Clean Eating Challenge

Back towards the beginning of May, a friend I CrossFit with, knowing I’m in the process of launching my own personal training business, asked if she could tell me about the clean eating program that got her on the road to health and feeling better, something I may be able to share with clients.  I have to say, even with my nursing background, when it comes to nutrition and how to guide someone into making the best decisions for weight loss, I just feel overwhelmed.  Anyone else feel like that?  There’s so much seemingly contradictory information out there.  And here’s the thing:  nutrition is THE most important part of weight loss.  Exercise all you want, but you can’t out exercise a bad diet.

On top of that, I found myself stuck in a bit of a food rut.  Terrified of gaining weight again, I’d basically been eating the same foods I’d eaten during my weight loss process.  But having gained a few pounds in the last 6 months, I found that even following that routine, my weight wasn’t budging.

So I said, “Sure.  I’d love to learn about that.”

Now, my friend is an Arbonne consultant and the program recommends using Arbonne supplements.  But before you tune me out, let me just say, regardless of your feelings about Arbonne, supplementation, and the like, what I learned about clean eating was worth the money for the starter kit.  And no, this is not a post about Arbonne.  I just want to tell you about my adventure into clean eating.

So the challenge consists of 30 days of no sugar, no dairy, no peanuts, no wheat, gluten or soy.  And the only fruit I was supposed to eat was green apples and berries.  Yeah.  When I looked at that, I asked myself the same question I heard from a gazillion people who heard what I was doing:  “What do you eat?”

I mean seriously, what was I going to eat?  I usually had yogurt and peanut butter every day.  Seriously, every day.  And I often ate whole wheat tortillas and bananas.  Would I be able to run without a banana to fuel me?  And no chocolate covered almonds?  I could almost feel myself twitching at the thought.  But I was also intrigued.  Could one eat tasty food that eliminated so many products?

In a word, YES!  If you think about it, really all the program did was eliminate highly processed foods.  The basis of clean eating is eating foods that are as close to the way God created them as possible–cage free eggs, grass-fed beef, organic fruits and vegetables, brown rice, nuts (aside from peanuts).  It emphasizes the quality of the food.

And the idea behind eliminating certain foods is to help identify how your body reacts to them.  The program is commonly referred to as a “detox”.  Now, I tend to think that if your liver and kidneys are in good working order, the body naturally detoxifies itself, but I was intrigued by the idea that some of these highly processed foods may be affecting me without my knowledge.  I wondered what would happen if I eliminated them.

Thankfully, the program provided recipes.  So I would pick one or two dishes to make for the week, buy the groceries for those meals, and choose one day to meal prep (which usually took about 1 hour).  These are some of the things I ate:

001Apple slices with almond butter

 

 

 

 

 

004Spaghetti squash with homemade sauce

 

 

 

 

 

003Grilled salmon, cilantro lime quinoa, salad with homemade ranch dressing (it’s amazing what you can do with cashews!)

 

 

 

 

002Blackened chicken with a spinach and raw veggie/black bean salad

 

 

 

 

 

And these are just SOME of my meals!  I learned about cooking with fresh herbs, combining spices to make the most delicious flavorings for salmon and chicken, the wonder of fresh lemons and limes.  I discovered a whole new way of cooking!

But the bottom line, as I’m sure you’re dying to know, did I lose weight?

Let me tell you what the challenge did for me:

  1.  I lost 4.4 pounds.  It doesn’t sound like much, but at my size losing anything over about a half pound per week is a LOT of weight.  And I lost a little over a pound a week without trying.  I ate good food, and I ate when I was hungry and until I was full.
  2. I lost an inch around my waist at my bellybutton, 4 inches (I know!  Couldn’t believe it!) around my lower belly where that stubborn fat roll just wouldn’t budge, and an inch off my hips.
  3. I went from having nearly daily headaches requiring some kind of pain aid to 2 headaches in the entire 4 weeks.
  4. I lost that sluggish feeling that I thought was just normal for a night shift worker.  I still feel tired frequently because my sleep schedule is totally out of whack, but even when I’m tired I don’t have that brain fog going on.  Anyone know what I mean?  And I’m finding I have more energy overnight at work.
  5. Nearly all my sugar cravings are gone.  I thought I would have a hard time with giving up sugar, but I felt so satisfied with the food I was eating, I didn’t really miss it.  A couple of times I had a rather strong chocolate craving, but I felt way more in control and was able to resist the temptation.

So now the challenge is over, and I have to decide what to do.  Will I incorporate those eliminated foods back in or not?  There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to because I feel amazing, but I also want to be able to eat with my friends and not stress out about what I’m eating.  I think I’ll probably wind up doing what most people do after the challenge–follow clean eating habits at least 80% of the time.

I’m excited to continue to incorporate this new way of eating/cooking into my life!  I’m experimenting with baking with almond and coconut flour, and I can’t wait to try arrowroot.  I’m also anxious to pull out my favorite recipes and see how I can “clean” them up.  Eating has become an adventure, and I’m loving the ride!

Talk to me:

What makes eating healthy hard for you?

What are you eating these days?

What’s your thought on clean eating?

 

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Global Running Day and The Big Run

Yesterday was Global Running Day.  It’s a day meant to celebrate the joys of running.  And what’s so cool is that anyone can participate.  The inclusiveness of running is something I really love about the sport.  Whether you run like a herd of turtles through peanut butter (I borrowed that from a T-shirt I saw) or you run like the speed of sound, if you run, you’re a runner, and Global Running Day is all about doing what we love to do.

And thinking about Global Running Day just gives me warm fuzzies.  I mean, how cool is it to share something with people from every country of the world?  It makes the world a smaller, more friendly place to think of people around the world lacing up their shoes and heading out the door, all on the same day for the same reason.

In celebration of Global Running Day, my favorite local running store, Fleet Feet, hosted The Big Run last night.  It was a locally run 5K that was also run nationally.  So essentially runners from around the nation competed against each other.  So fun!

It was the first running of this 5K, so I was happy to be able to participate in it.  And it was held on the Riverwalk, a walking/running/biking trail along the Arkansas River, one of my favorite places to run.041

 

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This was a much smaller race than other races I’ve participated in, but there was the usual pre-race socializing, complete with the Fleet Feet shoe. 044And the obligatory row of porta-potties.043Finally it was time for the race to begin, and off we went on this historic run!  I knew from the start this was going to be a tough race for me.  It was something like 80 degrees F, which always slows me down, and my legs were really tight and sore from CrossFit.  Right around the halfway mark, I had to walk for a bit, and from then on, it was run/walk the rest of the way.  Needless to say, I finished in a disappointing 30 minutes 39 seconds, the worst 5K time I’ve had in probably 2 years.  I placed a disappointing 6th out of 29 in my age division.

But as I was talking to one of the Fleet Feet coaches later about my miserable 5K time, he said, “Well, you can’t have the good races without the bad ones.”  And he’s right.  How will I know when I have a good race if I don’t have a bad one now and then?

So I just enjoyed the atmosphere and the post-race party, complete with band, pizza and beer (none for me, thank you!).051There’s always a next time, and if there’s one thing that disappointing races do, it’s to motivate me to work hard so it won’t happen again.

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Talk to me:

What did you do yesterday?

Where’s your favorite place for a run or a walk?

To Sticker or Not to Sticker?

Following the Route 66 marathon, my second, last November, this happened:IMG_1576Yes, I became one of those obnoxious people with a 26.2 sticker on the car window.

I was going into work a few nights ago.  I have to cross an air bridge from the parking garage to the hospital, and parts of it are frigid.  Seriously, the air blasting out of the vents is like Jack Frost breathing on you.  (Remember, that Santa Clause movie where Jack Frost freezes everyone with his breath?)  So I walk fast, partly because I’m freezing my tushy off but also because I just naturally walk kind of fast.

Anywho, I came upon another nurse going to work.  He made the remark, “I’m going to get out of your way.  I saw you get out of that car with 26.2 on it!”

I just laughed, and said, “That doesn’t mean I can run fast!”

But that brief exchange has stuck with me and has made me think a lot about why I put a 26.2 sticker on my car.  Is it making other people feel I’m superior to them?  Does it seem like I’m bragging?  Am I sending a message that I belong to some exclusive club?

That certainly was not my intention, but I began to feel rather self-conscious about the sticker on my car.

But it got me thinking about why marathoners put stickers on their cars, and I have to say I think it’s the same reason people put any kind of sticker on their cars.  I’ve seen cars pulling into the garage ahead of me with some “RN” or nursing related themed bumper sticker.  I see the stickers of families, where there’s a sticker for Mom, Dad, big brother, little sister, and the dog.  I see political stickers from both Republican and Democratic supporters.  I see stickers about Jesus, guns, a child who made the honor roll, and some with no real cause except to make you chuckle.

But the one thing all those stickers have in common is that they represent what’s important to those who drive the car.  They let us know who you are.  I think bumper stickers are a way of connecting with our fellow humans.  They tell stories of accomplishments and hint at beliefs and passions.

So I’m not going to feel bad about a 26.2 sticker on my car.  Running is an important part of my life, and running a marathon is a big achievement, something I’m proud of, and something that changed me.  It’s a part of who I am now, and that’s what my 26.2 sticker means to me.

Besides I don’t think that thing would come off if I wanted it to!

Talk to me:

What bumper stickers are on your car?

What’s the best bumper sticker you’ve ever seen?

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Jump Rope Challenge, Final Week

So you may remember that I challenged myself to conquer double-unders by the end of May with daily jump rope practice.  Well, here we are at the end of May, and I have to admit, I failed miserably at this challenge.  I was not at all consistent with practicing, so needless to say, I’m still working on double-unders.  But I am improving!

I took my rope outside today for a final practice.  This is what happened:

I was fairly consistent with hitting a double with every other jump, but I really wanted to get a string of doubles before calling it quits today.  We had quite a few days of double-under practice in CrossFit this month, and during the last few sessions I was able to get 3-5 consecutive double-unders.  So I took a deep breath and tried again.

See the frustration?  I hit a couple doubles in a row, and one run of 4, but then it was miss after miss.  So frustrating.  So I took a break and pulled some weeds from places they shouldn’t be.011Feeling sufficiently rested and quite determined, I decided to give it one more shot.  (I’m a pretty stubborn gal!)

Boo.  Hiss.  No better.  So frustrating.  But I can only blame myself for not practicing regularly.  So I’ll keep working at it.  I think 15 minutes a day was a bit daunting, so I’m going to continue my quest for double-unders throughout June, with a goal of 15 minutes a week.  Maybe that’s 5 minutes on 3 different days or one 15 minute session, but hopefully regular practice will finally get me those double-unders!

So what’s the moral of the story?  Don’t give up!  Whatever your goal is, whether it’s weight loss or mastering a new skill, don’t give up!  Keep working at it.  Even if you’re not as consistent as you want to be, keep plugging along.  Even with my lack of consistency, I was able to at least hit 3 or 4 consecutive double-unders a few times, a record for me!  Let’s see where another month gets us.

Talk to me:

What are you working on today?

What was your workout for today?

 

What’s Next?

It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately as I’ve finished up the fitness and health trainer course I enrolled in last fall.  The answer to the question scares me a bit.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, though, which is part of the reason I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit.

If you follow me on Facebook at all, you know that this happened last week:IMG_1583I passed the National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer exam!  That allows me to call myself a certified personal trainer.  Yikes!  Somehow the title implies some level of expertise, but I feel like I still have so much to learn.

But back to the question.  What’s next?

I’ve shied away from talking a lot about what I hope to do as a certified personal trainer, but the course is done.  I’ve passed my certification exam.  Now is the time.  Am I going to do something with it?  Am I going to allow the vision that propelled me in this direction to begin with come to fruition?  Or am I going to shrink in fear that I might fall flat on my face?

So I’m just going to bite the bullet, put all my dreams out there, and see what happens.  If I fall flat on my face, well…I fall flat on my face.  At least I will have tried.

Losing 63 pounds and finding so much life in being fit and healthy ignited a passion in me.  There aren’t many things I can say I’m truly passionate about, but health and fitness are true passions.  I could read and talk about it day and night and never get bored with it.  But in my job as a nurse, I encounter people every. single. day. who are my age or younger losing body parts because of diabetes, taking medication for high blood pressure, having trouble breathing, and all largely related to obesity.  It gnaws at me.  And it frustrates me to feel like the most I can do at this point is help them manage their diseases.

I don’t want to just treat diabetes and high blood pressure.  I want to prevent it.  My own journey to health and losing aches and pains I thought I’d be saddled with for the rest of my life was an eye opener, and I began to think, “What if I could help people lose weight before disease sets in?”

And this vision of becoming a personal trainer was born.

I remember how uncomfortable I used to be going to the gym, stuffed into my workout clothes, feeling like everyone, especially that super toned guy with the bulging biceps, was noticing my every fat roll.  And I’ve talked to enough women to know that many experience similar feelings.

So what I hope to do with my CPT certification is mobile training, going to those who are at risk for developing chronic disease because of their weight, working with them in an environment where they feel comfortable, and walking them down the road to health.

But making that a reality involves thinking through a lot of details and logistics.  I have no idea how to set up a business, and I’m sure issues will come up that I’ve never even thought of.  But what a grand adventure!

I’m excited for the next step.  Scared spitless, but excited!  So follow along with me as I figure out this whole certified personal trainer gig and how to start and run a mobile training business (Geez Louise, I guess saying it means I really have to do it, uh?!).

Talk to me:

Have/would you ever work(ed) with a personal trainer?

If you could be anything you wanted to be, what would that be?

 

 

An Interview with My Favorite 4-year Old Runner

My niece Candice was born with hearing loss, but seriously, unless you saw her hearing aids, you’d never know she had a hearing problem, thanks to Happy Hands.

Happy Hands is this super cool preschool and kindergarten for kids with hearing loss or communication disorders.  The kids learn to sign, along with all the other things preschoolers have to learn.

Candice has been going to Happy Hands for a few years now, and I am just amazed at the progress that kiddo has made.  Her speech is right on par for a 4-year old and her hands are so expressive when she signs.  She blows my mind.  Well, all my nieces and nephews blow my mind for that matter.  Seriously, how did I get the privilege of being Aunt Nita to such great kiddos?

But back to Happy Hands…I am so grateful for everyone who makes that school function, from office staff to teachers and everyone in between.  Every year the school does a fun run as a fundraiser.  You may remember that I attended last year as well.  I can see myself attending this fun run for a lot of years to come.

The run itself is set up in the parking lot of the school.  Cones divide the space and arrows chalked on the pavement point the direction to run.  I love this starting line!071And there are all kinds of fun characters that attend.  Candice was totally enamored with Jimmy’s Egg, or the big marshmallow as one cutie pie called him!079The police and fire department also came.  I love this look on Candice’s face as she waits with anticipation to see the fire truck.

070At the end of the run, I “interviewed” Candice.

Isn’t she just the cutest thing ever?!  She is definitely my favorite 4-year old runner!  Here’s to lots of years of “running super fast!”

I love when the things I’m passionate about collide, and this Happy Hands fun run fundraiser does just that.  It takes running and turns it into an avenue to support on organization that is helping my sweet niece find her way in a big world.  If you’re looking for a worthwhile organization to support, check out Happy Hands.

Talk to me:

What’s one of the best fundraisers you’ve ever attended?

What’s been the best part of your week this far?

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Week 1 Jump Rope Challenge

Well, week 1 of my jump rope challenge was a big, fat goose egg.  I jumped one day.  One lousy day!  Fifteen minutes!  What?!  I’m not going to meet my goal like that, but life happens and that’s how it went.

Monday night, bleary eyed from a night shift that ended that morning, I got myself out on my patio, determined to get in my fifteen minutes of jumping.  Fifteen minutes of jumping doesn’t sound like much, but it’s such high intensity exercise that it wears me out quickly.  That quarter-hour felt like an eternity.  I had to actually pause my timer and take a water break for 1-2 minutes.

I had good intentions of keeping up my jumping, but I’m not sure what happened.  I had a couple of tough CrossFit workouts (Well, let’s face it.  I’ve never done a CrossFit workout that wasn’t tough.) that made me pretty sore, and truthfully I just lost my motivation for jumping rope.

But, today’s WOD had double unders again.  Coming home with red jump rope bites on my arm has renewed my determination to get back at it.

Anywho, here’s how last week’s jump rope session went.  My goal was to jump 200 times consecutively without missing the rope.  Over and over, I’d make it to around 150 jumps and miss.  I won’t lie.  I might have said some curse words.  Finally, I was down to the last few minutes of my session and this happened:

So I hit my goal for that first session with 200 unbroken singles.  My goal for this week is to work on jumping higher and twirling the rope faster. I’ll let you know how that goes (wink).

Here’s to whatever your fitness goals are!  Let’s do this!

Talk to me:

How do you keep yourself motivated to do hard things?

What’s a goal you met recently? (Hey, even if your goal was to eat a salad one time during the week, I’d love to hear about that!)

Double-under Quest

I came home from CrossFit a few days ago looking like this:

IMG_1529No, they aren’t cat scratches.  They’re jump rope bites!

We jump rope a good bit at CrossFit.  If you’re like me, I hadn’t picked up a jump rope since I was a little kid, so when I started CrossFit a little over a year ago, I was severely out of jump rope shape.  Over the course of my short CrossFit “career”, though, I’ve improved on the jump rope.  I can jump 200 times without missing the rope–on most days.  You know how it goes.  Some days you just can’t do anything right, right?

But when it comes to double-unders…

Most CrossFit workouts that include a jump rope include the skill of double-unders, having the rope pass twice under the feet with a single jump.  To me, it’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time.  Somehow, I just can’t seem to keep my jumping rhythm while speeding up my twirling rhythm.  It should look like this:

But I’m not there yet.  I can usually get a double-under with every other jump, but I’m having a hard time stringing a run of doubles together.  IMG_1536CrossFit jump ropes tend to be a slim cable, so when I miss, the rope really packs a wallop.  Hence, the lovely whelps on my arms. But I am bound and determined to get this skill down.  I’m done with letting the jump rope beat me, literally.

So, starting Monday May 1, I’m challenging myself to a month of jumping rope.  For the month of May, I am challenging myself to at least 15 minutes a day (except Sundays) of jumping rope and working on double-unders.  My goal is to do ten     double-unders unbroken at the end of the month.

Will I meet my goal?  Check in and follow along on my quest for      double-unders!

Talk to me:

What’s a goal you’re working towards?

When’s the last time you jumped rope?

 

What I’m Eating These Days

So how’s your eating going?  Are you making healthy choices?  It’s hard.  I know.  Believe me, I know!  But I thought today I’d tell you about some of the foods that have made choosing healthy a bit easier for me lately.

  1.  Tomato Basil rice cakes.  I discovered rice cakes early on in my weight loss process.  I know a lot of people turn up their noses at them, but I like IMG_1484them.  Plain rice cakes aren’t all that tasty alone, but use them in place of bread and they’re wonderful!  Throw some tuna, turkey and lettuce, or even peanut butter on a rice cake, and you’ve got a quick, low-calorie meal, and the crunch of the rice cake satisfies the part of my appetite that needs crunch as well.  But these tomato basil rice cakes are amazing!  They taste great alone which makes them perfect for when I’m craving something crunchy and salty.  They also work great as a base for turkey and gives tuna an extra zing.
  2. Powdered peanut butter.  Who knew there was such a thing?!  I LOVE peanut butter!  No day in my world is complete without it, and running out of peanut butter nearly constitutes an emergency.  Seriously.  I have IMG_1483gone to the store for nothing expect peanut butter.  True story!  But I try to be careful with how much peanut butter I eat because it does add a lot of calories and fat to my diet.  What I like about this powdered peanut butter is that I get the taste of peanut butter without the fat and with significantly fewer calories.  My experience with it is limited to use in smoothies, but I’m anxious to try it just mixed with a little almond milk in place of the real deal.IMG_1522
  3. Zucchini.  I love all kinds of squash.  Butternut squash soup is one of my favs!  I love roasting summer and zucchini squash.  But lately I’ve sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, and onions in a pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.  When the vegetables are almost done, I toss in some chicken.  Holy cow!  So good.  That’s been my dinner several times this past week.
  4. Blackberries.  I’ve never been a big fan of berries aside from blueberries and strawberries.  The crazy thing is that I was in the store recently, saw blackberries, and thought they just looked so good.  Why is that when I’ve never really cared for them before?  Anyway, I picked some up and had some for a snack later.  Well, I am a reformed berry hater.  They are IMG_1523so good!  And they’re really good for you too–lots of antioxidants to fight cell damage.  I just have to be careful to eat them in moderation because, as with all fruit, blackberries are sugar.  You know how your body stores excess sugar?  As fat.  Yep.

So who says healthy eating has to be boring?!  Who needs pizza when you can eat squash?!

 

Talk to me:

What are your favorite foods/meals at the moment?

Care to share a favorite healthy recipe?  Leave it in the comments for all to enjoy.

Freedom in Fitness

So this Easter weekend, I’ve been thinking about the concept of freedom.  It’s a big concept, right?  Ask anybody what freedom means to them, and you’ll probably get a different answer.  I mean, think about freedom in the context of war and our soldiers.  Wow.  Think about religious freedom, and people around the world dying for what they believe.  Think about political freedom.  Think about freedom of speech, and all the other freedoms the Constitution of the United States bestows on its citizens.

But the freedom I’ve been thinking specifically about this weekend, you know, with it being Easter and all, is spiritual freedom.  Read my story here of how the truth of God’s word freed me from a lifetime of trying to be someone other than who I was.  If you don’t feel like reading that story, let me just say, folks, that there is incredible freedom in just being who you are.  No, I don’t mean just let it all hang out wherever you are!  Manners and discretion are important, but just drop the mask.  It’s okay that all your ducks aren’t in a row!IMG_0183

And as I’ve mulled over this incredible gift of spiritual freedom and just enjoying being the ME that God made me to be, I began to think about how much physical fitness mirrors this concept of spiritual freedom.

Here’s the thing.  I felt almost as trapped by an obese body as I did by a deceived mind.  Just as my erroneous beliefs of who I was affected how I acted, my obese body affected where I went and what I did.IMG_0747

Listen, I could find any excuse in the book to not attend a social function when I was fat.  And then I would lie on the couch and have a cry because I felt lonely.  Anyone know what I’m talking about?

Seriously, I was letting my desire for food rob me of life.  When I put food in its proper place, lost the weight and put my body in a place to function more effectively and efficiently–Wow!  The world became this never-ending amusement park, full of places to go, things to try, adventures to tackle.

No, of course, everything’s not rosy.  Please.  I still have tough days.  I still struggle with erroneous thoughts.  I still make bad food choices.  7386(Yep.  I ate Cheetos last week.  Can we say bad food choice?)

But the point I’m trying to make is that being fit makes it so much easier for my body to just do what it’s supposed to do.  Because the work of just moving and caring for my body has eased, I have the strength, energy, confidence, and desire to try new things.

Fitness has given me a different kind of freedom.  How can I help you get there?

 

Talk to me:

What did you do on Easter?

Is there something weight is holding you back from doing, or at least, trying?