I used to be someone who religiously weighted themselves as soon as I woke up before food, water and vitamins and would let that number dictate the mood, training and food choices for my day.
Scale up meant time to cut the carbs and up the cardio, scale down meant I was being good and was deserving of a treat, rest day or to wear a crop top. I was a slave to the scale number, letting it control how I viewed myself and my worth. Every workout I would twist and turn in the gym mirror making sure I looked the exact same way I did before, begging the mirror and scale to confirm my worth. My lifestyle was bound by how much weighed and my entire fitness routine was focused on getting the number as small as possible.
Making the shift from traditional body building workouts to functional crossfit style training was one of the biggest factors that contributed to me letting go of my obsession with the scale. There were no mirrors at the box, so I could constantly pick and stare at my stomach during my workouts and as I began doing more functional fitness style workouts my body composition rapidly began changing and I started to realize that that number meant little to nothing about my physical fitness or even the size of my body. I saw people of all sizes, shapes and walks of life at the gym and some of the best athletes at my box were people who were older or of different body shapes than my own.
Crossfit helped me see that I could weight anything and not only be fit and lean but also be an incredible athlete. It also helped me to see fitness as functional for life not just a function of weight loss which in turn greatly shifted my mindset about my body and lifestyle choices. So I started to weigh myself less and less. I have been relying more on photos to help me see my body change and to my surprise as my weight has fluctuated a lot in the last 2 years since starting crossfit style training my clothes still fit, nothing is tight. The only thing that has changed is my body’s relationship with gravity and hell maybe I grew a cup size along the way due to my hair re-growth process! So why let such an insignificant number control so much of my happiness?
I say screw the scale! I would rather rely on other metrics to track my progress when working towards an aesthetic goal than be a slave to the digital number gods. The scale is helpful if you are just starting your weightless journey but I highly recommend tracking other metrics such as measurements and progress photos to help inform changes to your weight loss plan.
Taking vacation used to cause me more stress than staying home.. Say what??? Who in the good heck does not enjoy a summer vacation and break from the doldrums of daily routine? This girl right here. Vacations use to cause me crippling anxiety and extreme guilt around my eating and exercise habits. The thought of taking a few days away from MyFitness pal and the gym would have me spiraling down a dark pit of fear and worry. Would I be able to eat only clean, non-processed foods while I was gone? Would my friends pressure me into eating “off track”? Would there be a gym at the hotel? These were usually the first thoughts that popped into my head when the vacation topic came up. I used to think of vacation as “ruining my progress” or as a hinderance to my body composition goals. I would go crazy eating treats and heavy foods to come home filled with guilt and shame about my lack of discipline.
This obsession with perfection and rigid mindset around being “on track” or “off-track” for my goals led me to rarely enjoying vacations because I would be so glued to my phone trying to track and measure each morsel of food or every step I took. This eventually led to exhaustion and frustration that usually ended in me saying f-it I am eating the damn fries and going ham on all the desserts and rich foods I tried so hard to swear off. As soon as I returned home the race would be on for me to exercise away the bad foods I ate on vacation, adding in extra cardio to make up for the few days I took off from training. This was a vicious cycle for me until I realized that my mindset about food was the problem, not the act of taking vacation. Vacations do not need to set you back from your goals! You also can 1000 percent enjoy vacation without feeling guilty.
The key to a successful guilt free summer trip is all about planning, mindfulness and your general mindset around food. Vacation should not be an excuse to say screw it to your goals and healthy habits. Sure, should you fully enjoy trying new foods and eating out, yes! But should you eat a whole bag of Doritos and marshmallows, no probably not. All foods have value and a place on your plate, but just because you are on vacation does not mean you should forget all of your mindful eating habits. Vacation is about making memories no stomach aches!
For me, I treat vacation as a chance to eat mindfully without tracking, however I stick to a few ground rules that help me to feel my best. Getting in my 800g of fruits and veggies, hitting 7-10k steps and avoiding overly processed foods and dairy products are just a few of the ways I focus on my health and well-being while being away from home. If I do make a misstep or have an episode of over-eating, I treat myself with love and respect and move the hell on. I do not do extra cardio, I do not do a juice cleanse or a fast when I get home and I definitely do not jump right into a cut or calorie deficit is soon as I return home. I simply make a mental note of what was going on when this less than ideal food situation occurred. Was I feeling overly tired? Did I have a particularly active day or was I just super hungry. While none of these reasons are excuses for overeating or going a bit too crazy with the Talenti, they do help me to understand and learn from my mistakes and take corrective actions for the future. Being kind to myself has really helped me unpack my toxic relationship with vacations and non-tracking days and helped me enjoy vacation more! Now I wake up after a vacation or party and feel no stress, no guilt and no shame about what I ate because I know that it is a new day with new opportunities to work towards my goals and make healthy choices.
Don’t let food rules and rigid exercise habits ruin your time with family and friends! Life is about balance, just like one healthy meal won’t lead to weight loss, one untracked vacation meal won’t lead to weight gain, so enjoy but be mindful. Vacation should be time for making memories, taking a break from your daily life and enjoying yourself, not being anxious about your health and fitness goals.
You cannot expect to reach your goals if you do not make time for them!
Literally every person I know has some kind of body or fitness/health goal in mind yet many of them are unwilling or in some cases unable to make the time to put in the work to reach those same goals. I know that finding time in your hectic schedule can be tricky but what it comes down to is priorities. We all have some kind of hierarchy of priority in our minds that ranks our daily habits and tasks according to importance and the key to making lifestyle changes is shifting that hierarchy to prioritize the habits and tasks needed to progress towards your goal. You cannot reasonable expect to change your habits or lifestyle without any effort and dedication, just like you cannot expect to show up and get a perfect score on the MCAT exam without studying or ever opening your biology textbook.
Why is it that when faced with the opportunity to make changes to better achieve our goals so many of us fail? Fear, discomfort, unrealistic expectations are just a few of the reasons that come to mind. Achieving your fitness goals is entirely possible, dramatic body compositional change is also possible! I am here living proof every day that if you want something badly enough and work hard enough and put in the time, you can make progress and push past any obstacle. At first, when I began my weight loss journey, exercising and meal prepping was a huge chore! I absolutely hated spending time preparing my lunches and tracking and weighing food but ultimately, I knew it had to be done if I wanted to hit my macros each day and make progress towards my weight loss goals. Sacrificing a few hours on Sunday seemed like a fair price to pay for a little body compositional progress so eventually I put mind over matter and just did it week after week, slowly creating a process that worked for me and my lifestyle. The further I got in my weight loss journey the more I realized that these lifestyle changes were making me healthier and more put together across all areas of my life and helped me in managing my time better!
For me, one of the hardest parts of adopting new lifestyle habits was shifting my mindset from have to, to want to. Instead of saying I “have to” workout, meal prep or whatever I started saying “I want to” do those things and sure enough the time was there because instead of feeling like these things were chores, I was framing these tasks as being things I wanted to spend my time on. Take action towards your goals, make time for the things that matter to you and the more you choose to take steps towards your goal the sooner you will progress forward. I make my goals a priority by scheduling my workouts around my social activities and work schedule each week. Generally, I try my best to stick with my scheduled workouts despite unexpected plans and spontaneous activities popping up throughout my week. I find that the more I plan ahead and prepare, the better I am at making time for the habits and tasks that support my health and fitness goals.
Building time for fitness and meal planning into my schedule is what has helped me in not only maintaining momentum towards my goals but also has helped me create healthy routine in my life. The more I followed the routine I set out for myself with exercise and meal prepping each week, the easier and more natural it became for me to adhere to! Eventually, exercise and meal prep became a normal part of my life and I stopped having to think and plan so much to make my goals a priority. Three years later I have made significant changes to my lifestyle, lost 30 lbs. and gained a lot of self-respect and self-love in the process, but man was it hard and demanding at times! It’s never too late to chase your dreams and goals, but remember there is no change without hard work, time and dedication.
None told me that losing weight was not going to fix my issues with my body……..
When I first started my weight loss journey, I was sorely mistaken in thinking that losing weight would somehow fix all of my problems. I thought that being “skinny” would magically make all of my body insecurities disappear and I would wake up as a confident queen ready to take on the world rocking bikinis every day. Boy was I wrong!
None told me that losing weight was not going to make me a more confident person! None told me that being smaller would not fix any of my negative thoughts about my body! I felt lied to by social media and magazines that told me that the secret to feeling body positive was working towards and achieving a conventionally desirable body size.
Losing 30 pounds, to my surprise, did not alleviate any of my body insecurities. If anything, losing weight made me feel even more insecure about my body! I constantly felt like I was not good enough, not fit enough, even after losing a significant amount of weight and drastically changing my body composition. And eventually I realized that the only way to feel more confident and secure in my body was to heal my negative mindset and work towards freeing myself from negative self-talk.
I realized that showing up for myself and doing the inner work to dismantle my long held and learned beliefs about my body and diet culture was the only way to get past my body anxiety. I had become so socialized and numb to the negative way I spoke about my body that I hardly realized that it was happening. We learn a lot about body image and diet culture from a young age and are so inundated with messages that we barely realize the way they shape and mold our views about own bodies.
Slowly I started to reject diet culture the negative mindset it spreads about bodies that do not fit the traditional, western standard of beauty. I started to embrace the idea that all bodies are good and worthy bodies, regardless of size, shape, and weight. I began praising my body for all of the amazing things it can do and started to live in a space of body acceptance.
Instead of wishing my body looked like someone else I started accepting my body for what it is and where it is at in my journey towards a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. I stopped telling myself I would take photos and wear certain things when I was x size or x weight and started living in the moment. When I am 90 years old, I am not going to remember what size my pants were in July of 2019, so I decided to start focusing more on living my life and fueling and treating my body with love and kindness than trying to change it for short term gratification.
Letting go of my rigid mindset about my body has allowed me to live my life to the fullest and has forced me to stop waiting for unrealistic body goals to validate my happiness. Happiness is not a goal weight or a pant size, it is living a free and body positive life, filled with love and memories!
Ladies, there are so many more exercises than just squats! Nothing bothers me more than going to the gym and seeing women doing 1000 squats and donkey kickbacks on repeat for an hour. Since when was squatting the only exercise that “builds that booty”? Creating a workout routine and weightlifting split can be super confusing if you are just starting your fitness journey, especially when there are thousands of Instagram fitspo chicks trying to sell you on their latest fat burning guide and dozens of free workouts on the internet to choose from.
You do not need to do be doing a hundred squats a day or even a week to build the body of your dreams, you also do not need to be doing the exact same workout as Susie B Fitness to achieve results. Following someone else’s workout plan will not automatically yield the same results and often times the fitness influencers of Instagram do not know the first thing about creating an effective gym split. If your workout routine is just a big mix of various squats, banded butt focused exercises and a few light bicep curls thrown in, then chances are you are missing out on a ton of muscles that you could be working, which are equally as important for body re composition!
There are so many great leg/ lower-body focused movements out there that are not squats, yet for some reason the squat seems to have become the “trendy” movement of the moment. While squats are great, and definitely have a place in your workout routine, they do not need to be your sole focus if your goal is to grow your glutes or tighten your core. The Bulgarian split squat, a close cousin of the forward lunge, is a great movement for building your glutes, quads and for core stability. The Bulgarian split squat is a real burner and you will for sure be sore for a few days since it is a movement that works your whole body and demands a lot of focus and balance to complete. The Romanian or “stiff” leg deadlift is also a great movement for strengthening your hamstrings and glutes and is a good variation for switching up the conventional or sumo deadlift that can get a bit boring after weeks on end. A few of my other favorite leg and glute focused movements are elevated Plie squats, sumo squats, overhead squats and single leg glute bridges. Get creative and inspired with your leg days and try changing up your routine every 6-8 weeks to avoid burnout and boredom but be sure to focus on progressive overload and mind muscle connection for best results.
If you are blinding following some fitspo workout guide from Instagram doing squats on squats on squats, run! Run very far away! Throw that guide in the trash and give your butt a break. You should not be only training your lower body and should not be doing more than 2-3 leg focused days a week. Doing more squats and more leg days will not get you to your goals any faster, but it will likely cause you to have some serious muscle imbalances and weak areas that can lead to injury if you are not careful. The key to a good workout split is training each muscle group more than once a week and combining mainly large compound movements that work multiple muscles at a time, with a few accessory movements to work specific muscle groups or body parts. Be careful about what fitness influencers you are following and be super wary of buying any type of pre created workout plan, especially if you are new to working out. There is a lot of questionable exercise and fitness information out there and it can be super easy to fall into the trap of Instagram marketing and promotions that promise to deliver you a peach worthy butt in just 8 weeks by doing banded squats for 30 days straight. Look for certified, personal trainers and people who have more than just a fitness account on Instagram as their experience working in the health and fitness industry. A good trainer will be able to provide you with thoughtful, carefully planned and well explained information that is no BS when it comes to creating a workout plan.
So please, stop squatting your life away! There are so many more leg and glute focused exercises and full body movements in your fitness arsenal, so consider taking a break from never ending back squats and try progressing in a new movement. Your booty and back will greatly thank you!
You know you really do not have the body type or physique to be a professional ballet dancer, Hayley, maybe you should set your sights on something else…
The first time I questioned and disliked my body I was 9 years old. I do not even remember who said this to me but it stuck and from then onward I would see my body as “big” or “chubby” and at some points downright “fat” and gross.
3 years ago, I decided it was time to make a change in my life. I was tired of hiding behind baggy clothes, being physically tired, struggling with acne, dreading having photos of myself taken or heaven forbid I be asked to wear a bathing suit etc. The list goes on of reasons why I decided to start exercising regularly and change my diet, but the biggest reason was that I was unhappy with my body and myself and I was convinced that losing weight would fix all of these issues because society had told me that being skinny would fix everything. Little did I know that losing weight would not fix any of my issues but rather would cause me to spiral down a dark hole of hating myself and my body.
Mind you this was not my first diet rodeo, I had tried and failed to lose weight and change my body composition since I was 14. I distinctly remember the first time I dieted when I was a sophomore in high school and I had read that eating nothing but celery and carrots for a month would help me lose 20 pounds. This lasted for maybe a week before I was sick in bed with the flu because I had been depriving myself of nutrients and calories for 7 days.
Next in college, I tried keto/carb free/ south beach or whatever they call it now and all carbs became the enemy. I lost weight for sure, but I looked like a war victim. My body was weak and small because I was stressed and barely had time to eat anything and no food was worth ruining my progress for. The weight came back that summer and soon I was falling back into my old habits of not exercising and eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted with no control or discipline. That fall, while I was studying in Europe, I quickly gained back even more weight than before and the next thing I knew it was summer before my senior year and I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. Broken, defeated and unhappy, I decided it was time to change my life for good.
In August of 2017 I started working out again by doing HIIT videos in my parent’s basement and then in my room at my sorority house in the fall when I got back to school. I would wake up early or stay up late doing a thousand burpees on end. I started using my fitness pal to track calories and I thought the magic number to force my 155 lb body to get smaller was 1200 calories. Much to my surprise, the weight fell off fast. I lost 22 lbs in a matter of 3 months and had been averaging 900 calories a day. Nutrition was the last thing I cared about. I saved calories to binge drink, I saved calories to eat an entire bag of goldfish for dinner, I was broken. Nothing tasted as good as skinny felt I repeated to myself as I celebrated the days when I burned 300 calories and ate only 1100. I finally got my first tattoo because I was not deeply ashamed of my body and was no longer trying to hide it any chance I got. Every person in my life cheered me on and showered me with compliments on how good I looked as my body wasted away and I fell deeper and deeper into a hole, getting harder to dig out from all of my negative thoughts and habits.
Next in January of 2018 I made it my goal to weight train and be better to myself. Enter the slim thick trend and year of the donkey kicks. I followed a super basic weight and resistance routine guaranteed to give me a nice butt and slim toned body or so I thought. I continued to struggle with food even when I started tracking macros. I would cry about eating something I deemed “bad” or “unclean” then I would say screw it and would drink 7 drinks on the weekends and eat tacos, ice cream cookies or anything I could find and pretend it did not happen. I would wake up on Sunday and starve myself and do extra cardio to make up for the treats and misdeeds. This cycle continued until April when I experienced my first heartbreak and romantic relationship failing of adult hood. It was time to hate myself skinny again, in hopes of that winning back the unworthy man who left me me broken. I cut my calories and increased my exercise until I was working out for 2 hours a day 5-7 days a week. I continued to shrink as I started to train for my first triathlon because I was “fitspo” now right? The workouts got longer and harder, the cardio increased and my food intake continued to go up yet no amount of food could satisfy the pain I felt trying to hate myself into another shape or towards a new goal.
Friends and family continued to praise me for my discipline and life style change, little did they know I was struggling and losing myself. My roommate saw my cry my eyes out in my bed because my co-workers had peer pressured me into eating a slice of cake at work that day. Every bad bite or meal or missed workout was a tragedy warranting me berating myself over behaving like my old (read: fat) self. At one point the shame and anxiety about food and exercise go so bad that I literally resorted to throwing a fit and crying over being asked to attend a wine festival with my friends because it was “an orgy of empty calories and bad foods that will undoubtedly make me gain weight”.
Rock bottom came the day after my triathlon when I cried the entire plane ride home feeling lost and confused about what came next. I trained for 4 months for that day and it was over in less than 100 minutes. I was finally the skinny I always wanted to be, I finally wore a bikini with pride, yet I had never felt so empty. I did not know what to do next, I did not know what to eat, and most of all I did not know what my next goal was. In November of 2018 I decide it was time to get help, to talk to someone professional who could help me fix my disordered relationship with food, my body and exercise. I joined a CrossFit box because my brother recommended it. CrossFit is about function and about being a strong athlete and team member and most importantly for me it is a mirror free, judgement free zone that is not necessarily focused on aesthetic goals. I met people of all shapes and sizes and ages. I saw mothers of 3 deadlifting 250 lbs and running 7-minute miles, I saw high school girls lifting confidently in their tank tops and most importantly I met incredible, genuine humans who supported one another no matter what shape or size they were. Slowly, as I started going to the box more and more, I was incentivized to heal my negative relationship with food, exercise and my body.
I hired an amazing nutrition and life coach name Jen and worked with her for a full year before embarking on my next journey of learning to trust myself with food and exercise. I got uncomfortable as hell for a year and half before I finally felt like I had healed my negative mindset and let go of the emotional baggage that was dragging me down. I made peace with my inner demons, cried a lot and often and was super vulnerable with the people closest to me. I unpacked that emotional baggage, I cried in front of the man I was dating and stopped trying to white knuckle all of my negative thoughts and feelings. I confronted my body policing demons and still do every day. I got uncomfortable, I skipped workouts, I ate pizza, I went on vacation and did not exercise for days or weeks at a time. I forgave myself for the terrible things I said to myself and did to myself. I forgave everyone in my life who did not realize that their compliments were feeding into my toxic habits. I show up for myself every day now, I thank my body for things it does for me and places it takes me.
It has taken me roughly 3 years, 30 pounds, one triathlon, hitting rock bottom and spending a lot of time being uncomfortable and facing my fears to come out from the dark hole I was in about my body. But the biggest thing is that my journey is just beginning!
Everyday I wake up and remind myself that each day is a chance for me to grow and I challenge myself to lean into situations or conversations that provide me an opportunity to better myself and to focus on my overall health and wellness. These days I try to remind myself of where I came from and where I want to go. Do my I love my body every day? No, but that’s okay because I am grateful and appreciative of where I am at with my mental and physical health and am committed to treating myself with love, kindness and respect no matter what. And am I finally happy? Yes
Alcohol is not your enemy! It makes me so upset to see the fitness and wellness community shaming women for enjoying an occasional glass of wine or a marg or two when out with friends. Every instagram influencer these days seems to be pushing the idea that you cannot drink alcohol, even in moderation, and still reach your goals. I am here to let you in a little secret, yes, you can drink alcohol and still live a very healthy and well balanced lifestyle. None should feel shamed or be littles for their choices whether that is to partake in drinking or to abstain and we need to stop living in a space where we feel guilty and shameful of our decisions and lifestyle choices because that will further lead to negative self talk.
In the process of working to break out of the “good” and “bad” food mindset we need to address alcohol. One of the hardest parts of my weight loss journey was unpacking my rigid mindset about alcohol. When I first began cutting and counting my calories my senior year of college to lose weight I would literally save myself 200-300 calories a night on the weekends just so I could drink with friends. This led me to severely under eating and depriving myself of valuable nutrients. While this worked in the short term and helped me to lose weight, I quickly re gained a few pounds as soon as I stopped siphoning off calories for alcohol and just stopped tracking it all together.
So I went and swung the complete opposite direction after being brainwashed by every fitness influencer who convinced me there was no way for me to maintain good body composition while also enjoying a few beers during my week. Nearly every “fitspo” account I was following was telling me that alcohol was “bad” and full of evil empty calories that would be the ruin of my body composition goals, cause me to gain belly fat and would lead me to living a less than healthy lifestyle. I then spent the next roughly 5 months avoiding alcohol as much as possibly because I was terrified that having more than 1 “skinny” low cal vodka soda a week would make me balloon up. Cue the shame and anxiety around social events, that eventually got so bad that I distinctly remember bawling my eyes out to my roommate that I simply could not go to a wine festival with her because it was basically an orgy of drinking empty calories and “bad” foods. It was then that I realized, this had to stop, and that this was no way to live my life at 22 years old, so I stopped tracking my alcohol, and I stopped associating alcohol with hindering my body goals and progress.
Slowly I began to integrate wine and margs back into my life and stopped trying to be “perfect” all of the time when it came to my eating and exercise habits. Trying to be “perfect” is freaking exhausting and will only lead to disappointment and frustration. I was putting so much pressure on myself to always be eating perfectly, crushing all of my workouts and saying no to alcohol and treats that I felt extreme guilt anytime I felt like I had “failed”. Allowing myself to be human and perfectly imperfect really helped in removing the anxiety I felt around alcohol. There were weekends I drank 4 drinks in one sitting and there were also weeks I didn’t drink any alcohol at all and as I let myself just live my life, I stopped seeing those two choices as “bad” vs “good”. Removing that pressure I was putting on myself helped me to make more mindful choices and allowed me to live in the moment more. The more I exercised my ability to say yes or no to alcohol the more empowered and in control of my choices I felt, and slowly that voice in my head saying alcohol is bad began to fade.
Allowing yourself to enjoy alcohol is so important for having a healthy relationship with food and your body. No one food causes fat or weight gain, and no one food causes weight loss either. Labeling foods as good or bad is one of the quickest ways to mess up your relationship with food and your body. Alcohol is no different than food when it comes to negative labeling. If you hate vodka sodas, stop drinking them! Vodka soda does have less sugar than say a glass of wine or a fancy cocktail, however no one type of alcohol is particularly more nutritious than another. Pretty much all alcohol lacks vital macro or micro nutrients/ overall nutritional value and is non essential for sustaining a healthy diet so there is really no reason to ban one type of alcohol versus another. Alcohol does contain calories, and yes if you consume more calories than you are burning (thus being in a calorie surplus) you probably will gain some weight. But maybe the weight you need to be focusing on is not the weight on your body due to a few margs with friends, but the weight of your expectations and the weight of diet culture that is crushing your happiness.
A few of the ways I enjoy alcohol in a healthy and mindful way is stopping myself and asking, “Do I want another drink” before immediately ordering another round or pouring another glass. I no longer not let social pressure force me into making choices that do not serve me and my goals. Some nights that looks like having 2 drinks and some nights that looks like having none, and both of those choices are equally healthy and valid!
Learning that alcohol is not the enemy of my body composition goals was such an amazing experience and has allowed me to live my life with less guilt and more freedom and is something I wish someone had told me sooner. Let go of the “all or nothing” and “good” vs. “bad” mindset around alcohol and you just might find that you are reaching for that wine bottle less and less! Our bodies are incredibly smart and the more we focus on listening to our body’s cues and needs the more we can truly be focused on overall wellness and positive lifestyle changes.
I used to think that as long as I hit my calorie goal, I was being healthy and was on track to reach my fitness goals. Prior to working my first nutritionist Jen, I had no understanding of how to properly eat for performance or health. My idea of a health snack was artificial sweetener filled Skippy peanut butter bites or a 1000 ingredient list protein bar. I had no concept of what a micronutrient was and all I cared about was hitting my protein and calorie goals.
Jen helped me understand that it is not just enough to hit your calorie goal and that if I am not getting enough micronutrients in my diet chances are I am not eating for optimal performance or health. I was blown away by how these simple changes helped me to feel better and I found that by working to eat a more wholesome and balanced diet I had more energy and felt fuller longer leading to less binging or overeating.
By working to eliminate or swap out highly processed foods in favor of whole, nutrient dense foods I found that I was sleeping better, lifting better and experiencing a lot less bloating. My cravings also went down and I found that I was making healthier choices more often because I was focusing on how foods made me feel rather than trying to just hit my calorie goal.
Eating healthy is not complicated nor should it be! Simple swaps can make all the difference in helping to get more micronutrients in your diet. Swapping fruit for chips or jerky instead of protein shakes are some easy changes to cut out unnecessary additives and sugar. The biggest shift for me was focusing on eating 2-3 different colors at each meal. By actively trying to eat a variety of whole, nutrient dense foods of various colors I found that I was creating a lot of fun meals that were not only tasty but also more filling. Now this isn’t to say that you should cut out all process foods and avoid all of the tasty snacks you love. The idea is to create more variety and balance in our eating habits and to try new things!
An example of this could be swapping your daily Diet Coke for a La Croix or making your weekday lunch turkey sandwich into a salad for a change. One change I made this week was swapping my usual stir fry rice bowl for lettuce wraps instead and trying sweet potatoes for my brunch hash instead of white potatoes. While rice and white potatoes are not bad or unhealthy at all, sweet potatoes and lettuce provide more micronutrients and add more color to my plate than their beige counter parts.
All foods have value and a place in our diets (yes, even pizza and ice cream!) however some foods make us feel better than others. I know that after eating a greasy pepperoni pizza I do not feel my best and that I do feel my best after having a well-balanced, colorful meal filled with wholesome macro and micronutrient dense foods.
You might be shocked at how much these small changes can make a big impact on your overall mood and performance! So, I encourage you to eat the rainbow and find new whole foods and healthy snacks that satisfy your cravings and add color and variety to your plate.
None likes a boring bowl of food, so get weird with your post work out eats, try something new! You might be surprised at how tasty the rainbow truly is.
Rest days are not for the weak! I cannot count how many times I have forced myself to train despite feeling like crap. When I first started my fitness journey, I was convinced that taking rest days was going to hinder my progress and slow me down. I was so eager to reach my goals that I never let myself rest. I beat my body into the ground day in and day out and would freak out if something prevented me from doing my scheduled workout.
My motto was more was better and would rarely take a day away from the weight room. This obsession with working out got even worst when I was training for my first sprint triathlon. I was training 2 times a day, sometimes for upwards of 3 hours because I thought that was what I had to do to reach peak performance levels. I was terrified that taking an unplanned rest day would “ruin” all my progress. Really what I was scared of was the idea that one rest day would lead to 3 rest days which would lead to never training again and falling back into my old habits.
I was crippled by the fear that by taking days off I would lose the motivation to keep working towards my goal. I had created such a negative mindset around taking time off and resting that my performance and body composition was actually suffering. I was stressed, tired, my body was in a constant state of soreness and I was missing out on precious memories for what?
It wasn’t until I had a bike accident which resulted in 10 stitches that I was forced to take a week of rest. I was uncomfortable and angry that I had to sit out training for 2 weeks, but to my surprise my performance did not suffer at all, it actually improved. Coming back from a forced 2-week training break made me stronger in the end and helped me see that training 6 days a week was not going to get me to my goals any faster.
Skipping out on rest days was depriving my body of the recovery it so desperately needed and was hindering my training. Now I only train 3-4 times a week, sometimes more sometimes less. I take a minimum of 2 rest days a week and do not fear unforeseen events that could derail my training plans. I have learned to take it one day at a time and constantly remind myself that tomorrow is new opportunity to work towards my goals and taking one more rest day a week is not going to drastically impact my ability to reach those goals.
Your body needs rest! Taking an extra day off from training will not stop you from achieving your goals and you should not feel guilty listening to your body. Some days you will be emotionally exhausted, other days physical exhaustion may make training hard, but no matter what always remember that progress not perfection is what you are striving for.
It is unrealistic to think that we will wake up every day feeling like a thousand bucks ready to train and push our limits. We cannot expect to hit PR’s in the gym every training session, so why do we expect that we will be motivated to train every single day. It is what we do most of the time that makes the biggest impact not what we do some of the time.
If you are someone who is afraid of rest days or feels like you need to train every day to see progress, I urge you to take a step back. Maybe what you actually need is a rest day, not another AMRAP!
I have been passionate about fashion and style since I was in third grade. My family and friends used to call me Coco, short for Coco Chanel, when I was little because I was so vocal about my love for being fashionable and on trend. I even tried to start a fashion magazine when I was nine years old, and organized a fashion show for my elementary school! This passion grew and provided me the drive to become a campus fashion blogger in college through CollegeFashionista and eventually prompted me to intern for a fashion focused PR agency in New York City before I graduated college. Little did I know I would move to Denver permanently and become a lover of Birkenstocks!
Despite being a fashion lover, clothing shopping and picking outfits has been a sore spot for me for as long as I can remember. Being in a bigger body when I was younger was a source of a lot of discomfort and frustration for me growing up. I never looked like the models I saw in magazines or actors on TV and always felt like fashion was reserved for those in more desirable shapes than my own. I tried every diet in the book and was constantly at war with myself because I never looked the same as the girls in magazines and every time I went shopping I was crushed to find out the latest fashion trends did not look the same on me as on others. I struggled with my weight on and off throughout high school and college, eventually getting to a place where I felt like I guess I should just give up and accept that I will never feel at peace or hell ever confident in myself. Luckily, that all changed when I approached my last semester of undergrad at the University of Denver.
Three years ago I was inspired to change my life drastically. I was tired of feeling self conscious and hiding behind friends in photos and twisting my body at weird angles in the mirror hoping that I would wake up one morning magically different. I wanted to feel confident and free from the negative voice in my head that picked apart my body when I didn’t fit into the clothes I so desperately wanted to wear. In the summer of 2017 I began a journey that would soon change my life, I decided I wanted to be “healthy”. At the time I thought that meant losing the extra 30 pounds I had on my body but little did I know it would be so much more than that. Along the way I made some mistakes, treated my body poorly and lost myself a little bit however in the last year and half I have been able to find my stride.
Since 2017 I have successfully lost and kept off the pounds and have come to not only love my body but I am working towards body neutrality. I am finally at a point of acceptance with my body where it is at and am grateful for all that my body allows me to do. I have also found a sense of love and respect for myself that allows me to work towards a better me, both mentally and physically.
Crossfit and yoga have provided me a safe space to move and challenge my body with intention and love and not from a place hate. In the past I have tried to hate myself skinny to find that when you finally reach that goal number you will not be any happier with your life. Finding an exercise routine that works for me has taken me a long time and I am so grateful for my past experiences for those have all helped me in shaping who I am and who I want to become. This blog was created to help me speak my truth and share the advice, wisdom and words that have helped me on my journey to build the happiest and healthiest version of myself. Get ready for more about my healthy habits and body confidence coming soon!