Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Handling the Holidays

So it's that time of year again. The time where everyone panics because they're afraid all of their hard work is going to get undone in one day. Let me tell you that after enduring four years of holidays where I legit had anxiety attacks thinking about the food, it's totally manageable.

And some of you are probably thinking "well you don't know my situation" or "easy for you to say" because yes I've already put in four years of hard work and someone else might be just at the beginning. None of that matters, though, because we all start somewhere.

The key is to realize two very important things:

1) memories > macros

2) it's a very small time frame compared to the rest of the journey

I'm in this fitness thing for life. No I'm not going to count macros for the rest of my life but counting them has educated me and given me valuable tools for how to keep my life balanced. My point is that abandoning tracking macros for one day tomorrow is not the end of the world. That one day compared to the rest of the other days that I plan to stay on track is practically negligible in the scheme of things.

However, I am not going to use this as an excuse to binge, go overboard, or stuff my face to the point of being sick. I plan on using tomorrow as the perfect opportunity to practice what I preach: balance. This is gonna sound weird but it's just like when I take advantage of training opportunities to train Layla: if I don't take the opportunity then Layla misses the chance to learn something. To me, it's the same thing as helping myself learn to eat balanced without the help of tracking macros. How will I ever learn if I don't take the opportunities to do so?

There are of course some concrete steps that you can take to help yourself be successful. I'm not just gonna blab on about balance without helping you out haha!

1) First and foremost my main tip is DRINK WATER. Keep yourself hydrated and you will be better able to distinguish your body's cues i.e. if you're hungry or just thirsty. I drink about a gallon to a gallon and a half of water each day. So by the time I'm getting around to dinner tomorrow I'll have had plenty of water already.

2) Stick to lower carbs and fats early on in the day. Really try to eat a lot of protein because even though there will be turkey and prime rib (if you're like my family) let's be honest we all pile on wayyy more carbs than we do protein at Thanksgiving! I mean really, though, that's the way it's meant to be haha but just try to get in some good sources of protein at breakfast and lunch.

3) Try to squeeze in a workout (if you can). This can free up some space for extra macros but it's not necessary at all and for most people not very possible with being out of town or cooking like crazy. Also, I don't know if this happens to other people or maybe I'm just a freak of nature but working out actually curbs my appetite. My rest days are brutal for me because I am completely ravenous and it really tests my self-control. It's not the end of the world if you can't get a workout in but I find it helps me to stay on track if I do. I plan on getting in around 8-10 miles tomorrow plus walking Layla so that will free up a lot of carb space for me.

4) Mind over matter. Remind yourself that food is not what holds the power. This is going to sound silly but there have been times where I stand there holding something I'm craving and I start praying and telling myself the food isn't in control. It's all in my head and by acknowledging that, I can reason myself through the situation. If you're afraid of binging tomorrow then try to align your mental grip. For me it's praying and Bible time but do whatever it takes to help you. Meditation, talking with a trusted friend, working out, quiet time, journaling, crafts, etc. Seriously whatever it takes to get you to a better place mentally then try it out!

5) Find an accountability partner. I met a wonderful friend this way through my coach's facebook group and I highly recommend it. It's great to have that bond with someone who knows what you're going through and can give you that kick in the butt when you need it. Grab a friend or family member that wants to stay on track too and help each other out.

6) Focus on your time with family and friends, not food. Yes, easier said than done but just really try to focus on being in the moment with those you love. The more and more I put this in to practice the more I found that food just took a backseat to everything else. Basically the holiday seasons of 2011, 2012, and 2013 I wish I could go back and just shake that girl. I can't so there's no point dwelling on it but it's time I can't get back. Last year in 2014 things were infinitely better but I'm excited about this year because I'm bringing the strongest package mentally of all time in my life.

7) Don't weigh yourself. Just avoid the scale because if you hop on it Friday morning after having a much bigger dinner and dessert than usual chances are all you're going to see is the effects of water weight. It's not worth the extra stress or headache, and I'm just going to wait until early next week to weigh myself for my check-in. I know for sure I cried Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012 when I weighed myself because I made that mistake and thought I had gained pounds overnight. It was really only a couple pounds of water from carbs, which went away after a day or two, but I freaked out anyway and restricted for days afterwards. It's. Not. Worth. It.

8) Get back in the game as soon as you can. I know that not everyone can go back to tracking as usual on Friday like me (I don't have to travel) but I still have family plans both on Friday and Saturday. My plan is just to loosely track at those events but I'm not going to treat myself as much as I will tomorrow. Not in a depriving myself type of way but I do have goals in mind that I want to reach. I'll be back to my usual tracking come Sunday with zero guilt or stress.

Finally, though, just breathe. Thanksgiving is meant to be a time of reflecting on all the things you're thankful for. Instead of stressing about food try giving gratitude for having food when there are others who wonder where their next meal is coming from. If you're stressed about not being able to work out, give thanks that you have your health and are physically able to. These are all things that have helped me overcome my fear and anxiety of the holidays and a big part of it was shifting my perspective. It doesn't happen overnight and it's a process but I have faith that anyone can do it if they put their mind to it!

I hope these tips help, and everyone has a blessed holiday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Quads & Hiking

So last week was my rest week and it was just what my body ordered! I stick to light cardio only a few times a week, and make sure to rest and stretch. I swear my body loves each rest week more and more. There are some people I know that don't take rest days for MONTHS and I don't know how their body survives! I know it varies from person to person but I find that if I don't give my body proper rest and healing I get injuries left and right.

Anyway, after feeling refreshed and energized from my rest week I hit quads yesterday at the gym! I have since split up my leg days since I started my cut for two reasons a) I am insanely quad dominant so I need a day where I can focus just on my glutes/hamstrings without my quads tryna take over and b) my lower body is the hardest area for me to lean out. So giving it two days a week really helps me to give all three areas proper focus.

Here's my quads workout from the other morning:

It felt great to be back in the gym, and I had an awesome shoulder workout this morning. I can post that as well if you guys want, just shoot me an email or leave a comment! 

After doing some homework and lunch, I went shopping with Hannah to look at some sales. I'm so cheap that the sales still seemed too expensive to me haha! So yeah I didn't buy anything but we decided to take the dogs hiking in the woods once we got back. 

Layla loved being able to run around the woods with her sister! Lola has been quite energetic too lately but I think it's more to do with the fact that Layla isn't such an annoying puppy anymore. Lola seems to like her more and more these days, which Layla couldn't be happier about! 

We walked out to the old train tracks to get some cool pictures. Amanda wanted a cute one with the dogs, and Hannah and I laughed as we watched her try to wrangle them in. We could've helped and got them to listen buuuut we were too entertained :) 

Although we did get this sweet picture of the cutie pies! It is 100% their relationship-- Layla looking adoringly at Lola and Lola's just like "girl, plz. stahp." 

I know I sound like a broken record BUT I have more posts in mind and along the way! I promise I'm going to try to be an actual blogger again but grad school has been kicking my toosh. I have tons of ideas coming so I'll work on getting those posted! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Weekend in the Mountains!

I'm a little sad that I'm posting this right now because it means I am no longer cut off from civilization miles deep in the mountains. Call me crazy but I will pick a trip to the mountains over the beach every single time. I'm not a big fan of the beach but pluck me down in the middle of the woods with no cell reception, internet, television, or electronics of any kind and I'm in heaven. And obviously make sure Layla is there haha!

Me, Amanda, and our dad spent the weekend at our house in the Appalachian mountains which is about three hours north of where we live. There's a small town at the base of the mountain and then we have about a 30 minute drive winding our way up, up, up deep into the woods. I love it! There are a couple other houses around us but hardly anyone is up at the same times so you really have the mountains all to yourself. It's insanely remote but I tell my dad all the time that I'm going to retire up there. Possibly like next week haha!

It's amazing to just unplug and relax because there's really nothing else to do! Which is how it was designed and the way we like to keep it. There isn't a tv and never will be, zero internet, no data reception for your phone, and you're lucky if you get good enough cell reception to make a call that can last longer than 10 seconds. Luckily, Amanda got good enough reception to check in on our mom once a day but me and my dad were out of luck. We couldn't get any but I wasn't bothered haha!

People always ask me when I tell them about our camp and the first thing is: "well....what do you do all day?"

Honestly, that question makes me sad because our culture has gotten so caught up in technology, the newest fads, social media, and just constantly staying connected. That sort of lifestyle is exhausting to me and one I don't really find appealing. I love just sitting out on the front porch of our cabin, Layla sitting at my feet, and watching the sun rise over the tops of the trees. The sense of peace and calm that I feel is indescribable, and in that moment you can feel so in-tune with life and simply appreciate God's creation.

So to answer the question: we do tons of things! We go for hikes, do some yard work, play card games, other board games, sit around the fire and talk, cook together, make s'mores or mountain pies, re-tell old favorite family stories, crack jokes, go visit neighbors (if they're in), and just relax and enjoy one another. Something you'll often find us saying is where the day went because all of a sudden it's getting dark, and time seemed to have flown by.

Anyway, I'll stop my obsessive rant about why I want to live off the grid and get back to catching up about the past weekend! I'm warning you there are approximately a million pictures but I just couldn't help myself. It's such a beautiful place and I go a little picture-crazy. I had quite a difficult time narrowing it down to just my favorites to share. If I hadn't then this post might've been 10 pages long.

We stopped to get some groceries in town and we were so excited to find this GIANT stem of brussel sprouts for only $3! This is the kind of thing my family gets excited about haha! They were delicious and we had them for three different meals plus took home the extra.

Once we got up to camp, we settled our stuff in then took a hike for about an hour while we let the cabin warm up as the fire started. It was pretty overcast and chilly in the mid-30s but Sunday and Monday we got much better weather. 

This is our view from the side yard to the left of our house. There's a trail to the left of this picture (you can't see it) that leads to our freshwater spring where we get all of our water. There's no running water so everything is old school. 

The trail is straight back between those two larger trees in the center. 

We took a hike out to our neighbor's farm a couple miles away to see if the trees had produced any apples like last year. Sadly there weren't any but it was still a great hike! 

It's crazy how much quicker it gets darker up there compared to Pittsburgh. It was only about 4:30ish while we were out there, and already the sun was going down. 

I was up around 6:30 am Sunday morning, and sat out on the front porch with Layla and my coffee while watching the sun rise. It was absolutely beautiful! And such a peaceful way to start the day. 

Oh and me and Layla played with the filter on my camera :) 

I walked down across the road to the hollow across from our house and loved how the light was coming through the pines so I took more pictures! Layla didn't mind, she was happy to go crashing through the leaves smelling everything haha! 

After our morning photo shoot, we had breakfast and headed out around 8 to go for a hike. We went out to the point where you can look down the side of the mountain to the valley below. It's an amazing view! 

Before dinner we headed up to the fields about half a mile from our house to see if there would be any animals out at dusk. Usually if we're lucky we can spot some elk but nothing was out! 

The sunset was still worth the walk up even if we didn't get to see anything. 

Then we got started on dinner! On our way up it's tradition for us to stop at this little butcher where he cuts the meat fresh for you. Hands down he has the best steaks I've ever had. I really don't eat a lot of red meat (the last time was probably last year on our trip ha) but these steaks hit the spot! They were also HUGE. We had to split them in half so we ended up getting six regular sized steaks out of the three he cut us. 

She likes to think she's the best sous chef in the biz haha! 

We cook the steaks over the fire outside and it never fails to be delicious. I told my dad he better not cook them any longer than medium-rare and these were perfect! To be honest, I actually prefer my steaks on the rarer side of medium-rare but since we got delmonico steaks (aka the besttt) they were nice and tender. I might not eat steak all that often but I am well-aware that I am a steak snob haha!

After dinner, we had a round of s'mores out by the fire before heading inside for our nightly tournament of Yahtzee. Pro s'more tip: place your chocolate on the one half of the graham cracker then put it on a rock in the fire ring next to the fire. That way the chocolate gets all nice and soft which makes the s'more out of this world good! My family has always done that with our s'mores and it's delicious. You can also use mini candy bars like twix or snickers instead of plain chocolate which I would highly recommend. Just melt them a bit just like you would with the chocolate! 

Monday morning was the usual routine: coffee while sitting on the front porch before breakfast. We all have to drink decaf now #heartproblems but I don't mind because I just love the taste of coffee. It's great to just sit out there in the peace and quiet plus Layla always provides lots of entertainment as she spazzes out running around the yard. 

We took another hike after breakfast to just savor our last morning there. We spooked some grouse which nearly gave us a heart attack! If you've never flushed out grouse then you're in for quite the surprise. They wait til the absolute last minute, burst out in front of you, and legit sound like a jet engine with the way their wings beat. Layla jumped about a foot and came running back to me when it first happened haha!

Amanda wanted to take a family photo before we left and I just had to share because this cracked me up. She was setting her phone up and trying to take a test picture to check the angle and well it got majorly photobombed...

 The second one was much better! 

It was a weekend that I desperately needed and even though I'm sad it couldn't have lasted longer I know I'll be going back soon! My dad promised that we would not wait a whole other year until we go back up. All three of us are going to be more purposeful in finding the time to make an escape back up to just un-plug and savor life together. 

I can't wait until then! Where's your favorite place to go and unplug? 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Cut Workout Splits & My Current Carb Cycle

I can hardly contain my excitement right now! In approximately 2 hours and 33 minutes (but who's counting right? lololol) I'll be on my way to the mountains with my dad and sister Amanda! And of course Layla! It's my favorite place in the entire world, and we haven't been up since last fall so it's a much-needed trip. I got all my homework and papers done beforehand so I can just unplug, quite literally there's like zero reception, and enjoy it. By the way Layla has been in hardcore pout mode since last night when I begun packing because she's still convinced she's not coming. The last time I packed up my stuff and hers, she went to my aunt's for a week. Don't get me wrong she LOVES it there but this is a dog who seriously has a problem with being left out haha!

This is her official pout spot. She refuses to even look at me or the camera when I try to take pictures haha! Such a goof. I keep telling her she's coming too but she won't listen.

So before I take off for the weekend, I wanted to get a post up answering a couple of questions regarding my current cut. What my workouts are looking like and my macros so here you go! Note: I'm still not going to share my personal macros since that varies between individuals :)

Monday: leg day 1 (quads)
Tuesday: bis/tris & 3 mile run
Wednesday: shoulders & hill sprints
Thursday: leg day 2 (glutes/hamstrings)
Friday: back & cardio
Saturday: long run
Sunday: rest day

This isn't always set in stone and just depends on what I'm doing. Like this past week I switched around Tuesday and Wednesday because it had been raining and Layla loves to come with me on my runs. I swapped workouts so that she could come running with me on Wednesday! I will also add or decrease my cardio on a weekly basis if I think it's something necessary. As well as squeezing in short HIIT sessions every so often (most likely after glutes/hams) if I think I'll benefit from it. I know there's like this whole thing out about #TeamCardiNO but seriously it has so many benefits. Not just for leaning out purposes but for overall total health so I don't like to cut it out.

For me personally I split up my leg days because my lower body is hands down the hardest place for me to lean out. Plus I really want to focus on building up my hammies so I think that splitting up the two will not only help me in my cut but also in that goal as well. I want to be able to devote more time to each separate area of my legs. 

I've also gotten some questions about my macros and if I'm carb cycling. I am not currently carb cycling but I might add in a high carb day if I feel like I need it in the next couple weeks. Currently this is how I'm cycling my macros. 

Monday: moderate (possibly high)
Tuesday: moderate
Wednesday: low
Thursday: moderate
Friday: moderate 
Saturday: moderate (possibly high)
Sunday: low

Depending on if I find I need it I would either give my high carb day to quads or my long run (depending on how many miles I go). Not both in the same week but if I think that I need it more one day or the other based on my workout then I'll add it in then. I don't always think it's necessary to carb cycle, but if I feel like my body needs a higher carb day OR a calculated refeed then I might add one in every so often. We'll see! 

So my macro cycle is that I have 2 low days and 5 moderate but if I add in the high carb then it would be 2 low, 4 moderate, and 1 high. 

Hope this answers your questions! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Zoo 5K

This past weekend I did a 5k run with some friends from work at the zoo! It was great because we actually got to run through the zoo but none of the animals were out that early. We got free admission after finishing the race, though, so the five of us just hung out afterwards. It was a lot of fun, and me and my one coworker were running around like little kids (legit like going through the tunnels in the exhibits and stuff because why not) but I regret nothing haha! 

It was perfect running temperature in the low 40s which people probably think I'm cray but that is honestly my favorite running weather. Sometimes preferably the upper 30s is when I do my best running work.

None of my friends are runners but that's fine with me. I signed up for the race to have fun with them, and didn't mind running at their pace. It was great just to chat as we ran along looking at all the exhibits!

Tigers will always be my favorite animal! As a kid I would watch documentary upon documentary learning about them and well it's not like that's changed much now haha! 

It's been a few years since I've visited the zoo so I was excited that there were a couple new exhibits. The red panda, which is the cutest little guy ever, and the cheetahs. 

The leopards were moved too, and the exhibit was re-done so that they could come right up to the glass. I thought it was cool because I love being able to see them up close. 

We spent a good 10 minutes watching the elephants play! You could tell they were siblings or cousins or something the way these two would interact. 

Want to hear a classic Sam joke that I of course told at the start of the race? I asked my one coworker if she heard about the cheetah getting out and her face was priceless! Then I told her "don't worry it was spotted" get it?? Cue the eye rolls haha! But I crack myself up. 

See that little plastic bubble in the back left? Yeah those are the things you crawl through the tunnel to get through, and yes that is where me and my one coworker would go. Obviously haha! 

I've totally fallen off the grid but I have a ton of posts backed up that I'll try to get up soon. I'm going away this weekend with my dad, Amanda, and Layla to our house in the mountains, and I'm beyond excited! I'll try to get some blogging done before then but in the mean time have a great Friday!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

30-Minute Total Body Workout

On Saturday morning I put together another quick workout since I had to be at my church early in the morning to help with a sale. Whenever I'm in a time crunch, I like to mix and match as many moves as possible to make sure I'm using the best of the time I have. So I did a little bit of everything to hit multiple muscle groups. 

It took me about 30 minutes, 10 minutes each round with little to no rest between rounds and exercises. The most I did break-wise was get some water every so often. 

Then I whipped up some bacon and eggs! I actually prefer turkey bacon over regular bacon and the macros of the brand I get at Sam's club are awesome. It's 0C/6P/2F per slice so it's a great protein source. The egg whites had 2 tbsp mozzarella cheese and salt and pepper. 

I've also recently had to cut out caffeine because I got these insane heart palpitations last Monday afternoon that didn't go away until exactly 24 hours later on Tuesday afternoon. Amanda can't do caffeine for that same reason and the rest of my family is pretty sensitive to it as well. So I can't say this is surprising because I knew eventually my time with caffeine would run out haha! Which means I've been drinking decaf everything in the past week, and my heart has been doing just fine. I thought it would be awful giving up caffeine but I actually feel a lot better! 

I'll do an update soon of how my cut is going, but so far so good! I'm happy with how it's going so I'll work on getting a post up about that.