30 Day Squat Challenge

I’ve seen this trending recently, especially on Instagram. Think I’m going to give the 30 Day Squat Challenge a go in line with Ripped in 30. It’s also a small enough commitment, 2-3 minutes a day that we should all be able to do this! I just did my first 50 and I gotta tell ya, after 30 I started to breathe heavy and my legs got shaky. I can only imagine how strong this will make my glutes after 30 days!

When doing a squat, I like to raise my arms perpendicular to the ground in front of me. It helps me maintain balance. Make sure MOST IMPORTANTLY to never extend your knees past your toes. Your back can be bent forward, just keep it flat. Let me know how it goes and maybe, eventually, I’ll be brave enough to post a progress pic of my bum haha.

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Working Out: The Perks We Forget About

It’s so easy to stay in the negative when we aren’t in the shape we want to be in. We make excuses, we say it’s too hard, we complain of being so tired, depressed, and unenergetic. There’s NO WAY we could possibly committ to a daily workout, especially BEFORE we start our day.

But we forget (and so easily, too) how amazing it does feel to BE active and to STAY active.

People often say “I just ran out of motivation” and believe me, I used to say the same thing. Then I realized that waiting to do something or start something until you WANT to do it is never going to get you anywhere. If I only did things based on when I FELT like it, I’d never go to work, I’d never get out of bed before 9AM, I’d be completely and utterly unaccomplished and bored with myself.

We have to CREATE motivation, strength, and determination. These are outcomes of our own internal assessment and self growth.

Here are some things I started doing lately and the after effects:

  • I started drinking LOTS more water (close to 100 oz a day) and now I WANT to drink more water all the time, in fact, I’m thirstier
  • I started doing 5am cardio and now I go to bed on time WANTING to wake up and workout all over again
  • I started putting fuel into my body instead of sludge to merely keep me alive and now I CRAVE healthier food
  • I stopped drinking alcohol when I was depressed or had a rough day and instead I go on a walk or a run and guess what, I FEEL better
  • I never let myself go more than 2 days without working out, even when I’ve had bad food the same day, and now I find myself craving bad foods less!

I now SLEEP harder, think DEEPER, SEE further, and feel BETTER.

But why is it so easy to forget this when we dive into a plate of nachos Friday night and then somehow don’t come up for air again until Monday morning when we feel defeated, exhausted, and mentally drained from guilt?

We have to keep track of how things make us feel. We have to REMEMBER what makes us feel GOOD, what makes us feel ACCOMPLISHED, and sexy!

Trust me, there are perks to the hard work it takes to lose weight and get your body into shape. This is a continual journey for more than just abs, it keeps your brain active and alert and aids in the complete, all-encompassing joy that is your life.

Don’t give up! You GOT this! Get it!

A look into my early start today….

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18 Health Rules that Won’t Fail You

Here are 18 health rules that have helped me out IMMENSELY and that I need to be reminded of. Many of them I’ve always lived by, but some were also adapted from 25 Lazy Ways to Stay Skinny.

1. Stay active even when you’re eating poorly. Making the effort to stay active and keep up with your fitness level will make you feel better, improve your mood and lower your stress levels.

family-walking-in-park2. Keep a water bottle in your sights at all times. If it’s in front of you, you’re going to remember to drink it. You should be drinking water all day, every day. I am trying to get 80-100 oz down every day but realize it can take a while to work up to it without having to bathroom every 5 minutes. Most of the time when you think you’re hungry, you’re probably just thirsty.

3. Make sure you eat enough throughout the day instead of saving all your calories or caving at night. Night time cravings will be less so as you get used to eating more during the day.

4. Stay away from mindless eating. Avoid eating in front of the TV or getting snacks at the movies. Take time to enjoy your food and let your brain process when you are satisfied.eating-in-front-of-tv-329

5. Keep snacks on hand, in your purse, and in your car. Having a protein bar or almonds on hand lets you feel in control of your cravings and can help prevent you from making that stop at the drive thru.

6. You don’t need calories to help you sleep. Stop eating after dinner.

7. You don’t have to be perfect when it comes to food. Let yourself indulge when you have a super crazy craving, just watch your portions. No one food makes you gain weight, it’s about portion control and moderation.health-091212-002-617x416

8. Portion out pickable foods such as crackers, chips, grapes, etc. Ever reach the bottom of a bag of chips and think “how the hell did that happen!?” Mindless eating is easy to do. When you are going to have a snack, portion it out onto a small plate or bowl. The other day I made my boyfriend and I cheese and crackers but took a minute to slice the cheese into portions and put the crackers on a plate. Not only was he impressed with the presentation, but then we both had a good idea of how much we were eating.

9. Order small, stay small. Always order a small (or a tall). There’s no need to grab a venti coffee when a tall is just as good. Going to get froyo? Grab the smallest container. You’ll be surprised at how satisfied you are on less. Keep your wallet bigger and your tummy smaller.

10. Say no to artificial sweetners. Fake sugars only increase your sugar cravings and lead to bloating and fatigue. Remember that article I wrote about sugar-free candy?

11. Stick to the 2 day rule. Never go more than 2 days without working out or doing some sort of activity. It’s important to take a break and let your body rest at least once a week but the longer you go without working out, the harder it can be to start back up and stay motivated.

12. Stop going back for seconds. It takes 20-30 minutes for that fullness feeling to kick in. Instead of hurrying back for a second plate, let your brain catch up with your stomach.brain_junk_food_090727_mn

13. Always choose whole grains – they keep you fuller longer and help stabilize your blood sugar. Say YES to brown rice, whole wheat pastas, and breads instead of white flour.

14. Eat until you’re satisfied, not full or stuffed. Often times we think we have to keep eating until we feel uncomfortable to know that we got enough food, not true. Take your time when you eat, put your fork down between bites and get in tune with how you feel instead of waiting for stomach pains.

15. Don’t let yourself get ravenous. Have a small snack before going out or hitting up a party instead of showing up super hungry and filling up on beer and chips.

16. Don’t drink your calories. Your body needs water, stick to it. Empty soda, alcohol, and juice calories are full of sugar, slow your metabolism, and won’t help you feel full.

17. Use smaller plates. A bowl of cereal can be a whole different event depending on the size of your dishes. 1 cup of cereal is all you really need and it will be a lot more appealing if it comes to the brim of a small bowl instead of barely resting at the bottom of a large one.

18. Eat more color and keep your plate full of veggies! It’s nice to sit down to dinner and see a lot of food in front of you. Fill up half your plate with steamed and seasoned veggies and dig in!portions_1

Keep it Realistic: 6 Things to Keep in Mind to Reach Your Goals

I think we’ve all said or heard someone say “GO BIG OR GO HOME!” but realistically, this shouldn’t apply to your workout and nutrition regimes. We can’t be ALL or NOTHING, we’re all only human. A lot of the reason so many people fail or give up is because they think that if they don’t do everything perfectly, they might as well not do anything at all. Back to the couch, back to the Cheetos, back to feeling tired, gross, and not happy with ourselves.

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Wrong!

Here are 6 things to keep in mind as you go through your life, which is happening right now, not tomorrow. Transformation is an everyday occurrence, not a future event.

  1. Don’t make your first day your last day. We’ve all built up the motivation in our heads, blasted some epic music, got our gear on, and went to the gym with the best of intentions only to push it too hard and injure ourselves so we can’t workout the next day. I’ve done this, twice now. The first time was about 6 months ago when I decided to go on a super long 10 mile run and threw out my knee, overworked my Achilles heel and had to take a break from running for close to 3 months. Boo! Monday this week was another instance, where I got super motivated for weight training and then did too heavy of a weight on my bicep curls. Now I can’t extend my left arm without shooting pains and have to stay away from weights for a while and ice my arm. Ironic huh? Start off slow and steady, gradually increase your workouts and let your body adjust. Make sure you give yourself rest days and rest completely on those days.
  2. Know your trigger foods.  We all have foods that make us want to keep eating more. Pringles WAS right, once you pop, you CAN’T stop and it’s AWFUL! I’m this way with a variety of veggie chips, crunchy things, and cheese. I know that if I have one bite of it, I’m going to want more and won’t be able to stop thinking about it until the entire bag is gone and I feel incredibly guilty. There are foods you may crave that you should let yourself indulge in every once in a while, like a piece of chocolate. But be aware of what foods make you want to eat more and don’t keep them in the house.
  3. Realize that there is no ONE way or time to workout. You don’t have to set a two-hour block of time at 7pm every day to workout and do a bunch of cardio. You also don’t have to get up at 5am and hit the weight room. What you do need to be is consistent. Many of us run crazy busy lives and it can be hard to make the time, however, taking little segments out of the day is a great way to get in cardio and resistance training. There are things you can do throughout the day and at the office to tone your body. Sometimes I wake up early in the morning and have 15-20 more minutes than I usually would, instead of lying around in bed aimlessly I’ll go for a run, do some pushups, or grab a chair and do balance lunges and squats. Little things do add up to big results. Just keep at it!
  4. Surround yourself with health conscious people – get your family and friends on board. Let’s be honest for a second here, if you hangout with people who are always going to make fun of your “dieting” and push cake in your face, it’s going to be a LOT harder, if not impossible to reach your goals, change your lifestyle habits, and stay on track. Encourage your friends, family, and significant other to keep you on track. It’s easy to team up with people for healthy habits and JUST as easy to team up for bad ones. Sure, you can both indulge and get nachos and feel less guilty about it occasionally, but don’t get into the habit of letting your health slide because someone else is doing it with you. Get your friends to motivate one another. I often text my friends and say “HALP! I don’t want to go to the gym today!” and they will quickly respond with reasons why I do, guess what, they’ve never been wrong!
  5. Don’t do things you KNOW will make it harder to stay on track. I know for a fact that if I don’t go to bed before 10pm, I will make EVERY excuse not to workout that day because I’m so exhausted. If you have plans to go on a walk or exercise on the weekend, don’t drink yourself into a de-motivating hangover situation the next day.
  6. Don’t let yourself get SO HUNGRY you want to eat EVERYTHING! Eat healthy and filling meals (and fiber) throughout the day. I usually find that it’s not until I’m shaking and have went waaay too long without eating that I’m more likely to say “FUCK IT” and grab whatever sugar-coated deep-fried food item is in the break room. Stay prepared, keep fiber bars and fruit around. I keep oatmeal in my desk drawer for those days when I’m too busy with meetings to find my lunch. Other reasons you may always be hungry.

11 Great Ways to Keep Yourself on Track!

I’m on day 14 of the shred and there are some days where all of this is just plain HARD! I want to eat brownies and gorge myself on pringles and not move and never workout, but I can’t do that and I won’t do that because it will only leave me upset, out of shape, and depressed from all that bad food. So what are some things to do to keep yourself on track, especially in those desperate moments of confusion and cravings? Here are some of my secrets:

  1. Plan and Be Prepared – if you don’t have a game plan it’s going to be a LOT easier to eat that pizza at your friends party or sneak a doughnut from the break room. Pack your lunch the night before. Stock your pantry, fridge, and freezer with healthy options AND choices so that you have a pretty good idea of what you want when you get home. Choices are important because they give us options to make us feel like we are in control and not being “forced” into eating a certain way. An example, I planned on having a giant salad the other night but then really wanted something sweet by the time I got home, good thing I had frozen tilapia and coconut shred ready to go! This weekend I’m going to a friends bday BBQ and there’s going to be TONS of burgers, beers, and pasta salads. Before I said “omg I won’t even be able to go!” I put a game plan in place. I’m going to pre-make an amazing salad and bring my own little cooler of sparkling water, Zero Vitamin Water, etc. This way I’ll be eating with everyone else and will still be able to have a beverage in my hand at the same time. All that extra effort means I’ll probably have room on Loseit for a s’more by the end of the night 😉
  2. Portions! – Make the effort to get familiar with what the serving size is of the most common foods you eat. Ask restaurants to box up half of your meal before they bring it out to you. (Also – never be afraid to ask them to cook your meal healthier or without an ingredient, it’s a restaurant and they are cooking for YOU!) Buy smaller plates, bowls, etc. I even find that when I eat with dessert forks instead of the bigger ones, I eat slower, get full faster, and end up eating less overall.
  3. Never eat out of the container! – You’d be amazed at how many chips you actually ate out of that bag in front of the TV. If you REALLY want to have something like that, portion it out. Put a serving size of chips or whatever you’re about to eat in a bowl or make it pretty on a plate. Enjoy your food, let it nourish you, be aware of how it makes you feel as you eat it.
  4. Get rid of your Kryptonite – goldfish crackers, dove chocolate. What is it that if it’s in front of you, you just HAVE to eat it. Don’t think that hiding it in the cubboard will help, either. It always finds a way to talk to you. “Hey! Sarah, up here, behind the oatmeal, I’m chocolate, and you waaaant me!” Don’t make your efforts any harder by keeping bad things around. If you have roommates, try to agree on making sure bad foods are kept hidden. I don’t want to come home to a bowl of cookies if I don’t have to.
  5. Know your goals and track them – I’m not saying you have to use Loseit or track/count ALL of your calories ever. But do make sure you know where you’re at and what you should be doing/eating in a given day.
  6. Stock up – keep meal replacement bars, almonds, and healthy snacks that keep for a long time in your purse, trunk of your car, or some place in your apartment/house where you can grab them quick on the go. There are going to be unplanned times when you get swamped, called to a meeting, a last minute get-to-gether and you won’t have time to prep a meal or have healthy options. Having a healthy snack or something like a Cliff bar with tons of fiber/protein will keep you feeling satisfied and better suited to make a healthier choice later.
  7. Don’t Let Yourself Get Hungry! – sure, you are going to feel hungry that first week or so as your stomach shrinks and you get accustomed to eating less, however, you shouldn’t EVER skip meals or wait too long to eat. When this happens ghrelin builds up in your system (the hungry hormone) and makes you want to EAT. Staying full and eating lots of fiber and keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level will help you head home for that healthy meal instead of ending up at a drive-thru. I always keep low-fat cottage cheese in my fridge and eat a couple spoon fulls before I cook dinner. This keeps me from over-eating or deciding to go get ice cream instead.
  8. Drink More Water – often times we think we’re hungry when really we’re just thirsty. Get in the habit of drinking LOTS of water daily and you’ll find yourself with more control of what you’re eating.
  9. Stop Eating When You’re Full – learn what it means to be full. This doesn’t mean eating until you feel sick. Eat SLOWLY and enjoy the food nourishing your body. You’ll often find that once you stop eating, you’re already fuller than you thought. It can take a while for the message to get from your stomach to your brain. Be inspired by toddlers. Ever notice that kids will often eat just a bite of a cookie and then put it down and walk away
  10. Get Accountability Buddies! – have friends join you in your exercise regime and healthy eating ways! Keep each other on track by motivating each other and promising to help push each other to make that workout class even if you’re tired. Help them up when they have an off day and remind each other that you can’t fail if you never give up! If one of you loves the gym but also loves ice cream and the other one never wants to work out, find ways to inspire each other. Social media is also a great way to share progress and find other people to keep you accountable. Also make sure to measure success in ways other than the scale!
  11. Stay Motivated! – Find people, books, site, pictures, and blogs that keep you wanting to keep being a badass trailblazer for your body and your mind!

Why Having a Cheat Meal is Good for You and Your Diet

Weight loss is definitely about consistency and making smart choices but it’s just as important to establish habits and lifestyle changes that are realistic and attainable. This of it this way: you and your friends are embarking on a long road trip from Seattle to Disney World, obviously you want to get there sooner than later but you’ve realized you’re going to have to pace out the journey to get there safely and make sure no one falls asleep at the wheel. You’re going to need to take rest stops and probably get a hotel every couple of nights at least. You may even get off course a little bit because your cousins girlfriend insists that you see the largest known toad mating habitat south of where they filmed Days of Our Lives. The point is, just because you do take these stops and may go the wrong direction for a while, you know your overall goal and you’re going to get there.

Giving yourself a meal a week or a day every now and then (scheduled or not) will make you less likely to cheat uncontrollably. I’ve found for myself that it also keeps me more motivated to stay on track. For example, back in 2010 when I started my ultimate weight loss journey there would be days where I just “had” to have a McDonald’s cheeseburger, so I’d get one. More likely than not, after I indulged in one, I’d feel kind of gross, not guilty because I knew I was only human, but I started paying more attention to how certain foods (especially real vs. fake or highly processed foods) truly made me feel. The next time you really want Oreo’s give yourself some time and think about it, if you still want them hours, days later, go for it. But when you do indulge, take the time to think about how the food is effecting your body. I often find now that I’m more health conscious that super sugary or processed foods really make me feel sick within minutes of eating them.

There are lots of good reasons to have cheat days in general; some of the biggest reasons being that it helps your mind maintain a level of understanding with your body. Sure, the mind is a powerful thing, I’m pretty sure I will the light to turn green every morning on my way to work, but at some point depriving the pleasure centers of your brain from chocolate or something you really enjoy will only make you and your body go crazy. I typically try to keep chocolate in my house – what? that’s crazy speak, why would you keep evil food at your fingertips!? – well actually, having it readily available tends to calm my nerves. Knowing that I CAN choose to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, gives me more self-control. When I do want chocolate, I’ll often have a piece of Dove dark chocolate, slowly savoring it and ending up completely satisfied. Otherwise, if I kept restricting myself I’d end up eating an entire tray of homemade brownies within a matter of weeks (yes, I’ve actually done that before….on numerous occasions but I won’t judge myself harshly for that because I know WHY it happened).

Also, it would be pretty hard to gain back the majority of your weight loss in one day (or one meal). We know that we have to eat an excess of 3,500 calories to gain back a pound of fat. Often times, too, weight gain can be caused more by sodium intake than actual calories/fat. Sodium helps us retain water weight, so if you head home and eat 5 packets of Top Ramen (please don’t by the way) you will most likely feel bloated and retain water weight, not that you should be basing your progress by the scale alone anyway though.

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Homemade Pizzas! On the left: Thai style with chicken and peanut sauce. On the right: good ol’ pepperoni and canadian bacon @_@

Cheat meals have also been shown to help boost your metabolism from time to time. This is because when we reach plateaus our body begins to conserve energy and adapt or adjust to our new eating and fitness habits. This is one of the reasons again, why interval training is so great. The same is true for your eating habits. When you allow your body to eat some of the foods it “wants” or more what your mind wants, the Leptin hormone levels in your body increase back to a normal level. Thus, telling your body “hey it’s ok, we can rev up the metabolism again, Joe just ate a hot dog!”

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Brownie Waffles – so bad but so good. I should do some posts about cheat meals and put this on there.

Bottom line: instead of trying to deprive yourself for the long haul until you reach that dream body, take breaks every now and then, pull over for those rest stops and have a bowl of ice cream. As long as you’re doing it smart and still making a conscious effort to not fall completely off the wagon then you’re doing an amazing job. Food is more than fuel, it’s also one of the many pleasures of being alive, so enjoy it and realize that it’s just as much a part of weight loss and fitness as anything else!