What’s in my gym bag? 

Going to the gym isn’t easy. That’s why a lot of people choose not to go. You have to preplan what time you’re gonna go, what you’re gonna do when you get there, and what you’re gonna wear. You can’t just go workout in your normal clothes. Although, I have seen a man at the gym getting after it in Timerlands and jeans. But, that’s a story for a different time.

Having a well stocked gym bag is the best thing to have in your arsenal when you commit and make the choice to workout. It makes the choice easier and breeds a “no excuses” mentality because you already have everything that you need. I want to share with you what I keep in my gym bag to help me better stay on track for frequent and rewarding workouts.

Athletic Clothing 

Aka my favorite category of clothes to wear. My friends and I like to refer to this as athleisure and we do not discriminate against this style of dress. We embrace it at every life event: the gym, the club, prom. Come one, come all.

A workout goes much smoother if you have a good outfit. It’s a proven fact (proven by me, so do with that what you will). Feeling good in your clothes will make you feel more confident and ready to take on your workout.

Clothing companies have caught on and let me tell you the pricing keeps getting higher. But, there are still really good deals to be found. Two of my biggest secrets are Walmart and TJ Maxx. I am a Maxxinista, let me tell you.

  • Walmart has a brand called Avia that looks like expensive name-brand items and hold-up through the most difficult of gym sessions. You know Walmart always has something bordering on tacky, so they always have fun colors.
  • My personal favorite is a brand that TJ Maxx always has called 90 Degree by Reflex. Specifically their pants… they feel amazing! And they pass the bend-over test (standing in the fitting room and bending over to see if you can see through them. People at the gym don’t need a free show.) All of the pieces cost under $20 so they fit any budget.  Both brands have pants, shirts, and bras that are the perfect addition to any gym bag. And they always make an appearance in mine.

As an added extra, I always keep a sweatshirt in my gym bag. Your clothes are going to be sweaty and if you go hang out with friends or go grab a bite to eat you will inevitably freeze. Sweaty sports bra cold is a whole new kind of cold.

Tracking Device

I mean this in more of an Apple Watch way versus a Hunger Games way. You need some way to track what you/your body is doing during a workout. I swear by the fitness feature on my Apple Watch but I have also used a FitBit that worked great. If you don’t have any of these you could use a phone app where you manually enter information or go old school with a fitness journal. You just want to be able to keep up with what you are doing. It helps you to know what is or isn’t working.

Headphones

I only take them out of my bag to charge them. I would also recommend going for a pair of wireless headphones. I have LOVED mine and I got them for $15 at Best Buy. It makes everything a lot easier if the string isn’t getting all wrapped around you and there’s nothing to get tangled up in your bag. And, for those of us who function on the uncoordinated side of life, you don’t have to worry about accidentally ripping them out of your ears. Weird things happen to my arms when I run and I always pull the dumb things out. Regardless of your preference, be sure and keep headphones in your bag.

Music playlist

I spend extensive time perfecting my music playlist for the gym. I mean extensive. My gym playlist has over 200 songs on it because I only listen to about 45 secs per song and move along to the next. I can only listen to “R-O-S-C-O-E MR. SHAWTY PUT IT ON ME,” so many times. Who am I kidding, I can listen to that a million times.

Make sure that the music works for you and is something that is going to motivate you to keep pushing and working hard. So, while I maybe don’t keep my playlist in my bag, I always bring my phone with me with plenty of charge. Because the music is sometimes the only thing that helps me through those last 15 reps.

Water Bottle 

There aren’t many places in life that you’ll catch me without a water bottle. Water is definitely a staple in my gym bag. There’s not much to say about that other than buy a reusable bottle instead of buying a bunch of plastic water bottles from the store. Be nice to the Earth, it’s the only one we’ve got.

Drink plenty of water during the day before your workout and afterwards once your body cools down. Don’t feel like you need to chug water while you’re working out though. It’s too much for your body and can make you sick. I’m speaking from experience here. (Let this go on record as the only time I am ever going to tell you to chill with the water drinking.)

Snacks

I always keep some body fuel snacks in my bag. Just a little pick me up, nothing too heavy. RX Bars are a good option for this because while they have protein in there, they also have a higher sugar count and can help to give your body a little more energy before a workout! Almonds are another good option. You don’t want to pass-out or make yourself sick so be sure that you have some fuel for yourself before getting started.

Disclaimer: sometimes I keep a few snacks in there. Because being an adult is hard and waiting from 8am to lunchtime is difficult. I’m gonna start a petition for someone to bring crackers and juice around 10:30. All in favor say aye.

Self-care Products 

Deodorant. Use it. Keep it. Apply it.

Hair products are a necessity in a gym bag. Brush, hair ties, bobby pins. Hairspray. I understand that you’re not trying to get “all cute” for the gym. But, have you ever tried to do a burpee with hair in your mouth? It’s not great. This will help you to avoid ever having to experience that at my expense.

The Bag  

You probably need to just commit and actually buy a “gym bag.” It’s worth spending a little money on one that fits the size that you need and some extra compartments, because who doesn’t love little compartments. People get weirdly attached to their gym bags. I mean, I was telling a coworker today about this post and he immediately said, “I keep my whole life in my gym bag.” Carrying a plastic sack from Kroger isn’t gonna cut it. Go ahead, treat yo’ self and get a bag that you actually want to carry to your workout.

You’re gonna have to put in work, but pre-planning out all of the necessities for yourself makes the work a little bit easier. Showing up to the gym without your own stuff is like showing up to a sleepover without a pillow. Uncomfortable and awkward. If you are seeking a healthier lifestyle, don’t give yourself any other option than to have a healthy lifestyle. You got this. Now, pack your bags and get going.

-O

7 Ways to Have a Healthier Trip to the Grocery Store

The grocery store can be both a beautiful and dangerous place. This especially rings true for those of us who love food. I have some crazy ex-girlfriend tendencies when it comes to my relationship with food. I want to see food all the time. I get jealous if other people are around the food that I want. I think about food all the time. Okay… maybe that’s a little bit dramatic. But, ya’ll get what I’m trying to say. Food is bae.

I have told you before that I have had to relearn a lot about the way that I think about food. The food that we put in our body keeps us living, but we do not live for food (still don’t know if I believe that second part). The grocery store is one of the main places that you make the choices that affect what you are going to be eating. Drumroll please… I am going to share a few quick tips that I have learned to crack the code on the grocery store and make it your healthiest trip yet.

  1. Do your Research & Have a Plan. 
    • Healthy foods aren’t just going to fall into your basket. You need to do some pre-planning before you show up at the local Kroger. Picking and planning your meals is probably 75% of the battle. I really recommend finding some good accounts on social media to follow that can help inspire you with meal ideas during the week! I’ve gotten some of my favorite recipes from fitness bloggers.
    • I also know many people who won’t buy a single thing at the store if it wasn’t on their grocery list whenever they got there. This is an awesome rule to follow if you are an impulse shopper and somehow end up with the whole store in your cart by the end of it.
  2. Don’t rush & Don’t go Hungry.
    • Be prepared to take your time. If you only have 30 minutes and you rush into the store it is going to be hard to find exactly what you need, so you will settle for a less healthy option. Because everyone can find the ice cream aisle.
    • This is like the oldest trick in the book. Going to the grocery store when you’re hungry is like voluntarily signing up for torture. It tortures your belly and your wallet. Wanna know the best way to spend $200 dollars? Go to the store when you’re hungry. Have a snack before you get there so you know you are thinking with your mind and not your gut.
  3. Be willing to go to multiple different grocery stores. 
    • There is an endless list of grocery stores and I am having a love affair with each of them. It is not abnormal for me to go to four different stores to get all of the things that I need for my grocery list that week. I also understand that this isn’t feasible for everyone. If you do have the time, Sprouts has great deals on fruits & veggies. Kroger is more of my one-stop shop because they carry a little big of everything that I need. WalMart carries a strange selection of items that no one else has, so I like to go there and stock up on those unique things. I will also pay Whole Foods a visit when I really feel like spending my whole paycheck on food. Find the store that’s best for you, but don’t forget sometimes you have to jump around to find what you want.
  4. Stay on the outer circle. 
    • Think about your local “chain” grocery store. Everything that is good for you is typically on the outer edges of the store…correct? You need to be doing the bulk of your shopping on those outer areas. You can knock our fruits, veggies, meat, and dairy without every stepping foot in those inner aisles. Try to hang on the outside.
  5. Read the Labels. 
    • The nutrition labels on products are there for a reason. Use them. Read the ingredients and if there is something on that list that you cannot easily pronounce, politely set that sucker back down on the shelf. Bodies weren’t meant to break things down that they can’t even pronounce. I don’t eat all natural, all the time. That’s really difficult. But try to be more cautious of what you put in your cart and what you ultimately put into your body.
  6. Buy things that expire. 
    • Piggybacking off of number 6. Food isn’t meant to last forever. I mean if you think about it, it’s kind of nasty that a can of clam chowder doesn’t expire until 2056. A bulk of the items that you buy at the store need to actually expire during your lifetime. Non-Perishable is code for chemically enhanced and no kidneys have got time for that.
  7. Avoid the temptation aisles. 
    • This goes back to the whole volunteer torture thing. If you love Little Debbie’s, there is no need to cry into a bag of salad while staring at the Zebra Cakes that you love so dearly. Just avoid the aisle, simple as that. I avoid the chip aisle at all costs because I know that there is no way I am walking down that thing without coming out with a bag of Kettle Cooked Jalapeño Chips. I mean I am not Super Woman. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and know what your boundaries are.

These quick little seven steps are all rules of thumb that I use whenever I am at the grocery store doing my weekly stock-ups. My carts look very different now than they used to whenever I am at the check-out. I see a balance of proteins, greens, fruit, and a few splurge items. Because who are we kidding here.. life is all about splurging sometimes. Happy Shopping!

Consistency, Sustainability & Dedication

Do you ever get super fired up about something and you just completely run with it? Like you get some whack-a-do idea and fifteen minutes later you have created an entire plan for your life and you’re ready to quit your job at Target and get going? Or you have a really practical idea and you’re so excited to start working on it and you’re just going to get going tomorrow as soon as you wake up? Maybe you’ve got a plan and you’re just waiting on the next Monday to get started because a day where you’re exhausted and wishing it was the weekend is the perfect time to start a new goal…right? The easiest thing for me to pin that down to in my head is motivation.

In some way, shape, or form you have found the motivation to get started. Sometimes motivation comes in waves or just a subtle thing that keeps growing. My motivation smacked me in the face like a girl fight at a frat party. It wasn’t pretty but it was definitely happening. The thing about motivation is that it doesn’t always hang around. You can be really motivated and have every intention of beginning on Monday, but motivation can fade by then and you never get where you are wanting to go. Certain things can re-spark the initial motivation that you had (thank goodness for that) and can project you even further in your journey. Motivation is an incredible thing, but you’ve got to have something more than that.

I don’t wake up every day just dying to run into the gym and be conscious of everything that I eat. I’m not Work-out Barbie and I’m never gonna be. Although, on days where my motivation level is on 10, I feel pretty close. I have to have something to rely on when the motivation is gone. That is where I have realized the importance of consistency, sustainability, and dedication.

I had a completely different plan for this week’s post. But, something big happened a couple of days ago whenever I was at the gym. My gym (which I really enjoy) has a personal training station set up at the front. Most of the time the trainers leave me alone but every now and then one of them will catch me and try to ask questions about my fitness routine. I’m glad that they are there to provide help for others, but one time the experience I had was many steps away from helpful…

The head trainer came up to me and started asking general questions, “Why are you working out?” “What are you wanting to get from your gym experience?” “How long have you been working out?” I told him that I was wanting to lose weight and get healthier. At the time, I was about two-three months into my lifestyle change and I was about twenty-five pounds down. He then proceeded to tell me that was all of the progress that I was going to be able to make on my own. He told me I couldn’t do it by myself.

He threw out all of his favorite fitness terms; body mass index, plateau, circuits, calorie deficit, etc. I didn’t ask for his advice or opinion, but he happily shared that for free. **Disclaimer: this is not turning into a sob story…** As I walked away from him, I couldn’t help feeling super discouraged and unmotivated. How was I going to be able to do this by myself any longer? I was never going to reach my goals. I didn’t know anything about fitness, didn’t have the money to pay for a trainer, and my mind was going a million miles a minute. 

Fast forward a year to this week when I was at the gym, I saw that head trainer again for the first time in a while. I walked in and he looked right at me and I could tell there was no recognition of my face to him. He has not idea the impact that his words had on me. Since the last time we spoke, when he told me I couldn’t do it, I have lost another 45 pounds and am showing no signs of stopping to become the healthiest version of me. The things that I have gained and learned are worth so much more to me than any amount of weight. And as soon as I saw him I couldn’t help but feel proud and determined.

I say all of this to point out a lack of motivation. I allowed his words to take that power from me. Even just for a moment. And that’s going to happen sometimes. You’re going to lose motivation because you’ve had a bad day, or you still feel bloated even after you ate a salad yesterday, or because someone might tell you that you’re not strong enough to do it… but, that’s when consistency, sustainability and dedication come in.

Consistency can be one of the most difficult of the three. It’s hard to stay consistent when you’re not seeing the results as quickly or as boldly as you originally intended. This is one that I struggled with and continue to struggle with daily. If you stay consistent with your fitness and diet, you will see results. Change takes time. Let me say it again for the people in the back, change takes time. Results aren’t immediate. Think of it this way… if you consistently eat fast food, what are the results going to be? You’re going to get more and more unhealthy. If you consistently give someone five dollars every day, what’s the result going to be? You’re going to lose money. Same goes if you are consistently doing something that is good for you. What happens if you are consistently eating a recommended dose of vegetables and hitting the gym? You are going to be healthier and lose weight. What happens if you spend time each day practicing self care? You are going to be in a more stable mental state. You are going to see results. Don’t give up after one salad and a Zumba class.

Sustainability is a concept that has been overshadowed amongst all of the “healthy-living” trends and fads. Sustainability looks different for everyone. I know some people that have followed a low-carb/no-carb diet for decades and it works perfectly for them. They live a healthy lifestyle and feel that they are able to eat as they please……. That’s a no from me. A life without bread is a life I am not interested in. I know that is ridiculous for me to even attempt, so I choose to eat bread in moderation because that is more sustainable for me. A lifestyle change is going to be a challenge. Everyone would be doing it if it were easy. There is a difference between possible and impossible. Don’t try a trend that you know is not going to work for you. You’re already giving yourself an excuse to fail. Give yourself a million reasons to succeed and pick a plan that works for YOU. If you find something that is sustainable, you can look back in a year and see all the things you are capable of. 

Dedication is undoubtedly the most important of the three. Be dedicated to your goals, yourself, and your future. If you are not happy now, become dedicated to the idea of getting happy. Living life without dedication seems almost pointless to me. You dedicate yourself to so much throughout your life. Dedicated to your family, your job, your significant other. But how often do you actually dedicate yourself to yourself? Now is the time. 

Consistency, sustainability & dedication have been a large driving force in my life over the last year. I used the motivation to get me started and these three to keep me going. Think of the happiest and healthiest version of yourself and use them to get you where you want to be. It’s not rocket science, it’s not expensive, it’s just difficult. And you are capable of hard things. The only thing standing in your way is the thought that you can’t do it. And I’m so thankful to be able to stand here and tell you that you can. 

-O 

Q & A with Friends: Carrie Crista

One of the coolest parts of this entire journey for me has been the opportunity to learn. Even though I am about fifteen months in, I learn something new everyday. A new workout, a new company making awesome products, or a new recipe. I want to be able to provide information to you all that helps you to grow and learn as well. One of the easiest ways to do that is to reach out to someone in my tribe and ask them some questions. I am excited to share with you all a healthy living Q&A with one of my gals; Carrie Crista. You can find her on her blog, carriecrista.com or on Instagram at @carriecrista. Enjoy!

Q: Who are you? 

CC: Hey friends! My name is Carrie! I’m 27 years old and I live right outside of Nashville with my husband, my almost-two-year-old daughter, and our two dogs. I work at a university full time and manage a blog/YouTube channel called Carrie Crista! Carrie Crista is a lifestyle blog that focuses on healthy living, art, and beauty. Fitness has been a huge part of my life for the past 6 years, but it hasn’t always been the smoothest ride. Despite everything I do on a daily basis, I still try to fuel my body properly and train 4-5x a week. It isn’t easy sometimes, but it’s totally worth it! Outside of all that, I love Christmas, the color black, and Bruce Willis.

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O: Hey Ya’ll! Its October. I’m the driving force behind all things going on at “In With October.” I live in sweet Tennessee, pretty close to Nashville. I just turned 25 and I work for a university. I graduated with my Master’s degree in May so I am excited to not be a student for the first time in my life. Who knew life without homework existed? I travel a lot for work, so don’t be surprised if you see me pass you by in a rental car somewhere. My lifestyle change happened about 15 months ago, so it is relatively new for me and I am loving everything that comes along with it. When I’m not working or at the gym, you can find me spending time laughing with my best friends and cuddling with my dog.

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Q: What started your fitness journey?

CC: My history with health and fitness is a long and complicated one. All you really need to know before 2011 is that I struggled with an eating disorder that nearly killed me. This led to a very distorted view of the purpose of food and what foods were good and bad so I ended up gaining a significant amount of weight as a result of jumping from one end of the ED spectrum to another. I would eat EVERYTHING because I felt I had missed out on so much. ANYWAYS. In 2011, I got some test results back from my doctor that said I had to take cholesterol medicine and that I was pre-diabetic. I wanted to get healthier, but I hated our college gym. The facilities were absolutely incredible, but I always felt ashamed and uncomfortable since most of the people there seemed fit already.  My boyfriend (now husband) convinced me to try out a gym off campus with great rates for students and I was hooked. I started paying attention to my nutrition (I, personally, count calories and pay attention to macros) and I ended up losing a significant amount of weight.

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There are SO many more pieces to this story and how I ended up where I am now (spoiler- where I am now is SO different than where I was before, in a GOOD way!) but that’s how I got started!

O: Happiness is really what started my fitness journey. I knew that my body wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but I was not self-aware at all. One day I got an honest glimpse of what I looked like in the reflection of a pair of sunglasses (literally) and in that moment, I knew that something had to change. 70 pounds and a little over a year later and I cannot believe where I am now. As I look back I am able to see so many changes within myself not only physically, but mentally. I’m not slowly down anytime soon, but I have gotten myself to a place where I am proud of the progress and am able to see the hard work coming to fruition. Some days it is extremely hard and I wish I could just eat whatever I want from Taco Bell. And some days, Taco Bell wins. But, there are even more days where I win and am able to make decisions that are best for me and my body. I’m really thankful for that.

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Q: What’s your favorite healthy recipe? 

CC: I make this dish we call Cauliflower Delight. The recipe is on my blog but, essentially, it’s riced cauliflower (uncooked), ground turkey (cooked, duh), and pasta sauce. Basically just stick it all in a pan, make sure everything is hot all the way through, add some mozzarella cheese (if you want, but, come on now, it’s cheese) and eat it! It sounds so weird and it truly looks like dog food but it is DELICIOUS. It’s kind of like the inside of lasagna, but way better for you!

O: Anyone who follows my blog knows that I am the pizza queen. If it will go in the oven and I can put it on top of a pizza, I’m making it. But, by now, you’re probably ready for something new. One of my favorite recipes is actually a salad. It’s a seasonal salad and is perfect for fall. Holla, because it’s officially fall and it’s still 80 degrees in Tennessee! I roast chicken, broccoli, red onion, carrots, and sweet potatoes in the oven topped with s&p, olive oil, cumin, and garlic on 375 for about 25 mins. (adjust cooking time as necessary based on oven) After that, I put them on top of a bed of greens and lightly top with italian dressing. It is SO good. And a perfect way to get in a few servings of veggies while still feeling fulfilled after you’re done. Because no one has time to feel hungry all day… am i right?

Q: What’s your favorite treat?

CC: Bread. Specifically any savory/cheesy/garlic-y bread (I’m looking at you, Red Lobster…and you too, Little Caesars with that Italian Cheese Bread).

O: Chips, cheddar cheese, and a Dr. Pepper. Super specific, huh? And I want that combo all at the same time. Lay’s Original chips in the yellow bag (basic, I know..) with some cheddar cheese is simply unbeatable. There is just no healthy equivalent for chips, so I splurge on this every now and then.

Q: What’s your go to snack when you’re in a hurry but starving? 

CC: A protein shake. It’s so plain and boring, but it gets the job done. If I’m out and all of a sudden need some sustenance, I generally will grab a Quest bar (or something similar- I prefer Quest because the carb/sugar is lower than other bars, but any protein bar generally does the job) or beef/turkey jerky. The key is to get something high in protein to fill you up!

O: Protein, protein, protein. It’s what is going to keep you full for longer. It’s easy to grab candy or chips when you’re in a time crunch, but they’re ultimately just going to make you hungrier. Some of my favorite protein-filled snacks are protein bars (I’m going to second the Quest bar rec from above) and beef jerky. Beef jerky feels like a cheat to me, so this is an extra fun snack that I like to grab from time to time.

Q: What is your favorite exercise? 

CC: Oooooh, that is hard. I prefer weights over cardio ** , so I’d have to say squats or overhead press. I do thrusters a lot because it combines a front squat with a press and adds a little cardio to the mix, but I don’t generally enjoy thrusters- ha! **As a side note, I think this is as good of a time as any to reinforce that lifting weights will not make the average female look masculine. Don’t be scared of the weight floor!

O: I’m definitely the complete opposite of Carrie on this one. I am all about some cardio. My favorite is the stair stepper, crazy I know. But, it is a machine that challenges me every single time I go to the gym and I can continue making it more and more difficult each time. I usually do this for thirty minutes and each ten minute segment, I switch it up and do something different. If you are looking to switch up your cardio and would like my stair stepping routine, let me know!

 

Q: What are the main body groups that need to be focused on during a weightlifting workout/regimen?

CC: This question really depends on the person and their goals/needs. I would say, however, that it’s super important for most people to focus on compound lifts. Compound lifts are ones that work more than just one muscle group at a time. Squats, for example, work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and your core. Bench press works your chest, triceps, delts, and core. Does that mean you should only stick to barbell weights and heavy lifting? No way! Isolation exercises are great and they’re really beneficial. Compound exercises, however, will give you far more bang for your workout buck. So basically, focus on your whole body by incorporating compound lifts!

O: I’m just going to second everything that Carrie said! Focus on the areas that you want to work on. Don’t be afraid of strength training exercises (working on learning this myself), they aren’t going to bulk you up if you are a woman. There are tons of resources available online for free that can give you great workouts that target specific body parts if you aren’t sure where to start. Ladies, don’t be intimidated by the weights, you got this!

Q: What’s on your gym playlist? 

CC: SO many things. My playlist is pretty random but it’s mostly rock. My go-to song is “This is the Time (Ballast) by Nothing More. I’ve had it on my playlist for 4 years and it still pumps me up. Other artists on my playlist include Palisades, Starset, Zedd, Martin Garrix, Justin Bieber (I know, I know), Drake, Future, Avenged Sevenfold, and tons more.

O: My gym playlist has two different phases. For cardio, I like to stick with upbeat pop-rap. It almost makes it hard for me to not start dancing so it keeps my mind off of what I’m doing. Some of my favorites are “Knuck if you Buck,” “Wipe Me Down Remix,” and “Salt Shaker.” Can you tell I was in my prime during the early 2000s? When I’m doing strength training, I usually listen to just plain rap. The beat helps with reps and it just makes me feel like a little baddie.

 Q: What’s one fitness goal that you have? 

CC: I want to be able to do a muscle up.  You know how those gymnast go from hanging under the bar then they’re pushed up on top of it ? It’s kind of like that. It’s super common in CrossFit workouts and it’s one of the harder motions to master, so I want to be able to do one of them!

O: I’m training for a 5k right now. I know running 3.1 miles doesn’t seem like much, but for me it is. I have spent the last 25 years of my life running only if someone was chasing me. And luckily enough, no one has chased me yet. So my running experience has been slim to none. I want to run the whole thing without stopping and preferably around 30 mins. My race is in a little over a month, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Q: What’s ONE piece of advice you would give someone who is just starting a healthy lifestyle?

CC: Be patient and consistent. I know, I know, those are two very hard things. I still struggle with them, but those are the two things that will translate into progress. Results are not instant, anyone or anything that claims otherwise is lying. Find a program that is healthy and realistic and stick to it. Over time, you will start to see progress.

O: Be forgiving with yourself. At the beginning of a journey, it is really easy to make a mistake or have a slip-up and you feel like you’ve ruined all of your progress. I hear from people time and time again that they accidentally ate something unhealthy so they just stopped going to the gym. It’s okay, you just have to hop back on the horse and get back to work. Don’t let one mistake (or a whole weekend of eating like crap) keep you from finding your happiest and healthiest life. You won’t regret it.

I love having the chance to team up with other people that have similar interests and incredible stories to share. Sometimes getting to hear more than one perspective is helpful because not everyone’s journey looks the same. The only thing that matters is that you find a healthy journey that works for you. Find your path and follow it.

-O

Rumor Has It

It just doesn’t seem right that I have made it this long without making any reference to my girl Adele. So here’s to you, sister. The rumor mill is always cranking out something. And the worst part is that people actually believe some of it. I mean we have all heard the, “oh my gosh Becky I heard what Ashley did at that party.” Or the rumor that Kim K got a brand new implant in a brand new place. Or the rumor that the world is ending next week.

All of these sentences typically start out the same way, “Well I heard…” or “Someone told me…” And even though these rumors seem ridiculous, there are people out there that get hung up on every word. Especially the juicy stories about Becky. The rumor mill doesn’t stop when it comes to fitness. I hear people all the time talking about rumors that they heard and they don’t know where the truth begins. It’s hard to tell the difference between truth and rumor when you don’t know much about fitness. So… I am going to break-down some of the most common fitness related rumors that I have heard.

  1. “I heard that you shouldn’t work out unless you have nice workout clothes because it’s not good for you body.” This one is just silly to me but I have heard it over and over again. What you are wearing on your body has nothing to do with your success at the gym. You can work out in a three piece suit if that’s what you prefer, but I don’t know that I would recommend that. You don’t have to be wearing the newest Lululemon to get in a great workout. My personal favorite brand for athliesure is Avia from Walmart. It’s cheap and the pants aren’t see-through. What more could you want? 
  2. “My friend told me that if you don’t each much that you will lose more weight.” Weight loss does come from a calorie deficit. But there is such a thing as eating too little. Starving yourself isn’t going to do anything but put your weight loss at a halt. I never believed this either… until I spent about two weeks trying to eat a very small amount of food and the scale didn’t budge. The next week I amped up my calorie count by about 500 extra calories a day and lost three pounds. If your body goes into starvation mode due to the fact that you are actually starving it, you are going to have a hard time losing weight. Find a calorie calculator online if you aren’t sure what you need to be going for each day so that you can have a better guess. Starvation does not equal weight loss. Starvation equals unhealthy, hungry, and grumpy. 
  3. “I can’t go to the gym because I don’t have real running shoes. I heard that I couldn’t workout without them.” This is one rumor that I have found to be relatively true. You don’t have to buy an expensive pair of tennis shoes, but I can promise that working out in a real pair of tennis shoes make a HUGE difference. Your feet need to have good support because it has an effect on every part of your body. I see people all the time working out in Converse and I don’t understand how they do it. Shoes are a good place to splurge. Or at least pay a visit to the Nike outlet. 
  4. “Is it true that if you drink lots of water you will gain water weight?” Quite the opposite actually. People have asked me multiple times if the amount of water I drink a day has made me gain weight and it has actually aided heavily in the weight loss portion of my journey. If your body isn’t getting enough water it will retain what little bit of water your body does have. There is no such thing as gaining weight from water. Drink up, buttercup. 
  5. “I heard that you shouldn’t have cheat meals because they will slow you down from losing weight.” This is a pretty controversial topic. And I disagree. I think having a cheat meal or cheat day has major benefits. Physically and mentally. It can be a good jump start for your body to have something greasy and unhealthy when it has been eating good all week. (like I said some people really disagree with this one and don’t think you should ever put anything unhealthy in your body….. but booooooring.) I think a cheat meal does way more for your body mentally than physically. It gives you something to look forward to all week and knowing that you get to splurge can help you to stay on track throughout the week. It’s almost sad how excited I get about my Friday night runs to Taco Bell. But hey, it works for me. Find what works for you. 
  6. “My friend heard that you burn more calories doing cardio and that you only gain weight from lifting weights.” False. Cardio is a great way to burn calories, but so is weightlifting. Getting your heart rate up is when you start to see the burning of calories. I personally like to mix and match between the two. I like to start out with cardio and then do a few minutes of lifting. It’s a good mix to keep me from getting bored. If you are still terrified about gaining weight from weights, try doing more reps with lower weights. You can always do 3 sets of 15 reps on a lower weight and see results from that! 
  7. “You’re never going to lose weight if you don’t take a supplement or drink protein shakes.” This is the most common rumor I hear and honestly probably the one that makes me the angriest. Your body doesn’t need a protein shake or a pill full of supplements to lose weight. You were created to self-sustain and your body is capable of doing that. I’m not throwing shade on those who swear by their products, but I swear by my own product. A product of hard work and determination. You don’t have to join the fad or spend your whole paycheck on a pill. All you need is a little determination and a clear focus on your goals. 

In just the last year, I have been able to weed through the rumors that I have heard and luckily have proved some of them wrong. It just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you hear. This applies to more than just a healthy lifestyle, but we will leave it at that. Continue to listen to your body and what it needs. No one knows what you need better than you do and you have to be willing to go out there and take it… no matter what “rumors” you are hearing other people say. You got this. 

-O 

Stay Rooted

I love new experiences. If there is one thing I really love it is visiting a new place for the first time and getting to experience all of the things that make it unique. I do not love GPS. Even on my phone, I just can’t quite grasp how far away 0.2 miles actually is. I’m not bad with directions, so don’t try to turn this into some whole women can’t drive thing. I just maybe need to pay more attention to distances. Anyways, I digress…

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Part of my job involves traveling and it just so happens that I do quite a bit of traveling in the state of Kentucky. Even though I’ve lived in Tennessee my whole life, I haven’t spent much time in Kentucky. I’ve been so excited to start traveling so that I can start exploring in some of my off-time. One of my best friends came to visit over the weekend and we headed into downtown Louisville to check out some of the scenery. Here comes Siri, “Please stay to the left in 0.5 miles.” Well, no shocker here, I thought a half a mile was much shorter of a distance and I took a wrong turn onto the bridge that crossed over the Ohio river. I then proceeded to take another wrong turn because I was frazzled and we ended up in Indiana.

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As we were trying to get back on track and headed to Kentucky, we stumbled upon the Falls of the Ohio State Park. We were looking for something physically active to do and this seemed like a perfect option. The scenery was beautiful and it was so cool because it just so happens to be one of the largest naturally exposed fossil beds in the world.  We stood on a rock dumbfounded for a few minutes just trying to figure out what a fossil bed even was. We were surrounded by natural rock and a huge damn. It was so beautiful and even better that we randomly found it. And I only fell once, so that was really a win.

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As were were headed back to the car, we walked up on some trees that had some of the most intricate roots I have ever seen. The roots probably reached out ten feet around the tree. The ground around them was cracked and dry. I’m amazed that they were even able to grow. But, as you looked up, the trees were healthy and green. You could tell by some of the debris that water would eventually rise up and the roots would be completely submerged. There were also multiple trees around each other all shading each other’s roots with their branches. And as I looked out over them I couldn’t help but realize how reflective they were of a person’s journey.

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Roots are one of the most significant parts of life. Our roots are were we come from. Our roots keep us grounded and balanced. Our roots are home and a place that we can always go back to. But, one thing our roots are not is immediate. Growing roots takes patience. Especially when you are growing them in a new place. A lifestyle change requires patience, just like a growing tree. The first thing that will grow is the roots. The foundation that will build strength and a starting place. After that, the tree will begin to grow. You will begin to see the changes and all of the progress that you are making. But, you have to be patient for the first step of the process. It’s easy to get caught up and be discouraged when you don’t see fast results. But, weight loss is not a process that has immediate gratification. One thing that is true is that roots are always strong. Just like you.

There was quite a bit of debris around the trees that you could tell has been washed up when the water level is higher. Sometimes in life you get completely covered up by all of the things going on around you. Even though the roots get completely submerged in water, they keep thriving and doing whatever they can. All of the trees around me were still producing new leaves and reaching their roots further and further. They aren’t giving up. You can’t give up either. Even when all of the different complications of life start to cover you up, you can’t stop working. Keep pushing towards what you want and making progress in the direction of your goals. Because when the water washes away, you will still be standing strong and rooted in place.

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While the trees were beautiful, the ground was not. The dirt that the trees were growing in was completely dry and cracked. It is shocking to me that anything can live in those conditions. Think about some of the circumstances that we have to live through as people sometimes. Especially during this day and age. Do you ever make it through an experience and think, “How in the world was I strong enough to live through that?” That’s exactly how I felt about the trees. They were powerful and strong enough to overcome all of the circumstances that they were living through. If you looked up you could only see green leaves and tall branches. Don’t let your circumstances steal your light and strength. You have the ability to push-through. Always remember, your circumstance don’t define you, but the way that you choose to react to them says everything about you. Make the decision to keep growing. This is also a shameless plug to drink water. You don’t want your skin to look like the dirt, stay hydrated.

And lastly, as I looked around at all of the trees, I couldn’t help but realize how many there were. All of the trees had the intricate root systems, but none of them were intruding on each other. They were allowing each other to grow at their own pace. Take notes. You don’t have to force your ideas or rush someone else to be on the same journey as yours. There is beauty in your own experience. While it is important to grow on your own, it is much easier to grow while being surrounded by a strong support system. Surround your roots with people who will use their leaves to shade to protect what you are doing. You are strong on your own, but strength often comes in numbers. Find your support system that is going to encourage you to grow.

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Ya’ll know by know that I like to keep it real. But, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by how representative those tree roots were of my own journey. I had to focus on growing my own roots, overcoming circumstances, and surrounding myself with people who wanted my roots to grow. If you are looking to start your own journey, start planting roots. Be rooted in patience and trust the process that you are going through. I promise it will all be worth it in the end.

-O

 

 

 

 

15 Tips for Living Your Healthiest Life

Anyone feel like they’ve got commitment issues? And no, I don’t mean to your significant other(s). Making the decision to commit to a healthier life is a hard one to make. It’s almost like you can feel the Chic Fil A sauce slipping through your fingers. If this is something that you have been struggling with I want to encourage you to make the leap. Just take a leap of faith into the world of unknown and keep moving towards your healthiest life.

Those last two sentences were really convincing, huh? Okay, so maybe the inspirational quotes aren’t what get your gears going. Maybe you just need more practical steps and advice that you can apply to your daily life? It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to change everything about your life, you just have to take the first step. So, here are 15 tips that you can start applying to your daily life. Pick 5 or all 15 that you want to start working on and feel all the differences that your body experiences as you start to get healthier.

  1. Let go of the term diet. The root of the word is actually die. If you wake up every living in a constant diet, you are going to feel suffocated. Let go of the term and just do what you are doing. Some of the best things in life don’t have a title (commitment issues, continued)
  2. Drink Water. I’ve said it once and I will say it a million times. This is one of the easiest changes that you can make… but, it has some of the biggest results. Shoot for 100 ounces a day. After just a few weeks you will see clearer skin, healthier hair, less boating, more energy. Who know all of that could come from water?
  3. Wake up earlier than usual. There is nothing worse to start off your morning than waking up late and having to rush out the door. Give yourself time to wake up, cook breakfast and put on clothes that make you feel good about yourself. Going to bed earlier also helps with waking up early. If you wake up an noon, you’ve wasted half a day and lots of opportunities. No one feels great whenever they first wake up, but give yourself 30 minutes and your body will wake up and you’ll start feeling better.
  4. Stop eating processed foods. Your body wasn’t made to break down all of the crap that is in processed foods. That’s probably why they taste so good. Try to get rid of these foods or keep them at a minimum. I promise you as soon as you start eating less of these items you will be able to feel a huge difference in the way that your body acts. Less sickness. More energy. Less bloating. It’s just all around better for you.
  5. Some people just looooove fruits and veggies. Some people don’t. But, they are the best things that you can use to fuel your body. Eat these as much as you can (with other pure proteins). If you love them, you go to town in a garden. If you don’t, find creative ways to get your servings in. Examples: yogurt bowls with fruits, smoothies with veggies blended in, cauliflower rice or pizza crust, etc.
  6. Its important to keep up with your personal hygiene. I know this seems elementary but it has a direct reflection on your health. Just try to wash your hair like once a week and wear clean clothes. That’s all I ask.
  7. Make physical activity a priority. Stop putting physical activity on the back burner. It has to be a priority in your day just like anything else. With that being said, I understand that other things get in the way. Physical activity doesn’t have to be a trip to the gym. Do a quick set of circuits in your in living room or talk a walk around the block. Just get moving.
  8. Make a playlist. Seems silly and probably not a way to make each day healthier. But, I can promise you that it will make each day happier. This playlist is also a great motivator for #7. Working out and being physical is much better if you’ve got good music. No one wants to hear the sound of their feet smacking the treadmill.
  9. Fix your food ‘tude. Food is fuel. Food is your life. I know I almost didn’t even believe myself when I typed it. Food also doesn’t fix problems. Be sure that you always listen to your attitude towards food and make sure that it’s coming from a good place. Chicken nuggets won’t make a good day bad. Unless you’re going through a break-up… eating icing directly from the container does help that.
  10. Don’t let food be your reward. And my goodness this is difficult. Find other things that make you happy and reward yourself with those. New clothes, mani/pedi, or a trip. Rewarding yourself with food for meeting goals just continues to create the mindset that food is a lifestyle instead of a source of fuel.
  11. Don’t comparing yourself to others and their journey. It’s a slippery slope and one that I get stuck on myself pretty often. Your journey and life is your journey and life. You can support what other people are doing but don’t let your support turn into a comparison
  12. Stop waiting. Stop waiting for the next Monday or after the holiday because you like to eat a lot during that time of year. Get started today. I promise you that your future self with thank you.
  13. Practice gratitude. Every day is a day to be lived full of gratitude. Be thankful.
  14. Don’t be too hard on yourself. There will be days that you knock out all 15 things on this list. And there will be many days were you don’t do a single thing listed on it. Don’t forget why you started and why you keep going. One bad meal or a forgotten workout doesn’t cancel out your progress. Don’t get discouraged.
  15. You’re not doing this for anyone but yourself. Make your health a priority. Make your happiness a priority. Make yourself a priority. That’s what it’s all about.

There’s no time like the present to start living the life you dream of having. So, go out there and get what you want.

-O