Self Care January! What I Learned About Nutrition & Fitness.

“Health is not about the weight you lose, but about the life, you gain” – Dr. Josh Axe

These words couldn’t be truer and I have realized a lot about my mindset when it comes to nutrition and fitness. For my older followers, you may recall me publishing a post about my fitness journey two years ago and how happy I was with my progress. There was definitely progress, I really challenged myself to complete difficult workout sessions. I felt empowered that I can do something so challenging, my stamina improved, and I had those happy endorphins. However, things started to change around 2015.

In 2013 I began working out and eventually I made it part of my daily routine because it made me happy. I would look forward coming home from work, turning on my favorite Youtube fitness channel and do a 45-minute workout. I became fitter, but my belly wasn’t what I wanted it to look like and I became disappointed. I thought to myself, “All of that hard work for nothing, why am I not getting the results I want?” So my workout energy decreased, I became unmotivated because I didn’t see the results I wanted. I worked out for the vanity reasons, not for my health.

So during that time, I worked out here and there, and eventually, I stopped in 2016. It was also around that time that I started to get sick, my immune system became weak and I got sick every month. I took so many antibiotics during that time and I knew taking so much medication was not good for me. After I healed from my last flu in Spring of 2016, I didn’t get sick until Fall of that year. One more thing that changed about me was the way I ate, I went back to eating junk food and not caring about what I put in my body. I was addicted to instant ramen cups, pizza, and deep-fried foods. After getting sick in December 2016, and taking more antibiotics I thought, “ok that’s it, no more getting sick!”

Little did I know 2017 was planning to throw so many challenges in my way. It was in February 2017, when I started to feel sick, my stomach didn’t feel right. I’ll keep this short because it does have a happy ending. Basically, from the month of March to July, I went to the doctor’s office frequently to figure out what’s going on. At first, I was told it’s acid reflux but there was something more. So in July, I got a procedure done to find out what’s wrong. I got the results back in August and I was diagnosed with a chronic stomach condition. I had to take antibiotics and do a follow-up test in November to ensure I was healed. I did heal, those were the happiest news I received. However, it was like a rude awakening to change my eating habits and go back to doing exercise.

My doctor told me I need a lifestyle change, I need to eat clean and reduce my stress levels. So this is what I learned about nutrition and fitness and what to do to have a healthier lifestyle.

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A NUTRITIONIST OR A FITNESS SPECIALIST, I SIMPLY SHARE WHAT HAS WORKED FOR ME AND WHAT I LEARNED.

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  1. Drink water as soon as you wake up to increase your metabolism, hydrate you, help your body flush out toxins, and give your brain fuel. My doctor told me to drink water half an hour before a meal, and the half an hour later after a meal. The reason for this is because it allows the stomach fluid to break down the food in your belly. If you drink water while eating, it dilutes the stomach acid and the food will not get digested easily. I was surprised when he told me this because typically I drink water with my meals. However, I do what my doctor tells so I can feel better.
  2. Eat three hours before your bedtime to allow your food to digest well. Going to bed right after eating is not a good idea because the food won’t be fully digested. I speak from experience when I talk about this because it was absolutely draining to deal with my stomach problems.
  3. Do not eat fast, take your time eating and chewing your food. If you rush your meals, your digestion suffers. According to Precious Nutrition.com, if we eat fast we force our GI tract to deal with stuff before it’s fully prepared. Therefore, if we eat fast the food does not digest well.
  4. Avoid spicy foods, deep fried foods, and junk food. I avoid anything with too much oil and salt, when I say I eat clean, I eat super clean. The thing is, my stomach is still very sensitive and I have to be careful not to consume something that will irritate my stomach.
  5. I love beer but I can’t have it until my stomach settles down and I was told to avoid alcohol completely. To be honest, I’m not much of drinker, so this isn’t a challenge.
  6. I have reduced my sugar intake and I do not eat sweets as much as I used to. First of all, excessive intake of sugar can cause diabetes but now I don’t need sugar as much as I used to before.
  7. Incorporate fiber into your diet. It helps slow down the rate of sugar absorbed into the bloodstream and helps with your glucose level from rising too fast. I don’t eat fiber excessively, everything I eat is in moderation.
  8. Get up to 7-8 hours of sleep and try to go to bed before midnight so you can fully rest and not wake up feeling tired. I don’t like waking up super early but 8:00am or 9:00am seems like a reasonable time. I am a night owl, but when I go to bed before midnight and wake up a bit earlier I feel better.
  9. Do yoga to stretch out your muscles and feel more relaxed.
  10. Find an exercise that makes you feel good and happy, right now I am enrolled in dance classes and I love it. Eventually, I want to go back to doing Pilates but for now, I am starting out slow. I am getting back into the habit of liking exercise again.
  11. We know that we have to eat three meal per day, but now I eat a few small meals during the day to digest my food better. When I eat a large meal I don’t feel well and I have bad heartburn and digestion problems. So instead a have a small breakfast, then another meal, then lunch, then another small meal, a snack and then dinner. Yes, I am very disciplined about my stomach health because what I went through was very unpleasant.

These are some of the things I learned about fitness and health, health is so precious so make sure you take care of yourself.

Thank

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Health and Fitness Q&A!

Hello everyone,

It looks like it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog, but here I am back again with another post. Today I want to talk about health and fitness, two things that I am passionate about for two years. For me, it is very important to live a healthy and well balanced lifestyle. Living healthy is something I talk about all the time, because ever since I embarked on this journey, I have felt more energetic and better about myself.

Today I will be answering some health and fitness questions, that will give a glimpse of my healthy habits.

Let’s begin.

Fitness

1. Why do you workout?

I workout to become physically stronger, build more muscle and endurance! When I initially started to workout, I started because I wanted to lose weight, but now it is not about that anymore.

2. Describe your current workout routine?

I follow the Blogilates monthly workout calendars religiously, thanks to these workouts I became more lean and toned. If you have not heard of Blogilates, it is a Pilates YouTube channel run my Cassey Ho. Her videos are inspirational and effective and I highly reccommend them. On the side, I also go biking, running (still not a fan of it), weight training and yoga.

3. What is your favorite form of exercise?

My favorite form of exercise is Pilates, I love it became it gets the job done and it is very effective for muscle toning. Pilates all the wayyyy! 🙂

4. Do you listen to music when you workout?

Definitely, it helps me feel energized and go hard when I workout.

5. What’s on your playlist?

A lot of EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Kpop and anything really upbeat and fun.

6. What is your exercise philosophy?

I think exercise should be a part of our daily lifestyle, it shouldn’t feel like a chore and it shouldn’t become an obsession either. Some people workout so much, but they don’t even enjoy it. Find a workout that suits you and have fun doing it, don’t workout if you are going obsess over your body image. We should all learn to love ourselves and our bodies, working out is about staying healthy, not thin.

Nutrition

Are you a person who eats healthy?

Yes, now I eat healthier compared to years ago, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have moments when I would eat some junk food. What can I say, old habits die hard.

Do you diet/count calories?

I don’t believe in diets, I believe in living a healthy lifestyle where we eat healthy everyday. I’ve tried dieting before and it doesn’t work, plus feeding your body junk is not good for you. I have also never counted calories, I’ve been tempted a couple of times, but my strong will stopped me. I think there is a fine line when it comes to counting calories, it could potentially lead to an eating disorder if we become too obsessed with how much food we consume. p>

Which foods are your staple items?

I have a few, but some of my essentials are avocado, spinach, green tea, banana, straberries, garbanzo beans, grape tomatoes, quinoa, balsamic vinegar, blueberries, chia seeds, protein powder and many more.

Are there food your try to avoid?

Yes, salty and oily foods. I also try to avoid bread because it makes me feel bloated and I digest bread slowly. Other than that, I eat everything in moderation (most of the time) lol.

About how many times per day do you eat?

I eat three times per day, but when I’m at work I get so busy that I only have time for lunch and dinner. Sometimes, I only have time to snack on something small and then get back to work. Adult life rules…….not.

True or False

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! – Definitely, it gives you the energy you need to get started with your day. I am not a breakfast person, so when I don’t eat in the morning I feel fatigued. That’s why I try to have a smoothie, a banana or a cereal bar, something small always helps.

To lose weight or maintain weight loss, you need to cut carbohydrates! – No, cutting out certain foods does not mean you will lose weight. You can be cutting out foods and still maintain the same weight, sometimes this can happen due to stress. To lose and maintain weight loss you have to eat in moderation and eat good nutritious food. Exercise is also a vital component in seeing any results you desire.

It is bad to eat late at night! – True, I avoid it as much as possible! It is harder to digest the food because your metabolism slows down, plus the food needs to be digested two or three hours prior to going to bed.

Stress Management 

How do you relieve stress?

I do many things, such as listening to music, watching YouTube, going out with friends, working out, writing blog posts, crafting and going for walks. The best way I deal with stress is when I’m around people and I talk about my problems, it helps tremendously.

Have you ever tried yoga?

Yes, my first time attending a yoga class was June 2014 and I’ve loved it ever since. It helps me relax my tense body muscles and most of all focus  on the here and now.

 
 

Lifestyle Sundays! A Healthy Lifestyle: My Personal Story.

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to Lifestyle Sundays! Today’s post is a very special one and a very long one too!

Before I proceed with my writing, I want to begin with two important disclaimers:

1. I am not a certified fitness trainer or nutritionist, any information that I share with you is information I have read and heard from fitness trainers and nutritionists. I am just summarizing this information for you all, so it is easily accessible. 

2. I am in no way whatsoever, trying to tell any of you that you have to look a certain way! We are all born with a specific body type and that’s what makes us all unique! I am not a size 0, in fact when I buy pants I have to look for size 4, 6 or 8, depending on the type of pants I buy. I am 5’8 and the normal weight for my height is 135, so I have no desire to fit into size 2 jeans. There were times when I felt insecure about not fitting into size two jeans, but now that I am getting older I have learned to love my body. Also I want to address one important point: being fit doesn’t mean to be skinny! You can be the skinniest person and still be unhealthy, so to anyone struggling with their body image, please remember to love the body God gave you. Working out and eating healthy is not about becoming skinny, it is about becoming physically stronger and healthier!

Happy New Year everyone, it is finally 2015 which means that it is time to start making your resolutions a reality. This post will consist of two parts: My Workout Routine and Healthy Lifestyle Tips! I have a lot of content to share with your, so beware that this will be a long post. This will be my personal story of how I began living a healthy lifestyle and I’ll be sharing what I did that worked well for me. I’ve been wanting to write a post about this topic for three years, but I felt like I’ll be hypocritical because I didn’t do any of the things that  I’ll be talking about in post. Now I do, so it is time to finally write this post!

I cringe when I think about how unhealthy I used to be, I would drink a 2L coke in a day, ate lots of chips and ate Mcdonalds every day (gross, I know). I’m surprised how I’m not suffering from diabetes or clogged arteries, I wouldn’t even eat fruit and vegetables. However, I started to see that I cannot go on like this and in 2013 I made a solid decision to embark on a healthy lifestyle journey. I would like to point out that a healthy lifestyle is NOT a diet, diets are a big waste of time! If you want to feed your body good food, rather than treat it like a trash can,  so embrace the healthy lifestyle. Of course, I have my YOLO meals days when I eat the greasiest deep fried foods I can find. I still live pizza and chips, but I chose to have it once per week rather than every single day.

Now it is time to introduce you to my first part of this post, my workout routine! Enjoy.

MY WORKOUT ROUTINE

The first and most important point you need to remember when you want to start working out is that it depends solely on you. No one can tell you to workout and if you force yourself to exercise you will quickly lose interest in it and not feel motivated anymore. It is essential to find the workout that suits you i.e. Zumba, yoga, Pilates, weight training, running and many more. There are so many options, but you have to take your time to figure out which one is the best one for you. A few years ago, I tried to workout on own, but I didn’t have any clue what exercises to do. Eventually I gave up, but one day I discovered Blogilates and everything changed.

It was the summer of 2013 and also the time when I started to seriously commit to a healthy lifestyle change. However, I knew that if I didn’t have any fitness guidance I would eventually give up again. One day I was browsing for the Great Gatbsy soundtrack on YouTube and I came across the Blogilates Great Gatsby Cardio video.

I thought it looked like a fun workout, but I ended up not paying too much attention to it and moved on. Eventually, I came back to Blogilates thanks to one of my followers on Tumblr, who shared Cassey’s “Victoria Secret Ab Workout”. I was intrigued and I thought of checking it out, little did I know I made my way back to Blogilates the channel I initially ignored. The workout seemed hard, so I decided to see what other videos she had on her channel that were a bit easier. The first one that caught my attention was the “Gangnam Cardio Dance Workout”, I love dance cardio and this was right up alley.  Afterwards, I decided to take baby steps and do 1-2 of her workout videos per day. I didn’t want to overdo it because I know how I gave up before when I pushed myself too hard. I wanted this to be a gradual process that will lead to a long term life style change and commitment to fitness. For about two weeks I was keeping up with this pace until I found out about Cassey’s monthly workout calendars. Basically, each day is designated to workout a different part of the body i.e. abs, core, arms, butt, back, legs and thighs. Cassey combines cardio, pilates, HIIT – high intensity interval training which is perfect for toning up your body and shedding off that unnecessary fat. Here is an example of this month’s workout calendar that I am currently following:

She also has a beginner monthly workout calendar, but I wanted to challenge myself so I began with her advanced calendar. I started following her monthly workout calendar in September 2013 and it was super challening. I did the workouts for the first two weeks of the month and then I stopped because I felt discouraged. My stamina was awful, I was not flexible at all, so I felt like I’ll never make any progress (not good to have such a self-defeating attitude). Time passed and it was already mid-October,so I decided to try again. I used to be type that I would give up whenever something seemed intimidating and difficult, but if I set my mind to something I want to achieve then I won’t stop until I am successful. That’s exactly what happened when I decided to continue with Blogilates! Now I am doing her workouts every month without skipping any days and I have become more toned and strong. She has really hard workouts that I couldn’t do before and now I can. A few examples of her challenging videos are “The 100 Burpee Burnout”, “Can I do 1000 Squats” (yes I actually did this one without stopping) and “Playa Del Plank” (you basically have to do different plank moves for 7 minutes without putting your knees down). I am proud of myself and I’ve come a long way since starting Blogilates, I still need to work on some problem areas like my abs and thighs. I also want to improve my stamina as much as possible because I still get tired easily, but not as much as I used to. I am grateful for Blogilates because it has transformed my life and me, I’ve ditched the unhealthy foods and I focus on staying active.

If Cassey ever comes across this post, I just want to say thank you Cassey for being a huge inspiration and one of the best fitness instructors I’ve come across!

Aside from Blogilates, I go to yoga classes weekly, I go out running and biking! I want to stay as active as possible and continue improving! I also want to add that I’m not working out to lose weight, but to become stronger and each day that’s exactly what happens.

Now it is time to introduce to the Healthy Lifestyle Tips section of this post! Enjoy.

MY HEALTHY LIFESTYLE TIPS

1. Sleep. 

Have you heard of the expression “I need my beauty sleep”, well this expression is true, but it is also true for having a healthy body and mind. The hours of sleep recommended by doctors is 8 hours, getting less than 6.5 hours is linked to higher body fat. Therefore, if you get more sleep you will have lower body fat! If you make your sleeping schedule consistent, then your body fat will be regulated. I have become better at sticking to a strict sleeping schedule, but from time to time I have the problem of not following through. However, I don’t fall asleep at 2am anymore and I feel more refreshed and rejuvenated.

2. Drink Water.

This should be a no brainer, right? Wrong! So many people go through their day without drinking enough water, they only drink it when they are thirsty. Drinking water throughout the day is important to stay hydrated and it helps suppresses your appetite. When I drink water my belly feels full and I don’t feel the need to go and eat unnecessary snacks when I had a good meal. Drinking water also helps to burn stored fat and it flushes out any toxins. I drink one glass of water in the morning and before I go to sleep, throughout the day I drink lots of water as well.

3. Bye Bye Sugar. 

Sugar is your enemy when you are trying to shed off that unnecessary fat or to become toned. Staying away from sugar is extra hard for me because I have a huge sweet tooth. I had a little bit of a setback around the holidays, but that’s common for everyone around this time of the year. But now it is time to stop consuming the bad processed sugars and eat the ones that are good for you. Fruits have natural sugars, therefore there are a much healthier and better for your body. As for the bad sugars, that means not drinking juice and carbonated drinks and not eating too many sweets. Juice and carbonated drinks have a lot of sugar and your body does not so much. If you do need sugar in your coffee or tea, substitute it for stevia or splenda, some people also use a little bit of honey. I do not add sugar to my drinks, I don’t drink juice and soda anymore, but allow myself to have one sweet treat per week. Enjoy these things in moderation, remember it takes 21 days to get used to something new and making it a habit.

4. Do not skip meals.

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Skipping meals will not help you lose weight and become fitter, it actually does more damage than you think. Skipping meals will slow down your metabolism because the body shifts into starvation mode in order to conserve energy. When your metabolism slows down the food you consume is not burned off the way it should. Hence, why you may have some extra fat that’s not burned off properly after eating. Your metabolism is not the only thing that suffers when you skip meals, your brain will suffer too. According to nutritionist Maggie Moon, when you do not consume the nutrients your body needs there will be intellectual and emotional changes. You may feel moody and irritable, so it is very important to eat as much as you can. Plan three meals each day: breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between those meals. Hopefully this will make you think twice before you even think about skipping a meal.

5. Do not count calories.

This is personal point for me and I’ve always been against calorie counting. I do not approve of this because it can lead to an obsession, every time you eat or every time you buy food you will want to know the calorie content. I don’t think that’s healthy for the mind to obsess over calories, you want to be able to enjoy your food without this constant fear whether or not you’ll gain weight. If you are eating the right food and do not eat junk food, you have nothing to worry about. Even if you do unhealthy sometimes, you still shouldn’t count calories. You will only stress out your body and mind, then the cortisol levels will go up and your metabolism will slow down. According to recent studies, the cortisol hormone has been linked to abdominal fat that is hard to lose. Be kind to yourself when you are trying to get in shape, don’t be so obsessed with those pounds. If you are eating right and working out, everything else will fall into place!

6. Eat more vegetables and fruits.

The best food to eat is the food that mother nature grows for us! It is full with nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are so so good for your body and fill you up. According to nutritionists, it is beneficial to eat more greens and fruits that the indicated 5 servings per day. If you are not a big vegetable lover, one thing that help you become one is making green juices. The good thing about green juices is that you can put some fruit in the blender and you will not even taste the kale or spinach. This is how I started liking to eat vegetables, I’ve never hated vegetables, but I went through a phase when I didn’t eat any at all. In the past year, my vegetables and fruits in take has increased drastically. The vegetables I like to eat on a daily basis are kale, spinach, tomatoes, avocado (it has the healthy fats that you body needs), radishes, beets, broccoli and so much more. I mixed them up and try to be creative with my salads and I also like making steamed vegetables with quinoa. As for fruits, I like every kind of fruit except for kiwi and pineapple. So long story short, eat your vegetables and fruits, your body will thank you for it!

7. YOLO Meal Day.

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You might ask me, how will that benefit my healthy lifestyle choices? I remember when I tried to cut junk food out of my diet right away, I always failed at staying on track with my healthy eating. The YOLO meal day was actually something Cassey from Blogilates suggested and it is a really good idea. When you have that one day where you can enjoy your Big-Mac or poutine, the likelihood of going back to your old eating habits will be low. I eat healthy six days of the week and then I have one day to indulge and eat one unhealthy meal. Since I’ve been doing this, I haven’t felt the need to eat junk food 24/7 (I was eating really bad, you guys have nooo idea). Don’t be afraid to have one junk food meal per week, you will not gain weight from one burger.

If you guys made this far and read everything, thank you for have the patience to do that. Instead of telling you what you need to do to become healthy, I want to tell you what I did and from there you can decide to try the same method. Not everything will mentioned in this post will work for everyone, but if one person found this post helpful then my job is done. Now it is time for you to decide what to do, are you going to try to be healthy or not try at all? Remember, only you have the power to create change in your life and it will require a lot of work and effort. I’ll be cheering you on, so believe in yourself!

See you soon 🙂

Resources! 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2013/11/21/easiest-weight-loss-tip-ever-change-your-sleep-schedule/

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-little-known-benefits-of-drinking-water.html#b

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/skipping-meals