Trust Yourself, Trust the Process, the Results Will Come

Originally I wanted to talk about my fitness career and how it has evolved over time to the place where I am now. However, once I started writing this piece I realized that really it’s about how I equated my career with my self-worth. I have never truly admitted this to anyone, and it’s funny how I’m posting it online, but for some reason this just feels right, so I’m not going to question it. I’m sure some of my loved ones already know what I’m about to say because I’ve been circling around it for a while now, but I have been dealing with depression. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this. It’s been really hard for me to admit, and I’ve been trying to fight it as hard as I can on my own but I know now that, that isn’t getting me very far. I do believe that depression is a very personal battle, one that you can only truly overcome on your own. However, not talking about it, or not talking about your fears only makes things harder. It’s like trying to climb a mountain with rocks in your backpack instead of food and water. And man, I’m tired. I’m done fighting alone. I think I knew that this piece was coming, I think I knew in my heart I had to write this, but I could only write it when I was ready. Hence the almost two-week break from my last piece.

I’ve realized that my biggest fears and my greatest joys surround fitness and my career (my career is in fitness) so really they are one in the same. It is very much my personality to always want to be surrounded by loads of people. I am highly extroverted and I’ve never really liked being on my own, until recently. I also have a tendency to respond more readily to outside expectations rather than expectations that I have placed upon myself. I am always the dependable friend who you can call on any time of day and I will be there for you 110%. I think that is why I love my job so much. It is so easy for me to think of others first, and to readily respond to their needs first. This is not to say that I don’t ever do what I want, but for the most part what I want is what others want. These are some of my greatest strengths but they have also been a hindrance for me, because they were always the easy thing for me to do. These things made it easier for me to pretend that everything was fine in my life, and to not tackle the things in my life that worried me the most. It was easier for me to focus on others, a coping mechanism if you will. I knew and/or believed that others needed me, so therefore I had to be the “strong one.” At least this was the expectation I placed upon myself. I didn’t want to burden others with what I was feeling or going through so I didn’t talk about it much, or at least not to the detail I would have liked. I am the type of person that feels this need to be brutally honest about everything. I need to talk about everything, but for some reason there were many things that I had a very hard time talking about. This was foreign to me and it never really made me feel good. But now the “strong one,” feels left behind. It’s no one’s fault, and that I guess is the hardest pill to swallow. It’s really hard when you’ve found yourself in a bad place, a place that you never thought you would be, and then to look back on your life and the decisions you made without shame, guilt, or regret. It’s really hard to not punish yourself, and make yourself feel small. However, what I do know for a fact is that when you find yourself in this place, a place that you no longer want to call home. A place where your fears are big (real or imagined) this is the time where you need to build yourself up. This is the time where you need to be brave. Because you will never free yourself of the regret, guilt, and shame if you don’t forgive yourself first. You did your best with the knowledge you had. Now you know better because you are in a place you never wanted to be in the first place. It is really hard to not take this personally because it is very personal. It’s your life!!! But crying, wallowing, and making yourself feel small will not make these problems go away. If anything they will continue to fester and grow.

I made the decision to be brave this past September. That is when it truly dawned on me that I can no longer live my life the way I was, something had to change. I realized that the way I was living was bringing me nowhere near the life I always wanted. I needed to take a step back and refocus myself onto myself. I needed to take the time to heal, and to realign myself with my core values, with the things that brought me the most joy, with the things that made me feel the most like myself. It started off small. I started to cut out habits that I had formed as a way of distracting myself from my worries and my pain. I then started to get myself to do more fitness classes with my friends, and I even started running outside (in the winter) with my friends. A task I truly hated because I am a terrible runner, let alone running in the cold. But I also enjoyed it because it got me moving. I felt great after every run, and I was so proud of myself for even trying. I also started to really clean up my diet during this time. I really started to eat more vegetarian. I don’t know it just feels right to me.

Eventually, my healing process lead me to make a soul map. This was a powerful tool for me, and it really helped me to put a lot of my thoughts into perspective. My weekend in Collingwood for New Years with my closest friends was the tipping point for me. It was the point where I could no longer hold my bottled up emotions in and they spilled out uncontrollably. Not my finest hour, but I’m so glad it happened. Because it opened up the flood gates and it was really the catalyst to my healing. Ever since that day I have been making a conscious effort towards my healing every single day. I journal, read, meditate, sing and dance, listen to podcasts, do yoga, eat the best I can, and so on every single day. It is because of all this I have been able to face my fears, to be honest with myself, and ultimately honest with everyone else. It is a big reason why these past few blog pieces have been so deep. It just feels right. I’m doing this for me, putting it online, and into the world is so therapeutic to me because the second I hit the publish button it is no longer in my control. By posting it I am surrendering to whatever happens. Not only is that super scary but it is also so comforting too. It’s weird. I’ve noticed that with my last two pieces, yes they drained me emotionally, physically, and mentally to produce, but at the same time they gave me so much energy and happiness. I have not reread them. I might one day, but for now I don’t feel the need to. Also, the song I’ll be missing you by P Diddy and Faith Evans no longer makes me cry. I know that talking openly about my depression will free me from it. Maybe not right away, but it no longer has so much control over me anymore. Even just typing about it at the beginning of this post was such a release. So much so, that I’m not emotional anymore about it (right now at least). I do feel that I can now speak in person to people about my depression and actually call it what it is. It doesn’t scare me anymore because now it has a name.

It has been really hard for me to allow myself to feel the things I need to feel. I’ve been fighting it for so long. I’m naturally an annoyingly positive person and I guess part of me thought that if I allowed myself to openly feel the negative things I was feeling I would no longer be that positive person. I now know that, that isn’t true. How do I know that? Well for starters, just because you aren’t being completely open about your pain doesn’t mean that other people can’t sense it, and no matter how fast you try to outrun your feelings they will always be there. Because you can’t outrun your feelings. If your life is out of alignment with who you truly are (and not who you think you are aka your ego) the universe will constantly remind you. The universe will keep smacking you down until you’ve finally had enough; until you can finally surrender and let it be.

I always knew that fitness and the gym was such a great metaphor for life. It really, really is and I don’t care about how corny it makes me sound. First of all, one phrase that my coach would always say to me when I was training for my bodybuilding shows was “trust the process.” I will never forget it. I fully trusted the process when it came to my bodybuilding training and I followed his guidelines to a tee! I did EVERYTHING HE SAID AS BEST I COULD and I knew that the rest would follow. I knew that if I put in the work, the results would show, and well… It worked! Man, I went from 8th place Bikini in November 2014 to second place Figure in 11 months! I look back and it makes me laugh that I had so much trust in myself, my coach, and the process when it came to bodybuilding but I had a hard time applying that trust to myself when it came to my career. It makes me sad that I allowed the negative experiences in my career that I came across post university to have me questioning myself, and the process. It’s a trap! It’s really hard to not take events that happen in your life, especially negative events, personally. It’s really hard to separate yourself from the bad job, or bad boss, or the fact that you’re not making any money. I’ve experienced all of those things trying to “make it” in the fitness industry. I always knew this was my calling, but I didn’t realize how challenging it was going to be. Instead of taking these experiences as lessons, and motivations to work harder to get past the grunt work and into the light, I allowed myself to become arrogant. I allowed myself to become a victim of circumstance, and because I was thinking of myself as a victim, all the terrible things were happening to me. In my mind, I wasn’t doing it to myself but rather life was doing it to me. I was thinking that I should be farther along in my career, not realizing just how much work is involved to really “make it” in any career, let alone my own. For some unknown reason I thought I deserved more than what I was getting. I’m re-learning that things don’t just come to you. I’ve always known that, but sometimes when you think that life has gotten the best of you, it’s hard to see through the fog of your own mind. Like I said before, put in the work and trust the process, the results will come. The more clear your are with your outcome, and you have aligned everything in your life with that outcome, eventually you will succeed. I’ve been there, done that, and here I am doing it again. I’ll be doing this process again and again for the rest of my life. The only positive is that I know what it’s like when you don’t trust yourself and the process, and I don’t ever want to feel that again. I can’t promise that I never will, but because I’ve learned it once before, it will be easier in the future to keep the faith.

The second major gym metaphor/lesson that I’ve learned is that failure is good, and if anything its welcome. The only difference is, failure in the gym doesn’t hurt as much. I mean it hurts! But in more of a physical sense, it BURNS!!! But it doesn’t have a lasting emotional and mental pain that failure can have in real life if you allow it to. Failure is essential to your physical fitness. You need to fail in order to fully understand where your fitness ability lies. You will never know how much you can physically do until you do it until failure. That’s when you know where your physical breaking point is, and you can only build from there. Literally, your muscle’s potential for growth if you do an exercise to failure is exponential! Getting to failure in the gym is HARD! It hurts A LOT! And the whole time your brain is screaming MAKE IT STOP FOR GOD’S SAKE!!! Man, I remember my coach would make me do bicep curls until I physically couldn’t curl anymore. Then he would help me get to a static bicep curl hold and make me hold the bicep curl until my arms fell limp. Like noodles. They would just fall and I couldn’t stop it. He was like “you’re not done until you can no longer physically curl your arm.” Damn… most people don’t get there. I did, several times. It hurt so much, but at the same time it felt oh so good! Why? Well, first of all it was over! Thank God! The pain was over, and all the was left was this feeling of exhaustion and accomplishment. Holy shit! I’ve never pushed myself so hard in my life and it feels so good! Now, apply that to your life. Sounds simple right? Nope it’s not. It hurts a lot. I would argue that it hurts more. If you fail in real life it’s not just you who may feel the impact of your failures and that sucks. However, what I’ve come to understand is that failures and obstacles are brought into your life because you were meant to overcome them. And they will keep manifesting in your life until you learn to overcome them. They are lessons. It is when your fighting through the pain, the fears, this is where you have the highest potential for growth. Failure informs you of what you’re capable of, the same way failure in the gym does. It took me some time to really understand this. The more you push yourself out of your comfort zone and risk failure, the more potential you have to grow. I see that now. It’s hard, and I’m still working through it but if you truly want to have an exceptional life full of purpose, you need to fail. Failure is good, and it is welcome, a new mantra to live by.

There was a full paragraph that I edited out where I was outlining the points in my life where my depression was the most apparent. I was describing the times where I wasn’t writing my blog regularly, working out regularly, etc. I’ve realized that no one cares, and I don’t need to prove to anyone that I am no longer living that way, so I deleted it. Happiness, success, love, they all speak for themselves. These are all the things I will forever be working towards. To me happiness is balance, and what I’ve learned recently is that balance is a verb and not a noun. You must always practice balance, because the second you think you have balance, you’ve lost it and you need to find it again. I’m proud of myself for the progress I’ve made, and I know that my depression does not define me. I know that even though I’ve been suffering from depression, I’m still a positive person. I’m still here, fighting through the pain, and trusting the process, the results will come.

 

 

 


Do you ever feel inadequate?

I’ve realized that feeling inadequate is a perfectly normal and a very human thing to feel, even though many of us are not able to easily admit to feeling this way. The reality is, we have all felt inadequate in some way. We may not feel this way all the time, or we are unconscious to how inadequate we actually feel; but at the end of the day, at some point in our development we have felt like we just don’t quite measure up. This may be in one specific area of your life, or in more of a general sense. The point is, no matter how much we try not to compare ourselves to other people, we just can’t seem to help ourselves. You will do it less often when you’re generally happy with how things are going in your life, but at some point you will do a check in to see how other people are doing just so you can get a sense of where you are in life… Whatever that’s supposed to mean. The thing is, there is nothing wrong with wanting to know how people are doing, it can be a very positive thing, when you genuinely want to know how things are going in someone’s  life and THAT’S IT. The thing is, you need to be mindful of your intentions behind checking up on someone. You need to be mindful as to WHY you care about whatever that person is doing right now in their lives.

Generally speaking, if you truly cared about someone and how they were doing, you would most likely ask them directly. Whatever we see on our social media platforms only gives us a small idea of how people are actually doing. We all know that whatever most people are posting, are either their ideal selves, or the parts of themselves that they are most comfortable sharing. Social media was meant to connect us, but in a lot of ways it has been used to separate us from one another. Instead of having more genuine conversations with one another, where we talk about what’s really going on in our lives, we look to social media as a way of finding that information out. It takes a lot less effort to scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed to keep tabs on the people in your life, then to engage in a meaningful conversation. It is much easier to watch someone’s “story” Snapchat or Instagram. If we know for a fact that most people are only sharing parts of themselves on social media and not the whole picture, why do we constantly look at our “news feeds” on these platforms as a means of measuring our own personal success? Why do we punish ourselves like this, and feed our feelings of inadequacy? Even when we are talking with our friends and family, are we really being honest about our fears? Are we secretly afraid of being judged? Or are we afraid of becoming someone else’s problem? I know a lot of us never want to feel like a burden to someone else. This is a big reason why it is so much easier to pretend on social media, and have superficial connections. The nitty gritty isn’t pretty, and it doesn’t feel nice. It’s also very hard to admit. It is very hard to admit to yourself that you are deeply afraid, let alone to anyone else.

Where do these fears and feelings of inadequacy come from? From my experience it comes from a lack of trust. It comes from a lack of trust within yourself, and a lack of trust in God/the universe, whatever you want to call it. Because of this lack of trust, you therefore become hyper aware of the supposed “success” of others. Their lives seem much easier, happier, and more fulfilling than your own. You don’t actually know this for a fact, it’s a story that you have told yourself to explain your own unhappiness. For whatever reason, you have chosen to believe that you aren’t enough (good enough, smart enough whatever), that you don’t have enough, and you are aren’t doing enough.  There never seems to be enough, and therefore you are never satisfied, and you are never happy. Instead of living a life of abundance and gratitude, you end up living a life of scarcity. In our egocentric, capitalist society, there is always an element of scarcity. You can never have enough things, enough money, enough fame, enough success. There’s never enough. This is a story we tell ourselves, and it leaves us feeling left behind. What about me?! Well you wouldn’t be worried about that, if you felt as though you would be taken care of; if you felt as if you could take care of yourself, and that the universe or God was always looking out for you.

The person asking the question “what about me?” Is your ego talking. It is the small me. It is the small version of ourselves that we sometimes confuse for our actual selves. It is the part of ourselves that is always measuring up to others. It is the part of ourselves that is always trying to define itself by separating itself from others either in a positive light, or in a negative light. It is the part of ourselves that doesn’t see past our own self, it is the part of ourselves that is only truly concerned about ourselves. Our ego may trick us into thinking we aren’t selfish because we seem to care about our friends and family. However, a lot of times these people are seen as an extension of ourselves. If we stop concerning ourselves with ourselves, we might actually be happier. If we stop worrying about our lives, and start living our lives we would be a lot happier.

Below are some questions that I found in this book called Big Magic, that really got me thinking about what speaks to my soul. It got me thinking about the things that bring me such joy. The kind of joy that makes me want to shout from the hilltops and share it with the rest of the world. That feeling, is the feeling that you need to chase, no matter how challenging it may seem, because it’s not always going to be easy but it will always feel right. A quote from the happiness project, “happiness is feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right.” You need to know what it feels like to feel “bad,” so that you know what to avoid so that you feel good, but sometimes even the things that make you the happiest don’t always make you feel good, but they always feel right, and that’s super important. When things feel right, they are in line with your values, they are in alignment with your purpose, and ultimately they are in line with your being. You just need to trust in that feeling, in things feeling right, even though it may be difficult at times. Keeping all of that in mind, reflect on the following questions and how they relate to you. What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail? What do you love so much that the words failure and success eventually become irrelevant? What do you love more than you love your own ego? Why should I go through all the trouble to make something if the outcome might be nothing? Well the answer to the last question should be, because it’s fun right? What else are you going to do with your time here on earth, not make things? Not do interesting stuff? Not follow your love and curiosity?

Think about all that and how it applies to your life. We don’t know how long we have on this earth, and we should never take that for granted even though most of us do, because literally anything could happen to you. So with that in mind, how do you want to spend your time here on earth? How would you fill your life with happiness? You know the answers to these questions deep in your heart, you just need to quiet the thoughts in your mind long enough so that you can come to understand it, and believe in it.

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My Quest For Happiness; A Reflection of The Past Month

About a week ago was February 1st, the beginning of the month, and it was also Groundhog Day. You might be asking yourself, who cares? Trust me, I feel you; who cares about Groundhog Day? It does seem like a very pointless holiday, however, it helped me piece together all of the things I’ve been learning this month through practicing mindfulness, or presence if you will (yoga, meditation, and writing a personal journal), and through my quest for happiness, which I will now change to my quest for balance. How did this holiday inspire my writing of this piece? Well, I remembered the movie Groundhog Day (1993) starring Bill Murray. This is a very funny movie, that I watched a long time ago with my Dad. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it, but basically the take away lesson of the movie is this; if you don’t learn from your mistakes you are doomed to repeat them. As they say, history always repeats itself, but I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to. In the movie Bill’s character gets stuck reliving Groundhog Day over and over again, and he is the only one conscious of this phenomenon. So he is stuck in his own personal hell, until he finds a way to break free of this cycle of it always being Groundhog Day. This is a very good metaphor for your everyday personal life, because if you think about it, we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. If you reflect on your life I’m sure you can think of the many times you have lost or broken your phone, or the countless partners you have chosen who were never quite right, or just about anything in your life that you just can’t seem to get right. Why is that?

Well, first off, you can’t fix anything that you can’t see. If you’re not aware of this pattern, and I mean fully aware of it, then you can’t possibly fix it. There’s a difference between what you think you know, and what you actually know. You may “think,” you know why you keep doing the things you’re doing, but from my own personal journey, I’ve realized that thinking alone isn’t going to fix the problem. A lot of times, your thoughts are what stop you from being fully present in the moment. Your thoughts aka your fears are what cloud your judgement, and have you in this endless cycle of unhappiness; because what you end up doing is playing out your thoughts in your life, and therefore your fears end up becoming your reality. How do I fix that? How do I escape this “Groundhog Day” cycle of history repeating itself, and of me having a hard time being completely happy? The answer: 1. You need to work on being present in EVERY situation, or at least as much as possible. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the people in your life (good or bad), the opportunities around you, your thoughts, your feelings, the better you’ll be able to make healthier choices for yourself, and the better you’ll be able to find balance and/or happiness. 2. Once you are more present, and aware of yourself, the better you’ll be able to understand your past choices and accept them for what they are. You first need to accept the reality that you are in before you can change it. You MUST be honest about your reality, and who you are NOW in order to make a positive lasting change. If you’re always thinking about the person you should be, or the person you used to be, you will never be happy with the person you are now. You will never be able to change the things that are stopping you from being the person you know in your heart you could be because your head is telling you all the reasons why you can’t. “You can’t run like you used to, so why bother trying.” “You’re so fat, you need to be more like so and so, they have the life that you want.” Your thoughts or your Ego is what is stopping you by telling you stories about who you are, and what you can and cannot do. Even if you “try” to accomplish something in your life, like working out regularly, if you keep calling yourself “fat” for example, if you fail, the blow is easier on you because you have already told yourself you’re fat and so therefore you aren’t capable of regular workouts. You have told yourself this story about how you’re a fat person, and most likely you’re not even aware of all the choices you’ve made in your life that fulfill this story of you being a “fat” person. This is how you get stuck in your own personal hell, or Groundhog Day, and you can never escape it until you realize how you put yourself there in the first place.

It’s so funny, because in a way by writing this article, I’m also repeating some of the words I’ve said in articles that I’ve written in the past about chasing your dreams, letting go of your ego etc. I’ve touched on this subject many times, and each time I have learned something new, but not enough to break through the cycle. Life really does come full circle all the time, it’s as if a kid was scribbling a circle overlapping another circle over and over again. Even this article is coming full circle from the article I wrote at the beginning of 2018 about Resolutions. The only way to not repeat this circle, and to break the cycle is to pay attention to the lessons you face each and everyday. You may have a moment of clarity where everything makes sense, and you feel as though things are finally got things right, you’re on the right path, and then for some reason you lose it. You fall back into old habits. Maybe not to the same degree, but you still aren’t as far along in your progress as you would like to be. The key here is to not let this idea slow you down, because that is all it is. Only you have told yourself that what you are doing, who you are right now etc. isn’t enough. That is your Ego talking. Your ego is the voice in your head that is always talking to you, your ego is your thoughts, and your thoughts cause emotional responses that only reinforce your original thoughts. Both your emotions, and your thoughts will then dictate your choices, and your actions. You need to be mindful of this. This is the first step to breaking through a Groundhog Day scenario.

This may seem simple enough but it’s really not. The Ego does a really good job of convincing you that it is who you are. It convinces you that you are whatever you call yourself, fat, skinny, fit, pretty, ugly, old, poor. It also convinces you that what you “have” is a part of who you are. If you have a spouse, you’re married and that has a status, or if you own a house you are a homeowner, and again, that has a status. These ideas only feed your ego. Your ego will feed on anything in order to help define itself. I have cancer, I’m sick, therefore some people may use that to define themselves as a victim. Either way, having cancer is your reality, whether or not you are a victim is up to you. The situation which is cancer is neutral, it neither makes you more or less of a person. However, the stories that you tell yourself, about yourself do make you feel more or less of a person, but that doesn’t make it true. Also, the situation of cancer isn’t permanent. You can either overcome it, or succumb to it, again this does not say anything about you personally. It just means you’re human. Another example, what happens if you lose the house? Do you lose who you are too? Does it make you less of a person? For your ego, it does. Your ego will have a hard time with this loss, and it will therefore redefine itself through your thoughts and emotions maybe as a victim of loss. Your ego will separate you from the present, it will cloud your judgement, and make this loss a personal loss. You are not your house, your body, your career, and so on. Why? Because none of this shit matters when you die. All of these things are temporary, and when they’re gone the world still turns, and you are still you. All of those things can be taken away at any minute, and so you shouldn’t limit yourself to these things. They have value for sure, and they are a part of your life, but they aren’t who you are. They are a part of who you are, but they are subject to change, and when they do, for good or for bad, it shouldn’t change the person you are.

The problem is, to do that is difficult. You cannot simply remove your ego from yourself, it is a part of you. Especially when we live in a very egocentric world, it can be difficult to break free of this cycle of constantly needing more things, more money, more status, more of everything because your ego is never satisfied with the now. Once you have achieved a goal, or something good has come into your life, it is very easy to then slip back into the cycle of looking forward to the next big thing instead of being appreciative of what is happening now. This is unconsciousness. Never being present. Always looking to the future for more, or dwelling on the past. You are never satisfied with who you are now, because who you are now is never good enough. You are living in a constant state of scarcity or lack. And social media feeds your ego even more so than almost anything else we have in today’s society. It is a big reason why so many of us feel unhappy. First of all, most of us only post photos of the things we’re proud of, the things that make us feel good about ourselves. This boosts our ego, “look, I’m fit,” or “look I have a new house.” Then other people feed our egos by liking or commenting on our photos. This approval makes us feel good, our ego needs that and will then post more photos like it to get the energy it needs. However, as most of us know, none of that is real. A lot of it is filtered and it is only a fragment of our lives, so why do we put so much emphasis on it? Why do we care so much? Simple answer, our ego. Even negative feedback is still a reaction, your ego is still getting attention and will then fight back in order to reinforce itself. Either way your ego gets stronger. Basically, there is nothing wrong with wanting to share things on social media but be mindful of why you’re posting it in the first place. Do the likes and comments on your photos matter? Is it ever really satisfying? Because if it was, then we wouldn’t always be on it, always posting, always seeking more attention. Even if you don’t post much on social media, a lot of us use it to measure ourselves up against others. Again, this only keeps you in a state of lack, and it never moves you forward. You never grow, and you never end up where you want to be because you’re so focused on what you don’t have.

Like I said in my first article of 2018, “there’s no such thing as a life that’s better than yours,” Love Yourz by J.Cole. There is always going to be someone out there who seems to have more, who is more, but you will never know what you have unless you stop looking to others as a measure of your own success. “There’s beauty in the struggle,” again a quote from the same song. Basically, there’s beauty in the present, you just have to wake up and smell the roses. Be grateful for what you do have, appreciate the love in your life, and then share that with others. These are the things that are pushing you forward. The more you open your eyes to the things, the people, and the opportunities around you the happier you’ll be. It is so much easier to see the ego in others, and therefore it is much easier to pass along good advice. However, a lot of times those same people are a reflection of the ego in you. You tend to gravitate to the people who share the same thoughts and opinions as you, so a lot of times, those people also share a lot of the same fears as you. The ego that you see in them you can also recognize in yourself, that is why it’s so easy to see it in the other person. Hence the Alice in Wonderland quote from my first 2018 article “I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it.” Usually the advice you give to others is the same advice you need to hear yourself, the problem is you were to blinded by ego to see it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all need to pay more attention, or else our egos and life in general are just going to get the best of us. I know this, because ever since I’ve made a conscious effort to be more present, I’ve realized how much of my life I haven’t been present. Always in my own head. I used to joke about it with family and friends that I sometimes live in La La Land. I never really thought of it as a problem, I just thought it was who I was. Alex just lives in her own world sometimes. But that’s not true. I’m not the only one who does this, and it doesn’t have to define me. Because living in a dream state, worrying about the future and fretting about the past alienates you from the present. Your thoughts can consume you and take you to a different place, and sometimes when you realize that you’ve left this planet for a second it’s too late. Something usually negative has happened to shock you awake, a fender bender, dropping your phone, breaking a glass, all usually occur because your head wasn’t in the game, you were distracted. More and more people are no longer living in the present. Distracted driving is a real thing. Our phones, social media, only feeds our thoughts, and fears. They help in keeping us distracted from the things happening right in front of us, instead we are worried about our next meeting, a deadline; constantly fixated on the things we need to do, to have, or accomplish. Fender benders, breaking your phone are just small examples, but a lot of the things that go wrong in our lives are because of us, whether you’re ready to admit that yet or not. Obviously, you don’t have control over everything that happens to you, but if you look back and you’re really honest about your mistakes, a lot of the time, it had nothing to do with you skills, or knowledge, it was mostly because your head wasn’t in the game. The moment you realize that “you” or the person who you think you are isn’t the problem, but the thoughts and fears that you constantly replay in your life are, that is when you can really make positive and lasting changes in your life. Why? Because the choices that you make out of presence, and mindfulness will come from a place of love and not fear. Presence allows you to separate your fears from reality, it stops you from personalizing everything in your life as a reflection of who you are for better or worse. Good things will happen, and bad things will happen, and only you can control your reaction to those things. However, the only way to make a positive change is to first take a moment, take a deep breath, try to calm yourself down, relax your mind from spinning out of control, and follow your heart. You know what to do, you know who to be, it’s your head that’s trying to tell you “protect” you with fear, but only your heart truly knows pure joy. Fear and joy live in the same space, the key is to live a life with courage. What is courage? Courage is accepting your fears, knowing that they exist and doing what makes you happy anyway. The more aware you are of your own thoughts and fears, the smaller they become, until they fully disappear. You can be and have whatever you want, you need to fully believe this by acknowledging and overcoming your fears. This is what I have been learning, and this is what I’ve been practicing and will continue to practice. This is something that you must strive to do always, if you don’t ever want to live in a Groundhog state again.

 

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Sir Winston Churchill


How to make your goals a reality

Last week I wrote a piece about New Years Resolutions, and how you should pick your goals not based on what you think you should do, or have, but based on what makes you happy. If you haven’t read that piece yet, I highly suggest that you do; because in a way this is a part two to that article. New Year’s Resolutions should be based on what makes you happy, and not based on what you think you should have… However, if you’ve read that piece? Awesome! But either way, I’m sure you will find this second article helpful. It has been just over a full week into 2018, and I have to say that I have never felt more productive! I haven’t taken so much time to focus on myself and my happiness in a really long time! Even though it’s been just over a week, I feel like I’ve already accomplished so much, even if it doesn’t really show on paper. How can that be? Well that’s basically what this article is about. So far, I have laid down the foundation to turn my goals, intentions, and resolutions into reality, and now I’m going to show you how you can do the same!

First of all, in order to make your goals and intentions for 2018 a reality, you must first figure out what those are. You need to set some time aside to reflect and do a little soul searching. Over the Christmas Holidays and into the New Year, I have done a lot of soul searching, I literally did a Soul Map. The blog where I found the Soul Map was recommended to me by a very close friend of mine, it’s called Love Warrior by Catie Fenn. The Soul Map was an excellent way to get me thinking about 2018 in a very productive way. It forced me to really reflect on my current life, the life that I wanted for myself, and the gap between the two. It was definitely an intense and emotional experience, but it was well worth it. It is really hard to be completely honest with yourself. We don’t really take the time to self-reflect and to be alone with our thoughts because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of the truth. It is in your own heart where you will find your own truth. You know yourself, and what you need more than anyone else, and you know how to get those things. The problem however, is trusting yourself. There are quite a few of us, myself included, who have lied to ourselves about who we are, and what we are capable of. We have told ourselves false stories to “protect” ourselves from failing, but that never moves us forward! And that, in itself is failing!

Now, some of us have been telling ourselves lies for so long that we don’t know what the truth is anymore, and no matter how much other people try to remind us of that truth, it’s really hard to believe, and it’s really hard to accept. It’s funny, this is a direct quote from me to a close friend about 3 years ago, “I wish you could see yourself, how I see you…” Oh how the tables have turned! If you are having a hard time being positive towards yourself, there is no shame in asking for help! Another thing I have learned personally. This is me finally taking my own advice… Self reflection is very important to setting your goals and intentions, however, your self reflection cannot be self-destructive! That is counter productive. There is nothing wrong with admitting your faults. In fact, it is quite healthy. The key is to not dwell on your mistakes. Forgiveness takes time, especially when it is towards yourself, but the only way to get to a point of acceptance, is to understand that whatever mistakes you have made in the past happened for a reason. For whatever reason, you weren’t ready, and that’s okay. Now, you know where you went wrong, and that is the first step in making it better for the future. You can no longer focus on the what ifs, or should haves, you need to focus on the present moment. This is a lesson I’ve learned over the Christmas Holidays, and more importantly, on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve was when I let go of the tremendous amount of guilt I was feeling. I was feeling guilty about the mistakes I’ve made in the past, and how dishonest I’ve been to myself, and those around me.Letting those feelings go has been a major step for me to start thinking about the future. What can I do today to move towards happiness, self-acceptance, and forgiveness? These are the questions that you should be asking yourself during your time of reflection.

Now that you have done the Soul Map, or whatever form of self-reflection that you find helpful, you can start to form your intention for 2018. What do you want to see happen for yourself in 2018? Your intention will help you figure out your goals for the year to come. Your goals will reinforce your intention for the year, and your intention for the year will reinforce your goals. Your intention is your “why” behind your goals, it is your purpose. We all need a purpose or a reason why. It is our purpose that gives us meaning in our lives, and helps us to discover why our goals are so important to us, and therefore, will help us to carry out these goals even when it gets tough. For me, my intention for 2018 is to “rediscover myself and my power.” My ideal self is someone people can rely on. I get so much joy in helping others. I have realized though, that I can’t help anyone until I am able to help myself. Hence my intention, rediscover myself and my power. It is when I feel the most powerful, that I can do the most good for others.

How do I get myself feeling powerful? This is where I developed a to do list for 2018, as well as concrete goals and action steps to help me live out my intention of re-discovering my power. A tool that really helped me with this, was from this workshop that I did this past Saturday; we did this chart where we placed our “life buckets” career development, financial health, emotional and mental health, physical health, relationships, and intentional living in order from what we think needs the most focus in 2018 or what we think is the most important to us in 2018. Then we set an intention for each of our life buckets. Since I already thought about a lot of these things, it was a lot easier for me to order my life buckets and for me to set an intention for each of them. After we set our intention for each bucket, we then set a S.M.A.R.T goal for each bucket for next week, then next month, then a goal for the next 6 months, and finally next year. What is a S.M.A.R.T goal? It is Specific; meaning it is well defined, and it is directly related to your intention. It is Measurable; you need to know when you’ve reached this goal, so you should have a framework of some sort in place to keep track of your progress. Achievable; you need to figure out how you’re going to achieve this goal? What are the action steps you are going to take to make this goal a reality? Relevant; this is the why to your “how.” Why is the action you’re planning going to bring you closer to your intention? Time bound; it is important to set a deadline for your goal. Make sure you give yourself enough time, but not too long, that you forget about it. Looking at the goals and the to-do list that I’ve made already and adapting the S.M.A.R.T formula to them, really helped me gain focus. It also made me feel so much better about being able to complete my goals for 2018. The workshop that I went to was FREE (awesome!) and it was called How to: Ditch the Resolutions & #livealittlextra in 2018 by Brittnei Gaudio, who is the founder of #itsalifestyle. I would definitely check her out if you live in the Toronto area and you would like a little help mapping out your year. It can be very overwhelming thinking about all the things you want to change in the New Year, but by breaking your goals down into smaller goals, with an action plan, and timeline to complete them, makes everything seem so much more manageable!

Another very helpful tool that I was given by Brittnei Gaudio, was Gretchen Rubin’s Quiz: The Four Tendencies. This quiz was based off her book The Four Tendencies. I’m currently reading Gretchen’s book The Happiness Project, and after taking this quiz I have put this book at the top of my reading list! Once you’ve completed the quiz, you will find out what your tendency is, and you will be given a free detailed report on your tendency as well. After completing this quiz and finding out that my tendency was “Obliger,” (not that this was a surprise to me) but it really got me thinking about how I have used this to my advantage in the past, and how it has been a hindered me as well. The Four Tendencies best describe how we respond to expectations. As an obliger, I tend to be better at meeting outer expectations, than inner expectations. This makes a lot of sense to me; I have a really hard time saying “No” to people and it is also a big reason why I have become so unhappy recently. It is so much easier for me to take care of others, and to meet their expectations of me, then it is for me to do the things I know I need to be doing for myself (especially if these things seem daunting or hard).”Obliger: I do what I have to do. I don’t want to let others down, but I may let myself down,” quote from my free tendency report. This may seem pretty terrible, but it doesn’t have to be. I like helping others, but I also know that I need to be able to help myself first so that I can better help others.

Now that I know my tendency, I can better motivate myself to do the things that I want to do. As an obliger, no matter how badly I want to do something for myself, it won’t happen unless I adapt an “accountability strategy.” When I look back to times when I was most successful at following through with my goals, I was very aware of my tendency, without having put a name to it. For example, when I competed in bodybuilding, I had a lot of external sources of accountability that kept me on track, and eventually got me to my second place win! I had a coach who checked in with me every week. We both posted photo updates of my progress on social media, so I had the online community holding me accountable. I also expressed my wishes to compete to all my friends and family. I constantly reminded them of my show date, not only because I wanted them all to be there to cheer me on, but because it also helped me stay motivated. I knew that all the people who matter most were going to be there, and I had to win! Not only for myself but for them as well (I wanted to give them something to celebrate). I literally let anyone I possibly could know about my intentions to win my bodybuilding competition, I wrote about it on this blog, I talked about it with my clients, my group fitness classes, anyone who would listen. This all helped me do the best that I possibly could, because in my mind all these people cared about my competition. In reality, they probably didn’t (at least not everyone cared), but that really doesn’t matter. To me they cared, and because I thought they were watching, I was diligent about doing everything possible to be successful. I even went to the Wayhome Music Festival and packed all of my competition diet food! I was so proud of myself the day of my show, I already felt like I won, and after prejudging, I knew I was between first and second place. I was over the moon because I set my sights on something, and I obsessively worked towards it until the very end. For me, I need to talk about my intentions with others ALL THE TIME. I need EVERYONE to know exactly what I plan to do, and how I’m going to do it. Then I go out, and do the things I told everyone I was going to do.

My advice to you is to is to find out what you want for yourself this year. Create an intention for yourself, and then use that intention to figure out what your goals are for this year. Make sure that your goals are S.M.A.R.T! Once you have your why, and your action steps for the year, figure out what your tendency is, how do you respond to inner and outer expectations? Once you know what your tendency is, reflect on that. Try to remember times when you were most successful, what did you do then that got you to your goals? What strategies did you implement for you to be successful? Now that you know what you want, what you’re going to do to get what you want, and how you’re going to do it, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be successful! I have come to realize that your greatest strengths aka tendencies can also be your greatest weakness. The key is to understand this, and use your strengths to your advantage. I know that I am an obliger, and as such, I have created a large network of people who I can rely on. They are the same people who I have told my goals to, and have asked to check in on me regularly to make sure that I achieve these goals in 2018. I need to be held accountable to myself, and I need help doing that. This is another reason why I’m writing this blog; so that I may be able to help someone else while also helping myself.

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Quote from Oh The Places You’ll Go ❤ So many nuggets of truth in that book! 

https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3706759/Gretchen-Rubin-s-Quiz-The-Four-Tendencies


Challenge Yourself and Stay Motivated this Winter and Holiday Season!

 

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Winter is coming, we all know it. The days are getting shorter, and colder. It is during this time of the year that I find motivation to do any sort of physical activity other than Christmas shopping or baking, to be at an all time low. I used to work at an all women’s gym, and during this time of year it was basically a ghost town. Especially after work! This was because the majority of the clientele were moms, and moms have the special task of making Christmas happen for their families. I’m the biggest fan of Christmas! However, I do know that it can be a very stressful time of year. This is why keeping up with your exercise during this time of year is so important, and I’m here to give you some ideas on how to do just that!

I do understand that it’s cold outside, there’s less light, and this can all have an affect on your energy levels. However, there is nothing better than exercise to help with your stress, fatigue, and overall mood. Here is an idea on how to keep yourself active during this time of year:

Sign up for, or create your own fitness challenge! 

I have personally signed up for a fitness challenge this Christmas Holiday with two of my good friends from university. I have my own personal fitness goals that are forever changing to help me grow as a person, and as a fitness professional. I also think it’s important to try new things, and to meet new people. Plus, signing up for a fitness challenge with friends holds you more accountable to your goals, and to the challenge itself! If you’re wondering what challenge I signed up for? It’s the BOND X RIDE CHALLENGE. It’s a  5 week challenge that started on December 1st. Basically, you have to complete one 5K run, and one cycle class a week for 5 weeks. Now, this may seem really easy to some of you, and you’re right. It’s not a super hard challenge to complete. However, I personally hate running, and I’ve never done it in the winter. To me, that is a challenge! In addition, I picked this challenge because it’s fun! And because it’s totally possible to complete it during the holidays! There’s no reason why I can’t fit one class  and one run outside with BOND running a week.

So, my advice to you is sign up for a challenge this winter! A lot of gyms and studios run challenges during this time of year to help keep members motivated and engaged. If you’re not a member of the studio or gym, sometimes they have discounts to join the challenge, or other incentives. If there isn’t a challenge available to you at your local gym or studio etc, then create your own! Challenge yourself to attend at least two fitness classes a week for the next 5 weeks, or to go for two runs/walks outside. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is, just pick an activity that you enjoy doing, one that gets you moving, and make sure that you are making it a priority to complete the tasks you have set out for yourself every week. Also, it is much more fun to conquer any challenge with a friend, but if you can’t find someone to commit? Then commit to yourself! Make this a Christmas gift to you! Because you deserve to make yourself a priority!

I’m sure we have all at least thought about our bodies recently, and the effect the holiday season has on it. Or maybe we have fitness goals of our own, and we’re afraid of getting derailed? At the very least, I know that many of us have weight loss goals for the New Year, but why wait until then? Start working on your goals now! If you can commit yourself to your goals now by creating or joining a fitness challenge for yourself, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve those New Years Resolutions! Especially if you complete the challenge! Now, don’t expect miracles for yourself this holiday season. Pick or create a challenge that is “challenging” for you, that is totally possible to complete, and that it is something that you enjoy doing! You will not make time for your challenge if it doesn’t meet these requirements! Also, if you are creating your own challenge? Have a reward for yourself at the end! If you worked hard, and met all the requirements of the challenge, then you deserve to celebrate!

To recap, these are the things you need to motivate yourself to stay active this holiday season:

  1. You need a goal, or a “why.” You need a reason why doing this challenge is important to you. Maybe you have an overarching goal, like to loose 10 lbs and completing this challenge will bring you one step closer to that goal. Or maybe the goal is to keep your sanity this holiday season? Whatever the goal it needs to mean a lot to you.
  2. Pick an activity that you ENJOY! It can be anything! But you have to like it enough to want to do it more than once a week. If you don’t love the activity, you may find things that you like about it. For example, you may like the music the instructor plays, the instructor themselves, or the people who attend the class. Either way, there has to be something that motivates you to do it in the first place.
  3. The frequency and time frame for your challenge needs to be realistic for your current lifestyle. If you haven’t set foot in the gym in months, then don’t think a 30 day challenge where you have to go everyday is going to help. Choose a frequency that is challenging for you, but that you are capable of adopting into your current fitness regiment or overall schedule. I would say you should be doing this activity at the very least, twice a week for about 4-6 weeks. That will give you enough time to maybe see a difference in your fitness or to find yourself a new hobby. The idea is to continue being active once the challenge is over…
  4. Schedule out your activity into your everyday life. You need to make it a priority by adopting it into your current schedule and holding yourself accountable to that appointment. You are far more likely to be successful if you make the time for your physical fitness. Plus the entire holiday season will seem a lot less overwhelming if you set a schedule for yourself, or at least daily tasks to complete.

For those of you who are leaning more towards hibernation this winter season, I strongly urge you to resist! You will most likely regret it. Just because winter invites you to hide behind a frumpy sweater, doesn’t mean you should! Exercise shouldn’t just happen during the months when people are more likely going to see your body in public. Yes it’s cold outside, there’s less light during the day, and this can all affect your energy levels and your mood. But exercise is the best method to combat these issues! Exercise boosts your mood, your energy levels, you will sleep better, and you will perform better during the day. If you’re already stressing out about all the obligations you have this holiday season? Then you need to make self-care a priority, and I am looking at all of those moms out there! Trust me, you will be better able to take care of everyone else once you have taken care of yourself first! But enough ranting, some form of physical activity everyday is important for maintaining or improving your overall well being. Get moving this winter, I promise you won’t regret it!

 

 


You are your own Parent, No one can make you do anything except for yourself!

It’s ironic that I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about motivation, but could not bring myself to do it until now. To be more committed to my blog this year was one of my New Years Resolutions. I started off writing pretty consistently, but then sure enough I began to lose my motivation. Motivation is a very fickle thing, and it is something that companies, human resources departments, life coaches, personal trainers, and so on are all trying to master and figure out. The thing is, it is very difficult to keep someone motivated, even if it is purely for their own benefit.

As a personal trainer, it has often been assumed by some of my clients, that somehow I will make them want to workout. This however, is far from the truth. In reality, I will be of most use to someone who is already motivated to workout. As the saying goes, you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. There is a reason why this cliche is used so often! If someone is already motivated to workout, the job of the personal trainer is to teach, and perfect that person’s training techniques. Teach them new routines, and help them reach the goals that they were already motivated to reach on their own! The key to any professional who’s job is to help improve the lives of others, like a personal trainer, a dietition, a therapist, and so on, is that they are only of use if that person is already motivated to go through the difficult task of changing their lives! No one can make someone WANT to do anything! Especially if it’s going to be unpleasant! Personal growth of any kind is unpleasant sometimes. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. These are what I like to call growing pains. The benefits of growing as a person are tremendous! We are living things, and we are meant to continue to learn and grow! People are the happiest when they feel as if they are living up to their potential, when they feel as though they are living their lives fully. However, this is not the case for a lot of people. Instead a lot of people live a life of complacency, where things are just “fine.” Where they are living on autopilot, going about their daily routines, and nothing really changes. It’s comfortable, but it gets boring, and therefore it gets sad.

This may sound dramatic to you, but it’s really not. If we all took the time to reflect on our lives, there will be something that has always been on your “to-do list” but you can never seem to get around to doing it. This could be finding a new job, loosing some weight, working out on a regular basis, getting out of a unhealthy relationship, going on that dream vacation, the list can go on forever. A lot of times, people live their lives on autopilot for so long, not really taking control over the things that don’t make them happy until their unhappiness is unavoidable. For some reason, a lot of us convince ourselves that we’re “fine,” that maybe having the body you’ve always wanted is not meant for you. That you’re fine with the body you have, or that maybe you can live with the job you have, it’s paying the bills, so you’ll just stay. There is nothing wrong with being okay with your body, whatever it may look like, or for staying in the same position for years, if it makes you happy. But happy, proud, and content, are not the same as “fine.” A lot of times when we avoid the things we know we should change, we lead ourselves to our own “rock bottom.” This is different for everyone, rock bottom for one person could be loosing their job, declaring bankruptcy, having a major heart attack or health scare, divorce, whatever! It may not even be that drastic for someone to realize that something has got to give.

In fact, that is what I’m trying to get us all to realize! When we were children, it was the responsibility of our parents, guardians, and teachers to parent us. Whether or not they were successful at this is another story. Generally speaking, when we were children the goal of our parents and guardians was to nurture us and to force us to do the things we didn’t want to do, so that we could grow into responsible adults. Now, it is our job to be the responsible adults our parents intended us to be, and to take care of ourselves! To make ourselves do the “uncomfortable things” like eat our vegetables, have at least three square meals a day, go to bed on time and to wake up on time (basically set yourself a regular sleeping routine) do your homework aka get your work projects done on time, and the list goes on. In fact, it is quite obvious that now as an adult, your responsibilities have grown. There is more that you are expected to do on a regular basis, but in order to do all of these things successfully, you have to force yourself to do them! No one is going to make you go to bed at a decent hour so that you had enough sleep to tackle your work day, make yourself healthy meals, and to have enough energy to workout, read, or do anything else that contributes to your overall well being, happiness, and growth.

When I was a kid, I lived a very good life. My parents cared a lot about me and my sisters. They put a lot of work into parenting us, because they cared and still care so, so much. I definitely find them to be a little overbearing sometimes, but at the end of the day I know I am very blessed to have them as my parents, because they taught me a lot about being a responsible adult. They would take me to my after school activities like swimming lessons, and dance lessons. They would make me do learning books in the summer, practice my cursive writing, and play educational games like “Jumpstart Grade 3,” all in the hopes that it would help me grow into a better person. Whether or not I always lived up to these standards as I became an adult is a different story. I will say though, that I am the most happy when I feel as though I am being productive. When I feel like I am living up to my potential, chasing my dreams, and kicking butt! When I am going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday, working out everyday, eating well (food that I have made myself too), being fiscally responsible, working hard at my job, reading, writing my blog, and making time for my friends. This is when I feel like superwoman! Like I can do anything, and everything is possible. This is when I am the most happy, the most positive, and the most energetic. However, this is a lot of work. It is a lot of self-parenting, and sometimes I fall off the wagon. For whatever reason, one or two of these items start to slip away, and eventually if I let it go on too long, some other things start to dwindle, and I start to not feel like myself. I start to loose my energy, and my happiness. I start to feel stuck. I’m sure a lot of us know what this feeling is. We have all felt this way when we have stopped parenting ourselves. When we have lost our motivation, and we are no longer forcing ourselves to get uncomfortable anymore. When we stop forcing ourselves to get uncomfortable, we stop growing. Our lives become complacent, and we start to get bored. Your parents aren’t around to sign you up for that yoga class that you’ve been meaning to try, or to talk to your boss about your performance and to ask them for a raise. That is all up to you now. It sucks, but it’s true. If you want something in your life, if you want to be better, or to have more, you have to force yourself out of bed, and to do the uncomfortable work that is takes to get those things.

Believe it or not, eventually the things that you thought we hard or “uncomfortable” will become second nature, maybe even enjoyable? It really is a mindset. Eating well, working out, learning outside of work, these can all be very fulfilling. The only thing is, you have to get yourself to do them. You will never benefit from these things unless you force yourself to do them on a regular basis. Give yourself all of the gifts that your parents (hopefully) gave you growing up. Teach yourself to eat well, sleep well, go to work and be your best, and then participate in extracurricular activities that keep you active, and engaged. This is how your parents tried to make you a successful and responsible adult, someone that they could be proud of. Now it is up to you to do all of those things to make yourself someone that YOU could be proud of!

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Green Kale Smoothie and Coffee to start my day 🙂

 


Green Mango Protein Shake

For the last little while I’ve been playing with different shake recipes. Ever since my roommate brought in a Vitamix, I’ve almost been living off shakes! Especially lately. I’ll be heading to Coachella in a couple weeks, so to get in protein in a low calorie, low carb way, shakes have been my go to meal. I wouldn’t suggest having only shakes as a way to get your meals in, but I make at least one shake a day. Especially since I commute a lot, travelling from client to client, it’s an easy way to pack a meal on the go. However, I’ve been making shakes using egg whites instead of using Protein Powder. I’m not lactose free, but I find using egg whites so much easier on my digestive system. So here’s my latest favorite shake:

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or any lactose free milk)
  • 1 cup of egg whites
  • 2 handfuls of spinach (2 cups)
  • 1 cup of frozen mangos

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass with a straw and enjoy!

255 Calories: 24.2g Carbs, 2.5g Fat, 29.8g Protein

You can always add a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter to this recipe as well if you would like to add more of a fat source. It definitely works well, but keep in mind this would obviously increase the amount of calories and fat of this recipe.

 


How Not Sleeping Properly Can Increase Your Pant Size

Sleeping Beauty was definitely on to something, and I’m here to tell you why! I have touched on the topic of sleep and stress management in one of my previous articles called Day 5 of the 12 Days of Fitmas: Sleep and Stress Management During the Holidays. It seems as though the times when we need sleep the most, we actually sleep the least. It is when we are the most stressed out, with the biggest to-do lists in the world, that we tend to run ourselves on empty, and then pay for it big time in the long run. Not getting enough sleep can be quite dangerous! You could burn yourself out, and cause yourself to get seriously ill.However, sleep deprivation is not just bad for your overall health and well-being , it can actually dull your brain activity. This causes you to make bad decisions, because your frontal lobe (which is in charge of decision-making and impulse control) is deeply affected by lack of sleep, it’s kind of like being drunk. Sometimes lack of sleep can be worse than being drunk! We shouldn’t drive, or operate any sort of machinery drunk, so why is it so common that we force ourselves to drive, or go to work when we are sleep deprived? That can’t be safe right?! Safety aside, if you’re drunk (or just overtired) you are more likely to over eat, and eat take out food. You are also likely going to skip out on exercise as well. All of these activities, and drinking excess amounts of caffeine only exacerbate the situation, making you feel more tired, stressed out, lazy, and just not good.

In addition, if you’re overtired, and you can no longer control your impulse to grab McDonald’s instead of making yourself something nutritious for dinner, your brain’s reward system is revved up when you’re overtired. So, now you have a craving for McDonald’s that you can’t control, and once you eat that McDouble sandwich, because it’s comfort food (high fat, high carb, lots of salt), your brain’s reward system is going crazy! This makes it even more difficult to not eat take-out again, or to resist grabbing desert after your McDouble, and grab a snack size McFlurry. Basically, being impulsive and caving into your cravings for comfort food because you’re so tired, and your reward system being heightened only perpetuates the issue. You’re tired so you need energy, and comfort food is high calorie aka high energy, so once you eat it, you feel awesome, and then you don’t. Your insulin level spikes, and then falls drastically making you feel like a slug. Supper tired, and fat. Generally, you want to pass out right after you eat these things, which is probably one of the worst things you can do. If you can’t go to sleep after eating a high calorie take-out for lunch, then you’re more likely going to pick up a coffee of some sort, which will affect your ability to sleep well that night. This is because it takes about 4-6 hours for the effects of caffeine to ware off. This all depends on how much coffee you drink after lunch, how fast your metabolism is and so on. If you are a smaller human, the effects of coffee last much longer, than if you were a larger, more muscular human. These high calorie, and highly caffeinated diets only make you feel like an empty shell of a human that is just going through the motions. Who wants to live like that? You feel awful, and you will never look your best if you keep that up.

Moreover, people who lack sleep, are more likely to indulge in late night snacks. These snacks also tend to be high carb and high fat, like cookies, or chips. It’s so funny when clients tell me they don’t have a sweet tooth, but they love chips. I think people forget that just because it doesn’t taste sweet, does not mean there’s no sugar or carbs in it. Potato chips are high carb, high fat, and high salt, which will only have you retaining water. So you’ll wake up looking and feeling super puffy and fat. No one likes to feel bloated, and fat! Even if you’re doing a good job of trying to avoid eating junk food, when you’re tired, you are more likely to just eat more food in general. This is because your body is lacking energy, so it’s going to try to eat energy (calories is energy for the body). So, you will start to eat more calories in general if you’re not getting enough beauty sleep, to try to make up for the lack of energy. Maybe that’s why they call it beauty sleep? Either way, we all feel better, and look much better when we are properly rested.

Sleep is like nutrition for the brain, and most people need at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Getting less than that can cause the most determined dieter to reach for the pint of ice cream. If weight loss is a major goal for you? Then your first goal should be to get on a regular sleep schedule no matter what. No matter how stressed out you may be, or how much work you may have to do, you cannot perform properly if you’re not sleeping. Even if it seems counter productive to quit working late nights, because you’re trying to “get ahead,” how much quality work are you actually getting done? I personally find that I am the most effective and productive during the day. I feel the best when I have gone to bed early, gotten 8 hours of sleep, and I have started my day early. I love starting my day early and ending my day early. It makes me feel so productive, and I also feel like I have enough of my day left to rest and decompress before I have to go to bed again and start over the next day. Believe it or not, your workload isn’t going anywhere, and you can walk away from it, then come back to it the next day well rested and better able to tackle it. I know there are times where you may feel like you can’t just “walk away” from your work, but you’re going to be working for most of your life anyway, so is it worth sacrificing your well-being? Maybe that’s something you have to ask yourself? I actually think that you would be able to get much more done during your regular work day if you sleep well, eat well, and exercise on a regular basis, and you won’t have to let your work life encroach on your home life too much. How about that? Sounds lovely right? I’m sure most of us know that we need more sleep, and we need to eat better, and exercise, but far too many of us don’t do these things enough.

If I still haven’t convinced you to get more shut-eye, or to take a nap here and there, then did you know that lack of sleep can affect your hormonal health as well? If your hormones are out of whack it is much more difficult to resist cravings, and cravings come much more frequently. This doesn’t just effect women, if effects men as well. However. ladies, you all know what it feels like when your hormones are out of whack and all you want is chocolate by the truck load! Lack of sleep impacts your leptin and ghrelin hormones. These hormones signal your brain to let you know when you’re hungry and when you’re full. Ghrelin tells your brain when it’s time to eat. When you’re sleep deprived, your brain produces more ghrelin. Leptin on the other hand tells your brain when to put your fork down. When you’re sleep deprived, leptin levels plummet, which only tells your brain that you need more food. If you put all of this together, it’s pretty obvious how sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain. The stress that you’re putting on your body now from lack of sleep, a high caffeine/high calorie diet, plus all the stress you’re putting on yourself from work, your home life, your finances and so on, only signal your body to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol.What is cortisol? It is one of the steroid hormones and it is made in the adrenal glands. Secretion of this hormone is controlled by hypothalamus, the adrenal gland, and the pituitary gland. Because most cells in the body have cortisol receptors, it affects many different bodily functions. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory. It can also control salt and water levels in the body, as well as blood pressure. People with high cortisol levels tend to gain weight rapidly in the stomach, chest, and face. Often doctors will notice this because the person will have slender arms and legs, and most of their weight gain is centered in the middle of their body. There are several more negative effects of high cortisol levels, including an increase in anxiety and depression as well. Now, sleep deprivation will have you eating more, more often, and it will reduce your body’s ability to metabolize all of this extra food. This will only have your body gaining weight and hanging on to fat. If that wasn’t enough, like I mentioned before, sleep deprivation will cause your body’s ability to process insulin ( a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy) to go out of whack. This is bad because, if your body is having trouble responding to insulin, then your body will have trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, and will therefore store them as fat.

I’m not saying that if you sleep, you will lose weight (it is possible though!), what I’m saying is that not enough sleep hampers your metabolism and it can lead to weight gain. Also, getting adequate sleep will have you feeling much more motivated to not only tackle your work day, but to exercise on top of that! You be much more productive at work, and in your life in general! This will only have a positive effect on your overall well-being. Your mood will improve, and so will your energy. Proper sleep will have you making better food choices, which will give you the fuel to power through your day, and your workouts. Regular exercise will have you getting more quality sleep, and the circle continues. As you can see, everything is connected. Nothing in life is every separate from another. Better sleep positively effects your diet, workouts, and your diet and workouts effect your sleep. If you feel like everyday you’re just going through the motions. Like you’re surviving life, rather than living life? Then maybe you need to take a step back, and re-evaluate what you have going on. Take more time out of your day to take care of your basic needs, this includes proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Even if you don’t think you need to lose weight, exercise is not meant just for weight loss! We all need to keep our bodies strong so that we can conquer the crazy things that life throws at us. Life is too short to not be able to enjoy it fully, and no one is having fun if they feel tired all the time! So, if getting enough quality sleep seems to be a consistent issue for you? Then here are some tips on how you can begin to improve your sleep schedule:

  1. Shut down your phone, laptop, television, basically all your electronics a half hour to an hour before bed. The blue light that is shines from those devices negatively effects your REM cycle. Plus, reading a stressful text, or email can have you up all night when really there’s not much you can do about it until the morning anyway. So, I put my phone on do not disturb before I start to brush my teeth and such before bed. It helps a lot!
  2. Do your best to leave the bedroom for just sleep and sex. Think of your room as a place for relaxation of release, rather than a place for work and entertainment.
  3. We all have morning rituals, things we do every morning before work, do the same for your bedtime. Have an herbal tea, read a book, have a bath, anything that you find relaxing. Have some YOU time, you deserve it! 😉
  4. Try to wake up, and go to sleep at the same time everyday, even on weekends! This is something that I have a hard time doing, and it really does affect my Monday mornings… I’m sure many of you can relate!
  5. Avoid alcohol, and heavy meals close to bed time. This will cause you to have a restless sleep. Also, make sure to not have caffeine after 4 pm because like I mentioned above, it can take up to 6 hours for you to metabolize all the caffeine.
  6. Lastly, make sure your room is nice and dark! Darkness tells your body it’s time to sleep and it helps your body produce melatonin, which is the sleep hormone. Light on the other hand suppresses the release of melatonin.
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Princess Belle has the idea! Taking a cat nap all snug in my sister’s drawer next to a dream catcher, nothing but sweet dreams for Belle ❤


What does it mean to be fat?

What does it mean to be fat? Well, it can actually mean a lot of things depending on who you ask, or who you’re referring to as fat. Being “fat” comes with a boatload of negative connotations that we probably didn’t even realize. However, the point of this article is to call attention to the fact that not many of us, or maybe too many of us know what it’s like to be fat but it’s not something we openly discuss in public. In fact, being “fat,” or clinically obese isn’t generally viewed as a medical condition in society, but mostly as a result of bad habits, and laziness. When in fact, it is a medical condition.

The definition of obesity from the Webster’s Medical Dictionary is as follows, “a condition that is characterized by excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body and that in an adult is typically indicated by a body mass index of 30 or greater.” Below is a photo of the Body Mass Index Chart for both men and women. Please be informed that this is NOT necessarily the best way to tell if you are at a healthy weight, because it is only a ratio between your height and weight. It does not take into account your body fat percentage, which is a better way of knowing how much of your body is composed of fat. If you are a bodybuilder for example, or an athlete with a large amount of muscle, your BMI would read high because you would weigh heavier due to your muscle mass.

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Below is a chart showing you the ranges of body fat percentages for men and women. This will give you a better idea of how much of your body is composed of fatty tissue, and how healthy your body fat percentage is.

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One of the better ways to measure your body fat, that isn’t too expensive is to use calibers. If you do plan on using calibers, please have someone who has experience to help you measure your body fat. Especially, because you won’t be able to measure the skin folds on your back. Calibers do not measure your body fat directly, they are used to administer the “pinch test,” which takes measurements of skin folds on several points on the body. That information is then plugged into a mathematical formula that will give you, your body fat percentage. The accuracy of this test depends on the experience of the person administering the test, and the formula that they use to calculate your body fat. There is more than one formula to measure your body fat and it varies for each person depending on age, gender, race, and fitness level.

So, if you are really curious about your body fat percentage, please ask a fitness professional, or doctor to help you figure it out. There are picture charts to help you compare your body to the pictures to get an idea of where your body fat might be, BUT to make things simpler, I will describe to you what different body fat percentages look like. For example, I am a female between the ages of 26-30 years old. For both of my fitness competitions, I was at a body fat percentage between 11-15%. This is very lean, and a vast majority of female body builders at all levels are around this body fat percentage when they are on stage. It is very difficult for your body to maintain this body fat percentage for females for a long period of time. An ideal body fat percentage for my age would be between 20-24%

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Me backstage at my first show on November 8th 2014 

 

 

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Me backstage at my second show October 10th 2015

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December 6th 2015, this is me going to a Christmas party sitting in the ideal body fat range between 19-24% 

 

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Me and my friend Jordan walking into the reception of our best friend’s wedding this past August 27th 2016. Here I am in the “average” body fat percentage around 26% and definitely not my happy place. 

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A more recent photo of me January 7th 2017 where I’ve gotten my body fat percentage down around 24% my goal is to get closer to 20% 

It was hard finding recent full body photos of myself to compare body fat percentages with you guys because I’ve stopped taking many selfies of myself since I stopped competing! However, I wanted to give you guys a good idea of what different body fat percentages can look on a person. A body fat percentage of 11-15% can look a lot different on someone depending on how tall they are, how much muscle they have and so on. The more muscle you have when being that lean the “healthier” you’ll look, and the more shapely your body will look. However, if you are at that body fat percentage, without much muscle, you will actually look quite sickly. The same goes for the “average” body fat percentages for women. If you have a body fat percentage of 26% and your around my age, depending on your height, you could look a lot different from me in the photo above. So, using photos of people’s body’s to compare body fat is again NOT an accurate way to find out how “fat” you are.

The sad thing is, this is how we all measure our bodies. We compare them to others, and determine whether we are fat, skinny, fit, beautiful, ugly etc. I think a lot of women care about their body fat percentages not because of their health but because they don’t want to be considered fat! And even if they are in the average, or above average range, many are in denial of how “fat” they really are! I mean, I’m sure they know they’re not thin, but they would never consider themselves to be obese. In my opinion, this is because many of us see someone who is obese as someone who weighs an extraordinary amount of weight, like the people you would see on My 600 lb life on TLC. And it’s not just women who make these sorts of assumptions, men share the same sort of denial, and men have become much more critical of their bodies. I wouldn’t say that it is to the same degree as women, but I definitely think younger generations of men are facing higher and higher standards of beauty and masculinity. The movie Fight Club addresses this issue quite well, the question of masculinity and beauty, but that’s another article.

There are so many articles talking about our unrealistic beauty standards and how they affect women, and men negatively. How it creates a whole bunch of body issues, eating disorders, suicides, and the list goes on. But what I want to address in this article is this aversion we have to being labeled FAT, and why that is? Because in reality many, many people fall into the average, leaning towards above average body fat percentage. I don’t think people are afraid to refer to themselves as fat, because people do it all the time, even if they are completely healthy, people will call themselves fat, because there is someone else out there thinner, and better looking than them, or because they no longer have the body they used to have. When in reality they probably picked the body they used to have apart as well. It seems as though many of us have a hard time accepting our bodies at all. However, it can be deeply hurtful when someone else refers to you as fat. It’s one thing to call yourself fat, but when someone else does, it either confirms what you already know which sucks, or it can have you questioning your self-worth. Because let’s face it being thin and fit is considered good and beautiful, and being fat is still considered ugly and bad. The thing is though, calling people fat, ugly, lazy, stupid, because they happen to weigh “above average,” or have a higher than “normal” body fat percentage, doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t make you a better person, it doesn’t change the person you’re calling names, and it certainly doesn’t fix the problem of obesity in our society.

I didn’t realize until recently how much our society discriminates against people who are over weight and obese. I did not realize the amount of obstacles these people face on a regular basis. I had an idea, but I really didn’t know how much prejudice there was against people who are fat, until I watched a video that my friend had shared with me that her company had made discussing what it’s like to live in the shoes of someone who is clinically diagnosed with obesity. Besides the obvious stares, name calling, and judgement that they face everyday, there are a bunch of physical barriers that they face that aren’t as obvious as you would think. For example, furniture is made for the “average” person. There are a lot of chairs that aren’t wide enough, or, are not able to hold up weight over 230 lbs. I take for granted the body that I have, because I never have to worry about seating when I go to a show, restaurant, or public space, because I have no problems fitting into chairs and such. Basically, we haven’t included a large section of people in the designs for the spaces that we live in. Ignoring a group of people, and treating them as if they are not important, almost as if they are no longer human, will not encourage positive change in any way. If we want to help someone who is suffering from obesity, we must engage with them in a positive manner. We must include them and their needs, so that we can help improve their quality of life.

As a fitness professional, I realized that I cannot properly help my obese clients if I am judging them based on their body. None of us will be able to help them if we are already making assumptions about how they got that body in the first place. In reality people who are considered fat are actually hyper aware of their own bodies, because they are told on a constant basis that they don’t belong. Not necessarily directly, but definitely indirectly, through the design of our spaces, furniture, clothing, our media, and basically our society as a whole does not value someone who is “fat.” That is why no one really wants to be “fat.” Not because it is ugly, or that people hate their bodies, because there are many overweight people who are perfectly content with their bodies, but nobody wants to be considered fat, because nobody wants to be ugly, or unwanted. Everyone wants to feel like they matter, and that they belong. Speaking as a fitness professional, it is important that we treat people who are overweight as people, who matter, and who have feelings. They were not born obese, but circumstances whether they be health related, or not, have led them to obesity and it is not in our right to judge these people. Especially if we know nothing about them.

Obesity is a medical condition, and it affects many people in our society, and if we ever want to improve our quality of life, we must first stop with the prejudice. We must try to accommodate these people more in our society, not just in fashion, or media, but in all parts of everyday life. Throwing diet pills, nutritional facts, and telling them to get off their “lazy butts,” is not going to solve the problem of obesity, because that just perpetuates hate, and ignorance. If you truly want to help someone who is overweight, first get to know them, and then ask them what it is that they need to be successful. You may be surprised at how much they know about diet and exercise! Once you know what it is they need, you can then have a better chance of helping them succeed, but they MUST be included in the process. Don’t just assume what they need based on the fact that they are fat, because they are more than just a “fat person.” Anyway, my point, was that we don’t really consider what it must be like to be a fat person in our society. We don’t really take the time to consider their wants, needs, and feelings at all. We tend to disregard them all together or punish them for the way that they are. Instead, we should do our best to include all types of people from all shapes and sizes. As cheesy as it sounds, we must include everyone into the realm of fitness. People who are overweight should not feel as if they don’t belong in the gym, and making fun of people who are working out because of their size is disgusting to me and I know it happens all the time. But since when is it a crime for someone to go hard at the gym? Even if they happen to be overweight? Why are we discouraging people from doing something positive with their lives? It’s not fair to ridicule someone for their size, and then make them feel as if they don’t belong in environments where they can make a positive impact on their health. If we want to have a healthier society, then we must stop making people who are overweight feel as if they don’t belong.


Gluten-Free, does that mean it’s healthy?

I was thinking the other day about how much our society obsesses over food, in not necessarily a good way. I mean there have been a lot more discoveries about food, and the potential harmful side effects of various food products like artificial sweeteners, genetically modified foods, hormones, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and the list goes on. I love that people are becoming much more aware of what they are putting into their bodies, and are educating themselves about nutrition. I think it’s great that more and more people want to be healthy, and that they are a lot more conscious of not only their health, but the environment as well. However, there are a lot of us who are not educating ourselves properly about nutrition, and are falling into diets because we think it’s healthy, based on what we’ve heard but not on what we actually know. Eating gluten-free does not necessarily mean that you’re eating healthier, and it also doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose weight. I mean you may lose weight by cutting down on processed carbohydrates, that’s always a good thing, but don’t cut gluten completely out of your life if you don’t need to. This is because, if you go on long enough without eating gluten, then you may start to develop an intolerance to it when you were perfectly fine digesting it in the first place!

Eating gluten-free has become super popular, it seems like more and more people are reaching for gluten free options because they think it’s healthier for them, and they also believe that it will help them to lose weight. Now these claims are not necessarily false, however, there are plenty of gluten free products out there that are just as bad for you as the original. For example, gluten free cookies are still cookies!!! That means they are still full of sugar and fat just like a regular cookie! Gluten, is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barely. These are all various types of grains. Gluten is a protein that is found naturally in these grains, this does not mean that it is bad for everyone! Some people like my mother, can’t eat gluten at all because of an intolerance that was diagnosed by the doctor. My mom however, doesn’t just have an intolerance to gluten, she actually has a hereditary autoimmune disease called celiac. When people with celiac ingest gluten, their body has an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks damage the lining of the small intestine (the villi) which promotes nutrient absorption into the body. When the vili is damaged, it is much more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, which can lead to further health complications. When the body is attacking the small intestine because gluten was eaten at some point, it is very painful. The person will bloat terribly, and have terrible gas as well. No one wants to feel this way, and no one wants to be around a gassy person, and the only treatment for celiac so far is a gluten free diet.

If you don’t experience terrible bloating, gas, cramps, or irregular bowel movements when you ingest any wheat product, then there is no real need for you to eat a gluten-free diet. Gluten CAN be an inflammatory for some people. Just like lactose, eggs, and alcohol can all be inflammatory to people, but not to everyone. Sugar can be an inflammatory! It may not be the gluten that is bothering you, but the amount of sugars you’re consuming in your diet! So if you’re eating a gluten free cookie, you may still experience inflammation, gas, and weight gain. If you can eat toast, or regular wheat pasta without getting super gassy and uncomfortable then you most likely don’t have a gluten intolerance, and becoming gluten free won’t necessarily help you. However, cutting down on processed foods like store-bought breads, pastas, cakes, cookies, pastries, granola bars, boxed cereals, the list goes on, can help you lose weight, and will help you feel better overall. This is because, a lot of these food products contain high amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and so on. All of these things can cause inflammation, and weight gain. Plus, because they are all high on the glycemic index, they will also cause your insulin levels to spike. This will give you a sudden burst of energy, and then a heavy crash if you’re eating too much of it at a time. So, if you enjoy bread, and pasta, then make it a once in a while treat. Eat it in MODERATION but you don’t have to get rid of it completely.

In conclusion, what I’m trying to say is this. Eating less packaged and processed foods will be better for your health overall, even if you’re gluten-free or not. However, ordering a gluten free pizza from Pizza Nova, will not make that meal choice any healthier FYI. I know for myself personally, when I eat too many artificial sweeteners, I can get headaches, and I can get gassy. I can also get really sick from eating really fatty foods, like too much cheese. Nobody wants to be around me after that! Last summer, I had a terrible episode in Miami… All of my closest friends know exactly what happened!! I ate a super greasy lobster roll, and let’s just say it didn’t end well… It was also soggy and gross 😦 serves me right for eating a New England food in Miami in the summer time. So, if you experience any real discomfort after eating certain foods the best way to discover what the actual culprit is, is to talk to your doctor first or any other healthcare professional! If it’s nothing serious just gas and bloating, then the best thing to do is to eliminate all possible inflammatory foods. So, eliminate dairy, gluten, alcohol, eggs. Do this for a month, and then introduce one of these foods at a time. So one week introduce eggs and see what happens, then introduce dairy, and so on and so forth. You may not need to eliminate things completely, but you may need to restrict certain foods because they make you uncomfortable. Having terrible gas, or bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or even heat burn/acid reflux, is NOT normal, and you shouldn’t keep taking antacids, or Pepto Bismol because that is not actually solving the problem! You need to cut down or cut out the foods that are causing you this discomfort! Everybody’s body is different, and you need to figure out what types of foods make you feel your best, and help you to perform your best when exercising and going about your daily lives.

breakfast

A picture of a breakfast that I made for myself recently. I actually eat eggs, or egg whites every morning. It’s my favorite way to start the day 🙂