Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Goals

I didn't weigh myself this week. I made this decision because we have extended the challenge due to a long weekend my Mom planned and I didn't want her to worry about weighing or anything while she was having fun. We all just have an extra week, so it isn't like it was really long extension, just a little extension. I plan on weighing in next Monday and not obsessing about the scale this week. I found myself wanting to step on the scale almost daily during the last couple of weeks and it was driving me a little bonkers.

So each month I try to set goals for myself. Some times the goal is to simply to make it through the month and other times they are more complicated like complete the beginners yoga series and work on loving my body more. This month I wanted simple goals I could work on.

September Goals...

Goal Number 1: Put myself back on my sleeping schedule, even on the weekends. While I was in college I didn't have a choice but to work full time during the day and go to school at night and I stayed up late most evenings to complete homework tasks or study for exams. By the time my two years were done, I was a wreck. Once I graduated, I was struggling to actually get a good amount of sleep still because of the crazy schedule I was used to. So I put myself on a sleep schedule in order to be able to function again and surprisingly it worked. Suddenly I was able to become a morning person. Scary I know, I hate mornings as much as the next person. But over the last month I have been slipping on my sleep schedule again. It started with a weekend, I stayed up a little later to watch a movie and before I knew it I had thrown my body off completely. Right now I am EXHAUSTED. It has been several weeks since I have gotten a full nights sleep. Even on the weekends I am not catching up, Bella Rue only sleeps in slightly, her little bladder is trained to our weekly schedule and by 7:30 a.m. she is doing the potty dance on our faces to go out. Not to mention my body is getting pretty used to waking up early as well. But it is more than getting 8 hours of sleep, I learned that my body did really well when I put it to bed at 9 p.m. and lights out at 9:30 p.m. So that is my goal, to go to bed by 9 p.m. and lights out at 9:30 p.m. for the next month. Hopefully I can start feeling like a somewhat rested human being after a week or so.

Goal Number 2: Swim. I have done many different workouts. I am not a firm runner or biker or walker. I try and do everything. Because I hate cardio so much I find that I have to switch it up and not only switch it up I have to find what works for me in that moment. Last month I had a lot of fun exploring HIIT workouts on the elliptical, with some walking and a couple swims thrown in. This month though, I want to get in the pool at least 3-4 times a week. Why? My big vacation is in 6 weeks and I want to be a strong swimmer before I snorkel in the ocean. I mean, I can swim and I am not a weakling in the pool BUT I want to be a much stronger swimmer. The snorkeling tours can go for 1-2 hours sometimes and I want the endurance to last. Plus not to mention swimming feels good right now on my joints. I will still be lifting weights and walking and maybe even doing some HIIT workouts on the elliptical, but I want to really concentrate on swimming for cardio until vacation time. Do you have any favorite swim workouts I can give a try?

 That is it. Just 2. I really need a simple month.

So what are your goals for September??

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Check In and A New Recipe

Last week was a long week. I hit the lowest weight I had hit since May but then this weekend happened and I gained a few pounds back. That is what happens when you laze around watching Orange is the New Black and movies, eating whatever take out is around because all your plans got changed and you hadn't planned on eating at home. I don't mind really, I reschedule Saturday's plans because the husband's eye was pretty bad when he woke up, turns out he got a little sand in it and it caused a scratch which meant the doctor was having him do eye drops in his eye every two hours. It would have been miserable to leave the house like that and try to have fun with friends, especially since he was in a lot of pain.

Sunday my beach day was cancelled because my friend got sick. I was actually really grateful she didn't try to tough it out for me because I have been busting my butt staying healthy so I won't take any extra days off of work till my vacation in 7 weeks. I just took it as the universe was telling me to take it easy because by Friday of last week I swore I wasn't going to be able to keep moving if I didn't get some sleep and down time. So I went from a jammed packed weekend to a hanging out at home weekend. It was great actually, I was able to buy our plane tickets for our cruise, after months of research finally buy our luggage for our cruise (we are now PROUD owners of luggage, or will be when it arrives, I texted my Mom and told her I am officially an adult now because I bought luggage), did the laundry, folded the clothes, filed all the paperwork that had gathered on my desk, opened all the mail (found some great deals too), made some phone calls and generally just got around to marking off some things on my to do list. As well as spent plenty of time cuddling/playing with Bella Rue and took the big dogs for a couple of walks.

It also meant I had time to food prep Sunday. The husband and I had done a big shopping trip Friday to prepare for a week of clean eats so we had plenty of stuff to dehydrate some plain jerky, boil some eggs for our breakfast of hard boiled eggs, prep some salads for lunches and I had a new recipe to try, cinnamon protein bars. They were actually a lot of fun to make. 


2 1/4 cups of roasted oats
1 cup of peanut butter (I used all natural and no stir)
1/4 cup of honey (I buy mine from the farmers market)
1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
2 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips
1 cup of whey protein (I found this in the bulk aisle, I got plain but you can get vanilla too)
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of chia seeds or flax seeds (I used flax)


I roasted the oats by spreading a thin layer across a baking sheet, preheating the oven to 350 degrees and baking them for roughly 10 minutes. I also stirred often in those 10 minutes to keep any of them from burning or over baking on one side. The smell was AMAZING. Seriously, roasting oats has a great smell.

Once that was done I let them cool completely before mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. I did it with a spoon but to be honest clean hands probably would have worked better, I felt that the spoon didn't stir up the ingredients correctly. I spread the mixture in a glass baking sheet with a little bit of olive oil on the bottom for sticking and baked it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I cut them up in bar shapes and placed them in a plastic container for storage. Then I just slipped them in a plastic sandwich bag for my lunch. 

Yum! I still have plenty of ingredients for the next batch as well and I know what went in these so I am not frustrated at reading the back of the protein bars I normally buy to find that they have 28 grams of sugar in each serving. I don't know how many calories are in these or grams of carbohydrates to be honest, but I will have to look it up and get back at you guys.

So last week, as I said above, I hit my lowest weight since starting the challenge but I don't think it was in a healthy way. I am struggling to find the balance between too little food and too much and what to eat still. Last week I was under-eating and definitely not getting enough protein, which was a drastic change from my usual binge eating and emotional eating. My body did not handle the change well. The eating schedule I was on was fine but I was eating purely vegetables and fruit with only lean meats. The difference between the first week and the second week was simple, how much protein I was taking in (it pays to track what you eat). I was taking in a lot less protein this last week because we hadn't made it to the store to stalk up on string cheese or other protein filled snacks. Now if you do the calorie calculations on that, whew not a lot of calories in lean meats or vegetables or fruit. I had dropped down to around 900-1100 calories a day. WAY lower than I should have been at. On Thursday I don't think I even ate dinner because the husband was working over time and I was too exhausted to cook. I did a little experiment and added in a little bit more protein after that, some salami and home made jerky. My energy levels did rise and I felt a lot better. So now this week is dedicated to finding the balance again, making sure I am eating enough protein to make up for my lack in carbohydrates and taking in enough calories to sustain me without losing all my energy. Finding the balance with PCOS is hard, there is a fine line you have to walk in order to lose weight and it means a lot of tweaking your diet until you come up with the right formula for you. In my case it is reducing my carbohydrates drastically but adding in a good amount of protein/calories through meat. 

So now with these few pounds I gained back over the weekend hanging over my head, I am packed and ready for the gym after work. Because we can't swim (the husband's eye and also it is group pool exercise day), I will probably rock some elliptical intervals and do an upper body day on the weight machines. Or I guess I could jump in the pool and rock out the group workout. Either way I need to head to the gym, walking is great but I need something more this week.

What is your Monday workout plan??

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PCOS Acne Beast

(Authors Note:  I am not an expert, these are my personal tips and tricks, they might not work for you because all skin is unique and well I am not an expert yet again. Also any of the products I talk about are NOT because they were sent to me for free or I was told to review them, I simply found these products after years of trying things and they are what I use.)

One of the not so fun joys of PCOS is the acne. You know, those fun red zits all over your chin that remind you of being a hormonal teenager? Yep those. Now as a teenager I didn't really struggle with acne (I know shocking huh!). It wasn't till my diet raged out of control and I started gaining weight that the acne monster reared its ugly head which was probably around my early 20's. Now I know that it was probably a combination of diet, stress, not knowing how to deal with it and some bad habits but back then I was so frustrated to be dealing with it all. But slowly over the years I have been building a routine that works in fighting not only the acne but also the hidradenitis suppurativa and unwanted facial hair that also comes hand in hand with our lovely PCOS.

Removing The Hair...

 Because PCOS causes unwanted hair (another thing I didn't get till I gained weight), on my chin, that makes me extremely self conscious, I was a waxer and plucker. I spent each week slathering on the home wax and ripping it off my face. Once a month I went to a professional who did it for me. In between I used tweezers to pluck. I was obsessive. One day I went in for my very first facial and the esthetician told me a secret, okay so it isn't a secret, but she said that waxing and plucking can cause in grown hairs which can masquerade as acne. So most of the angry zits on my face were actually in grown hair bumps, you know, like what you get on your legs when you shave too often. She suggested I switch to hair removal cream and I gave her a look of all looks. Hair removal cream is scary crap people, chemicals that burn your hair, what stops it from burning your face off as well?!! But I decided to get brave and give it a try. I tried all of them. I would buy a box and then use it up, then move on to the next box till I found what became the perfect brand for me.

You can find it at any local Walgreens or well anywhere really (I have also found it at Wal-Mart and Target). It was the only brand that didn't irritate my face (think bright red skin and small red bumps after using other brands), removed my hair without needing to leave it on for an extra few minutes (with Nair I was leaving it on for almost 14 minutes to get the same results and that is super dangerous) and the results lasted. Actually I only need to do it maybe once every 8-9 days now. Once I started using hair removal cream I noticed something pretty cool, a lot of those angry red zits were no longer popping up on my chin. I still get small in grown hair zits under my chin maybe once a week or once every other week but not nearly as many as I was getting or as often. But I am still very careful when using the cream, I make sure to time myself very accurately, use it only at night just in case there is a little redness and after I wipe it off with a towel (per the directions) I wash my face completely and put face lotion on.

The next tip came from my Mom. Witch Hazel.

I don't have a favorite brand or anything, I just go to Target and get the cheapest bottle they got. It can be hard to find though, look in the band aid aisle, sometimes it is hidden there. Anyways, when my acne gets really bad and even when my hidradenitis suppurativa gets out of control, I just take cotton balls, soak them a bit in witch hazel and dab on the problem areas or hold on the areas depending on how much is needed. It has done wonders. It cleared up a lot of my under arms issues that I have with the hidradenitis suppurativa and helped me with some major break outs. I have noticed that when I use the witch hazel on a particularly stubborn acne area the zits tend to go away a whole lot faster, usually by the next morning they have shrunk noticeably. It does dry out my skin a bit so I don't use it all the time and I moisturize my face afterwards.

Covering It Up...

I wear make up daily. Not only for my job but also because I really enjoy wearing make up. I like experimenting with different eye shadows and I love the way a nice simple black liner looks on the top lid. It makes me happy but that also means I wear it a lot, almost every single day. Sometimes on the weekends I will give my face a break but even then if I have plans I put it on. Cover up become a big issues for me when I started getting acne from my PCOS. Before I only used cover up sporadically but once I started getting acne, I had to start the hunt for cover up I could wear daily that 1. didn't clog my pores 2. actually covered up my acne, 3. didn't wash me out and 4. didn't feel heavy. It took awhile of trying out liquid cover ups that never quit looked right/clogged my pores causing more break outs and I even tried some powdered one's that flaked off, but eventually I tried a brand I thought I would never try in pure desperation. Bare Minerals make-up.

I started out with one of their starters kit that came with a foundation primer, loose powder foundation, a mineral veil, an all over warmth and a brush. I have found that they have huge sales on their kits during the holidays and I bought a few kits just to save money but I don't need the mineral veil. I mean it is nice to have but I don't need it. It also took some testing colors out to find mine, I thought I was a much lighter complexion but it was washing me out, so I took their online quiz, got the color they suggested and it worked. Right now I am just using the foundation and warmth but I do LOVE the primer, I just haven't gotten around to ordering more. I found that none of it clogs my pours and it all covers up blemishes really nicely. When I have really red zits I just pop on some spot concealer (I am not loyal to any brand) and then place the foundation over it. Nice cover and I don't worry about everyone staring at my huge zit all day. Plus it doesn't feel heavy or greasy or make my face shiny and my acne lessened when I started using it.

Clean and Moisturized...

My daily routine normally involves cover up, blush, bronzer, eye shadow, lip gloss and eye liner. That is a lot for a face to handle. So I think it is always best to wash my face at night. Even if I didn't wear make up I still tend to wash it. But since I wash it daily I didn't want something harsh or full of chemicals. My skin is sensitive to certain smells and things with harsh chemicals in it. So I use this...

I did try their acne line but I hated it. It dried out my face and didn't really stop the acne. But I do love their sensitive skin face wash. No frills, just a basic face wash that I can wash my face with before crawling into bed. I do have some fancier face washes I keep in the shower, stuff from Dr. Wexler and samples I get in my beauty boxes, but Clean and Clear is my daily go to face wash. It doesn't cause too much dryness, it doesn't cause extra breakouts and it removes my make-up like a champ. I did try make up remover wipes for awhile thinking they would simplify my life and they didn't, not at all, they burned and were really chemically. I only use them when I travel now because ew. Honestly, I just keep returning back to Clean and Clear. Simple. Easy.

After I wash my face I am a big believer in moisturizing. I use the Dr. Wexler line that is at Bath and BodyWorks but they did warn me the last time I bought it that some of the stores are going to stop carrying the line *sobs*. But I can still find it online on their website.

Anti-Aging Essentials Starter Kit - Patricia Wexler M.D. - Bath & Body Works

I also use her day cream and after I exfoliate once a week I use her skin regenerating serum. It all comes in a fun kit and I have found that the kit is cheaper during the holidays. I literally buy the kit once a year and make it last that year. You don't need a lot, a little goes a long way. I have been using her anti aging kit but she does have an acne kit I have used as well, both are amazing. I have noticed less wrinkles around my eyes, softer skin and less acne. Plus the creams aren't heavy, so they don't clog your pores and if you have ever tried other face creams, some do, really bad.

Scrub It...

I didn't discover exfoliating till recently. I mean I knew what exfoliating was and used it when I was younger. Actually I remember going into my Mom's shower to steal her salmon bottle full of St. Ives apricot scrub. So when I finally discovered the beautiful joys of exfoliating again, I went right back to the brand I loved as a kid.

I exfoliate my body at least once a week to fight off the Keratosis Pilaris that is genetic in my family with the apricot scrub and it works. But I never even considered exfoliating my face. Apricot scrub was just too harsh anyways. It wasn't till I got a sample of an exfoliate for my face in on of my Birchbox's that I even considered using an exfoliate on my face. But it started becoming a weekly habit of mine till I ran out of my sample. So I headed to the store where they were having a buy 1 get 1 free on St. Ives and discovered a brand new fun product to try.

I love a good face mask. Love it. The husband buys them for me in bulk as stocking suffers because I love them so much. So when I saw a face scrub with a mask, um yeah I bought it. So now once a week I place a quarter size amount on my face, leave it on for 7-10 minutes and then rub it around a bit to exfoliate before rinsing it off. Gently clears off that dead skin, helps clean up any acne that might be threatening to break out and even helps the current acne (if there is some) go away faster. I love that simple mask and scrub, it works wonders and it works on your neck as well. Remember, your neck has the same skin as your face, so treat it the same way you treat your face. That was a big tip I got from an esthetician.

One of the best things I learned about my PCOS acne was simple, watch what you eat and drink a ton of water. Those two things right there are like instant acne fixers for me. I just up my water intake and eat extremely low carb. I am averaging roughly 45-55 grams of carbohydrates a day and my acne has all but disappeared. Seriously, I looked in the mirror recently and noticed I didn't need nearly as much cover up as I was needing a few weeks ago when I was knee deep in crappy food choices. So one of my best acne fighters is simply what I eat and drink. Sugar and grease plays such a huge role in acne, huge, so every time I start emotionally eating one of the first signs of it is the red angry zits covering my chin and around my mouth. Actually within a day of one bad meal (anything with grease or high sugar) and I wake up with a spot. If that isn't motivation to eat clean I am not sure what is.

It can be a lot of work to take care of your skin, seriously, but I believe it is important. One of the hardest things that I had to cope with when I got diagnosed with PCOS (besides the infertility) was simply losing a lot of my confidence due to the weight gain, facial hair, scars and acne. But it doesn't have to be that way and when I finally learned that I started doing everything I could to take better care of my skin and my body.

So what are you acne fighting tips?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Seeing the Results...

Anyone else not ready for this Monday? I really wasn't. I struggled to fall asleep last night and I ended up waking up this morning instantly on cranky mode. I don't do well with mornings as it is and I really don't do well on mornings where I have had less than 5 hours of sleep. Lovely. Luckily the husband is pretty forgiving of my morning snapping.

So I weighed in this morning for my first week down of the second challenge continuation with my Mom and her husband vs me and my husband. The final weigh in for week one.. drum roll please.. 6 pounds lost. Boom! To be honest I contribute it more to my clean eating than anything else. 


We all know I was struggling with emotional eating for a couple of months and those months resulted in a 24 pound gain. Yuck. 24 pounds seems like such an innocent number but I felt those 24 pounds all over. I could feel it just weighing on me, my clothes were a whole lot tighter and my body was having horrible reactions to the food I was eating. We are talking daily stomach aches and acne all over my face. Not to mention PCOS symptoms that were raging out of control. I was really miserable. This week though I have cleaned up my eating so much and it has made a huge difference. We are talking about no more stomach aches, no new zits or pimples and my PCOS symptoms eased up finally. Just one week and I feel so much better. 

So what have I been eating?

Pretty much the same thing every single day except for the weekends.

Breakfast- Protein powder blended with unsweetened coffee. 

Mid morning snack- Two hard boiled eggs.

Lunch- Salad with spinach, ham and tomatoes. String cheese and a piece of fruit.

Mid day snack- Peanut butter and celery or black olives with string cheese.

Dinner- Pork steaks or chicken with vegetables. The husband was creative, he made chicken stuffed with a little cheese and ham that was amazing. But my favorite was the bun-less burgers stuffed in the middle with mushrooms, spinach and onions, topped with tomatoes and avocados. They were simply amazing.

I track my carbohydrates, calories and protein through the SparkPeople website and app. This whole last week I was right between 40-50 grams of carbs a day. I originally set the goal of 100 grams a day with the idea that I would gradually reduce but it just ended up that the meals I was planning were keeping me below 50 grams a day. Which was great! As for calories, before I had my calorie intake goal set at 1200 calories a day but recently after stumbling upon many articles having to do with under-eating hurting you just as much as overeating can, I went on a website that told me I would need to eat 1900-2100 calories a day to lose weight and that it took 2860 calories a day to maintain my current weight. That seemed really high to me so I compromised and I raised my calorie intake goal to 1400-1600 calories a day. Sometimes I allow myself 1800 calories if I do a really high level activity workout that day, like a killer swimming workout that burns almost 800 calories. Eating 1800 calories a day though is just really hard for me when I am eating lean meats and vegetables, there just isn't a ton of calories in either and both fill me up for longer, so eating almost constantly is what I would have to do to reach that goal. So I try to worry more about how many grams of carbohydrates I take in and the quality of what I am eating (lean meats with vegetables vs. fast food) than calories. When I was binge eating I tracked my calories one day (because most of the time when I am emotionally eating I don't track) and I think I topped out at 3,300 calories and over 300 grams of carbohydrates by the end of the day. Crazy talk. Seriously. No wonder I gained 14 damn pounds! As long as I am NOT doing that anymore, I try not to obsess over calories. For me and most women with PCOS it is the carbohydrates that cause the weight gain, not the calories.

This weekend the husband and I experimented with protein pancakes for breakfast, turns out they are pretty yummy. But that raised my carb intake to roughly 60 grams a day instead. In the end it didn't hurt my weight loss though so I didn't really freak out. I would rather have some fun on the weekends and allow myself a few cheats than binge eat. I am learning that things in moderation are okay, just as long as I don't go overboard or let it completely spiral me into binge eating.

Last week I talked about placing myself on an eating schedule and so far it is working. I only had to make one adjustment. In the morning I had originally planned to have my two hard boiled eggs with my protein drink/coffee mixture, then a mid morning snack of fruit with string cheese but I found that it was too much food in the morning for me. I am not a big morning eater. So I just moved everything back a bit, eating my eggs instead at my mid morning snack and ate the fruit for my lunch. It has been working a lot better for me. 

Water Intake-

I have to say that using the trick of making myself drink 16 oz every 2 hours has been challenging but so beneficial. It takes away the adding together all the ounces to track how many I drank that day headache away.

Sometimes it would be 10 minutes before I am due to fill up my cup again and I would realize that I had forgotten to drink half of my glass which meant downing it all down at once. But for the most part I managed to stick to drinking a 16 oz cup of water every 2 hours during the day. In the evenings I was a little more flexible but still would manage to drink at least 2-3 more 16 oz glasses. Over the weekend it was harder to track my water that way because time seems to fly on the weekends, so I found that I was struggling to take in the same water intake and I could actually FEEL the difference. The only other things I drank this week were my protein mixture with coffee, coffee unsweetened, black tea made with only a teaspoon of honey in the whole pitcher and I allowed myself to have 1 Angry Orchard hard cider as a mid week treat.

One of the things I love about Angry Orchard is that it is gluten free. I had given up on alcohol drinks up until I found Angry Orchard because every alcohol drink made me sick from all the sugars. My body just couldn't handle my favorite wine anymore or sugary girly drinks. So I stopped drinking for a while until I discovered Angry Orchard, for me they just seem to settle well with my body and I find that I can have a few without feeling the onslaught of PCOS symptoms. 


The first week of low carbing (is that a word??) is always a littler harder than most, especially after an emotional eating binge. So I decided to keep my exercise to more relaxing things rather than hard core pushing myself at the gym. 

Mon.- Yoga
Tues.- Walk with the dogs, 15 min yoga routine and 10 mins of foam rolling.
Wed.- Walk in the wetlands and 15 mins of yoga.
Thurs.- Rest (Actually I cleaned the whole house which is sort of a workout)
Fri.- Rest (Both the hubs and I were feeling the effects of a long week mixed with low carbs).
Sat.- 60 mins Swim
Sun.- 60 mins Swim

My favorite workouts were the swims to be honest. I realized that if I was going to get my snorkel on during vacation I needed to build my endurance back up in the pool. Now I am not a super horrible swimmer but I also am not a really strong swimmer. I had bad form for a lot of years that made it so I couldn't swim very far without having to doggy paddle. Luckily I have an advantage over most people, my husband taught swim lessons to kids and adults for 2 years, so he has a lot of tips and tricks for me. Plus he comes up with some fun workouts. 

Saturday and Sundays swim:

50 yards free swim warm up
200 yards hand paddles with no legs
50 no Kick
100 yards free swim
50 yard no Kick
50 yards free swim
25 yard breast stroke
25 yard just kick
50 yards no kick
200 yards free swim
50 yards no kick
100 yards free swim
25 yards back stroke
25 yards breast stroke
50 yard just kick
100 yards free swim cool down

1,150 yards total

We  basically did a HIIT swimming workout. Sometimes I was taking off from each end of the pool super fast with only a short 20 second rest and some times I was slowly paddling across the pool with longer breaks at the end. I worked on my form and my endurance. I find that I am still slow as heck when I do breast stroke or the back stroke but my free swim is getting a lot better. I went home starving and with over 700 calories burned each time. The husband and I decided each weekend (if we have time) we are going to head to the pool for swim workouts. I definitely need to become a really strong swimmer before our vacation, swimming in the ocean can be hard work.

This Weeks Workouts-

Mon.- At home HIIT workout and Arms
Tues.- Elliptical HIIT workout and Chest with Back
Wed.- Swim
Thurs.- Elliptical HIIT workout and Abs
Fri.- Swim
Sat.- Rest
Sun.- Rest (but I might be doing some walking on the beach with a friend this day)

The next few weekends are going to be hard. We have non stop plans both weekends. Plans that involve eating out other places. Eeck! So we have come up with a pretty good game plan, first of all we are going to work out hard during the week so that we at least get our 5 workouts in and we can take the weekends off if we need to. If we can, we will head to the gym before we leave the house for the day for our swim but we might not have the time or energy to do that. As for eating, we plan on making sure that wherever we eat we choose clean, so we choose a steak with some vegetables, leave out the potatoes or fries or bread. Usually everywhere has a big salad or something along those lines that we can choose as well. Just because we made plans with friends doesn't mean we should stop eating clean. Especially not with the results I am seeing and how much better I am feeling. For the first time in a long time I don't want to emotional eat, I don't want carbs, I don't want to eat poorly. Maybe because I have seen an amazing 6 pound loss this week or maybe because I just feel so much better than I have in months. It is literally like a huge boulder was lifted right off my shoulders this week when I started eating clean and feeling the results from it. Either way, fun with friends doesn't need to mean a total slip up. I am still going to track and I am still going to make good choices! I will also be carrying around healthy snacks with me and a bottle for water.

Tonight I am doing an at home HIIT workout and will be sharing that with you this week. I am running off of no sleep and it is a whole lot easier to get dinner done faster so I can crash into bed early if I workout at home while it is cooking. I have a few fun moves to try, I have written out a list and I want to give the workout a go before I share it! That way if it is totally horrible I can tweak it a bit. It is always good to have an arsenal of at home workouts to do as well as gym workouts for those days you just don't want to spend 60 minutes at the gym after a long day at work.

All in all it was a great week and a great weekend. Plus any weekend where I get to spend some quality time with the furry loves is ALWAYS a good weekend. 

Also after HATING the book I gave the TV show Orange Is The New Black a try this weekend and got hooked. Whoops. I probably should stop finding guilty pleasure TV shows to watch on the weekends but I just can't stop!

Funny story for the weekend...

The hubs and I decided to take a Sunday drive. There is a levee road with these awesome looking drawbridges not far from where we live and we find that it is a nice place to drive on Sunday's. Bella Rue loves car rides and we took her along for the ride. On one of the back levee roads we saw a whole field of cows and Bella stuck her head right out the window to bark and growl at them. It was hilarious. Here she is, 8 pounds on a good day, barking and growling at these HUGE cows in the field who are staring at her like she is an idiot. I was rolling!!

So how was your week last week?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Let's Take a Walk...

When I first started exercising I walked. It was the easiest and cheapest thing for me to do. I would just walk the dogs around the block and eventually I got strong enough to walk further. Now-a-days I am a pretty good walker. I can walk a 5k, I can hike and I have even kicked some booty uphill lately. So walking is not something I really do anymore because I don't feel it helps me with weight loss. I just feel a good workout is one where the sweat drips off of you and even though walking causes a bit of a sweat for me, it no longer pushes me very far. I guess I should be proud of this. The only time I walk anymore is usually on rest days or when the dogs need it or when I am doing run/walk intervals.

But this week I have been going back to walking again.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful. Mid 80's and that is so rare for the city I live in around August. Tuesday there was a nice breeze and I couldn't stomach the idea of sitting in a gym working out. So I didn't. I harnessed/leashed the girls and we decided to walk to the library to pick up a couple books I had waiting for me. Yes I have a Kindle and STILL get library books, I love the smell and feel of a real book but the convenience of an electronic book as well.

(Bella is a jerk on walks and likes to mess with the old lady Red dog)

They were so happy to get the fresh air and I was too. It has been a long summer and I was ready for some reasonable temperatures. The library isn't too far from our house, it is roughly a 45 minute walk round trip and you have to walk a hill to get home. Back in the day I dreaded that hill, now I don't even notice it. Funny how those non scale victories sneak up on you. After we all got home and dinner was started I did 15 minutes of yoga and some foam rolling as well. I would call that a successful walking night.

Last night the temperatures were again a reasonable 85 degrees, so instead of taking a walk around the house I looked up a wetlands/wildlife refuge to explore instead. I grew up in a place that had the most beautiful redwood forests full of green everywhere year round and beautiful sandy beaches. So living here, in the city, I grow tired of the concrete and small areas of dead things from the heat of the summer. Everything pretty much dies around here in July from the heat. The trees turn brown and the grass goes brown. There isn't a lot of green or nature to be had after spring. So I am ALWAYS on the look out for beautiful areas to find within the city, we have a nice walking path by our house, there are patches of wetlands around and the two rivers are always nice to walk by as well. 

Yesterday though the husband and I decided to explore a new area just a short 10 minute drive from our house.

Immediately upon getting there we saw the cutest jackrabbit hopping across the path. Super cute and fluffy. They have a nice paved path that walks you around the water and every few steps or so we kept hearing splashes or rustling in the grass. Eventually something caught my eye. Now in case you don't know this about me, I hate snakes, like hate hate snakes, like I run away from baby garter snakes and pictures of them make me want to cry. So when something caught my eye I thought at first it was a turtle and then I discovered it was a snake, which of course made me freak. It didn't have a rattle on its tail so I calmed down a bit but it did hold its body up above the grass in a weird fashion when it moved. I agreed to continue walking but was ever so watchful after that. We must have saw 5 of them and the husband loves snakes. Seriously, he is weird. I of course tried to be brave and not freak out but we all know that only worked for like 10 minutes before each splash was making me squeak. The hubs was good about pointing them out, he would say, "don't freak but there is another one over here", as he walked ahead of me and scared them off. They were interesting though, they hunted with their heads held high and didn't seem to fearful of us. 

When I got home I did some research and it turns out they are a yellow-bellied racer. They hunt in the grass near water edges during the day (explains why we saw them a lot). They are confident and don't hide often, so that also explains why they weren't terrified of us, more cautious but also curious. They hunt small mammals (poor jackrabbits), birds, insects, turtles and other snakes. They are avid climbers and will climb up trees to get prey (that freaks me out the most). They don't have big enough jaws to do any damage to humans but if trapped or caught they will bite and it will hurt I am sure. They aren't constrictors but they catch their prey by lying on them and either biting them or eating them whole. Funny way to hunt. They also move with their head held high to be able to see in the tall grass, which is how I figured out what they were and why I thought  it was a turtle at first, it was such an odd way to see a snake move when normally you see snakes flat on the ground. A little freaky but I think I can handle walking around the wetlands again, as long as I keep an eye on trees and grassy areas for them. I just don't want to step on one or get to close thankyouverymuch. *Shudder*

Though walking to me doesn't feel like a good workout, right now it is. I forgot how hard the first week can get when re-starting low carb/paleo. In so many ways I feel better because I am eating less carbs but it takes a few days for my body to adjust as well and those few days are usually spent feeling a little less energetic. I will gain all my energy back and more by the second week, but for now I am just a little more tired than normal. Walking is perfect. It gets me moving, outside and I do end up sweating a bit as long as I keep a good pace. The temps are starting to creep up again so I will get one more night of walking tonight before it heats up to a yucky 95 degrees and here in this city, the hottest part of the day is the evening not the afternoon. It takes all day to heat up and by 5 p.m. it reaches its peak. So the gym is on my schedule after tonight and I am really excited about trying out the new HIIT workouts I found online. 

Where is your favorite place to walk?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Yoga...

Last week marked the last class in my beginners yoga series. (Read about the different classes herehere and here). The last 6 weeks helped me discover so much about my body and about yoga. My history with yoga hasn't always been a pleasant one. I explored yoga a bit while I was in massage school. It was a great way to ground before a massage and stretch out our bodies (massage is hard work). We would do some poses the instructors walked us through and usually a guided mediation afterwards. My first actual class was with my Mom while I was in college. She had a cute studio by her house and we went one evening a week together. It wasn't bad. I enjoyed it but I struggled with a lot of the poses. I forgot about yoga for a bit until I went again a couple years ago with a friend at the gym my husband used to work at. I loved the first class with a great teacher who was all about gentle poses but the second class was with another teacher that was all about power yoga. I spent some time not going again after that until I discovered a cute little studio near my house that I drove by on the way home from work during the week. I worked up the bravery and went alone to a Saturday class just filled to the brim with ladies. It was a very popular class. The teacher was amazing though and she made me fall in love with the studio. I started bringing my Mom and when my anxiety got really bad I was going 2-3 times a week some weeks. It was in that little studio that I discovered yoga wasn't so bad after all.

I am not a flexible person. I am taller but my arms are short, I have a big chest that gets in the way and often times I feel like a klutz. Not to mention my balance is iffy most of the time. I don't have what you would think of as a yoga body. I am not long limbed or flexible. I am a plus sized woman. Sitting at a desk for the last 5 years has tightened my IT band so bad that some days it hurts just to sit with my legs out in front of me. I have left hip issues and knee issues. The worst are my ankle issues though and wrist issues. Any poses that required me to be on my wrist or ankles hurt. I struggled with downward dog the most. I would literally hold the pose for a few seconds before going into child's or puppy. It became the pose I hated the most in yoga class. I also had a hard time with happy baby and the warriors. I was a pro at corpse though.

When I saw that the studio was offering a 6 week beginners course for the same price that I could get a punch card for, I decided to take it. I felt that I needed to start from the beginning and learn the basics. I needed to learn a better way of dealing with certain poses I didn't like. But I also wanted to discover my strength and learn to love my body for what it can do. One of the things I learned about yoga recently was how much it can benefit you mentally with the right teacher. The studio I go to is big on self love and appreciating your body. Thanking your body. Meditating while doing the poses. Listening to your breath. Breathing in deep. I needed that quiet, that focus and that love, I was lacking in all of it.

I think my favorite part about the yoga series was getting the luxury of exploring each pose thoroughly and really learning how to get comfortable in them. As the weeks progressed I was able to hold poses for longer. I learned how to use straps and blocks to help me ease into poses. My biggest milestone was doing downward dog during week 5 without feeling like I needed to pop out of it before anyone else did. Turns out I wasn't spreading my hands wide enough and I was putting too much pressure on my palms which was resulting in wrist pain. I was just as proud when I did Warrior 1 and 2 without a hitch. I am still working on the transition from downward dog to a low lunge but according to my teacher some poses took her years to get comfortable with.

I had a great group of women in the class with me and I didn't feel self conscious at all. The teacher was amazing. Each class had a different theme of self love, thanking our bodies, reflecting on comfortableness with poses and why certain poses make us uncomfortable. I learned about breathing and stretching. It was amazing. I felt a lot of my hip pain ease up, my knees and ankles stopped hurting as much and my IT band no longer felt so tight. Not to mention my PCOS symptoms eased and my anxiety calmed down. It became a wonderful experience to go to class each Thursday. I did notice that after some classes though, especially if I worked through a lot of emotional poses or had a lot of self reflecting, I would go home snappish and moody. When I started looking at that I realized it was because I was working my way through some emotional issues during yoga. Not a bad thing but definitely a shocking thing. While I was in school for massage therapy we learned how certain pain in our body can be an emotional pain making us tense up and lock our muscles. We were taught that sometimes patients cry on our massage table because we released a particularly sensitive area that might have held some emotional pain as well as physical pain. But I didn't realize that I had areas like that in my own body till I took this yoga series. It is scary sometimes how much our bodies and minds are connected. It was also shocking to discover how much yoga touches on both of them at times really strongly.

So what now?

I have 2 weeks free at the studio and I plan on exploring the other teachers. All the teachers I have gone to there are amazing and I really haven't had a bad experience yet. So I am going to take roughly 3 classes a week over the next 2 weeks and then I am debating starting the next beginner series with another teacher. I just feel I could explore the poses even more if given the opportunity and the next teacher is just as amazing as this one was. So I am debating and will know by the end of the 2 weeks if I want to start September's beginner series next.

Beginner Yoga Tips:

I have learned a few things during these last 6 weeks and I wanted to share those with you:

  1. Find the right studio for you. The wrong studio and teachers can ruin yoga for you. If you are looking for a power yoga class, find a studio that really centers in on that. I was looking for a calming yoga studio, I wanted to really explore the poses while holding them for longer. I wanted to learn about yoga and not just jump right into a class. I wanted teachers that would connect my mind with my body because I often forget to. I wanted to be able to breath again and relieve my anxiety. So that is what I looked for and found in the studio I go to. Their focus is really on teaching each one of us about yoga and supporting all different levels of students.
  2. Don't just touch your mat during that one day a week class. Pull out your mat at home. You can do it while you are watching T.V. or right before bed or right when you wake up. I found that it really helped to explore the poses more on my own at home, made the next class a lot easier and it grew my confidence. 
  3. Don't worry so much about how you look to others. Yoga is not competitive. Not at all. It is about self discovery and working within the limitations of your body. There are straps and blocks, USE THEM. Don't ignore them because you don't want to look bad. No one is looking at you, they are too busy trying to get through the pose on their own, trust me. I tend to be someone who sweats and no one even noticed that I was sweating. I also don't have a lot of flexibility but no one seemed to care if I asked how to use the block to help me, actually some women looked relieved because they had the same question I had. 
  4. Ask questions. If something doesn't feel right, ask. I didn't at first and I struggled with a lot of poses. Turns out I was doing a few of them slightly wrong. In the warriors I was aligning up my feet and not my heals, making my balance wobbly. In downward dog I was placing too much pressure on wrists and not enough on my hands. When I asked is when I discovered how to do the pose correctly. My teacher was also really great about walking around and discussing issues anyways.
  5. Take a beginner series. Explore those new poses, even if you have done yoga before. Some times going back to the basics is a really good thing. I thought I had certain poses down but in this class I learned to tweak them a bit to make them even better. I discovered things about my body I had never discovered before in previous yoga classes. I even learned how to breath easier. It is worth it. If your yoga studio offers a beginner series, take it.
I also really loved this article about Your 12 Most Embarrassing Yoga Questions Answered

I highly recommend from my own personal experience for everyone to at least try yoga, you might find you really love it and you might find that it really helps you just like I did.

So what is your favorite pose?