Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Goals!!

I've been seeing this pop up everywhere and it's making me so excited. 

Like, really, really excited! 

The reason why is I have so many goals planned for this upcoming year that I can hardly control myself when I think about it all. 

You're probably thinking, "Sam, relax. Just breathe."


I probably sound so annoying to my family and friends because all I want to talk about right now is marathon training, hitting all kinds of PRs with lifting, seeing muscles grow, and how my metabolism is kicking into gear. Not everyone gets it or cares and I respect that but that doesn't mean I can't or won't set goals for myself. 

I can't help it because this is truly my passion in life. People probably think I'm a maniac but I worked my butt off to get to the place where I am now, and I have zero plans of stopping now! 2013 was a rough year with getting back on track, 2014 was when I was able to put a lot of what I learned into practice so now I'm totally and completely ready for this coming year. 

I don't even worry all that much about body image anymore. My body is a temple and a vessel for this life. Honestly at this point if you asked me would I rather lose 5 pounds instantly or be able to go up 20 pounds with my deadlifts, I'd go with the deadlifts. Really and truly, 100% I mean that. I don't focus on what my body looks like, it's about what I can do. 

These aren't resolutions because I don't intend to abandon them by February. These are goals and I have all intentions of chasing and fulfilling them. It's a mixture of everything from personal to fitness-related, so here they are!

1. Start and End My Day with God

I feel like sometimes I can get so rushed that I don't stop to take the time to really set aside quality time with God. Whether it's reading a scripture passage, doing a daily devotional, or a simple prayer. I get emails with encouraging daily scriptures and have a couple apps on my phone that do the same but I don't always commit to reading them on a regular basis. I have a 365-day devotional book by Max Lucado that focuses on a morning devotion and one at night as well. I started reading it again because last year I tried but then I'd skip one in the morning and try to double up at night. Or I'd miss a few days here and there so I'd squeeze a week's worth of them in one sitting. I want to do it differently this time, though, and take the few minutes to read them. I want to fully process it and to apply it to my day. So this year I'm going to read it every morning and every night just like the schedule says! After I read it, I'll make sure to really think about the question at the end and take a couple minutes to answer it. Then, say a prayer about it and try to think back to that morning's lesson throughout the day. 

2. Run My First Marathon

Today marks the official first day of my training and I couldn't be more excited! I was terrified and totally intimidated when I first signed up. When I thought about just how far 26.2 miles is, I'd be in danger of mild hyperventilation but, then something completely switched! I can barely control my excitement when I've been thinking about it the past couple weeks, and I'm itching for May to get here. I'm going to give the next 18 weeks my all, and I'll keep you guys updated along the way! 

3. Finish My Reverse Diet

I'm halfway through at week 10 right now, and I actually start a veryyy mini-cut today for the next two weeks. By mini, I mean it's a 10g carb decrease and 5g of fats just to see what's up with my metabolism. My coach designed it for me that way so she can evaluate how my body is handling everything at the moment. It's not about losing fat or changing how my body looks, it's purely for figuring out if my metabolism is on the right track. I can't wait to see what happens because my body has been feeling really great with this reverse! 

4. Do 10 Unassisted Pull-ups

I will admit, back day is my least favorite muscle group to train. The ironic thing is that it turns out that my back is one of my easiest muscle groups to build. That is all completely due to genetics, and before I lifted I never realized that certain muscle groups are easier/harder to people to develop and grow purely based on their DNA. For me, it's legs and back. I never realized that back was one until about 2 weeks ago when suddenly I was like "is that my lat??" It came out of nowhere because I never take progress pictures of my back. Turns out, though, that my back has much appreciated the extra carbs the past 10 weeks, and put them to good use. I intend to use this to my full advantage and really try to crank out some pull-ups. I do mainly assisted ones now because have you ever tried doing unassisted ones? Yeah, they're hard! I've definitely slacked, and haven't given it proper attention. I want to change that, and focus on building my strength with them. 

5. Squat 185

This may not seem like a huge increase from my current 155 but I have to keep in mind that at a certain point in my marathon training, I'm most likely going to have to give up leg days. The thought causes me pain and makes me sad, but my marathon is top priority. I don't want to be killing my legs every week like I am now when I'll be having to crank out double my usual mileage. It's just not a good idea to not allow my legs the proper rest and recovery that they'll need. So, this goal might have to wait until after May when I'll be able to give my squats the proper attention they need. I would love to get higher than 185 but I also don't want to cause any injuries so I need to stay realistic. Let me be clear when I mean that I want to get to 185. I'm not talking about just being able to do one or two squats with 185. I want to be able to do my usual sets with it like I do now so about 4 sets of 8-10. We'll see what happens!

6. Deadlift 185

Same thing as squats goes for the deadlifts! They're my two favorite exercises so I'm really excited to work on getting my numbers up with them. I'm not training for anything so there's no particular reason for it other than I absolutely love it. That's good enough reason, right?!

7. Do a Fall Half-Marathon

I've done the Pittsburgh half for the past 3 Mays but I would really love to do one in the fall! Running in the fall and winter is my absolute favorite since I love the cooler weather. I think the scenery to do a half-marathon would be beautiful with all the leaves changing and the fresh fall air so that's definitely making my list! I actually have my eye on one that's near a friend of Amanda's so we'd even have a place to stay.

8. Get My Nutrition Certificate

This is something that I've been thinking a lot about, and I finally want to commit to doing it. The whole process of nutrition absolutely fascinates me, and I'm constantly doing research on questions that I have. I bombard my poor coach with questions that don't have anything to do with my nutrition plan but rather I'm just curious about in general! I have learned so much in the past 8 months ever since I started doing macros that I want to bring it full-circle. I always joke around with my family and friends about them being test-clients but hey who knows, maybe someday I'll actually have real clients! That depends on what happens with grad school stuff but I'm even considering getting certified as a personal trainer. Again, we'll see what happens over the next few months!

9. Practice Switching to Intuitive Eating

I've always said that I do not plan on following macros for the rest of my life. It's just not practical and the thought of that is exhausting to me. Even now there are days where sometimes I don't feel like completely tracking and I don't. It's only about once a week, and I don't allow myself to go overboard so it works out fine for me. I just sort of guesstimate and go with the flow. It allows me even more flexibility and mental freedom. Often times a little break is very refreshing!

10. Apply to Graduate School

I'm nearly at the end of getting all my applications together since it's been a very time-consuming process! Plus, writing application essays is never a fun activity so I'm going to be glad when I'm finally done with them. I hope to have everything submitted by the middle of January, and then it'll be a waiting game to see what I hear back!

11. Work on Continuing to Expand the blog

I have fallen in love with blogging, and can't appreciate my wonderful readers enough! I want to keep working on finding new recipes (sorry for slacking in that department), designing new workout plans, and showing others how balance is possible! I originally started this blog to just track my own personal journey but it's grown into so much more. For that, I can't thank you all enough :)

12. Crochet a Sweater

"Is that a typo?" but no, it isn't! Margot taught me how to crochet yesterday and I made myself a new scarf in less than 5 hours! I know, I'm such a nerd but it made me so happy and now I want to crochet everything. My next project is a pair of these boot slippers with buttons but then I want to do some kind of cardigan! Like with the loopy holes and don't worry it's not going to be a grandma sweater. I want it to be cute and nice!

So there you have it! If I think of any others, I'll be sure to add them to this list!

What are some of your 2015 goals?!

The Holiday Gift Exchange

So this is something that I've heard of before and always wanted to put it into practice but never followed through. It's a pretty simple idea but I love that it gives back to others. 

Here's what you do: 

That's exactly what I did this year the day after Christmas. I counted everything I got and did an even exchange. I have a ton of clothes that I don't really need all of them so that's mainly what I went through. I figured it was practical since people are always in need of clothes, and it also gets me to trim down my wardrobe a bit. 

I made sure not to cheat, either! I didn't just pick clothes that I didn't like to make it easier for me. I honestly went through everything, and decided that what people need this time of year are warmer things. So I donated some sweaters, a pair of new snow boots since I got another for Christmas, gloves, and some sweatshirts. I also donated some t-shirts and tank tops but I tried my best to make it fair. 

Sure, there are a lot of things that I don't really wear anymore so I put those in the pile but there were a few things that Amanda even said "are you sure you want to donate this? you mean you never wear this?". And I told her that I did wear them but it was more about the fact that someone else might need it, too. 

I take it for granted much of the time that I have access to all the clothes I would need, and that I'm able to afford enough. I have to remind myself that it's not always the case for other families. 

It doesn't have to be clothes, either! It could be toys, non-perishable food, books, electronics, anything! I think this could be a fun idea to involve the whole family to get creative, and teach kids a valuable lesson. 

So, if you're up for it, I challenge you to do the holiday gift exchange! For every present that you got over the holidays, give something else in return. I think it's a great way to put things into perspective because then you're forced to really consider which things you actually need in your life. 

If you end up doing it, post a picture of your donations on Instagram and tag me or comment below on this post!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Balanced Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

So the holidays are over and New Year's is around the corner which means people are going to be flooding to the gym in order to keep their new resolutions, and to work off all the food that they ate. 

But, I think it should be much less stressful than that. I did not track a single thing on Christmas Eve, Christmas day, or even that much of yesterday. I didn't feel like tracking a whole lot of my macros yesterday so I didn't, no big deal! Today I'm right back on track and I have no regrets or guilt over what I ate this week. 

I don't think that people should try to overcompensate for what they ate during the holidays by exercising to the extreme or drastically cutting back their calories. I don't think people should get stressed over feeling guilty for eating certain foods. It's all in the past and nothing we do can change that. When did it all get so complicated? 

It's very simple in theory: eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. 

Yes, yes, SO MUCH easier said than done but it's something that I have been working on all this year while trying to gain balance. And I think I finally got the hang of it back. 

The holidays are trickier because you're around foods that you're usually not surrounded by on a daily basis. Which means that it's harder to say no to them because you may only get the chance to eat those foods around this time of year. For that, I say go for it! 

What you can do is eat lower carb and lower fat during the first part of the day so that you can save up some room for the more fun foods. NO TRACKING allowed but just consciously pick choices that you know are less dense in carbs or fats. 

If you're able to then try to squeeze in a workout at some point during the day. This isn't a necessity at all but I'm fortunate enough to have the free time to do so. I don't have to travel at all during the holidays so I can stick to my regular workout routine. I did a long run both on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning so I was able to add 50g of extra carbs back into my diet. Again, I didn't track them but I just knew that they were available. 

For those of you who are wondering, my coach has me add in 50g of carbs for every run that I do that's over an hour. The official equation is 50g carbs per hour of running so say you run an hour and a half then you get 75g of carbs and so forth. That can be different for everyone depending on their goals and their plan. I only do 50g no matter what because that's what my coach thought would be best for me at the moment with my reverse diet. Things will obviously change, though, once I start incorporating much higher mileage with my training. Again, she is a professional so I highly recommend talking it over with someone who knows what they're doing! 

Anyway, both days I knew I'd have some wiggle room with 50g of carbs which translates roughly to 200 calories. That can be a lot to work with, think of all the cookies! ;) haha but seriously that can help out if I need it. I definitely went over my macros both days but my metabolism was at least kicked into gear with the running and extra carbs. 

I know that it can also be difficult because family and friends might be pressuring you to try certain dishes or they made you something that you know is your favorite. I'm not saying you should turn them down at all but if you're really not hungry at the moment then let them know. If you are hungry then go ahead and enjoy that slice of homemade pie! 

Try doing smaller portion sizes so that you can eat a wider variety of foods. On Christmas Eve, I knew that basically all my favorite foods (besides cherry pie) would be there so I knew that I planned on having a bit of everything. And that's just what I did! I had pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, plain mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, brussel sprouts, green beans, and homemade apple pie. My first plate I had pork, sweet potatoes, and brussel sprouts with a roll. The second plate had plain mashed potatoes and green beans. Then, I had a very small slice of pie for dessert a little while later! 

The key is to eat slow, and make sure that you've had plenty of water. Often times your body will confuse you with signals that you might interpret as hunger pangs when really it's for water. By the time dinner rolled around, I probably already had 3/4-1 gallon of water. I drink a minimum of a gallon of water a day but often times it's more like a gallon and a half or even two. Also, if you're eating slowly then your body has more time to register the food, and to let you know when you're full. Take time between courses so that when you go back for seconds, your eyes won't be bigger than your stomach! 

I also had a high-protein snack about 1-2 hours before dinner so that I wouldn't be totally starving and want to eat everything in sight. A common mistake that I used to make is I would eat hardly anything during the day so when dinner came and I was around all those delicious foods that I had been depriving myself from, well, needless to say I went crazy. I would eat too much too quickly, and lost all ability to listen to my body. 

The last thing is I changed my perspective completely. This year it wasn't about the food, it wasn't about what my body looked like, and it sure wasn't about my macros. It was about celebrating the birth of Jesus with my family and friends. 

I didn't look at it as a "cheat" meal, I didn't see it as a chance to go crazy, and I didn't think it was a time to just let all the food consume my every thought. It was about eating when I was hungry, enjoying delicious homemade foods, and respecting my body. I knew that the last thing my metabolism needed was a giant binge completely off the charts especially since I have been working the past several weeks to repair it. 

And what happened? My body thanked me for that. I woke up each morning still feeling lean and not bloated at all. My stomach didn't hurt and I woke up feeling refreshed, and ready for breakfast. My metabolism was able to handle all the foods that I threw at it, and I'm really excited about that! 

I know that this is late as it's after Christmas but this is all a learning process for me. This is the first Christmas that I've been able to really enjoy since about 2011. While some part of me regrets that the past couple years I haven't paid my proper respect to the true meaning of the season, another bigger part of me is thankful that I learned it now in my younger years. 

I wasn't sure what would and wouldn't work since this Christmas was kind of a trial for me. I put what I've been learning into practice, and it ended up working out! I wanted to be sure how it would go before I'd share any of it with you guys, if that makes sense at all. I never want to share stuff unless I know from personal experience or from a reliable source that I trust! 

So, in essence here are my main points about this post: 
1. Listen to your body and try to eat only when you're hungry
2. Eat lower carb and fats when you can
3. Drink your water!
4. Try to get some lean protein in at some point
5. Have smaller portions so you can have a wider variety of foods
6. Remember the reason why you are gathering together with your loved ones. Hint: it's not about the food :)

To end this post, keep in mind that today is a new day and a chance to get back to the normal routine! 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Morning!

I hope everyone had a great holiday! No matter what you celebrate or believe, I genuinely hope that everyone enjoyed themselves, and spent time with loved ones. I was raised Christian so I celebrate Christmas but it hasn't been until the past few years where the true reason for the season sank in. The past two in particular have stuck out more to me because of everything that happened with my mom. 

Long story short but for those of you who don't know, my mom suffered from a brain aneurysm in May 2013 which resulted in a hemorraghic stroke that affected her entire right side. She was in a coma for about two months and nearly didn't survive multiple times. But God had other plans, and she's with us today! She came home last October and has made amazing progress. She pretty much started from square one with learning to talk, move, walk, eat, regaining her memory back, etc. Little things that I take for granted every day, my mom struggled to do them.  

So each holiday that we get to celebrate together is even more special and a marker reminding me of what God has done for our family. He truly worked miracles in our lives, and I can't even begin to explain all the blessings we have experienced. With that being said, I really wanted to focus on keeping the Christ in Christmas because without Him, my mom wouldn't be alive today to celebrate this season with my family. 

We had a wonderful time this year just focusing on spending time together, and of course celebrating God's gift of Jesus Christ. I wanted to share some of the things we did this week, especially family traditions! I'm going slightly out of order but I'm starting with Christmas morning. 

Keeping with the out of order theme, I wanted to start with my favorite present that I got because it's honestly just so darn precious. The backstory behind this is my mom wrote a poem for both Amanda and I when we graduated. When Amanda got hers, my mom did it in calligraphy. She had some of the most beautiful handwriting that I've ever seen and was forever getting requests to do invitations, cards, etc. She was rushed to do mine, though, since she kept trying to perfect it and never got around to doing the calligraphy for me before she had to give it to me at graduation. So I always told her whenever she asked me what I wanted, that all I wanted was a hand-written version of my graduation poem. Well, she never got around to it because she couldn't find her old calligraphy pens, and we both figured she had all the time in the world to get to it.  

Let me add that I am not an emotional person at all, and I hardly ever cry in front of anyone. Not even my family or close friends. When I opened this present yesterday morning, boy did the waterfalls start! As soon as I saw what it was and knew the time and effort it would take her to write this for me, I just completely lost it. In fact, it's even more special to me than the calligraphy version would have been. My mom was so worried and anxious that I wouldn't like it because she had to write it with her left hand since her right is too stiff, and she doesn't have fine motor usage of it. I was at a loss for words when I saw the poem, and all I could do was cry tears of happiness. 

Broad Horizons

The precious gift of a daughter, 
sweet, loving, and kind, 
a comfort like no other, 
always on my mind. 

Tiny in stature, 
with a great and gentle soul, 
appreciate of nature, 
how blessed to have watch her grow. 

She is a daughter and a sister, 
a granddaughter, and friend, 
with all her friends and family, 
her loyalty knows no end.

Compassionate and friendly, 
sometimes humble and shy, 
she does not see her beauty, 
and how she never fails to try. 

No bounds to her creativity, 
writing stories through brown eyes, 
with lashes to infinity, 
and a mind beyond years wise. 

Not afraid to move forward, 
and make a fresh start,
she glances back at me,
with a warm smile to melt my heart. 

Everyone got in on opening presents, and of course some of the cats had to come and see what all the commotion was going on. 

She did not want to cooperate for Amanda's pictures and I couldn't help but laugh at the faces she was giving me...

We're really good at taking selfies. 

We didn't have to be at my aunt's house until 9:30 for Christmas breakfast so we had some time to kill since I was up before 7:30, my body just can't allow me to sleep in anymore! I made myself some coffee and my new morning ritual has been to have one or two meringues with my coffee. Our family friend gave us some from Trader Joe's, which happen to be my favorite! They're very macro-friendly so I'm able to easily fit them in which is a double bonus. 

I relaxed with my coffee for about an hour with some company! Then, we headed over to my aunt's house for breakfast. We're really fortunate that most of our family is right in town so none of us really have to travel. My aunt is only a block up then a block over, and my grandma is about 7 blocks up the street. It makes things very easy! 

At breakfast, I loaded up for my long run with a couple pieces of bacon, a biscuit, home fries, and part of a cream-cheese blintz. I didn't track anything on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, it was just about balance and enjoying myself! 

After breakfast, Amanda and I went for a nice and easy 8-mile run to just pass the time until Christmas dinner at my grandma's house, and to allow some room for the extra carbs ;) I did the same thing Christmas Eve morning where I ran extra so that I'd be able to get some extra carbs for dinner! I wore my festive running shirt for the occasion and by festive I mean it's the only green running shirt that I have. 

When we got back, we showered, walked Layla, and then headed up to my grandma's house for dinner. I'm working on getting some of the posts up about the traditional meals we have together! 

What are some of your Christmas traditions?

Monday, December 22, 2014

I finally managed to get this up! It's only been in the queue for a couple weeks now but better late than never, right?

So if you're a last minute shopper like I am, I figured I would try to help my fellow procrastinators out by giving some ideas about holiday presents! If you have someone in your life that loves health and fitness, here are some gift ideas that I think they would love and appreciate. This is all totally my own opinion and from my own experience of what gifts I love and what I've gotten others!

I also had to laugh because I saw that Rachael over at The Simple Life did a post about health and fitness presents, and we had a couple of the same things! I guess great minds think alike :) but you should definitely check out Rachael's blog, it's awesome!! 

Stocking Stuffers

- Nut butters: I mean do I have to explain?! It's a little unconventional to find peanut butter in your stocking but when peanut butter shows up in my life I never question or complain!

- Protein bars: Quest, Think Thin, Balance, Kind, etc. Just get them a small sample of ones you think they might like! That way they can try out a few and see which ones are their favorite.

- Gu Packets: if you have a long distance runner in your life, these come in handy with those high double digit miles!

- Chapstick: my lips get really split and dry during the winter from all the running I do in the cold. This is a much appreciated gift to find in my stocking! My favorite is Burt's Bees but I did find a cake batter chapstick that I'm in love with.

- Body lotion: same thing with the chapstick! My skin gets really dry during the cold weather so it's always nice to get lotion or a moisturizer.

- Running gloves: my favorite brand is Under Armor and I know it's an expensive brand but the gloves I have now are the ones I've had since I was probably 14 so you're looking at like 9 years of usage and they're still in great shape! I also have a couple pairs of just the standard fleece ones that I get at Target for like $2 for when it's slightly chilly but not cold enough for my winter gloves. I make sure to get the touch-screen compatible ones so that I can still work my iPod.

- Lifting gloves: these have been really useful for me when I was first lifting and needed help with getting a better grip. Especially with heavier weights and it would be hard to grip on the weight. I was able to find mine for less than $10 at Target! 

Other Presents

- Foam roller: this is something that I've come to love because it does amazing things for my muscles that stretching alone doesn't always take care of. My IT bands can get really tight so the foam roller is great for me, and I can actually tell a difference. I look forward to using the foam roller now for how my muscles feel after, definitely not during! 

- Dumbbells: I got a set of adjustable ones at Dick's that can go to about 40-50lbs which is great for when I do workouts at home. I think I got my set of both dumbbells on sale for about $60 which turned out to be a great investment! We use them almost every day. 

- Hydration belt: this year for Christmas, I ordered Amanda and I these off of Amazon since we're starting marathon training. These nifty belts hold everything from mini water bottles, to pockets for snacks, and a pouch for your phone, keys, or wallet. These will definitely come in handy when we have to start tackling those 20-some-milers! 

- Running watch: I just have a simple one from Timex that isn't even specific to running. Amanda has a fancy Garmin that tracks mileage splits and has a GPS and everything. I stick to my $20 and if I really want to know my splits, I use MapMyRun app for that!

- Pull-up bar: I got the over-the-door one for my birthday this year and I love it! It's convenient and goes right over my bedroom door. It's also great for doing some ab work and there's a little packet that came with it full of work-out ideas, and routines that you can try out. Amanda found mine at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for about $40. 

- Running journal: my mom started getting me this for the past few years since the author does one every year. It's a great way to log your run each week, but is also full of tips and motivational quotes! There's a place for you to total the mileage at the end of each week so then you can keep carrying it forward and know how much you ran over the whole year. You can find it here

- Workout gear: this is something that I always appreciate it, whether it's tank tops, t-shirts, or cold weather gear. I will never turn down or complain about getting more workout clothes!

- Ab wheel: mine actually just arrived and I ordered it off Amazon the other week. Talk about a killer ab workout! It's a simple little piece of equipment that looks very innocent but don't be fooled, it'll get ya! I love using it and mine collapses so that it's easy to take apart. I got mine for $10 and you can find it here

- Vitamins and supplements: I am NOT a huge fan of any kind of pre or post-workout supplements. The only supplements I take are a multi-vitamin and BCAA's. I don't do any of the C4s, fat burners, or any other type of supplement. It's not that there's anything totally wrong with them but I just don't know the effects that they have on a person's body in the long run. Therefore, I steer clear of them because I'm able to get results without them anyway. I do think it can be beneficial to take multi-vitamins and the the brand I have is Body Strong for active women. I get my BCAA's from Optimum Nutrition, and I take that mainly for muscle recovery and retention. There is also some debate of whether it helps with lowering cortisol levels which is a huge deal for those who run a lot and higher mileage.

So that's the end of my list! I hope that this was able to give you some good ideas! 

Coming This Week!

I'm alive! I'm alive! Wow, I did not realize I had not posted in nearly a week. Time just really got away from me wrapping up stuff at work since I'm off all this week. Then all day Saturday I was at a friend's wedding, yesterday I did caroling with my church then made wedding soup with my aunt which turned into a giant family dinner! I finally found some time today after getting home doing some last minute shopping with my momma. 

Speaking of last-minute shopping, I promise to get the post up about some gift ideas that I've been meaning to for over a week now...oops. I'm finishing up the last touches on that one and I'll make sure to have it up by tonight! 

I just wanted to do an update about what I plan on posting the next couple days to just organize myself and get my thoughts all in order! Just a heads up but I probably won't get around to posting anything until after Christmas, I want to focus on my time with friends and family! 

Plus, if you know what the game plan is then maybe someone can hold me accountable haha...

Okay, so for starters I'm going to do the post about gifts for the health and fitness fanatics in your life. That'll be up within the hour, I promise! 

Some other ideas for the next couple weeks: 
- Christmas recipes 
- Homemade gifts (food of course, ha)
- How to stay balanced throughout the holidays 
- 2015 Fitness Goals 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll actually get to all this as I planned because I definitely did not post as much holiday-related things as I originally wanted to. At least I know better for next year! I hope everyone has a blessed holiday :) 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Layla's Birthday and a Weekend Away!

I'm finally back! I was away Saturday to yesterday which is why I didn't post at all but I'm slowly working on catching up on stuff. My grad school essays are lagging behind and I need to get a move on with those! I don't want to think about those right now so here's what I've been up to the past couple days! 

I originally didn't think about posting this but then Margot was like "well, I'll read all about Layla's birthday on your blog, right?" and she requested it so here ya go darling :) 


Anyway, Saturday my sweet girl turned a whole year old!! 

Funny side story but is it sad that when I woke up in the hotel in the middle of Saturday night and forgetting where I was, the first thing I felt around for was Layla?! If I could put emojis in my posts, I'd totally have put the one laughing so hard it's crying. I feel like that's something people do with their spouses but nope then there's me just waking up and looking around for my dog! She usually snuggles right up against me and shares my pillow :) it's pretty adorable. 

I'll have you know, though, that I have a very healthy level of obsession with my dog, according to a BarkPost quiz (yes, I actually took a quiz...). According to my results, I do in fact spoil my dog but I do not let Layla be in charge or let her run the show. Apparently this is the ideal result so there you go! 

The obligatory snap chat had to go out to everyone so they were aware of the special day! If you can't already tell, I'm quite the snap chat artist hahaha

I did make her a birthday breakfast after I got back from my run. Like I said, she's spoiled but it's a healthy amount for her! I made her three mini pancakes from just a simple pancake mix that I mixed with water. I also was very generous and shared a tiny scoop of my vanilla frozen yogurt with her since it's her favorite!

Being such a good girl :)

The way I taught her the command stay was with giving her food at each meal. Basically, as a small puppy I'd have her sit and then say stay as I lowered the bowl towards her. As soon as she'd move I'd pull the bowl right back up. I kept repeating it until I could get the bowl all the way to the floor without her moving. This took a few weeks and probably close to 10 attempts each time I went to feed her but I was consistent and she eventually learned that "stay" meant she couldn't move a muscle. Even now she always will wait for my cue to eat whether it's in her bowl or like this situation when I gave her something on the floor. I don't even have to tell her, she just does it. Her routine is she runs over to her bowl, sits down, watches me pour her food into her bowl, and then will look at me until I tell her to eat. She won't move a muscle without my cue! 

 She, of course, went after the frozen yogurt first (that's my girl) and then I broke up the pancakes into smaller pieces for her to eat. It took her all of about 30 seconds to devour everything! 

After Layla's birthday breakfast, I showered and hit the road! My best friend from college was having her graduation party on Sunday but she invited me to come out Saturday to make a whole weekend out of it. A few other friends were making the trip as well so her mom was wonderful enough to put us all up in hotel rooms for both nights! Her family is amazing and I love them! 

It was a great weekend but I'm also glad to be back to my usual routine. It was a great time to spend with friends, and I was happy to make the drive and be there for my friend. I pretty much just cranked up the Christmas tunes and jammed out the whole way there and back. She was so thankful and excited that we all were there for her which is totally worth it to me! 

I took yesterday off of work since I knew the party wasn't until later on Sunday night so I wanted the day to drive back. It was perfect because I was home in the early afternoon which means I got right back in it and went for my run. I also got a new PR this season for my 6-miler so I think the cheesecake did me some favors ;) 

I never had a foam roller before but figured that since I'm starting my marathon training soon that now should be the time to invest in one. Let me tell you, I thought I knew what a love/hate relationship was but that was nothing compared to now! 

The first time I used it, I was in so much pain but it's weirdly satisfying. Like you can feel it working out your muscles but it's ever so painful during the process. It's worth it in the end but I always dread using the roller! My mom actually was in tears laughing as she was watching me use it the first time. I guess I was making some hilarious faces and had to suppress quite a few unladylike words from slipping out haha :)

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 

Honest-to-Goodness Balance

It's the holidays which means there are going to be times when you can't track your macros perfectly, squeeze in your workout, or keep up motivation because you're going to want to spend time with family and friends.

Again, since it's the holidays it also means that you're not going to get that time back to spend with family and friends.

So spend it wisely.

I will say it once more: memories over macros!!

This past weekend, my best friend from college finally graduated! We say finally as a joke because even though she's my age, she didn't graduate until this fall since she's an engineer. She did a co-op where she alternated between working and classes every semester so that's why it took her a year and a half longer than me.

Long story short, she was having a graduation party back at her house this past weekend and invited me to come. It's about three and a half hours away but of course I was going to be there! And macros be darned, I wasn't going to inconvenience anyone with my nutrition.

That's the thing, I will always be able to get back to my macros. The graduation party I won't get back and this is one of those situations where I had to choose wisely. The old me would've stressed and obsessed about all the food, compulsively want to exercise, and just completely forget to enjoy myself.

I was determined not to let that happen this weekend. I wanted to enjoy my time, listen to my body, and practice balance. The wonderful thing is I wasn't even stressed ahead of time thinking about the weekend and had zero anxiety about the upcoming food! The thought of not tracking didn't scare me in the slightest, a huge blessing!!

This is going to be kind of long but I'm going to break everything down to show that it is possible to not only achieve balance but to also maintain it. I never thought I'd get to this point but I'm living it up now!

So I did my long run Saturday morning before leaving home. I did 10 miles which meant I could get the extra carbzzz to refuel! I did this on purpose so that I would have more freedom for dinner once I got to my friend's house. Before leaving, I made sure for breakfast and lunch to load up on protein with my greek yogurt, protein shake, and egg whites while keeping carbs on the lower end so that I'd at least be in the general ball park of my macros. I also brought along a couple quest bars to keep in the car to eat while driving there and on the way back. I was definitely under on protein but knew that and I also knew that I'd make up for the fats and carbs later at dinner.

Let me break down to you what I did: I did NOT track anything BUT I was still conscious of my choices and listening to my body. When I got to her house around 5 for dinner I was really, reallyyyy ridiculously thirsty so I just drank a lot of water for a bit. Like I'm talking 4 water bottles easily went down-- I'm a total water hog! Dinner was served a little after 6 so by this time I was more hydrated and not feeling as hungry since a lot of my hunger feelings were actually my body's cues for water.

I knew that we'd be going out for drinks later and to hang out so I figured that I'd need to reserve some of my extra carbs for a drink. I'm not a big drinker at all but I'm totally fine with going out with my friends for a drink. And it honestly ever is only one drink for me!

So while I was picking out dinner options, I just kinda did some mental checks. There was ham, this delicious bean medley dish, scalloped potatoes, and all kinds of rolls. I took a little bit of ham, beans, and potatoes. I skipped a roll since those carbs would go towards my drink later. Again, I wasn't tracking macros but I was just trying to make the best of my options. I wasn't going to bring my own pre-planned meals and eat that while everyone else enjoyed the foods. First, I don't want to seem rude and secondly, I just don't want to be difficult and be that person.

Plus, her mom is an AMAZING cook and I was not going to pass up delicious home-cooked food! I mean it's a no-brainer to me! I only took small portions, and ate slowly and still kept drinking water. I didn't even need to go back for seconds, I wasn't hungry! That can happen to me on long run days, though, ironically. The further I run, the less hungry I get. But with water, I literally drink probably double what I have any other day of the week.

Sunday was the day of the actual party. First, her mom made us all brunch around 10am and I mean I just have no words. She made all these muffins, cranberry and walnut breads, baked french toast casserole, bacon, sausage, mimosas, and I was overwhelmed with all the delicious options.

Again, I tried to make smart decisions. Of course, the first thing I wanted was water and coffee. I passed on a mimosa because I honestly just didn't want one. Like I said, I'm not a big drinker and I literally just wanted coffee and water in the morning. I took a slice of french toast (they were huge!) and a couple pieces of bacon and was set! That's all I wanted and that held me over until 5 for the dinner. I skipped on the muffins and breads because I didn't want to go completely crazy since I had been hearing things of the wonderful salted caramel cheesecake that would be at the party later. It was an absolute fact that I would be having some of that cheesecake! So I macro-hoarded a bit :) still without tracking a single thing!

Sunday I probably went over a bit just with having a glass of wine, filet mignon, mashed potatoes, and lots of cheesecake. Definitely with fats because of the filet and cheesecake. But I mean when you're given the option of free steak, do you pass it up? Yeah it's a much fattier protein but let's be honest I wanted it and the cheesecake so that's what I did! It was only one day, though, and I felt absolutely fine waking up Monday morning. I wasn't bloated at all and the funny thing is when I took a progress picture this morning and compared it to last week, I was leaner! You just gotta trust the process!

The food was absolutely amazing Sunday night at this restaurant and I have ZERO regrets. Really and truly, I had no guilt over any of the food and I don't think I should be at all. It's not healthy for me to stress over what I did or didn't eat, and it's something that I am totally and completely done with doing.

Her family took us all out for breakfast yesterday morning before we hit the road and I just picked the best options that I could. I picked 2 eggs that came with 2 pieces of bacon with 2 pieces of toast. When I got home, I tracked those because Monday was back to the grind for me! I didn't eat all of the toast because #carbz but I did eat everything else. I also factored in some butter in mfp because I could tell from the taste that there was butter added in.

Here's my thought process as I was picking out my menu options: "Okay, no pancakes or waffles that's just too many carbs. I'll go with eggs because protein and low carb. Bacon will be fine because even though it's fatty I won't have any peanut butter today just the greek yogurt when I get home. Toast or home fries? Well, home fries will have more carbs because of the potatoes and they'll probably add in more butter or oil to make them. I like toast better anyway so I'll go with that."

I didn't make any sacrifices and was 100% happy with my choices. Yeah I love pancakes and waffles but they're usually too heavy for me the way they're made at restaurants. I much prefer my homemade protein pancakes. I also didn't want a heavy breakfast sitting in my stomach while driving back home, the thought was not appealing to me at all!

So I enjoyed breakfast and then ate a cookies n' cream quest bar later on the drive back as a small lunch. When I got home, I loaded up with greek yogurt and went for a 6 mile run! The rest of yesterday I tracked and hit my macros spot on! Breakfast was a bit of a guesstimate and I probably overestimated to be on the safer side. I woke up this morning feeling totally fine, and I even kept going with my increase for this week (I'm in the process of reverse dieting). That was up in the air last week to increase or stay on my macros for another week since I didn't know how I'd do this past weekend with the non-tracking days on Saturday and Sunday.

I'm proud to say that I had two happily balanced days! I made no sacrifices, enjoyed myself and time with friends, and ate the best cheesecake of my life. Seriously, it was an amazing blessing to live my life free of thoughts about food and working out, and just be able to focus on the moment. It was a weekend that I wouldn't be able to get back, and I didn't want to waste that.

This has been something that I've been striving for for almost three years, and I can't thank God enough for how far I've come. I know you might be thinking "well, you don't get it, it's not that easy..." and believe me I realize that! It's not easy at all to get balance back but it starts with baby steps. I put my faith in God, I put in the hard work, and I fought every day to get where I am now. It's not going to happen over night, it's not going to be a quick fix, but I'm in this for life. Three years is nothing to me compared to having the rest of my life peace and balance. I wanted to do this now and I wanted to do this right.

So, with the end of this giant long post, I'll leave you with this: memories will always and forever trump macros. You're not going to get this time back with friends and family. Please don't waste it worrying about your nutrition because in the scheme of life are we put on this earth to love or to eat?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Favorites #4

I first have to apologize if this post has a lot of errors or doesn't make sense but I'm pretty much a zombie this morning as I type this. Layla had to go to the emergency vets Wednesday night at 11pm and I didn't get to bed until after 2am and then was up before 7 for work. I was mostly fine yesterday but it's always the worst for me the second day after. So please bear with me! The coffee is still working on it's magic now :)

Also, I first just wanted to put this out there but I think a lot of times people can underestimate just how much a pet becomes a part of the family. You know when someone's dog dies and people might say "well, it's just a dog" but to the person who lost their pet or to others who have a pet, we know that they're so much more than that.

I'm saying this because I witnessed a man lose his dog that night when we were with Layla and it broke my heart. I don't know the circumstances or what happened but all I know is I saw a man sobbing over the loss of his beloved friend. And when Layla was finally okay and came running out to meet me, I was so thankful that she was healthy and safe. I can't even explain the sense of relief that I felt when I was able to hold my sweet baby girl again after not being able to see her when holding her was the only thing I wanted to do. I was even more acutely aware of his pain as he watched my dog run joyously into my arms and envelope me with love. My heart broke for that man because I've been in his shoes before, and it's a very hard place to be.

I don't care if someone ever tells me that I'm being dramatic, that Layla's "just a dog", or that it could've been worse since she's not a real person. I love her all the same and the fact that she's a dog will never diminish her importance in my life. I know this because even though I was up 5 hours past my bedtime and the vet bill was expensive, I would have gladly paid more than triple that if it kept me from the alternative. In fact, I don't even want to imagine that alternative.

With that being said, I just think it's so beautiful the love that grows between a person and their pet. I tell Amanda all the time that since people have trouble loving perfectly and unconditionally, God sent us animals as a reminder of His true unconditional love. It's one of my favorite things about having a pet, and I thought this story was appropriate to include because this is a Friday Favorites post, right?!

If this doesn't say it all, I don't know what will. Our snuggle game is strong :)

Okay, so on to the rest of the post!

1. Lists

Call me a nerd but I really like having lists for two things: 1. I have a terrible memory and need to be constantly reminded of stuff and 2. I love the satisfaction of crossing something off a list. It makes me feel productive, even if it's not that productive of a thing. Don't judge me but often times I put less significant things on my list just so I can have fun checking them off. I'm not going to say how insignificant or you'll probably laugh at me...moving on!

2. John 8:12

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

What an amazing promise! I remember very clearly the first time I read this Bible verse, it was like I was hit over the head. In a good way! Before I was an active believer, I kind of thought about those times as though I was fumbling around in the darkness. I had little guidance, I couldn't see what was in front of me or any of the important stuff around me, I was just sort of there alone in the dark. Once I came to stronger faith, it was like a light bulb came on and suddenly things began to click into place. When I was first seeking a relationship with God, I remember being afraid of going back to those days when I was in the darkness. So as soon as I read that Bible verse, such a sense of peace and comfort washed over me. I never have to go back to those days as long as I have Jesus in my life! This verse still brings such great comfort to me no matter what I'm going through!

3. S'mores Quest Bars

I think all you need to know about these is that they're just simply the best flavor ever! My top three are the S'mores, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Cookies n' Cream (in that order!). I was able to get a box of all three from Quest's Cyber Monday sale and I am one happy customer!

The chunks, though, LOOK AT THOSE CHUNKS! 

4. Dead lifts 

Leg day is the best and even though I love all the exercises for legs, I would have to go with dead lifts. One of my goals for 2015 is to really step up my game and work on adding more weight to my dead lifts. I would be absolutely thrilled to hit the 200 club by the end of next year but we'll have to see how marathon training goes until May. There's a good chance that I'll have to cut out a lot or all leg days which would lose me valuable training time towards my goal. However, no excuses! I'm still going to try my best! In the end it doesn't really matter to me what I'm able to lift, just that I'm passionate about it and that I enjoy doing it.

5. Cherry pie

If I could only pick a dessert for the rest of my life, it would be cherry pie. Pie is my favorite dessert and cherry pie is my favorite pie hence cherry pie is my all-time favorite! On Pinterest, I've seen picture of instead of wedding cakes, there's wedding pies. Talk about genius! It's a tower of pies and I don't think I've ever seen anything so beautiful. If I ever get married, you bet your boots there will be a tower of cherry pies for the cake! No negotiations.

Happy Friday everyone! :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Quads and Quest Bars

I came home yesterday to the best box ever! Hint: it says Quest along the side and is filled with the yummiest protein bars ever. 

I hit the Cyber Monday sales last week and by that I mean I just ordered a lot of Quest bars, and that's about all. But the important thing is that I ordered the new S'mores flavor because I mean who doesn't think that sounds amazing? And it is. Oh boy it is amazing! 

I have been anxiously waiting for my order to get here, and I quickly became overly excited to see them sitting on the banister when I got home. I was planning on going straight into my work-out but I got seriously side-tracked once I saw that beautiful box. I didn't even take off my jacket or boots, I just ripped it open and pulled out one of the S'mores one. 

The only smidge of self-control that I showed is I took about 30 seconds to rearrange my macros to fit that little beauty in and then dug in!

I am completely in love and they are my new favorite flavor, hands down! And check out those chunks!

Okay, so now on to the workout part. Monday is always quads for me and right now I rotate through four different sets of workouts each week. The lovely Katie developed my plan for me :) The day is always the same (i.e. Monday is always quads, Tuesday is shoulders etc.) but the workouts are a little different each week and then when I get through all four weeks, I start over with week 1 again! This is important because of muscle memory so it keeps my muscles guessing, and it keeps things interesting for me.

Every few weeks, though, I'll switch it up and do high reps, lower weights instead of the usual super heavy weights with lower reps. Don't be fooled, though, it doesn't mean I take it easy during my workout!

Your muscles can still develop and grow even if you do light weights with more reps, just as long as you're reaching failure just like with heavier weights. I was able to do this workout at home so I got a little creative with some of the substitutions. If you have a set of dumbbells and some stairs then you can do this at home too!

The other reason I like doing a day like this is that it really allows me to focus on form and making sure that I'm really getting it and concentrating on the mind-muscle connection! So make sure to go really slow and focus on engaging those quads. Often times I have to be careful because my glutes will want to take over, especially with squats so be mindful of that.

4x25 squats (get lowwww-- work on form and going past parallel!)
4x20 stiff-legged deadlifts SS dumbbell step-ups (up and down the staircase 3 times)
4x40 static lunges (20 per leg) SS 50 stair jumps
4x40 bulgarian split squats (20 per leg, 8 sets total)
3x20 jumping squats SS 10 jumping lunges with holding light weight on shoulders (this will burn!!)
3 1-minute wall sits

*SS means super set

For the stairs, the staircase in my house is about 15 steps so in between each set of deadlifts I went up and down the whole thing 3 times before doing the next set of deadlifts. The same thing with the stair jumps, instead of doing 10 box jumps like I normally do I just did 50 jumps on the stair since it was a lot shorter. I did it continuously, though, kind of like a bunny hop up on the stair then back down then right back up again. I wanted to keep my heart rate high! The order doesn't matter much but I wanted to keep the wall sits at the end because that will really ensure you get a burn and reach failure on them because my quads were pretty fatigued at that point!

Also, on the bulgarian split squats it's not exactly a super set but I like to do each leg back-to-back continuously so it's almost like a super set in that I'm not taking a break. I just did 20 on one leg then did 20 on the other and kept going until I did 4 sets of 40 total or basically 8 sets of 20. Sorry if that seemed confusing!

The whole thing took me a little over an hour and my quads were shaking and on fire by the end!

Now all I have to do is just distract myself from eating all the S'mores Quest bars...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Maple Brown Sugar Overnight Oats

I've been all about oats lately but can you blame me? They're so versatile and good for you as well. Saturday morning I finally got around to having overnight oats in one of my almost empty Jif Whips containers. I've been seeing people use jars of peanut butter to make their overnight oats, shoutout to Rachael :) but I've never done it myself.

If you haven't done it, you need to! Like right now.

I revised my normal overnight oats recipe because I honestly wasn't sure how I'd like the combination of greek yogurt and peanut butter in the oats. I don't know why but I decided to first try it without the greek yogurt and then if I thought it lacked that creamy texture, I would add it in a second time. Guess that would just mean I'd have to suffer through another container of Jif Whips ;)

I used Maple Brown Sugar peanut butter for this recipe because it's honestly my favorite peanut butter ever. It's a limited edition flavor which makes me nervous because I might have a total meltdown when they finally take it off the shelves. You think I'm joking but I'm not entirely sure if I am.

So for these oats you'll need:
1 nearly empty jar of peanut butter (mine probably had between 1-2 tbsp)
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
Pinch of stevia to sweeten

Combine everything in the peanut butter jar and let it sit over night! I topped mine off with cinnamon, a drizzle of honey, and half a banana.

I ate every last bite! 

These were the perfect pre-run fuel for my long run on Saturday morning. Even with all the cold rain during my run, I managed to get a new PR for this season on my 9-miler so I'd like to think it was the oats!

The weather was terrible and rained for two days straight so I just stayed mostly around the house trying to get some work done with essays. No complaints about that because it left time for plenty of snuggles!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

PB&J Oats

If I could pick a favorite meal of the day it will always be breakfast. I love everything and anything to do with breakfast foods. So much that I often will have breakfast for dinner. 

The past three days I have had breakfast for dinner every night and it's mainly because we haven't had a chance to eat together as a family like we normally do. We were all sort of on our own and when that is the case, 99.9% of the time I will make a breakfast food. I actually look forward to nights where I fend for myself for dinner because then I get to have breakfast! 

So yesterday I decided to have peanut butter and jelly oatmeal with a side of protein pancakes (all about dat carb life). I'll admit I might have saved a good chunk of my carbs just so I could have this heavenly spread of carbs for brinner. I have no regrets.

The oats were simple: I just added stevia, peanut butter, and strawberry jelly!

You can add however much PB and jelly you want, I just did a tablespoon of each since that was what fit my macros. I also used 1/2 cup of oats, and the ratios were perfect!

It's not the prettiest bowl of oats but I was not going for points for presentation at allll. 

I used honey-roasted peanut butter for mine and you can learn how to make that here!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Favorites #3

Happy Friday everyone! 

I didn't have any problems remembering to post this one today, maybe I'm making some improvements? Probably just wishful thinking but we'll see. 

1. Hebrews 12:1

I found this Bible verse the other day and it really stuck with me, especially since I'll be starting my official marathon training plan in a little under 2 weeks. I'm so excited but at the same time I'm not gonna lie, I'm pretty intimated! 26.2 miles is double the longest I've ever run in my life, and when I actually think it all out sometimes it's like "WHAT DID I GET MYSELF IN TO?". And then I remember my goals and my passion for running and then I'm excited all over again! 

I'm also nervous that my shin might not hold up throughout the next 18 weeks and all the long runs buuuuut Jesus and ice are gonna get me through it! I have no plans of letting anything get in my way or stopping me from achieving this dream, but of course, I'll still be smart about it and listen to my body. I know for a fact that this Bible verse and among many others are going to be my mantra during all those long runs when my legs will probably want to give up. 

2. Caffe Mistos

I discovered this yesterday as a recommendation from another one of my coach's clients and let me tell you, they're amazing!! I never go for Starbucks plain coffee because it's too dark for my liking and just tastes burnt to me. I would normally get some kind of specialty drink but once I started tracking and with macros especially, it can be hard to fit those drinks in.

These caffee mistos are super macro-friendly, and also delicious! It's basically just coffee and steamed milk. I get mine with sugar free vanilla sauce and put a little stevia in it, and it's ah-mazing! I got a grande and it was only 10g carbs, 7g protein, and 0g fat since I got it with skim milk. You can get it with any milk you like or any sauce to flavor it but I just happen to like skim and vanilla! Obviously, the macros might change depending on the milk and flavor but that's not too shabby especially compared to 25-30g of carbs that the other skinny drinks can have! 

3. Investing in others

This has truly become my saving grace in the past couple months. I realized before just how much I had cut myself off from others when I was in the middle of restricting. I would cancel on dinner plans or anything that might involve food or if the plans meant I wouldn't have time to workout. I was completely consumed with myself and after last week's Bible study lesson, I figured out that the number on the scale had become my idol. Meaning, it had taken over significance in my life above God. In fact it had taken over significance above everything in my life-- not only with God but my family, friends, school, my happiness, and my future as well.

I believe that we were created to love and to crave love. I was denying myself self-love but more importantly, I was not spreading love to others. Once I opened my heart to other people, I've been getting it back ten-fold in my life. I absolutely love making those connections with people, and make it a priority over my macros and workouts. I'd now rather spend time with someone, answer an email, comment on someone's post in my fitness group on Facebook, or just show someone that I care about them and have genuine investment in them rather than worry about working out. Sometimes it can be hard to fit it all in but not only is it about finding balance with food but with life and people as well! 

4. For King & Country

I listen to a wide variety of music ranging from country, contemporary Christian, rock, and pop. I mean anything really, except rap. Out of all the music I listen to, they are by far my favorite! I went to their concert in September and LOVED IT! They have two albums out: Crave and Run Wild.Live Free. Love Strong, as well as some Christmas songs.

I have all their music and listen to it constantly. If I ever need encouragement, comfort, strength, or to jam out they're my go-to! Some of my favorite songs they do are Matter, Middle of Your Heart, Fix My Eyes, Steady, To the Dreamers, Long Live, Proof of Your Love, Shoulders...I just realized that I pretty much want to list all their songs so I obviously can't pick out my favorites as it's all of them! 

5. Reverse Dieting

This has been a lifesaver for me. It's a topic that has a lot of debate going on in the health world but it's slowly gaining popularity as more people find out about it. For the sake of keeping this post short and since I'm no expert on this topic, check out this post by my lovely coach as she explains it!

It's a very gradual and slow process but it's worth it! The first time I tried a reverse, I went with a giant company and was just treated as a number rather than an individual with goals. Katie is amazing and coaches me each step of the way, this time around has been much more successful! I've been working with her for over 2 months and have been increasing my carbs and fats without any weight gain. I've actually lost a couple pounds but it honestly doesn't matter to me because now I only check my weight every few weeks for check-in purposes to make sure that my body is adapting properly with the process. My weight and measurements are just for the sole purpose of communicating to Katie so she can make sure she is helping me in the best way she can. Everyone is different, though, and some people might lose or gain a little bit of weight. But as we know, that darn scale doesn't matter!

I chose to reverse diet for two main reasons: I was not eating anywhere near enough what I needed for maintenance with my activity level, even when I was done restricting and binging. It wasn't intentional but simply lack of knowledge. Secondly, my metabolism was in poor shape after two years of wreaking havoc on my body. I wanted to repair and heal my body, and I knew I wanted Katie to help me. So I reached out to her a few months ago, and she has been an answered prayer! I highly recommend her to anyone who asks :)

With the love of Friday favorites, I hope you all have a great weekend!