Monday, November 18, 2013

30 things I love about my sister

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My sister, Courtney, turned 30 today. She wasn't very excited about it, but I think she often forgets how special and awesome she is. Here are 30 things to remind her of how important and great she is: 


  1. When I adopted Sunday, she helped me train, take care of and love on her without ever questioning my decision or asking for a thank you. 
  2. She spent her 30th birthday riding horses and wrangling cattle out in the Texas hill country. 
  3. She's not afraid to cry or laugh about the things that move her. 
  4. She's braver than she thinks. 
  5. People often think I'm older, but that's because my sister is much more whimsical and open than I am. I envy that. 
  6. She doesn't always tell me to shut up when I say outrageous things. 
  7. She tells me to shut up when I say outrageous things. 
  8. When someone asks who the "nice" Blackmon sister is, we don't even have to think twice about it. 
  9. She likes to pin inspirational quotes on her Facebook, and even when they make me physically cringe from the cheesiness, I like reading them. 
  10. She's selfless - ask her 4 cats, 7 foster dogs, a squirrel named, Momo, and her horse about it. 
  11. She'll admit she's having a hard time and is learning to ask for help. 
  12. She is the easiest person to shop for because she loves and hates things so passionately. 
  13. Unicorns. 
  14. We lived together for 2 years and would do it again in a second. 
  15. Not even our dad can tell our voices apart. 
  16. She will like this list more than the average person would. 
  17. How excited she is when people tell her she looks like Connie Britton.
  18. She likes all of my Instagram photos and nearly every post on Facebook. 
  19. She is the sister we all go to to talk about our problems. She listens. 
  20. She hiked the Inca trail with me. 
  21. Her vice is eating tubs of icing. 
  22. She bought a house for her 4 cats, and while it was a scary decision for her, she did it. 
  23. At 30, she owns her own home.
  24. We changed our lives eating Paleo
  25. On her birthday for the last two years, we've attempted to find the best vegan and gluten-free birthday cake. So far, we've failed twice. We've laughed about it both times. 
  26. She's about to follow her dreams. That's inspiring. 
  27. The fact that her dreams and aspirations are so different than mine make me so happy and glad to be her sister. 
  28. She admitted (finally) that she is the crazy cat lady. We wouldn't have her any other way. 
  29. When others think absolutely not, Courtney says ok without questioning. 
  30. We talk every day. 
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

My stake in the ground

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October has been a harder month than planned. This weightloss journey is about changing my life, adding in structure, and planning for things that I used to let go before. I had two events planned for October: a wedding (week in Austin) and a 5 days in New York. Both were exciting because I was going to spend time with my sisters. I knew that my workout schedule/diet were going to be disrupted. It seemed terrifying, but it was planned and that is what matters. For the most part it wasn't too crazy. Past-Brittany would have been eating tacos, migas and cupcakes in a feral I've-been-on-a-desert-island-for-three-years manner, which is something current-Brittany can't even relate to anymore. In New York and Austin, I "cheated" and ate some dairy, had a cupcake, and drank beers without falling back into past-Brittany ways. It was fine.
Alice in Wonderland
And then something unexpected happened.

I received a call on October 14th that my grandmother wasn't doing well. I'll have to admit that I've never cried so hard as I sat down and thought about her not being there anymore. My grandmother was a constant in my life growing up in Ohio. She taught me to love animals, how to find value in everything and everyone, and from her, I inherited my sweet tooth. I spent my childhood working at her barn (golf range), attending craft fairs, and countless other adventures. Staying at Nana's had always been a treat. With my sisters, I booked a ticket to Ohio for the next day and immediately ate a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Even the best self-resolve can break in a moment of stress.

Since I'm at this point in my life where I'm actively working towards making a shift, my grandmother's death hit me even harder. I kept thinking about my grandmother and wondering what she would have changed in her life. This weightloss journey was my stake in the ground where I decided that if died the next day, this wouldn't be the body and mindset I wanted to end in. I know that's morbid, but if we don't live every day like our last then what's the point?
the tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live. michaelaevanow.com
I often worry about failing. I worry about the fact that I've been writing this blog and want to produce results. I worry that I'm not disciplined to stick to the changes that have been helping me succeed. I worry about how I would feel if I let myself down in this way. Because this is a longterm goal with short-term wins in between, sometimes the day-to-day can feel a little daunting. I have this desire to be "finished" but I know that my physical health is something I'll never be finished perfecting. What helps get me through this? Knowing that my stake in the ground wasn't just about changing my body - it was about not taking my current state as final. It was about not giving up and actively changing my life. Today, I see myself in a whole different light and it's that self-awareness that drives me each and every day to live my life to the best of my ability. I believe I'm turning into someone my grandmother would be proud of.
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

September: running, water and weddings

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Another month that flew by with a lot going on. Work intensified as we headed to the end of a busy quarter and I kept plugging away at eating right and working out. I refused to let stress or travel set me back. I lost 5 lbs during the month, but continue to feel smaller in my clothes so I'm not too worried about the scale's progress. I can tell I'm gaining a lot of muscle and I generally feel awesome. I refuse to be discouraged because that means 5/50!

First 5K
Ran my first 5k in ages and clocked in at 33 minutes! That was really exciting. I ran a pretty steady pace and could feel myself naturally taking on those miles. It made me feel so much stronger. I only run once a week (with my dog) and so it is proof that my xfit and cardio sculpt classes are doing their job. The goal for the next one will be to be under 30 minutes! I love having fitness goals.

Drinking water
For my birthday, my friends, Dasha and Aron, gifted me with a with a new water bottle. I'll confess that I am terrible about drinking water and even worse only like to drink bottled water. So not only am I actively killing the environment, but I'm also dehydrated all the time. I've decided that October is going to be a gallon a day challenge. I anticipate that this challenge is going to be hard (but doable) and I'll be excited to report back in on my progress at the end of the month.

On being a sugar monster
Sugar is a big problem for me. Just having a bit makes me feel like a crazy person and the next day I immediately want more. It is literally all I can think about. I went to a wedding over the weekend that I knew wasn't going to be totally paleo friendly. I had cake and dairy and felt terrible for the entire next day. I didn't have a drop of alcohol but felt insanely hungover. Sugar, gluten and dairy are just no-nos for me. This cheat was planned but these cheats feel less and less worth it each time. The annoying part is that I know it isn't worth it physically, but the emotional part of me wants to celebrate and eat cake. I just have to be aware and take things one step at a time. Sometimes I wish it was easier, but it just isn't and that is what I have to be honest with myself about.

Weddings and progress pics
The wedding was exciting because it was a chance to dress up. This was also a cool turning point because the last wedding I attended (in Peru in December) I looked so swollen and big. That was even after having done Paleo for 2 months. In the picture below you can see a big change. I feel so much better and that is the best feeling. My sister has been doing Paleo as well (with less crazy exercise) and seeing big changes. It goes to show that everybody gets there in their own way. It's about making the right changes for you and not worrying about what other people are doing. Such a proud and inspiring moment for both of us. It's been a year of great changes for sure!


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Monday, September 23, 2013

26

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26 has been a hell of a ride. It was perfect in every way. Here's a list of the greatest hits:
  • Went to Austin (a million times),  Lima, Cusco, Tahoe, Detroit, Las Vegas, Carmel, Paris, Dublin, Seattle and Forks. 
  • Started on a health journey and changed the way I eat and exercise changed my life. 
  • Had the honor of being in my best friend Misha's wedding in Austin.
  • Hosted a ton of great visitors at my apartment. 
  • Celebrated the nuptials of Shannon and Ivan in Peru! 
  • Hiked the Inca Trail with my sister and experienced 4 days of awesome with a great group of friends. 
  • Completed circus training with Sunday and made the call that we were done with training. 
  • Moved to Alamo Square park in San Francisco and bought a purple couch. 
  • Got promoted at work. 
  • Went blond.
  • Did a roadtrip to Forks, WA to check out Twilight highlights. 
  • Bought a matte black and magenta road bike and have clocked nearly 100 miles. 
  • Went to OutsideLands and saw a Beatle, Chic and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 
  • Celebrated the end of 26 by hosting a purple potluck at my house. My awesome friends all wore purple, brought purple food, and generally made it an amazing success. I love them. 
Excited for 27. Carpe-fucking-diem.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

My weekly 5

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This isn't a face I ever expected after an hour of crazy hard exercise*. I've never liked to exercise. In fact, I've always hated it. I don't like sweating and I've always been terrified of pushing my body to its limit. So what changed? Well, I did. It started with a visit to the doctor. They told me my cholesterol and my blood sugar weren't looking great. What? I was 25, well educated, and had a great job with not only healthy food choices but a free gym program. I had absolutely no reason to be in the shape I was in. Something had to give.

I started with food and cut out grains, but after 6 months of eating Paleo I wasn't getting where I wanted to be. So last April, I started working out 2 -3 days a week and that went awesome for a few months, but again, things were going too slow. I started to feel like 2-3 days a week was just a waste of time if I wasn't hitting my goal. In June, I increased my workouts to 5 days a week and BOOM everything changed. I snapped out of my plateau. I became this version of myself I didn't know existed. This person who got excited about each upcoming workout and this person who moves mountains (and meetings) to hit the weekly 5. My weekly 5 is non-negotiable. My progress is non-negotiable.

Things I've noticed since I started my weekly 5:
  • I'm more aware of my body than I ever have been. Because I am so much more physically active, I know exactly when I haven't eaten enough, too much or not correctly. It's now  plain crazy to me to think of how out of touch I was with my own physical health. It's not even just crazy, it's scary.
  • I'm happier at work. Not only do I have a midday break to look forward to,  but I'm generally more alert and engaged on the projects I'm working on. I used to mind my long commute, but now it is just part of getting me to my next workout. ;)
  • I've stopped cheating. In the beginning, I would justify a little here or a little there. It isn't really worth it to me anymore. This journey is about me and no one else. So why would I sabotage my progress? In August, I stopped drinking and eating dairy and I haven't picked it back up. It just doesn't align with my goals.
  • Holy shit, I'm constantly thinking about my fitness/weight goals. That is new. I've made this a priority in my life and I don't have time or energy for things to get in my way. I've never felt that strongly about anything and it feels really powerful. I don't care about things I have to give up. I care about me.
Overall, my life is changing in a pretty awesome way. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by how good I feel and I can barely articulate how it feels to be in control of something that has always been so out of control. It is so just effing amazing.

*Wednesday Workout
Warmup drills: high knees, burpees, squats, pushups, inchworms, butt kicks, lunges.
-10 Pull ups
-1 min KB swings
-10 Push ups
-1 min Double Unders
-10 Dead lifts (75lbs)
-1 min jump squats
[2x through, 1 time through the cardio drills (1 min each)] 
Stretching
650 calories burned
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Goals

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August has been a crazy awesome month. I've been working on my health goals. This isn't limited to making sure I exercise and eat correctly, but it also means I'm working on getting enough sleep, spending time outside and challenging myself to do things that scare me. I have a goal and I'm obsessed.

I want to lose 50lbs and I'm going to do it in the next 6 months. 

Losing 50lbs means the following: 
  • I'll be at a healthy BMI. 
  • I'll fit in a size M for the first time ever and wear a size 6-8 jeans. 
  • I'll shop at Anthropologie for the first time (and not just in the home and accessories section). 
  • I'll run a half marathon and kill it. 
  • I'll do a pullup. 
  • I'll get a tattoo (maybe). 
Over the last month, I've kicked things into high gear.
  • I've been working out 5xs a week. I've never worked out so much in my life. My HRM says that I've worked out over 20:24hrs and burned 13,677 calories in the past 4 weeks 
  • I cut out dairy and sugar. I thought dairy was going to be hard, but I did it. 
  • I've lost 10lbs, a pant, and shirt size. I'm back in a L/12 for the first time in ages. 
  • I cleaned and front squatted 65lbs.
  • I've biked 20 and then 30 miles. 
  • I've run for over 50 minutes without stopping.  
  • I've never felt better. 
I have 50lbs to go and I've never felt so sure it could happen.

7/12 --> 6/13 --> 8/13

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Surround yourself with people who push you forward

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I find inspiration everywhere, but more importantly, I draw inspiration from the people around me. While in Vietnam last year, my friends and I discussed what we look for in friends. My view has always been that the people you surround yourself with bring you up and push you forward. These are the people who make you a smarter, funnier and better version of yourself.

As I'm on my fitness journey, I've been thinking a lot about  my friends and realizing how lucky I am. 

My friends are fit. Diane is my fitness partner during the week. We take classes together every day, talk about going to Crossfit throughout the entire day and high five each other pretty much after every exercise. From bike rides to runs to going to the gym every day at work, I'm lucky to have a group of friends who push me to do all kinds of fitness. I could probably do this all alone, but I would have have such a harder time pushing myself to get moving.

My friends are thoughtful. Dasha is always encouraging me in so many ways.  I'm always impressed with the things she remembers and takes to heart. It is 8,000 little things that mean so much. From just asking how it is going to a surprise bike jersey on my desk (to celebrate our new cycling goals). She got me to sign up for a 5K and is always bringing up fun activities that align with my new healthy lifestyle.

My friends are healthy. Joelle is constantly reading about healthy lifestyles and telling me different tips that she is trying. From gluten free to raw to just plain clean - I love learning about it! I love being friends with someone who is interested in super eating. She inspires me and makes me even more glad I've decided to make changes in my life.

My friends are passionate. Sam teaches school in Oakland and she is constantly inspiring me to love the things I do as much as I watch her love teaching. She believes in what she is doing wholeheartedly and that makes me so excited. Her passion for her job is rare. When I see how Sam is passionate, I know I need that same passion for my fitness journey (and life in general). I have to be excited and focused 100% on my goals. 

My friends are dedicated. Kathleen is always working on some crazy craft project. She can sit and work to perfect her cross-stitching for hours. It takes her a long time to get them just right. I'm learning that weight loss is a stitch by stitch process. It's mostly tedious and long. I have to be patient and dedicated to make it happen. I can't get discouraged or I'll just put myself further from my goals. 

I want to be the most dedicated, thoughtful, passionate, healthy, fit human on the planet.  I love that I have people around me teaching me how to be all of these things. The list above is limited - I wanted to show 5 people who I see all the time in San Francisco. There are so many more people supporting me each and every day with phone calls, chats, emails, etc. I'm also lucky to have an awesome family that I get to lean on. Together, we're actively changing my life.

Who inspires you and how do they do it?  
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Looking fabulous at the gym

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In my new adventures of working out, I've found that it really helps and motivates me to be in clothes that are not only comfortable, but also very cute. I used to wear oversized tshirts and cotton yoga pants, but now I've moved into more sleek performance wear. It makes me feel so much better and happier when I'm half dying in the gym.

I love color so while I normally sport dark pants, my shirt, shoes and accessories are all up for grabs. They tend to be pink, purple and green. I've recently added in orange and neon yellow and love love how they look. I adore matching and so tend coordinate all of my outfits from my socks to my bra. It's the little things that get me there and make me excited about my workout. Whatever works, right?

Below is my current favorite workout outfit:


PantalonesI love the stripey pants from Old Navy. I think they are just a fun spin on my normal black compression pants. A lot of my friends wear Lululemon and I think those pants and shirts are adorable, but for $15-20 Old Navy activewear is a steal. I love having a bit of compression because it feels supportive while I workout.
Shirt: I like this sort billowy shirt because it isn't so form fitting. For someone like me who is working on their fitness, tight on problem areas is not so fun. Feeling good about yourself is synonymous with comfort and so finding the right balance of fitted and loose is important. 
Sports bra: Having a great sports bra is absurdly necessary. I love Moving Comfort and the Fiona is my absolute favorite. I want to get a couple of their racerback bras as well so they go with some new workout shirts I've been wearing. I have 5 of these in all different colors!

ShoesThe shoes I bought off Amazon because I love Asics and I fell immediately in love with the crazy amounts of color on them. I love them, they make me smile and they are comfortable to boot! I need quite a bit of support and these aren't as totally cushioned as my running shoes (Asics as well), but these give me enough support for Crossfit and Cardio Sculpt.

Heart Rate monitor: I mentioned in my exercise post that I wear a heart rate monitor for all of my exercise.  The one in the picture above is the same model, but mine is actually black and hot pink. I wear a HRM so I can keep track of my calories burned and know that I'm exerting a consistent amount of energy in each workout. When I'm in class and I see that my calories burned isn't where I want it to be, I just pick up the pace. It's a great motivator. When I'm at home and working out by myself, I just try to burn the same about of calories within the same amount of time as my normal fitness class. 
Hair ties: I love these little hair ties that have the not in them. I find they don't get tangled in my hair and I don't mind wearing them on my wrist as a bracelet. Also, they come in a variety of colors, which is obviously important. 
Water: I'm terrible and love bottled water. During my fitness journey, I've turned from a hummingbird drinker into a more normal human being. This Metromint sort of tastes like toothpaste, but is very refreshing. The bottle is also aesthetically pleasing, which doesn't hurt.

What helps you get excited for the gym?
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Do something that scares you

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In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg asks, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" She asks the question in relation to work, but I immediately thought of my personal life. I'm on a crazy scary adventure. When you begin losing weight it feels like looking up from the bottom of the mountain. You can see the goal in your head (hint: it's the top), but you're all, how am I going to get up there?

Inka trail, January 3rd, 2013
The journey isn't about quick fixes (which sucks), but about making sustainable changes in your life. You have to have a vision of what you want and you have to make sacrifices to get there. I can't think of anyone who thinks "hmmm I'm going to change the way I've acted for 20 years, this is going to be fun!" It's about facing the scary things in your life. I'll be honest in the beginning it isn't fun and in the middle it isn't that fun either. You have to believe that you are going to get there. Being afraid of making changes is normal and it takes a big leap of faith in yourself to get there. You just have to jump.


Talking about weightloss 
The first time I posted a progress pic to Instagram I immediately deleted it. I wasn't ready to share with the world my "before" because I wasn't even ready to accept that as my "before". I've always known that I was overweight, but I tried to never let it bother me. In fact, I made a point of always making sure my weight was not the reason I could not do something. But by focusing on making it not an issue, I was slowly creating a scary (and literal) elephant in the room. I was not comfortable talking about it. When you voice something it becomes real and part of me was terrified of making my weight loss journey a real thing. Now, talking about my journey is something that makes me excited. I'm over the moon about the changes I've made in my life and excited to share as I go along. I've accepted that this is a "real thing".

Stand Up Paddleboarding
I was sitting in the back of the car in Austin during my July 4th vacation when my sister suggested stand up paddleboarding (SUP). The funny thing about this is that she has been suggesting going SUP for YEARS. What was the difference this time, you might ask? Well, for starters, there was another person in the car with us.

Enter: Sam. Whereas I am seeing red signs and do not pass go at the suggestion of paddleboarding, Sam gets very very excited. Turns out, she has done it before and had a great time. I remained dubious. I have a funny (and not effective) tactic when I'm scared of doing something. I just start hoping/wishing/praying that it won't work out. Even after it had been decided we were going to go paddleboarding, I was just sitting there thinking that the store might be closed or there would be too long of line for us to go. Wrong.



It all worked out and 45 minutes later I was sitting on a board terrified of standing up. When you are overweight, balance is one of those things that you aren't that great at. I didn't want to fall in the water, but what would have been worse for me (and more embarrassing) was giving up. I gritted my teeth and felt super afraid while moving wobbly legs on a tilting board. One leg followed the other and I stood up for the first time. I was super unsteady, but I was on my way!

I've now gone paddleboarding three times and I actually enjoy it. I've fallen in once and guess what. It wasn't even that big of a deal.

What have you done lately that scares you?
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

3 things I was doing for my dog that I wasn't doing for myself

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This post could also be titled "how I was taking better care of my dog than my own body". When you have something you love, you want to take care of it to the best of your ability even if that means forgetting about your own needs. I had that moment when I adopted my dog, Sunday. I wanted her to have a happy and long life, but in the beginning I didn't know how to do that exactly. I like to research. I started out by reading all the books, obsessively pouring over blogs and talking to other dog owner/ trainers. I was going to win at dog owning.

It's ironic that I felt so strongly about how I took care of Sunday and actually followed through since I had never been able to totally do that for my own health. I was researching and following recommendations to the letter. Below are some of the things I've learned by taking care of Sunday and now actively do to take care of myself.

Measured food
Sunday gets the perfect amount of food for her body each day. She gets a half cup of grain-free, free range kibble in the morning with fish oils and plankton for her teeth. In the evening, she gets two scoops of dehydrated raw food with a cup of her fancy kibble again. That is all she gets each day and I measure each time I feed her.

I had a history of having a hard time restricting my portions. Weight watchers was always a trial for me and I felt stubborn and lazy when thinking of food journaling even when I knew that it was a proven way to help you lose weight. At work, we have two plate sizes. The cafeteria was always campaigning that we eat off the small plate (a little larger than a dessert plate). When I started trying to actively change the way I was eating, I decided that I would only eat off the small plate. If I was still hungry, I could go back and get more. The crazy part? I barely ever needed more. I had been actively overeating because the food was delicious, but more importantly because it was sitting on my plate.

Only high quality food/ no crap  
I did a lot of research in even picking the brand that I feed Sunday. I am constantly looking at ingredients lists and thinking of how I can make her look and feel the best. It is also something I love talking about and finding more information about. Also, I am always rewarded when people come up and tell me how shiny her coat is and how healthy she looks.

When I started my Paleo journey, I realized that I needed to follow some of the same requirements that I had when feeding Sunday. Sunday rarely eats grains as all of her food and treats are grain free.
I had that "ah ha" moment, when I started Paleo because one of the first things you do is cut out grains. Sunday and I were going to both be grain free. I needed to feed myself with the same diligence and rigor that I was feeding Sunday.

Now when I'm out and about thinking of what I am going to eat, I am so much more aware of what I am eating. Would I ever give a candy-esque treat to Sunday? The answer is absolutely NO and so it makes no sense that I would consume an unhealthy treat. When I start to think like that, it makes years of bad eating and being stubborn seem so stupid.

1.5 - 2 hours of exercise a day 
When I wake up in the morning, I take Sunday for an 20-40 minute walk to get some exercise. I pay a dog walker to walk Sunday every weekday for 1-2 hours.  When I get home in the evening we try to do another hour of outside time. This was all because a trainer once told me that my dog needed at least 2 hours of exercise a day to feel happy.

The funny thing is that doctors/trainers/people have also always recommended that for me. I was at at office job and definitely not moving 1-2 hours a day. I would take Sunday on walks but favored opportunities where she would run around and I would throw the ball for her. It was definitely not that active for me.

After losing an initial amount of weight with Paleo, I added in exercise. It started as two days a week and then three. I now work out 4-6 times a week and feel awesome. Sunday is also my running buddy. Her best case scenario is when we get to go on a three mile run together. We are much more active with our walks and use the time to take care of both of us.

Moving forward
I honestly think that being dedicated and disciplined with Sunday has helped me learn how to take care of my own health. It has been an awesome journey and taught me so much. The best part is that now that I am healthier, Sunday gets to benefit from that. I've been taking this one step at a time and actively reading, listening and doing. The doing is the most important part and it has made me so proud and happy to experience this change in myself.



 July 2012 
May 2013
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

9 month Paleo progress and exercise

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Hi friends!

It has been a busy busy 5 months! I wanted to follow up on my last post about eating Paleo! I mentioned that my next step was to add in exercise and I have been doing just that.

Here are some things I have learned/ experienced:

Starting to exercise isn't easy, but you have to push yourself for the 1st month. I started out just doing 3 days of exercise a week and now I am consistently at 4-5 days and I feel great. Having a workout buddy who keeps me accountable has been game changing! I used to be the person who always went and had lunch with my friends at work, but now I would rather go to the gym in the middle of the day, shower and head back to my desk to eat my lunch. It was a big shift, but I'm glad I made it.

OMG SO HUNGRY. The first month of starting to exercise, I was hungry all the time. This was because I was doing a lot of cardio and since I eat very few carbs in my day, I was having trouble with fatigue and hunger. I had to adjust the way I was eating to make sure I had the right balance of veggies and protein. I'm still tempted by sweets, but I try to be very diligent about reducing sugar and carbs and adding in more protein and vegetables.

I'm so much stronger! When I first started out, I could only hold a plank on my knees. Now I can do a full plank for 30 seconds and am getting closer and closer to a minute! I also started out using 3lbs weights and now consistently use 5lbs weights. I'm at the point where I'm about to level up again and start using 8lbs! My strength was also something I experienced over the weekend when I went stand up paddle boarding on Lady Bird lake in Austin. I've been doing a lot of balance work in one of my classes and I really think it helped me stand up on the board.

Wear a heart rate monitor. This gets me excited every time I work out. I wear a Suunto M4, but my next choice would be the Polar FT40. I try to always burn 500 calories in each session that I work out. This is usually very easy to achieve in an hour class and a bit harder in a 45 minute class. It is the sort of thing that adds just enough game mechanics to my workout to inspire me.  If I don't make my calorie burn after a class, I force myself to go do something else afterwards. This can be anything from doing pushups and more sit ups or running for 10 minutes on the treadmill at work. 500 is my goal each time I work out and I try not to miss that target.

Ready to try more new things. Exercise has become *gasp* fun and I get excited about trying new things each day. I've recently been doing the Betty Rocker challenge and am about to experience my first round of Crossfit!

Get inspired! I've been following a bunch of fitness and weightloss people on the instagram and blogs. This helps me stay motivated and keeps me excited about new ways of getting fit. Two of my favorites are beautifulchunk and kelly_flab2fab!

I'll be back with more updates and will leave you with a progress photo!

July 2012 vs. June 2013
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Getting started with Paleo

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I love eating paleo and can't gush enough about how great I feel. I went from being a vegetarian of 9 years to eating paleo style. Eating meat wasn't easy to come to terms with, but I needed to get myself out of the rut I was in. I had to completely rethink the way I was eating and it meant being committed to changing the way I interacted with food.

After coming back from Vietnam/ Cambodia in September 2012, I knew I needed a big change. It was time for an intervention. I had gained a bunch of weight over the last year and was feeling tired all the time. I hated the way I looked in pictures. While leafing through our trip's album, I decided enough was enough. I was sick of not seeing results with Weight Watchers, Engine 2, and the other diets I tried. I had gotten stuck as a vegetarian and wasn't eating healthy at all. Each time I had tried to restrict carbs/sugar as a vegetarian, I just ended up hungry (read: ravenous). I was failing time and time again and that cycle needed to end.

My sister started eating paleo after having it recommended by her doctor. She immediately saw results and felt great. I decided to give it a shot and was amazed with how different I felt within the first week. With paleo, I never feel hungry and don't have as many sugar cravings. My sugar levels stay at such a consistent level that I don't get tired in the afternoon. I'm more focused during the day and have energy to burn in the evening. In the last 6 months, I've lost 30lbs, shaved countless inches, added muscle and just feel awesome. The crazy part is I've done this through diet alone and haven't even started doing much extra exercise. I'm now at the point where exercise is the priority on my journey.

(1 month before starting paleo and 6 months later) 

Paleo
Eat as much of meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts as you want. Don’t eat legumes (peanuts, chickpeas, beans), sugar, and limited-to-no dairy. Sweet potato is ok, but you want to avoid white potatoes. Try using coconut oil for all cooking. A full list of how Paleo works, here.

Quick and easy meals
  • Fried egg, ½ avocado, shredded sweet potato (pan fried in coconut oil). Kind of like this
  • Baked sweet potato (cinnamon, butter, nutmeg) and baked chicken
  • Hamburger (no bun) w/ lettuce, tomato and side of kale chips. You can go to in-n-out and get a burger “protein style”. 
  • Frozen veggies + chicken in coconut milk + curry powder 
  • Pacific Foods soups (tomato, butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot ginger) 
  • Big salad: start with a base of spinach and/or kale, add some random stuff -- sliced veggies, berries, etc., add a meat (shrimp, canned fish, grilled chicken), and then do a olive oil/ balsamic vinegar mix. This can be tricky to get right and tends to only be satisfying with sufficient fat and protein from oil, meat, avocados, etc. 
  • Paleo tacos - saute ground beef, add taco seasonings to taste (e.g. chili powder, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper) and some fresh salsa and avocado. Serve in lettuce wraps instead of taco shells.
  • Quick paleo meals
  • More Paleo meals
  • Grocery guide
  • Shopping list
Quick and easy snacks/light meals
  • Banana + 2 tablespoons of almond butter 
  • Handful of almonds (or other nut) + some dark chocolate chips 
  • Carrots or any raw veggies 
Favorite Recipes
Resources 
  • Mark’s Daily Apple: down to earth approach to Paleo. He is one of the guys who started the trend. 
  • Whole 9: super strict paleo. Some good info on kicking the sugar habit! 
  • Everyday Paleo: some homey recipes for paleo comfort food. 
  • OMG Paleo: good mix of recipes and advice. 
  • TGIPaleo: some great paleo desserts and other recipes! 
  • Nom Nom Paleo: has a recipe iPad app and tons of good info on the site. 

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