My Top 5 Wellness Favorites

wellness

I was asked recently about favorite personal wellness tips and as I’ve been reflecting on my regular routine, I’ve been able to narrow them down.  Here are my top five favorites:

1.

Exercise and nutrition/clean eating.  Obviously I have a passion for fitness and good basic nutrition.  They have become such a huge part of my life that it is more than apparent that they would be number one on my list.  And, since I believe fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand, I have joined them as top rank.  I am a huge lover of cardio, but for the past 8 months, I have been completely obsessed with my strength training and have been focusing most of my gym time on that.  I would encourage everyone to add a strength training routine to their regular fitness regime.  I’m also a cheerleader for clean eating and following the Whole 30 program.  I am not a clean eater 100% (I literally just ate a handful of salted caramel chocolate chips), but I often try to stay away from processed and junk and fast foods as much as possible.  In fact, I am gearing up for a Whole 30 in a few weeks.  I also love starting my day off with some form of exercise.  It used to be a crazy Insanity workout or other form of cardio, then it was yogo, and this summer it has been early morning walks.  I am so in love with my early morning walks for a few reasons but the biggest one is the solitude in the mornings.  It’s usually just me out there and I love the stillness and the quiet and the fresh air in my face.  I also love the little feeling of accomplishment in the mornings and the walks have been giving me that.

2.

Water.  Lotsa water.  I love water.  It’s my favorite drink.  In fact, aside from a morning coffee or the occasional glass of wine, it’s the only thing I drink.  And I drink a lot of it. Water is essential in every day life – you can read here a past post on why water is important.  I love water and I constantly have a glass of it on the go, whether I’m at work or working out, I try to continuously guzzle.

3.

Sleep.  Sleep is right up there with water – it’s essential.  And it’s a big part of how I’m going to function.  I hate not getting enough sleep.  About 5 years ago I had a bad bought of insomnia for months on end and it was terrible.  I was barely functioning.  I was a walking zombie.  I’ve written two posts previously on sleep and I stand by my word (you can read them here and here) and there’s also plenty of research being done by companies, like Elysium Health , on the science behind sleep—you can learn more about their findings on cellular health and NAD+ and their connection to sleep here .  I love sleep.  I try to get as much as I can but it doesn’t always work for me.  A good night would have been sleeping 7 hours but most nights, according to my FitBit, see me sleeping anywhere from 5 to 6 hours.  Eventually, when I’m exhausted enough, I’ll manage a good 7 or 8 hours, but I will always strive.

4.

Me Time.  It’s really important – no, make that crucial – that every person take some “me time”.  Although my morning walks and other workouts can often be accounted for as me time, I like to find time during the day just for me.  Time far away from chaos and hustle and bustle and social media.  This me time is usually my reading (or writing) time.  I am an avid reader and become completely enthralled in my books.  And I look forward to curling up under the summer sun or before bed to leave where I am and, instead, get lost in the words of my book.  I urge everyone to take 20 minutes (at least) each day to themselves.

Sparkles

5.

Quality Social Time.  I am a social being.  In fact, my nickname has always been social butterfly.  Just as it’s important to take me time, it’s also important to have social time with other people.  I love spending time with my family and my friends and my co-workers and my workout buddies.  Getting out and enjoying the company of others (and allowing them to enjoy your company) is very important to maintaining good mental health.  And mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health.  Having fun or having a good cry (if required) are important to keeping us healthy and balanced.  And this means getting social in person – not hopping onto Facebook to chat.  Your mind, body, and soul need you to interact with other human beings.  So, whether you go to a fitness class or a Bible study or book club or just get together with your friends or family, ensure that you do it.  Often.

mind-body-soul_design

So, that’s it.  Those are my personal top 5 (I’m sure there are more) favorite wellness tips to living a healthy life.  What are yours?

~FB

 

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20 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life!

20 Minutes

I’ve said this many times before.  I’ve said it over and over again and I will continue to say it over and over again.  Why?  Because I believe it.  In fact, before I began my fitness journey, someone in my life kept saying that to me.  I thought he was just being an asshole and telling me I was fat (let’s face it, y’all, I was fat!), but eventually I listened to those words and I went from there.

As I mentioned in my last post, when I first started exercising, I couldn’t make it 20 minutes.  I could barely make it 3 minutes without wanting to kill myself (or feel like I was already dying).  My goal was to make it to 20 minutes.

When I finally did make it to the 20 minute mark I was ecstatic.  And for a long time that’s where I remained.  Just at the 20 minute mark.  Eventually, I did move up and sometimes I would (and still do) work out for hours on end.  But, there are times when time is limited and 20 (or 30) minutes is all you have.  You can sit around watching TV or creeping Facebook, OR you can get up and take advantage of that little bit of time and do something that will improve your mood, your energy level, your health, and your life.

Change Your Life

This past Saturday I was pressed for time and wasn’t able to get to the gym or a class but I desperately wanted to work out.  Technically, it was supposed to be my day off, but it was rainy and gross out and I was feeling lethargic and lazy and like I needed to do something. Initially, I was supposed to do the warm up for the Relay for Life but because of the raining weather, the warm up got cancelled.  Yet, I was craving a workout.  I didn’t want to overdo it because rest days are extremely important and, I admit, I don’t always take advantage of them, but I really wanted to get in a little cardio and a little strength.  And I did.

I got my game plan ready and I had myself a sweat-inducing, heart-racing 21 minute workout right there in my boyfriend’s living room.  And it felt great.  I felt great.  I accomplished a lot in a little bit of time and carried on with the rest of my day.

So, if that’s all it takes (at the very least, to start), why not set aside 20 minutes of your day and get moving in the direction to change your life.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

Begin (Confessions)

I saw this post in my Facebook feed this today and knew I had to write something about it.

Beginner

…Because this is truth.

We all have to start somewhere.  We are all beginners.  We will not know our full abilities until we try.

When I first began my fitness journey I could not do a full three minutes on my elliptical.  In fact, I found it so hard that I gave up.  I was winded and sweaty (I still sweat like I’m burning in Hell) and, frankly, I was embarrassed that a mere three minutes of cardio nearly killed me and I gave up!

I had bought that elliptical on a whim of trying wanting to be healthy (read: skinny) and I failed.  And, apparently, at that time I was okay with failure.  But then one day, that one particular day, I made a decision and my life changed – forever and for the best.  I swear to God, that elliptical saved my life.  I saw this with all seriousness and certainty.  I was on a path that was destroying me.  My self-esteem was shot, my mental health was in the toilet, and I was overweight to a degree that I should never have let happen.

And I jumped on my elliptical and had my first real workout.

And, although I swore I would never publicly show this photo – I realized, “well shoot!  This was me!  This is what I looked like!”  So, here goes:

Side by side

Left: Before / Right: After 

Yep!  The pic on the left with the scratched out face and the really, really badly blonde hair is me.

And you know what’s sad?  I I don’t even recognize that person on the left and I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to treat my body that way. After A Lot of hard work, dedication, and discipline, the pic on the right reflects closer to where I am today. But each day I grow in my fitness. I’m so much stronger and adventurous in my exercising. And I look forward to challenging myself daily.

Once I started exercising regularly and eating healthier, I started feeling better on the inside too.  I know not everyone gets this or agrees. But this is 100% true for me. Exercise helped bring me out of a 10 year depression. It helped with my self-esteem and confidence.  There are days when I still struggle with these but overall, I’ve become a different person.  (Give it a chance….you might be shocked to find that exercise can help you too.)

Mood changer

When I look back to those years ago and hopping on my elliptical and failing miserably at my first attempt of working out, I almost feel glad,  Because I was doing it for the wrong reason.  As I said above, I wanted to start exercising to get thin, not to have a better life.  And it wasn’t until I decided to change my life that my life changed.  That’s when I really began.

So, don’t be afraid to begin.  Even if it means you’re starting over or beginning again.  It’s when you’re really ready that you will make the effort.  As you know, my mantra for years has been “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight.” (Thank you Shaun T!)  Again, #Truth!

So, don’t be afraid.  Go ahead and begin.  And if you have to, begin again.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness: The Only Known Cure for Anxiety (Guest Post)

The wonderful team (and in particular, Dan Chabert) at Runnerclick.com have been kind enough to provide me with the following article.

As someone who has personally been affected by depression and anxiety in the past, I can attest that regular exercise can improve your mood and, in turn, really change your life.  I truly believe that exercise “cured” my depression (thank you, endorphins).  While this may not be true for everyone, and some of you may not agree with the statements below, it is definitely an enlightening read.

~FB

FITNESS:  THE ONLY KNOWN CURE FOR ANXIETY

Psychological symptoms such as anxiety have been scientifically proven to affect multiple aspects of fitness like endurance, conditioning, and concentration. However, fitness can positively affect psychological symptoms, and reduce both anxiety and stress. Fitness does not only keep our body in shape, but it also works our minds as well. Daily exercise is powerful enough to notably reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, also improving your overall psychological and physical health.

Scientific Background

Multiple researches have been performed to study the relation between anxiety and fitness, and how they affect each other. Studies conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Harvard Medical School as well as other health organizations and private researchers have revealed that fitness maintains a solid mental state and it can reduce anxiety and stress.

Exercise is very effective at diminishing fatigue, while enhancing awareness and focus. It is also proven to increase our cognitive capacity in general. This comes in extremely handy when anxiety clouds your mind and stops you from focusing.

Sessions of yoga, running, and other dynamic activities have shown to stabilize anxiety issues that affect the brain. Some people underestimate the effects that anxiety can produce to their body, thinking it´s just a psychological issue and not realizing how taxing it can be for their physical activities.

The US Department of Health and Human Services performed an investigation in which they found that participating in multiple fitness activities and aerobic training will reduce considerable amounts of mental tension, improve self-esteem and overall mood. Exercise works as a natural cure for anxiety and other psychosomatic symptoms.

Using Fitness as Psychological Therapy

For a long time, many psychologists have included exercise and fitness activities such as running, yoga, bike riding and swimming to their therapy. In fact, regular sessions of such activities may have an effect even greater than any possible medication.

While exercising, your body produces considerable amounts of endorphins, which work as completely natural analgesics for your mind, also refining sleep. After beginning a session, some people might be able to note important changes in their mood during the first 10 minutes of exercise, stimulating effects that reduce nervousness.

If exercising has a positive impact on your mind during short training sessions, making a frequent exercise schedule can be a definitive solution to your mental stress. Fitness will help you keep a clear mind and a healthy body all at the same time, it doesn´t get any better than that.

However, each therapy has a different outcome on each patient just like in any other case. Your body may generate a positive reaction when training and perhaps even relieve your anxiety for good, just like it might not have any impact at all on your symptoms. Regardless, one thing is for sure; fitness will help you improve your physical health, and this is undeniable.

Incorporating Exercise to your Therapy

For optimal results, you should look for a physical activity that best suits your personal preferences. Some anxiety patients prefer to clear their mind with a calm and quiet activity; practicing yoga is a perfect solution for these cases.

For more active exercises, running is an awesome idea. Going out for a jog with fresh air is very likely to reduce your mental symptoms in a matter of minutes. Concentrate on the path, admire everything throughout your trip and let your mind take off from daily pressure and anxiety. Running will clear up your mind while improving important aspects of your physical form.

You can always get a running buddy to add an extra layer of distraction to your exercise therapy. Social interaction while exercising is a great way to distract your mind from anxiety, stress, depression and other symptoms that cloud your brain. Some therapists recommend running or exercising with other patients of similar cases. Group therapy allows you to measure your progress along with other people under similar circumstances to yours.

If you prefer individual therapy, a playlist of your favorite relaxing music is always a great companion. Select songs that have a positive impact in your mood, ones that help you relax and that you can feel working with your activity. Music also has a very interesting scientific background in reducing symptoms like anxiety and similar.

If your body or mind can´t get used to physical activities, it might be an indicator that you need more time to adapt yourself. Don´t quit if you don´t see immediate progress, experiment different methods of practicing each activity and let your body adapt for one to two months before giving up on exercise therapy.

Fitness & Anxiety Disorders

Everyone has been through anxiety during a point of their life. However, when it comes to anxiety disorders, over 35 million people compose the most common symptom in the United States– This is where fitness comes in.

Research suggests that when it comes to anxiety, the exercise intensity is not really relevant to the treatment. A calm 15-minute long walk can be as effective as an hour-long intense training session. It´s a matter of personal comfort, where your body and mind try to find an activity that distracts you from these disorders.

A single exercise session will produce temporary results. A simple walk across the park can provide multiple hours of mind peace and declining in negative psychological symptoms; this effect is similar to the one of an analgesic for a common pain.

Not only does fitness work as a solution, but is also works as a prevention method. Investigators point out that people who practice physical activities are less likely to suffer from anxiety. Making fitness a habit in your life can lessen the amounts of anxiety.

Writer’s Bio:

DAN CHABERT

chabert-2

Dan Chabert

Dan is an entrepreneur from Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a husband first and ultramarathon distance runner second. The websites monicashealthmag.com, nicershoes.com & runnerclick.com keep him busy, as well as being featured in many different runner blogs all over the world.

How I Live My Healthy Life

Have you heard of Cotopaxi?  I hadn’t until recently.

**Cotopaxi (https://www.cotopaxi.com/) is a company founded on the principals of making a difference, moving people to do good, and inspiring new adventures.  They also make really cool backpacks and other great gear such as jackets, water bottles, and tents.  Here is a little video on Cotopaxi:  https://vimeo.com/101418328.

Cotopaxi

Click me  to make me bigger

I was inspired by Cotopaxi to write a post about a way I live a healthy lifestyle and, after giving it some thought, I couldn’t decide on just one way so here’s a little about me and how I live healthily:

FITNESS
As you know, I am a fitness queen.  I try not to have too many regrets in life, but one regret I do have it not getting into fitness sooner.  I dealt with so many body image demons when I was younger that I was eager to get the “quick fix”.  It wasn’t until I made the commitment to fitness that my body changed.  And I wish I’d stepped onto that platform a lot sooner.
HEALTHY EATING/NUTRITION
I am a big believer in clean eating and whole foods (I’m a Whole 30 nutball!).  I love eating fresh vegetables and fruits and meats.  I eat whole foods as often as possible and since last June I have completed 5 Whole 30 months and am currently in my 6th.  Eliminating sugar and processed foods from my diet gets rid of any systemic inflammation in my body and eating clean makes me feel so much healthier.  My gut health is a hundred times better than it normally is when I’m not eating clean.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some chocolate and a Starbucks on occasion, but for me, eating clean and whole (and in moderation) is the way to go.
Following this kind of nutrition lifestyle may not be for everyone so in that regard I say eat clean when you can, reduce portion sizes, eat in moderation, and, for goodness sakes, stop eating junk!
MENTAL HEALTH
I mentioned in a recent post that I have suffered in the past from depression.  And it wasn’t until I started exercising regularly that I was able to tame that beast.  Well, in addition to fitness, I also like need to do the following:
-Spend time with friends, family, loved ones, coworkers.  I NEED that interaction.  I am a very social person and isolation really just isn’t my bag.
– Take time for myself.  I know, I know – I just said I need interaction.  But I also lead a very hectic life and sometimes I need alone time.  Not necessarily isolation, but I definitely need my “me” time.   That usually means reading (I’m on my 21st John Grisham novel), cleaning, writing, or honestly, sacking out on the couch and watching some T.V.  (But usually it’s reading!)
-Laugh.  I am a comic.  I need laughter in my life.  I learned a long time ago how to laugh at myself and, believe me, I do.  I always believed I was destined for Saturday Night Live.  I am still holding out for that reality.  In the meantime, I laugh.
SPIRITUAL HEALTH
I am not a religious nut but I do have my faith and it is very important to me.  I make sure to have my prayer time each day. It’s another time of day that is just for me – no matter where I am or what I’ve been doing, I have my prayer time.  It’s my time to talk with God and I find it therapeutic.  This subject is very personal to me, as is my prayer time, and I know not everyone believes the same thing.  But I encourage you – if you do believe (in something) – take this time and see what I’m talking about.  It makes my day complete.
There you have it: the four basics of my healthy living.  It’s pretty simplistic.
Living healthy should not be complicated.  Complication just adds a big ol’ mess to our lives and we need to get.rid.of.it.  Live, love, laugh.  Eat, drink, exercise, and be merry.

**What Cotopaxi does: “We create innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure.Cotopaxi funds solutions that address the most persistent needs of those living in extreme poverty. Giving is core to our model. As a Delaware Public Benefit Corporation, Cotopaxi has made a commitment to creating positive social impact. We focus our efforts on global poverty alleviation & give targeted grants to advance health, education, and livelihoods initiatives around the world.

Our grantmaking represents our belief in the power of holistic development model. We focus on three pillars which we believe are inextricably linked and crucial to creating a sustainable pathway out of poverty. Within each pillar, we have identified specific poverty indicators against which we track our outcomes and success.

~Fit Bitch

Mind, Body, Mood

Mind, body, mood

I’m sure you already know that exercise is good for your mental health.

Remember what Elle said about exercise and endorphins in Legally Blonde?

It’s true! Exercise releases endorphins – these endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain, and also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. You know that rush we feel during/after a workout or the runner’s high you hear about so often? That is the endorphins at work.

I speak right now from the heart. For a very long time I suffered from severe depression. I was so sad all the time and for no reason. My heart just ached. This went on for years. It ruined relationships. It put stress on my body and on my mind. And a few times it nearly killed me. I spent many, many years on antidepressants; trying this one and that one but never fully getting over the depression.

It wasn’t until I started exercising that my depression lifted. And the more I exercised the better I felt. The sadness went away, my moods were happier, my soul felt free, and my body was so much healthier.

I spent all those years on medications that seemed to hinder more than they helped. But since I began working out regularly 10 years ago my life completely changed – including my mental health.**

**I am in no way at all endorsing one stop taking medications, especially those with depression or other mental health disorders. Please do not take this as that. I’m merely suggesting adding exercise to your current daily dose and see if it can help. Perhaps a regular fitness program can compliment your current program (whatever that may be – medication, counselling, etc.). If you have any questions talk to your doctor or health professional. See if you can get some of those endorphins flowing. I want you to feel good. I want you to feel your best. And I know that for many, your best may include medications (it did for me). But I also want your heart and your soul to feel great, and exercise *may* be the way to help with that.

~Fit Bitch

Push Your Mind (Day 3)

Push Your Mind

Go forth with your workout with an “I can!” attitude and you will go places you never expected.

If you plan to give up, you will.  Get in there and give it 100% and just when you hit your 100% mark – give it another 10%.  Why?  Because you can.  You’ll be surprised at what your body can do when your mind allows it.

Push yourself.

~Fit Bitch

 

Get Comfortable

Unconfortable

I really should have posted this with along with last week’s Confessions post.  

Jillian Michaels said in one of her workout videos “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  And she’s right.  So many people complain when they start a new exercise – or start exercising at all – that they’re sore, they hurt, they’re uncomfortable.  Well duh!  That’s because your body is moving in ways it likely hasn’t moved in quite some time.  Of course it’s going to be sore.  Then it will get accustomed to the new movement and it will thank you.  

Like the photo suggests – I’d rather be uncomfortable for a short time then be unhappy for life.  I’ve been there.  I refuse to go back.

~Fit Bitch

No Excuses

Someone recently asked me why I work out so much. My response? “Why not?”

Excuses

If you want to feel great, have more energy, improve your physical AND mental health, be happier, have better sleep, increase your self-esteem, feel accomplished, (there are a million more reasons!) – then you should try exercise.

Once again I say – Twenty minutes a day can save your life.

~Fit Bitch

You Don’t Know Me

From reading some of my previous posts over the last year +, you’ve probably come to realize that I hate the scales. I think scales can be the devil and can deter your efforts and, honestly, make you feel like a big ol’ pile of crap. I hate them.

Spending a good portion of my teenage years suffering from eating disorders, I became obsessed with my weight, scales and weighing myself – sometimes doing so 3 and 4 or more times a day. I lived on the minimalist of food – usually just a spoonful of yogurt in the morning, sometimes an apple midday. And I’d jump on the scales all those times hoping, praying for the number to go down, not realizing that that little contraption was killing me slowly.

Eventually, after therapy, relapses, more therapy, and a change in attitude, I decided to never, myself, get on the scales again. I do so only at the doctor’s office and even then, I am not permitted to know my weight. It is too detrimental to my mental health and to my heart.

I’m not going to lie to you…as much as I am all for fitness and healthy and clean living, I still struggle with these demons every.single.day. I probably always will. It is a part of who I am and, for the most part, whether I like it or not, I’ve accepted it.

But you know what? Regardless of the number of the scale, how many squats I can do, how many miles I can run – none of that defines me! What defines me is my spirituality, my personality, my soul, my love, my beliefs, my values – the things that actually MATTER!

I share these personal words with you so that you can accept who you are and (hopefully) not let the nonsense define you either. We are all wonderful creatures and we should be able to lay our heads down at night and reflect on “Was I a good person today? Did I love to my fullest today? Did I live to my fullest today?” and not “Did I eat too much today? Did I exercise enough today? Did I gain any weight today?”<<- because that crap right there doesn't matter. We are who we are. There is no justice in those scales. Love yourself!

Scales

~Fit Bitch