Moving to a Plant Based Diet

This year sure has been full of changes for me. First, I started a new job as a wine buyer for a large retail store. Going back to having to be at a place 8 hours a day 5 days a week has taken adjustment, since I’ve worked for myself pretty much for close to a decade now and had freedom to fit in gym, friends and social activities whenever I wanted. Not so much anymore. Secondly, my husband and I moved to a new town.  That change I absolutely love, we have a big backyard now that is fenced in for our children (two boxers) to roam around in and I am now only an 8 minute drive from the gym – no excuses!!

Lastly, the biggest change in my life has been that I’ve decided to finally go meat and dairy free. I have been pondering this decision for months, if not years. My love for animals and passion for animal rights is the only thing that gets me really riled up, and when I see clips of the absolute horrific practices of the meat and dairy industry, I am depressed for days and can’t get the images out of my head.  I also am the mother of two boxer puppies who I love above everything- so why do I then go and eat a pig, a cow or a chicken who has the same feelings and emotions and the right to a quality life as my dogs? I could no longer live with myself or watch myself in the mirror in the morning, and finally decided it was time.  I can’t explain what a relief it is, and how light and free I feel.   I am no longer contributing to another living being’s pain and suffering.

I was never a big meat eater to begin with (I ate mostly chicken if anything) and have always loved vegetables and had limited my intake of dairy anyway since I was prepping for shows the past three years. Today there are so many wonderful alternatives to meat, cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese and butter that I honestly could see no valid reason for continuing to support the macabre actions of people who think the only purpose of animals is to feed them and serve them somehow.

The first question I think every person who is not eating animal products get is “How do you get your protein?”  Protein can be found in many sources, such as nuts and nut butters, legumes, non dairy milk,  quinoa, tofu, even vegetables. I recently switched to a pea and bamboo shoot protein powder that provides just the same macro nutrients of protein, carbohydrates and fat as my old whey protein.  I also make sure to supplement with BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) before/during/after my workouts as well as a multi vitamin twice daily. Often, people exaggerate their intake of protein – we don’t really need to be overloading on it, in fact when I was eating chicken and eggs I only had about 4 oz or so of chicken and 3 egg whites at a time (and I’m tall/a big girl).  I fill up on vegetables which are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and.. yes, some protein too!  By balancing my macro nutrients I am consuming exactly the same amount of calories as I was before.  I already feel so much lighter knowing I’m not stuffing my body with meat and dairy that has been poisoned with hormones and antibiotics and.. let’s face it, fear, torture and death.

It took a while before it dawned on me why it would be useless to give up meat if I didn’t simultaneously give up dairy. The dairy industry, is in fact – even worse than the meat industry in how they pain and torture the cows. A cow has to remain pregnant and give birth her whole life in order to produce the milk that we humans OH SO DESPERATELY NEED (not), and so she is repeatedly inseminated with semen (i.e. raped) and her off springs are ripped away from her right away, causing her immense grief for days.  Male calves are deemed useless, and kept in cages where they are not allowed to move so the meat gets “tender”, and given minimal food to cause that anemic look to the skin that people love to see when ordering veal in restaurants.  The female calves suffer the same fate as their mothers.   The apparatus that gets suctioned on to their (abnormally LARGE) uterus cause infections (the cows scream in pain when the machines are placed on them) and puss enters into the milk and guess what … YOU.  And the cycle continues.  Want milk still?

There are plenty of muscular, healthy vegan body builders out there… To continue eating meat and dairy just because we are afraid we are going to lose our muscles is just sheer, utter BS, to put it mildly.   A question I have gotten in just the past couple of weeks since I announced my new lifestyle is “You don’t eat meat or dairy? What’s left?” thinking that the vegan diet is limited and boring. Nothing could be further from the truth! While I am not 100% vegan yet as I am transitioning slowly (I still eat some select seafood),  I have no problem finding a great variety of foods that will satisfy me and give me nutrients. Imagine all the legumes out there; black beans, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, red beans, white beans, pinto, etc.  Then there is quinoa, all kinds of rice, and.. .my secret weapon: Fresh herbs and a huge variety of spices! I have gotten better at using exotic spices to brighten up my food and bring it to life. Today I made a bean soup stuffed with different vegetables, and I added fresh rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and oregano, as well as a Persian Spice Mix I got at my local spice shop as well as toasted cumin, coriander and fennel seeds.  I also toasted in some garlic and sauteed onion, added vegetable broth and… magic was born!

I will be blogging more about my experience switching over to plant based foods and dealing with people’s reactions… they have not to date been very positive, as most people just can’t seem to understand, basically because they don’t have the information or believe in “bro-science” if you will.  People also don’t want to feel uncomfortable with their own choices (i.e. of eating meat) so they feel they have to defend themselves, which I understand to a degree – I did it myself most of my life.  Regardless, I am the happiest I’ve ever been, because I am no longer turning a blind eye to the injustice that goes on to defenseless, loving animals around the globe. I want to make a difference, just like I want to make a difference in my own life of building a strong and healthy body. I hope you will join me !!

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Don’t put limits on your imagination!

I watched my favorite sermon on TV this morning, and was struck by this simple message.  Sure, we hear it all the time in many inspirational posts seen on FB, Twitter and elsewhere, but seldom do we give it much thought.  Sometimes it may even come off as irritating, annoyingly positive; fit people who just stepped off the treadmill and the endorphins received may feel like all their problems are gone and they can take on the world.  Well, isn’t that exactly the purpose of working out and being fit?

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What does the above statement really mean? Putting limits on your imagination will only limit what you are able to achieve in life.  Many times, what you can imagine is much smaller than what you are actually capable of! The problem? We don’t dare to dream and imagine big things for ourselves!

What is the difference between successful people and people who don’t reach their goals?  We all put in work and try to do our best in life.  But the people who succeed have that one additional advantage: they believe in themselves.  They dare to dream large. They don’t doubt for a second that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to and more, despite many disadvantages they may have.  “If he / she can do it, so can I”,  is so true, but instead of only imagining doing the same as your next door neighbor, dare to think you can do even better. Push yourself, stop making excuses and stop trying to find all the (bogus)  reasons as to why you are not able to.  Instead of using energy to come up with all the things that you don’t have, all the situations that are difficult in your life – focus on all the elements that are in place that you do have, think of everything you have been blessed with and go from there.

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If you start a sentence with “I can’t imagine having that body”, “I can’t imagine spending that much time in the gym” or “I can’t even begin to imagine having that much money”, your statement will come true.  Because you have already given up by uttering those words and what you think will become reality.  That lady next to you in the weight room with the banging body, doesn’t have more hours in the day than you. She was also rewarded 24 hours, but she may choose to use them differently than you, and  she may utilize the other 23 hours in her day in other ways than you. Instead of reaching for that bag of potato chips and sitting down by the TV at night after a long day, she goes for a walk or chooses to clean the house or select to eat a cup of yogurt because that will feed her muscles and help her reach her goal.  She may not have the perfect “genetics” either (an excuse you hear a lot of from unfit people looking for reasons as to why they “can’t” or are not working towards their dream physique). Her torso may be too long/ too short, she may have trouble with holding too much weight in her lower body as well, but that doesn’t stop her.  She knows she will get there one day, as long as she puts her work in, day in and day out.

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I certainly didn’t think I was going to be standing on a stage in a bikini and high heels in front of a large crowd at nearly 40 years of age.  But I had a vision, and I kept working towards it.  The result? A body better than what I had in my 20s, and a six pack I didn’t even think I could achieve a decade ago, but all of a sudden when I started on my fitness journey and decided I was going to go all out, I changed my mind to “I can’t” to “I can”.   My situation wasn’t different than any others, I had just changed my thinking, switched the “possibility” button to on instead of off.  Despite many people’s initial skeptic reactions and negative comments, I finally realized that I was worth it, that I was just as good as anybody around me and deserved to do this for me.

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This translated not only into my fitness life, but into my career and personal life as well.  I saw changes in how I handled my personal relationships, I became more secure in who I was as a person (fitness changes you not only on the outside but on the inside as well!) and consequently I achieved more peace in my life.  At work, I went for opportunities I previously had not dared go for, because I had convinced myself that everybody else was more qualified or talented than I was.  This trait I have to admit, is more of a female than a male trait. I read somewhere that when women apply for a job, they feel they must meet 100% of the requirements in the job ad in order to go for it, while men don’t hesitate to send in their resume even if they only meet 50%. Something to think about.  Dare to believe you are more than qualified.

IMAGINE where you are headed – place a picture of yourself of when you felt like you were healthier or of how you want to be, on the fridge .  Keep a pair of jeans the size you want to be in the closet so you can look at it every day.  Believe that you will get there one day… and you will not only be there, you will go further than you had ever imagined!

Don’t ever think a dream is too big – you were put on this earth to do great things, and to surpass what you thought was possible. Convince yourself that you are more than capable of achieving your big dreams, and when you reach your goal,  set higher ones the next time. You will be AMAZED at yourself, believe me! Keep the faith and keep working hard – fight to be fit in all areas of your life!

Diet and food temptations – the mental game

I always find that my clients, friends and people I talk to in general find dieting a much tougher challenge than the actual working out part. Why is that? Probably because training  typically only takes about an hour max (unless you are one of those airheads who do cardio three hours a day, lol) whereas you are left the other 23 hours facing the fridge, the cafeteria, the restaurant, bar, deli on the corner, vending machine at work, etc….. temptations everywhere around you.

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We are taught that food is “fun”, food is “social” and it’s something to do when we get together  in groups, whether it’s meeting friends for a glass of wine, or  going to holiday parties, birthday celebrations, weddings… food is everywhere! And the food is never carrots and celery sticks with low fat dips, grilled  fish or chicken (with no  oil)  and salad, but more often fried foods, cakes, desserts,  alcohol… well, you get my drift.  It’s hard to stand up against peer pressure and not  resort  to what everyone else is doing. My favorite is “Oh, come on-have a piece of cake, you deserve it!” (what exactly does that mean?) or “you are so fit – one piece won’t hurt!” No, I’m sure one piece won’t hurt, but what if I have to go to another gathering the next night, and then the next night, that won’t be just “one piece”, and why is everyone so preoccupied with what I’m eating? Why can’t get  togethers be about having great conversations and doing a fun (non food related) activity?

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Of course I’m playing devil’s advocate here. As most of you know, I’m a professional chef and a wine educator, so I live  off of people’s desire to eat and drink, in fact I encourage  it.  And I participate in  these events regularly.  Where would I be without parties filled with food and wine?  I’m certainly not saying that you shouldn’t have  a piece of cake at your daughter’s birthday party, or go out to a lavish dinner with your husband or boy friend for your anniversary or have a bottle of wine to celebrate a promotion,   enjoy with your Saturday evening meal or even just if you feel like it… Life is more than just a treadmill, some weights and looking good in a two piece. Life has to be enjoyed too. But.. there is also finding that balance, that  dreaded, cliche like “B” word…

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In my mind, there is nothing admirable in a person who obsesses about her/his workout and diet and isolates him/herself from the rest of the world to avoid temptations  in the real world, just to keep that top  notch figure. Are you really living the life you want? Miserable, constantly thinking about food and being irritable because you can’t have what you really want?  I doubt it.   What  I find is a successful person, is someone who knows how to balance the two – eating healthy 90% of the  time, but will not  freak out at the  sight  of a bowl of ice cream or a slice of pizza and think “thunder thighs!!” but just accept that the choice you make there and then, is quite ok. If you decide to eat it, it’s because it can be a ‘cheat meal’, or a meal you want at that time (sometimes it’s better to have ONE piece of what you crave instead of eating around it – you’ll end up eating more calories in “healthy” food and fool yourself you made the better choice).  If you decide not to, it’s because you want to keep your diet in check and you are on a health kick.   In the end, you may feel better with that choice.  Both options are good, if they make YOU feel good. Don’t feel guilt, shame, regret or anxiousness over food. This is when a problem can occur. Food should be nourishment to your body, yes- but in my opinion, it should also be enjoyable.  Food is amazing, it’s part of our culture and it CAN be a positive addition to your life, not just something you have to deal with.

Assorted healthy food.

Once you practice trying to have a more relaxed relationship to food, your weight will drop. You will no longer have insane cravings, because as we know – cravings are mental, never physical hunger- and you will start wanting real food to feed your body, to feed your muscles.   Cravings are made-up  ‘realities’  of what you THINK you want – but when you let go and tell yourself “hey, I can have it if I want to”, it’s  amazing how quickly you will turn it down because you’ll find you no longer want it 🙂

Today all I wanted was a grilled piece of chicken with some fresh vegetables, that is when I knew I was HUNGRY, not obsessing about some piece of chocolate or loaf of bread.  My body is craving healthy, nourishing foods that contain protein, carbs and fat these days, this is when I feel best;  full of energy, light and fit.  Try to mentally picture yourself how you’ll feel after you eat a big chocolate or a bowl of ice cream.   Will that make you feel better afterwards? Will it help you reach your goal? If the answer is no, turn it down most of the time.   Treats  like these are called treats for a reason- they are not an every day indulgence,  but a  piece of food reserved for a special occasion. Treat it as such, and you will appreciate it even more- and your body will be happy too!

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Photo Source: itv.com

 

Know your CPR

While I think it is important for you all to know CPR  (and mandatory for all you trainers out there), I am speaking of another kind of CPR vital to your success when trying to achieve or maintain a fit lifestyle.  These qualities are present in all the people you see out there who have mastered a lean, muscular body. You have to be:

Consistent

Patient

Resilient

Consistency is probably the most important of all, as it may perhaps be a result of the other two parts. How often don’t we hear our friends, colleagues, family or gym buddies tell us of one diet followed by another that is the ‘next big thing’, while their bodies don’t seem to change at all.   “Oh, I’m on this new diet now, it’s supposed to turn all your fat to energy if you eat before 3” blablabla.. As modern human beings, we’d like to hear that it’s easy and quick, there is some sort of magic formula that will turn our bodies into abs, buns and legs of steel while still being able to eat, drink and do whatever we feel like.  Wouldn’t that be nice!   Meanwhile, if you glance across your gym you might see a number of fit people there among the not so fit ones.  Do you think they all have the same schedule, eat the same thing and do the same exercises? Of course not. But what the fit people have in common is consistency.  They go to the gym every day, they stick to healthy, low fat foods and they constantly set new goals to work towards, not just have one single date they obsess about.  They may not have the most advanced training program or the most high tech equipment, but they are consistently training, whether it’s weight lifting, biking or running or both, and even a  less than optimal training program will produce results after a while.  Which brings me to the next point.

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PATIENCE is just as important as consistency. Many people I come across only want to know “how long is it going to take to look like that”, not what they have to change or do or how they need to act in order to achieve their goals.  This is when the mind has not connected with the body, and as we know, the mind is a powerful thing.   Whether it is fitness or weight gain, the mind is the most important part of your body you need to change.  You must learn to love your body whether it is 300 lbs or 120 lbs, and understand that working towards your dream body will take time, just as it took time for you to gain those extra pounds you no longer want to drag around.  Know that if you eat right or as healthy as you possibly can every day, get your workouts in and at the same time be kind and gentle with yourself, you WILL get there.   Gaining a great physique is a life long job, there will always be some parts you want to modify or improve upon; this is what is so motivating and inspiring about fitness.  We can always get better, whether it is esthetics or strength (you may want to keep pushing to lift heavier, and set new PRs, etc)  thus our task is never done. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proud and happy with your body- just that there will always be a new goal and a task you can work on if you are a person who need continuous goals to strive towards.  Don’t just hold your breath for when those 10 lbs are gone – who knows what you will look like? The scale doesn’t tell you anything. Just because you reach a certain weight, doesn’t mean all your problems disappear or you become a brand new person inside. Be patient with yourself in every aspect of your life while simultaneously respecting yourself enough to constantly (and patiently) working towards greater achievements. Because you are capable!!

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RESILIENCE is what separates the winners from the losers, the ones who make it and the ones who just can’t seem to collect their minds to get there.  When reading about successful people, I can guarantee that everyone has had a story of failure – a time when they attempted something and did not achieve what they had hoped.  Failures at one point or another is guaranteed, so learn how to recover from them. While some might get so discouraged they stop trying, successful people shrug it off and try even harder the next time.  In fitness, you won’t always jump out of bed in the morning, excited about the day, full of energy, feeling happy and ready to hit the gym. Some days you will feel lethargic or have low energy, be depressed, experience an emergency, have sick kids, and your day will be all messed up.  This is when it is really easy to give yourself an excuse not to keep going.  These are the times that build “character”, and makes you stronger too, if you just decide to go about your day and continue eating right and working out anyway.   Keep thinking of the importance of consistency in our first point and I guarantee your body and mind will thank you.  Embrace your failures because without them, you wouldn’t know how to succeed. You learn more from the times that don’t work, than the times that do. So be grateful for tough times, because they shape you as a person and make you more interesting.

I read somewhere that it takes just as much energy to be miserable as it does to be happy – so why would you choose the former? You have a choice how you look at your life, your day, your opportunities, problems, strengths and weaknesses.  We all have them, just as we all have the same 24 hours in a day.  Choose to be resilient and the feeling of victory is near!!

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Reflections and week end thoughts

I’ve had a pretty good week.  After having been in a bit of a “robotic state” at the gym and in life in general for some months, I’m beginning to find my own groove, what works for me and have developed more independence and confidence when it comes to what I want and what works for me. It may come as a surprise to some of you to hear that- after all, I’ve accomplished quite a bit and pretty much do what I say I will do, I finish a goal I set and I don’t get derailed very quickly. But life is also about tough times, feeling “weak” (which is a wrong terminology if you ask me, it’s called being human) and just experiencing ups and downs like everybody else. I have also been a “student” of many schools and successful people and pretty much soaked in as much information as I possibly could during the last few years.  So my reflections are…

What I discovered does NOT work for me, is look to others and what they are doing, and think the same will work for me.  It’s simply not true.  I used to get a bit taken away with what others were doing – oh my god, that girl is doing THREE hours of cardio a day! She must be serious!!  What a joke. Being in the competitive circles, I am surrounded by 20-year old girls who obsess about their bodies, and all they can seem to think or focus on, is the gym, tilapia and protein powder. I’m sorry, but I’ve lived a little longer and in a few more places than most of these individuals, been on my own in foreign countries since I was 18, and I have more interests than just what I need to consume directly after a workout to feed my muscles.  Misunderstand me correctly – I am not saying that fitness is not one of the most important things in my life – it IS. I love the feeling I get from being in shape, completing that last rep I didn’t think I could, and how my body feel when I’m eating healthy and wholesome. BUT… that doesn’t mean it needs to consume my life, and take over and occupy my brain so much that I can’t be open to other interests and viewpoints. I get so sick of that in the fitness business.  I like to have more than ONE interest, you know? So you have a hot smoking body  now- what about when you’re 60, and 70? Sure you can have a great body for your age, but you ultimately have to develop some depth to your character and personality.  The importance of (the oh so overused word) balance and humility has really hit home with me as of late. Sure, while you’re competing for a show, you must focus and be a bit obsessive, but does it define who you are? Will it contribute to hitting long term goals that will define your life?  You’re not even getting PAID for this, quite the opposite – it can cost THOUSANDS of dollars to compete. For 1 minute on stage. Sure, it’s a thrill while you’re up there, especially if you win a trophy, but let’s all put it in perspective here. And be in touch with reality.  I’m at the stage in my life where I need to prioritize making money, but most of all fulfilling my mind and feel like I’m using my most important muscle; THE BRAIN.  I suppose this is why I have selected to distance myself from certain individuals who seem too self-important. It’s only IRON, folks! 🙂

So I have selected to surround myself with people who love fitness, but have a healthy relationship to it and practice balance. They have their daily life with their kids, husbands, eating out, celebrating birthdays and eating the occasional cake here and there without needing to post a piece about how life will now end as they will gain 10 lbs overnight – hey, they even drink wine!!  And guess what: THEY STILL HAVE SMOKING BODIES!! My first trainer is a great example of that. But more importantly, they seem happier. More relaxed. So refreshing.  I like to think I possess the talent of being super serious in the gym (no talking, messing around with my hair, watching my reflection in the mirror every 2 seconds) getting the work done, and then immediately switching to getting business taken care of afterwards, whether it be preparing for a wine tasting, prepping a healthy menu for a client or meeting with business partners.

Today I worked out with a friend who is the epitome of all of the above. A competitive weight lifter, she is the strongest female I know.   She happens to have the world record in bench press for her weight class and is amazingly strong. So humble, easy going and supportive.  Fittingly, we worked out chest today, and as chest is my weakest body part, I found it incredibly inspiring to work out with her.  I even hit a PR !! With my injured shoulder from 2 years ago, it has been somewhat tricky to work out the chest and have been discouraged at times when going in to it this body part. Some days it really hurts, other days it feels stronger. Regardless, I highly recommend you guys work out with a partner (who is compatible or better than you) from time to time, to break up your routine and put some spice into it! You can learn from each other, pick up new routines or little twists here and there that is all a part of growing.

What’s my point of all of this rambling? Nothing really, other than to say it feels good to gain confidence in what I’m doing, both work out and diet wise, to keep on doing research on my own and find a method that I feel comfortable with, something I can live with for the rest of my life. This is not a “stage” I’m going through, it’s an adjustment of how I used to live, and a better one at that. I also feel irritated by all the “wanna be coaches” who jump on the latest bandwagon and just repeat jargon and “broscience” as they call it, but nobody seem to really have any scientific proof or reasoning behind their borrowed theories. That is why I always recommend to my clients that they do their own research, and study up on the body, because in all honesty – in this business very little requirements are placed on trainers and “diet coaches”  when it comes to education and certification and consequently,  a lot of misinformation is being exchanged.

All seriousness aside – the point of fitness, and anything in life in my opinion – is to HAVE FUN!! If it stops being fun, it’s time to reassess what you’re doing! With that – I wish everyone a wonderful weekend doing something fun and rewarding for you and your body, and hope you’ll check back with me soon! xoxoxo

Cravings

Most people who are involved with body building and prepping for a show agree that the most difficult part to handle is the diet. In order to “lean out” so that the muscles appear more visible, very little body fat can be left on the surface. In order to achieve this, not only must you worry about a low fat diet, but one where you control all the macronutrients (carbs, proteins, fats) and ‘juggle’ them the right way so to be in synch with how the body works. I’m not going to lie when I say that I am overwhelmed by all the new information I’m learning and must sit down each time and assess whether or not a particular method will work for me, but also if I can live with it. I don’t want to adopt a diet I cannot maintain for a longer period of time without being miserable – but at the same time I realize that the body of a bodybuilder does not come for free. Sacrifices must be made, and some days are definitely tougher than others.

I have just completed my first week of absolutely NO cheating on the Fighter Diet, by the amazing Pauline Nordin. I went on her diet a couple of months ago and did quite well, even though I snuck in a couple of handfuls of almonds here and there, a cracker or a piece of fruit, etc. Well, this week I followed it to a tee and I can feel a big difference! My body is tightening up already and I’ve dropped 2 lbs, even though I’m not half as active cardio wise as I used to be! Pretty amazing. As a tall girl, it normally assists me in looking leaner than shorter girls, but I also have a harder time looking “big” and muscular, because obviously I have a lot more surface to cover! 🙂  Measuring body fat next week at the gym, I’ll be curious to see if that has gone down too.  Tomorrow I am doing my “carb loading” day, where I will consume anything from oatmeal to cereral (I even get to have a banana with it!), a fruit yogurt (sugar),  some more fruit (apple), sushi, a chocolate (non fat) jello dessert and for dinner: a pork chop with a whole sweet potato and green peas. Loading up on carbs is to shock the body and preventing it from thinking it will have very little calories and carbs, and ‘confuse’ it’ so as to not create a plateau.  I can’t wait to try it, although I’ve found that this week has gone by pretty quickly and easily and I’m more motivated than ever to stay focused and good.  I normally eat grains with dinner for instance (quinoa, barley, etc.) even if it’s just a 1/2 cup, but now I’ve cut that out and surprisingly I don’t miss it! Eating clean is not just about healthy food for me anymore, it’s about following the principles of the Fighter Diet so I can stay super lean while building muscles at the same time. Not for the average person, I can tell you – but definitely the healthiest way to get to a ripped body, that I’ve seen out there. The Fighter Diet lets you eat a LOT of food – filling up on volume rich, but less calorie dense foods such as cruciferous vegetables/greens and supplementing with lots of fiber in the morning (wheat bran and flax seed) to fill you up and also help with digestion. For girls with big appetites – just like me!

It feels wonderful to have “conquered” my mind to not give in to my cravings, for once. I spent a lot of time this week reflecting on why I always seem to resort to food or drink (read: wine) when I am home.  Sometimes it’s definitely a version of boredom, although I never have problems finding ways to occupy myself.  The other part of the reason might be because of the way I grew up.  I lived in a small town with few opportunities (I was involved with sports and music though and managed to keep busy), and most people were, and still are, busy taking care of their families, and sitting in their pretty houses that they’ve spent a gazillion dollars building, day in and day out. What do you do at home to entertain yourself? Watch TV and… make a delicious meal, of course! Coupled with wine, you can really dream and pretend you are on some paradise island or in another exotic location – makes sense, right? 🙂  Nothing wrong with this of course, but when it becomes a daily routine, and there is no longer just a ‘special occasion’, obviously your waist line will begin to suffer, and one can become “lazy” in the creative department. After all, it’s much more tempting to make a nice risotto and pop open that bottle of Barolo (if you’re lucky), rather than put on your gym shoes and go out running or stop in at the gym! Especially on a cold, dark night, of which there are plenty in Norway.  I learned from my mother, who comforted everyone around her with her delicious home cooking. I started doing the same for my husband, who is a chef, and naturally, were quite preoccupied with food as well. Four years into our marriage I was 20 lbs overweight and not happy. So I keep thinking of that Sunny when people tell me “Oh but why don’t you allow yourself a piece of cheese cake? You look so great, it won’t hurt!”.  One of my other favorites is: “Oh if you get a craving, you must just give in to it, otherwise you end up eating around it.” Says who?? Another popular excuse to get lazy and just eat whatever your mind tells you to do. The mind can play tremendous tricks on us, it’s incredible in fact the power it can have  over our actions if we allow it. The solution here is to not allow that voice to win, but to practice strength and stay focused, because that is how you get closer to your goal! (and have you ever felt great by the way, after having given in to one of your silly cravings? not me!)

Comments and suggestions to try to persuade me to stray from my course no longer bother me, as  I realize it is other people’s insecurities if they must point out my eating habits and correct them to their liking. What matter the most to me, is that I am the master of my own mind! I, and only I, decide whether or not to have that snack, or what goes in to my body. It feels good to be in control and to be able to steer myself in the direction I want to go.  I have a choice, and I make a conscious choice every time I pop something in my mouth. For the most part, I no longer crave super unhealthy foods, although ice cream is my favorite still – but that’s ok! I save those for my re-feed days (tomorrow, yay!) and I am allowed one every 6-7 days and that is just the right amount to keep me happy. Balance is key, coupled with elements of extreme methods 🙂

I pray I will stay mentally strong in the next coming months and look forward to getting to know my body better and how it reacts to various nutrients. Nothing tastes better than having a hard, fit body – at least not to me! 🙂

Short-term and long term goals

I have been reading Tom Venuto’s amazing ebook, “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” this week and as a result, feel re-charged, motivated and inspired to continue my fitness journey and ramp it up even more.  This book is particularly for serious fitness buffs, figure competitors, body builders, etc. while he also has another book out in bookstores at the moment called “The Body Fat Solution” which is geared more towards the average person who want to get tips on how to lower body fat and bettering their diet and work out regimen.

Sometimes it’s difficult to get some of my friends who are not into fitness or lifting as much as I am, to understand the level of interest I have in this field. I am determined to not let comments get to me or get me discouraged, or make me feel “crazy” or insane, because I know that everything I do is healthy – and the fact that I’m challenging myself each and every day can seem a bit ‘obsessive’ to some. I’m not sure why that is, perhaps some feel bad about themselves because they haven’t found their passion, that they are not working out enough or watching their diet as well as they should, and so on. At any rate, it is not my job to figure out someone else’s motives and reasons why they behave the way they do – I’m way too busy thinking about myself, ha! That may sound selfish and a bit narcissistic, but the fact of the matter is everyone should be thinking and concentrating more about themselves, before putting any focus on others. If everyone followed that rule, I swear there would be fewer wars in the world!!

Tom Venuto talks about goal setting as absolutely mandatory when wanting to improve your health, diet, physique, and for that matter- anything else you want to achieve in life.  Human beings are naturally goal strivers, but most are not aware of their sub-conscious mind, which for the most part talks to us in a negative manner (something like 98% of the population). Have you ever set a goal but then deep down there is a voice that is doubting you’ll ever get there? That’s your subconsciousness showing up.  When you set your goal, don’t focus on what you want to avoid, but what you want to achieve. Hence, don’t say “I don’t want to be fat anymore” but rather “I will be 10 lbs lighter in 8 weeks”. Talk to yourself in a positive manner, and write down your goals.  This latter part many seem to shrug at and say “I already know what I want, I don’t need to write them down”, but this can be a very big mistake. In fact, in addition to writing them down, make sure to look at them twice a day – once in the morning and one at night, and more often if you can. Only by repetition can we change that subconscious mind of ours and turn it into a positive voice, that tells us ‘we can do this! and – we will do it!”. Why do you think for instance big companies like Coca Cola and McDonalds, just to mention a couple, invest so much in billboards, ads both in magazines and TV? By constantly being exposed to their messages, it eventually becomes engrained in our mind.

I wrote down my short-term and long-term goals last night and I read them this morning when having breakfast. Some of my short term goals, which I define as a 12-week goal, are to lose 3% body fat (which will get me down to single digits), get that six pack exposed, as well as increasing my cardio by 45 minutes per day.  I would also like to be able to bench press 100 lbs on the incline. My long term goal (meaning 1 year from now) is to have registered for a figure competition and have entered it by next summer.  With that in mind, I need to focus on day to day activities so I can slowly get to where I want to be in 12 weeks from now, and eventually – a year from now. I’ve decided to include glutamine in my day as a supplement to my diet of wholesome, healthy foods. Glutamine occurs naturally in your body, and the most common amino acid in your body (over 60% of skeletal muscle is glutamine). Taking an additional dosage of it in form of tablets or powder (I choose the latter and mix it in with my water), can prevent your muscles to be catabolized in order to provide glutamine for other cells in your body.  It can also help speed up recovery between work outs and help produce growth hormones. It may also help boost your immune system, and for body builders this is important since heavy workouts tend to greatly deplete glutamine levels. This in turn decreases strength, stamina and recovery – none of which is good when building! Glutamine helps metabolize protein, and with increasing growth hormones, helps metabolize fat and support muscle growth.  Especially when “cutting” – meaning decreasing body fat while needing to maintain muscle, glutamin has proven to be a good assistant. With this information in hand as cutting is my goal right now, I decided to add it in, in addition to my BCAA’s (Branch-chain amino acids) I take before and after my work out. Here’s  a picture of my glutamine:

I’m not a fan of adding a ton of supplements, as I believe you can get most nutrients from “real food” but in addition to the BCAAs, I find that glutamine is well worth the experiment. I will be sure to report back on any developments!

Another thing I discovered and have been lucky to find is Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon that comes in these little pouches:

Much lighter in fat than the fresh salmon fillets, and of course being wild rather than farmed (which most salmons out there seem to be these days), they provide 120 calories per pouch, 1 g fat and 13 g of both protein and potassium – they are also an easy snack to bring along when you are out and about. I usually snack on one of these in the afternoon or mid morning after a very early breakfast. You can also add them to your salad, or mix with some mustard, vegetables and herbs for a delicious spread on your healthy sandwich!  They are notoriously hard to find in these easy to carry pouches, mostly I find them in cans, but I was so lucky that my (avant garde, if I may mention) little grocery store carries them regularly so I buy as many as I can get my hands on when I see them. Having some protein for your snack or in between meals, is so much more satisfying and healthy than chewing on carbs, which only raises your blood sugar levels and make you crash and burn or get even hungrier. So consider this little guy next time you are hungry and need a pick me up!

After you read this – sit down and write down YOUR short term and long term goals.  Don’t just think about it, do it now! If you read them to yourself often and consistently enough – only your own mind will be in your way of achieving these missions. Trust the process and be positive!