One of my 2019 priorities is my health so I thought I would share some of my habits to kickstart the year!
A picture says it all! I decided to go completely plant-based (vegan) in July of this year and it has radically changed my life for the better. Not only have I lost +30lbs just through diet, my skin has never looked better (along with my vitamins!) and by eating whole foods (non-processed food) I just feel wonderful!
Not to mention:
Some awesome documentaries and resources can be found here!
Forks Over Knives – Netflix, about the health consequences of eating animal protein — it’s no coincidence that diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity plus so much more has increased with the amount of animal protein being consumed.
I Love Vegan – holy vegan recipe batman…. they have everything here – literally you will miss NOTHING by going vegan!
Veganuary – An awesome challenge for the month of January to go Vegan!!
For those of you with a fitness/activity tracker like Apple Watch, Fitbit etc this is a game changer! A few years ago I talked to a nutritionist who actually prioritized sleep as the first thing to conquer/change in a daily routine for weight loss. She would see clients lose weight just by increasing their sleep! Of course sleep is directly linked to health and wellness. I am someone who had no idea what my ideal sleep was, or what my sleep patterns meant for my days/goals. Pre-Apple Watch life I would have inconsistent habits with sleep (I still LOVE a good all nighter – but my body hates them).
I started tracking my sleep and within 2 weeks I had confirmed that 7.5 hours was my ideal sleep target to function at my best each day! With 7.5 hours I felt rested, ready to engage, brain ready to work and body operating at an awesome foundational level. Now it’s easy to prioritize sleep so I work/live my best life!
Surprise! Oils are a HUGE part of my health and wellness regime! I use them for everything – both physically and emotionally!
So I have been wanting to write this post for a year. However, I figured I needed some time/evidence/and some personal research before I dished about my weight loss last fall and then keeping it off for over a year. I lost the weight through a controversial method – the HCG Protocol. Some see it as no better than a diet pill, for me it was in no way shape or form ‘the easy option.’ Also surprisingly, through HCG I learned just how important nutrition and fuel is for my body. It went from the sole desire to ‘look a certain way’ to being able to fuel my life and be healthy.
Shall we look at a before?
Now what about an after (april 2014)?
Let us begin.
About a month after I got sober in July 2013, I realized that just stopping my alcohol consumption would not magically make me lose the weight I had, for years, deduced must be there because of booze/booze related consequences. After a month sober, I physically felt better and mentally felt great, but still had every excess pound on me. Now at this point, it had been years since I exercised regularly and I had 26 years of bizarre eating habits going on. A prime example of my ‘bizarre’ eating habits is ‘oh no I can’t eat that whole serving of chicken breast, instead I will only eat half and use those ‘saved’ calories to consume some M&Ms’ – makes total sense….. However, before HCG I had tricked my brain (but not my body) into thinking all calories were equal. Of course I’ve heard the opposite of this said everywhere; at the gym, at WeightWatchers, at CrossFit, at Title Boxing, at Whole Foods, on Dr. Oz, in People Magazine, etc etc… but I never really believed it. Why? Because I wanted to eat the bad shit. Plain and simple. Sure an avocado is amazing for your body/nutrition, but a donut is more fun! Also I am a ‘victim’ of the generation that was told fat and calories are BAD! Something we as a culture are just starting to wake up from….
However, I digress, I wanted to lose the weight. I was single, sober, and by golly I wanted to be thin. (Yes thin, not healthy – we will get there) When thinking about the way to lose this excess 30 pounds I had with me, I immediately thought of the HCG Protocol. I have had several close friends see long term success with HCG so I figured I would try it in Chicago. Oddly enough, there is a medical clinic just two blocks from my house that advertises (in giant neon flashing lights) that they have the HCG Protocol there. I took it as a sign from some ‘diet higher power’ and made an appointment.
Now here is where the risk got high. This HCG protocol was not cheap. In fact, it was a cool $1000. I was weighed, questioned, pinched (for BMI), and had an EKG done for heart health in my consult. The Doc said – it seems like a good fit for you. I agreed (good thing I had that 0% APR Chase Slate card on me!). I’m going to give the canned version of what the next 42 days of my life were like. First off, I was to inject myself daily with HCG (which some of you may recognize as a hormone produced by pregnant ladies) and follow a very strict meal plan of specific foods that were under 500 calories a day. This may sound alarming, because well it is pretty insane. But, I had seen the results of the folks that followed the protocol and so I followed the instructions.
The first two days of injections you get to pig the eff out. NO JOKE. There’s a little bit of a ‘science’ behind what you want to eat (more fats/proteins), but basically anything you want in an quantity until you are so full you may vomit all over yourself. I vividly remember this was the last time I ate Taco Bell. It was amazing.
Day Three – 42. 500 calories MAX a day. Of only certain proteins (chicken breast/certain fish), leafy greens, and two fruit options (apple/grapefruit). So I wasn’t miserable. 1 – because the pounds fall off by 1-2lbs per day. So it was at least results producing. 2 – the HCG chemically tells your brain/body you are satisfied at 500 calories and thus is allowed to burn your fat without knowing you are actually starving yourself. I don’t know the real science behind this – this was my attempt at not putting you asleep but sharing my process. Now this whole 500 calorie business is serious. I recall one day chewing (NOT EATING) 10 sticks of gum and because of the sucralose in the gum I gained 3 pounds. Once I realized that was the only thing different in my diet I made sure not to do that again. That was early in the protocol too so it reinforced that cheating was going to really sabotage this. Plus I JUST SPEND A GRAND ON THIS. (Believe me I hyperventilated about it many times – but stress deters weightloss so I had to calm the eff down and be thankful that card was 0%APR for a year longer)
During these 42 days I also had weekly (every Sunday) doctor visits where I would weigh in, get my weeks worth of shots and a weekly B12 shot.
So, naturally there is fear about the sudden stopping of the shots and then increasing the calories. At the end of the 42 days I had gone from 195lbs to 166lbs. For the next two weeks following the protocol I had to increase my calories to at least 1500, BUT remain on the same selection of foods. Now 1500 calories disappears very quickly in a diet where you can have nuts, pasta, pizza, sugar, soda, but when you can only eat eggs, chicken breast, leafy greens, apples, grapefruit, certain fish… it takes a lot of those things to get you to 1500 calories. For the first time in my life I felt like I was gorging on healthy foods. The doctor said I would probably continue to lose a few pounds which I did – I finally ended the weight loss at 164lbs. This re-introduction of calories is also so important because it sets the ‘base level’ for your metabolic function. So if you follow the 500 calorie days, then biff it in the 2 week post weeks the whole thing was WORTHLESS.
After the two weeks I was able to introduce basically everything except starch and sugars into my diet. Obviously this means bread is out. Sugar is the goddamn devil, but again that’s a conversation for another day.
So what did the protocol teach me? A LOT. It actually retrained my ‘yo-yo dieter’ brain into eating proper and good nutrition. Gone are the days of skipping dinner to eat a pack of M&Ms or have a sugary cocktail. Now I want to eat to fuel my body. In the past year I have learned that I can do anything with my body – ride 1000 miles on my bike, walk around Thailand, craft, walk my pug, discover Chicago, run an 8 minute mile, and learn to box. In September I took a break from my usual 2 hour daily active regime (3000 calories/day intake) and got a little confused. I started letting the empty sugar calories invade my day instead of eating cashews/avocados and other healthy fats. I blame seasonal induced lameness. I got on the scale on 11/3/2014 and weighed 175lbs (at night after eating all weekend long in Des Moines) and was bummed. I knew what I had to do…. Today (11/10/2014) I’m 164lbs as I have cut the added/processed sugar from my diet for just the past 7 days. (What’s that base level weight?! you are a real thing?!)
In conclusion, the HCG for me was the best option and it came at a time when I was most focused and inspired to do this. I followed the Protocol to the ‘t’ and lost the 30+lbs in the 42ish days. I have successfully kept off ALL the weight over 14 months later. To say I am happy with the process and the results is a gross understatement. The HCG protocol retrained my brain to care about my nutrition and my health, not my calories. Today and this past year I have experienced the healthiest relationship with food I have ever known as an adult. It may seem extreme, it may not be your cup of tea, but it allowed me to reach a level health wise that I am so proud of. I know what works for my body and I am happy that finally at 27, I have a healthy relationship with my body and with food/nutrition.
If you have questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I would love to educate anyone interested in this process. I also understand many people do not agree with this protocol, I understand that as I was once very against this (until through my close friends was shown long term healthy results are the outcome) – please don’t demean my journey as I would never demean yours.
1. Go to the Dentist – for many this is a simple chore, for me (someone who has had EXTENSIVE dental work over my short lifetime) it is a living nightmare. No joke. I had a great dentist in Denver who did my “laser gum surgery” (say it like Dr. Evil) and I haven’t found one here that I’m comfortable with. I specifically need to find an office that respects that I am terrified and not just ‘being a baby’ or ‘high maintenance.’ Okay now that I’ve thrown that out there I can wait until the end of the month to resolve it.
2. Cheapskates are the best skates – I’m tired of spending money I don’t need to. I stopped shopping at the regular grocery store at the start of the year, and it’s cut my grocery bill in half. Plus I eat more (+1600 calories a day) and eat out WAY less (once a week out of pocket / 3 chipotle visits with gift cards). I’m going to only buy my clothes from thrift store from here on out, because I’m just sick of spending money on things. I’m not ‘broke’ by any means, but why spend the dough if I don’t have to? I’d rather have a GIANT savings account and some new tattoos than ground beef from whole foods or a new cardy from Target.
3. Lent – Sigh. I’ve been a ‘terrible’ Catholic lately. In the sense I haven’t been to mass since last Easter, but as a person I think I’ve been more ‘faithful’ than ever. I digress, Lent, whether you believe in the tales or not is a good time for restraint and reflection in general. PLUS, it’s easy to commiserate with other ‘lent-giver uppers’ during this time. So my plan is to give up snacking completely after dinner. I’m a huge fan of the rolling dinner from meal to bed and it’s got to stop. It just makes me feel bad and gross. I need to eat more during the morning/afternoon, not at 10pm. ALSO this one is HUGE. I’m restricting frozen yogurt to once a week on the weekends. TEARS. But froyo doesn’t really fit with my whole lifestyle change and cheapskates regime.
4. I’ll save the best for last. This month is about positive energy. I’m really focused with surrounding myself with inspiring people. Everyday, I meet new folks either in real life or the interwebs that make me think that this world and life is so awe inspiring – this month of March I’m going to continue to surround myself with PMA and people with enthusiasm. Believe me I’m so happy with my family and friends and to add to that stellar roster is exciting as hell.
Okay I think that’s a great start. Dentist, cheapskates, Lent promises, and PMA. March, I’ll do right by you!
It’s Wednesday – BUT instead of feeling like ‘uh it’s half way there.’ Let’s mix it up a bit and get excited about our health instead! My dear friend just started a blog with the most adorable name ever. Bite Sized Twinkie. It’s in the foundational/beginning stages so stay tuned for big great fun things from her!
Also I recently became an admin for a wonderful paleo-inspired facebook page called Cooking Clean. There are four of us gals who contribute with mostly paleo recipes, workout tips, and motivation to eat, live, and love clean.
Since I technically am still doing the February Health Challenge, it is super important to remember that clean eating is key in any healthy lifestyle. We tend as a society to get hung up on calories, but really the most important idea should be quality of nutrients not quantity. No better example of this serves than diet soda vs. all organic fruit smoothie. Believe it or not a low-cal (i.e. not processed) fruit smoothie is easier and better for your body to digest than that evil zero calorie diet soda that actually tricks your body and causes huge disasters in blood sugar levels. (diet soda rant*)
Obviously, everyone has their own preferences and eating styles that makes them feel best. For me, staying away from anything processed and limiting starches/complex carbohydrates is how I stay lean as well as prevent lethargy, bloating (cute!), and mood fluctuation. That means that overall, I do in fact eat a Paleo diet. I really enjoy almond milk as a substitute for traditional milk, and I find myself trying alternative flours all the time in baking. Don’t get me wrong I’ll still sample traditional candies and sweets, but it’s not at the levels/rates I used to. My mind and body mean way too much to me to ruin with overly-processed and refined ‘nutrients.’ It took a long time for me to accept that what I eat really does affect me mentally. Not in a ‘control’ way but in a basic chemical reaction – I still find new things that work and don’t everyday.
gee whiz. I have to say I’m pretty pleased with all the goals I’ve set and attained over the last half year, but since this is a health challenge prompt I think I’ll make this goal fitness orientated.
Drum roll please…..
My goal is to practice yoga 3 times a week. I really enjoy yoga and it makes me feel calm and invigorated. Plus I really need the deep stretch and poses – especially after I am all hunched over crafting for so many hours. Not to mention I gifted myself four new pairs of workout pants that are perfect for yoga practice. So it is my goal for the remainder of the month to practice a simple 3 times a week at home.
The time has come – I need to start caring about my body’s well-being. Since the move and especially during my thesis process I have allowed myself to eat, drink, and be merry oh and a couch potato. Eating Subway for breakfast and lunch is kind of embarrassing – the cleaning people at work probably wonder who eats all this processed food in just one day. Well I’m changing that. So many of my friends and favorite blogs show me amazingly healthy alternatives and recipes and I’ve got to ‘give a damn’ again. I am also posting about this so that I am accountable i.e. next time you see me scarfing down a Kuma’s burger please remind me of this post okay?
Now I’m not going to say ‘oh I NEED to lose weight’ because honestly yeah that would be great, but I’m not setting myself up for a ‘failure’ if I succeed in eating well but not losing weight. I’m sure my weight will reflect a healthy diet so I’ll just wait and see what my body thinks. I recently bought ‘the most hated celebrity”s new cookbook – Gwenyth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good” and I really love the recipes in it. It basically spans from a very clean method that could be considered ‘cleanse-like’ to just healthy satisfying options. I’m just trying to get the processed out of my life, because it really doesn’t make me or my wallet feel good.
Also I’m going to start riding my bike to the train and then from the train to the gym after work. I need to get moving and I am not a morning person! It’s also time to dust off the old Yogaglo account and start practicing with Kathryn Budding again. I love her she’s so nice and comforting.
So with that I ate my last ‘ramen’ bowl for lunch and had McDonalds for breakfast (be jealous I got the burritos and it was AWESOME). I’m going to Trader Joe’s tonight and thus the new adventure of clean eating will commence. Oh also for motivation – I’m going to a wedding in July – no one wants to look bad for those photos. It’s on.
For years I have been anything but consistent with my fitness regime – at times I would be seeing a trainer all while still going out every weekend and having a few too many libations, or I would be eating well, but not exercising. Either way, my body was not in sync and I felt unmotivated and unbalanced. It has taken the last year, mostly with the responsibility of school and taking care of my grandmother to fully realize what makes my body and mind feel good consistently. Of course, we are not all granted this time or space to focus on ourselves, but I was happy to finally see the things that wreck havoc on me and the things that make me feel great. Of course, I still am no angel and some weeks are better than others, but I thought I would share what I do to relax, de-stress, and nourish my body and mind.
I know what you’re thinking ‘Oh yeah well if only I had extra money/time to go to a class that’s stuffed full of shakra huffing/tree hugging yuppies then I’d go too.’ Well personally I dislike group yoga practice – a lot. I know sometimes my form might not be the best because I am practicing alone, but I am not doing insane yoga. My bone structure and height make most poses difficult that are ‘moderate’ so I don’t see myself doing handstands in the living room anytime soon. All that being said – I found a yoga website that is great. YogaGlo has been my go-to for a while and it has many different instructors to choose from. Which is GREAT! I personally love Kathryn Budig from the “Aim True” DVD series by Gaiam. For me she is the perfect balance of calm and fun, without all the bizarre ‘yogi’ teacher behaviors I have witnessed when I did drag myself to the yoga studio. The site which is $18 for a month (well worth it even if you do 2-5 ‘classes’) plus there’s a free 15 day trial to see if you really like it or click with the instructors.
Yoga whether more meditational or physical (or both!) really does benefit me beyond words. My heart opens and any anxiety (I’m in graduate school), anger (again I’m in graduate school), doubt (see previous), or frustration (duh!) literally melts. I am by no means a ‘practitioner,’ but I do hope to go to the Hanuman Yoga Festival this spring in Boulder to try to be social and hopefully meet Kathryn and get to practice with her.
Think Thin Products
I love this meal/snack supplement line. The bars taste great and really satisfy a sweet tooth and protein craving. I find they work the best a few hours before being active and give a must needed boost to get through the day. I use the bar as meal supplements, but they also have snack bars for in between meals that I love. Plus they are organic and make it so much easier to stick to a healthy living plan and not stop by the Panera Drive-Thru when my blood sugar drops. I like putting them in the freezer and then chopping them into pieces (be careful doing this), which makes the bar seem like it takes longer than 1 minute to eat.
I have been taking Melatonin ever since a friend when I was working at Aveda mentioned it to me 4 years ago. Normally it serves people who have sleep pattern difficulties – think folks who just went on the night shift/day shift or someone suffering from mild insomnia. However this little supplement does great things for the average person who feels run down and tired despite regular pattern sleeping.
WebMD says it best and I don’t want to paraphrase and mis-lead anyone:
“Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Your body has its own internal clock that controls your natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours. In part, your body clock controls how much melatonin your body makes. Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours.”
So since the sun/light has something to do with this process and since I try to avoid the sun because of my fair skin, I think this supplement gives me that extra help in fulfilling my optimal melatonin level. A safe dose for adults is 2.0mg to 20mg (depending on use) – I take one 3mg pill a few times a week before bed and find that it makes sleep more restful. Of course with any supplement ask your doctor and make sure there are no drug interactions (although melatonin is already in your body so I don’t foresee that being an issue). Further it can be safely taken for ‘short-term’/’long-term’ periods. Plus it is not an expensive supplement averaging around $5 for a 90 ct bottle.
Of course if I’m balanced with all three of these things I feel great, but no one – especially me is perfect with routine so like I said some weeks are much better than others. These are just a few of the things that get me through a hectic day or week. Maybe there are things that work for you that you would like to share?