Are we doing ourselves an injustice?

There’s just too much flourescent lighting everywhere.

This is what I’ve observed about my generation:

We sit in stuffy classrooms, we work in stuffy offices, we stare at lame computer screens, we talk on the phone more than we talk to each other in person…I could go on all day long.

I’ve been researching the subject of “happiness in the workplace” and there is a common theme in every article, book, video:

You have to find your own happiness.

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Where do I find my solace or what do I think of when I picture myself as truly happy? I’m on or near the water. I’m outside and appreciative of the beauty that is surrounding me. These moments tend to be few and far between because I don’t encourage myself to make the time. I would rather be productive so the next school/work day is easier…

That’s a terrible approach. I believe that a huge factor in a person’s productivity level stems from his/her happiness level at work or in class. We become immune to the little beauties (especially at LSU) throughout the day because we focus on our To Do lists. It’s time that we make time for ourselves.

We also need to get out of the office. We need to strike up a conversation with someone just because. We need to take more walks. We need to find a change of scenery. We need to close our computers. Most of all, we should probably smile more. I can speak from experience when I say that all of these things have inspired me to perform better. I am motivated to try something outside of the box, and failure doesn’t seem quite as terrifying.

I’m challenging myself to appreciate the little moments and take more yoga breaths when I’m feeling overwhelmed about something I’ll most likely forget about next week. As the adage goes, life’s too short.

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A little “beast mode” every day goes a long way

Yeah…this is another post about healthy living. 

I have been approached by several people about my “transformation” recently. Most of these people are women, and some put me through the ringer with questions. I’m realizing that several tips I’ve given are so innate that they probably make no sense. How do you explain something that just comes naturally to you? 

I’ve noticed somewhat of a pattern. 

  1. Excited phase (questions galore, tip-seeking, etc.)
  2. Epiphany phase (realizations that there is more to tackle than what’s on the surface)
  3. Disheartened phase (feeling as though goals will never be accomplished within a certain time frame)
  4. Anxious/Unwilling phase (lifestyle changes don’t take place in a week…)
  5. Peace out phase (we are creatures of habit, so this is understandable)

The point of this post is to give (hopefully) valuable information about how to get rid of the phases and like Nike, just do it. 

It’s a day to day process. The decisions you make today will affect you tomorrow, next week, next year, etc. Baby steps are key. Make simple choices that will lead to a healthier you. For example: 

  • Give up the salt; I promise there are better tasting seasonings/spices
  • Use extra virgin olive oil to cook with instead of butter
  • Drink more water 
  • Make diet drinks your worst enemy; they’re doing nothing good for your body
  • Limit your fast food intake 
  • Take the stairs, park far away from your destination, take a long walk to clear your mind, etc.
  • Sweat a little more
  • Stay positive
  • Buy cute workout clothes (seriously!)

Most importantly, don’t give yourself a limit via time frames. Of course, you want to reach reasonable goals in due time and physically see results because of the hard work you’re putting forth. That will come with consistency. I noticed changes a couple of months into working out daily and eating clean. It took about 3-4 months for others to notice. 

So if you’re waiting for an epiphany or for some motivation because you feel as though you’ve hit a rut, remember that good things take time and nothing worth having ever comes easily. Keep at it a little each day, and it will benefit you tenfold in the long run. 

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(Left: senior year of high school when I weighed about 185; right: sophomore year of college when I weighed about 190.) 

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For the record…I hate selfies. There’s no better way for me to elaborate on the tips I’m giving people than to provide definitive results. People like pictures, so here are some pictures ha ha. This is from earlier today after the gym. I now weigh 155. 

Dip in energy: Paleo style

I didn’t believe the myths.

I’ve been on the coast this week, and it’s tough to be 100% on Paleo here where peanut butter lurks and Cinnamon Toast Crunch in a massive bowl with whole milk is readily available. (Hint: out of sight, out of mind so don’t keep this stuff in the house if you don’t have to.) It’s been 30+ days since starting Paleo, and I can honestly say that I’ve never felt better. There are drawbacks to everything though.

The other morning before my run, I started feeling tired. Not the tired where you should just turn over and go back to sleep for another hour…this was the intense exhaustion that I felt in every part of my body. I was advised to sleep at least 8 hours each night while attempting Perfect Paleo. I came very close to doing that, and lack of sleep probably played a part in this exhaustion. To continue with the story, though, I felt no motivation to get up and go. This feeling was weird. I haven’t felt that in a solid seven months or so and started questioning the hard work I had already put forth and wondered if I could accomplish the weekly/monthly goals I’ve set for myself.

Alas Paleo strikes again. It takes 30 days for your body to truly feel the impact of something new. The lifestyle I created for myself once I began Perfect Paleo was finally beginning to set in, and my body needed to rest a bit. (Hint Part II: on Paleo, it’s suggested that you take rest days frequently, and I see why.) I had rid my body of salt, enriched and processed foods, sugar, etc. That’s a huge transition.

This dip in energy has lasted a few days, and I feel my “old self” coming back as I type. I think the main thing I’ve taken away from this (kind of) scary experience is that your body has to catch up with your mind. You can’t expect everything to work out perfectly the first time, and you have to push through the days when you’re lacking your usual pep. And dammit…even if you don’t feel like it…go for a run.

 

I’ve gotta know

What’s keeping you from taking that leap of faith into a healthier lifestly? Please take a quick minute to answer this poll, and my next blog post will be based on the results!

Paleo and Red Wine

So that’s an oxymoron of a title. 

I started “Perfect Paleo” three weeks ago today. A personal trainer at my gym advised me to try this nutrition plan when I explained my daily workout routine. He also suggested this plan to me because I was beginning to experience some strange side effects when I ate foods with high sugar/fat contents. (I just had an annual check up yesterday, so let’s hope I get definitive results soon.)

Since starting Paleo, I feel more energetic throughout the day, I feel physically lighter, and I have gained a true sense of what I ingest each day. Paleo has been a relatively easy transition for me because I love veggies and lean meats and enriched carbs have never made me feel satisfied. I am learning to eat to fuel my body rather than indulge each day because I “deserve it” for one reason or another.

Therein lies a serious problem. We use food as an incentive for good behavior; we use food as a means to gather and celebrate. We have become dependent upon rich food for each meal because we know it’s easily accessible. It’s less expensive (and easier) to grab fast food than it is to buy fresh produce, prep that produce, pack that produce and bring it to work/class.

So…why the title? 

I still have my cravings, those mainly being red wine and dark chocolate. See? Even my cravings have done a complete 180. I used to crave Cinnabon and frappacinos with extra heavy whipped cream. It’s all about teaching your MIND that your BODY needs something more substantial that will provide it with nutrients. With Paleo, I am learning to tailer it to my needs, and that is an ongoing challenge. We’re human so we crave things we love. I love red wine, so I’ll drink it every once in awhile and not feel bad about it.

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I like to choose one night a week (usually Sunday or Monday) to prep my lunch meals for the week. I separate everything in containers and keep them fresh by opening the lids overnight if necessary. 

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This is what I packed for a 4 day weekend trip. I knew that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to the grocery store, so planning ahead was a necessity. Making your health a priority is key to your overall motivation.

I’ve recently been asked by a few people about tips and recipes, which gives me such a sense of pride. I would eventually love to post recipes, tricks, etc. I like to say that I’m definitely no professional. I will be the first to admit that nutrition and dietetics can be an insanely complicated field. I know what works for me, and if I’m able to help inspire or motivate someone to positively change their lifestyle, I’ll be elated.

Here are a few tips that come to mind in the meantime:

  1. Drink water…all of the time. Buy some cute tumblers and bring them everywhere
  2. Get rid of the butter; use a couple tablespoons of olive oil instead
  3. Throw your salt away and invest in some Mrs. Dash
  4. If one of the first ingredients listed is “enriched ________” just say no
  5. Eat twice as many veggies as you eat fruit; fruit just acts as sugar if eaten in large quantities (fructose)
  6. Change up your meals and try new things
  7. Exercise…seriously. Challenge yourself each week, each month, each year, whatever it takes to sweat some more
  8. Make time for your health
  9. Incorporate a buddy (or several) and make healthy eating/living fun
  10. Motivate yourself mentally each day; focus on the positives and tell the negatives to back off

Changing my habits hasn’t been easy, and I’ve faced several challenges. Knowing that I’m doing something good for my body each day keeps me going though.

Eat right, geaux hard

Disclaimer: I’m no professional.

I live in a city that could be considered a “foodie” town. Baton Rouge boasts holes in the wall that you always want to revisit, the usual chain restaurants, Cajun cuisine galore, and I don’t think the culinary geniuses that invade LSU’s campus on any home game during the fall deserve to be left out.

Point blank: it’s hard to eat right here. I mean, Cane’s Chicken Fingers was founded here dammit. Instead of Starbucks on every corner, we have Cane’s drive thrus open until 3 a.m.

I have felt the gurgling deep down in my gut that occurs after you devour a Box Combo at 2:50 a.m. with your best friends at the Cane’s on Highland. I have woken up from a food coma after killing a Chimes Brunch. Hell to the yes I’ve gorged on jambalaya on game day leading to my quick demise and prayers for nap time as soon as possible.

What I have learned after a couple years’ worth of these experiences is that I no longer want that lifestyle. I never felt good. Eating is easy; eating is a necessity for survival. I’m pretty sure cavemen didn’t have a deep fryer, though.

So…I decided to get motivated and live the way that I knew was the best for MY body. Every body is different, as genetics dictates. You have to tailor any generic plan to work for you, not against you. Step one on the road to health was my diet. “Diet” has a negative connotation associated. I have never considered myself to be on a diet. I like eating whole foods, fruits, veggies, lean meats and nuts. I love drinking water. Here’s an example of my usual lunch:

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My staples are a quick salad with spinach, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, red onions, lots of bell peppers and light balsalmic dressing or even just oil and vinegar; a turkey wrap on a whole wheat tortilla with hummus as spread; trail mix including plenty of pecans, peanuts, almonds, etc., with chocolate covered raisins (my vice); Greek yogurt of some sort; and a few other randoms depending upon how long my day is. I like to eat my lunch piece by piece versus as a whole. It helps my metabolism and I don’t feel “too full” at any point in time.

There are days that I get invited to lunch for work or don’t have time fix something like this. It’s all good though. Everything in moderation, I say. (As long as it’s not a Big Mac…that just doesn’t work.)

I love brussel sprouts too. I get made fun of frequently by my boyfriend for my love of them. He has a point, I guess, because I’m making them tonight.

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Enough of that. The second step for a healthy lifestyle was for me to forget the intimidation factor of a gym. I finally got some courage and bought a membership. That was probably the best decision I’ve made in my collegiate career. Fun fact about me: I don’t particularly like the UREC. It’s always busy regardless of what time it is, there isn’t enough space or equipment, nagging, nagging, nagging. I do LOVE the Specialty and GroupX classes though. They rock.

This post isn’t a means of bragging about my progress or an attempt to get accolades. I want to share my journey just in case there is someone in the position that I was in a short 6 months ago. I needed personal motivation as well as external motivation. I found it over a period of time, and it’s certainly not at its peak. Always remember that being fit and being skinny are two completely different things. Being healthy and being skinny are also two completely different things. I’ll never be skinny. I’m a thick and “bodacious” woman (check number four on the list). I dig that about myself.

Always stay positive about progress and keep the negative thoughts at bay. Honestly, you’re more critical on yourself than 99% of the people around you. I’m saving the last 1% for your mean great aunts that probably (if they are anything like mine) yelled about you getting fat at age 10 to each other over straight bourbon. Classy shit.

I’m reaching goals and setting new ones each day. That’s my motivation. Oh, and the hopes that I’ll live an incredibly long and healthy life with the people I love.

ImagePlease disregard the bathroom selfie on the right. The left was my freshman year of college.

Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions. Remember the most important thing is how you feel at the end of each day.

Cellulite

You’re probably thinking…where is this going? (Which is a totally appropriate response.)

I don’t know why today was the day in particular that all of my news feeds were bombarded with images of bikini-clad movie stars or articles focusing specifically on the C word, but Monday is a good a day as any to discuss something most women come to loathe by age 12.

I think I’ve had cellulite since I was 10. It really wasn’t a big deal; the genetic history of the women in my family pretty much predicted that it would happen. Of course by age 16, I was mortified to wear a bathing suit or shorts that might actually show something that was (and still is) considered an imperfection.

Now I embrace the fact that I am a little…let me think of common euphamisms…juicier(?)…thicker(?)…bootylicious…yes…than the average Jane. I love my curves, and since I have been learning to love my body through self-motivation and a desire to be fit, I know I look good in clothes. And guess what everyone? I still have cellulite.

I suppose the most important takeaway from this article is that cellulite will never go away. You can’t work it off, no matter how many lunges or squats you do. It’s biological, and you can’t replace your epidermis…unless you’re contemplating a scene from Silence of the Lambs.

Also, it’s been leaked that this man is the one in charge of pointing out the imperfections of movie stars and actresses. So since body shaming apparently permeates society, then we should all be ashamed of what is genetically and biologically normal right? Hell no. We should embrace the fact that we look natural. And honestly ladies, if a man has a serious problem with the fact that you don’t have creamy, photoshopped thighs…he’s probably not worth it.