Back to Basics

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Anyone else sick of being sick and tired? Come on, raise your hands.

This time last year I was wrapping up my first round of Shift Shop, a mind-body workout program that would change the way I thought about exercise. I felt AMAZING afterward and even lost over six pounds and nine inches. That’s huge.

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Last year’s results.

Then, like it always does, life happened. I’m not sure how I lost my groove, but I did. Even though I was working out every day, I just wasn’t feeling it. I’d wake up, struggle through whatever program I was doing, and leave the house in a pretty foul mood.

Let That SHI(F)T Go

Last month I came back from vacation with a renewed sense of self, a greater appreciation for life, and a more positive outlook for the future. I was so tired of being jealous of other people’s accomplishments and progress and was looking for a fresh start.

I decided to turn to my good pal Chris Downing, creator of Shift Shop to help me get my groove back. It’s been the one program that produces consistently amazing results for me – when I stick with it. It challenges me to my absolute limits, but always lets me know that “I can do hard things.”

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I guess I really like these leggings…

For those not familiar with the program, the workouts follow a ramp-up schedule, which means each week they increase by time and intensity. The nutrition plan incorporates the Portion Fix containers ass a guide. A simple formula can help you figure out how many of each container you get per day. My plan is based on a 1,200-1,499 calorie diet.

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, sweetie)

This year I learned one of the most critical nutrition lessons: don’t let someone else dictate your meal plan. Everyone tells you how you “should do” this or “should try” that. It drives me freakin’ nuts. There’s keto and vegan and gluten-free and paleo…and I could be here all day listing all of the different diets and ways of eating.

Every source says they have the secret. They promise you’ll lose 10 pounds in 10 days or some other crap to get you to buy a book or a program. Meanwhile, on day two, you’re sitting on your couch eating mint chocolate chip ice cream out of the carton with a spoon. I can’t be the only one.

We overcomplicate everything instead of just taking a little time to see what works for us. Here’s how I found the right plan for me.

First, I had to identify the problem. For me, it was snacking at work. I’m a HUGE snacker (as if you couldn’t have guessed by the name). On the weekends I’m lucky if I even get in two full meals. But during the week? I’m scouting the vending machines for peanut m&ms, kettle chips, and pretzels.

Next, I had to understand why I always wanted to stuff my face. Boredom and stress are huge factors with this one, but so is being nutrient deficient. FYI honey nut cheerios is NOT part of a well-balanced breakfast.

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Shakes are just TOO easy.

Then, I had to build more satisfying meals. I decided to modify the Shift Shop meal plan to create something easier, affordable, and more sustainable.

My Secret Sauce

  • 4 substantial meals, instead of the suggested 6
  • All food eaten between 9 am and 7 pm (most days, anyway)
  • Purple (fruit) and yellow (carb) containers are limited to one per day, eaten before noon
  • Dairy limited as much as possible (some yogurt and cheese okay)

Here’s an example of a menu that keeps me FULL all day:

Meal 1: protein shake w/ veggies & fruit
Meal 2: two hard-boiled eggs, 1/2 sweet potato, cucumber & tomato salad
Meal 3: kale salad w/ tuna, and summer vinaigrette
Meal 4: chicken stir fry

The Power of Habit

It takes 21 days to form a habit, and it helps to have a set routine that you can commit to daily.

Each day I wake up between 5:00 and 5:10 am, shake up my pre-workout, and head downstairs to the gym. Depending on the length of my workout, I’ll have anywhere from 30-60 minutes to spend reading, meditating, or praying, while sipping my pre-workout. Then it’s time to bang out my workout, foam roll, shower, and get ready for the day.

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My daily devotional.

I absolutely love my routine and the quiet of it all. It helps me set good intentions for the day, and it’s something I can repeat daily.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes you just need to take a step back, assess where you are in life, and make some positive and lasting changes. When you arrive at a peaceful and grateful state, everything just feels…better. Of course, life will always have its ups and downs, but we’ll be in a better place to handle challenges. We only get one life, and it’s better when we’re happy.

If you’re interested in trying Shift Shop, click here.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

Pre-made meals. Too good to be true?

Before I go away for an extended period (as in more than a weekend), I try to empty the house of all food that could spoil and wreck havoc. That means there are slim pickings the day before we leave and even less upon return. I’ve always thought about making a batch of chili or other freezer meal that I could thaw when I get back, but um, that hasn’t worked out thus far. It’s the thought that counts, right?

This time, though, I was proactive and started researching a few delivery services that specialize in pre-made meals. Because as much as I love my Plated boxes, I knew I wasn’t going to be in any shape to whip up a fancy dinner after 20 hours in the car. Unfortunately, 95% of said services don’t deliver to my area.

With persistence, I stumbled upon GoReadyMade, a company that lets you choose the meals you want while leaving them the dirty work. And, lucky for me – there was a Groupon* that came with a significant discount. This first box included eight meals for $35 (regular price $79.92).

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Milla was so excited to check things out

What I Loved

The Plan – There are several options to fit every need – anywhere from 4-10 meals per delivery.

The Schedule – Pick the delivery days that are best for you and skip the ones that aren’t.

The Options – Select different recipes or all of the same – there are so many choices. Dishes include yummy concoctions like cauliflower mac & cheese, smoky chicken fajitas (pictured below), and sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce.

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The Ease – Many of the meals take less than 5 minutes to heat in the microwave. Just dig in!

The Taste – The dishes were wonderfully seasoned and bursting with flavor. Also, not salty.

The Rewards – You can earn credits when you invite friends to join the service.

What I Didn’t Love

The Calories – Many of the meals are upwards of 700 calories. I try to keep my meals (especially dinner) around 400 calories, so I ended up splitting up several of the meals into two portions and adding a side salad or extra veggie to my plate.

The Size – The meals are advertised as enough for one adult or 1-2 children. The tortellini with tomato sauce was barely enough to keep a toddler full (even my husband remarked on this!), yet had a whopping 750 calories.

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#stillhungry

The Inconsistency – I ordered two portions of the cauliflower mac & cheese, and while one container was nearly full, the other one was only half full. It was disappointing that they weren’t evenly distributed.

The Price – Understandably, you’re going to pay more for convenience, but at this rate, I could pick up burgers and fries for around the same nutritional value and a lot less cash.

Bottom Line: I think there is huge potential for this service, but it just wasn’t for me. While I did like a lot of the features, the calories and price weighed heavily in my stomach. This purchase served as a trial for a long-term solution of incorporating healthy, cost-effective pre-made meals into a weekly rotation. Unfortunately, this service will not be “the one” and the search to give myself a cooking break continues.

 

*Groupon may not be available in all areas and may be subject to change after this posting. Check your local deals for more info!

Hey, I’m still here…

This post is months overdue, but it’s been a challenge to find the right words (even for a writer). Recently, I’ve been struggling with some things – both physically and mentally – and I just felt that if I couldn’t get my shit together, how could I possibly offer fitness or lifestyle advice with any semblance of authenticity?

So far my husband and I have had a summer full of beautiful experiences. We’ve traveled to California and Florida, camped in Upstate New York, rode our jet-ski around the Statue of Liberty, and went to the drive-in on at least three different occasions. We installed a hot tub in our backyard, put the final touches on our basement gym, and planned a few future renovations. I also perfected a cookie recipe, developed a matcha addiction, and have read over ten enlightening books since the beginning of May.

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Anyone else think of Full House when you see this?

Most people would think “wow, she’s living the dream!” am I right? Well, even with all of that good stuff, I’ve still felt empty, drained, unhappy, and stressed. I’ve had bouts of anxiety about being 28 years old without any real career direction or goals. I’ve struggled to do simple things like laundry. I’ve failed at so many fitness and nutrition programs. And don’t get me started on being too tired.

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Poolside in Rancho Mirage, CA

You see, there was no way in hell I could encourage someone to spend 2% of their day working out when I couldn’t even spend 1% washing the freakin dishes. I would have told myself off.

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Roughin’ in on a camping trip in Upstate NY

It’s so easy to look at social media and see all of the good things, the fun. When you’re feeling down, it looks like everyone else is having the time of their lives. Meanwhile, the black cloud is following me on every adventure and delightful moment. That, in itself, is so draining. But social media isn’t really meant to show the other side of things. Who really wants to stare at Debbie Downer all day?

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Fresh-squeezed orange juice in Miami, FL

So here I am telling you that nothing is ever going to be perfect. A picture is worth a thousand words, but how many are actually true? If you’re struggling with something too, know you’re not alone. Just keep swimming, keep on keeping on, keep trying to find something good in every day. It will get better.

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Lady Liberty herself. Look – no people!

If you need some extra encouragement, check out the Finding the Balance series I posted earlier in the year.

Look for me on Mondays again – I’ve got some catching up to do.

Peace, Love, Zen
DS

Finding the Balance: Recap

It’s Friday! Seriously, where did the time go this week? I blinked, and it was over. Let’s do a quick recap of the last few weeks.

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Self-Care

I can go on and on about this topic because it’s so important to take care of yourself. Whether you like to color, read, exercise, get crafty, take a bath – or countless other things – take some time out of each day to show yourself a little love.

You can still take care of others and do things for yourself. It doesn’t make you selfish – it makes you a better YOU.

Work

Let’s face it, most of our waking hours are spent at work. There is no such thing as work-life balance. So, if you don’t have a job you’re crazy about – either find a way to get crazy about it or find a way to get out.

Home

Even if you have a stellar job, your home should be a solace – the place you love coming to every day. Many times we get so overwhelmed by chores and *gasp* adult responsibilities. I’m with you on that one. But with little adjustments, we can balance (or even farm out) some of the tasks. Think meal deliveries or a chore chart.

Relationships

All of our relationships are so important – the ones with ourselves, our family, our spouses, and our friends. We need to make time for them, to show them that we care. No one is promised tomorrow.

Zen

The world as we know it is filled with so much stress. It could be bad or good, but it’s still taxing to the body, and so, so important to find time to relax and be happy. It took me a while to find a morning routine that works, but I’ve finally landed on a good mix of prayer and exercise. With a little experimenting, you can find what works for you.

If you have one key takeaway from this balance series, let it be “make time for the people and things that matter.” If you’re interested in reading more, check out each week via the links above.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS