7 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight

For the last few years, I’ve been diligently working out and eating healthy. But a few weeks ago I stepped on the scale and was horrified that the number had quickly risen, meaning all the hard work I put into 80 Day Obsession had completely vanished. Instead of feeling discouraged, I felt motivated to get down to a more comfortable weight and to keep it there.

Here are a few reasons why you might not be losing weight:

1. You’re Not Drinking Enough

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. That’s how I feel most days. I’m sure I sound like a drama queen, but I’m really not a fan of water unless it’s really cold and I’m really hot. But as I learned five years ago, dehydration sucks. So does a kidney infection. Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to drink at least 64 ounces a day, so that means getting creative.

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Love shaking up some limeade in this cup!

Sip herbal tea to reap some of the benefits. Try sparkling water with a splash of lemon or lime and teaspoon of stevia, add a few drops of essential oil, or even try it with a little salt. Yes. Salt, lime…and tequila!

2. You’re Not Tracking Your Food

I’m definitely an advocate for tracking every bite and drink you have. Why? Because you need to see if what you eat has any bearing on the scale or how you’re feeling. Does broccoli cause bloat? (It does for me.) Maybe you need to switch to a different veggie, like cucumber. Did your weight increase after that brownie sundae with whipped cream? (Most times one little “cheat” won’t hurt you.) Track everything – even that stray grape or cracker or bite of your kid’s chicken nugget. It all adds ups and most likely, you don’t realize how much you’re actually eating in one day.

You don’t have to get fancy for this – the notes app on your phone or a dollar store journal will be fine. But if you are looking for something with an easy to follow outline, I recommend this one.

3. You Have a Desk Job

I’ve been sitting on my ass for going on 8 years now. Landed my first desk job in September 2010 and haven’t looked back. Recently, I did a little research on the correlation between sitting and health. Did you know that even if you live actively outside of your 9 to 5, you are still at risk for health problems including diabetes and heart disease? Not to mention all of the office temptations that lead you to nibble ALL DAY LONG.

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Remember last year’s Ice Cream Soda day? My department has food days ALL. THE. TIME.

The best way to combat this 9 to 5 fatigue is by taking breaks. I like to get up at least once an hour and stretch my legs. Walk to the break room, fill up your water bottle, or go outside and soak up the sunshine. I also enjoy taking trips to my library right down the road.

4. You Have a Love Affair with Sugar

Sugar is addicting. It just tastes so, so good. In brownies and ice cream and cake and, well, everything. You eat and then overeat because you’re hooked on the sweet stuff. Sugar is sneaky too. It hides everywhere. The third ingredient in Hidden Valley Ranch is sugar. That’s what makes it so difficult to do a Whole30 or sugar detox – you have to read ALL the labels. Even if it’s something you think wouldn’t or shouldn’t have sugar. Like salad dressing. Watch out for all of those other sugars in disguise too – maple syrup, agave, honey, dextrose, fructose – the list goes on.

I’d recommend that everyone do a Sugar Detox to wean themselves off the bad stuff. It’s only 21 days (the time it takes to foster new habits) and is very realistic and attainable. Otherwise, just read your labels and limit your sugar consumption. Women are only supposed to have 25 grams or 6 teaspoons per day; 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons for men. How many are in that pumpkin spice latte you just ordered?

5. You’re Stressed

Oh, good ol’ stress. There are two types – good stressors and bad ones. The bad ones – like feeling anxious about an exam or a typical day at work – can make you demolish a whole pint of Cherry Garcia in one sitting. The good – like a new baby or a raise – also usually result in food celebrations including cake and alcohol (for the latter, of course). Cortisol, the stress hormone, revs up that appetite, making you hungry for junk.

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My absolute favorite snack!

To combat stress, try taking a walk, drinking a cup of tea, lighting a candle (not at work), taking a bath (also not at work), or rubbing a drop of lavender essential oil on your temples. When all else fails, make sure you have some healthy snacks to indulge in, like a slice of power seed bread with almond butter and banana. Yum!

6. You’re Not Eating the Right Foods

I thought I was being healthy by swapping out white rice for brown, white pasta for corn and quinoa. Nope! Not for me. I recently learned that while I love carbs, they don’t love me. Just one cup of “healthy” brown rice has 45 grams of carbs. Yikes. It turns out that my body doesn’t even need that many carbs per DAY. Same is true with healthy fat. Avocado, almond butter, coconut milk, cheese – all good in moderation.

Do some experimenting to see what works for you. I notice a HUGE difference in my body when I avoid carb overload – more energy, clarity, and a little ring around my belly disappears. Tracking your food will help with this too (see reason #2).

7. You’ve Lost Sight of Your Goal

Failure happens when you lose sight of your goals. Remember the saying “out of sight out of mind”? It’s true. I’ve learned so much from following Mel Robin’s 5 Second Rule. Get things done when they are top of mind or you just won’t. It’s the same with your goals – when they aren’t top of mind, they just fall by the wayside. Then before you know it, you’re sitting at your desk snacking on peanut M&Ms, wondering how you got 20 pounds overweight. Duh, girl.

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Crushing those 2018 goals rn!

If you have a vision board, keep it visible. I just pinned mine to my cubical wall so I can be reminded of where I want to be by New Year’s Eve. You’ve still got 3.5 months to make shit happen. Get on it.

The Bottom Line: If you gained it, you can lose it. Please don’t get discouraged or wait until January 1st to restart. Today is the day to make a change one step at a time. You got this!

It’s (Almost) Fall, Y’all

This is usually one of my featured posts for October, but I’m really over the hot and humid Summer weather. Gimme all the hoodies, boots, apple crisp, jack-o lanterns, crunchy leaf piles – you name it! I’m so ready.

If you haven’t already guessed, autumn is my favorite season. Most of all, I love that you can walk from the front door to the car without breaking into a sweat. It’s one of the best times to get out and get moving. And what better way to do that, than to check out some of the area’s best haunted attractions.

My husband and I started a tradition of visiting different haunted houses/hayrides each weekend from late September through the end of October. This will be our SIXTH year. Not only is it a crazy good time, but between the scares, belly laughs, and trekking through cornfields and woods, it’s also a pretty awesome way to burn some calories and squeeze in a few thousand extra steps. Gotta make room for the apple crisp and cider doughnuts at the end!

In my experience, PA is good for haunts – they are perfectly creepy, gory, and even downright funny. Actors are allowed to touch you in the sense that they can poke, prod, run fingers through hair, and in some cases, put you in a cage or jump up on a wagon and drag you off. Call me crazy, but I think these things add to the suspense, fear, and entertainment, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Tips

  • Plan Ahead – We (well, I) like to map out our haunts in early September so we have a clear action plan. Some of the places we travel to are over 3 hours away (this is serious stuff!). If you don’t want to drive 6 hours or more round trip, check out some local hotels and make a weekend getaway out of it.
  • Visit Early – Most attractions are open the last two weekends of September, which is actually the perfect time to go. Lines are short and you can get by with paying for the base ticket instead of upgrading (see below).
  • Dress in Layers – Fall weather is unpredictable. Remember the time it snowed on Halloween? It’s always a good idea to wear pants if you will be in a wooded area (deer ticks). Two years ago we needed hand and foot warmers because the wagon ride was so cold. Last year I worked up a sweat in a t-shirt. Just check the weather before you go.
  • Wear Proper Footwear – This shouldn’t have to be said, but still – don’t wear flip-flops, sandals, or heels because…duh. Choose something that will support your feet while walking on uneven ground. Boots or sneakers are always good options.
  • Splurge for the VIP Pass – When it comes to haunted attractions (and amusement parks), I really believe in going all-out. You might spend $25 or more per person for a VIP ticket, but that will allow you to skip the lines and go first. Why is this a big deal? Believe it or not, you could be waiting in line for hours before you even get to go through one attraction. That just sucks the fun right out of everything. Do yourself a favor – get this pass and you can do the royalty wave to everyone else as you board your wagon.

NY/PA Attractions

#6 – The Barn of Terror

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Photo property of The Barn of Terror

My Rating: 1.5 Stars

Location: Lake Katrine, NY

Cost: CASH ONLY – ATM on site

  • $33 per person (2017 price)

Theme: Creepy Farm Family

Duration: About 60 minutes

Review: I kept waiting for something to happen and it just didn’t. First you walk through an 8-room barn and silo, then you take a bus down to a corn maze. The barn was dark and the costumes were pretty cheap and mostly looked the same – bloody hockey mask and black robe. The corn maze was so boring I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Truly disappointing that the space is there, but the creativity isn’t. After 16 years in business (this year), you would think there would be more excitement.

Bottom Line: Don’t waste your time. Regardless of the stellar reviews on Facebook, this “haunt” is not worth your time or money. The only reason it gets 1.5 stars is that I got quite a few steps in thanks to the corn maze.

#5 – Headless Horseman

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My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Location: Ulster Park, NY

Cost: Prices cheaper online.

  • $45.90 + tax – Online Ticket
  • $49.95 + tax – On-site Ticket
  • $25 extra for Scream Pass (aka VIP badge of honor)
  • Special discount for opening night

Theme: The Hollow

Duration: 2.5-3 hours (depending on wait times)

Review: There are 10 attractions (including a hayride, corn maze, and several haunted houses) and a little “village” of gift shops and cafes, which makes for a full evening. All guests must go through a bag check / metal detector after purchasing tickets. Keep this in mind because that line gets long fast and all ticket holders are considered equal until you pass through the gates. The hayride theme changes slightly every year, but the other attractions are pretty much “fixed.” Once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. Last year we went on opening night back in September and were disappointed that the company didn’t take advantage of their 25th year in business to do something special for the guests. It was like any other year with the ridiculously long lines and predictable haunts.

Bottom Line: If you live in or around the Hudson Valley, it’s worth it at least once. Otherwise, meh.

#4 – Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride

My Rating: 3 Stars

Location: Glen Mills, PA

Cost:

  • $43 –  Combo – General admission to all three events
  • $79.50 – VIP Combo – Front of the line privileges to all three events
  • $104.50 – Super VIP Combo – Front of the line privileges to all three events, PLUS: VIP parking, hot dog, popcorn, soft drink, and t-shirt

Theme: The Walking Dead Meets Prehistoric Times

Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There were zombies, there were dinosaurs. There were also spiders, snakes, and clowns. A scare for everyone. It was just okay. We went on a weekend in September – there weren’t any lines so we were able to get by on just the base ticket. There were only three attractions – hayride, corn maze, and haunted house. The theme was a bit odd, but the special effects were pretty cool. I love Psycho and A&E’s Bates Motel series, but there was little connection to both. I think the majority of my disappointment stems from just wanting more.

Bottom Line: If you’re in the area, I would recommend checking it out for a fun evening. But if you have to drive over an hour, I’d say skip it.

#3 – Pure Terror Scream Park

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My Rating: 4 Stars

Location: Monroe, NY

Cost: CASH ONLY. Prices cheaper on-site.

  • $45.25 – Online General Admission
  • $68.69 – Online VIP Admission

Theme: Clowns

Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There were clowns. Lots of clowns. There were also spiders and very dark places. A scare for everyone, really. After I got over the frustration of finding the place, parking, and waiting in line, it was fun. We went on opening night so it was cheaper and there were fewer people. There are six haunted houses that are seriously awesome. One group is admitted at a time, which causes a really long wait in line, but a better experience once you’re actually inside. The makeup and special effects were so good that it was hard to tell real person from prop. I love that they incorporated the 2017 release of IT into one of the houses – very nice touch! Last year was our first visit, but according to the website, the content is freshened up each year. This will definitely be an annual trip!

Bottom Line: Don’t wait – add this to your list.

#2 Pennhurst Haunted Asylum

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My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Location: Spring City, PA

Cost: Online tickets have varying service charges

  • $20 – Individual Attraction Tickets
  • $35-45 – Combo Pass – General admission to 3 haunted attractions
  • $49 – Super Combo Pass – General admission to 4 haunted attractions
  • $78 – Pennhurst VIP Pass – Front of the line privileges to all 4 haunted attractions

Theme: Insane Asylum

Duration: Approx. 2 hours

Review: This place is really cool because it used to be a real asylum. The original buildings have been re-purposed to create a haunted insane asylum, catacombs, and more. There isn’t a hayride, but you won’t be disappointed by the 3 main attractions: Pennhurst Asylum, The Morgue (new for 2018), and Containment Tunnels. The Mayflower After Dark is a self-guided tour of an original campus building. There are creepy clowns and walking dead, but the real terror here is the idea of the insane asylum and the horrible things that were probably done there. That and the fact that you spend a lot of time walking in near darkness and through strobe lights. While you are waiting on the lines, you may or may not be terrorized by the cast members. Luckily, the VIP pass will help you avoid this. I (we) can’t wait to visit again this year!

Bottom Line: You’ve gotta go! This one will be on your list for years to come.

 #1 Reaper’s Revenge Haunted Attraction

My Rating: 5 Stars

Location: Scranton, PA

Cost: CASH ONLY – ATM on-site; Online tickets have a $2.75 service charge

  • $35-45– General Admission
  • $70 – VIP Package
  • $25 VIP Upgrade (on-site ONLY)
  • $3 – Parking

Theme: All Things Creepy

Duration: 75-90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There are 4 attractions including a hayride, dark forest walk-through, pitch-black indoor walk-through, and zombie maze. There are hillbillies, spiders, zombies, government officials (scariest of all). The Grim Reaper and Michael Myers even make appearances out in the woods. There’s also something really cool that happens during the hayride, but you’ll have to just take my word for it because saying too much would just ruin it. The combination of so many different attractions and a super long and enjoyable hayride makes this my (our) number one choice. The first time we did this, we were laughing, we were screaming, we were having so much fun. We wanted to do it again. Last year we made a special trip on Friday, October 13th – right after we got hitched!!

Bottom Line: Make the trip. I don’t care if you’re in California, Florida, or Toronto. It’s worth it.

I hope you go and have a great. I’d love to know if I’m missing out on any good ones 🙂

Happy (Almost) Fall!

2B or Not 2B?

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase from Beachbody via my links. Do not feel obligated to do so. I hope you enjoy the review!
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Gimme all the fruits and veggies!

If I’m honest, this isn’t how I saw this post going. I was really excited about Beachbody’s first nutrition program, 2B Mindset. There was so much hype surrounding it, and the weight loss examples were HUGE. I thought this would be the key to whatever mind/body problem I was hoping to fix (see post from earlier in the month). I even purchased the kit in advance of the actual release, was able to save $10, and gained access to an “exclusive” coach test group.

There are four basic principles to the 2B Mindset: Water First, Veggies Most, Weigh Yourself Daily, Track Everything. That’s it! The secret sauce. The basic formula for weight loss.

And, perhaps the biggest draw to the program (for many) is that working out is extra credit. Yes, you read that right, you don’t have to work out while doing this nutrition program.

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I tried new things – like endive.

Water First – Drink at least half of your body weight each day, including 16 oz before each meal.

Veggies Most – They help keep you full and promote weight loss when added to each meal.

Weigh Yourself Daily – This helps you understand what contributes to weight loss or gain.

Track Everything – Goes hand in hand with the above.

What’s in the 2B Mindset Kit?

For $119* you get 44 videos that explain everything you need to know about the program, a physical program guide, tracker, recipe guide, as well as food lists and meal planning tools. You also get a 30oz plastic water bottle with a reusable straw to make it easier to get your ounces in.

If you have an iPhone or Apple device, you’ll have access to the Beachbody Nutrition app, which makes tracking a breeze. (Sorry my Galaxy peeps!)

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Breakfast: egg & cheese on a homemade bagel w/ a side of mango and strawberry

My Experience

Before I began I took my weight and measurements. Then, over the next two weeks I would:

  • drink more water than I ever wanted too (and pee every 30 minutes like clockwork).
  • eat so many veggies I thought I would burst (cauliflower rice in scrambled eggs, turnip fries, and buckets of cucumber and tomato salad).
  • religiously step on the scale each morning in my birthday suit.
  • diligently track every bite and drink I had (even that stray cracker or grape).

At the end of said time, I was up two pounds and had a bad case of the blues because of it. How could this be if I followed everything? According to plan, I should be down 4 pounds. Or more!

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Did you know purple carrots taste better?

I continued over the next 10 days or so and the strangest things happened. I noticed that when I pigged out on carbs and “bad stuff,” I would weigh less the next day. When I drank less, I felt less bloated. When I didn’t step on the scale every day, I felt more content.

I took a step back and evaluated the last month with the program. I WAS following the guidelines, but I was also working out really hard. Hard, as in burning over 500 and sometimes close to 700 calories per workout. I was using a pre-workout before, BCAAs during, and a post-workout shake after. Since I have a pretty slim build, I have a high confidence that the weight I gained was from muscle thanks to Insanity and weightlifting. But in the moment, when doing a program that sets a hope of a 2 pound weight loss per week, it’s pretty annoying.

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This must go on record as THE smallest brownie I’ve ever eaten.

At this point in my life, I workout 6-7 days a week and meal prep every weekend. I mean, I write about this stuff! Because of this, I found a lot of the videos and the recipes super basic and geared towards the absolute beginner. The recipe book was marketed as “one of the best” I’ll ever buy, but I can’t agree. The tracker was helpful, but I was able to find another that I really liked at my local craft store for $3.99, so I bought two! The water bottle wasn’t for me – it wouldn’t fit in my car’s cup holder and it sweat so much I always had to put it on a napkin.

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Tried a healthier pasta. Look at that protein.

I do think that at least 3 of the 4 principles are useful for losing weight or just being healthy in general. 1) It’s so important to drink more water, as I learned almost five years ago when I had a kidney infection that nearly killed me. 2) Who couldn’t benefit from eating more veggies? And seasoned just the right way, they really are delicious! 3) As for the tracking, it’s so helpful to write down what you eat and when because little things add up and before you know it, you’ve eaten a brownie sundae, bowl of nachos, and half a pizza by Sunday afternoon. As for the scale, if you absolutely must weigh yourself daily, might I recommend one that tracks body weight composition? Like this one. If the overall number is going to either increase or remain the same , it would be so much more beneficial to see body fat percentage decrease.

Why didn’t it work for me?

This 28-year old version of me is very fitness-minded. When I miss a workout, it hurts. When I’m interrupted during a workout, it annoys the hell out of me. When I set the day with a great calorie burn and a soaked through sports bra, I’m in my glory. Right now my focus is on toning my body and building muscle – in other words, gaining weight.

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This tea is delicious. A nice stand-in for dessert.

 

Bottom Line: I don’t regret my decision to return the kit after giving it a fair chance, and I do appreciate Beachbody’s return policy. I’d recommend 2B Mindset to someone new to nutrition and getting healthy, someone with a considerable amount of weight to lose, or someone who hates working out. If you have a basic nutrition foundation, regularly meal prep, or have access to Google, I’d say you could skip out and save yourself some cash.

 

* Price current as of 7/14/18, does not include tax or shipping, and is subject to change at any time. Visit teambeachbody.com for current rates.

Motivation 2.0

When you’re little, no one tells you how hard adulting really is. You think it will be about having money, staying up late, and eating ice cream for breakfast. They don’t say that your paycheck will be laughable, that you’ll live for naps, and that ice cream for breakfast is out of necessity, not pleasure.I always thought adults were super motivated to go to work and come home to raise their families. Then I became one. And most days I have as much motivation as a high school senior in June. None. Whatsoever.20180319_1750081693936423.pngEvery night I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. with high hopes that one day I’ll be able to stick with it. Still, 95% of the time I hit snooze or shut the alarm off, and before I know it, it’s practically time to leave for work. Whoops!

So, how do you find motivation?

The 5 Second Rule

If you haven’t heard of the book The 5 Second Rule, here’s the one-liner rule that author Mel Robins gives:

“If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds, or your brain will kill the idea.”

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A nice Audible pick!

While it may not be a life-shattering revelation, the 5-4-3-2-1 approach has gotten me up and out of bed on many occasions. It’s even gotten me to speak up in meetings, tell friends how much they mean to me, and work through a few of my other struggles.

It’s something to consider if you need an extra push to make things happen.

The will to work out

I usually lack motivation when it comes to working out. Yes. Seriously. It’s a constant struggle to leave my warm bed, change into my workout clothes, and tiptoe down into my basement gym which is a solid 57 degrees.

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This morning’s badass-ness 😉

Motivation is fluid, which means that it can be hard to keep the momentum because different things drive us all at different times. I know, personally, that some days my motivation is abundant and I can accomplish my entire task list and then some. Today – for instance, I woke up ON TIME, worked out for about an hour, burned over 500 calories, and got in over 4,000 steps before 7 am. Other days, just getting out of bed or washing my hair feels like an accomplishment.

Where does motivation come from?

For me, it comes from a desire to be my healthiest self AND to look great for my upcoming trips to California and Miami. That last reason might be a little superficial, but it’s a strong one.

In order to stick with a goal, you have to find something that – even on your darkest of days – will keep you moving.

Here’ are a few ideas. If you’re motivated by:

Challenge – play a game to be better than you were the day before.

Food – treat yourself to your favorite meal after you complete a big task (like purging your garage of junk).

Money – set aside some dough after every workout and buy yourself something fun when you’ve finished a program or month’s work of workouts.

Likes – if you’re into social media (like really, really into it), post about your progress and rack up those likes!

Just do it

In the end, take a lesson from Nike and just get it done. On the days when you don’t want to get out of bed – and there will be plenty – 5-4-3-2-1 it and move! Especially when you really don’t want to.

Cheers!

 

Finding the Balance: Self Care

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to start out this series. There are so many great topics on finding the balance that they almost compete with each other. Then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks in my intestines.

This morning I woke up at 5 am, changed into my gym clothes, got some water, and headed down to the basement to bust out my 61-minute workout. Everything was going great until about 10 minutes in when I started to feel queasy. I pressed pause. Tried again. Tapped out at 16 minutes.

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This. Never. Happens. This is how I know I’m sick. So, after much internal debate, I called out for the first time in almost two years at my job. Time for a little self-care.

Feeling Stressed

I’ve been feeling very stressed lately – at home and work. Its never ending – there is ALWAYS something to be worried or uneasy about. Even when I’m having a good time on the weekend, I’m reminded of what’s to come on Monday.

If you’ve read any of my Sugar Detox posts, you know that I haven’t been feeling well since I started cutting the crap out of my diet – ironic, right? Even after two months, nothing has leveled out. I went through extensive allergy and blood testing that cost over $800 and I’m no closer to finding out the cause of my discomfort. Talk about frustration.

Last week I talked about not having the time to fit it all in. Well, I think I peaked yesterday. It got to a point where I just couldn’t manage – it was like someone dropped all my marbles and I couldn’t pick them up fast enough before they rolled off into the unknown. Before bed, my mind was dissecting the day, and I went to sleep pretty sick to my stomach about all of my tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. Not good.

Fun Ways to Self-Care

How often do you stop and do things for yourself? I think the only two things I consistently do for myself are read, work out, and pray/meditate each morning. And oddly enough, working out stresses my body out more.

Here are a few ideas – they are by no means a complete list – but they can help get you started finding the balance in your everyday.

Color

Adult coloring books are so fun! I thought it was great when they first became popular because here I was finishing up my old Disney or Barbie books, when I could have been fancying up a page of curse words. Bull shit, am I right? If that’s not your cup of tea, there are mild versions of flowers, landscapes, houses, cats – you name it. Just get yourself a pack of crayons, markers, or colored pencils and have at it. You don’t even have to stay in the lines 😉

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Read

Okay, so maybe reading isn’t fun for everyone, but I read over 50 books last year, so it’s definitely entertaining for me. The thing is, you could read about ANYTHING. If you can think it, someone has probably written about it. I’m a crime fiction or PD girl, usually, but I also enjoy a little chick lit – Sophie Kinsella, Jodi Picoult, and Liane Moriarty. Curl up with a book, a cuppa, (I read a lot of Aussie lit!), a blanket, and get lost in another world. Somehow Sophie’s books always make me feel better about myself. Win!

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This is a must-read for EVERYONE.

Exercise

Now, I don’t expect everyone to wake up before the sun and bang out an hour-long workout. I won’t impose my antics on you. Exercise comes in many forms – long walks on the beach, chasing a toddler on a mission, trip to the dog park, line dancing, club dancing, watching dirty dancing (kidding) – you get the idea. It doesn’t have to feel like work, but exercise is shown to make people happy, so why wouldn’t you at least try? Don’t believe me? Take a lesson from Elle Woods.

Craft

Do you crochet? Bake? Needlepoint? Arrange flowers? Sew buttons? If it relaxes you, find time to do it every day. If you get upset that your version doesn’t look like the Pinterest version, this one might not be for you. Shop on Etsy instead.

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My happy place is in the kitchen. These are Pinterest inspired.

Bathe

Hot tub. Pool. Beach. Bathtub. Pick the one that interests you and take a trip – even if it’s just ten paces away to the next room. Nothing beats a good soak, especially if there are BUBBLES! Pour yourself a glass of wine (or sparkling juice!), play some soothing tunes, and light a candle. As an added bonus, throw in some Epsom salts, essential oils, or a fun bath bomb. Ahhh the relaxation.

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Halloween Special bubble bar from LUSH. So many suds!

Uh, note: I wouldn’t recommend any of the above for anything but a tub 😉

Take a Happiness Challenge

I’m on day 99 of my second #100HappyDays Challenge. The main idea is to post a picture on social media of something that makes you happy each day for 100 days. Is it possible? Well, I can attest that all days won’t be happy. In fact, some will be downright miserable. But, if you can find something good – just one little thing – in each day, your life will be a little bit brighter. I’d recommend you at least try it. Its fun to look for a piece of happiness each day and it’s nice to look back on those moments after the challenge has ended.

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My inspiration.

Do Yoga / Meditate / Pray

This really could be its own topic. Matter of fact, it might be (Gucci Mane voice). I’ll leave the good stuff for another day, but if you’re into quiet time, you might want to investigate the power of prayer, meditation, and yoga. They do wonders for the body and soul.

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Don’t lose sight of you

You can still take care of others and do things for yourself. It doesn’t make you selfish. Quite the opposite, actually. It helps you do everything a little bit better because you’re you at your best. I feel like I should start reciting a Dr. Seuss poem right now!

How do you relax? How do you take care of yourself? I want to know!

Check out the first post and stay tuned next week to learn about finding the balance at work.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

Finding the Balance

To me, peace is sitting in the dim light with a cup of tea, a book, and a nice fuzzy blanket. I enjoy silence above many things. It’s so calming to sit with oneself and read, meditate, or pray. In fact, I’ve worked this quiet time into my daily routine each morning. After I rise and before I press play on my workout, I spend a little time on my yoga mat praying, journaling, and setting my intentions for the day. The only noise I hear is the rumbling of the furnace when it kicks on and off. I am at complete peace.

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A rare lunch break reading sesh.

Lately, though, I’ve been having trouble finding the balance between many things outside of this brief morning routine. Typically the topic of balance comes into focus when talking about work-life balance. Everyone wants more weekend, vacation time, PTO. I think I just need more day.

I struggle with the fact that five days a week I work a 9-hour day (with a lunch in between, sometimes) and come home with a depleted energy supply. It leaves little time to spend with my husband (why can’t we both work from home?), crochet (I’m working on an Etsy shop), write (one day I’ll finish a book), cook (do we really have to eat dinner every night?), read (there are so many books on my list), study Spanish (I want to be fluent by December), as well as the countless other things I want to do.

You may be thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot!” Yes, I have a very FULL life. It’s full of many wonderful people, things, hobbies – you name it. But it’s also overflowing with stress and anxiety when I can’t fit in ALL THE THINGS. Most days I overextend myself until around 11 pm when I can barely keep my eyes open. Then I wake up at 5 am the next day to do it all again.

What ends up happening is that I crave vacations to escape my everyday life. Everything is blissful while I’m away – no qualms about waking up just before noon, no deadlines to meet, and the biggest worry is whether to order a Pina Colada or Angry Orchard at the poolside bar. Then, when I come back to reality, it’s almost as if a deep depression settles in. I feel worse than before I left. The peace I sometimes feel melts into a despair that’s hard to break out of.

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Isn’t this heavenly?

I just experienced the cycle this week after I came back from a long weekend in Canada. I realized that I end up surviving – not living – until my next break. I can tell you that there are exactly 57 days until I board the plane for California – a place I have been dying to visit for about two decades. After that, there are two months until we drive to Florida for our annual vacation.

This is clearly not a healthy way to think, live, or rationalize. And I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way. So, I’ve decided to create a six-week Finding the Balance series, where I’ll share ideas to combat stress, live in the moment, and find a little zen in every day. We only get one life, so why not choose to be happy?

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A friend sent me this beautiful card. It inspired me to complete a second 100 Happy Days challenge.

Check back every Friday for the next six weeks. Let’s make this year our happiest yet!

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

The Showdown: Whole30 vs. 21-Day Sugar Detox

You might be wondering why a girl who swore she’d never do another Whole30 again, just completed a 21-Day Sugar Detox. Aren’t they practically the same?

Well, there are many similarities when it comes to what food groups you can and can’t eat, but in my opinion, the other restrictions put on the Whole30 can facilitate an unhealthy relationship with food.

Whole30

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The premise of the program is to eat clean, whole foods for 30 days, but of course, that’s just the first layer of a very well thought out program. Eat three meals a day, large and nutritious enough to sustain you until your next meal. Don’t skip breakfast. Stop eating a few hours before you go to bed. Veggies are “required” at every meal and fruits, which should be eaten sparingly, can be eaten with a meal. Snacking is discouraged – not forbidden – but it really depends on how active your lifestyle is.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits, healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, condiments, and supplements like collagen
  • NO Foods: added sugar in all forms (even honey), alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, protein or meal replacement shakes, and the recreation of baked goods, junk food, or treats turned into healthier options.

21-Day Sugar Detox

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The Sugar Detox is all about cutting sweet cravings naturally to eliminate short and long-term side effects of sugar addiction including mood swings, fatigue, depression, and even PCOS. There are three levels to the program, and all meal plans include three meals and a snack – which definitely comes in handy during the gap between lunch and dinner.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits (only green-tipped bananas, green apples, and grapefruit) healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, homemade condiments without sugar or date paste, and supplements like 100% pure protein powder
  • NO Foods: gluten-containing grains, starchy veggies like cassava and plantains, legumes, cashews, all other fruits, dairy, alcohol, supplements with multiple ingredients (like Shakeology)
  • Plan 1: The least strict, allows for the addition of gluten-free grains, legumes, and full-fat dairy
  • Plan 2: The in-between plan, allows for full-fat dairy
  • Plan 3: The most strict, avoids both gluten-free grains and full-fat dairy

The similarities

Both programs…

  • focus on cutting cravings and eating healthier by eliminating foods that may cause triggers or irritation over a period of time.
  • observe and encourage a reintroduction period after completion of the main program.

The differences

Helloooooo Captain Obvious – one is 30 days, the other is 21. Wink wink.

Sweeteners

Whole30 gives you options when it comes to using natural sugars – sweeten ketchup or bbq sauce with date paste, choose any fruit you’d like as long as it’s eaten with a meal, and grab a Larabar or RX Bar to snack on the go.

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The beautiful variety.

21-Day Sugar Detox says NO to any kind of sugars, whether natural or artificial, you can only choose between green apples, grapefruit, and green-tipped bananas, but they don’t have to be eaten with a meal, and really, you’ll be hard-pressed to find compliant on-the-go snacks.

Treats & Desserts

Whole30 says absolutely NOT to recreating desserts, the creators even coined the phrase SWYPO (Sex with Your Pants On) to describe this. The basic premise is that your eating habits and behaviors will remain the same if you keep eating the way you always have. If you regularly eat doughnuts for breakfast, recreating paleo doughnuts doesn’t do a thing to change your old habit.

21-Day Sugar Detox is pretty lax when it comes to this, in fact, there are recipes for pumpkin pancakes, coconut milk smoothies, apple cinnamon doughnuts, and almond butter cups right in the back of the book! (One day I even made banana pancakes for breakfast and I didn’t feel so restricted to EGGS – see photo.)

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Quick and easy banana “pancakes”

Snacking

Whole30 says to limit snacking unless you have a very busy or active lifestyle, in which case it’s unavoidable.

21-Day Sugar Detox says YES ma’am to snacking and even has it built right into the meal plan. This was helpful at work and actually kept me AWAY from the vending machines because I had enough food throughout the day.

Overall

After the Whole30 I could not wait to go back to my previous (aka gluttonous) ways of eating. The perceived restriction was just too much. I felt like a little kid being told no – it just made me want to break the rules even more! I mean, what harm can one paleo doughnut do?

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Whole30 perfect plate.

The program definitely wasn’t intended this way, but I replaced my sugary junk food (not allowed) with sugary fruits and Whole30 packaged snacks (allowed) and ended up feeling guilty for it. Of course, my taste profile didn’t change because I was still relying on sweet things to get me by.

I didn’t lose any weight or experience any miraculous changes. If anything, I just felt hungry and powerless. I rebelled against the lifestyle that was essentially trying to help. Then I ended up going on vacation soon after and pretty much ruined any of the progress I had made.

After the 21-Day Sugar Detox, I jumped right into the reintroduction period, as advised, and walked away with a healthier mindset. I didn’t have any desire to wreck the progress I made.

During the 21-Day Sugar Detox I made healthier choices – granola made with nuts instead of grains, coconut flour doughnuts “sweetened” with applesauce, chia pudding. All of these were recreated treats (SWYPO in Whole30 lingo), and yet, after the Detox, I had absolutely NO desire to run to Dunkin’ and scarf down a dozen “real” doughnuts. Why? Because I didn’t feel deprived for an ENTIRE freakin’ month.

I didn’t indulge in sugary sweets because I didn’t have the option – it just wasn’t in my meal plan. So, over the course of 21 days, my tastes started to change. I no longer craved super sweet things, but was content with spicy, or even better, umami. And banana with almond butter tasted pretty damn near dessert!

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These two give me that umami fix!

Today is day 29 and I’m almost done with my reintroduction period, with no desire to stuff my face with any of my old favorite junk foods – I have untouched ice cream and salt and vinegar kettle chips in my kitchen as I type.

The bottom line: So, which method is right for you? Maybe one, maybe both, maybe even none! All I can do is provide you with my experiences and tell you to do your own research. Many people swear by the Whole30. It’s definitely more popular, but does that make it better? In my opinion, the 21-Day Sugar Detox is very realistic and achievable while the Whole30 is quite the opposite and fosters an unhealthy relationship with food.