“before” at a wedding & “after” at the Palace of Versailles
I recently traveled to France for two weeks. During my stay I had two major observations that seemed highly contradicting. The first was that everyone smokes cigarettes and it’s not uncommon for people to share a beer in the park in the middle of the afternoon. The second was that even so, Parisians still seemed so much healthier and in shape than what I am used to here in America.
I almost never saw an overweight person while in France. I don’t think I saw a single obese person who wasn’t an obvious tourist, the whole time I was there, either. It got me wondering who is actually healthier? How does life expectancy compare from France to the United States? Do Americans live longer because we are slowly cutting down on tobacco and we shame people who have a drink before 5’oclock? Or do the French live longer even though they drink like fish and smoke like chimneys, because they’re not facing the risks associated with obesity?
enjoying a beer with a new friend! This is in the park, around 3pm. When in Rome! I mean, Paris! lol
According to the World Health Organization, France has the 9th longest life expectancy. Hop down to number 31 on the list, and you’ve got the United States. How is it that a country who takes so much pride in their medical and technological advances has a shorter life expectancy?
My theory is lifestyle. It seems to me that a persons overall lifestyle can be healthy enough to almost counteract other bad habits, like smoking and drinking. I am by no means encouraging smoking or alcohol consumption, but rather, inviting you to just think about this. Consider if we adapted these lifestyle changes and didn’t drown in a bottle every night and suffocate ourselves with poisoned air. How healthy could we be then??? if a person can smoke cigarettes and drink booze and still live longer because their general lifestyle is so healthy, how healthy could we be by adapting to the positives only? It’s something worth considering!
Oh my STAIRS
The main transportation around Paris is by train or metro. Nearly every station involves a flight or two, but most stations involve much more than that. On the second day of my trip, my friend fell and sprained her knee, making us grossly aware of how many flights we were climbing each day. One station required us to climb 12 flights of stairs. The staircase was spiral, so the end was not in sight. I actually lied to my friend about being able to see the exit, to motivate her up the stairs, when in reality we weren’t even half way there. Most stations had more like 2-5 flights of stairs to take, but even they didn’t make it easy.
This was probably the 3rd or 4th staircase I got to tackle, with a 22kg suitcase and 13kg backpack!
Sometimes there were escalators, but often times they were out of service. I don’t know that I came across a single working escalator the first day I arrived, with 75lbs of luggage to transport. Due to my friend’s injury, we actually did keep an eye out for elevators, and only found them maybe 15% of the time. There’s a district in greater Paris called Montmartre, where we visited the Sacre Coeur. The church is on the top of a hill, with everything else built on the hill around it. In order to get from place to place, a person has no choice but to put in some work on stairs. I LOVE LEG DAY and still, my booty and thighs were sore the next day. (ok, so maybe i ran up and down a few extra flights for fun lol) Who needs a StairMaster with a city like that?
View courtesy of a million staircases in Montmartre! lol Imagine climbing that hill, but the entire climb is stairs!
Bicycles Are Legit Transportation
Most people aren’t traveling by car in France, and it was no different the few days I spent in the Netherlands. So many people ride bikes there, that they have entire parking lots dedicated to bicycles. I have never seen so many bicycles in my life as I saw in a 5 minute stroll through town, ironic having seen the Tour De France just a few days earlier.
A parking lot in Arnhem, Netherlands.
In addition to the parking lots, there are bike lanes on most of the streets. There are lanes for cars, a sidewalk for pedestrians and a lane (with a dotted line and everything!) for bicycles. I saw so few cars on the road there. The only time I even got in a car was for a grocery shopping trip where we were getting a case of beer, among other heavy things. People run their errands by foot or bike. We took the bus once and it was almost empty lol
Pedestrians can walk in the middle or far left or right. The right lanes are for cars, the left lanes are for bikes. It was a rainy day in Arnhem, so not many people were out.
My friends pointed out to me that a 12oz bottle of Coke cost about 3€ , close to $4. Meanwhile, I got a basket of about 15 fresh, juicy figs for 2€ at a train station! Which leads me to my next observation:
Fresh, Healthy Food Is Everywhere
This was one of the best parts of Paris. The mainstream grocery stores had plenty of good food, but there were also fresh veggies available in tons of little shops in the middle of the city and where I got my figs, in the train station.
Train station produce!
They also had fresh salads (tabbouleh and shredded carrot were the most common) among other healthy options at nearly every convenience or grocery store. I was surprised and excited to find a ton of vegan foods (faux meats, nut milks, etc) at the grocery stores too. I didn’t go to a single “grab and go” shop that had fried chicken or pizza or corn dogs. Of course there was junk available, but where our stores feel like 80% junk and 20% good food, theirs felt like maybe 70% good food and 30% junk. I saw a couple fast and fried food restaurants, but nothing compared to the saturation we’re used to in the United States. In my experience, it is more convenient to eat healthy food than junk food in Europe.
One of my favorite ‘grab and go’ places called Nostrum. Fresh salads and dishes in microwave safe containers. They provide utensils, plates, and microwaves. You warm it up yourself. Cheaper than McDonald’s and MUCH healthier.
Another option you could get anyhwhere, for as little as 85 cents, is a baguette. I ate one of those, or a croissant, every single day and never looked like I was delivering a gluten baby or had any kind of diarrhea, as I experience when I eat gluten regularly here in the states. If you read my blog post or saw the YouTube video about GMO wheat and gluten sensitivity, I am pretty sure this is because the wheat in France isn’t GMO. They allow the import of gmo products but not the cultivation, so this means if I buy french bread, made in France with french wheat, it isn’t genetically modified; in other words, its more easily recognized by the body and digested. At first I thought maybe it had something to do with the production of bread in small bakeries; maybe they allow the dough to ferment. But eventually I was eating corner store croissants and baguettes, you know, the cheap kind, and that didn’t make me sick or bloated either. I ate many a baguette with hummus as a meal, and had no discomfort!
The bread indulgence was REAL.
Clean Water, For Free
One of my favorite perks in Paris was that the tap water tastes amazing. Now, I didn’t actually test the chemical or bacterial count in this water myself, but I am a water snob, so if I liked it, it’s probably good. It tasted clean and was recommended to drink by locals who were very health conscious, so i decided to trust. water from every kitchen or bathroom sink I tasted, taste like it came right out of my Berkey filter. Once you leave the house or hotel, there are spickets available to fill water bottles, for free, at many of the parks. I wouldn’t have noticed this one my own if a local hadn’t shown me, and I am so glad he did! When we went to refill our bottles, I thought we were going to some kind of obvious drinking fountain, but it was a little different. They look just like the type of faucet you’re supposed to attach a hose to. I’d never have thought to fill up at one of those, but I did every time I passed one, after I learned this life hack!
An example of a place to fill your water! And random people just hanging out in the park at sunset.
People Hang Out Outside
My favorite part of Europe was being able to go for a walk in a park or just take a seat somewhere outside, knowing i would have interaction with other people. Sadly, in my experience in the USA, this is mostly common in the hood. You see lots of people outside in the hood. But once you’re out of the hood, people don’t really hang out, outside, without intention. Yes, we go outside to go to the beach or we go outside to have a garage sale, but do we go outside just to go outside? I know I don’t often. Do we go to the park just to enjoy a picnic or fresh air or a bottle of wine or a sunset? Not often enough. I loved that part of Europe. The constant immersion in people and vitamin D. Now, obviously just sitting outside isn’t really going to make a person healthier, but the vitamin D and the fresh air will. I have no way to measure the result of this lifestyle difference on their life expectancy, but it truly stood out to me that people spend more time outside and i would hypothesize that it’s not only good for the body, but for the soul.
Fresh Squeezed OJ
As a Floridian, I am ashamed to announce that fresh squeezed orange juice is easier to get in France than Florida. Here we have machines to fresh squeeze for us at Whole Foods and other specialty stores. In France they have them EVERYWHERE. Whether it was the only grocery store we had access to in the French country-side or the grocer in the middle of Paris, there was always fresh squeezed OJ for sale. And remember how 12oz of soda was costs nearly $4? It’s the same price for a LITER of 100% natural juice, squeezed in front of your face. This is how it should be.
SO fresh and delicious and cheap!
The average person’s lifestyle in France and Netherlands is just so much more active and healthy than anywhere I’ve ever lived in the United States. People don’t have to carve out an hour to go to the gym; they’re getting cardio just getting to and from work every day. They don’t have to burn so many extra calories because they’re not eating so much crap food. They’re an example of some of the habits we should embrace when making a lifestyle change.
I spent 26 days on vacation and only gained 1.6lbs. I didn’t meal plan, I didn’t meal prep, and I didn’t visit a gym even once. The second half of my vacation was spent in my home state, Massachusetts, and I will absolutely own up to binge eating nachos and drinking more in a week than I probably ever have in a 3 month period. I didn’t walk anywhere and my lifestyle was much more reflective of the average person on vacation. I am willing to bet I actually LOST weight (even while eating croissants) in Europe, and just gained it back plus 1.6 during my time in Massachusetts. I am planning to visit for about 2 months next summer and I cannot wait to see the difference the lifestyle makes in my body and mind when implemented for an extended period.
Don’t worry, I’ll share! 🙂
In the meantime I am getting back on track here in the states and holding myself accountable with a DietBet. Check it out or join us here– game starts September 4th!
Two months and 26 days until the next “best weekend ever!”
I didn’t realize that I hadn’t even blogged about Live Love Healthy Retreat yet. Kinda weird since when I am super enthusiastic about something, the first place I usually run is to the blog! But the event is a LOT of work, starting with planning for months prior and cleaning and unpacking and reorganizing for weeks after…. I guess I can easily see how writing a blog post about it could get overlooked!
Live Love Healthy Retreat is a women’s only, all inclusive, 3 night, fitness and wellness retreat for women who are working toward building a happier and healthy life. It was created for and inspired by YOU. Over 5 years ago I started my personal lifestyle change and transformation, losing over 100lbs and coming off depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder medications for the first time in 12 years. I took control of my diet, my body, my mind, and my life and started documenting it all and the love and support I received from the great people of the internet was life changing. So often my followers (and new friends!) would comment about how badly they wished they could just spend a couple days with me living in my shoes, or how they wished they could exercise on the beautiful beaches of Miami, or how they wished they just had the push to get started living a life by design.
While training for my first marathon, I started really thinking about how I could accommodate these desires. How could I actually help the people who’ve helped me? How could I share a piece of the amazing life I get to live, with them? How could i better inspire them to come on board than with a real life experience- not just with quotes, pictures, and blog posts on the internet.
I would run up and down Hollywood beach, dreaming of a way to be able to buy a boutique hotel to host fitness getaways at. My desire was so strong, but my finances were not. I don’t have millions of dollars to buy a beach front hotel (yet.) But fortunately for all of us, running is a moving meditation for me and I get some of my BEST ideas while in motion when I allow myself to just be in my own head. And that’s how the idea hit me. I could rent.
I knew I wanted the event to be in a price point that was do-able to the average person, so when I started inquiring about renting out entire boutique hotels, my hopes were sort of crushed in believing the average woman would not be able to afford my retreat. I wanted the event to be accessible, so that wasn’t going to work.
Then I learned about these adorable log cabins that are available at one of my favorite state parks in Miami. They were reasonably priced, super private, and only a short walk away from mangrove trails and a beautiful white sand, salty beach. It was the perfect location.
In August of 2016, I hosted the first ever Live Love Healthy Retreat. I had arranged to accommodate 9 women, but the event sold out so fast, I had to reserve the last available cabin to accommodate 3 more!
I will never forget that first retreat. I was so scared and nervous and so so so very overwhelmed. It was very hot and I worried about people passing out from dehydration or not enough to eat or over exertion. I didn’t have an official assistant so I had to go back and fourth to my apartment and the store for supplies and no part of it was relaxing for me at all lol (for the record, no one passed out or puked lol)
But still, great memories were made. The group was so diverse, we had 23 year olds all the way up to 56 year olds. We had plus size women just getting started, women who’d already lost nearly 100lbs, and even a former figure competitor. The blend couldn’t have been better. And since the retreat is designed for all sizes and levels, no one was “left behind.”
It was a very humid weekend, but I was so impressed by the attitude of these ladies. Most of them were first time kayakers and handled it like pros! No one quit at bootcamp and after our yoga class, I felt like we had become a cohesive group. By the time the last morning came, I was truly sad to see these ladies go and wished I could’ve spent more time with them. One of the ladies admitted she’d had a diet coke in her cabin all along, but never drank it. We giggled at her confession and celebrated her strength as she poured the soda out into the grass. After 4 days of healthy food, fitness, adventure, and self care, it was time to go home and apply the new found motivation to our daily lives.
The second retreat happened in March of 2017. This time we had a smaller group, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. A smaller group is more intimate and I felt like we bonded as a group from day 1. It also helped that it was no longer my first rodeo and I was prepared with ice breaker activities for the first night. I was also prepared with an assistant who did all my running around and picture taking for me, so I could fully enjoy the experience and get to know the amazing women who’d joined me.
During the March 2017 retreat we had some rainy weather, typical of Miami, but it didn’t rain on our parade. A plus side to running a retreat where everyone is trying to become the best version of themselves is that everyone is trying to go with the flow and just enjoy the experience, so as a group it’s much less likely to have a bad attitude. This group was so enthusiastic; we went kayaking in what felt like a freaking hurricane! (this was a unanimous vote- wouldn’t have forced them.) What could’ve been the worst kayaking trip ever was filled with lots of laughter and lots of calories burned. We all made it out alive and everyone is a little better at kayaking after kicking ass in those kind of conditions!
Now that I have hosted the retreat twice, in two different seasons, I feel I am really well prepared for number three, which is happening September 28- October 1, 2017. I know how to accommodate a large group, I know how to accommodate a small group. I know how to handle the sticky humid heat and I know how to handle the rainy spring time. So many things I didn’t even think about, I am super prepared for at this point. Each retreat gives me new ideas for the next retreat, and the things that are brewing in my head for the upcoming dates are freaking AWESOME.
I know this event is only going to get better and better with time, and I believe it shows because we were even able to get businesses to sponsor the last retreat and the upcoming one. We are working on developing relationships with our sponsors that encourage long term sponsorship. This means more awesomeness for our guests, but no additional price tag for that awesomeness! I’m proud to say this retreat costs guests only $500, which is almost 40% more affordable than comparable getaways. Plus, we offer payment plans for those who need them.
I know it’s almost 3 months away, but I am already working on the meal plan for the next trip lol I love love love love planning healthy, fresh, plant based, meals and I love the challenge even more when most the people eating the food do not normally eat a vegan diet. I am also working on finding additional sponsors and maybe even guest speakers that align with our mission. Later this month I’ll be attending a personal development workshop, to learn new ways to help my guests grow and learn about themselves to make the most out of our time together.
As always, our upcoming retreats will focus on fitness, adventure, clean plant based eating, self care, sisterhood, relaxation and transformation. Having the opportunity to create this space and watch the event develop into what I know it is meant to be, has been incredible and is something I truly cannot be more grateful to be able to share with all of you!
A few weeks ago I completed my fourth Spartan Race and had the freaking time of my life, so of course, I want to tell you guys all about it!
I didn’t even realize the race was coming back to Miami until about 6 weeks before, but I knew immediately I had to sign up. I got my first taste of Spartan racing back in 2013 at the Biggest Loser Off Road Challenge, which was an opportunity to run just a 3 mile segment of a Spartan Race. You can read about it in my original blog, here. After that I ran a handful of “knock off” Spartans until I was ready to run my first full Spartan, the next year.
This year’s course map!
Because I found out so last minute and prices had already gone up to the max, I decided I was going to run this race for free vs come out of pocket. Yes, you read that right. You can run ANY Spartan Race for free if you sign up (and show up) to a volunteer shift. Of my 4 Spartans, I have raced 3 of them entirely free thanks to the volunteering opportunity. You can sign up for a shift the week before to help build and set up the festival area, or you can volunteer during race weekend. You then get to use your credit at that race or save it for a future race. I love volunteering because 1)obstacle racing gets expensive 2)you feel so much more appreciation for the race when you see the work that goes into setting it up 3)I always burn hella calories and get a nice tan during my volunteer shift 4) 9 times out of 10, the build crew is freaking awesome 5)you meet other local and awesome Spartans.
All of these experiences rang true for my volunteer shift this time around- but especially the meeting other awesome and local Spartans. One of my jobs during volunteering was to set up all the tents in the festival area and I was to do this with a Spartan employee named Henry and another volunteer named Chrissy and man did I luck out. Henry and Chrissy were both super funny and had great attitudes. Not only that, but Chrissy was planning to run the race with a team on Sunday and invited me to join them!
My awesome volunteer tshirt!
I was super stoked because although I have done a handful of races as part of a team, most of the time I am on my own. It’s kinda sad-ish not to have anyone cheering for you when you finish any race, but when you’re obstacle racing these things sometimes required a push or a hand and if you’re alone, you’re either going to do a ton of burpees (you’re supposed to do 30 for every challenge you dont complete on the first try) or you’re going to have to ask strangers for help. I have done both and honestly, there is always a stranger willing to throw you over a wall or push your ass up, but it’s just nice to know you’re in this with someone who isn’t going to leave you. But even teams often split up according to the pace different members are keeping, and it is still possible to end up on your own.
I wasn’t sure if Chrissy and I would actually stay together the whole race, but i was really excited to have a team to start with and meet at the finish line. And to my surprise- Chrissy was like my racing partner sent from heaven LOL The best part about running with Chrissy was that we kept a similar pace. Sometimes she pushed me to run further, sometimes I made the suggestion, but we were definitely on the same page. When it came to obstacles we were also a good team- we are both strong and could do the majority of them- but there were a few we were able to help each other out with, big time!
Chrissy and I at the Bucket Brigade!
There is this zigzag wall you have to use all your grip strength to hold on (like a rock wall with no place for your finger tips) and instead of climbing up, you are stepping sideways for about 20′. My body was not ready for this obstacle and neither was Chrissy’s. But because we have similar strength and weight we were able to support each other all the way across and skip the burpees! Seriously, she held on for dear life and planted her feet on the wall, i got in a slight squat behind her and put my chest right under her butt, and side stepped with her so she couldnt fall. After she completed, she did the same for me! Talk about team work!
The view from the top of the A Frame!
I trained for this race the whole 6 weeks, but if you’re prepping for you first Spartan, I would suggest doing their daily workouts for at least double the time first. In the past when I have run and didn’t actually train first, it was very hard and honestly, not as fun. But even with just the 6 weeks this time around, it definitely helped. I only had to skip the monkey bars, rope climb, and spear throw! I’d never gotten over the 7 foot wall or or done the rock wall thingy or hurdles without the help of my partner, but I was still proud that I was able to conquer all of the other obstacles on my own. Many of those obstacles are the same ones I have had to get help with in the past and now I can do them not quite effortlessly, but definitely without much struggle!
6 foot wall!
We finished the Spartan Sprint (just over 3 miles and 19 obstacles) in an hour and a half and stayed to enjoy the festival area for a bit, afterward. Chrissy mentioned she was planning to go for the Trifecta this year, and since that’s something I have on my own bucket list, I’ve decided to join her! (Trifecta is when you run one of each length Spartan Race in the same calendar year. Sprint 3-5 miles, Super 6-8 miles, Beast 11-13 miles)
Chrissy did her Super in central Florida this past weekend (get it girl!!) and I convinced my sister and some friends to do the Super in western Massachusetts this August. A Beast is coming to the Tampa area in December, and that is when Chrissy and I will finish our Beast together and become official Spartan Trifecta Racers!!! This has been on my bucketlist pretty much since 2013/14 but I had no intentions of getting it done this year, but the timing just feels so right!! AROOOOOOO!!!!
The U.S. women’s national soccer team won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2012 and were crowned world champions in 2015, yet this year they have won one of their hardest battles: equal pay. Think Progress reported that their persistence paid off and this April they were given a new deal that improves their pay. To honor the hard work done by the soccer team off the pitch, we look at how they became successful on the pitch.
To get into World Cup winning shape the team had to work hard both on their training and diet. In an interview with InStyle Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Christen Press were asked how they dealt with the pressure of staying fit. Press told the site that she dealt with pressure by practicing mindfulness. This is a great way to keep yourself motivated through meditation. Often the pressures of life build up and we find ourselves running out of time and don’t take a step back and take stock. Mindfulness allows a person to focus on their goals.
Diet is vital to getting into shape. What you eat is as important as what you don’t eat. U.S. captain Becky Sauerbrunn informed Women’s Health that she always has mix of foods ready: “I always make sure I have three things: liquids, complex carbohydrates, and lean proteins.” However, she doesn’t let her strict diet get in the way of the more tasty foods and admitted that she loves limeade. Sauerbrunn led the U.S. to their World Cup victory in 2015. In the semi-finals she masterminded a victory against Germany, who according to soccer expert Michael Lintorn who has been writing for soccer analysis site Betfair for several years, were the favorites to win the tournament. Sauerbrunn’s mixed diet has helped her achieve success not only at the World Cup but also throughout her career.
According to U.S. striker Amy Rodriguez “time management, discipline and attitude” are the three important components of her preparation. In a feature article published by Success she stated that talent can only get you so far and that to be the best involves taking that extra step. She cites the example of when she gave birth to her son Ryan in 2013 and then had to fight to regain her place in the national team. After many disappointments she fought her way back into the team and became an important member of the 2015 World Cup wining squad.
What Rodriguez shows is that with hard work and determination you can still succeed. We all have career and fitness setbacks in life but we can overcome these by setting a goal for ourselves and following it through.
Hopefully the U.S. soccer team has inspired you to achieve your fitness goals. No matter where you are or what you want to achieve it can all be done through hard work and discipline. You may not be a world champion but you will definitely be a champion in your own right.
I just finished my 4th personal training session and I feel like I can’t decide if I feel so good i want to run a mile, or so exhausted i need a nap lol
I had no intentions of getting a personal trainer. I was in a fitness funk for the past year, struggling to be consistent and not let my emotions make decisions and excuses for me. But getting a trainer hadn’t even crossed my mind. I don’t normally work with a trainer. I visited one weekly for about 3-5 months, almost 5 years ago, right around the time I hit the 80lbs lost mark. She taught me so much about proper form and introduced me to foam rolling. She also was one of the most encouraging forces behind my transition to veganism. I had a great experience with her, but after a while I started working out on my own again and with the exception of my ex, who happened to be a trainer, I haven’t worked with one since.
and then a couple weeks ago YouFit gave me an opportunity to work with one of their trainers for a couple weeks. I’ve been a member there for years and I have a great relationship with them and this offer couldn’t have come at a better time.
Last Monday I started working out with my new trainer, Jaimes. This was the day I weighed in at 201lbs and got the reality check I didn’t even know I needed. I’ve never had to weigh in in front of someone before, besides when I did Weight Watchers in high school and of course at doctors appointments. I have used the internet to hold myself accountable for the bulk of my transformation, but I honestly have picked and chose when I shared my weight this past year or two. Still, I didn’t expect to feel momentarily mortified by my weigh in. I was surprised personally, I knew I’d gained weight but not that much. But also, this person doesn’t know me and I don’t feel like that weight was an accurate representation of what I really made of. More so, it’s the representation of my current struggle. I don’t want my body to represent my struggles, but rather, my strengths. Talk about motivation!
After I weighed in, we got to work and I was super impressed with the way Jaimes trains. It’s not that I didn’t think YouFit had great trainers, it’s just that I go to the gym around the same time in the late morning/early afternoon everyday. My gym is pretty diverse but in this time frame, there are a lot of senior citizens. I see the trainers working with them and although I know the client is getting a good workout, I also know that workout wouldn’t even make me break a sweat (and it doesn’t take much to make me sweat lol) What I now realize is these trainers are really good at tailoring the workouts to fit the client’s specific needs. We’ve had 4 sessions and every single time I feel like it’s my first day working out and i might die (in a good way.) We haven’t done anything twice yet and the time goes by sooooooooo fast. I am learning creative exercises (today we worked out in the parking lot!) that I catch myself trying again on our off days, because they’re different and fun and I want to get great at them.
I didn’t really feel like I needed a trainer because 5.5 years in, I know how to exercise. What I am realizing though, is even if you know how to exercise, it’s really hard to push yourself the way someone else will. I am not a quitter, I absolutely feel like I push hard. But when I am working out alone and the set starts to burn after 8 reps its real easy to say “ok, I’ll do 10.” That’s not how it works with a trainer. Jaimes doesn’t care if I feel the burn after 8 reps. He’ll let me catch my breath for a second, but if he said 12, I’m gonna do 12! And on the rare occasion where I kill the 12 and he can tell I could keep going- he keeps counting lmao It feels weird to say, because I really didn’t feel like I slack on my own, but I definitely push harder with a trainer. It also helps to have someone watching me because I can’t always work out in front of a mirror. My trainer corrects my form when it’s not right, and if it’s something where he has to physically assist, he is a professional unlike the trainers I call out in this video.
It’s been 12 days since my first workout with Jaimes and today I weighed in 6.6lbs lighter than day 1! Monday will make 2 full weeks, so I will probably weigh in again then and share it on instagram. (I like to weigh in on Mondays because it helps me to not make bad decisions over the weekend.)
This experience has been super eye opening to me. A few weeks before I was offered the sessions I was actually asked if I am a personal trainer or just certified in group exercise. I explained that I only have a group certification and I don’t really have the desire to be a “trainer” in a gym. But my mind is kinda working a little differently now. I offer virtual one on one sessions for meal planning, goal setting, and lifestyle change transitioning, but it might be kinda cool to be able to offer one on ones in the gym, too. One of the old managers of my gym used to always jokingly ask when I was going to start training for them and I never took it seriously. Now I kind of am! Will I be an official personal trainer some day, after all? Only time will tell, but the seed has definitely been planted!
Today was the day I have spent the last month counting down to- the Color Run!!! It was my second time running this 5k and I was not disappointed!
The race started at Huizenga Park in Fort Lauderdale and went around the Los Olas neighborhood, finishing with the beautiful paved path along the river. I got there a little later than expected so I had missed the warm up YouFit’s group exercise instructors taught, but I headed over to their tent for a warm up of my own, anyhow!
They had several bikes set up that you could spin on and your efforts would help store energy in the generator! You know I am all about the fact that they’re a green gym so this obviously. Add me happy! After my muscle loosened up, I gave the prize wheel a spin and won a pair of lime green YouFit sunglasses- perfect to keep the colored powder out of my eyes!
The first wave of participants started at 7:30, followed by a new wave every 10 minutes. While in the corral they had an MC encouraging us to jump and “do the wave” while he tossed prizes into the group. I knew this race was a “fun run” opposed to something you sign up for to compete or break records, but I forgot that this isn’t even a timed race. There is no time chip on your race bib and there is no clock ticking by the finish line. You can time yourself with an app or fitness tracking device but that’s just not what this race is about. Once just after mile 2, a cop actually had the racers stop for a moment to let some cars by. People would’ve lost their minds about losing that 20 seconds at most 5ks. Not this one! It truly is good vibes only.
During the just over 3 mile run, there were color stations where volunteers spray you with colored chalk as you run by. There were purple, pink, green and yellow color stations and just before the finish line, a huge pit of blue colored foam. I accidentally got some in my mouth and to my surprise it tasted like blue raspberry- with a little hint of soap!
After crossing the finish I was handed my awesome unicorn medal as well as a packet of colorful powder to toss in the air in the festival area. All of their sponsors had tents set up with tons of samples of snacks and drinks, plus YouFit was even offering a free week pass (you can download a free day pass on their website, anytime.) I stayed to enjoy the festival for a while and headed home for clean up.
I definitely have to note that I believe they changed the formula of the powder since the last time I did a color run. This powder came off my body much easier than I remember and I am hoping it does the same with my clothes. The Color Run does offer these helpful tips for getting cleaned up, if you find yourself struggling though.
It’s only 10am and I’ve already completed a 5k, did a little spinning & attended a unicorn dance party! Talk about a great way to start the day and weekend!
Ps: I was able to switch my Spartan Race to tomorrow so I can run with a team vs by myself! Check back for another update about the Miami Spartan Race, later this week! #aroo
On December 29, 2011 I decided to take control of my life and committed to a lifestyle change. I had a starting weight of 284lbs, but pictures suggest I was a bit heavier the year before, I just never weighed myself. Within the first year, I had lost 100lbs and continued with my losses, hitting my “half my original weight “goal after losing another 42lbs the next year.
My Day 1 “before” Picture
At 142lbs, my 5’6 and muscular framed body looked very skinny. This is the part of my journey where I got hit with “You are sooooo tiny” and even more “you’re done losing weight, right?” on a regular basis. I remember my mom commenting on how skinny my forearm was once. I remember wearing size 8 jeans and the crotch of the jeans sagging and the thighs being loose. I was so excited to reach my goal, but I had no real reason for setting that goal other than it was exactly half of where I started. I also felt like the more weight i lost, the less fat there would be in my loose skin, and the less it would hang. For my body, this didn’t turn out to be true.
I was very uncomfortable at this size… look how skinny my thighs are!
Almost immediately after hitting my goal, I started putting weight back on. I would say it was self sabotage, really. I was so uncomfortable being skinny, often times in a literal sense. I couldn’t sit or lie on surfaces that weren’t cushioned, because my bones dug into them. I was mad about the lack of magic elasticity showing up to make my skin “snap back” at a 50% loss, and the weight crept back on slowly but surely.
After about a year I found myself fluctuating between 165-173lbs and I was a lot more comfortable there. I finally had skin removal surgery on my thighs and stomach in October 2014 and after I healed, began lifting weights and focusing on toning and shaping my body.
My skinniest pre-op weight compared to a couple weeks post op Skin Removal.
During 2015, I kept up the same trends, working to shape my body and become stronger. I finally started to see real progress in shaping my previously nonexistent butt, my thighs took on a beautiful shape, and I finally was able to do some real push ups without my knees down. But by the end of the year I was no longer really fluctuating between the 160s and 170s, though. I was always within a pound or two of 175lbs and okay with it.
Then came 2016 and although I didn’t recognize it for quite a while, I really started to struggle. 2016 and now, 2017, have been the hardest years of my journey which is surprising since you’d think year one would be more of a struggle than year 5 and 6. Weight loss is by no means easy, and i don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but weight loss maintenance is even harder. That’s why people can lose the same 20lbs 20x. It’s hard, but not that hard to lose 20lbs. What is hard, is keeping it off.
I have tried to not focus on the number on the scale too much this year, but i was humbled last week with the reality check i really needed. I went for a personal training session and the first thing they did was put my on the scale. I weighed in at 201lbs on the scale at YouFit. I knew my jeans were no longer comfortable and they give me a muffin top when I sit down. I knew I no longer felt as confident in a bikini and my butt has a little more cellulite on it these days. I knew my size 12 jeans are no longer loose, and when I do wear jeans, I grab those or jeggings before my old favorite size 8’s. But i had NO idea I had put on that much weight. I never in a million years anticipated I would ever see a 200 anything on a scale again unless maybe I was pregnant. I was shocked and having never even spoke to this trainer before, didn’t even feel like I could express to him how fucked up that had me. When i got home from the gym i hopped on my own scale and realized although I was NOT 200lbs, YouFit’s scale was definitely not broken. My own scale, that I trust and love, showed I was 199lbs.
My current 199lb physique!
So you’re probably thinking, how did this happen?? I really had to make sense of this too, so some brain storming was a must. I feel like I have narrowed it down and would like to share not only for my own growth, but so you can watch out for these patterns and behaviors in your own journey. Maybe it will be easier for you to recognize whether you’re actually being body positive or in whether you’re in denial that you’re not doing what you should be in order to truly live a healthy life.
Too Many Treats
I very much understand what moderation is. It means we allow ourselves to eat unhealthy or junk foods and drinks here and there. For the most successful parts of my journey, I allowed myself to have one treat day a week. I would have a treat meal and dessert or drinks. What moderation is not, is allowing yourself to have just a little bit of junk, every time the opportunity presents itself. So often when we turn down junk people remind us to “use moderation” and that “one bite won’t hurt” and I started to tell myself that as well. I didn’t like only being able to treat one day a week. I wanted to be a “normal person” and not have to turn down all the goodies the world offered me. So i started telling myself it was basically okay to indulge when given an opportunity as long as i didn’t binge. I credit myself because having one donut is a much healthier choice than binging on a dozen donuts, but I was having “one donut” too often. Which brings me to the next issue…
I Stopped Tracking My Meals
I still made at the very least, a loose meal plan every week, however, I was no longer tracking as i ate. As previously stated, i wanted to a “normal person” and not break out a tracker every time i put food in my mouth, but i know better. While I was losing weight, every time i stopped tracking I would stop losing. I thought i could go without tracking if i just wanted to maintain, but the scale has determined that was a lie. As i mention in my ebook, when I don’t track I am really good at over or under eating- very rarely do i have a perfectly on track day by coincidence. So not only do i not know when i am over eating or under eating, but since I am not actually tracking, its easy to not realize I’m having too many treats. When i dont track its easy to say “its just one cookie” but if i am tracking my food its much easier to realize “i’ve had ‘just one,” every day this week.”
I Have Leaky Gut Syndrome
After years of misdiagnosis and symptoms I couldn’t understand, I finally determined last year that I have a leaky gut. This means my gut has a high permeability and therefore enzymes and proteins from my food that are not supposed to leak into my bloodstream, do. This causes food sensitivities which lead to digestion problems and major bloating and inflammation. Before I figured it out, the bloating really got to me. I would eat healthy all day long and at the end of the day, look 3-5 months pregnant. I’d wake up the next morning looking normal and start all over again. So many days, by the end of the day, I’d be giving into my cravings and not even care. My logic was if i am going to look pregnant eating super clean anyways, I might as well eat the junk. After almost a year of discomfort and no diagnosis, i ordered an ALCAT test and discovered I had over 40 food sensitivities to almost all the healthy foods i eat regularly. The bloating and acne (leaky gut messes with your hormones,too) now made sense. I was actually relieved to figure this out because it meant I could do something about it. But then…
I Binged… A Lot.
Doing something about my leaky gut meant following a very strict diet to heal the lining. I couldn’t eat any of the foods I was sensitive to, no matter how healthy they may be, for at least 90 days. I also couldn’t take medicine or eat gluten or sugar or alcohol. I added LGlutamine, pre and probiotics and fermented foods to my diet and committed to it for 107 days. In those 107 days I didn’t get very bloated. I could tell my body was burning fat and after the initial withdrawal, I felt better than ever. But when i finally decided to have a treat after running my halloween half marathon, it was like i opened the floods gates to hell. I couldn’t stop binging. I found myself binging several times a week, for months. Even worse was that although my stool suggested some improvements in my digestion with over 100 days of eating for Leaky Gut, the bloat never went away away and to this day i am still experiencing as much bloat when I eat a cheat meal as when i eat healthy foods that were once a staple in my diet.
I Stopped Weighing In Regularly
Because I wasn’t losing weight anymore, weighing in weekly was no longer a part of my routine. I told myself I didn’t want to “obsess over the number on the scale” but the truth is, I was never obsessed. I was aware. And when I did see the numbers rise I would allow myself to accept all the excuses of the internet (no offense.) “You’ve gained muscle and its heavier than fat.” If that is how I gained 3lbs in a week than i should probably write the book on body building because anyone who actually knows about gains knows that hell will freeze over before most people will put on THREE POUNDS (or even 1lb) of solid muscle in a single week “The number on the scale doesn’t matter anyway.” You’re right about that, it doesn’t matter when we are talking about my value as a human being or my fitness level; I am definitely more fit right now than I was at my skinniest. But it does matter in the event of tracking my maintenance. Yes, its ridiculous to get upset or allow a couple pound fluctuation to ruin your day… But feeling some type of way because the scale has made your aware you’re 30lbs heavier than you’d like to be is not equivalent to being obsessed with your weight. I told myself, and other cosigned, that I was releasing myself from the scale. In reality, I was in denial about what the scale was showing and that was a perfect excuse to stop reminding myself I was steadily gaining weight, on a regular basis.
Lack Of Activity
In January 2016 I officially retired from the salon and became a full time weight loss mentor who now does hair on the side, instead of vice versa. Although for the most part, this has been an amazing transition, it also means I am working from the computer blogging or emailing or Skyping most of the time. This is a whole lot less active than running around the salon and blow drying all day. Before I would be on my feet at the salon for 8-12 hours a day and then come home and got for a run and workout and do whatever else I needed to do. Nowadays not only am i so much less active in my every day life, but I do much less cardio in my workouts than I used to! The week before my skin removal I ran a marathon that I had trained for the 5 months prior. After surgery I couldn’t exercise for 2 months and once i could, my lung capacity was so much less i couldn’t breath when I tried to run. Between the struggle to breath and my new interest in weight training, after surgery I just never really got back into cardio. It’s been two years since I had my surgery, but I do believe my change in activity level has contributed to my gain.
It’s Been An Emotional Year
In 2016 I really dove into my spirituality for the first time in my life, and also started to focus a lot more on my personal development opposed to just my physical. Many times when we are breaking through old barriers and working through old feelings, things actually feel like they’re getting worse instead of better. Over the last year I have dove into different types of coaching, therapy, and group support to overcome childhood trauma resulting from my father abandoning me at 3 years old, followed by being kissed by a day care counselor the following year. These are things I have previously either not acknowledged bothered me or even happened but as I grow and mature I see the effects these events still have on my life, coming up on 29 years old, and I recognize the need to work through them and re-write my story. In 2016, my sister met our father, which caused an erruption of pain I didn’t know I even had inside of me and although I have chosen not to meet my father yet, I did meet one of my half siblings. In the long term, I know dealing with all of this is going to make me a happier and healthier woman, but in the meantime learning how to cope with the pain without eating my feelings or self harming like i may have in the past, is a serious struggle I am still working to over come.
Lack Of Accountability
This one is funny because I have an accountability group on Facebook and I offer DietBet games to keep people accountable for their losses on a regular basis. A year ago I began offering one on one sessions to people who are losing weight, to help them set and stay accountable for their goals. However, during the time that my focus shifted to offering opportunities to help others hold themselves accountable, I forgot to take advantage myself. I don’t use instagram and facebook to hold myself accountable like i used to. I don’t blog to hold myself accountable like I used to. I dont have an accountability buddy or a go to person to vent or share all my small victories with, like i used to. Accountability is SO important. I know this! But as with most things in life, it is easier to remember others need to do it than to remember to do it myself. But this is one of the main reasons I am even writing this blog post. To put my business out there and hold myself accountable the way I used to in the beginning of my journey.
I’ve had a really good couple days since my reality check on Monday. I had no intentions of getting a trainer, but was given the opportunity and now I feel like the universe gave me exactly what I needed. Had i not had to weigh in infront of a complete stranger who was not going to make any excuses for me, I am not sure how much longer this charade was going to continue. I have only strayed from my eating plan once since then, even though I have had more than a couple temptations. I am starting every morning with a guided meditation and continuing to workout hard (interestingly enough, I have never slacked on my workouts this whole time I have been gaining. Weight loss really is so much more about food than exercise.)I am back to drinking tea regularly (BGFG for 10% off TeamiBlends) and am using a new app called YouAte to track my food without the pressure of calorie counting. I have a Color Run and Spartan Race coming up this weekend, but am going to workout a training schedule for myself that includes weights as well as cardio to make sure I do what I need to do in order to get where I want to be, even after training for these races is over.
I have no desire to get back down to 140lbs. I do think I want to be around 160-165 but I am not even so set on that. This is the part where I say “the scale doesnt matter” and it’s not an excuse to deny weight gain. Whatever weight I am when I can throw on any outfit and feel confident again, is a good a weight for me. Any weight I weigh after I have burned off this new roll of back fat, I am okay with. If i weigh 175lbs and no longer have a muffin top when I sit down, I am cool with that. I just want to feel good about my body again. I have still been celebrating the things I love about it all along, but as terrible as it sounds, there was so much more i used to love. I love my body as a whole; i appreciate its strength and endurance and my health. But, i want to like the way my body looks, too. I am lucky enough to have experienced that before and I know that I feel like that when I treating my body well, regardless of what the number says. Here’s to using the notes in this blog post to get back to truly treating my body well. When I live healthy, i feel great, and when I feel great, I reach my goals. I am ready to get back to that.
Only 12 more days until I run the Happiest 5k On The Planet- better known as The Color Run!
This will be my second Color Run. I ran my first with my mom a couple years back and we had a great time. This year, not only will they have colorful foam and unicorn medals, but they’ve partnered with YouFit Health Clubs, the gym I go to and love!Count me in!
The Color Run is the kind of race where no one is aggressively darting to the finish line, but rather, people are enjoying the run and I even dare say, sometimes stopping along the way for a selfie! It’s the kind of environment that makes a person feel no pressure, but still offers a great opportunity to push yourself and get a great workout (kinda like YouFit!) It offers high vibes and is usually my first suggestion when someone tell me they want to prep for their first 5k.
If you’re getting started with fitness or in a rough patch of your fitness journey, running a 5k is a good idea. It gives you a goal to focus on that isn’t just the number on the scale. Not only will it feel amazing to achieve that goal, but it’ll help to open up your mind to doing other things you may have previously written off as impossible. I always say that losing over 100lbs is not what changed my life; doing the things I never in a million years thought I could, is what changed my life. Running a 5k can help you to do just that. And the icing on the cake is that in order to do this successfully, you will need to follow a training guide, and the switch up of your training routine will likely help you to reach some of your numerical and physical goals too.
Training for a 5k is important for both mental and physical reasons. If you train, running the race is going to be more enjoyable. In the last few years I have just showed up to plenty of 5k’s without adjusting my workout schedule to prepare for them, and I am always more winded and have to stop to walk. It feels like the route is so long and I just cant wait for it to be over. When I have trained, I am not only able to breath and jog or run better, but it’s easier to smell the roses and actually enjoy what I am doing.
I highly encourage making a real commitment to yourself not to skip any runs because if you truly follow the schedule you cannot let your mind convince you that you won’t be able to finish. Your body has trained and prepared for this. It is ready to do this. However, if you slack off in training, you probably won’t show up at the start line with the same sense of conviction.
Like most of my 5Ks, I am training for this one at YouFit. They have new facilities popping up all the time and my Lime Card allows me to work out at any of them. Plus, many locations are open 24 hours and a membership only costs $10-20 a month. Oh, and did I mention they have fans on the treadmills? I do make sure to run outside at least once a week though, since at the end of the day, the race will be outside, without the luxury of YouFit’s energy efficient air conditioning.
How Do I Train?!
YouFit offers simple 4 week training guides for any fitness level. You can download and print or screenshot! And with the photo markup capability on most smart phones these days, you can check off your completed training and share your progress on social media super easily! #TeamYouFit
The morning of my first 5k I was so nervous and making a million excuses (which I told myself were “reasons”) as to why I should just stay home. It was rainy. I didn’t sleep well the night before. My stomach hurt and I hadn’t pooped yet. I might finish last. I might get laughed at for walking. I realized I was scared, and decided to feel the fear and do it anyway. I showed up and it didn’t rain! I didn’t have to poop! Most of the people there actually ran in intervals too! I didn’t finish last, but if I had, at least I’d have finished! None of my fears came to fruition. Don’t let yours hold you back! Use the tools and opportunities available and conquer those fears!
Now go sign up for a 5k and commit to doing this for YOU! You’ll thank yourself later! <3
Each year around this time, a friend of mine and friends of his throw a huge birthday party in celebration of Scorpio season. The first year I attended was in 2011. It was 3 months before my the beginning of my lifestyle change. I had just colored my hair back to red and was finally beginning to crawl out of the nightmare of a life I had created for myself in the previous few years.
Scorpio Bash 2011
Scorpio Bash 2011
I was starting to feel a little bit better about life, not even knowing how awesome it was about to get, and went to the party. I knew most of girls in attendance would be models as the guys hosting the party were mostly musicians, artists, and photographers. I had fun with my friends that night but I would absolutely be lying if I didn’t admit I was very insecure. Even so, I did have fun, but I avoided full body pictures and am pretty sure even though I was drunk, I didn’t dance.
I didn’t go in 2012 because I had just crushed my 100lbs down goal and was trying to get to a 50% weight loss. A night out drinking, most likely followed up with greasy food to prevent a hangover, was not going to contribute to my goals, so I opted out.
I didn’t go in 2013 because I was officially half my starting weight and felt entirely insecure about my loose skin. At that point I was trying, and failing, at accepting this was just the way my body was going to be from now on.
I didn’t go in 2014 because I was only 5 weeks post op beltectomy and thigh lift and could barely stand up straight and walk at a normal pace. Partying was the last thing I needed to do.
I didn’t go in 2015 because I had put on 10lbs in the year after my surgery and spent that fall feeling incredibly insecure and embarrassed that I had gained weight.
But when this year came around I was back to what I weighed when I went in for skin removal, completely healed, and out of excuses not to go. I committed to my friends I would be there.
When I got the official invitation it read that this years theme was “bathrobes and baewatch.” It would be a pool party and the invite said “dress code is robes or bathing suits- no exceptions.”
When I saw that, i considered not going. I go to the beach (the nude beach, even) all the time but I am surrounded by normal people at the beach. At this party I’d be surrounded by super hotties. So then I thought, maybe I should go but just ignore the dress code. I figured because my friend was hosting, he would let me in anyways. But the more I thought about it, I realized it was an opportunity to get over myself. If I showed up in a regular outfit not only would I be allowing fear and insecurities to continue to dictate my decision making, but it would be the equivalent of wearing a sign that says “I am too insecure about my body to wear a swimsuit in public.” I didn’t want to be the one woman there, not in a bikini, and also look like the most insecure woman there as well. I posted my plans on Facebook, for accountability so I couldn’t bitch out, and got to picking out a bathing suit.
To my surprise, I was one of the one women who wore a damn bathing suit! If this had been last year, or any other year for that matter, I’d have been mortified. None of my friends ended up wearing bathing suits as most of them are new moms still adjusting to their new bodies,too. A couple girls wore bikini tops. Another couple girls wore g-strings and see through lingerie that showed off their giant boobs and high nipples and their cellulite free giant asses. So here I was, in the middle of a party, looking like I was the one out of dress code. I couldn’t help but notice I was pretty much the only woman who wasn’t wearing pants that was covered in cellulite and scars.
And to my surprise…. I didn’t care. I had my bathrobe and a sarong with me just incase I felt insecure and I never took them out, until after I was cold from going down the water slide at 3am, anyway. I talked to and danced with strangers. I confused people who had met me pre-lifestyle change and had no idea who the hell I was. I went in a hot tub with 6 people I’d never seen before in my life. I danced on a stripper pole while waiting for the bathroom. I let my thighs jiggle and didn’t worry about keeping my cover up closed to hide my stretch marks, fake belly button, and thigh lift scars. And I had a freaking amazing time.
A few years ago if I was one of only a few people to show up at a party nearly naked and the only one who’s body didn’t look like society’s standards of beauty, I’d have hopped in the first uber home. This past weekend, I didn’t care.
For the longest time I have been chasing this feeling of not giving a shit what anyone thinks about my body. Intellectually I know it doesn’t matter, but emotionally, it bothers me to feel judged. To overcome this I post photos of it on the internet, I go to the beach in teeny bikinis, I go to the beach entirely freaking nude, and yet I still feel vulnerable in places that my mind has previously decided are reserved for “hot girls.” But this weekend I went to the “hot girl” party and felt like I was one of the hot girls. I posed for pictures and didn’t feel the need to hide behind anyone or suck it in or change my outfit or any of that BS.
The party’s intention may have been to celebrate some birthdays and Scorpio season but for me it was a celebration of finally, truly, not giving a shit about anyone’s judgement of my body because I am finally proud of my body. I know it doesn’t fit everyone’s beauty standard but I also know how hard I work for this body. I know how strong it is and what it’s capable of. I know a strechmark or a scar or a couple dimples doesn’t undo all I have done to earn this. Next time I get invited to a party, I might just show up with no pants regardless of dress code. ☺️😋
looking like im about to drop a mixtape 😂 not my best pic at all, but the point is- i didnt run and hide in the back lol