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Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

Monthly Archives: February 2017

This is my last season competing. It was a big decision and to type that out after having said it out loud, makes it seem so much more real. When I talked with JP about it in January and explained it – he understood. When I told friends they understood too. So I’ll explain to you too.

After losing about 120 pounds including pounds lost in prep, I’m creating more loose skin in my legs and lower back. I don’t want another surgery. Does it bother me a little – of course it does, but not enough for another surgery. Prep isn’t real life, with posing and tanner, imperfections can be hidden to a degree. I can conceal most of my flaws and the ones I can’t, well damn – shit happens. In real life, I am in awe that this is my body, I’m in awe of its capability. I wake up many days and can’t believe this is mine and I created it. I also know it’s limitations and where I’m willing to push. This season is my last because I know my body physically can’t handle leaning out much more than it already has and I’m ok with that. I can say I did this. I can say I did this for three seasons. I can say I met amazing people and brought the best to stage I could in those moments.

Prep is going better than I could’ve ever imagined. I have show dates in mind. I have friends coming to those shows. Progress is constant and steady. I feel strong and fueled. I’m excited about these moments. I’m excited that I can own this and say I did this myself. I’m also excited about the after life. Finding a new goal and just living.

I can’t wait to see what maintenance looks like. I can’t wait to see what my running and lifting can become. I can’t wait to see what it’s like supporting JP in his half marathon training like he has supported me in my lifting – actually structured running together on his short distance runs.

I macro count because I’m terrible at consuming enough fat and protein otherwise. I’m either too low or high, but this past fall I tracked about 70% of the time and was mindful – I’m excited about being mindful more often after I reverse to maintenance. I think there’s value in weighing and measuring and learning what you actually need versus what you think you should have. Sometimes you only need a tablespoon of peanut butter and sometimes you need three, oops, it happens.

I’ve been asked if I will I powerlift – I want to increase some of my lifts, but powerlifting isn’t in my timeline right now.

I’ve been told I should take a year to eat in a surplus and build muscle. Well. That’s not in the timeline either. I like the muscle I have. I’ve never said I was huge, I’ve never said I was small either. I am a petite person – I’m 5’4″ and as of this writing 125.8 pounds because I’m in prep, but even out of prep I wear a XS blouse and 0/2 pant. I don’t want a lot of muscle on my frame – that was never my goal and it probably will never be my goal.

I think muscle building is a great goal and while I’m glad I’ve built a little, I truly don’t know how much more I would really want or like for my body. Everyone’s body is different and everyone likes different things for their body. I just happen to like mine kind of the way it will be post-season and I guess I don’t understand what’s wrong with that.

When did constant change become the goal? I do believe in challenging yourself. Growing in some way. But I also believe that sometimes you finish a goal and pick a new direction somewhere else with something completely unrelated. When did maintaining becoming boring? I think maintaining is a hell of a lot harder than losing weight. It’s a new way of thinking, a new way of eating and working out. How do you maintain homeostasis? That shit’s the real challenge.

I know some people follow my social media account because they can’t believe I eat the way I do, but it works for me. My green beans and cookie too. It’s not for everyone and that’s perfectly fine, but I think living is more than losing weight and competing – yeah, I said that because it’s true. Even if you don’t think I believe that, it is true – it also just happens that the past three years my goals have been around competing.

In real life, it’s being able to talk to yourself about why you make the decisions you do.  Asking why this food right now to satisfy the moment – is it necessary or is something else going on. Living is about being confident in your decisions and standing by them – not beating yourself up over the muffin. You clearly wanted the muffin because in the moment you believed it would solve the problem at hand. If it did, then perfect, move on. But if it didn’t, then talk about why it didn’t and find a new strategy for the next time.

I macro count because I feel that I can make more impactful decisions for myself that I can stand by and allow me to enjoy what’s happening around me. In prep and outside of prep – I need to enjoy the process, whatever it may be. Knowing where my wiggle room of weightloss, maintaining and growing is important because it helps me create a strategy for the future – it helps me think about what life will be like post-season when I’m maintaining. It gives me peace of mind that I can achieve whatever new goal is ahead of me and have some kind of balance – even though balance may look different each day or weekly. Sometimes balance may be going over my nutritional goals because date night is more important.

I want to know what happened to being excited about finding balance and learning that aspect of life. Balance is hard and almost nonexistent – isn’t it exciting to try to learn what seems to be impossible?

Maybe I want to do the impossible. I want to find my balance without competing. That’s scary in itself too. It’s scarier than when I started losing weight. Or walking into the weight room. Or learning macro counting. Or stepping on a stage.

The impossible seems to be a place I could learn to also be comfortable.

Goals can change. They should change. Your interests can change too. So I’m giving this season my all and I’m so excited about it, but I’m so excited to see what else I can accomplish and reach for too. The stage will always be there if I change my mind, but I don’t think I will.

❤ Cristina

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At the end of last week I posted about a giveaway that I’m doing it with Square Organics for Valentine’s Day, I’m going to be announcing later today – don’t worry. I asked for people to tell me the positive things that they tell themselves whenever they’re frustrated. I asked them what are the things that you tell yourself to keep going, when you feel like kicking yourself down further, but know that’s not going to solve anything.

When we talk about self-love we think of the actions that we take to better ourselves physically. Maybe you’re going to go get a manicure at a local salon or you’re going to get a massage to help you relieve some stress. Maybe for you means that you are going to give yourself some time to read and have a good cup of coffee. Maybe it’s working out to get the endorphins going. More often than not we don’t think about what we say to ourselves. We don’t think about the consequences negative self speak has on our actions, our ability to push through. 

I don’t think we realize how truly mean we are ourselves and times. And trust me, I believe all of us is our own worst bully. In my history, no one has anything on me. As a teenager I cut myself. As an adult I ate my anxiety and depression and put my health at risk. I doubted myself even when I proved myself wrong time and time again. I’ve given myself anxiety attacks from dwelling on others. I’ve called myself ugly, fat, selfish, pathetic, stupid, not worthy, useless. I have used the same words that others have thrown my own. Why do they think they’re so creative – like we haven’t heard those words before? Try harder than me. 

Here’s what’s creative. Hitting the pause button. Stepping back. Telling yourself these words aren’t helping, self we need to have a talk about what’s going on.

Here is the list from all the entries. These are all the positive things that we want to say, should say and are saying to push through the fight – no matter what it is.

  1. You can do it, you’re stronger than you think.
  2. The struggle is short term.
  3. If it was easy, would it be worth it?
  4. Your kids are watching you.
  5. You’ve made it this far, you can keep going.
  6. You are worth it.
  7. You are beautiful.
  8. You are healthy.
  9. Remember why you started.
  10. You are capable.
  11. Walk with faith.
  12. Strive for progress, not perfection.
  13. Let it be.
  14. You choose your own happiness.
  15. Small choices lead to big change.
  16. Everything takes time.
  17. It gets better.
  18. One day at a time.
  19. You have so much to be proud of.
  20. Keep going.
  21. Anxiety is something I have, not who I am.
  22. Trust the process.
  23. I’ve done this before, I can do it again.
  24. You are loved.
  25. Mind over matter.
  26. Just keep breathing.
  27. You deserve to feel good.
  28. Don’t give up, just think about where you will be.
  29. You are stronger than you realize.
  30. Just put your mind to it.

We are our own worst enemies, but we are also the greatest loves of our lives. We can set the world on fire with passion and drive if we choose to, or we can drown in our failures, choose to not learn from them and ask for sympathy. 

I choose this list. I choose these words. I choose encouragement. I choose education. I choose patience even though I have none. 

I am a bigger bully, but I can also be the kindest heart. Who do you want on your team?

❤ Cristina 


I love sweet potatoes. It’s a staple vegetable in this house and there’s always at one on hand. I prefer them mashed with a little vanilla and cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice blend added and topped with peanut butter, but I’ve been known to get a little creative with my potato. I’ve made  mini sweet potato pies, I’ve tried baked sweet potato fries – those tasted good, but would NOT make again.

Last night I was trying to think about what I could do with some of the sweet potato that I had on the counter and then I realized it was pancake Monday and I could probably find something on Pinterest to turn these into pancake. I’ve made pancakes from scratch when I don’t have mix – somehow that shocked JP that you could do that. I don’t think anyone ever made pancakes from anything other a box growing up because one of the first conversations I remember having with his mom was about how I mad pancake from scratch. Nothing wrong with mixes, I use them all the time, but if you have enough baking supplies in the house there’s no real reason to run to the store.

 

I looked through a few recipes and took what I learned and applied it to what I wanted to make. Here’s what I came up with.

What You’ll Need

  • 100g of sweet potato mashed smoothly
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 46g  of egg white (boxed), if not boxed 1 egg white should suffice
  • 1 Tbsp of flour
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice or cinnmon
  • 1 tsp sweetener – I used Splenda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Weigh out roughly 100g of sweet potato. If you have to make sweet potatoes from scratch see directions below this recipe.
  3. Add in egg whites. I buy carton egg whites so it’s not hard to measure them out. 46g of egg white is also 3 tablespoons. Again, if you just have whole eggs on hand, one egg white should be enough.
  4. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add in 1 tablespoon of flour leveled off.
  6. Add in 1 teaspoon of Splenda leveled off.
  7. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Lastly, mix in cinnamon and vanilla to taste – I used a teaspoon of each.
  9. Poor into a greased individual pie pan. I have 6″pans that I got from Crate and Barrel. I don’t know how much cooking time will change if the size of the pan changes.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes. I know that sounds like a long time, but I got some extra snuggles, did the dishes, made coffee and made my eggs while it baked.

 

 

The macros for the pancakes are 0F/25.5/5.5P. I topped mine with Walden Farms Pancake Syrup, which is a sugar free, zero calorie syrup. You can use any syrup you want – sugar free or otherwise. JP drowned his in maple syrup.

If you still need to make your mashed sweet potatoes, here’s how to make them!

  1. Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Peel and cube sweet potato. Cubed piece should be a around 1-2″ big.
  3. Add to boiling pot and cook for about 8 minutes or until soft.
  4. Drain water and mash cubed pieces with a potato masher until smooth.

I hope you enjoy your sweet potatoes and pancakes!

❤ Cristina

 


I know I’m not alone in feeling that some days I’m just keeping my head above water. I’ve said it before, and I’m gonna say it now too, every day is what you make of it. If you have an outlook that it’s going to be a good day the chances are a lot higher that that’s going to be true. The same goes for negative thoughts going into a new day as well. I make lists to keep me organized and to give me some sense of control. I’m the kind of person that needs to see things being checked off as they happen. I’m not unique in this way, they call those people Type A.

I keep a handwritten calendar and a digital calendar just so I always have a place to write things down at all times. My handwritten calendar is at home and sits on my desk or in bed with me while I do homework or client check-ins. I keep a notebook on me at all times so I can jot down ideas as they come and go, mostly for stress relief, but sometimes just to write something that I’m thinking about. I blog because writing helps get everything out of my head and onto a screen so that I can reread it and make sure that I’m able to make some sense of it.

But through my lists, calendars and words sometimes it’s seems like I’m just going through the motions. Sometimes I feel like there’s a current pushing against me and pulling me down. And sometimes it’s in my head. I tell my clients it’s about stepping back and saying “no one is making you do all of these things. These are things that you want for yourself, for the long term, to better your opportunities.” And sometimes I remind them that it’s it’s OK to sink to the bottom and look around before bobbing right back up to the top.

Today I’m reminding myself of this. I just need to make sure that I get a big gulp of air just in case I sink down again.
Two weeks ago I was given my work schedule and I was booked for full-time hours. I wasn’t hired to be full-time, that’s not part of the plan. I’m going to school full-time and I’m coaching at what I consider to be a full-time caseload.  Working a retail job full-time was never part of the plan. I pointed this out to my manager and he told me that he felt bad because he knew I wasn’t making a lot. I told him I never approached him about getting more hours so he should’ve never assumed that this would’ve been OK – he needs to ask me before adding this many hours to my plate. I told him that I would try to handle it because I didn’t want to put him in a position since the schedule was already made, but the sinking feeling has been happening on and off. For those who don’t work retail – part-time is about 20 to 30 hours, but I was supposed to be scheduled for about 25-27; full-time is 30 to 40. The past two weeks I’ve been booked for 36ish hours, not including breaks.

I’ve got a lot going on, I like it that way, but after being on leave for so long it’s an adjustment being this busy again. I’ve been steadily chipping away at my lists and making sure I can check things off, but as each day passes and to-dos are completed, more are added to the list. Because I recognize that I was going to become overwhelmed, I decided to not take on 12 clients this month. I had a few clients tell me that they wanted to take charge and go on their own, something that I definitely encourage. It’s an opportunity for them to take with they’ve learned and apply it on their own terms, but there’s also allowed me to downsize slightly. For me this meant instead of 12 I took on eight individuals. That’s a manageable number, some of them are reoccurring and some of them are new, which means they’re on different check-in schedules.

Today started as an amazing day and I’m going to try to finish it that way, but right now as I’m writing this I’m frustrated. I’m stalled in one of my papers, and struggling to get the words out. The other paper I have no issue with and the outline itself is about the length of the paper supposed to be. But – I have a few chapters of reading I need to get done too and discussions. Just because there’s a paper to write doesn’t mean that the rest of the work is paused.

I was supposed to have therapy today, but since we went to an every other week schedule, he took me out completely. I need to send him an email to reschedule, but I also need to look at my calendar and see when I have time. Sadly I fear that I won’t have time for at least two weeks because of class and my outside-of-the-house job. I had some things I wanted to talk to him about – classes and work, personal things like prep and JP. I talk to JP and I talk to friends, but being in therapy is different.

I just wanted the break from everything. I love the gym because it gives me a place to release energy, but that doesn’t mean I have the chance to get thoughts out of my head – that’s what therapy and writing are for.

Right now, I don’t want to go to work because when I finish posting this I’m going to be highlighting through journal articles for my paper, which has had to evolve into something more broad due to lack of accessible research. I can think of all the other things I need and want to get done. I’m working on dividing my list: things that NEED to get done and things I WANT to get done. Ultimately, I WANT to get the dishes cleaned and out of the sink, but that can wait until tomorrow. I’m sure some of you could argue that I didn’t NEED to go to the gym, but ultimately – I did, that’s part of the plan. I did cut off two exercises for timing and went as hard as I could with what was on the agenda.

So the plan for the rest of the day is to at least pretend to breathe, make a cup of tea, knock out at least another paragraph of my paper, set a timer to work on client work and head off to work for the night. I’m bringing a text book to work tonight to read at least a chapter and check that off the list.

I have two more shifts this week and I have Friday off from my out-of-the-house job, which will give me time for writing my papers and client work. If I can just make it through this week, I will be gold.

On a positive note, even with this frustration I don’t feel anywhere near as stressed as I did months ago. That’s still something.

❤ Cristina


Let’s talk sweet tooth.

I think most of us can agree that there are some things you hate passing up on, but at the same time you wish there was an alternative. I feel this way about doughnuts and cupcakes, but I won’t lie those are sacred and I will never try to find a replacement.

When I started flexible dieting the idea of protein cheesecake was one of the most glorious concepts ever. I’ve tried different recipes,  one or two maybe posted on this blog, but as I’ve evolved in my knowledge of flexible dieting and exhausted myself in the kitchen, I realized some things can’t be completely left out just to make something healthy taste like the real thing.

Right now I’m talking about fat.

Last week, I played with a new protein powder I bought on sale – mocha cappuccino from Optimum Nutrition. It’s a whey isolate, which is different than a blend. It’s thinner for one, but it also doesn’t add fluffy or thickness like a casein blend does when mixed with other things.

To make cheesecake no- bake I couldn’t use whole eggs, but I knew I needed to keep fat somewhere otherwise the texture would be spongey and while I can tolerate that, I don’t want to if I don’t have to. This is something I’ve dealt with when making other recipes, but I’m over that nonsense. Either it needs to have some fat to be smooth or I don’t want it.

My fat source was light cream cheese, enough fat to have flavor and texture, but less than normal so that my macros wouldn’t be blown out of the water.

What happened in the kitchen was magical and I felt kind of silly for not trying to find a no-bake recipe sooner. So here it is. Play with it and let me know your thoughts!

What You’ll Need

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese – I used the store brand’s light cream cheese
  • Vanilla extract to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda – or any sweetener
  • 46g of egg whites/3 tablespoons of egg whites
  • 2 scoops of protein powder – I used whey isolate
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt – I used 0% to bring the overall fat content down
  • Keebler graham cracker crust pieces

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, add cream cheese. Put in the microwave to soften. Heat for 20-30 seconds at a time. I needed about a minute and 20 seconds.
  2. With a hand blender, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add yogurt and blend. You don’t need to use 0%, but if you’re trying to keep the total fat content down then it’s highly suggested.
  3. When thoroughly mixed add vanilla extract. I used 2 teaspoons, but this is completely on preference. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add in egg whites and 1 tablespoon of Splenda. At this point it should taste like cheesecake, this is the basic form.
  5. Pick your protein and add it slowly while blending with the hand mixer and scraping the sides as needed. I used a whey isolate, using a casein blend may make it thicker – if that’s the case a little almond milk or water may help with consistency.
  6. Since I track my macros very closely I weighed the total batter and then divided by the amount of servings I wanted. For this I wanted 4. These macros are slightly rough, but it’s really the best way to be as accurate as possible.
  7. I divided the filling into 4 mason jars for easy storage and travel. I let them sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before consuming.
  8. I topped the cheesecake filling with 1 tablespoon of crushed graham cracker from Keebler. You could also use the mini pie shells Keebler makes or Goldfish grahams.

Macros for just the filling: 9.6F/5.8C/15.5P – nutrition may vary depending on protein and cream cheese used.

Try it out and let me know how it goes! What protein do you think you would want to try using for your filling?

❤ Cristina

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