Sunday, June 16, 2013

Week 2 BodyFX Cleanse & Whole 30 Wrap-Up

The best thing about Week 2 of Whole30 is my strange "Oh hell, I just took a bite from a popcicle" dreams came to an end! Seriously, guys -- I had so many strange dreams in Week 1 where I bit into something sugary or filled with gluten, then spit it out and generally freaked out that I almost messed up this challenge! How crazy is that?

The worst thing about Week 2 of Whole30 is... well, to be honest, there isn't a worst thing. I was so scared that I would be angry and mopey and crying over my lost M&M's and ice cream, but I haven't missed them at all. I honestly can't believe it. Me! Without sugar cravings! It's a baby Jesus miracle.

Also, the splotchy red patches on my face seem to be disappearing. I have some new lame blemishes popping up, but I expected that, so I can deal for now. Here's my three week face-o-rama:
This picture freaks me out. It's like attack of the Kelly-clones.
I don't think you can really tell from the photos, but I feel like my wrinkles are even reducing! Amazing what happens when you give your body the water it needs. While taking the BodyFX Cleanse, which I finished on Day 10, it's uber-important to drink tons of water. Now that I'm back in the habit of drinking around 100 ounces of water a day, it's pretty much the only liquid I crave. Even the desire to drink wine is gone. And between Whole30 and CleanseFX, I'm down 12 pounds in the first 14 days! Unbelievable.

 Best meal of the week: Paleo Butternut Squash Lasagna, sans cheese.
Thanks to the brilliant minds at Health-Bent for this scrumptious meal!
Also, I used ground pork to make my own italian sausage instead of buying it prepackaged. And added olives and spinach. Oh lordy hallelujah, this stuff is good. I felt like I was eating a "bad" meal.

Worst meal of the week: I'm not sure I can call it a meal, but I've been juicing once a day just for the hell of it, and I added dandelion greens to one of my juices. A little bitter. Next time I'll need to add an extra fruit to sweeten it up a bit.

What was new in week 2?
This week I've also noticed a surge in energy. I don't feel like I need coffee -- but I definitely want it for the flavor. We haven't been working out, since I really wanted to focus on things I'm noticing with food, but I felt the need to get moving this week so we went on walks around the neighborhood each night and basically just adventured and checked things out. Again, I was struck by how much more laid back life is this way. Even with the time it takes to prep and cook our meals, we were still able to go on a 45-60 minute walk in the evening. I definitely prefer this to the old merry-go-round dizziness that we were speeding by on before. Somehow, we're doing more but we have more time. I can get used to this!

Also, chia seeds! I am in love with chia seeds. I'll share some yummy recipes later this week, and explain how eating gelatinous foods like chia seeds actually helps detox your body.

I expect I'll actually start some workouts in week 3, because my energy levels have increased and I finally feel the need to be active. I love the rewards of listening to my body instead of telling it what to do! I've been wanting to review Figure 8 Fitness for you guys, so this seems like a good time to get moving and do some dancing! Can't think of a better way to reintroduce more frequent workouts.
Sounds good to me!!

What are your workout plans for the week? I hope you keep it fun!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

No-Poo Should Be Called ShamFree, and Other Haircare Tips

When I watched Hungry For Change, I began questioning my beauty regimen.

Okay, regimen is a pretty loose interpretation of my random haphazard method of caring for my skin and hair. But that's beside the point.

I said to myself, "Self! Is there a more healthful way to wash your face and hair?" Of course, Google is super nosy and always wants to interject its thoughts into my little self talks. And as usual, Google had a lot to say!

You guys! I never knew there was this whole "no-poo" movement out there with people making there own toxin-free shampoo and conditioner. And not just chicks living out in tree forts and stuff. It's pretty trendy. And guys! Their hair! It morphs into these beautiful, often wavy or curly, shiny locks of perfection. Here is a great site that shows pics of hair 9 months after beginning this method for haircare. I'm down with that. Especially since this is what I'm currently dealing with:

Unfortunately, whoever started this whole thing didn't have the sophomoric mind of a 10 year old boy like I do, because -- seriously? This was the best term to describe natural haircare? I don't even know, guys. How about just calling it ShamFree?? I totally heart this idea, because spending a zillion dollars on haircare is totally a sham and it incorporates the word "shampoo." I mean, admit it -- that's pretty genius right?

There. Problem solved. Internets, listen to me! ShamFree is the way to be!

Anyway. After reading a trimillion different blogs, it seems like most everyone going ShamFree (see how much more awesome that sounds?) is happy with the following method:

  • 1 TBSP baking soda + 1 cup water = wash that hair!
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar + 1 cup water = condition that hair!
I'll admit, I was skeptical. First, we all know that if there is vinegar anywhere near my eyeballs, I'm definitely going blind. Second, baking soda? Will wash my hair? Color me unconvinced. 

But it's summer and I don't have to show up to work every day looking all professional and spiffy, so this is a decent time to experiment on my head, I guess.

So this morning I mixed up my two potions and hopped in the shower. Because I never do anything the easy way (and I'm not about to dump out my current shampoo and conditioner just yet) I didn't have any squirt bottles. I did have the next best thing, though! Water bottles! Yep, I definitely mixed up my concoctions in two different water bottles and took them into the shower with me.

Shower time! Ryan Gosling not included.
Here's the deal, guys. Washing your hair with what is basically just water is sort of tricky. You can't exactly plop a glop into your palm and sudsy it up into your hair. Today's application method involved holding a water bottle above my head, tilting my head way back, and dumping what was probably way too much baking soda mixture on my head. I was worried I wouldn't be able to tell when I had enough on my hair, but I could definitely feel a difference between the hair that had the mixture on it and the hair that didn't. It was smoother, I guess. 

You're supposed to massage it in a circular pattern to work everything in, and then wait one minute before rinsing it out.

I forgot about the one minute part. Imagine that. But it's okay! My hair still got clean and didn't turn weird colors or do strange things.

The next part is using the apple cider vinegar rinse. Well, I have to tell you that I was a little freaked out when considering dousing my head with vinegar. See above regarding the certain blindness that would follow. But then I remembered reading that you are supposed to concentrate the vinegar on the ends of your hair! Duh! Problem solved. This time, I somehow remembered that "wait one minute before rinsing out" part. It was a proud moment.

I decided to let my hair air dry afterwards, just to see what the texture would be like without any straightening or product. Also, I was in a hurry to get out the door. I tucked a hair tie in my pocket in case of ultimate hair disaster, and off I went!

But here's the thing -- I never needed to pull back my hair to hide its terrifying shame. It dried without being oily, and even felt thicker than usual. In fact, normally when I let my hair air dry, it becomes this weird mix of straight, wavy, curly, frizzy strands of lackluster sadness. Today? Thick and much less frizz than normal.

I'm not saying this is hair that anyone is going to envy, but it's much better than what I expected after my first round of ShamFree™! In fact, it's actually better than an air dry/no product day when using normal shampoo and conditioner.

I'll post more pics in a week to document this crazy hair experiment. Word is, your hair goes through a sort of "terrible two's" kind of rebellion when you first start this, so in a week you may get some pretty gnarly footage! Until then -- what's the strangest beauty routine you've tried to perfect your 'do or save some pennies and get natural?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Week 1 - The Truth about Whole30 and BodyFX

I have officially made it 9 days eating the Whole30 way and using my BodyFX Cleanse. If you had told me 9 days ago that this week was going to be easy, I would have laughed heartily in your face.

Heartily, my friends.

Especially since the past week was the last week of school -- lots to do, tons of stress, and previously -- I would have shrugged my shoulders and complained that I was too busy and too tired.

But honestly, if you want to know what it's really like muddling through your first week with no sugar, grain, or dairy....

It's been pretty fanfreakingtastic! Over the last few months, The Hubs and I had gotten into the terrible habit of stopping off at whatever fast food joint or restaurant sounded good on the way home from work each day. I mean, that's supposed to be the easy way to do things, right?

But this week I realized something pretty profound. Even though it might be faster to swing through Taco Bell on the way home, I much more enjoy the time spent in the kitchen each night with my husband when we're prepping a delicious Whole30 meal. It takes a little more time, sure, but that time feels less rushed. It flows better. We throw on some good music and work side by side preparing our meal. We talk. Not just the rushed car conversation that happens when we're ordering out -- but real conversations. And more importantly -- we play. By the time our dinner is ready, we've been talking and laughing for a good hour.

I can't think of a better way to spend my pre-dinner time. And I'm delighted with the discovery that there really is enough time in the day to work and play. As always, it's all about mindset. I've decided what is truly important to me, and I won't let doubts or other obligations stand in my way.

In the past couple of years I have had a crazy strong addiction to sugar. I'm not saying I ate more than my fair share of M&M's or anything, but this year for Teacher Appreciation week, almost all my students gifted me with bags and boxes of M&Ms. Oh, the shame.

But this week, and I think this is mostly thanks to CleanseFX, I haven't had one craving for sweets. M&Ms have lost their hold on me! Queue the Hallelujah Bells! It also doesn't hurt that we watched Hungry for Change last week. If you guys haven't seen this documentary, you've definitely got to check it out. It's unreal the amount of poison and chemicals we ingest here in America without even thinking about it. The Hubs and I have decided to rewatch this documentary once a week until it all sinks in!

Oh, and as promised... here is what my pretty lil nekkid-face looks like one week into our Whole30 & BodyFX Challenge:
Left: Day 1, Right: Day 8
Thankfully, the Zit of Mass Proportions is calming it bad self down. I am noticing some red splotchiness appear, but I expected things to get worse before they get better. All those toxins need to bubble to the surface and get completely out of my system! One good thing I'm seeing is reduced puffiness -- in my face, hands, lower legs, and feet. In fact, after about 5 days, the chronic ache in my hip seems to have subsided. It's amazing what happens when you give your body the foods it needs to heal itself. Oh, and if all of that wasn't good enough -- I've also lost 9 pounds and found an increased amount of energy and general emotional outlook.

It's funny, the foods I ate when I originally began seeking a healthier lifestyle are no longer foods I will eat today. Although they were healthy to me back in 2007 and they did help me lose 100 pounds, I have learned so much more about nutrition and general health since then. I now know they aren't the foods my body needs to become as healthy as possible. My journey is constantly transforming, and I love that.

The more I learn -- the more educated I become -- the more primal my beliefs are.

Ironic, isn't it?

Here's looking forward to week 2! I'll try to share some of our fave Whole30 recipes and maybe even some of our more primal health and wellness thoughts throughout the week on our Off the Merry-go-Round Facebook page -- if you haven't been there yet, you should definitely check it out!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

BodyFX 30 Day Challenge & Whole30 Shakedown!

Let's get real, shall we?

Well hello, gorgeous.
Youch. Here I am, in all my makeup-free glory. Day 1 on my BodyFX and Whole30 challenge. My skin has been such a disaster fest recently, I thought it would interesting to track any changes throughout the month. Honestly, if I can just get rid of the bright red zit that has recently taken up residence directly between my eyebrows, I'll be happy. So anyway, you can look forward to these weekly little pretties to track exactly what happens when a gal goes grain and sugar free!

Hold up -- that's worth repeating! No grain! No sugar! No dairy! What am I thinking?!

Actually, I'm thinking I just cannot go one more day feeling the way I do. My clothes don't fit. I'm exhausted. I'm waaaay over-emotional. (Just ask the hubs, he'll tell you!) Also, I'm fairly certain that the way I've been living has made me dumb(er). No, seriously. If you are what you eat, and all our cells renew themselves based on the foods we feed our bodies, then I've just been killing off brain cells left and right -- and that must stop.

Lucky for me, our plan to kickoff a Whole30 challenge for ourselves is coinciding with the BodyFX 30 Day challenge! Huzzah! Now I have extra motivation and the chance to win a trip to San Diego to share my transformation story. Win-win-win, I say.

And I'm pretty stoked that the hubs has decided to join me on this journey. It's been far too easy lately to agree to his desire to grab ice cream late at night or swing by the local Mexican restaurant for nachos and margaritas when we don't feel like cooking.

No more! This morning we started our cleanse with CleanseFX and I got my first taste of ProteinFX, which is DELICIOUS mixed with almond milk and all natural peanut butter! Tonight we threw out all the junk and bought a ton of fresh produce and grass-fed meats. I even found a sweet website to help find Whole30 recipes and build my grocery list! More on that later.

So -- Day 1, feeling great. No headaches, no insane hunger fits -- just sipping water all day, snacking on whole foods, and preparing for the coming week. Wish us strength -- because luck has nothing to do with it!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

#AtoZchallenge Zig Ziglar - It's All About Attitude!

An Attitude of Gratitude

Z is the end of the alphabet, and this post is the end of the A to Z Challenge, but I like to think of this as the kickoff to the beginning of a lifelong fitness journey. I'm delighted to have this blog with my friend Jes to help us share motivation with others and be accountable for our progress. The past 29 posts have helped me focus on what is important to me on this healthy life journey. Today's post is dedicated to the great Zig Ziglar, and why it's so important to have an attitude of gratitude -- and how it can change your life.

I watched this short 9 minute video, where Zig Ziglar speaks about how he helped a woman change her attitude about a situation she was unbelievably angry about. As I was watching I realized that what he had her do, I could easily transfer to my own life. Check it out!

Here's what I noticed that was so important -- in any situation in your life, there is always something to delight in. Health, fitness, workouts, eating, family, relationships, work... doesn't matter what it is. There is something you appreciate or enjoy.

My next post will be the list of things I like about working out. Each night, I'm going to look into the mirror and celebrate the things I love about working out - and we'll see just how much my attitude of gratitude changes my motivation to workout!

I'd love to have you join me -- what would your list be about?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Intro to Jes

It's time to introduce myself. I'm the second half of off the merry-go-round.

So we start this blog with Kelly rockin it and me, well, I'm in a rut. You see, I'm dealing with an injury. Injuries piss me off. I don't eat right unless I'm working out. I'm hurt, so I'm not running. Guess who isn't eating right! Yep. Me. You guessed it. I feel all defeated and say what the hell. Oops. That's my current situation.

Next time, I'll share a little about my past.

#AtoZchallenge Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

Do it Yesterday!

I saw a quote today in a children's book that resonated with my fitness journey. This has been circling 'round my head all day, and is becoming my new health and wellness mantra.

"If it's going to be tommorow, it might as well be today. And if it is today, it could have been yesterday. If it was yesterday, then you're over and done with it, and can write your own book. Think about that.” ― AviThe End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail

What have you been putting off that you could be doing yesterday? For me, it's cleaning up my nutrition! No more excuses here -- I'm on-goal from here on out.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

#AtoZchallenge Why I'm Excited About BodyFX

10 Exciting things about BodyFX

Life is hard. Work, stress, money, and just the general busy lifestyle we all live can easily get you down. It's important to take time to remember what you're excited about. And right now, I have many reasons to get excited!

So, a list:
  1. Being a BodyFX Founding Charter Coach! Check out my prelaunch website here.
  2. Triple leads from the company in May and June will help me build my organization big and strong.
  3. The JNL Fusion workouts are kicking my butt and keeping me excited about moving my body every day.
  4. Working this business every day and working out every day with my husband. It's great to have this to share with him. We're getting healthy and making money together!
  5. Motivating other women and men to get healthy and change their lives. 
  6. Sharing this opportunity with my friends and family so we can all benefit physically and financially.
  7. The amazingly clean nutritional supplements BodyFX has created. You can check out the ingredients here.
  8. This blog, which lets me be accountable about my fitness journey and share a little motivation along the way.
  9. Being on one of the biggest and best teams in BodyFX, led by two fitness and social media divas - The Sweaty Betties and Train Dirty Fitness.
  10. Big dreams of financial freedom being a reality within the next year!

If you haven't heard of BodyFX yet, watch out! We launch on May 4, and I can't wait to get this party started. I am excited to see where this journey takes us in the next few months!

Friday, April 26, 2013

#AtoZchallenge Drink More Water Challenge!

Challenge - Drink More Water!

I used to be a total water drinking nut. I'm not proud of getting out of the habit, because I know all the great benefits from filling up with plenty of water each day. If you aren't savvy to the many reasons your body is craving water even when you're jonesin' for coffee and soda, check this out:

So I figured, what better way to get back into the habit than to have a water guzzling challenge? Seems legit to me. And no better time than now, since I'm back heavy on the workout train and stressing about a gazillionty different things at home and work -- my brain and my body need all the help they can get! It's time for a one week water drinking challenge!

Since I like to have apps for pretty much everything in my life, I hopped around Google and found a free app called Waterlogged. Of course I immediately downloaded it, but then I also found this chick's blog. She recommends the same app, but also reviewed a .99 cent app called Plant Nanny, which lets you grow a cute little plant through your water logging efforts. I'm all about cute and having fun, so I decided I needed it too! You should hop on over to her blog and check out her in-depth look at these apps.

Now that I have not one, but two mighty apps to make my water drinking challenge a little more fun, I figure I'll use both for one week to see how it changes my water consumption. I'm starting my challenge tomorrow with the goal of drinking 100 ounces of water a day. Since I've been lucky to get in 50 ounces a day, I think this is a pretty decent goal and hope it will get me back in the right habit.

Next Saturday I'll post an app review and update on how I did for the week. Who's ready to join me and up your water intake for one week?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

#AtoZchallenge Victory!

Today I came home ready to jump into my workout clothes and kill some fat! Unfortunately, my husband wanted to wait, and as the night went on my motivation flopped.

However! Later on in the evening he came into the living room and started up the JNL Fusion Bicep Builder DVD. Not to be outdone, I hopped up and got ready to get to work. 

The first two circuits went by fairly easily and I was thinking this was going to be another fast and furious workout like yesterday -- all fun! Yikes. We hit circuit three and started getting into all sorts of crazy pushup variations. By the end of the 30 minutes I was a sweaty mess and my arms were completely spent.  I crumpled onto the floor and lay there hoping someone would magically transport me to bed.

No such luck - but, this is a fabulous victory! It's Thursday night of a very strenuous work week and I have kicked my workout routine into gear. I'm excited about where I'm headed as a BodyFX coach and eager to see the transformation my body goes through with these killer workouts. I could have folded up and gone to bed without a workout tonight, but now I have one more victory to take pride in!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

#AtoZchallenge Be Unstoppable!

JNL Fusion TKO Blast - This Girl is Unstoppable Now!

Today was another long day at work and after! But I promised myself a better day, and promises are important! Especially the ones we make to ourselves.

Even though it was another day getting home late, I popped my JNL Fusion TKO Blast DVD in and got to work! I love kickboxing, so this was a great workout for a day with low motivation. Since the workouts are only 30 minutes, and doesn't require any drive time to and from a gym, the time factor was perfect too. JNL keeps a great pace, and doing the workout with my husband was pretty funny. We keep each other going with plenty of trash talking, laughing, and even had a little mock sparring going on with all the boxing moves!

After I got my bootie kicked with the TKO Blast video, I popped in the Stretch video and thoroughly enjoyed the next 30 minutes of stretching out all my tight and sore muscles. I have been needing this for a while! A great wind down to a very busy few days.

And since yesterday was such a bashing, making sure I did things right for myself today makes me feel unstoppable. It would have been easy to just tell myself I could workout tomorrow. But I have big dreams! Making the extra effort on a day when I'm feeling less than motivated will keep me on the right path.

What have you done lately to make yourself feel unstoppable?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

#AtoZchallenge Tell the Truth Tuesday

Tuesday seems as good a day as any to start a new theme. And so huzzah and merriment! I give you:

Tell the Truth Tuesday

Wherein, I prattle on incessantly about what's really going on in my little corner of the fitness world.

Well, 2 out of 3 isn't that bad...
Or, because I get distracted easily, and you want to move on to other things, I choose the top 5 truths that seem most pressing.

Here's what's up today:
  1. I ate chocolate today. Also, a rice krispie treat. I would like to blame the people that locked me in a room all day with a bag full of sugary junk, but the truth is I could have thrown the bag away. But there ya have it folks. Chocolate. And a rice krispie treat! Not my strongest moment. (I'd really like to defend my honor by whining for a few extra paragraphs about what a rough day today was, but let's face it -- the choice was mine, and I chose sticky sugary rice cakes.)
  2. I. did not. work out. today. This bums me out insanely. Sure, I could have done something when I finally got home at 10pm tonight, but I'm dragging big time and just don't have it in me. Perhaps that's because...
  3. On top of the sugar-fest, I did not eat lunch today. Healthy breakfast, one healthy snack, and then there was that locked room and chocolate, and things went downhill from there.
  4. When I have days like this I tend to beat myself up. It takes a monumental amount of self-talk to keep me from derailing completely into the world of negativity. As much as I talk about the importance of keeping your head in the right place, it's not an easy task. I work hard to keep my mind from running away from me, moment by moment.
  5. But the truth is -- we all have bad choices, or bad days, when nothing seems to go right. The important thing is that we shove right on through the bad stuff and keep on running in the right direction.  So that's what I'm doing.
That's why I'll be throwing away the remains of that "goodie" bag when I get to work in the morning. And packing extra snacks to get me through another hectic workday. And lunch. I'm not forgetting to eat lunch tomorrow. It's why I'm doubling up workouts tomorrow -- my normally scheduled Wednesday workout plus a stretching/yoga routine that my body is craving. I can't regain the workout I missed today, but I can take extra time for myself tomorrow that I wasn't able to make happen today.

No matter where you are in your fitness journey -- lost, steadfast and true, or on the stumbly path that I found myself on today -- I really believe success is all in the mind.

I believe I can, so I am.

Monday, April 22, 2013

#AtoZchallenge The Secret to Success

Say Yes to Success by Saying Yes to You

Okay guys, this one is simple.

And short.

Want to be successful?

Just say yes. Yes to opportunity, to your dreams, to pushing through the pain, to change -- yes to you.

You deserve success.  It means hard work and getting back up every single time you stumble and fall.

Success means turning off the tapes that play in your head saying no, you can't, too late, too bad, not good enough, it's too hard.

You would never talk to your friends, family, or loved ones that way - you deserve the same treatment you give to those cherished people in your life. You do everything you can to help build their success -- isn't it time to give yourself that same gift?

Say yes to you. Because it was never about anything else -- never about committing to a job or a lifestyle or a meal plan or workout.

Saying yes to success means making a commitment to yourself.

Are you ready for that?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

#AtoZchallenge Remember to Rest

Rest Those Weary Bones

Okay, I'll admit it. When it comes to getting enough rest, I rarely hit the mark. I tend to be in go-go-go mode, so by the time I am winding down for the night, my mind is still racing. And it doesn't help that I am such a plugged-in person. Having the TV going or sitting in front of a laptop is not the best way to prep your mind for sleep. Even reading off of an ebook device or smartphone hurts the chance for a good night's sleep.

But sleep is a major factor of being healthy. Besides the fact that when I don't get a minimum of 6 hours of sleep (and yeah, I'm horrible at even managing that minuscule number), I'm a walking zombie the next day, not getting a sufficient amount of rest is bad for your body.

There are a lot of reasons for this: less sleep typically means taking in more calories. People that don't get enough rest have a more difficult time burning calories, too -- so that's a double whammy! And sleep is a major factor in controlling cortisol levels. Higher cortisol typically means a bigger appetite, and for me that means crazy carb cravings. It's wild that something like the amount of sleep we get can so strongly effect our hormones, appetite, and how our body deals with the calories we're taking in, but there is plenty of proof to indicate this is true.

To battle my sleep deprivation woes, and the cranky bleary-eyed mornings I typically have as a result, I downloaded the Sleep Cycle app onto my iPhone. With it, I can track how much and how well I'm sleeping each night. I've been using it for almost a month now, and it actually has changed my desire to get to bed earlier. Also, I love the alarm clock. I set it for the time I wake up, and the Sleep Cycle app wakes me up when I am in my lightest phase of sleep within a 30 minute window to my alarm. I think my husband is pretty happy that since I've been using this app I wake up much happier than I used to! I was pretty doubtful it would make a difference, but it definitely has.

I still have a lot of work to do to make sure I get ample rest, but I'm working on it every day. I know that by having a well rested mind and body, I'm much more likely to eat right and workout. If that weren't enough of a motivator, I also have a much better ability to fight off the negative effects of stress when I'm not just stumbling sleepily through my day. So as much as I love to always be on the go, I'm slowly learning that taking some time to rest will reset my body and let me enjoy my busy days even more!

I'd love to hear what you do to make sure you are well rested each day! How much sleep do you get each night?

Friday, April 19, 2013

#AtoZchallenge The Art of Quitting

For a girl raised in a house full of TV Dinners and Fast Food, where sports was something for boys, and a Twinkie and a Coke were an acceptable breakfast, I feel like I've made some significant changes in my life.

Still, giving up my food fixations is an ongoing battle. It's not rare for me to wake up craving a cookie, or have a stressful day and dream of lounging on the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry's. No joke. That saying, "Stop rewarding yourself with food -- you're not a dog" may have been written for me.

It's not easy to give up the desire to eat my emotions away. When not being mindful, I'll find myself munching on french fries or tossing back chocolate cereal like a pill popper. Not a pretty image, but an honest one.

I've often compared my food issues with someone that has a drug or alcohol addiction. And why not? Fast food and processed foods are designed to chemically affect a person in a way to make you want to continue eating these things. These are foods geared to trigger your cravings to spike over and over again, creating a no-win situation for a person wanting a healthier life.

That's why I believe the best way to quit the fast food habit is to go cold turkey all at once. No cheat meals, no rewarding all your efforts to be healthy with a cheeseburger and fries.

Just quit eating crap.

Easier said than done, but not impossible. I have to remind myself of this all the time. I deserve a healthy body, and the effort that goes into creating a healthy life. This is especially important for me to remember when I have a series of bad days in a row! For me, a bad day can often mean bad food -- which just makes me feel worse! Having some go-to motivational sayings memorized and equipped as reminders of what is truly important to me is a great way for me to stay on the right path when it comes to quitting the fast food habit.

What do you do to keep your bad habits at bay?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

#AtoZchallenge Progress, not Perfection

Your Body is a Work in Progress

When I first started working out, I felt like every workout had to be perfect. Or it didn't count.

Yep, you heard that right. If I had an off day, I mentally beat myself up. Didn't run as fast as the last run? No good. Couldn't fit in my full 60 minute workout? Fail.

My need for perfection was ruining the joy in what I should have seen as success.

Every workout is a success -- just getting up off the couch and moving your body is progress.

Along the way, I learned to focus on progress, not perfection, to capture the joy in my journey.

Now, when I workout, I push for progress. One more rep or stronger execution than I did last time. One more calorie burned. One second longer or better form on a plank. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as I can see that I've found a place to see some small moment of progress.

Focus on slow but steady progress, and perfection no longer holds you captive. Getting back into a routine is progress. Choosing a healthy snack over a cookie is definitely progress. The key to sticking with anything is finding the joy, looking at the positive, and focusing on what you're doing well instead of what you haven't accomplished.

What progress have you celebrated lately?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

#AtoZchallenge Create Opportunities for Success

Seek Opportunity

Recently I read a post in one of my FaceBook fitness groups written by a woman struggling to find hope. She listed the reasons for her hopelessness -- all the things going on in her life that made weight loss feel beyond her reach.

I've definitely been there. Busy days, stress, social gatherings, lack of support; all these things, and more, add up to quickly make us feel like our goals are always dangling in front of us but never attainable.

What has helped me the most is learning that the question of living a fit life is answered in mindset and efficiently managing my life. I tend to be a terrible procrastinator, but when it comes to my health, that's one place I simply can't afford to let slide.

So I create opportunities for success. Throughout the day, I remind myself to seek the opportunity to create healthy choices. This might mean choosing fruit over M&M's, or turn off the TV and get an extra hour of sleep. It might mean running somewhere instead of walking, or using commercial breaks to get in a set of crunches. It might mean busting out 100 squats while I wait for dinner to cook or simply taking a minute to meditate quietly and refocus my thoughts when I find that rare moment alone. It definitely means setting aside time every Sunday to shop, prep, and cook the healthy meals and snacks I plan to eat throughout the week.

Seeking opportunity in little places, and reminding myself all day long to keep hunting down those moments, keeps my mind focused on what matters.

There is little else more important than your health. Our bodies and our health are irreplaceable.  You may not be in a place where you can commit to six workouts a week and a 100% clean eating plan. But everyone can seek opportunity to choose better. Everyone can make little changes. And all those little changes will amount to something big.

And you're worth it. You deserve all the happiness the universe has to offer.

What healthy opportunities have you created for yourself lately?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - Acknowledge Your Natural Beauty

I could have written about many things for the letter N. I had a list prepared to choose from: nutrition, new beginnings, never give up, to name a few.

But this morning, my husband changed my mind for me. We were in the Starbucks drive-thru, and as usual, I was hurriedly putting on my mascara while he paid for our coffee.

He turned to me as he slid the coffee into the cupholders, looked over and said, "You're looking sexy today."

I laughed, dismissing his remark. I knew exactly how I was "looking" today. Tired. Light makeup. And by light, I mean just a touch of BB Cream and mascara. And it was a ponytail day.

Working out before work means a quick shower and minimal beautifying. Especially when we wake up late.

Sexy is not a word I would use to describe anything going on with me today.

"No, I mean it," he continued. I smiled at him. Let the fool think I'm sexy if he wants to, right?

But then this video came across my FaceBook and Twitter feeds several times today:

Okay, so I've seen this floating around Ye Olde Internets for a while now, but today I finally decided to watch it. I literally burst into tears when Kela viewed her two side by side portraits. It reminded me of Karen Walrond's book The Beauty of Different. You can see her TEDxTalk here:

Karen talks about looking for and appreciating the beautiful differences all around us. I think in order to focus on the differences that make other people beautiful, we must first acknowledge our own natural beauty. In her TedxTalk, Karen tells us to "look for the light" when we look at each other. This is our natural beauty, both inside and out. These are the differences that make us expressly who we are.

Too often I look in the mirror or even down at myself, appraising how my clothes fit or how dark the circles under my eyes are. But when I look for the light, my natural beauty shines through. This is the beauty my husband sees, even when it's just a ponytail day.

I am filled up to bubbling over with passion for life. When music plays, I am completely incapable of sitting still. I laugh, loudly. Tears well up and spill down my face over the smallest of things (and poems). I spend at least a little time every day of the school week reminding children how incredibly brilliant and beautiful and powerful they are. I love my blue eyes, how tall I am, and the fact that I can bust out a workout hardcore and leave it all in the gym. I have seen terrible, horrible things in my lifetime, and I'm stronger because of it. I am inspired when my words or actions motivate others to be stronger, healthier, happier. I believe in the power of people working together for a common goal.

I may not be model thin, wrinkle-free, or sporting rock hard abs.

But I do have natural beauty, inside and out. And so do you. So the next time you're disheartened by what you feel you're lacking, look for the light.

What differences make up your natural beauty?

Monday, April 15, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - Why Choose a Metabolic Workout?

Metabolic Wow Factor with JNL Fusion

You guys! I was super bummed because I thought my JNL Fusion DVDs were going to be sitting on my doorstep when I got home from work today. It was a rough day and I couldn't wait to jump out of my car and grab those DVDs.

Sadly, I arrived home to an empty doorstep. I went inside, plopped down on the couch and started fantasizing about burgers and fries.

Even though there was some delicious salmon waiting in my fridge. I was pouting.

But wait! There's more! At nearly 7:00 tonight, there was a knock at the door. I ran to the door, flung it open, and found my beautiful box of DVDs waiting for me.

"Thank you!!" I yelled to my friendly UPS driver, who was already back at his truck. He laughed and yelled a thanks back to me, and I bounced into the house to show off our awesome boxes of happiness to my husband.

Super excited to get my Fusion on!
The reason I'm so pumped about these workouts is pretty simple -- one, they're metabolic in nature. This is my favorite type of workout. Fast and furious, baby! 30 seconds of weights followed immediately by 30 seconds of plyo-style cardio. You are engaging muscles all over the place, burning away the fat, and you're done in 30 minutes. Bye-bye steady state cardio!! Another great benefit to this type of workout is it seriously revs your metabolism. Do a high-intensity circuit of weights and cardio in the morning, and that workout will keep your body rockin' away the calories all day. And I don't know about you, but I want my fat burning ability to be super-charged all day. I'm a fat killer, and proud of it!

So, metabolic workout = metabolism bonus! Yay!

Because my DVDs came so late in the day, I didn't take the time to do measurements and get all my pics ready to post. I'll measure in the morning before I do my second workout in the JNL Fusion set. At the end of the week I'll post a review of the first 6 workouts, and I'll have all my starting stats posted in the sidebar.

Today's workout was the Shoulder Shredder, and it was a-maz-ing. I loved the modifications shown throughout the workout -- definitely helped me find the right pace. I was sweating within the first 5 minutes. By the end of the 30 minutes, by arms and legs were spent. Great workout, and left me plenty of time to go cook that salmon, afterall!

You'll notice I'm holding two boxes of DVD's in my pic! Since I signed up with BodyFX as a Coach, I also received the Figure 8 workout set. I didn't have time to check them out today, but I'm excited to try them out as well -- and soon!

Loving my new journey to my healthiest body ever. Loving these metabolic fat busting workouts! Loving where I'm headed. And right now, that's to bed! I need my rest so I can get right back at it tomorrow.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - All You Need is (Self) Love!

Love is All You Need

Last night I had a conversation with my mom that reminded me how important it is to love yourself. Sure, this sounds like a no-brainer, but how many of us are walking around each day without truly being in love with ourselves enough to make the tough choices that we would make for anyone else we love?

Here's what I mean: my mom was diagnosed with lymphedema over a year ago. Five years before that, she was diagnosed with diverticulitis. Painful side effects from both of these conditions, I believe, can be strongly reduced by maintaining a healthy weight, clean eating, and exercise. She knows these things. We talk about them almost every time we have a conversation. And yet, she struggles to make any significant change to her lifestyle. As a result, her conditions continue to worsen and she feels much older than she should at age 66.

So last night I asked her what she thought it was that kepps her from being happy. If she knew the steps necessary to live a more energetic, healthier, happier life -- what kept her from making those choices?

At first she said she didn't know. But the more we talked about it, the more the truth revealed itself. It's not much different for most people that struggle with lifelong food and weight issues.

I just can't help myself.
What's the point, I'm just going to screw up and gain the weight back anyway.
I'm a person that just never finishes anything I start.
I'm a person that enjoys candy/chocolate/fast food/etc.
It's too late.
I'm too old.
I don't know what to do or where to start.
I never seem to be able to commit to a diet or weight loss program that works.

The problem isn't with committing to the workouts or the right foods or anything else. When we are working on losing weight or reaching other fitness goals, the best thing we can do is make a commitment to ourselves.

In order to be successful, we have to believe we deserve all the happiness the universe has to offer. We have to know we are worth it. We have to be able to put aside all those tapes that have been running through our head all our lives telling us we can't, or we don't deserve it, or we aren't good enough.

We have to fall in love with ourselves first, just the way we are -- blemishes and all -- if we are going to be able to take care of ourselves to the same degree that we would care of anyone else.

Last night I asked my mom how her life would change if right now she started taking care of herself the way she would take care of a precious loved one. How much healthier, happier, and pain-free could she be if she committed to being there for herself by looking at what she needed to do to make changes and purposefully taking action to make those things happen.

We ended the call with her saying she would call her nutritionist on Monday to begin making the changes that could quite possibly lead to changing her quality of living for the next several years. I'm proud of her. When you have lived a life of "I don't matter, why bother," without even realizing it, it's a scary thing to step out and boldly proclaim, "I'm worth it, and I won't take no for an answer, not even for myself. I love myself too much to ignore my needs even one moment longer."

How are you taking care of your needs today?

Friday, April 12, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - Kettlebells are not for Klutzes

When Jes and I met, she was a diehard Kettlebell addict. That's why it's so surprising that I've never even touched one. Together, we've done just about every type of workout possible. Even though running makes my brain hurt and lifting weights makes her want to throw things at me (weights included), we have still supported each other this way. How I managed to get out of her crazy Kettlebell exercises, I'll never know.

Kettlebells sort of scare me. Every time I watch a video of someone hefting one of those things through the air, I cringe.

Kettlebells are not for klutzes. Right? I mean, surely, the first time I try to fling a Kettlebell over my head I'm going to somehow manage to hit myself solidly in the face (trust me, my coordination issues are massively impressive) or launch it through the air, sending it hurling through a wall or window.

So forgive me if I'm skeptical, Kettlebell lovers of the universe. I really do want to try this exercise phenomenon, but I'm trying to make the world a safer place by not randomly injuring strangers that are unfortunate enough to be in my throwing range.

I have to say, though, after reading up about the reasons for implementing Kettlebells into your workout regimen, I'm a little more intrigued. Besides the functional strength benefits, one great side effect of using Kettlebells is improved mindfulness. Staying in the moment is a practice I am continually working on, and I can see how the stamina, strength, and purposeful movements involved in Kettlebell workouts could increase my daily ability to live a more mindful life.

So maybe it's time I ask Jes to dust off those Kettlebells I remember from when we first met, and give it a go. As long as she's standing a safe distance away, that is.

What do you think? Are you a Kettlebell advocate? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - JNL Fusion Transformation Time!

JNL Fusion - The Right Time for a Fitness Makeover

When I first made the switch from being a dreadmill minion to slinging weights around in the gym, I became a little obsessed with fitness magazines. Watching my own body transform was amazing, but so was learning about different types of workouts. Somewhere along the way I fell in love with Jamie Eason. I picked up every magazine she was in, did every workout she recommended, and told myself if I worked hard enough, one day I could have a physique just like hers.

There were a few minor issues with this plan. First of all, she's 5'2. Honestly, we can really stop there. As much as I love Jamie and still follow her on FaceBook and Twitter, I think it's safe to assume I will never be a 5'2 fitness model that has never struggled with weight issues. I'll always love Jamie Eason's nutrition and workout advice, but I just don't identify with her story.

Now, I'm not saying you must have an inspirational role model to succeed in your goals, but it certainly doesn't hurt. I've always been that girl that loves making vision boards and having mentors. It's nice to connect with someone else that's been through similar struggles when you're fighting your own battles.

Enter Jennifer Nicole Lee.

I first read about her on when I was looking around the site for something new in 2011. This was right around the time Jamie Eason's LiveFit was launching, so after reading a little info about how JNL had created a home workout for moms, I downloaded all the LiveFit info and jumped into my new workout.

The LiveFit program was HARD. I was in the gym for an hour to an hour and a half nearly every day of the week. I was lugging a huge suitcase of a lunchbox to work every day. I was determined to succeed. At one point, we were going on vacation and I was so freaked out about not eating the right foods and amounts of protein, that I made meatballs and froze the equivalent of half a side of beef to bring with me. I got a gym membership for the week we were out of town.

I was not playing around, people.

But I also wasn't exactly overjoyed with the program. It was too much for me to keep up with. Even though the FaceBook group I was a part of was highly motivating, I ended up not finishing the 12 week schedule on time, and then decided not to do the carb cycling phase at the very end because I wasn't at a place physically were it made sense. The LiveFit trainer has done some amazing things for a ton of people -- it just wasn't right for me.

And of course, in true merry-go-round style, at the end of all that high energy, daily hours-long gym time and whirlwind insanity, I jumped off and landed squarely on my couch, where I sat for the next couple of months, wondering why I couldn't ever seem to stick with a program. At this point, I was still in a really defeatist mentality! It's amazing how much I changed through the course of 2012 while working with my rockstar online trainer.

Again, enter JNL. But this time, I listened. This time, my brain was prepped and ready to listen to new possibilities.

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Danny J (The Sweaty Betties). She shared some info with me about JNL Fusion and a new supplement line coming out by BodyFX. Because I'm a research junkie, I immediately googled my heart out to learn everything I could about JNL. It only took seeing her picture to remember her as the same "mom's home workout" chick I had seen over a year ago on I found it a little amusing that I had toyed with starting her workouts back in 2011, and here she was again, popping up on my radar.

I also learned:
  • She is her own success story -- losing over 80 pounds on her own after having her kids.
  • She created the workouts on her JNL Fusion DVDs.
  • She's 5'9! Yay! Almost as tall as me. I don't know why I always check out the height of my fitness role models, but dude -- it really matters to me!
  • She is UBER motivational.
  • She's really chatty, y'all.
  • Her workouts are short and powerful. 3 rounds of 30 seconds of weights backed by 30 seconds of plyo-style cardio for each exercise set. Totally my style of workout -- lots of movement, plenty of variety! I am stoked to try them out!

(Here's a quick example of her Fusion style workouts!)

And lucky for me, after that original meeting with Danny J, I decided to jump in with both feet, become a Founding Charter Coach with BodyFX and begin a brand new chapter in my journey to my healthiest life possible. This means my JNL Fusion DVDs are in the mail headed my way and I'll have the full line of supplements to try out before they become available to the public in May.

It also means I will be able to help many, many other people stay motivated on their own journey for optimal health. It's already begun, and I just can't believe how many blessings have been falling all around me in the last few weeks.

All because I was open to possibility. All because I decided to release my fears. All because I finally decided to say yes to something new, instead of doing my usual duck-and-cover approach to the unknown.

I could not be more excited. I've read up on this new protein powder and the rest of the supplement line and am so happy to finally have found something that is free of artificial ingredients, that has adaptogens to offer the metabolic repair my merry-go-rounding body needs!

So here's the accountability part of the plan. The reason Jes and I decided to start this whole blog to begin with -- we want off the merry-go-round and on the road to success -- and the best way to do that is to put it all out there.

When my DVDs arrive, I will weigh, measure, and take pictures (eeeek). I'll blog weekly to let you know how my workouts are going and what I think of the exercises -- and I promise to be honest about both my successes and my stumbles along the way.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - Injury Smackdown

Don't Let an Injury Get You Down!

There's not much worse than being all amped up about establishing a new workout pattern than the straight-outta-nowhere injury. Injuries aren't just about physical pain, they can cause some pretty major emotional setbacks, too.

To prevent unnecessary injuries, it's important to be proactive. There are several things you can do to minimize your injury risk:

  1. Invest in a good foam roller. Using a foam roller before workouts and before you climb into bed each night is a great way to keep your muscles limber.
  2. S-t-r-e-t-c-h. And not those goofy 2 second stretches I typically try to get away with, either. Make sure you modify your stretch routine to match the type of workout you're about to bust out. Dynamic stretches are excellent to warm up your body before a run, and static stretches are more beneficial afterwards. Just like anything else, the key is to be smart about it! Talk to a trainer or do some research to learn what kind of stretches will help you stay injury-free and have an effective workout.
  3. Don't forget the warm-up sets when lifting weights. Yes, this is important even after you've done some light dynamic stretching to prep for your lifts.
  4. And guys, seriously? Listen to your body. I tend to overdo it because I think I am still 18 and I have waaaay too much of a competitive vibe going for me. But your body knows when something isn't right. If your ankle starts screaming at you or your knee suddenly seems to have forgotten how to work correctly -- stop and pay attention to what's going on. It's better to stop mid-workout to figure out a potential injury than push through and end up unable to hit the gym for the next 6 weeks!
  5. Ice, ice baby. If you do find yourself with an unexplainably wonky injury, get some ice on that thing! Ice is the best way to treat a sudden injury. You'll reduce any swelling and alleviate pain, and can apply the ice pack for about 10 minutes several times a day. However, if your injury doesn't seem better after a few days -- it's time to call the doctor.
So be smart about what your body is telling you, and remember -- even if you do have a minor setback due to injury, there will still be ways to stay on the journey to your best health ever. Your doctor can help you make a plan that keeps you active while your wounded limb (and pride) are healing. Just don't give up -- you're worth all the effort it takes to remain true to your dreams!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - Hormones for Dummies

How to Get Hormone Happy (and lose weight, too!)

I think we often forget that our heads are attached to our bodies. Sure, I know that sounds crazy -- but think about it. How often do you take a second glance at the food you are about to chow down on and think about how it will effect your brain? And if it effects your brain, it effects your belly and you blood and just about everything else in your body.

Dude. I just alliterated the hell out of that sentence.

Pic from

A few years ago I started thinking I might be going into some whacked out version of early menopause. Suffice it to say, I was freaked smooth out. Luckily my sister has an amazing midwife, so after consulting with her (and by consult, what I really mean is: after crying and whining and generally acting as if my life were ending, while she listened and wisely gave encouragement and advice) I decided to try a few changes in lifestyle before running off to the doctor and ordering up a side of hormones to go with my crazyfest.

In case you're curious, I was exhausted all the time, emotional, having serious acne issues, among other things. It was basically like being a teenager all over again, but without the uh... perks.

I read everything I could find on hormone imbalances caused by our environment and started making small changes. I even went out and bought a Progesterone cream to combat my wacky hormone party.

The changes were amazing.

By switching to grass-fed lean meats, being aware of factors in the environment that could spin estrogen levels awry, making sure I found at least a little time to workout each day, and adding the nighttime progesterone cream, I actually started feeling better.

Sleeping better.
Eating less.
Having more energy!

It was like finding one of those miracle pills everyone is always searching for. But all it really took was some information and a desire to have a more harmonious relationship with my hormones.

And since I'm not all sciency, here's a great article to read if you're looking for more info and book recs!

Happy Hormones!

Monday, April 8, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - Go Green Guide to Fitness

Is Green the Color of Fitness?

Remember when kids used to giggle behind their hands when someone held up a green M&M? No? Is that just me? 

How about green being the color of envy? Or Kermit telling us from his lonely swamp that it's not easy being green? Surely those references mean something to you!

Green is a color that really gets around. And here in the Land o' Fitness, we loves us some green, too.

Why, you ask?
  1. Green tea revs your metabolism!
  2. Green smoothies pack in a crazy amount of veggies and make a great start to any day.
  3. You need to eat a wide variety of green leafy veggies every day - think spinach, kale, swiss chard, and even cabbage!
  4. Beyond the leafy stuff, add some broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, and artichoke to your diet - so yummy and good for you.
  5. Avocados! Need I say more?
  6. Have you ever even tried baked zucchini fries? You guys! You don't know what you're missing.
  7. Need a sweet treat? Green grapes, granny smith apples, and kiwi to the rescue!
  8. Grass-fed beef and poultry! It's like green meat, but without any illness involved. But just remember, you want your meat to be eating the veggies, not the grain. Or cement. Or whatever other weird things all those non-grass eatin' animals are digesting!
  9. Edamame! Okay, okay, I know this one is controversial, but I have a strong love for these little soybean wonders and I think as long as you aren't tossing them back like an extra large bucket of popcorn each day, you're probably fine. 
  10. Working out in the great, GREEN outdoors is so good for you! Whenever possible, take a run outside instead of on the treadmill. Barefoot running is so fabulous it almost makes me enjoy running! Or do your yoga at sunrise outdoors and grab some Vitamin D. (Uhm, unless you live around crazy pollution or some post-apocalyptic funk. In that case, I'd stay inside.)
So there you have it, friends. My Go Green Guide to Fitness! I challenge you to give these a try and see how you feel. Double dog, even.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - If Your Workouts Aren't Fun...

You're Doing it Wrong!

I have slogged through some seriously un-fun workouts. Things I thought I needed to do in order to be fit. Exercises I believed were necessary to reach my goals. I've gotten up at 4am to stumble bleary-eyed to my car and drive thirty minutes to a bootcamp I swore would be the answer to my prayer. I have even run through a parking lot with an elastic band around my waist, while dragging my trainer along behind me. Seriously. I dragged a grown woman around like I was a freaking horse and cart.

Now, some of those things may be your bowl of exercise happiness. They just weren't mine. And I don't know about you, but when I'm forcing myself to do something I don't have much passion for day after day after day? Eventually, I'm going to quit.

I am glad I've tried so many things. I've narrowed down the list of things that make my workout-happy meter plummet (running for more than a minute at a time!) and the things that make me feel strong, confident, energized, and like a super diva rockstar athlete of awesome-sauce (patent pending). Such as:
  • Lifting weights
  • Flipping giant tires around in my yard
  • Burpees (I know, right?? I'm not even kidding.)
  • Pretty much any metabolic workout, ever
  • Sprints! (See, I do love running sometimes!)
  • Any obstacle course 5k event I can afford
And more.

My point is, you don't have to force yourself to grumpily make it through a workout you hate. Experiment. Try new things. Play outside. You'll find what you love, and your body will thank you for it!

Friday, April 5, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - Our Great Expectations

Great Expectation or Unrealistic Desire?

Oh man,  if I had to pick the one great saboteur to my own fitness journey, battling it out with my expectations versus logical reality is probably the biggest villian.

I'm not saying I hugely obsess over perfectly completing every workout and dropping two or more pounds a week and suddenly realizing all my clothes are falling off my body, or anything.

I'm just saying.

Life happens. Our bodies are weird and miraculous things that just don't always do what we want them to do. Sometimes it feels like our mind is our own worst enemy. We plan, yet we don't succeed instantly. We all make mistakes. Expecting perfection and immediate results only sets us up for disappointment.

But there are certain things you can, and should expect for yourself: a positive attitude, determination strong enough to reach realistic goals, and consistently moving in the direction that makes your dreams inevitable.

Expect great things, but chill.

Eat well. Sleep lots. Laugh, then laugh some more. Move your body and have fun doing it. Give yourself permission to stumble. This life is meant to be enjoyed, not over-planned. As long as you take action to continually head in the right direction, you will see progress. And that's one great thing worth expecting!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - You deserve a Do-Over today!

Fitness resides in the land of infinite do-overs.

While it's common to hear the phase, "No do-overs!!" called out across the school playground everyday, especially when Four Square is involved, the land of healthy living is much more lenient.

There are those that believe fitness goals can only be super-charged when the new year rolls around -- just what is it about January 1st that sends so many people into a goal-creating frenzy?? Or perhaps even when the new week starts; I've played victim to this one -- "Bah, I'll just start (over) on Monday." But the great thing about deciding to live a healthful life is you can start (and restart) any time you want.

Fitness is the land of infinite do-overs because instead of geting just one shot, each person can decide for themself moment by moment how to build a healthier life. There is no last chance gas station hiding in the desert, no final pitch with the bases loaded. We each get unending second chances to win the game.

So next time you feel like you've ruined it all -- there is no hope because you've eaten one too many donuts or it's been too many years (if ever!) since your last workout -- just remember, you deserve a do-over today.

What's yours going to be?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - The Truth About Calories

Calories - Ain't Nobody Got Time For That!

When I first started on this wild fitness journey (way back in 2006), I was madly devoted to logging my calories. Food wasn't really food; food was a numbers game. I measured every morsel and counted every calorie.

Now, don't get me wrong. In the beginning, logging what I ate was a huge part of my early success with weight loss. There are tons of great online sites and communities for this. Through the years, I've tried places like Spark People, My Fitness Pal, and Fitocracy. In one way or another, each helped me be accountable for my nutrition choices.

But if you're anything like me, this can be a slippery slope. It wasn't long before the numbers were more important than the food I was putting in my body. I lost the joy in discovering new foods, because I had my tried and true recipes that would hit the calorie count I felt was most beneficial for my fitness goals. Although I was eating clean, I wasn't eating a well-rounded variety of foods.

Simply counting calories doesn't necessarily equal building a healthy body.

Last year I worked with a trainer that transformed my mindset on nutrition. Although I begged for a nutrition plan from the start, he refused to give me a set calorie goal or plan to follow. Instead, we focused on changing my mindset about food. And every time I argued that I needed to know the right portions, I needed to have more information, he calmed my fears and turned my focus to listening to my body.

We started with a few simple guidelines, loosely paraphrased here:
  1. Drink more water. And then drink some more.
  2. Eat lots of different veggies and lean meat
  3. Stop eating when you feel about 80% full (wow -- this was hard to learn, but so effective!)
I went from obsessively counting my calories to purposefully choosing a variety of healthy foods throughout the day. In baby steps, I came to realize how many delicious foods I was missing out on. I shed my calorie counting addiction and stepped into a place where I ate food I enjoyed and fueled my body simultaneously.

Suddenly, I was free. I lost weight, built muscle, and haven't counted a calorie since. The thing is, when you're eating a variety of clean, healthy foods and moving your body daily, it's hard to screw things up. While counting calories may be a great way to understand what's really in that food you're eating, you can also pave the path to the body you desire by dropping that calorie counter and listening to what your body needs and making it a priority to choose a variety of whole, natural foods every day.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - Body Image Makeover

Body Image

Okay, let's be honest. When women look in the mirror we don't always see the truth.

For instance, as I near my 40's, it would be easy for me to focus on:
  • Those random grey hairs popping up around my forehead.
  • New wrinkles. Daily. Seriously. How is that even possible?
  • My neck. Don't even get me started.
I could go on, but you get the picture. But the truth is, we all have things about our bodies we don't like. No body is perfectly symmetric, unmarked by time, or sculpted in marble.

And that's a good thing! Who wants to look like a stiff mannequin in a store window when you have a body you've been crafting since birth with its own unique story?

Too often, we focus on the physical look we think to be ideal instead of the physical and mental strength we posses. When I was growing up, my body image was destroyed because of the single purple scar that slashed across my face like an angry lightning bolt. This was well before Harry Potter was popular, so I didn't even have that going for me. As a teenager, I was my scar. I didn't have the tools to separate the scar from the real me. Because of the scar, I felt ugly, marred, imperfect, unwanted.

It took many years to be able to look in the mirror and see me, not just an ugly scar staring back from the looking glass.

But, like attitude, body image begins in the mind. These days, when I'm standing in front of the mirror, I do my best to look past those wrinkles and grey hairs. Instead, I purposefully remind myself of:
  • Strong bones and muscles that carry me through every day.
  • An easy-going smile shared freely with friends and family.
  • Stretch marks that carry memories of bringing two amazing boys into this world.
  • And yes, even grey hairs -- marking my years and the wisdom I've gained.
And again, I could go on. But you don't need my personal list of positive body image reflections.

You need your own. So go ahead. Take another peek in that mirror. What is truly staring back at you?

Monday, April 1, 2013

#AtoZchallenge - It All Begins with Attitude


There are plenty of pithy catchphrases about the importance of attitude in achieving your goals. But the truth is simple: attitude matters.

With the wrong attitude, reaching fitness goals is impossible. With the right attitude, finding  your way to a slender, healthier, happier you is inevitable. Abs may be made in the kitchen, but dreams begin with the brain. It all starts with what you believe. And it's far too easy to get into a dream-killing attitude.

I'm too busy.
I'm too tired.
Nothing I try ever works.
I've made too many mistakes.

The list goes on and on.

I let myself suffer for years with an attitude of doubt, without even realizing it. My dreams were impossible, because my mindset shut me down. Living a life filled with healthy choices means training your brain to believe you are a healthy person. When you choose to see yourself as a healthy, strong, vibrant person, your brain has no choice but to rewire itself to want exactly those things.

Stop thinking, "I can't."

Stop saying, "Someday."

Stop believing you aren't worth every bit of effort that goes into creating the life of your dreams -- mind, body, and soul.

It doesn't matter what you've been through, how many workouts you've missed, or even what food you've been secretly eating behind closed doors -- not last year, last week, yesterday, or even five minutes ago.

What matters is now. What you choose to believe is true right now is the first step to a healthy lifestyle.

You are a walking miracle, and you deserve every happiness the universe has to offer. Start believing in yourself today. Your future happiness is counting on you.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Off the Merry Go Round, Kelly style

Three days, no grains.

I sort of feel like I deserve an award of some kind. Maybe a ceremony. A plaque? I mean, you guys, three whole days! Lots of veggies, lean meats, fruits, eggs (omg so.much.eggs.), a little dairy (gimme a break, I'm working on it!), and a little (very little!) diet soda. I know three days might not seem like much to you... but to me?

Honestly, it's been too long since I've made it a day without something sugary sweet or carbolicious in my belly!

Even though I know what it takes to be healthy -- even though I completely understand the difference between choices that will make my goals inevitable and choices that will drag me down. And yeah, I totally know that eating an M&M every once in a while isn't an abomination. Except, I don't do so well with that "every once in awhile" part. I'm more of a sugar abstinence kind of girl.

Somehow I always find myself in the spot where I was pre-three days ago. Where I have been for the last five months.

On the merry-go-round.

Spinning round and round, seeing the place I want to be (fit, strong, healthy) but unable to stop the ride and head the right direction.

When Jes and I were contemplating names for this blog, she said something along the lines of, "Well, this blog is really all about stopping the cycle. Ending the back and forth cycle we keep going through between healthy living and just barely living."

And that, my friends, is how Off the Merry-go-Round began.

Two girls, one goal, and a ridiculous amount of strength and snark to share.

Hope you'll stick around awhile and enjoy the show.