The Weight of Words

One time, when I was in the best shape of my life, I had a new friend tell me that I was lucky because I was naturally lean. She had to work so hard to lose weight. This was laughable to me because it could not be further from the truth. I had been pretty chubby as a child until I realized I would not succeed in skating unless I had a lean and svelt body, leading to years of dieting and an obsession with weight loss.

This REALLY made me realize how you never really know what is going on in a person’s life–you know nothing about their relationship with food, exercise, and health in general, therefore it is impossible to make such assumptions.

The truth was, although I was finally feeling great in my skin at the time this comment was made, it had taken me 10+ years of extremely restrictive eating habits, tons of cardio, endless weight loss plateaus, and binge eating behaviors to finally lead me to a stable grounds and allow me to really lean out. Getting to that point was anything but easy and I still had very restrictive eating habits (which later lead to larger problems with binge eating).

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2014

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The point is, next time you have something to say about someone else’s body, really think it over first. Not only is giving them feedback none of your business, but food and body image is unfortunately an extremely touchy subject (stemming from insecurities) and it’s really easy for what you are trying to say to get distorted in someone’s head. For example, I used to think “buff” meant “bulky.” Little did I know, when someone was calling me buff it meant I appeared lean, chiseled, and in shape to them! All this time a simple word made the difference between a compliment and an insult, a simple miscommunication ruling the way I viewed my body. How silly, in a dark and twisted way…

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It is not your place to judge the journey of another. Air on the side of caution when making a comment about someone else’s eating habits or body shape, especially to young girls. Unfortunately, your comments hold more weight than you may think.

 

Operation Taste My Food Again

If I’m being honest with myself, I have an addiction. And that addiction is artificial sweeteners. It has been a long time coming for me to finally quit. The other day I read an article saying that they are more addictive than cocaine, and that same day I listened to a podcast by Mind Pump Media exaggerating how problematic artificial sweeteners can be. Not only do they claim to enhance weight loss, but Stevia is 200-400 times sweeter than sugar, and Splenda is 600 times sweeter than sugar! Of COURSE they are addictive! They are manufactured to make us want more of it.

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I already know this will be an uphill battle for me. I know I have chronically overused these little packets of evil for at least ten years, dumping Truvia, Splenda, Equal, Stevia, Purevia, into my coffee, fruit, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, cottage cheese, smoothies, etc. Multiple times throughout the day and between meals I would consume. I did not discriminate. I tore open any little packet I could get my hands on, hoarding them in the cupboards, my car, my purse. The gum addiction is a whole other story. While in Denmark, it is much more difficult to find these chemicals (classic Denmark always doing it right), so I even had my mom bring a dozen packs of my favorite gum brand (Five Peppermint).

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The irony is, I felt so much better when I wasn’t having these sweeteners. And whenever I tried to limit my consumption, it would steadily increase to an obscene amount–again pointing to their addictive properties. I knew I was making a mistake every time I bought a new massive box of this poison, but I couldn’t stop, even when I had terrible side effects such as bloating and gas, etc. that I knew was caused directly by this fake sweetness.

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Until now. When I heard these sweeteners can cause Metabolic Syndrome, Insulin Resistance, and even Type 2 Diabetes I felt sick to my stomach. No wonder I can’t lose weight when I eat 1200 calories and workout 1+ hours every day. I promptly dumped everything artificial sweetener anything into the trash–crystal light powder, gum, stevia. Stevia doesn’t have a bad rap yet, but the FDA states that “stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts are not considered GRAS and do not have FDA approval for use in food”– meaning that they are not generally recognized as safe. It seems to me that the FDA is covering their bases just in case stevia ends up causing cancer in the long run. I’m not going to take my chances anymore.

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Stay tuned for an update on the changes I notice in my body with this lifestyle change! 🙂

 

To Think Or Not To Think

Do you guys ever wake up feeling like a lump of trash? Groggy, sore, and possibly sick? Well that was me this morning. There was really no explanation for it besides going to bed too late and training legs really hard yesterday. 

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Not sure what I was doing at the Colosseum but I definitely wasn’t as distressed as it appears in the photo…

But then I recalled thinking to myself yesterday, “Wow, I haven’t been sick in a long time!” And it occurred to me—our brains are WAY more connected to our bodies than we think, so I probably brought this upon myself.

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I always feel like my mind and body are in synch at the beach. Especially Barcelona beaches!!

Of course, lack of sleep and overtraining can weaken the immune system but I’m convinced that our thoughts can too. After all, stress is directly connected to our nervous system and can even cause terrible digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, along with tons of other health problems.

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A castle in Lisbon, Portugal

If that is true, what’s to stop us from thinking our thought patterns can’t predict our physical health? In the wise words of my mother (When telling her about the sickness coincidence), “Don’t think about it in the future.”

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Trevi Fountain, Rome. Definitely not thinking about sickness here!

 

Progress Is Progress!

“Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.” -Khalil Gibran

Processed with VSCO with a1 presetI gotta be totally honest. I did not start off this morning in a good mood. Today was my weekly check-in where I weigh myself once a week and take a couple of progress pictures. I was not pleasantly surprised. I was up .5 lbs (after maintaining my weight the first two weeks and lowering my calories after the first week). The reason this is so frustrating is because when you start a health journey you want to see results. You are working hard to do everything right–get adequate sleep, go hard in your workouts, measure your foods to the gram. So when you see no outcome your mind turns pretty negative. “What’s the point?” “You’ll never get there” “This is impossible” “This is going to take SO long” are phrases that come to mind. I can really get down on myself, questioning the process and being tempted to resort to my old ways of restricting extremely which then so directly leads to binge eating behaviors.

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But then, I stop myself. I took a class called Positive Psychology in Denmark. My incredible professor preached positive psychology techniques, one of which being gratitude, another one being finding the positive or silver lining in any situation (which may seem obvious but when is the last time you actually tried it?). We as humans are incredibly resilient. When we flip the narrative from negative to positive, it creates a whole flood of other happy thoughts along with it. I started to take a closer look. I have not binged (or had the urge to binge) in a month now. This used to be a bi-weekly occurrence and at its worst a daily one. This is momentous because one binge-eating session can set me back at least a week in my progress goals (and mentally–you really start to lose trust in yourself). I thought some more and realized these first few weeks are experimental, figuring out the greatest number of calories I can eat for weight loss. This is not a get thin quick scheme. What I wanted in the first place was to find a process that would bring me lasting results. Then I thought some more. I have been working out 6 days a week for the past 3 weeks, with 5 strength training sessions and 3-4 cardio sessions. I have noticed visible muscle gains in my body and I am already feeling stronger. My progress photos show definite results, even if they seem minimal. It is rare that I have had anything more than mild hunger and I am energized throughout the day. I really have nothing to complain about. Yes, I have a little more work to do figuring out the right recipe for me. But I am on the right track and I am on the cusp of some great progress.

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The point is, when the results seem slow or nonexistent, look a little closer. Find something bright to latch onto and grasp it hard–let the positivity flow over you and throughout you. With this newfound positivity, hold your head high and forge ahead. Quit measuring yourself against others and especially against yourself. Do the work, tweak, work some more, and the results will eventually come. I believe in that.

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Should I Track My Food?

There are two types of people:

  1. Those who thrive with spontaneous food choices
  2. Those who thrive when they plan their food ahead of time

These two types of people are like the difference between introverts and extroverts. Extroverts will never fully understand introverts and vice versa. I was sitting at the dinner table with some family recently and they wanted to know how I eat. I was not eating the layered (and delicious smelling) chicken, mozzarella, with tomatoes everyone else was having for a few reasons, one being that I don’t eat meat and the second being that I am working with my trainer to figure out the ideal macros for my body right now. I tried to explain to them that that takes utmost consistency because if you are not consistent you will never figure out what works. The variables need to be held constant, just like in 8th grade science class.

I then realized, based on their reactions, that what I was saying was probably relatable to one person at the table, and totally foreign to the other two. One was the intuitive eating type (something I greatly admire) and one was the social, pleasure eating type. Of course, I wish I could be the pleasure eating kind of person. I would save so much time, thought, and effort that could be invested elsewhere in my life. However, I have become some kind of expert when it comes to accepting and handling the fact that my body does not work that way. Usually when I relax on the food tracking my body fat percentage skyrockets from the hidden oils, dressings, etc. This is one reason I developed such an interest in health and fitness. It was out of necessity, but soon became a passion. I was spending so much time manipulating the foods that I ate that it became more and more interesting when I would see results.

It all boils down to your values. Because I grew up as a figure skater, I spent my childhood in a body in great physical condition. I really believe that your physical health and satisfaction with your shell is a huge part of the foundation to your happiness. That is why when people undergo a large weight loss transformation they are often happier with a whole new and positive demeanor. When I started gaining weight in college my body did not feel like my own anymore. I despised this feeling, especially because it deterred me from doing what I love–figure skating. I came to the realization that when I go out to eat with friends or pass a fast food restaurant I no longer WANT to eat the unhealthy food. I don’t crave it or desire it because I know that it will make me feel terrible 23.5 hours out of the day. It is not a matter of willpower. It’s a matter of being honest with yourself. However, that is so very hard to explain to someone who doesn’t share the same past and experiences. It can come off like you’re talking down to them when you really just have true intentions. What I have come to realize is that food is a personal choice and you know yourself best. If one of your friends passes up an ice cream cone don’t take it personally, or compare your choices to theirs. They may just be thinking prioritizing their next 12 hours of the day over their next 12 minutes of pleasure because that makes them the happiest. But that doesn’t mean skipping the ice cream cone will maximize your personal happiness too!
Here is a photo of my pre-workout smoothie with banana and almond butter! Yummy!

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Breaking Up With HIIT For A Bit

Update on me! I returned from Denmark and a three week trip around Europe about 5 weeks ago, took a summer Anatomy & Physiology course, and now I am ready to get back to BUSINESS with my blog and wellness adventures 🙂

I have always loved doing little experiments on myself relating to health and fitness. It’s a huge reason why I pursued an exercise science major. Part of it was out of necessity—as A figure skater I had to figure out a way to get lean in order to perform well in my sport. But part of it was out of curiosity, too. I am fascinated with the fact that we have the power to shape and manipulate our bodies to points we never would have dreamed of. Yes, genetics play a large part in where you hold your body fat, how fast you lose weight, how easily you gain muscle, where you gain weight, etc, but your lifestyle choices HUGELY affect your body fat percentage. Over the years I’ve learned a lot of the things I did intuitively really helped me reach my goals (intermittent fasting, learning the importance of consistency but also changing ingredients up). However, I’ve also made a ton of mistakes and wreaked havoc on my metabolism. Having always executed my little “experiments” on my own, and finally reaching a point where I’m fed up with all of the conflicting health info out there, I decided to finally look to what works and get a coach. I’ve always been engrossed in the bodybuilding community and the sculpted athletes involved in the sport. Even if I never compete, I decided I want to push my body to achieve the same strength as figure competitors. So this time I hired a coach to guide me through the process. I’ve done extensive online research but nothing is quite the same as having a real person available to answer all of your questions, and I am glad to gain more knowledge of health and fitness through such a different lens. Not only is it nice to have the moral support of someone who has achieved results before rooting for you, but it is also important to have that person as a constant reminder that I’m not alone in this journey. I have been flying solo for long enough.

I have also avoided the strength training trend for long enough. I have always been someone who puts on muscle pretty easily (my figure skating coach once told my mom I should be a bodybuilder—haha) but growing up as a figure skater I was pressured to achieve that lean look. Well, now according to widespread fitness advice on social media, a lean, sculpted, and badass aesthetic is achievable through lifting heavy. This is the exact opposite of what my skating coaches used to tell me. The feelings I hold towards the media for telling women we have to work out differently than men to achieve the results we want is another whole blog post (or should I say rant) in itself so…I’ll save that for later. Of course, living for health experiments, I have to find out for myself if these Instagram transformations are another marketing scheme or the real deal (I think I know the answer to that). So I have decided to fully commit myself to the Lifting Life and see what happens.

Rather than waiting until i have achieved optimal results, I am going to share my journey as I go, something that i have not seen done often besides the awesome vegan YouTuber High Carb Hannah. This is the ultimate way to put myself out there and share my journey but it is totally honest, so it it works you’ll know it’s real! If I have craved one thing when doing research it is to follow someone along as they execute major changes in their lifestyle which is what I plan to do with the help of my coach, a specialist in competitive bodybuilding and muscle hypertrophy. If you are sick of seeing just the before and after success stories with anecdotes of the actual process, follow my journey through Youtube, this blog, and Instagram because i am here to share the process, what works what doesn’t, and all about what I have learned in the past so you can at least avoid some of the massive mistakes I’ve made. 

P.S. Are you wondering what that lovely melon-looking orange thing is in the cover photo? Well, that is Kabocha squash, whom I am in a long term relationship with. I FINALLY found it at the store again. It is like a mix between pumpkin and sweet potato and is so tasty, so don’t sleep on it!

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Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I am merely here to share my own experiences. What works for me will not necessarily work for you. Consult a medical professional before changing your diet or exercise habits.

 

Why I’m Hitting on HIIT

I am in a long-term relationship with HIIT workouts. We may even be married. Out of all of the fitness plans I have ever tried, my HIIT workouts have by far been the most effective. I got into the best shape of my life doing “Bodyrock Bootcamp” workouts with Lisa Marie (bodyrock youtube), and since then I have had a love for creating my own High Intensity Interval Training Workouts. The reason these are so effective is because they work EVERY muscle in your body, in an intense bout of exercise. The key is to remember that it is a short period of time so you must go all out. This is not a two hour long weight session in the gym. This workout is meant to push your limits, test your boundaries, and increase your endurance while at the same time energizing you for the rest of your day. It does wonders in speeding your metabolism, shedding fat, and building lean muscle. Ideally, you can incorporate weights into some of the exercises or end with a weights burnout. You should SWEAT when you do these workouts. I cannot wait to share some of my own creations every week with you!

 

Today I introduced one of my good friends to these workouts. We ran to the beach nearby and did it outside, which is way more thrilling than being a gym! You can really do these workouts anywhere. It was an hour and a half long endeavor and we ended the workout with some failed attempts at acro yoga, but it was still an absolute blast! In Denmark working out outside is completely normal–they even have outdoor gyms and parkour structures set up around the beach. What a world! The beach was packed with people at a toasty 70 degrees and the sun does not go down until 9:30 PM right now, which leaves no excuses for skipping a workout!

 

Another thing that struck me: a single workout can turn your whole outlook around. After dragging my feet all day because it had been so long since a proper workout, my friend and I fed each other with motivation and we had the best workout. Afterwards all of my goals seemed attainable again! Stay positive, keep with it, and don’t give up because it IS worth it and simply takes consistency 🙂

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