Musings of a Single Professional

Copy of Open Letter.png

Hey Piggie Posse!

"WAIT - Jaycie, are you mixed up? It's Wednesday... You post on Mondays, I thought?"

Yeah, you're right. But this one needed to be expressed.

"But you haven't written in a couple weeks"

I know, and I'm sorry for that - I moved, work has been exceptionally crazy with our division change, and I have had a lot of tasks added to my plate. Especially a bunch of busy work, that I already do on my own, but I need to format it differently for other people.

Lengthy explanation aside, I thought I'd come here and thank a couple (thousands, more like it) people. So, to the women (or men) who come home and it's quiet. To the ones who walk into their apartments/condos/homes knowing that there won't be anyone there for them...

I applaud you. All of you.

The ones who go out there, without someone in their corner rooting them on. I know what you’re going to say, “but Jaycie, I have my family and my friends who support me. Don’t they count?”

Of COURSE, they do. But you know what I’m talking about… There are those out there in life that have families of their own, that they’ve built. The moms and dads who have the ability (and let's face it) sometimes the chore, to come home from a hard day at work only to walk into a hard night at home with your significant others, and possibly your children. You are the ones who have something every day to look forward to – even if it is a mess - It’s YOUR mess.

I’m not saying everything will always be rainbows and unicorn farts, but at the end of the day, you guys get to decompress with people you’ve chosen. AND BY GOD, they chose you back – you get to put a meal on the table for people other than just yourself; to share in the days’ events. You get to share yourself - with someone who will listen or at least pretends to, while they eat and nod along.

I had a rough day today. I figured out who the Regina George in my life is, and it did not go like the movie. To say I'd been informed of this fact is quite the understatement, but I like a lot of my peers tend to like to experience things myself without heeding the warning.

Plus, being single in today's world kinda sucks. I mean, sure, it’s freeing and I have the autonomy to do and say as I please. If I want to walk around in my underwear and fart in my kitchen as I make myself tacos for one, plus leftovers, I get to do that. And frankly, yeah that’s kind of cool. BUT I don’t get to bounce ideas off someone. I don’t get to laugh at how ridiculously I’m letting the work day affect my emotions and I don’t get to hug someone who tells me it’s okay that I let things get to me because I care too much.

Yeah, I have to pep talk myself.

I’m an only child, so I’ve had to do that a lot in my life, especially when my parents may or may not have known what to say in a given scenario.

Single parents have it tough since they don’t have a partner to lean on… and man do I see that once or more a week with some of my friends. However, they at least get to have a smiling (or maybe crying) toddler at home willing to give you unconditional love… and cuddles.

So, as I stand here, in my kitchen (not in my underwear or passing gas, promise) I wanted to salute those who are autonomous in emotion. Who can decompress from a tough day alone and be solid with that’s what’s happening at their current day to day. Because, if I’m frank – FUCK , does it suck.

I’m proud of you. You’ve got this. You’re doing great - because you HAVE to. You attribute your meaning to your life. No one else.

5 Weight-loss Myths you need to Toss

WEIGHTLOSS.png

As I said in my previous post, there has to be an internal switch that flips on when you make the decision to change your physical appearance. For me, it was a picture of myself, making dinner over the stove that was my Final Straw – YIKES – but for others it could be the smallest of details or a personal goal to set for yourself. I knew I didn’t want to be more than 200lbs going into my 25th birthday too, so that was a major part of it.

There are a LOT of tools out there to help get you there, but some just don’t know where to start, get overwhelmed and then fail because all options seem to work for everyone but you, you get discouraged, and then binge eat the Twinkies due to emotional eating… I promise, it’s not just you! There are some outdated suggestions and “rules” out there that just won’t work for anyone, and if you’re reading this and asking yourself: “Jaycie, what do I do?!” this is the post for you.

The top five things I’ve found that just aren’t true and sometimes downright ridiculous, are the following:

1) MYTH: If I sign up for Weight Watchers, I’ll be skinny in no time!
FACT: Weight Watchers has some REALLY great tips and tricks. They have helped me gain an understanding of portion sizing and mind over matter and they have a carefully planned out point system to help those who have a hard time reading nutrition labels– BUT - please take into account that if your daily diet still fits pizza & beer into your points for the day (8pp per slice & 5pp per 12 oz. beer), you probably aren’t going to drop the weight as fast as you'd like. Your body needs fuel – just like a car needs gas. Losing weight isn’t going to happen if you keep filling your dietary fuel tank with garbage instead of premium.

2) MYTHI signed up for a cleanse, and this other diet fad I heard about on that reality show with the sisters! I’m set!
FACT: Diets are psychological prisons. Like a lot of overweight individuals, I’ve been on my fair share of “diet fad” plans. I did no-carb, low-carb, 1 week cayenne water only, and others. Not only are these plans “restrictive” in making a life change surrounding food intake hard to grapple with, they force you to ignore your body! It’s all based on numbers and math to fit the pre-determined amounts of calories, carbohydrates and fats, per meal per day. Add the already ever present sugar cravings and it’s all too much stimuli - It’s exhausting! Those who tend to count up all these numbers become tired and/or forget will end up failing at no fault of their own and wallow in failure and binge, only to start the whole process over again.

3) MYTHIf you set a weight goal, you’ll get there faster!
FACT: Goals are a necessary part of this journey, but if you set the goal too high, you’re not going to see the progress you’ve been making. You will only see the end goal you want, and perhaps won’t even see it anymore, as you’ll feel it’s too far away and lose sight.

Humans are creatures of instant gratification now in society – we all see the celebrity moms who can drop all of their baby weight in a matter of weeks, postpartum, and we shame them if they haven’t done so in a significant amount of time there after (do we remember the Kelly Clarkson debacle and those weight shamers? Ugh, so stupid). They are under the microscope – YOU ARE NOT (well, maybe your own). I had a girlfriend I was working out with for a matter of ten to eleven months, both on similar paths, and I was losing and dropping inches, and her scale/waistline hadn’t budged in four months. She was devastated and it was all she could do not to quit. If you set multiple goals along the way, they will feel like milestones when you achieve them and set into place all the more motivation to keep going! She did and eventually hit a milestone shed set along her journey. Just give it a little time, and tweak it if you need to.

4) MYTHI don’t want to lift weights and “get big”. I’ll just do cardio every day- I’ll be skinny in no time!
FACT: Cardio is great for you! It builds endurance,  keeps you moving and pumps blood through your body – you’re lapping everyone on the couch! However, if you don’t lift any weights in the gym, you’re wasting your time. Back when I was on Weight Watchers, I used to do 45 minutes on the elliptical every day before I went to work. I sweat a lot and felt great, but it wasn’t the best use of my gym time. If you really truly wish to see results, you have to build lean muscle in order to displace the fat you’re getting rid of. If you build muscle, according to Dr. Michael Roizen (MD):

“Adding muscle to your body burns fat because, well, muscle needs energy to survive. A pound of muscle uses between 75 and 150 calories a day (remember, it's working and using energy), while a pound of fat only needs 3 calories a day (fat does nothing to help your body, the ingrate, so it doesn't need energy to maintain itself). Maintaining that friendly, fat-burning muscle mass only takes a few minutes—10 minutes, three times a week, to be exact."

5) MYTHI just won’t eat breakfast – that way, I can eat more the rest of the day, worry free!
FACT: Can you eat like this? OF COURSE. Is it Healthy?? NO WAY! It hurts your metabolism and wont sustain healthy habits in the future.

'Crash diets are unlikely to result in long-term weight loss. In fact, they can sometimes lead to longer term weight gain. 'The main problem is that this type of diet is too hard to maintain. Your body will be low on energy, causing you to crave high-fat and high-sugar foods. 'When you finally give in and eat those foods, you will often eat more calories than you need, causing weight gain." 

The worst thing you can do for your body is deprive it of the things it needs to continue to be functioning properly. I used to take it for granted, but your body is the only vessel you get in this one life, so treat it well, and it will treat you well in return.

 For more info like this, join my e-mail list HERE!

Your Healthy Fat Survival Guide

I’m in a really weird head space right now. I’m having a hard time getting out the words I want to say and I’m stuck in between writing what I know to be true versus what I know you want to hear…

Non–Fat foods are good for me, right? Like, they’ll help me lose weight?

WRONG!

We actually need fats; can't live without them, in fact.

Okay, mayyyyyybe it’s right in the fact that your relationship to gravity WILL change from eating nonfat foods and eating smaller portions – those are things we know to be true. The fact of the matter is, however, THEY AREN’T *HEALTHY*.

Anyone that ever told you Low-Fat anything was better than the full-fat version of it was WRONG (see the explanation here). *Many* foods low or void of fats are mainly high in sugars, refined carbohydrates, and calories. If you look at the last 35 years and read myths regarding the Low-Fat Diet fad, you’ll find that obesity doubled in America since it began. You NEED healthy fats, aka fats that are unsaturated (mono and poly), like extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and avocados in your diet to help you manage your mood, mental balance, fight fatigue AND – whoa! – control your weight. Our brains are 60% fat, so it’s *vital* to our body’s physical function to have and absorb healthy fats. The answers aren’t to CUT the fat out – it’s to make the best choices for your body.

So look, I get it – Ever since the 1970’s (I hear) we’ve been told that we need to cut out fat from our diet in order to be fit, healthy and lean… Well – that’s outdated and you need to get rid of that mind set. I was just talking to a co-worker of mine last week that the diet he’s currently on is absolutely terrible. It’s lacking protein, it’s making him eat just a half of a grapefruit and an egg for breakfast, and the protein is IS ingesting from his selections of “grilled meat” doesn’t necessarily outline what kind of ‘meat’ – leaving this ‘diet’ (we all know how I just love that word) open to interpretation and error.

I don’t say this to rip on all nonfat foods. Some are great, but like I’ve said in previous posts – everything in MODERATION. If it’s small, sure – I’ll eat some nonfat Greek yogurt instead of full fat or replace a cooking ingredient with it. However, I’m not ONLY eating that and depriving my body it’s basic nutrients it needs to survive and thrive.

So, Jaycie, what CAN we eat? Well, that’s up to you. If you want to lose weight, eat whatever diet fad you can, and if it works for your body and what you want out of it – by all means, eat it. You don’t need me to tell you what to do. BUT If your goal was the same as mine was (and still is) you want to build lean muscle, displace fat, and be a healthier version of yourself.

You can’t do that if you eat a “tablespoon of fat free cream cheese” and “one slice of tomato on toast” for lunch. WHERE IS THE PROTEIN?? That’s too few slices of tomato, and too much of the wrong ingredients in one sitting. Not to mention that the cream cheese itself - sure it might not have fat, or as many calories, but let’s take a look at the nutritional label:

FAT.png

What most people get wrong in this whole thing is thinking that fat and calories are the only things you should be watching out for - INCORRECT. You should read the WHOLE label. If you lose protein, you're not winning. If you gain sodium in a no fat product, you're DEFINITELY not winning. A tablespoon of non fat cream cheese has NINE PERCENT of the total amount of sodium you should be ingesting during a whole day, opposed to the 4% of it's full fat counter part.

I'm not saying that in moderate doses or portions, you can't have non fat or low fat items. I'm saying it SHOULD NOT be the only thing you eat at lunch. PERIOD. You need to find a balance of proteins, simple carbs and healthy fats.

Well, Jaycie, what are "healthy fats" anyway?

I'm glad you asked... AGAIN. I wrote about this in the 3 Secrets of Clean Eating that Everyone Misses AND in How to Boost your Metabolism.

Healthy fats are UNSATURATED fats (or poly and mono saturated fats to be specific), or ones that raise our HDL/good cholesterol and lower LDL levels. They provide essential fatty acids, keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel. But it's easy to get confused about good fats vs. bad fats, how much fat we should eat, how to avoid artery-clogging trans fats, and the role omega-3 fatty acids play in heart health.

What You CAN Eat

  • Lean protein
    Turkey, Salmon, Skinless Chicken, Shrimp
  • Complex carbohydrates:
    Oats, Quinoa, Sweet Potato
  • Simple Carbs
    AKA vegetables - YES veggies ARE carbs!
  • Unsaturated fats: 
    E.V. Olive Oil, Avocado, Grass Fed butter, flaxseed
    walnuts, 
  • Fruits

What to AVOID:

  • Over processed foods, (white flour & sugar)
  • Artificial sweetener (SweetN'Low, Equal, Nutrasweet - STEVIA/TRUVIA IS OKAY in small amounts
  • Sugary drinks (soda & juice)
  • Alcohol (Check out my post about this HERE)
  • Chemical additives (food dyes & sodium nitrite)
  • Preservatives
  • Artificial foods (cheese slices)
  • Saturated fats and trans fats

This is definitely the survival guide to fat intake - since if it's not on the above list of what you CAN eat, it means, you SHOULD'NT be adding it to your meal prep for the week. FULL FAT greek yogurt, cream cheese is better... But like I said, only in small amounts of any fat variation, regardless. 

Gym Etiquette Rules You Need to Know

Stepping into the gym alone is daunting, and if you're like me, embarrassing.

Remember what it's like to start something you'd never done before?

If you’re new to it, you’re afraid to look like an idiot in front of those people who know what they’re doing. That’s how I felt at least… I STILL feel that way, and I've been consistently (kinda lol) hitting the gym for four years. That part hasn't gotten easier.

If you're starting at the gym, (now that you created a routine from my post two weeks ago), it's good to know what gym rats find terribly annoying. I've compiled a few others here for you:


Those Glued to Their Phones

I work at a community college – in the Athletics department actually – and there are TONS of new exercises I've been able to rotate to keep things fresh from others and I refer to my phone when I'm stuck. That's somewhat acceptable.

I mentioned that the cell phone is the number one pet peeve last year in Using your Phone, but there are quite a few more if I'm honest. Whether texting, reviewing form or taking pictures/selfies, it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to see it while I’m waiting for you to finish using the only available machine. If you’re not using the weights, take your cell, yourself and your selfie to the bathroom.

Weight/Machine Hogs

This term can be coined by those who use dumbbells and don't share - either by taking long rests in between their sets or work right in front of the rack. If you make it impossible for others to use things you're not using, you're inhibiting someone else from doing the same. This isn't a personal gym and we were taught as kids to share our toys.

Not picking up after yourself

Now this is just rude! Re-rack your weights. Same goes for the gross and sweaty benches – just wipe it up. We're not your mothers. Bring a towel and clean it up.

machine-hog.jpg

Improper Gym Attire

Those girls who just wear a sports bra and volleyball shorts are distracting - by the guys ogling her or the girls who are envious of her body (let's be honest, I'm that girl - I would love to stick Sally's waist and Julie's booty on my body).

Plus - guys who hit on girls at the gym? Just NO. That's super creepy, and no girl is ever going to enjoy getting talked to while she's sweating or trying to hit a PR on the treadmill. Unless she's wearing a face full of makeup, but then, what's the point of going to the gym in the first place? I always say:

Improper form

I hate looking like a jerk. I don't want to embarrass myself, and have other question what I'm doing - it's a confidence thing really. If I don't research things before I claim to know what I'm doing, I'm very unsure. The same should be said for the use of the gym facilities! If you aren't sure about what a machine does - ASK someone! That's the best way to get acquainted with it! I didn't know how to use some of the machines until I hired a trainer. People who have no idea what they're doing definitely make themselves known if they don't ask or have been shown. Don't be that guy.

Grunters

We get it - you're lifting... HEAVY. So are we. It's going to be tough work, for some at least. You're going to struggle, and that always comes with a couple uncomfortable noises. HOWEVER - don't sound like a dying bull. It's distracting and rude to those around you.

Believe me, once you begin working out regularly in a facility, you will develop pet peeves of other people. I have some of my own, and I know it doesn't necessarily bode well to judge others in a place where we're all just trying to become healthier versions of ourselves. That being said, you wouldn't walk into a soup kitchen and wear flip flops or wear inappropriate work clothes in an office, so the gym is no different.

Be conscientious of others and safe!

3 Basic Weight Loss Principles

This is probably the only time you’ll hear the word Basic and think of it positively - if you’re a millennial, that is… The phrase basic has come to mean terribly ‘plain’ and negatively associates with being ignorant of common sense while ordering pumpkin spice lattes in your UGG boots… For us, here, it’s the fundamental basis as to what we’ll need to succeed in this journey.

It’s all about Balance

The sheer fact that some “diets” restrict eating particular foods or groups of foods in an attempt to promote healthy living and weight loss is insane to me. The average American diet is unbalanced to begin with: heavy on animal foods, processed foods, fried foods, and sweets and light on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

It’s hard to find a popular diet that doesn’t encourage dieters to consume a variety of fresh, natural plant foods, and thereby support, if not a perfectly balanced diet, then at least a more balanced one.

In Cracking the Metabolic Code, author James LaValle explains how imbalances in the nutritional content can lead to weight gain, and that improving nutrient balance facilitates weight loss. When our bodies ingest sugars, for example, we release adrenal hormones triggering our thyroid glands to slow our metabolism and thus we gain weight. As I’ve stated in previous posts, the average American diet comprises of 18% sugar, while if we simply balanced our meals and ate the proper balance of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, we could reduce that number. Simply paying attention to what you eat will become an effective method to reduce your intake.

Get on your Feet!

The more active you are the more calories you burn. Period. If you increased the amount of time you spent mobile, you would definitely burn more than someone sitting on the couch. That seems like it should be common sense, but it wasn’t long ago that I thought all I had to do was eat right and I could lose 50 lbs. As I write this, I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s truly a BALANCE (ha see what I did there) in order to get to the goal that you want. You have to move.

Also stated previously in How to Boost Your Metabolism
YOU GOTTA LIFT HEAVY SHIT

This one I cannot stress enough. The more weights you lift the more muscle you’ll have. The more muscle you have, the easier it is to burn fat – EVEN AT REST. Yes, I said at rest. MyProtein says: “Often when people want to lose weight, they increase cardio and slack on their weight training. This is a big mistake, as maintaining your muscle mass will keep your metabolism strong, even if you are in a calorie deficit which you will be in when dieting.” Even Women’s Health online says that you’ll lose weight either way, but those who lift will convert six pounds of fat into muscle, thus displacing fat and fitting into their clothes better. I’ve never experience a whole body change like I did when I started lifting weights – I weighed the same, but could fit into my high school cheer leading uniform again. So, your answer to “Do you even lift, bruh?” should be “HELL YES”!

 Consistency !!!

Healthy eating is not like a vaccine: one shot and you’re covered for life. It requires a daily, lifelong commitment. Like I said last week, there’s going to be adjustment and maybe even some pitfalls… There is growing evidence that the more consistent you are in your wholesome eating habits, the greater your chances of maintaining a healthy body weight. Even six months into being recently single again and going through all the emotional healing I have (not to mention how I feel like a busted can of biscuits), I’m still maintaining my muscle mass and weight from being – class, let’s say it together – CONSISTENT.

My efforts over the last four years to get this far is so much more important to me than ANYTHING else.

The National Weight Control Registry set an example in their study comprising of several thousand men and women who lost roughly of 66 pounds each and kept the weight off, even six years afterwards. A spokesperson for the NWCR stated the following:

One of our most recent findings is that they do maintain a very consistent eating pattern. Unlike many dieters, they tend to eat the same during the week as on the weekends. The same holds for the holidays versus the rest of the year. They tend to have a consistent eating pattern throughout the year.”

How to Create a Routine in Minutes

I was actually discussing this with my friend a couple days ago. I can't seem to find my groove and how immensely guilty I feel about it.  She said, “We go through seasons” and that really got to me.

We go through seasons in everything we do in life; weather, friendships - come and go, and the way we take care of ourselves changes as well.

I told her how the last two months I’ve been going through the motions, albeit half-assed, and I feel that on top of the guilt of not picking myself back up quicker. My routine is choppy and discussing it with her, that’s what I realized is lacking in my life at the moment. I did not work my ass off (literally) to gain it back and then some. I will NOT be that person who loses the weight and balloons back. She told me I “haven't gone back though… You never will cause that girl is gone.” She’s right.

“One step back doesn't mean ALL is lost. One size doesn't make you the size you were”

There will be ups and downs, and I know that I started this thing with the attitude that I won’t weenie out (and I never will) but there are moments where you’re going to feel shitty. It's not going to always be a consistent thing. If you're feeling down like I have, you need to remind yourself that you are human and this journey is going to have occasional ups and occasional downs. You'll succeed, but you'll also fail, more times than I would like to admit, and you'll feel guilty. The thing about it is not to allow it to keep you from making your next step, though, or else there will never be a victory.

INVEST in yourself

Anything worth having comes with the work that you put into it. Just like relationships, just like your career – you have to give effort in order to receive benefits of it. It’s the same thing with your body and health. We’re all allowed to trip and stumble every once in a while. You wouldn’t be so hard on yourself because you tripped over something in the house – you’d laugh and keep walking. This doesn't mean you blew your goal.

So that brings the question – WHAT IS MY GOAL?

Mine lately is to get back into routine, as I’ve clearly had my head everywhere, running around aimlessly.  That’s why I needed to write this post. Here’s how I get myself back on track:

Step 1: Brainstorm

Get your pen and paper out, Piggie Posse! MAKE A LIST. Make a couple of lists! Things you want to accomplish, the BIG goal and then itty bitty goals you can achieve to mark your progress.

I know this seems counter intuitive since you want to get up and go... and since we’re all so glued to our phones now - but I never feel more accomplished than by physically writing all my thoughts down in my little notebook, and then re-organizing them in a particular order. I blurt out all of my thoughts, wants and miniature goals for what I want to accomplish, and how to make it happen. The tools you need to succeed will stem from this step, I promise.

Step 2: Create a timeline

Do you want to start with cardio in the morning, or what will your gym schedule look like? Will you work out at 6 in the morning before work? Can you get up that early? Is that early enough? Are you more of a night/after work gym rat?

Throw around a few ideas that are comfortable for you. I started out with a night schedule, at first. I was working in Carpenteria at the time, and the commute was a good 30 minutes each way from home. I would change in the car before my training sessions. After I changed jobs, I found that morning routines fit better with my schedule. Personally, I have more get up and go for the rest of the day if I run or lift before my mind and body knows exactly what's happening.

Step 3: Test It

See how it feels to you. Try the routine for about a week - if it's not working or you're having a hard time sticking to your plan, remember that there will always have to crack eggs to make your omelette. If it still doesn't feel right, change it up a little. 

I read an article last week that debunks the myth that "it takes 21 days to form a habit". Habits form in a minimum of 21 days, but the complexity of the habit is what determines how long it takes a particular individual to assimilate this behavior into their natural autonomy.

  • In 2006, Verplanken (6) gave students one of two writing tasks. The first group simply had to underline ‘She/she’ every time they came across it in a piece of text. The other group had the more complex task to underline all words referencing a movable object or mammal. What they found was that the simple task became more autonomous by the end of the study, indicating that they’re quicker/easier to become habitual.
  • A little more recently, Lally et al., (2) recruited students to choose a health related behavior they wanted to develop into a habit. The students chose behaviors like doing 50 sit ups with their morning coffee, eating a piece of fruit with lunch, and drinking a glass of water with their lunch. What they found was that developing an exercise habit took one and a half times longer than an eating or drinking habit, which they suggested was because the eating/drinking behaviors were much simpler than the exercise ones.

Step 4: Make that Routine your B!@#$

Just Keep Swimming! Just Keep Running! Just Keep Lifting... and eating veggies, and being the awesome mindful powerhouse you are! You will get there.

Don't get hung up on a time frame, just like I told you not to get hung up on the number on your scale. You're doing a GREAT job simply by being mindful and trying and making this effort. You're already lapping everyone else who is only complaining about their situation and NOT doing anything.

YOU. ARE. KILLING. IT!

 

The Soaring Swine's Blogger Recognition Award

The Soaring Swine was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award two weeks ago, tomorrow!

If you haven’t heard of it before, it is a small “award” that bloggers receive that shows that all of their hard work is paying off. No, we don’t actually win anything, but getting nominated for the award is very encouraging and also gives you the chance to connect with other bloggers.

So I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Shelby Dowden over at Simply Shelby for nominating me. She’s a sweet and big-hearted lady, and relatively new to the blogging scene, aged roughly three months. I definitely recommend checking out her blog for some awesome content - she specializes in lifestyle and beauty blogging.

So, How exactly does this all work?

Well after you're nominated, similar to the other awards I've received, you write a post thanking the person before you, showcase their blog and link back. Depending on the award, you answer the questions or in this case explain how you got started, give advice to new bloggers, and thennnnn!

Nominate other bloggers!

  1. Tiasa @ Mental Monologue
  2. Alexandra @ The Mindful Pursuit
  3. Emily @ Pixel Perfect Crochet
  4. Claudia @ Lemons and Olives
  5. Cassidy @ Cassidy's Adventures
  6. McKenzie @ Her Happy Little World
  7. Namrata @ LifestyleNama
  8. Natalia @ La Jolly Vie
  9. Amanda @ Amanda Adams Photography
  10. Buena @ Bon-Bon Voyage

The above blogs spoke to me in some way, shape or form if it was a particular post, the graphics or their writing style. I didn't order you in any particular way, but I enjoyed reading and learning about you all in and looked at your topics in a special new way. I look forward to reading future posts by each of you! Thanks for participating in the Blogger Recognition Award. 


How The Soaring Swine Took Flight

Well, this is a little redundant, but for those of you just now tuning in, I was a lot heavier than I currently am. I mean, I've fluctuated since i was about ten years old but in 2013, I was the biggest I'd ever been. Working at Starbucks from about 2005 until I moved to Ventura in 2012 and receiving their free pastries was great for my wallet - but NOT for my waistline. Or my stamina when ascending stairs to my apartment! 

2008 vs. 2014

2008 vs. 2014

2012

2012

October 2016

October 2016

Like I stated in my first ever blog post, The Final Straw, what I saw was a wake-up call... You have this image in your head of how you look and what your body feels like, and it take something like my photo did for me to truly wake you up. It was then that I decided to make life changes. I told myself that when I started this journey, I would not let it slip through my fingers again. I would do whatever it took to finally be happy with what stood in front of me in the mirror.

Ironically, as I'm writing this, it motivates me further to grow and better myself

I love when that happens... Any way! That was what sparked the weight loss, but the real achievement and motivation to write was over coffee one day, sitting in my HOT 600 sq.ft apartment in the sweltering San Fernando Valley. I received a *random* Facebook message from an old friend from elementary school; she was impressed and motivated by me and my posted progress photos.

That was another motivational tool - to have some accountability. I was motivated by my friends Jessica, Jamie and their achievements, so to have someone look up to me like that added fuel to the already moving train. It became a circle. A revolving, healthy circle. One which is so much more rewarding than anything I could have ever imagined.

Advice to new bloggers?

Honestly, I'm still learning myself. I don't know what will work for you, but I know what works for me right now. There's so much information out there at our fingertips and readily available - I'm definitely a sponge and will try new things. If you look at my first month or two of blogging, the style and graphics have evolved. Significantly, lol.

I would say be open to change (Those who know me KNOW I couldn't have just said that)... Buuuut I did! I mean it, it's changing so much everyday, it's terribly difficult to keep up, but if you're open to change and if you're open to constructive criticisms, with a hint of discretion, you'll find what makes you comfortable.

I'm just glad I have this project - and you guys, my Piggie Posse! It makes me accountable and helps me attribute meaning to my life and who I am. 

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Back Yard BBQ Success!

Summer is upon us!

Okay okay, so it's been here for about a month, but it's Independence day tomorrow and I know you guys are going to barbecues and pool parties, so I thought I'd keep it light.

Like I went on to say last year, in Independence, people think of Independence Day or July 4th as the slew of barbecues and fireworks… and the ultimate fear that comes along with shoving your body in a swimsuit. For me, this holiday always used to mean panic.

Last year I talked about fitting my ass in a swimsuit and how unhappy I was with my extra skin from all the loss. This year, there’s less extra skin, and I’m a little heavier – BUT – it’s more about my relationship with food and my personal growth in and outside of my body.

I mentioned in Why Your Diet Doesn’t Work that we have to learn to enjoy what we’re eating, and create a happy relationship with food.

“One of the many benefits of an intimate connection with the food that is destined for your body is the realization that food, and particularly the vegetables that come from these Camarillo fields, are wonderfully complex, fascinating organisms that are so much more than the number of heat units that they break down into.” ~ Jeannette Ban, The Abundant Table, Jan. 2017 Newsletter

I was so preoccupied last year with how I looked in a bathing suit and the superficiality of appearance sensitivity. Well, maybe that’s just me, but I doubt it. If you’re remotely sensitive to your appearance, you dread this time of year. Summer attracts nothing but bathing suit scrutiny to even the strongest of willed females. Like Jeannette stated, “Regardless of our thoughts about our outsides, our insides are magically vibrant, breathing and digesting – doing what it was made to do.”

I thought I’d bring back my helpful ways to set yourself up for success WHILE enjoying the ritual of nourishment.

Remember that every day of your new lifestyle is a struggle. None of this is *supposed* to be “easy”. That’s what makes invigorating after you’ve achieved your goals! If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. Believe me, I struggle with it every day, as my journey is still underway itself. Once you see the proper size pants and how they actually fit, you’ll remember why you started in the first place

… but we have to get there first.

Remember that as you stare at the vat of potato salad. Remember why you started this journey! The one towards a healthier you. Don't fight an uphill battle of counting calories and carbs, and you won't If you remember the tips mentioned below. You’ll be just one more step closer to the ‘you’ that you hope to be.

1. Plan ahead! If you know your friend’s party is going to be filled with temptation, "potluck style", bring a platter that works for you! I always end up bringing cut up bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, broccoli… and if you like sweets like I do, a fruit assortment and dip.

You can check out those recipes HERE.

2. Remember your portions: It’s okay to indulge every once in a while, but don’t overdo it with an additional helping here or there. Once is enough. Busy your mind with other things, like swimming or conversations instead of grabbing that second plate. If you're still hungry in a half hour, then nibble on some veggies.

3. Limit the alcohol!! If you do drink, don't make them sugary ones. Sip on a couple cocktails I've found to keep your lighter options open

Get the Swine's Spirits HERE

4. Keep Track: Snacking is okay, but keep a record of what you’re putting into your fuel tank! Mindlessly eating is where I get in trouble usually, so don’t do it to yourself – Stay accountable! I use MyFitnessPal, both online and I’ve downloaded the app to my smartphone. Follow me here.

5. Don’t Restrict yourself TOO much: At the end of the day, you want to enjoy your time and not worry about whether or not you gained/lost weight.

This IS a celebration of freedom, after all!

Don’t let your new healthy lifestyle chain you to restrictive mindsets – like I said in previous posts, there’s nothing more caging than thinking you can’t have something and craving it. Everything in moderation!

Remember, this is a lifestyle change, NOT A DIET. Have fun, watch some fireworks and enjoy your freedom! On and off the plate!

How to Make Cardio Suck Less

We've all been there. CARDI-Ohhhh hell no. Cardio is probably to most overused and improperly done exercise in and outside of the gym.  Why do I make that claim? Because I used to be TERRIBLE at it. I would spend 45 minutes on the elliptical machine, and completely lose feeling in my toes, thinking I was doing myself a service – and my ass.

NOPE. That’s not how this works.
That’s not how any of this works.

I wasn’t adding enough resistance to the workout, nor was I increasing and decreasing my heart rate at intervals. If you don’t add resistance, the momentum of the pedals is doing the majority of the work, not your muscles, not your heart. If you don't believe me, look up "Inertia". Look, I get it. Cardio sucks. I hate running.

WAIT – WHAT?

Yeah, you heard me – I hate running. I always have. Playing AYSO soccer, I remember being a kindergartner complaining about being out of breath. In middle school, the days of running laps around the backstops in PE classes were torture. I would get stitches in my sides from poor breathing habits and was excused more often than not. Running was a serious pain in the ass (well, feet).  I think the weirdest experience of all was saying “I’m a runner” after all of that to people who ask me now how I prefer to get my cardio in. I hate hitting the pavement BUT - I LOVE how I feel when I near the finish line or complete the mileage goal I have set for myself. It’s surreal since I feel the way that I do and how strong those negative feelings are as I lace up my shoes.

Somebody the other day asked me when it ever 'gets better'... and the simple answer is, for some, it NEVER does. That's the case for me. I get anxiety about *having* to run, but then if I don't I get anxiety about my lack of running. I'm a bit of a kook but, it is what it is.

So, how do you make it suck less??

Stretch!

Like I said last week in Are You Making These 4 Post-Workout Mistakes, stretching helps to reorganize your body to a natural position and posture. Stretching before a run or before you jump on an elliptical helps me mostly because my joints aren’t used to the movement yet. If I don’t warm up prior, my ankles buckle and the whole cardio experience starts off rocky. it also means you're likely to hit the gym or pavement again sooner, because you aren’t terribly sore. For all my PF-buddies, you got me!

Use Wacces Yoga Strap Stretch Restore Multi-Grip Fitness Pilates Stretching Belt Multicolor (Blue) (pictured right), or you can prefer to simply stop by the blue mats on your way out of the gym and use your own discretion. I love these bands for deepening the stretches in certain positions.

Have Rockin' Playlist

I know – that’s kind of a given. If the other things weren’t on your mind, I know this one has to be. Who likes working out without tunes? (Not me!) The kind of music you bring with you definitely sets you up for either success or failure. Ideal Fit wrote an article about the effects music has on performance, and surprise surprise, it works!

“The theory is that music can prevent exercisers from focusing on the specific physical sensations of fatigue, although some research suggests that this mechanism may be more effective at lower exercise intensities than at higher intensities, where the body’s internal cues of fatigue have a greater influence (Karageorghis & Terry 1997).”

What’s this mean? They thought that music could be used as a distraction and keep people from giving up on an exercise when they got tired or felt like giving up. They looked at intensities of certain songs and how that affected the person and their physical output. They didn’t find much of a difference in ‘exhaustion’, but another researcher looked at something else.

“Atkinson and colleagues investigated average speed, power, heart rate and RPE for 16 physically active 25-year-old males during timed trials on a cycle ergometer (Atkinson, Wilson & Eubank 2004). “Dance” music (142 beats per minute [bpm]) was used in a 10K trial, and the results were compared with those from a 10K control trial that used no music. Average speed, power and heart rate were significantly higher in the group who had musical accompaniment than in the control group."     The bottom line? 
 

music acts as a motivator

…allowing people to exercise with better productivity. 

Change It Up

If you run the same route every time, you might get bored. If you stick to cardio machines in the gym, throw a towel over the screen or switch from the elliptical to the stair machine. Stasis is the bane of my existence. I need something challenging and different or else I get bored, and the sheer act of completing cardio is a miserable anxiety-filled experience. I know - you’re wanting to establish a routine and YES if you’re just beginning your lifestyle change, do whatever it takes to make it a habit. BUT if you’re intermediate, don’t think that doing the same thing you did in the beginning will keep your mind and body challenged. Hit the stairs, do cardio-hopping on machines, or go a different route on your run. Trust me.

Make Sure You're Comfortable

There's nothing worse than being one or two miles out and you can already feel your heel getting a blister. That happened to me last Wednesday and made the run unbearable a little over halfway in. My favorite ways of ensuring that normally doesn’t happen are to Glide the crap outta my feet, wear injinji toe socks (so they don’t rub together), and to lace my shoes up properly. Get the right shoes, and the right size, wear an outfit you know you won’t be tugging at the whole time (look, wedgies happen. It’s ok!)

Don't Overdo It

That's one of my problems - I tend to bite off more than I can chew. Pace yourself! You have to build up to it, and if you're not warmed up, you could hurt yourself. Last week, I attempted to get in 4 miles, but knew the heat was going to knock me out. I ended up getting a blister and the heat became ridiculous on the route back with zero shade, so I wanted to take it in stride (ha!) and I stopped at 3.1.

ONLY YOU KNOW YOUR BODY!

It will tell you what you’re stopping point is, even past your mental hurdles and self-defeatist attitude. I don’t care what anyone says, if you’re pushing yourself TOO HARD you won’t get anywhere just like not pushing yourself hard enough will. Use your best judgement.  

Cardio doesn't have to be this monster you have to slay. I hope you're able to make it fun! No one regrets working out after they've done it. 

Are You Making These 4 Post-Workout Mistakes?

In the last four years, learning about the gym has been a tremendous learning curve. Lots of information I was given in high school about health and fitness was wrong. Growing up I also thought the “fad diets” were what worked. Looking back, like you saw in last week’s post Stop losing Pounds and Focus on Inches, I found out that I was completely misinformed. It’s the same with the gym and exercise though. There are a lot of ways in which to reform your body, and the things that work for me may or may not work for you and your body… BUT there are a couple universal things that each of us have to remember to do in order to reach our goals.

People tend to think you have to eat less instead of eat properly; others think you have to spend 2-3 hours in the gym a day for 6-7 nights a week in order to build muscle. I’m here to tell you RIGHT NOW that isn’t true!

Are you sabotaging yourself?

Regardless of the amount of time you spend between the four walls of a gym, you will NOT see any results if you don’t make the correct choices after you’re finished. Below, I’ve compiled my top four post – workout mistakes I’ve not only been guilty of myself, but that I see in those around me every day.

Mistake 1: You Skip the Cool Down

Taking the time to let your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal levels cuts your risk of injury.

Look, if it’s cardio and you’re pumping your heart out, you don’t want to shock your system any more than you already are and abruptly halt. I’ve become dizzy and it’s made working out a negative experience while it should be a positive one. Cooling down allows your blood to circulate properly, supplying your system with oxygen and nutrients, and helps muscle recovery. It helps gradually push the lactic acid and other unwanted substances out of the muscles, reducing soreness.

Mistake 2: You Don’t Stretch

Stretching helps to reorganize your body to a natural position and posture. Walk out of the gym without paying attention to areas that are overly tight, and you may pay the price later on with increased soreness and stiffness. Performing some stretches post-workout can help reduce the baby giraffe walk after leg day – which, let’s face it, less soreness isn't just more pleasant for you—it also means you're likely to hit the gym again sooner. Win-win!

Use Wacces Yoga Strap Stretch Restore Multi-Grip Fitness Pilates Stretching Belt Multicolor (Blue) (pictured right), or you can prefer to simply stop by the blue mats on your way out of the gym and use your own discretion. I love these bands for deepening the stretches in certain positions.

Mistake 3: Your Snack Game is Weak

Click above if you're already subscribed! Click below to gain access to my best recipes!

Click above if you're already subscribed! Click below to gain access to my best recipes!

They say that estrogen levels in women tend to protect the loss of stored energy, decreasing the metabolism to keep the energy sustained from your food intake. “When resources (calories) are scarce, the body prioritizes essential functions (like respiration, and regulating body temperature and blood pressure) over things like rebuilding muscle tissue. Inadequate food intake makes it nearly impossible to increase muscle strength or size, and the energy deficit can seriously weaken your power in training sessions in general.” Basically, the less you eat, the more your body preserves and the more your functional systems shut down.

Protein helps replace the amino acids used during cardio, such as a significant run, or helps fatigued muscles repair themselves after weightlifting in the gym. Under eating sabotages recovery because it helps your muscles repair themselves after your workout. Period.

Mistake 4: You Can’t Quit the Booze

Sorry, but a beer after your 5k doesn't count as a post-workout snack.

Drinking causes ANY and all Fat or Sugar burning to cease. Your metabolism goes the opposite of what we all want – it flips the fat storing switch to the ‘on’ position, as well as the liver and muscles not being able to store sugars as glycerin for later. For any ladies using hormonal contraceptives – and I JUST found this out – issues with alcohol and your plateau are correlational. It’s said that supplementing with B6 should be a daily requirement.

19369834_10102235182303846_1770114746_n.jpg

Look, I get it. I actually just participated in a Pub Run on Friday... (pictured)

They're fun and social and get you motivated if you're into that kind of thing. But they are solely FUN and are NOT conducive towards your fitness goals in the slightest.

Drinking alcohol immediately after (or during) a workout slows muscle recovery, dehydrates your body, and increases your risk of blood clots. It's best to only drink water for at least 30 minutes afterward—and then you can hit the bar if you'd like. 

So that's the basics on why it's not working for you - if it's not! You need to cut the booze, stretch, cool down and eat right. But, hopefully, you already are doing all of those things.