Day 223, Quote…s…were overrated this week: Stress and Anxiety Coping Mechanisms This Week

My emotions this week were more varied than normal and for good reason – that’s what I need to remind myself.

I had four anxiety attacks, two ended up in tears and three ended up in 30 minute naps followed by a trip to the gym for my planned workout, one ended up with just a trip to the gym because I didn’t have time for the nap.

I’ve scheduled an alarm to go off at 4 pm every day for the next two weeks so I can sit down and journal whether I think I need to or not. I’m trying to get better about journaling when things are going well, not just when shit hits the fan because I also don’t want to associate it with something negative.

I’ve journaled four out of five days this week.

I’ve meditated before bed each night too.

My appetite hasn’t been impacted, but that’s not always the case. As I’ve shared before, times of high stress that trigger many anxiety attacks and episodes with my PTSD have also led to binge eating and blackouts – thankfully, I have a much better handle on my anxiety now and have for the past six months. If I’ve eaten something, it’s been mindless snacking, but not mindless binging or looking for emotional gratification in the food.

This week I’ve successfully used napping, journaling, meditating and the gym to cope through stress.

The stressors are different than they have been in the past, which means that the reactions are different.

In both cases of tears – I didn’t expect them to happen, it just happened. Sometimes I can tell when it’s going to happen and I can mentally prepare myself, but there was no preparation for this.

In all cases where napping took place, it was well needed and helped me get on with the day. I then tried to get into bed at a decent hour so I could get enough sleep to feel ready for the next day.

While this week I didn’t turn to food for comfort, I know what it’s like to do that or have the urge to do that. I know what it’s like for all the coping mechanisms to not work.

I go through a pretty analytical process to determine what I need to “fix” how I’m feeling and some of the questions I ask myself are questions I then ask clients when we’re breaking down their emotions and reactions.

Even when I’m alone, I’ve gotten in the habit of talking to myself out loud. I’m sure that sounds crazy, but sometimes talking about it in an open space helps me think more clearly through the steps to solve the problem.

When I’m talking out loud I’ll ask myself a series of questions like what is going on right now that I can control? What is going on that I can’t control? 

If I can at least start here, then I can be more start to figure out what will help me cope going forward.

I’ve said things like I’m really stressed right now. I want to cry. I’m hungry. I’m frustrated. I’ll try to determine what is specifically causing those specific reactions.

If I say that I’m stressed or frustrated, I try to figure out what I need to do to get the energy out. I used to always choose the gym, but more often than not, I’ve found that it’s not the best first choice. While it’s helpful, if I’m too worked up I won’t be in great headspace and I won’t be able to put my all into my workout, which causes me more frustration. Instead, I’ll check the time to determine if laying down is a good answer. Napping isn’t for everyone, but sometimes laying down doesn’t mean napping, sometimes it means laying down and looking at the ceiling and just have a moment of stillness. Sometimes it’s for meditating.

If I say I’m hungry, my next question to myself out loud is what do you want to eat – if I can’t answer this clearly then I say, you’re not really hungry let’s try another answer. 

Going to the gym used to be the cure all, but sometimes when my headspace isn’t there, it’s not the right choice.

There have also been times that I’ve cycled through different coping strategies including watching a movie, coloring, taking a shower as well as the ones above and found nothing to work. Sometimes letting things run their course is the answer.

Now, I’m not always alone when I’m talking out loud – sometimes JP is here and sometimes he’ll have this conversation with me. Sometimes he’ll help me figure out the answers. Sometimes it’s helpful and sometimes I tell him I need to figure it out on my own.

I know not everyone has someone who gets it, but I would argue that JP doesn’t really get it, but I’ve tried to communicate enough with him about how I need to work through things and he’s tried to listen.

Since I know we all cope and problem solve differently, I reached out to those in the RSER Accountability Group about what their coping mechanisms are and here’s a list that we came up with.

  • Text a friend
  • Go for a walk
  • Do a puzzle
  • Read a book
  • Listen a podcast
  • Take my son to the park
  • Mediate
  • Write
  • Read
  • Run
  • Workout
  • Nap if I can
  • When your mind is clear and your stress is low, it may be helpful to think about potential strategies and coping mechanisms for when you need them.
  • As I said before, what works changes over time and as the stressors change, but ultimately our reactions to the stress is what is important about becoming a healthier version of ourselves.
  • I know it’s easier said than done to say to not let it consume you (whether it’s stress, anxiety, depression, etc.), but know that many people out there are hiding and dealing with their own battles too. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18.1% of adult Americans are affected and of that population just over a third get some form of treatment.
  • An invisible battle is hard to share, but I’m not ashamed and I hope it helps someone else. I am not alone, you are not alone.
  • ❤ Cristina
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    Wellness Refocused Education: Does stretching make an impact?

    I’m sure many of you have been told that stretching and warming up as well as cooling down are an important part of your workout. Have any of you ever really thought about why or if there are better ways to warm up and stretch?

    Would you laugh if you learned that you may want to stretch on a daily basis even if you’re not exercising?

    There are a lot of activities that we do that can put stress on our bodies, many we don’t typically think of such as sitting or standing for long periods of time or walking. Crossing your legs or sitting on your wallet can actually be a literal pain in the ass…and lower back.

    Just like there are different styles of exercise to achieve different health goals (i.e. strength training, endurance training, etc), there are also a variety of stretches with unique purposes, but first what are we stretching.

    Our skeleton is compromised of  206 bones, which makes up about 20% of out mass (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). Our skeletons are “divided” into two sections: axial and appendicular portions. The axial includes the skull, vertebral column and the thoracic cage. This section of the body has 80 bones. The other 126 bones are found in appendicular portion, which includes the pectoral girdle and the upper limb, the pelvic girdle and the lower limb. This section of the body is what helps us with mobility (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016).

    Our bodies have different kinds of muscle tissue, but for this post, we’re talking about skeletal muscle also known as voluntary muscle (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). Skeletal muscle attaches to bones and during contractions they pull on the bones or skin and create movement. The amount of work a muscle can do is based on stimuli acted on the muscle and the muscle reacts and adapts. Overload helps the muscle increase strength and endurance.

    There are three functional classifications for joints:

    1. synarthroses – immovable joints (ex. skull bone – cranial and facial bones)
    2. amphiarthroses – slightly moveable joints (ex. pubic symphysis – pubic bones)
    3. diarthroses – freely moveable joints (ex. shoulder – scapula and humerus)

    Within these classifications are structural classifications: fibrous, cartilaginous and synovial. Synovial are considered diarthroses.

    The way we move is determined by our range of motion or ROM at our synovial joints (Page, 2012). A synovial joint is where articulating bones are separated by a membrane of fluid. These joints are reinforced with ligaments. There are sixkinds of synovial joints in the human body:

    1. Hinge
    2. Pivot
    3. Plane
    4. Saddle
    5. Ball-and-Socket
    6. Condyalar

    “Joints are the weakest part of the skeleton”, but there are ways to stablize them (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). The shape of the bone plays a small role in stablization whereas ligaments and muscle tone  are the most important for stablizing the joint. Muscle tone in this sense is defined as “low levels of contractile activity in relaxed muscles that keep the muscles healthy and ready to react to stimulation (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016).”

    It’s clear that stronger muscles assist our joints, but does stretching prevent injury or even soreness post-workout? Well, there’s research on both sides, but first what kinds of stretches are there to utilize?

    There are three kindsof stretches: static, dynamic and pre-contraction.

    A static stretch involves holding a muscle in specific position to allow and create tension. This style stretch is repeated and can be done on your own or with a partner.

    A dynamic stretch is an active stretch will moves a limb through its full ROM. This style of stretch can also be repeated and done on your own or with a partner.

    A pre-contraction stretch involves a contraction of the muscle being stretched such and can be performed with resistance provided by a band, strap or partner.

    Both static stretching and dynamic stretching commonly suggested in training, however, studies show that dynamic stretching may have more benefits than static stretches.

    A 2009 study examined the effects of dynamic and static stretching on vertical jump and activity of the muscle tissue. Researchers found a signification increase in activity in the muscle tissue after participants engaged in dynamic stretching in comparison to static stretching (Hough, P.A., 2009). “In this investigation electromyographic activity was significantly greater after dynamic stretching compared with static stretching indicating an increase in muscle activation post dynamic stretching.” Dynamic stretching engages the muscle in a movement, versus holding it like static.

    This ties back to the amount of work a muscle is capable of is determined by the amount of stimuli placed upon it, repeatedly. It’s hard to say if while the dynamic stretching had more of an impact than static stretching did if it was a combination of positive factors that contributed to the improved jump.

    Researchers also found that there was an increase in neuromuscular mechanisms, meaning the contact between the brain and muscle fibers were able to increase communication. Dynamic stretching may better assist in preventing injury because of the potential growth of muscle fibers and the impacts on strength.

    A pre-contraction stretch, may be suggested to assist ROM and flexibility. Similarly to dynamic stretching, muscle activation in this kind of stretch may remain the same or increase after the stretch is executed (Page, P., 2012).

    The kind of stretch can determine the amount of benefit and overall stretching may play a role in decreasing injury in certain sport disciplines. However, post-workout muscle soreness or “delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can occur after single bouts of high-intensity running and/or unfamiliar activity (Herbert et al., 2011).” This is the body’s reaction to a new activity, which can include doing the same exercise with a different load than previously used such as increasing weight or changing the repetition range or even variations of form. The way the stretching is incorporated into programming can play a role in the amount of benefit.

    Literature from a review in 2017 found that acute stretching versus long-term chronic stretching could have different affects on performance, DOMS and chronic injury in endurance runners (Baxter et al., 2017). The review found that much of literature argued that acute stretching during a warm-up may have actually decreased efficiency. Other research examined in the review found that joint stability was a result of muscle strength in general, not acute stretching.

    Other research examined in the review argued that engaging in chronic stretching wouldn’t hinder immediate performance and could increase flexibility (Baxter et al., 2017). However, even chronic stretching research came back to discussing the important of muscle strength and stiffness in relation to joint stability.

    The same review found that many studies were investigating the benefits of static stretching, not comparing benefits of variations of stretching, which would give different results or incomplete results.

    Other research that I found interesting has looked at the exercise interventions – not necessarily just stretching, but incorporating exercises that contribute to prevent. A review on the effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries sought to determine if exercises such as strength training, stretching, proprioception or a combination of these could reduce acute or overuse injury. They examined 25 trials that included 26,610 participant with 3,464 injuries and determined that strength training in general “reduced injuries to less than a third and overuse injuries could be almost halved (Lauresen et al., 2013).”

    This I found this interesting because the components of dynamic stretching are similar to components of strength training such as shoulder circles and arm circles, which can be done with or without weight, squats, which can also be done with or without weight. There are some dynamic stretches that are just stretches such as leg swings or neck flexion/extension.

    This past spring, when I got back into a structure lifting routine I had less low-back pain, less muscle spasms and tightness and less likeliness of my SI dislocating, which meant less trips to the chiropractor. She explained that exercises like the back squat, even with light weight helped elongate the muscle and stretch it out. I had been seated more often than I ever had been while in school and that was causing an issue for muscle and joints because it meant that it wasn’t being activated as much.

    I used a dynamic warm up without my workout and I incorporate components into my lifting, even though I’m doing a prewritten program. My favorite dynamic warm up is of course for legs:

    1. Hip abduction with a medium resistance band (both sides): 10 reps
    2. Hip abduction with a medium resistance band (both sides): 20 reps
    3. Forward hip height knee lifts with a medium resistance bands (both sides): 15 reps
    4. Standing kickbacks with a medium resistance band (both sides): 10 reps
    5. Side hip height knee lifts with a medium resistance bands (both sides) 15 reps
    6. Banded forward hip hinge: 2 sets of 10 reps
    7. Banded barbell squats with just the bar: 10 reps

    I do this before I start my workout, but I’ve also incorporated some of these into my routine. I always warm up large lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, over head press – mostly, anything with a barbell. I’ve utilized banded clam shells – and those are no joke.

    There’s importance in developing strength and flexibility in both joints and muscles, but I think the research shows that it can come from a number of source. It’s not just about one kind of stretch or just resistance training. Together these can lead to less pain and a decreased chance of daily injury.  Regularly activity can also increase circulation by assisting blood to flow into your muscles.

    I’m pro-stretching, but I think it needs to be dynamic and it should compliment what you’re doing that day in the gym. My upper body/back day warm up is very different than my lower body warm up.

    Do you stretch or do you focus on multiple movements in your programming to assist in muscle and joint development?

    ❤ Cristina

    References:

    Claire Baxter, Lars R. Mc Naughton, Andy Sparks, Lynda Norton & David Bentley (2017) Impact of stretching on the performance and injury risk of long-distance runners, Research in Sports Medicine, 25:1, 78-90, DOI: 10.1080/15438627.2016.1258640

    Herbert, R., de Noronha, M., & Kamper, S. (2011). Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. The Cochrane Database of Systemtic Reviews, 1-50.

    Lauresen, J. B., Bertelsen, D. M., & Andersen, L. B. (2013). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 871-877.

    Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2016). The Skeleton. In E. N. Marieb, & K. Hoehn, Human Anatomy and Physiology (pp. 199-250). New York: Pearson Learning Solutions.

    Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2016). Muscles and Muscle Tissues. In E. N. Marieb, & K. Hoehn, Human Anatomy and Physiology (pp. 278-320). New York: Pearson Learning Solutions.

    Page, P. (2012). Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 109-119.

    Hough, P. A. (2009). Effects of Dynamic and Static Stretching on Vertical Jump Performance and Electromyographic Activity. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 507-512.

    Perrier, E. T. (2011). The Acute Effects of a Warm-Up Including Static or Dynamic Stretching on Countermovement Jump Height, Reaction Time, and Flexibility. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 1925-19231.

    Take That Jump: Maintenance, Routine, Shifting Focus Weekly

    When I started my weight loss I never thought there would be an end to it. I thought it would take a life time to lose weight and be healthy. Last year I talked about this before my surgery. Even days after my surgery I still couldn’t believe I had accomplished the weight loss aspect of getting healthy. I couldn’t believe the turns that my journey had taken and where I ended up. There are still days that I wake up and say, “yep, this is my life.”

    I’ve battled, sometimes floated, with what life is like maintaining a healthy, normal (relative to me) weight and size. Maintenance is harder than losing. It’s 100% true. I haven’t been losing weight for health since last year and I know that seems confusing for people who have started following me within the past eight months. That’s also the difference between using your body for sport and just living life and focusing on overall health.

    In previous posts you can see a shift in my mindset, in my mental health. Just like in the tone of someone’s voice, there are times you can see in my writing that things were bothering me, or just weren’t going in a direction I had been anticipating – which ultimately threw me off. While I’ve been stressed from classes, it’s normal stress, it’s not stress than gave me the urge to write, so I haven’t blogged, but I’ve journaled.

    The past five weeks have been tough to say the least. The idea of balance has really taken a new life form. This past week was the first week in a month and a half that I felt I truly had routine with everything and felt some kind of peace with all aspects of my life.

    I have four days left of classes, then 13 days off before starting the second summer session. I decided to take anatomy and physiology this summer because they’re foundation classes for my program. I need them to take other courses and by doing them in the summer it allows me to get ahead in my program. I also decided to take nutrition this summer because I have a big interest in it from my own experiences and I felt that it would be a good class to take at the same time as an intense lab course. In the long run taking these three classes actually saves me a year of school because of timing. I have busted my ass to think differently and learn how to study differently, learn how to memorize information. I have pushed myself to the point where I’ve said to JP “I don’t think my brain can hold anymore information.” His response – “Cristina that’s not how the brain works.” Thanks babe.

    The past five weeks I have gone to class Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 12 pm. On Monday and Wednesday I go to work right after class and I’m there until about 6 pm. On Fridays I work from 6 am to 1 pm. I’ve been working with nine amazing clients this past month, a few new and a few re-occurring. Professional Cristina has been in full force with appropriate pockets to study. Days are packed! But I also made sure that I had the chance to have breakfast every morning with JP before we went our separate ways and that we had dinner together most nights too. Balancing professional Cristina with my relationship made it hard for me to figure out how to keep fitness Cristina in check so that personal Cristina felt that she had alone time away from professional development and relationships.

    This isn’t being selfish, this is being realistic. You can’t give all of yourself to everyone else and then expect that you have energy left to give to yourself. I told JP this.

    I told him that I missed my morning workouts. Yes, I was still going on Sunday morning’s while he’s still in bed, but I did miss the work week morning lifts. I like how they started my day. So we picked a day that he could do breakfast on his own and made sense for my class and work schedule – Wednesdays. In a perfect world, I’m working out five days a week because I like how it makes me feel. Monday’s and Saturday’s are rest days because that makes sense with my schedule. I have three back and leg combo days and my friend Alicia created two upper body days for me with the idea that one could be dropped if I getting to the gym wasn’t a priority one day – and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes focusing on my nutrition becomes the focus because doing homework and study is a priority.

    I tell my clients on every check in that success looks different every week. I ask them do they believe the previous week was successful when they think about their goals that were initially set and what the outcomes were. I ask them what will make this upcoming week successful. If the goal is to get to the gym five days in the upcoming week, will four days still make them feel accomplished? If they reevaluated goals in the middle of the week after realizing they may have taken on too much, is that success – allowing yourself to reevaluate and not feel defeated? Is success partly looking at what you have accomplished and understanding why other things weren’t done and maybe continuing to work on them each week instead of setting a hard deadline?

    A YouTuber I watch often made a video about this over the past week and it had me saying yes, over and over again. Success is different for everyone and it will even look different for you each week.

    Finding a new routine took a lot of effort and is still taking a lot of effort to ensure that I feel like I’m doing everything I want to, everything I need to and that I still have time to breathe. But like I do with my clients, I ask myself what good still happened this week, what was I able to get done.

    This week – I got four lifts done (skipping today as a rest day). I got a 98% on my quiz in A&P. I got a 94% on my exam in nutrition. I had date night with my boyfriend and ate the most ridiculous of ice cream sundaes. My lifts felt better than they have in weeks. I wore a crop top and wasn’t self-conscious about it. I gave myself a break from studying for two nights so I could relax and be strategically spontaneous.

    Maintenance is hard, but to me it’s not necessarily about the scale or the tape meaure. Finding a new routine is hard. Shifting focus is hard. It’s through what challenges us that makes us better. The qualitative goals challenge us more than those that are quantifiable and they should. It’s like oxygen, we know it’s there because we’re breathing, but mostly we’re trusting that it doesn’t run out and leave us gasping. We have to gauge our progress in our qualitative goals based on feeling and we have to trust ourselves that we’re doing everything we can.

    I am doing everything I can. I feel pretty good about the future.

    ❤ Cristina

    This Above All: “Don’t Forget to Come Up for Air”

    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

    You Are Enough Blog Series: Post 11 “You Are More Than Enough”

    You Are Enough.

    That’s what this series has been called. It started with feeling in between. Feeling that I was in between going through the motions and picking myself up off the ground.

    Dragging myself out of bed and crying on the kitchen floor.

    blacking out. flashing back. struggling to be present. be mindful.

    In the past seven and half weeks I’ve watched a lot of Disney, colored a lot of mermaids, eaten a lot of cookies, drank or drunk…hmm… consumed a lot of almond milk lattes. Tried a few burgers, walked around a lot, lifted more than I ever thought I could and working towards enough.

    It’s more than just saying you are enough. I mean of course you are. But enough of or for what? If we eliminate the external validation, which partially caused the start of this mess, then you only need to be enough for you. But where is your bar? How high did you set it? Why is there so much prove to just yourself? When did the bar get that high?

    I’ve been working on leveling the playing field. Bringing my own bar just a tad bit lower and working on building up to reach it without standing on my tip-toes. Does this mean I’m not capable? Did I say that is the better question? No, I’m capable, but when you set yourself up for failure it doesn’t matter if your WonderWoman, you’re going to burn out.

    The expectations I set for myself professionally and personally were higher than the ones that others placed upon me. I know I can do great things when challenged and the bar before was too low. I was able to jump over it and that wasn’t the game I wanted to play. But it was more than the bar not being where I believed it belonged. It was the external forces that kept pushing the bar up and down and not allowing me to keep it steady.

    The build up that became the trigger. I know, we’ll get to that later, maybe no today, but later. I promise.

    The past few weeks I have found structure again through implementing PH3 from Layne Norton that bodybuild.com offers. I’ve modified a few things such as eliminating blood flow restricted sets because I would rather take them out than do them wrong. Even with the elimination of some of these sets, I have added volume to my total and I can feel and see change occurring. Structure makes me feel secure and looking back to September I was losing that security. It’s not that I lost the drive or motivation, inside I still had it, but when mental illness is another factor it doesn’t necessarily matter how much drive and motivation you have. Sometimes your knocked on the shower floor struggling to wash your hair. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I’m not ashamed to say that there were days that getting out of bed was the first step and getting the shower was a win, but getting out of the shower was triumphant.

    Incorporating this lifting program took the task out my hands and provided me with something to follow while I focused energy on other things. It’s something I found challenging, something I found interesting. I can’t wait to get back to designing my own programming, but for the past 7ish weeks utilizing this program allowed me to take a slight backseat while I took the reigns on my nutrition and mental well-being.

    I’ve figure out the appropriate ratios of macro-nutrients to maintain and sustain myself. It took a lot of playing, but I’ve figure out where my body likes to be and what that means for living life as well as what that means for when I do jump back into the pool and prepare to compete again. Understanding your body’s chemistry is powerful. This is something I’ve been working on with some of my clients – how are you feeling during the day, how are you feeling after eating specific foods, are you hitting your macros or nutritional goals? Health is more than the scale and in some cases more than measurements. It’s a feeling. It’s being able to step back and say “I feel good overall”. Acknowledging that the decisions you make can have an impact on your whole body like joint pain or bloating or fatigue.  As important as being a “healthy”body fat percentage is, these things I believe are just as important. If you can feel good, that’s half the battle.

    As I’ve figured out my nutritional goals for this phase of my journey, I’ve been able to take more control of my feelings and look at myself most mornings and say “I like what I see, I like how I look just living life and lifting all the things.” No, I’m not in a bulking phase – I’m not 100% comfortable with that kind of eating and gaining right now. I’m in a slightly higher maintenance, but since I’ve minimized cardio, the total of calories in and calories out is pushing me into a very slight caloric surplus most days. Also, #cupcakes. I want to try all the cookies and cupcakes.

    I’ve found purpose again. I’ve said this a bunch of times before. I never thought I would want to coach. I never thought I would be good at it. But, as more people have asked for help, I’ve reflected on what I’m capable of helping with. I know some people don’t understand health or life or goal coaching and that’s fine, but it helps people people realize their potential. This kind of coaching helps them create a plan or strategy for the week, breaking it down to be manageable – taking their whole life into consideration, not just the goals.

    That’s what makes someone successful right? Checking off the tasks on the to list, no matter how small. No matter if the goal is to monitor body feelings or go to the gym three times this week where it fits, checking those tasks off makes you feel like you’re building onto something to reach something bigger.

    I’ve been baking and writing and figuring out if I can truly eat enough cookies in the week while maintaining my measurements #thelimitdoesnotexist

    More importantly, I think this series is coming to a close. I’ve been enough this whole time, I knew it in my heart – somewhere, but it was something I needed to determine for myself. Because my head and heart don’t always talk to each other. It was something I needed to measure in white chocolate cranberry cookies and almond milk lattes. I need to connect the lines and color in the mermaids to make the ocean look less intimidating. I needed to see if I could pick up the heavier bar and move it around without a lot of support to guide me.

    I am enough every day. Even when I don’t believe it. Even when those around me don’t make me feel it.

    So, please don’t stop dreaming. Please don’t stop reaching.Please don’t ever think you can’t. Please don’t ever think you aren’t worthy. You are all that and more. You are more than enough.

    ❤ Cristina

     

    Reflection: My weightloss journey, prep and what I’ve learned

    I’ve been doing this weightloss thing for over four years now, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned about science and nutrition, I’ve learned about weight lifting and endurance, I’ve learned about myself and more importantly, how what you’re doing can attract both positive and negative people.

    The past few days I’ve gotten a lot of direct messages on Instagram about my weightloss. I’d rank them like this:

    1. Most messages – asking if I want wraps to “fix” my stomach”

    No, I don’t want your wraps. I don’t want your creams. I don’t want to be solicited. Many of these messages are coming from people who either don’t follow me/know my story or have been following me for a few seconds before determining they should message me about wraps. Clearly, almost all of these people are trying to get my business, don’t really care about my journey and truly don’t understand weightloss and the affect it can cause on the body.

    1. Many messages – asking how I’ve done, what’s the magic secret

    First, these people are looking for a quick fix and think I have the answer. Most of them don’t follow my journey or haven’t follow for very long so they don’t realize that I have worked for over 4 years and that my journey has taken many turns, has had ups and downs and that I’ve had to change my approach many times to fit my lifestyle. The beauty about weightloss is that there is actually a science behind it. Everyone’s body reacts differently to different methods. There is no cookie cutter plan that will work for everyone because of a variety of factors. So when these people message me, I’m honest and I tell them I’ve focused on my nutrition plan a lot and that I’ve added cardio and weights as necessary. That I started with just getting moving and that I’m constantly setting new goals. For most, this isn’t what they want to hear and that’s ok, but that’s my story to tell.

    1. Some messages – thanking me for sharing my story, telling me that they can relate to parts of it and that I’m brave

    Well, kiddos, let’s get one thing straight, I am not brave. There are a million accounts out there sharing their lives, sharing their weightloss, sharing their meal plans. This isn’t new. I use social media as an outlet to share my journey to:

    1. Hold me accountable to my goals. If I say it aloud then it’s reality.
    2. Show others that I’m a normal person, with a job and goals. I want to show people that to reach their goals, you can’t make excuses. I travel for work and I show how I plan for those times that it’s not convenient to be concerned about being healthy and my goals.
    3. Show others that weightlifting is one of the best things that have happened to me. Not just physically, but mentally. I can quantify weightlifting easily – I can tell you that when I started squatting I was using a 25 pounds pre-weighted barbell and that last Sunday I PR’d 150 pounds. That progress that makes me excited about lifting. It shows me how strong I am and that I am capable of more than I thought I was.
    4. Show others that every journey is different and mine happens to include flexible dieting. That I believe in true balance – even though by my dessert photos you would never know it. I believe in the powers that are pancakes, asparagus, chicken breast, protein ice cream and guacamole. I don’t believe in restricting and that progress is very possible with this balance.
    5. Maybe change the minds of those who believe that beauty is a thin figure without imperfections. I may be the most fit I have ever been, but I have a number of imperfections. Those that are visible are my loose skin, stretch marks, and deflated breasts from large weightloss. Those that can’t be seen are the negative thoughts I have about my stomach, the concern I have about going back to binge eating, and not thinking I’m good enough or strong enough to accomplish the goals that I created for myself.
    6. I want to change how we talk about weightloss, weightlifting, body expectations placed on us by ourselves and others.

    I use social media to face my own fears and to help others as well – maybe they’ll embrace their imperfections or think differently about what it means to be healthy.

    I’ve made a few posts that are really vulnerable, but that’s how I face my fear. I am going to be stepping on stage in 3 weeks. It’s not the first time, but this time there’s more loose skin. I do have a much better package, but that doesn’t make me any less frustrated that I don’t look as fit as I feel. There are 4 posts that truly stick out me that have received some positive feedback and as well as some nasty feedback. They’re pretty much the reason for this post and it’s length.

    1. Video of my stomach from April 7th

    This video was taken post-gym and post-breakfast, but really shows how much loose skin I have in my middle. It’s received over 13,000 views and over 300 likes. The positive comments are:

    • how brave I am
    • how women who have had babies also look like this and hope that one day they are as comfortable with their bodies like I am
    • people are proud of me for the hard work I’ve put in
    • I am still beautiful with the loose skin.

    The negative comments are a lot more fun, so here are some screenshots.

    negative 1

    not so bad

    There are a few things I want to address with this video and the comments, even some of the positive comments.

    1. I have never said that I’m not beautiful. I know I am because my boyfriend tells me every day. Most days I feel beautiful. Some days I think I look like hot shit in my clothes and some days I don’t. We should not equate our weight or skin with beauty because you will constantly find imperfections and reasons as to why you are not as beautiful as the girl whose profile you just looked at.
    1. I have never compared my loose skin to someone else’s. Telling me that it could be worse only makes you looks like an asshole. I am 5’4”- my profile says so. I have lost 107 pounds over 4 years; length of the time of the loss doesn’t make it any less dramatic. Yes, I weightlift, but where I hold my fat and weight affects how my body looks. My loose skin is mine, it’s a reflection of my journey and at first I didn’t think I would want surgery because I did this to myself. However, over the last few months it’s been a bigger conversation because I have truly fell in love with competing and I want to be able to win in the fall season. I also become very self-aware when I’m active such as running, bending over and yes, being intimidate with my boyfriend. There are some clothes that fit funny because of how the skin sits on my body. So yes, maybe there is someone out there who has it worse than me and maybe they are coping better or worse than me, but I would never make them feel like they shouldn’t feel good about how hard they’ve worked or bad about how their body looks just because there’s a possibility of someone, somewhere working harder than them or with more imperfections.

    There’s a lot I’ve learned going through different phases on my weightloss journey and the biggest one is that being fit can mean a lot of different things and weight is relative. I feel sorrier for those who think that how my midsection looks is funny because they have a skewed view of the world. This is my reality, it’s not pretty and it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. I gained weight and now I’ve lost it. This is the effect of that loss. Yes, it makes me sad sometimes and yes, it frustrates me, but that’s why I’ve decided to have surgery. Many choose to do that too. Does that mean that we can laugh because I’ll have a scar or a new belly button? No. Comments like this almost don’t deserve to be acknowledged, but at the same time its society that has led so many to believe that women specifically can’t have imperfections and must look a certain way. Men have their own standards too, but they’re not talked about as much and there is certainly not as much emphasis on them.

    I would say: think before you comment. Read the caption to gain understanding of the post.

    1. Comparison of side profile – before lifting and last week’s check in

    side by side

    Please don’t compare your body to mine – I will forever say this over and over and sometimes to myself even. The comment has since been deleted, but a woman commented that she had the body I used to have and she wants the one I currently do. Again, I’m short so my fat is relative and so is my muscle. I’m in competition prep and that’s a very different lifestyle. I weightlift and I track what I eat just like I breathe. Everyone has different goals and methods. We are all at different stages of our lives. I’m 27 years old and I don’t have children – I never intend to. I travel for work and to me health and fitness is more than a hobby. This is my lifestyle. I have embraced it with wide open arms.  Comparing your chapter 2 to my chapter 50 is only going to make you feel like you’re never going to accomplish your goals.

    Have patience because it’s going to take time.

    1. Morning ab shot

    ab shot

    Two things. 1 fat doesn’t turn into muscle. That’s not how science works.

    I’ve gotten messages in response to this photo and I’ve seen some photos where people, both men and women, talk about how they want to turn their fat into muscle. Well, I believe some of you failed health because fat and muscle are two totally different things. You can maintain, gain or burn fat just like you can maintain, grow or burn muscle, but fat cannot physically convert into muscle. When you burn fat, you are just now able to see the muscle you already had. Loosing fat means that the number on the scale will go down. Gaining muscle also means that the scale will change. It may go up because muscle takes up less space than fat, but a pound of muscle still weighs a pound. This also means that if you lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle you may appear thinner or fitter or whatever word you want to use, but the scale will be the same. At this point in my weightloss, if I wasn’t in prep, the scale wouldn’t matter much if at all. At this point, my coach asks me how I feel about how my body looks, how do my clothes feel and how do I feel during my workouts.

    When I first started losing weight, it was 100% about the scale because at 5’4” and over 240 pounds, I needed that number to go do to see progress. At different points of my journey, different methods to measure progress have had more or less weight – per say, than others. Don’t tell me that the weight I currently am is your goal weight because I remember saying I wanted to be 150 pounds and a size 10 because I didn’t think I was capable of more. Well at 180 pounds I was a size 10, I knew I needed to reevaluate. I’m 133.6 and a size 2 right now.

    1. Stop being so surprised at what the body can accomplish. I need to be better about this too.

    According to a post on Built Lean, there are a few things that should be considered when discussing abs definition and visibility. First, your body fat percentage. If you have a lot of fat, you’re not going to see a lot of definition or any at all. For women to start seeing ab definition they need to be between 20-22% body fat. This is typically the fit category and there will be some definition on the arms and legs. Women with 15-17% body fat, many bikini and fitness models, muscle definition will be apparent and there will be some vascularity as well. Women with 10-12% body fat, bodybuilders for example, will show striations and separation between muscles. Second, where is your fat place? If you hold your “weight” in your midsection, you’re less likely to show abs, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We all have abs, some may be less strong than others, but when there’s no fat over them you can see them clearly.

    For me, I have skin over mine. My body fat was tested a few weeks ago – I know we’re all so sick of me talking about my stomach and my body fat, but I was in the extremely fit category at 16.2% at 135 pounds. I’m 133.6 pounds as of this morning, so aside from skin, there should be ab definition. So don’t be surprised that you can see it. Also, on that matter, don’t be surprised at your own accomplishments. NSV’s and all, you set your own goals, if you accomplish them then be excited, not shocked. You know how much effort you are putting in, there should be no shock. Again, I need to be better about this because most days I wake up and I’m like “yep, wow, this is my body. Yep, I lifted that weight.”

    1. Comparison of my backside – before weight lifting to last week’s check in

    butt

    Time is usually on your side. Most people aren’t trying to win a trophy or medal. Most have goals to just live a healthier lifestyle. I am not trying to necessarily live a healthier lifestyle right now. This comparison like the side profile is almost a 2 years difference. It shows what weightlifting and tracking my macro nutrition has done for my body. This was not an overnight change. The day I started lifting and tracking was with the goal of competing 5 months later. I did take a break from the prep lifestyle, but I never stopped lifting or tracking my meals. Since January this year, I have been training for another bikini competition. I will have been in prep for 4 months when I compete.

    Don’t say because my backside changed someone else will. The commenter below doesn’t follow me and didn’t look through my other comparisons that day, all he saw was that my backside is smaller, tighter and there’s definition in my back. My motivation is probably different than his friend’s motivation. My methods and body are my own. Comparing what I’ve been able to accomplish to what he believes his friend can accomplish is not the best way to go about supporting and motivating his friend.

    comparison

    1. Protein gelato sandwich with a Complete Cookie

    ice cream cookie

    I don’t believe in cheat meals. I believe in flexible dieting. I also believe in balance – saying not right now, but maybe later. The moment you start using terms like cheating is the moment that you start to creative a negative relationship with food. I used to binge and it would be from being too restrictive. There are also emotional triggers, but that’s something a little differently – but still reflects a poor relationship with food. I admit, in the beginning eliminating things out of my daily consumption was necessary. These eliminations included chips, pasta, soda and random candies. They have no nutritional value anyway and aren’t very filling. It was easy to eliminate them. But when I log on, I see people who are almost apologizing for enjoy dinner last night or indulging in a cupcake. I think we know how I feel about cupcakes so indulge on. The problem comes from having a cupcake every day if it doesn’t work for you plan. You can’t get upset at your own results if you own actions prevent you from reaching your goals. That being said, if you can eat the cupcake every day and still reach goals then eat the damn thing and celebrate. I count macro nutrition (fat, carbs and protein) because it allows me to be flexible in what I want to eat day to day; it also helps me reach my goals effectively. I’m nourishing my body with specific amount necessary – no more, no less – for my goals. I do look at some micro nutrients as well such as fiber and more recently potassium and sodium, but not as closely. If I can eat gelato and cookies every night I will, but I also know that during the day I need to eat some veggies too.

    Have I gone over my macro goals before? Yes, definitely. I eat out for work and while I track and make the best decisions possible, it’s hard when you’re not preparing the meal. Have I under eaten? Probably, again, if I’m not making the meal it’s hard to be perfect. Hell, it’s hard to be perfect anyway, but I’m usually within my goals. I’m dedicated to my sport and to my goals and that’s why prep hasn’t be hard for me, but my journey as a whole, has been up and down with both workouts and eating. That’s normal, that’s human. But I call it what it is, balance and life.

    I’m probably going to start rambling, but I want to say that what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how good you’re doing there will always be someone there to bring you down. I believe that you need to learn all you can because science doesn’t lie, just read everything. Treat yourself well because no one will treat you better – for me that means what you say to yourself and what you “allow” yourself to do, say or eat. Own your journey, be proud for others’ accomplishments, but don’t beat yourself up for not being farther along than you are. Evaluate your goals and create high standards, dream as big as the moon, but keep in mind the chapter that you are in. Lastly, put sprinkles on everything.

    ❤ Cristina

    Weekend roundup

    It’s been about two weeks since I’ve posted and it has been a busy two weeks! I recently started a new job and I now have a commute. It’s definitely a shock to the system to go from a 5 minute drive to work to a 45 minute drive. It’s an easy drive though and the hours are much better so I don’t mind the time in the car. Since I was getting settled into the office I wasn’t worrying so much about the gym. I did make it to Zumba on Monday, a run through the city on Thursday and an upper body weight session Friday. I would say that was good for what I was handling. 
    Along with being busy with a new schedule, I wasn’t tracking my food like I should’ve been, but it was more than that. It’s not about tracking to just lose weight. It’s tracking to maintain the progress thus far. I’ve gained 4 pounds back and it feels like a million. This is from a month of on and off tracking. I had some great days and I had some not so great days. It took some time to gain 4 pounds, but I’ve got to push forward and get back on track. With starting a new job, there were a lot of lunches out with new people; this made it really had to make good decisions because eating out isn’t the most flexible. However, I was able to control my work day meals on Friday. I believe Friday and Saturday were definitely successes. Macros were pretty close to perfect and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Saturday night I even got a burger with a beer. Well, when beer fits your macros it’s always a good day. I have my macros and meals written out up to Tuesday for right now. I have some food prepped, it just needs to be assembled. This week will be a good week.

    Here’s my photo round up for last week. I’m hoping to post more often and share more recipes. I’ve tried a few more fun combos that I was think are worth repeating. 
     

    4 pound weight gain

      

    proud of where I’ve come from

      

    city run, ignore the splits – holy traffic lights

     
     

    Friday evening upper body lifting session

     
     

    felt confident in my shorts on Saturday, had to tale a conparison photo

     
     

    farmer’s market haul

     
     

    package from Jen in North Carolina

     
     

    New Mexico style turkey burger

     

    I hope everyone has a great Sunday. Cheers to getting back on track and remembering how far we’ve come. Never going back!

    ❤️ Cristina 

    Bikini Body Guide Week 1 Completed

    Today I completed the first week of Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Istines. It has been a great week in the gym and in the kitchen. When I first decided to purchase the 12-week program, I really had no idea what to expect. I honestly thought it was going to be a joke, but I couldn’t be any happier with my decision to try it. Since I had decided to not compete this spring because of the cost, I was feeling really lost. I’m very goal oriented and I like structure in my routine. My friend Sarah (fit_badger15 on IG) suggested I try BBG because it would give me the structure I wanted, but it would be also allow me to get some of the lifting in that I like. Lifting was my biggest concern. I love picking up heavy things and putting them down, I wasn’t really sure how weights would fit into this routine.

    Here’s what I have learned about the program and what I like:

    It kicks your butt if you put in the work.

    When I work out, I want to be challenged and lately I hadn’t been feeling challenged in the gym. I was changing it up, I was increasing weight and mixing up the number of reps, but I wasn’t feeling the way I wanted to in my workouts. With BBG program every day is a designed as circuits, except for steady cardio days. The circuits are intense and have forced me to push myself harder than I had been. Monday was leg day and I can’t remember the last time I had really felt leg day the day after, day after.

    They’re time efficient.

    I work two jobs and can’t remember the last time I ate dinner on a plate, instead of in tupperware. I needed something that I could without feeling like I spending hours in the gym. This week I have gotten up every morning at 530 and dragged my booty to the gym with coffee in hand. Some mornings were harder than others, but I felt amazing when I was done. The best part, I was done in 30 minutes and then home in time for a shower and breakfast.

    I’ll actually get results, it’s not some gimmick.

    My mind is probably messing with me, but I can already feel a difference. Slightly see one too. I was down half a pound on Wednesday when I weighed myself and it was a pretty good feeling seeing the scale move. It was an even better feeling when I went to buy new jeans today because mine are too big. Sarah’s results from doing both sections of BBG (week’s 1 to 12, and week’s 13 to 24) have been awesome. Obviously, everyone’s results will be different, but it makes me hopeful that busting my butt over the next few weeks will bring some serious progress. I’m sitting at 153.5 pounds and the goal at the moment is 149.5. I think it’s reasonable and definitely possible.

    I’m able to do my own exercises on top of BBG.

    I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to continue heavy lifting during the program and I have learned a couple of things. 1. I don’t want to do my own leg lifting on leg day because circuits are enough. I mean crawling would be more than likely if I did extra. 2. I can do extra on arm day and 3. I can throw in an extra leg day on Thursdays when I do cardio.

    I can follow IIFYM.

    I don’t need to follow her nutrition guide. I can still flex diet, which has been solid all week and has contributed to my half pound loss this week as well. I’m able to make the decisions I need to without feeling like I’m not going to have results. I can look at cake and eat it too.

    I’m excited for the next 11 weeks because this is something I can follow and something I look forward too. There are millions of women also following these workouts so I can easily ask questions or talk to others about their progress. It’s a huge sense of community.

    Stay tuned for more updates. I’m going to do a weekly update on BBG and every few weeks post a new photo with my progress. I’m ready to get out of my funk and get moving along!

    Have a great weekend :]

    ❤ Cristina

    Let the countdown begin

    This is the post where I state my goals for the next 16 weeks, but I know they will slightly change so here are my goals for right now (bikini competition is 20 weeks out).

    1. Use My Fitness Pal daily to track my carbohydrate, protein and fat ratios
    2. Work out 6 times a week and make it a priority
    3. Use weights more, and get over my fear of the weight room
    4. Take weekly photos to track progress, these will be Monday’s
    5. Weekly weigh-ins to track weight loss, these will be Monday’s
    6. Weekly measurements to track inches lost, these will also be on Monday’s
    7. Lose at least 10 pounds in the first month

    So now that my goals are laid out pretty clearly, here’s where I’m starting.

    Weight: 174 (according to my doctor last Monday, June 9, 2014)

    Bust: 35″

    Waist: 31.5″

    Hips: 41.5″

    I definitely gained back some of the weight I lost post tonsillectomy, but I’ve maintained a size 10, so I’m not complaining- completely. I have 16 weeks to get my butt in gear and become bikini competition ready.


     

    I’ve changed my eating schedule to 6 times a day:

    Breakfast- 7/8 am (depending on the day)

    Snack- 10/11 am

    Lunch- 1/2 pm

    Dinner- 4/5 pm

    Snack- 7/8 pm

    Second Dinner- 10/11 pm

     

    Here’s an example of what I’m eating. This is from today’s menu.

    Breakfast: 2 corn tortillas, 2 eggs, steamed broccoli

    Post workout snack: paleo protein shake with almond/coconut milk blend unsweetened

    Lunch: Chicken breast with brown rice and basil pesto sauce

    Snack: plain Greek Yogurt with Bear Naked granola and honey

    Dinner: Gluten Free chicken sausage and Brussels sprouts, no salt added ketchup

    Second dinner: Beef plain, small apple, 1 cup of watermelon

    88 ounces of water/liquid

     

    The ratios I’m trying to hit are 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat. This breaks down to 256 grams of protein, 256 grams of carbohydrates and 57 grams of fat. My ratios were close with 40% protein, 31% carbohydrates and 29% fat, but I was no where near the grams needed. When I put my goals into My Fitness Pal it calculates what you need, but I know this first week will be the week I get used to eating differently. I’m still eating gluten free and as clean as possible like the paleo diet, but I’m incorporating some grains such as brown rice, quinoa and steel cut oats. Immy suggested rice cakes for low fat snack that can help add carbohydrates to my intake. She also said not to worry too much if my fat ratios are a little higher; especially if the fats are healthy fats from foods like avocado.

    This is going to take some getting used to. Here are some pictures from today.

    I made Brussels sprouts for the first time. I steamed them and that’s it. I wanted to make sure that I liked the taste and the texture. They remind me of cabbage, kinda. I had them with my chicken sausage, so they had some ketchup on them, which was pretty good.

    20140614-214625-78385069.jpg

    6 pieces is a serving

    This morning I tried a new class. It’s called Intense Toning and was it ever. There’s no cardio at all, which is great because I wasn’t looking for cardio. The class works all the muscle groups and incorporates body weight, free weights and weighted bars. The instructor was pretty awesome and I will have to take this class again, just not next Saturday… It’s race day :]

    20140614-214622-78382013.jpg

    This evening had to work my part-time job  and I was curious about how much we burn by walking around the store, either helping customers, straightening or because there’s nothing to do. In 4 hours and 24 minutes I burned over 700 calories. The average person burned 70-85 calories an hour while watching TV. So I definitely think of this as exercise.

    20140614-214623-78383283.jpgLastly, Day 40 of 100 Happy Days: my planner. This thing keeps me organized and I know it’ll be my best friend over the next 16 weeks.

     

    20140614-214852-78532665.jpg

    Are you getting ready for the new week? Do you have summer goals?

    ❤ Cristina

    Best Monday in a long time

    First I’d like to say that my almost two week off from working out definitely set back. To start my day off today, I hit the gym: 30 minutes of free weights and 30 minutes of high resistance of the arc trainer. The weights weren’t so bad and I add some fun ballet kicks to stretch out; it was the cardio that killed me. I kept resistance between 60 and 75 on a scale of 1-100, and hung out on the arc trainer for 30 minutes.

    Other than realizing I can’t slack on my workout routine, I learned that 10:30 am on a Monday is the popular time to go to the gym.

    After relaxing for the afternoon, doing some laundry, grocery shopping and making another batch of crockpot apples and dates I headed to Bikram. Again, it’s been two weeks since I’ve gone, but I think I did pretty well tonight. I was able to get to the 530 class. Typically, I go to the 7 o’clock class, but I’m glad I went earlier. It gave me more time in the evening, but it’s also a totally different vibe. Everyone clapped at the end of class- which was awesome because NO ONE really does that in the 7 o’clock class.

    20140519-211710.jpg

    Post Bikram! Nice and sweaty :]

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    Ground beef and salsa for post-Bikram dinner

    Lastly, reflecting back on today, here’s my Day 14 of 100 Happy Days.

    Day 14: Motivation Mondays push me to work harder. Seeing he progress of others who have a similar struggle or similar goals reminds me I’m not alone. Today’s my day and I started with 30 minutes of weights and 30 minutes of high resistance on the arc trainer. #happinessdoesntcomeinajar #100happydays #gymlife #fitfam #HRM #healthyliving #beastmode #earnyourbreakfast

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    While I don’t think today was my best workout, it was a good step in the right direction. I’m going for an endurance run tomorrow on lunch since I have to work tomorrow night. Yay, for slowly checking things off my two-week health list :]

    I hope everyone else had a successful Monday, here’s to surviving the rest of the week.

     

    ❤ Cristina