on one with anyone. It forces you to be very honest about where you are. I never step on a scale and yesterday I had to. We spent about 20-30 minutes talking about goals, my fitness & nutrition history and where I should be. Then I did a 20 minute fitness assessment so he could assess exactly where I was fitness wise. It included bench press, push ups, core work, and balance exercises. Afterwards, he said was very impressed, which was a relief because I have been working out for almost 8 years straight now!
It was clear after this first session, Wayne knows his stuff. This is his career and understands it’s a combo of cardio, strength and nutrition that will get the job done. When it was over, he printed out sample nutrition plans for me to follow and other information. He approached it like we will do this together, if I am game- we are a team.
So, what now?
I agreed to take him up on his one week free Wayne Challenge which includes 3 free workout sessions. I also agreed to eating clean for the week, which means keeping a food diary. He also gave me his rate sheet that offers different options and costs for training. So, starting today I am doing the Wayne Challenge. This morning at 6a, to kick it off, he sent me a Facebook message reminding me to plan for my meals today. Ahh, accountability!
So there it is — the truth. The journey to be more fit and healthier is never going to be easy – life seems to get in the way. It really is a pain in the ass to be healthy when it’s so much easier to just go with the flow – but I’m not happy with where I am and it’s up to me to change it.
Stay tuned as I continue to share my Body by Wayne Challenge experience…