Don’t Be Afraid of Change: It is Leading you to a New Beginning

Change

 

Well, it has been a hot minute since my last post and I apologize. Sometimes life gets in the way, takes you a new direction, and completely changes for that matter. Since my last post I have:

-Nearly completed my Didactic Program in Dietetics

-Been accepted into my Dietetic Internship & Master’s Coordinated Program

-Switched from running, to bodybuilding, to powerlifting

-Changed my dietary philosophy from Paleo to…Vegan

It may take more than one blog post to thoroughly discuss these changes, but I’ll try to do the best I can without being a bore. Let’s do this Q&A style to keep it interesting:

Why am I getting a degree in Nutrition?
Simply put: because I could not see myself pursuing an education in anything else. Nutrition is my passion, and I am constantly seeking knowledge outside of classes whether it be from books, podcasts, research articles, or personal experimentation. There is so much mis-information, and I love having evidence-based knowledge to share with people to help them reach their goals. 

What do I plan to do with my degree/what does life look like post-grad school?
Right now I am very interested in critical care, and hope to land a job as a critical care dietitian in a hospital after I finish rotations. I am also interested in GI disorders, as I struggle with one myself, and know how hard it is to find true answers. For that reason, I also love research, and plan to assume a Graduate Research Assistant position while I complete my Master’s Degree. Finally, long-term I want to own my own business. I am a risk taker, and I am very independent. I feel like my success comes from my personal ambition and drive, and for that reason I feel as though I have an entrepreneur’s mindset. I would love to grow my influence in order to use my social media platforms to grow a business around evidence-based nutrition coaching. 

What prompted the changes along my fitness journey?
When I first began my fitness journey, it was, as it is for many people, because I hated my body. I have struggled with eating disorders and poor self-esteem for as long as I can remember, and I took to the gym as a way to change what I didn’t like in the mirror. Over time and as life brought some tough situations my way, exercise became my escape. The year that I started this blog was actually the toughest year of my life, and during that time running was my escape. Each step was a way to clear my head, and focus on the breath filling my lungs instead of the anxieties filling my thoughts. I quickly learned after my first half marathon however that running was not my exercise of choice. I’m not very fast, I didn’t see much change in my body, and I began to dread it. So in doing my own research on how to see the results I wanted, I began weight training. I have never fallen in love with something so quickly. I began to spend every moment of free time in the gym, and every moment outside of the gym wishing I was there.  I began to see the changes I desired, and that only pushed me to continue. I looked forward to my workouts, and there seemed to be an ever-flowing stream of motivation. The problem with “bodybuilding” I suppose you could call it, is that once you start: you are forever small. The muscle you want will never be big enough, you will never be lean enough, there is always room to improve, which is both a blessing and a curse. Though my relationship with food had improved, I still struggled with body image–only exacerbated by an industry so consumed with external appearances. After a few years of training, I began to grow in strength and confidence. Something in me finally “clicked,” and I began to appreciate my body for what it could do, not just what it looked like. This is where I have landed today. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t still a multitude of things I’d love to change, but I have a peace with myself that seemed too far away when I first began. My decision to focus on powerlifting motivates me to work harder because the numbers on the bar are tangible. I know if something is working or not because I either fail the lift, or I PR. 

Now the big question…why vegan?
If you’re an O.G. reader you know how much I struggled with stomach issues. Multiple hospitalizations, severe pain, you name it. A struggle I have been less open about is my acne. I previously completed 3 rounds of Accutane-the most potent acne drug on the market with well-known severe side effects-but still struggle with cystic acne. In my search to overcome these issues, I have done a lot of research on the gut microbiome. A healthy microbiome leads to a healthy body overall. Research is showing the microbiome’s affect on immunity, acne, chronic disease, bodyweight, and much more. I knew I needed to ditch dairy. Dairy was inflaming my acne AND my GI symptoms. Unfortunately, it is HARD to give up something so prevalent and delicious. I was a HUGE ice cream person, but luckily they have some great coconut and cashew milk alternatives! I knew I needed a complete dietary overhaul to stick to my goal of ditching dairy, so I went vegan. After speaking with a girl in my program who told me that it cured her stomach and acne problems similar to mine, I went cold-turkey and never looked back. 

How do you still build muscle while being vegan? Where do you get your protein?
The question I get asked daily. No literally, daily. Going vegan challenged my culinary and meal planning skills. Instead of beginning with meat, and adding sides, I have to begin with vegetables and think about how I can use them, how many I can use, and then where I can get protein. Since going vegan, I’ve learned that we thoroughly overemphasize protein. Yes, me, the previous “protein princess” is saying that we overemphasize protein; at least in the fitness world. The RDA for protein is .8-1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight, not per pound. I find my digestion is better when I hit around 100 grams of protein per day versus the 140 grams I used to hit. I am able to allocate more calories to carbs, and therefore I have more energy for my workouts. Some people my say, carbs?! but surely you’ll gain weight! Guess what? I’ve lost weight eating more carbs than I ever have. carbs are not the enemy. Overall energy balance (calories in vs. calories out) will determine if you gain or lose weight. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources:

  1. Tofu/Tempeh – people demonize soy, but the research does not support negative side effects when consumed in normal amounts. In fact, men often worry about the estrogen inducing effects of soy products, but one of the most estrogenic compounds is beer.
  2. Lentils – Lentils are SO underrated. They are such a versatile food! You can make lentil chili (recipe to come soon), throw it in salads, and they even make pasta out of lentils that has a ton of protein! My recent favorite way to incorporate lentils is to buy them pre-steamed from Trader Joe’s and toss them with some roasted butternut squash and sauteed shredded brussels sprouts.
  3. Beans – not just for your Chipotle bowl! Beans are a great source of soluble fiber, plant based protein, folate, magnesium, B6, and zinc. Use black beans in a veggie burger, kidney beans in some of that lentil chili, or chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in a Buddha bowl!
  4. Quinoa/Freekeh – these ancient grains are a versatile base for any bowl and have tons of plant based protein as well as manganese, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
  5. Meat Alternatives – I believe meat alternatives have their place to help those in transition or those who may still crave meat. They are okay in moderation! If you are still worried about soy, the brand Beyond Meat has some great pea-protein based options. Other great brands include Gardein, Sweet Earth Foods, Field Roast, and Light Life. Meat replacements have come a LONG way since the last time you tried them!
  6. Protein Powder/Protein Bars – It is unrealistic to expect everyone to always get their protein from whole foods. We all lead busy lifestyles, and it is important to have options for on-the-go. My favorite brand of plant-based protein is Orgain, which can be found at Costco and on Amazon. My favorite vegan bar that I have found (and fair warning: most of them are not good) are Clif Builder’s bars! These are not marketed as a vegan bar, but I have label checked and they are vegan! My favorite flavors are Vanilla Almond and Mint Chocolate.

I want to hear from YOU! Did something about my life change inspire you or spark your interest? What do you want to know more about? I’d love ideas for what direction to take this new blog, and although I have some ideas I want to hear from you! Comment down below with ideas!

Happy Healthing!

 

SUP

No I’m not a douche I promise. SUP stands for stand up paddle board, and today I did yoga on top of one! It was one of the most amazing experiences ever. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning and the class was only 4 people, instructor included. The great thing about a small class size is individual attention, and this is especially great for yoga since form has to be perfect when you’re balancing on top of a paddle board in the ocean. I also have to give a huge thanks to the instructor, Laura Lynn, for being encouraging, helpful, and just downright awesome. Doing yoga on the paddle board not only challenges your balance, but it also helps you recognize your weak spots, because you will fall in if you don’t fix them! It just creates an overall awareness of the body that you might not get in a regular yoga practice, and for that reason I feel like it is a great learning experience. So if you’re ever in Panama City go check out SUP Yoga at Yoga Elements in Carillon Beach and go see Laura Lynn!

 

20140522-223345-81225536.jpg viparita virabhadrasana

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urdhva dhanurasana

 

 

 

Farmer’s Markets, Paleo Pals, and the Best Meal You Will Ever Eat

Day 1 of paradise and I pretty much hit the good day jackpot. I started the day off with an amazing 5 mile run. It felt great, the view was amazing, and I hit my fastest average pace EVER! I could definitely run here every day.

20140518-221427-80067551.jpgThere is a farmer’s market on sundays in Rosemary, so I was happy to hit that up when I got back from my run. It was nice, and while they didn’t have a huge amount of fresh fruits and veggies, they did have The Caveman’s Cupboard. I was so excited to find myself a friend from the paleo community! I bought some of his AHmazing cashew butter, and wanted to get some grass-fed beef, but I have to eat fish while I’m here haha, it’s like a vacation rule for us. I also picked up some fresh peaches, and had to restrain myself from getting anything else.

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ps- the publix here is badass, I got some awesome salads for lunches. This one is kale with blueberries, almonds, edamame (I know, shush), tomatoes and a blueberry pomegranate vinaigrette20140518-221428-80068423.jpg

I spent the rest of the day on the beach enjoying the perfect weather and we headed to the famous Red Bar for dinner. There’s a reason everyone knows about this place, the food is amazing and it’s a super cool environment. Literally my favorite meal in the whole world: blackened grouper over sautéed spinach and a bacon cheddar grit cake. NOMNOMDOUBLENOM. Definitely not paleo, but I was definitely not missing out on it. Although me and caveman did agree on our number 1 cheat : ice cream. So of course we had to go get some of that from a fresh creamery down the street. Shout out to the guy that gave me 2 free samples while denying everyone else.

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Beachin’ It

Hey from Rosemary Beach! I’m currently writing from my cozy patio outside my room with a beautiful view and breeze; I could get used to this.

So I felt really good coming into today because I’ve been eating super clean and working out really hard (mostly cross training since the race). I’ve really been enjoying working out in the mornings, I feel like it makes me feel better all day long. Although it’s hard to wake up earlier, it is so rewarding when I’m finished. Plus, when you workout in the A.M. your metabolism is revved up for the whole day! I’ve really been loving this app called Daily Burn. It has amazing cross training workouts you can do at home with little to no equipment, which is super helpful for if you’re trying to workout in the morning or for anyone squeezed for time. You don’t have to put on a cute gym outfit and drive anywhere, you can just roll out of bed and workout in your underwear! Hey, no judging. I especially love the kettle bell, inferno, and kickboxing workouts!

So catching up on how I finished out my Whole20 experiment:
Monday
Breakfast – 3 egg omelette with sautéed bell peppers and mushrooms
Lunch – Ahi Tuna Salad with mango pico de gallo (no dressing)
Dinner – Portobella Burgers, delishh and super easy
WOD – Daily Burn Kettlebell 6 Circuit, Metabolic Maximizer Cardio Circuit Drills

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Tuesday
Breakfast – Monkey Salad
Lunch – Grilled chicken breast and roasted green beans, chunky guacamole
Dinner – Grilled salmon filet, steamed broccoli seasoned with sea salt and lemon juice, sweet potato with coconut oil and cinnamon
WOD – DB Box & Burn
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Wednesday
Post-Workout Snack – Banana with 1 tablespoon almond butter
Breakfast – Egg whites with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and proscuitto
Lunch – Build-Your-Own Smoothie from Earth Fare: Green tea base, banana, peach, spinach, greens +
Dinner – Spinach salad with chicken, grapes, artichoke, pecans
WOD – DB Tactical Cardio
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Thursday
Breakfast – Smoothie with cucumber, blueberries, pineapple, organic power greens (kale, spinach, chard), avocado, coconut water
Lunch – Spinach salad with sliced apple, dates, slivered almonds, and sliced turkey
Dinner – Grilled chicken and roasted green beans
WOD – DB Tabata Transformation & Quick Core
Friday
Breakfast – Egg white omelette with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach, Applegate Farms Organic Maple Chicken Sausage (3 links), half a grapefruit
Lunch – Salad with chicken, grapes, artichokes, pecans
Dinner – Grilled salmon filet, spinach salad with sliced apple, dates, slivered almonds
WOD – DB Cardio Ball

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So this week unfortunately I won’t be a model citizen with my eating, but hey, we all have to go on vacation from stressing about it at some point. I’m just here to enjoy myself and not stress, so why not start the week with some excellent key lime pie?

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I will still be running everymost days though because the half is getting oh so close. Not to mention 30A is beautiful, flat, and has plenty of miles of bike/walking paths. I just have to force myself to wake up early enough to get out before the sun does so I don’t have a heat stroke. I did bring my water bottle belt to train with this week though. I didn’t end up using it for the 10 miler because I had not previously trained with it and it was a relatively overcast day, but I figured the heat down here would be the perfect excuse to break it in.

Race Review: Abba House Run for Recovery 10 Miler

So yesterday I ran the Abba House Run for Recovery 10 miler and I have to say I’m very pleased with how it went. I run this race every year because my parents are on the board of directors for Abba House so it’s an automatic sign up, but it’s also a fun race because it’s on the beautiful greenway and most everyone is just running for fun so  it doesn’t feel intimidatingly competitive.  The 10 miler was just added this year, I previously ran the 10k every year. It happened to be exactly the point in my training where I needed to hit 10 miles so I figured what better way to do it than a race. The weather was actually perfect, it was overcast and about 65, though it was very sticky due to the humidity. Poor 5k people, they got drenched, but I just missed it finishing before they started 🙂 I felt surprisingly great the whole race. This made me incredibly happy. Normally on my long runs I experience hip pain, knee pain,  extreme gastrointestinal distress, or all three. This time I only had knee pain, and it didn’t hit until about mile 5, other than that I felt great so that was a win in itself! I think it really helped that I did an hour of hip opening yoga the night before, and then the morning of I did about 30 minutes of yoga geared toward running. I will definitely be doing that again before the half. My “carbo-loading” the night before was a sweet potato with my grilled chicken, playing it safe.  I ate my full breakfast 2 hours before and had my usual egg scramble and monkey salad. Next time I probably won’t eat as much, but I was able to get to a comfortable point before the race, and I just wanted to play it safe and keep my routine so as not to throw my body out of whack. I also didn’t end up snacking 30 minutes before as I had planned, or using any of my gels. I haven’t practiced with them yet and I didn’t feel a need for them at all before or during the race so I’m glad that I was able to feel fueled for the entire race just with the proper breakfast 2 hours before.

Abba House 10 Mile StartThe start line

My time was 1:37:52, which may not seem super fast but it was a great time for me considering my training setbacks recently. I placed first in my age group which was really exciting and satisfying! Always fun to get a medal 😉 Anyway, I’m really glad I got to do this race. I think it was great prep for the half and helped me learn a few things, especially night before and day-of practices that were helpful/harmful.

Abba House 10 Mile Action3I promise I passed the old guy…

Abba House 10 Mile Daddy
Me and my dad after the finish line!

Goodbye Dark & Twisty, Hello Bright & Shiny

Oh hey Grey’s fans you know what’s up. So I really had no reason for this title except that well I’m obsessed with grey’s and also my boss told me I (and my outfit) seemed “bright and shiny.” I’ll take it, because today was a pretty bright and shiny day. I got to go out to my favorite place (J Christopher’s) on a work lunch, and then we took a field trip to my boss’s house to grab a water bottle band for me to borrow for the race saturday. Since I worked out at 5:45 this morning, I spent the afternoon shopping and got some awesome flats for work, and happened upon the perfect gift for my boss who’s birthday is Mother’s Day this Sunday. Something about the day was just bright and shiny. The weather was perfect, the mood of the day was cheery, and my outfit was super fun. I truly believe that when you look good you feel good. (If I am having a bad hair day you better WATCH OUT). I know endorphins are great and all, but honestly I think part of the reason workouts make us feel so good afterward is because it is making us look good, and everyone feels good when they are looking fabulous!

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Breakfast: Monkey salad (before workout), Egg white scramble (after workout)
Lunch: Billy goat omelette with fruit and turkey bacon
Dinner: Almond rosemary crusted trout with mashed sweet potatoes and grilled veggies
WOD: Kickboxing & Kettlebells

 

If You Want Peace of Mind, Stop Fighting with Your Thoughts

peace of mind

So it’s T-minus 10 days ’til I hit the beach for vacation, and with my dad’s birthday this past weekend there has been a lott of temptation. Sunday night’s dinner was a struggle to find something compliant at the restaurant, but I think I made the best choice I could have. Last night I had to opt out of a trip to Bruster’s (for those of you who don’t know what Bruster’s is, it’s the best ice cream EVER), so that was sad. It wasn’t as difficult to say no as it has been in the past though, because since I have eliminated dairy I have been feeling great, and so it was more than just cheating. It was sacrificing the effects of being dairy free and continuing on to see what is really causing me some issues, and that just wasn’t worth it for a few moments of creamy goodness. My mom, in a sweet effort, got me some dairy free ice cream, but sadly I had to refuse that as well because of its added sugar and the fact that I swore off desserts until vacation. No worries though, it won’t be safe once I get back….

So, “behind the title” for today–
While the Whole30 (or any “diet” or lifestyle change) does require a lot of thought and planning ahead, it is very easy to overthink. They say not to count calories while you are doing the Whole30 (I’ve found this to be very hard and still do), because you are eating whole, natural foods so you should eat until you feel satiated and it’s as simple as that. I have, during this process, unintentionally been eating less. I’m not sure if my meals have just been more satiating, or if I am learning to listen to my body’s hunger cues better, or if I’m just having a weird week. Either way, I am happy that I haven’t felt like I’ve overeaten at all recently. I’ve been sharing my meals/findings/progress/tips with my boss (I call her my boss but she really is way too awesome and cool to have a scary title like that, but she is my superior), and she has adopted some of my healthy habits and always asks my advice, which I take as a very high compliment. Both of us have struggled with eating disorders in the past, and want to have a healthier relationship with food. One big part of eating disorders is obsessing over food, always thinking about it, worrying about it, and meticulously counting calories. While I wouldn’t say that I still have a traditional eating disorder, I do know that I still obsess over food far more than I should. She said that she thinks she does as well, and of course my advice was that sometimes you just have to let go and not worry about it. Well, I need to take my own advice. I can’t tell you how many times I have stood in front of the refrigerator and input every combination of snack/meal I was contemplating eating into my calorie counter app until I found the one that best suited what I thought looked good on my calorie breakdown. Sometimes I would become so  frustrated that I chose nothing at all in fear of what it might do to my waistline, or the complete opposite–choosing the big bowl of ice cream to drown my stress in. Coupled with my indecisiveness, my anxiety about food is almost crippling. I kid you not, I have stood at the refrigerator for 30+ minutes debating on eating a cup of yogurt because “oh it might put me over my sugar for the day” or “oh it will put me over my calories for the day”….YOGURT. Most people would just say EAT THE DAMN YOGURT. But it’s not that simple. So today, when I gave the advice that sometimes you need to just let it go and not worry about it, I realized that I need to take my own advice. Eating should bring pleasure, not anxiety.

This is part of the reason I wanted to try the Whole 30, because it is supposed to change your relationship with food (hence the no counting calories). While I haven’t broken away from that habit just yet, I do think the fact that I’m eating/snacking less is due to listening more to my body.

So as I was listening to my body today it was sending me some pretty weird signals. Normally I feel like my stomach is a bottomless pit, and I never feel full. Well today I never felt hungry. This NEVER happens to me. Literally never. I drank my cleanse drink when I woke up (hot water, fresh squeezed lemon, freshly grated ginger, cayenne), and I wasn’t hungry for breakfast but I ALWAYS have to have breakfast. If I don’t eat breakfast food first I cannot eat any other kind of food. Period. (Told you, my relationship with food is seriously whack, but hey– eating breakfast is a good habit to have.) So I ate my monkey salad and headed out the door with a cup of coffee. I was still dragging by mid-morning so I had another cup. By lunchtime I still wasn’t hungry. Finally at 1:30 I forced myself to eat the beautiful spinach salad I spent time making the night before. I couldn’t even finish it, not to mention the bell peppers I had cut and the carrots and turkey I brought along for a snack as well. Instead, the office was freezing so I had 2 cups of green tea, and I was still struggling to keep my eyes open. By the time I got home, I passed out for 2 hours and felt like I had absolutely no energy and no appetite. When I woke up I once again forced myself to eat, a chicken breast and some steamed broccoli (only because a. it’s worse for your metabolism to not eat and b. because I plan to workout in the a.m. and need some fuel). Now here I am, fighting to stay awake. After 2 cups of coffee and 2 cups of green tea. This is nonsense. Hopefully I’ll get enough sleep tonight so I can kick some butt in the morning.