Being Healthy is a Way of Life: Is Your Soul Happy?

There’s so much more to being healthy than just eating whole foods and working out. Being healthy ultimately stems from our mindset.

BeingHealthyBeing healthy is about more than what you feed your body. Sure, it’s important to eat healthy. It’s important to work out on a regular basis for cardiovascular purposes. Let’s say you have both of these things in check, but you still aren’t seeing the results you want — you look the same, feel the same and start getting discouraged. Because you’re discouraged, you turn to your vice for comfort, whatever that may be (for me it’s food). I’ve been stuck in that cycle… it’s frustrating. But there was one IMPORTANT question — perhaps the most important of all — that I was forgetting to ask myself:

Is my soul happy? 

Happiness does not stem from the time spent in the gym. Sure, you get momentary satisfaction after a good sweat sesh or after you weigh in a few pounds lighter. You feel great at the end of the day after sticking to your diet. But this happiness is fleeting. Oh so fleeting, my friends.

Is your soul happy? Really. Ask yourself that question right now.

Take a good hard look at the relationships in your life. Are they thriving? Are you doing everything you can to make the lives of the people you love a little easier?

Are you living your life? 

What do you do in your free time? Are you sitting around on the couch, wondering why you don’t have friends, relying on social media as your crutch for social interaction?

If only I had asked myself those questions while I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself, wondering why nothing in my life was getting any better. Why am I gaining weight? Why do I binge? Why am I so depressed? What happened to all the friends I used to have? These are questions I’d ask myself on a daily basis instead of the ones above. Do you see why I wasn’t getting anywhere?

Being healthy is a way of life. It stems from your mindset — the way you think, feel and interact with others. If you’re a positive person who strives to find joy and happiness in the simple things, chances are your time in the gym, eating habits and results will reflect that. To the contrary, if you’re sitting around eating junk, not doing anything besides going to work and going home (and wondering why you lost friends like I did), your results will also reflect that.

Our journey to be fit starts with the effort to change our mindset.

When you change the way your mind works and make a decision (you have to make the decision, it doesn’t just come naturally) to be happy, you’ll reap the benefits of this happiness in your physique, self confidence and relationships.

I challenge you today to dig deep down and ask yourself: Is my soul really happy? If so, keep on keepin’ on my beautiful friend! If not, make a decision to change it.

HUGS AND KISSES and all the love in the world to you beautiful friends of mine! xo

New Workout Plan

I’ve had many ups and downs throughout my fitness journey.

From the first day I started working out, nearly four years ago:

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Going from dancing in high school to doing nothing at all my freshman year of college but still eating ALL. THE. FOOD.

To becoming way too skinny from being disordered and having a binge/deprive mentality:

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I remember I wore a loose dress on purpose to this wedding because I felt “fat.” And yes, I’m doing the robot.

The hardest part for me has been finding a balance. I’m either eating all the food, or no food at all. There was a point where I was literally starving myself and had no idea.

As I mentioned before, I’ve toyed with the idea of competing. I’m still unsure as to whether or not I’m actually going to participate in a competition, but I decided I wanted to challenge myself nonetheless and finally find a balance in my life… FOR GOOD.

*As of 4/1– I’ve been praying about it and have decided not to compete at this time. I’ll be posting about the thoughts behind my decision soon! 

Recently, I’ve been in the “eat all the things” mode I mentioned before, so I’m definitely not where I want to be in terms of the way my body looks and especially how my body feels.

Starting today, for 12 weeks, I’m going to be eating WAY cleaner than I have been (I’m talking to you, peanut butter and Cheez-its). This means finding a balance between eating too much, and not eating enough — fueling my body enough to handle tough workouts, but still being cognizant of what I’m putting in my mouth.

For me… the biggest issue comes with eating. I can work out alllll day, but I know darn well that I won’t see the results I want unless I’m eating to fuel my workouts.

If you’d like to join along….

I’m going to schedule my workouts ahead of time and write them out for all of you to see on this blog!

These workouts are going to focus on strength training with supplemental cardio (mostly HIIT), working different body parts each day. I’ll post the workouts early in the a.m. so you can perform each workout at whatever time works best for you.

If you’re a newbie to the weight room, hopefully this will give you the start you need. As always, consult a physician before performing any new-to-you exercise routine! I’m not a personal trainer yet, but I will be soon :-)!

Ask yourself, just as I’m asking myself:
Where would I be in twelve weeks if I started TODAY? 

To get started, let’s complete a boot camp circuit workout to kick off the fat loss in the best possible way!

Why I Gave up Social Media for Lent

Exciting news!

I finally signed up to get my personal training certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, or NASM! I chose the 9-week CPT online classroom option and it starts on Sunday. I’m so grateful I was able to connect with Mike through Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers — he was very helpful and answered my email within minutes. I am so, so excited for this first step in the direction of my dreams!

In health and fitness news, I’m also starting a new diet plan soon. It’s going to be sort of an “If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)” approach because I want to have a flexible dieting regimen while still being able to lose some fat. I’ll be updating a post on my most recent goals soon, which I’m looking very forward to sharing with you all!

In Cocoa news, she’s still a cutie. Always and forever.

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Now, for the purpose of this post: why I gave up social media for lent.

I’ve been doing a LOT of self reflection lately. My bible study is reading an awesome book, Craving Grace, that has really caused me to look deep within my self and take note of the areas that need a lot of improvement. I’ll do a full recap of this book, but I promise you it’s a GREAT read. The chapters are short, so it’s perfect for a bible study or book club!

With the Lenten season upon us, I was really evaluating my life and finding things that were distracting me from my relationship with God and being my best self in general. I found that I spend way too much on social media — not necessarily all at once, but I would check it as I was getting ready in the morning, before I went to sleep at night, and all throughout the day if I was driving (at red lights of course). I found myself mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds more than necessary.

I do believe social media is a great thing. It helps us reconnect with those we’ve lost touch with, allows us to share photos to our friends and family that we don’t see often, or even keep in touch with friends that have moved away. But when it starts taking away from your quality of life because you’re constantly checking your apps instead of having face-to-face conversations, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate the situation.

So, for 40 days I will be social media-less. I started yesterday and was seriously SO much more productive, and I felt much more in tune with the world around me. I’m generally not one of those people that sits on my phone at dinner because I absolutely HATE that, but I do find myself mindlessly scrolling through my feeds late at night instead of reading my Bible or a great book and just going to sleep.

I’ll keep you guys updated and I’m hoping to come out of these 40 days refreshed and renewed, with a much greater awareness of the world surrounding me :-)!

Have a great Thursday. It’s almost Friday, my friends. WOO WOO!

Lunch Time Workout

Good morning, my beautiful friends!

I hope you’ve had a great week so far. There’s something about Friday that makes me so happy (particularly the 5 o’clock hour… haha).

When I started my 8-5, I wanted to find easy ways to stay active throughout the day. If you’re like me and HATE sitting all day, you know the struggle that comes with sitting all day staring at a computer. Since being active is an important part of my life, I try to implement healthy habits on a daily basis, including:

  • Trying to finish one gallon of water before leaving work
  • Packing healthy snacks to eat before and after lunch
  • Bringing my lunch so I’m not tempted to indulge or spend money
  • Creating my own stand up desk 
  • Taking a break every hour to walk around the office, even if it’s just to the water fountain or bathroom
  • Doing squats or stretching in the bathroom (because it’s embarrassing out in the open haha)
  • Bringing my workout clothes so I’m ready to go to the gym after work and I can’t make excuses (when I don’t work out in the morning)
  • Working out during my lunch break, even if it’s just walking around Target or Walmart (leave your wallet at the office!!!! lol)

There’s a yoga studio near my office that I bought a monthly membership to, so I try to take classes there 2-3 times a week. It’s awesome because they have a “lunch hour flow” so it fits perfectly into my schedule. 🙂

I also started a lunch time workout group at my office. We call it “Work Out Wednesday” and it’s such a great way to get out of the office for a little and get the blood flowin’. Depending on the weather (we do live in Florida and don’t want to get too sweaty), I either make up a circuit that we can do in the office, or we take the workout outside! Luckily, the weather was gorgeous this week so here’s what we did:

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Implementing these healthy habits in my daily routine has made a HUGE difference in the way I feel at the end of the day. I notice that if I’m sitting all day, I go home much more tired than if I make the effort to walk around, eat healthy and fuel my body with proper nutrition and a lot of water.

Having a 9-5 job is no excuse to deviate from healthy habits. Even if you just implement a few of these during the week, I promise you will feel a HUGE difference in your energy and productivity levels!

Happy Friday, my friends 🙂

What Do I Stand For?

In this transitional period of my life, it’s so important to have a strong foundation with clear values, goals and morals. This morning I had a big AHA moment — I realized I’m lacking clarity.

What are my goals? What are my passions? What do I stand for? 

To be honest, I’ve been neglecting a lot of these lately — things that make me feel good, things that bring passion into my life. Honestly, I haven’t been too nice to my body or myself. Because I lacked clarity, I felt for a while like I was aimlessly wandering day-by-day with no purpose, no set goal, no vision of what I know deep down in my heart to be correct.

So, in the grander scheme of things, here’s what I stand for:

Nutrition  Whole foods: In a perfect world, my diet would consist of all fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Maybe a morning green juice with ingredients fresh from my garden. By “whole foods,” I mean I do my best to make sure the food I put in my mouth has one or two ingredients (i.e. apple, brown rice, turkey, avocado, etc.) I thrive on foods that are minimally processed and I notice an improvement in both my mental and physical abilities when I eat them.

Exercise — Strength training: Although I teach group exercise classes (boot camp, BodyWorks, yoga and sometimes cycle), I try to spend the rest of my time in the gym strength training. Strength training for me incorporates various circuits, because I believe in the importance of functional strength. Being able to lift 9,000 pounds is great, but to me it means nothing if you can’t run at least a few miles or have any capacity for cardiovascular activity. Also, in terms of fat loss and long-term results, I’ve found a mixture of high intensity interval training (HIIT — sprints or other exercises with hard working periods and periods of rest) and strength training works best for me. Less is more here — no need to spend hours in the gym to get results.

Lifestyle: In order to balance hormones and counterbalance my hypothyroidism, I need to remember the importance of SLEEP, rest and recovery. Allowing my body to rest from strenuous workouts is key to improving my time in the gym. It also allows this lifestyle to be one that I’m able to maintain throughout my life. I rarely drink alcohol anymore (maybe a few drinks here or there); I strive to drink 1-2 gallons of water daily; and I take vitamins daily to fill the gaps in my nutrition.

Religion: I believe in the power of long, restorative walks and meditation. Through prayer and communication with my God, I’m able to recognize that I’m fully and wholly loved, and perfectly made just as I am. I’ve realized my worth in relationships and to myself through Christ. I attend church on a weekly basis and just joined a Bible study with a group of women whom I already feel such a strong connection with. More than anything, my spirituality fills me up, makes me whole, and helps me realize that I am good enough.

Relationships: As I stated above, through Christ I’ve realized the importance of not settling for any old thing that comes along. I’m working on building myself and the foundation for my life now, so when I’m ready, I’ll be the best I can be for someone else. I genuinely believe that relationships (friendships, family, intimate) are the foundation of life. Without love, we will never truly be satisfied. Love is worth more than any materialistic thing in this world.

Work: I take pride in my talents and abilities. I’m very self-motivated and give 100% to everything I do. This is a blessing and a curse, because I tend to wear myself out by taking on too much. However, I wouldn’t trade my discipline and dedication to my work, studies or fitness for anything. I can’t wait for the day that I’m able to speak, eat, breathe, sleep and portray my passion and love for health and fitness to the world.

Side note: these are arranged without order to importance in my life.

I’d love to go into further detail about each of these topics in upcoming posts, simply because I could talk for hours about each. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own mind that I forget to share what I believe to be basic information that could be SO beneficial to those who are just starting out on their own health and fitness journey!

I’ll leave you with what I posted on my Facebook this morning:

We are all a work in progress. No matter how much someone seems like they have it all together, we all are struggling in one way or another. That’s the beauty of life, though. We’re all in this journey together and it’s important to help each other out — giving someone a word of encouragement, a shoulder to lean on, a soul to confide in… Even when someone doesn’t admit they need the help. Without the darkness we wouldn’t see the light; without the rain we wouldn’t appreciate sunshine. Keep pushing. This life is beautiful and fleeting, and so, so worth living to the fullest.

Fueling Your Body: Don’t Be Afraid to Eat

You know what makes me happy?

YOU GUYS! Seriously, I can’t thank you enough for all the love I got on my recent update. I want to emphasize the fact that I am not unhappy by any means, and I’m working on eating more in order to raise my blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Funny, because most people have the opposite problem!

My friend helped me create a meal plan and macros, and we found out that I wasn’t eating enough carbohydrates to fuel the heavy exercise I do on a daily basis. So, more carbs! I tell ya, it’s hard to get in enough calories when you eat healthy 99% of the time. How many pounds of broccoli do I have to eat again? lol *sigh*

Meal Plan 

So, my goal is to eat 2,000+ calories per day and I’m slowly working my way up there (I’m at around 1,600 right now after figuring out this new meal plan). Yes, I’m sure it’s every girl’s dream to be told to eat more… but this is hard for someone who, in the past, was scared of eating anything “bad.” I’m trying to fuel my body with healthy foods, so I’ve pretty much just increased my portions. My day-to-day meals look something like this:

(Note: I’m only doing this to showcase the importance of fueling your body for hard workouts. We train hard in the gym, so our bodies NEED fuel before and after to enhance performance. I see so many girls, myself included, not eating enough to fuel their bodies and wonder why they feel lightheaded/spacey or are losing strength. This is exactly what happened to me, and I’m learning to overcome my fear of eating a lot!)

Breakfast:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1 egg, 1/2 cup whites (from carton) + veggies (usually mushrooms, broccoli, green beans, onions, tomato)

Snack:

  • 3 hard boiled egg whites
  • 2 rice cakes

Lunch:

  • 5-6 oz. lean meat (turkey, chicken, etc.)
  • sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • veggies (usually broccoli and cauliflower or green beans)

Snack (pre-workout):

  • 2-3 hard boiled egg whites
  • carrots
  • oatmeal or rice cake with almond butter

Dinner (post-workout):

  • 6 oz. lean meat
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • veggies

After dinner snack: usually I just go to bed, but if I’m hungry I’ll eat a “fat” — aka peanut butter or almond butter on a rice cake, or by the spoonful because YUM.

So to some of you, this may seem like A LOT. To others, it may seem like not enough. I’m learning to trust my body — eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full. If I feel lightheaded, instead of trying to push through it, I will stop what I’m doing and EAT SOMETHING. I was so scared of eating a lot before, which is ultimately what led to my bingeing. I’d go for 3-4 days at 900 calories and then literally eat all.the.pretzels. I swear to you, the binges are the only thing that saved me.

By eating more consistently on a daily basis, I hope to resolve my issues with overeating. Let’s face it, we’re not going to get fat by eating healthy. I understand the whole calories in/calories out theory, but realistically it’s impossible to eat too much broccoli. No one ever got fat eating broccoli, brown rice, or healthy foods unless you’re eating 10x what you actually need (which is quite impossible with those foods. Not so much pizza lol)

Chances are if you’re reading this, you have an interest in health and fitness. You can’t have one without the other — I promise you. EAT ENOUGH for YOUR body and you will see astounding results both in and out of the gym.

In the past three days since I’ve been eating more, I’ve noticed such a difference in the gym and more importantly in my health.

Don’t be afraid to eat. Fuel your body and your mind. Nourish and feed every aspect of your life daily (mind, body, soul) and your body will thank you. ❤

I Need a Hug

Hello my friends! I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend and are well-rested for the week ahead 🙂

Today was my idea of a perfect Sunday: early morning wake up, elaborate homemade breakfast, downtime to sit and enjoy my coffee, then church.

A whole lotta coffee and a whole lotta Jesus

A whole lotta coffee and a whole lotta Jesus

Shameless selfie. I also went shopping and found “the one.” Yes, my graduation dress… Unfortunately we can’t shop for “the one.” FRIDAY THE 13TH! EEK! 

I enjoyed these few days “off,” although I still had to do homework and teach my group exercise classes (I am definitely not complaining about #2 hehe). To be honest, I’m quite overwhelmed in many aspects. Although I don’t actually feel stressed out, I know I am because I’m struggling internally with a few things. First, I’m overly emotional — one minute I’m jumping for joy and the next I’m ready to rip someone’s head off. Two, I’m literally a bottomless pit and am eating everything I know I shouldn’t be (this may also have to do with the fact that I’m teaching now so I’m working out twice as much). Three, I procrastinate. I know I’m stressed out when I wait til the last minute to do something. Most of the time it’s because I don’t know where to start, so I just avoid starting all together, which stresses me out even more. It’s a vicious cycle, I tell ya.

I’m generally a happy, positive person 99% of the time and I absolutely hate complaining and giving off negative vibes, but we all have times where we just need a hug. Right now, I’m in need of your virtual hugs. 🙂 Allow me to share some of my recent struggles with you:

1. I cannot wait for school to be over. It’s such a bittersweet feeling and I honestly can’t believe I graduate in less than two weeks, but this busyness is running me into the ground. I’m trying to enjoy the journey as much as possible and I’m doing much better than I would have been if I were in the same place a few years ago. I’m staying positive and looking for the light at the end of the tunnel!

2. I have been stress eating like CRAZY and it’s taking a toll on me mentally. It mostly hits me late at night when I need the energy to do more homework. I’m not exaggerating when I say I can eat half a bag of pretzels (and hummus….). It’s so strange, though — I can eat healthy ALL day and then nighttime comes around and it’s like I’ve never eaten before in my life. I try my hardest to drink tea or keep my mind occupied so I don’t become even more of a bottomless pit than I already am and consume the whole kitchen LOL. Again, I’m hoping that once school is over, I’ll have one less thing to focus on/stress out about. Anyone have any advice to stop this?

3. I’m probably working out too much. I can’t remember the last time I took a rest day; they’re even more few and far between now that I’m teaching group exercise classes. I realized this yesterday and decided to take today and tomorrow as official “rest” days, which is also challenging for me mentally. The gym is my “me” time and my release from the world, but I really need to listen to my body before I wake up one day and can’t move anymore.

I wanted to post this to showcase the fact that while someone may look like they have it all together on the outside (that’s the downside of social media, people only post what they want you to see), everyone is still struggling with SOMETHING. I’m a real person. I’m far from perfect, even in the health and fitness aspect. I have a good handle on what I should be doing, but I don’t always take my own advice and implement it in my own life.

We’re all a work in progress, and I’m relieved that I’m able to share my struggles with people who also understand… YOU 🙂

Sending you all my hugs and positive thoughts. I’m thankful and blessed to have such a great support system!