Monday, September 1, 2014

Make the Jump Toward Healthy Change!

Happy Labor Day!

Wow, it's been more than a week since I've written a post after being on quite a roll the last few months with writing. However, with some recent life changes, my blogging had to take a backseat for a few days! Also, I've been preparing materials for hosting my first LMF SugarLESS September Challenge, which starts TODAY. There is still time to join in by emailing me at It is $16 for the 30 day challenge full of guidance, support and inspiration.

I'm really looking forward to not just managing but also participating in this SugarLESS September challenge myself. Since my show in June, I've become quite "addicted" to sweets and treats again. The combination of wanting to live "in the moment," plus a bit of stress eating in recent weeks, I'm ready to go full force and have a good healthy month! For some reason, Sept. 1 seems like a perfect place to start and I'm mentally "ready" for the change and challenge. That's the thing with your health, until YOU are ready mentally, it won't happen.

With that said, Erik and I decided to cap off our "Summer of Splurge" with a trip to Extraordinary Desserts last night. We went with the marble cheesecake and a puffed pastry type dessert (can't remember the name of it) that was absolutely insane.

In this moment, I know Erik and I are truly are the perfect match.
We both love to exercise and be fit but on the inside we LOVE dessert. 
Shared both together. Pure heaven.
No guilt today. Just a new month ahead!

Being ready for your change mentally is very important for anyone wanting to make a health change to realize. Your lifestyle is always changing and evolving. It takes dedication and motivation to continue making improvements. Once you reach a goal, you can't stop there and expect things to keep improving or even stay the same when it comes to fitness. Chances are if you're not actively working toward improving yourself, you're probably regressing in some way instead.

Many of you have probably heard of the Five Stages of Change before. Here's a brief overview and how it fits into setting fitness and health goals:

  1. Pre-contemplation Stage—This is when making a change isn't even on your radar! You may have no concerns about potential health issues or simply actively turn off your brain to prevent worrying about it. Your awareness to any issues in this area is simply not there.  
  2. Contemplation Stage—This may be when you begin thinking about a potential change, yet find a reason as to why it may not be the best idea right away. This is the stage when the word "but" often into play often. Barriers such as time, money or even freedom and fun seem to outweigh the benefits that could come from a health change. 
  3. Preparation Stage—During this part of the process, you may begin making changes that will help set you up for success for the bigger change(s) ahead. This is when you might purchase a gym membership, a specific training plan or perhaps hire a personal trainer (hint, hint: consider hiring me if you're at this stage!) This stage may include setting up goals to follow during the next stage. This phase is focused on setting yourself up for success. 
  4. Action Stage—This is when you go out and "JUST DO IT" as Nike says. While the preparation stage is super important, no phase is more important than the ACTION stage. Talk is cheap, but action is worth everything. With that said, it may be beneficial to TELL others about your goals or change commitments to improve your chances of success. For example, this blog post is my way of being more accountable to myself by telling others about my SugarLESS September challenge. I'm ready for the ACTION stage again! 
  5. Maintenance Stage—This is the long term commitment phase and may be one of the most difficult. The part above where I mention if you're not improving, you may be regressing is a part of this piece of the change model. Once you reach your goal, help maintain your healthy habits by continuously reflecting on what you had to do during the ACTION stage to get where you are today. It's easy to forget sometimes what healthy foods you were eating often or what kind of exercises you did to get there, but try to keep reflecting back on those once you're in maintenance mode. Use check in tools such as a scale (if it helps you...for some, don't) or take progress pictures. Or, better yet, find new ways to push yourself physically by keeping training goals interesting. For example, sign up for a race or a competition that you've never tried before. 

By making your healthy living efforts fun, you don't have to keep floating back and forth between the stages of change, but rather live in a healthy continuum of ACTION and MAINTENANCE. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

VIDEO: Meal Prepping Basics

Just talking about meal prepping got me excited to go do my own meal prep tonight! This week I have potatoes, steak, and turkey burgers (on sale) to prep. Veggies are frozen and I heat them up as I go throughout the week. Already got most of the prep done just in the time it took to get the video uploaded and processed! 

Here's the link to my Pinterest board referenced in the video: 

Meal Prepping 101 Pinterest Board.
Don't forget to follow my boards on Pinterest for additional motivation!

I'll be adding more and more pins to this board as it's becoming one of my favorites with the ideas fellow "pinners" have! 

Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel to get more video updates in the future! Hope to do more of these types of videos even though I'm not the most comfortable behind camera, but practice makes perfect! :-)  

BOOK REVIEW: Diet Cults by Matt Fitzgerald

I love reading. I really do. However, in recent years my book reading has declined. If I had to give a reason why, it would likely be doing to overconsumption of social media. It truly is a time waster for me and I'm working on it! One way I'm trying to do that is by putting greater effort toward reading again. And reading hard and soft cover books, not ones from a digital device.

A couple months back, I joined the San Diego Library and checked out the new building downtown, which is quite wonderful. Each time I go there, I check out about five books, but if I'm lucky I'll get through one before they are due back. At the end of July, one book in particular caught my eye: Diet Cults. The image on the cover, a slice of bread with a face cut out, is really what caught my eye (so good on the author/publisher for choosing that one)!

Image Credit: Diet Cults Book Website

Now proud to say that I not only started reading this book, but finished it cover to cover. A few chapters in, I flipped back to the front pages and realized this is actually a new book, published in 2014. For some reason, that made the book even more exciting to read, knowing I'm one of the "firsts" to read it (by firsts, I mean thousands). By this point, you may be guessing that if I finished it, I probably liked the book and would recommend it. If so, you are correct!

Reading this book came at the perfect time in many ways. I'm very transparent on my blog about the struggles I've had with food in the past. After competing in my third NPC bikini show in June, I knew I wanted and needed to develop a truly healthy and balanced attitude toward food before ever stepping on stage again. It's now been two months since my last show, and despite trying to go through a "bulk" of sorts to gain muscle, it's really mentally tough some days (but overall much much better than any time in my past thanks to life experience and growth). The easiest option always seems to retreat to some type of restriction. 

Restriction from sweets. Restriction from entire food groups. Restriction from simply listening to your body naturally but rather counting, counting, counting (calories, portions, etc.) Anyway, as I picked up Matt's book Diet Cults the few days prior those thoughts were slowly creeping back in. I remember thinking about beginning the Whole 30 in coming days because my "free" and "balanced" lifestyle just seemed too loose and "out of control." 

And then I started reading...
And while I'm not going to go ahead and give you a step by step of the entire book, here's a basic overview:  
  • Each chapter dives into a particular diet that has a very strong, almost religious-like following of many many people throughout the U.S., including: 
    • Raw 
    • Paleo
    • Weight Watchers
    • Super foods 
    • Atkins or the anti-potato diet
    • Gluten-free
    • Protein club (bodybuilding)
    • And more 
  • Each chapter gives historical context of each diet, as well as background on how it came to exist. Scientific data is provided throughout, which may seem like it'd be dry, but the author is able to keep it interesting, while pointing out instances when data goes against a particular diet cult 
  • Fitzgerald also provides context for each diet cult and its serious following by providing a real life story, featuring an individual who follows that diet, describing how and why each person got started, showing what their lifestyle is like because of it 
  • Throughout each chapter, holes are poked in every diet for a variety of reasons. And while many of the cult members think a particular diet is the only or best option for them, chances are the individual could get just as good or better results eating differently
  • Throughout the entire book, Fitzgerald drives home the point that diet cults exist because it's natural for humans to want structure and want results. We want rules and to know if we do THIS we will get THAT
  • It should be noted that exercise is seen as very important in the eyes of the author (as it should). Exercise can really help offset the differences amongst a variety of diets and give someone that extra edge or push to live healthy 
  • As someone who has been a part of "The Protein Club," chapter 13 was one of my favorites, in particular. Fitzgerald says, "If you ask a longtime member of any healthy-diet cult why he eats the way he does, he will probably say something to the effect of because it works. This is true as far as it goes. Seasoned followers of diet cults are almost invariably satisfied with the results they're getting. But what they're often deceived about is the fact that the particular diet they follow is not necessary to the attainment of those results ... Diet-cult members believe they are eating more pragmatically than the rest of us do, when in fact they are eating more ritualistically." In my experience, as soon as that strict and ritualistic way of eating stops in any way, it can mentally feel like it's making a huge difference physically, even if it's not making THAT much of a difference realistically
Everything wraps up with the "Agnostic Healthy Eating" chapter. What is agnostic healthy eating? It's an invention by Fitzgerald who offers an alternative reasonable approach to healthy eating. It's not a diet made up of extremes or one that cuts out any particular group. Instead, it's a flexible approach that can accommodate a variety of lifestyles and help people stop falling victim to the brainwashing many fad diets do. After reading his agnostic healthy eating plan, there's really nothing in it that came as a surprise. Everything from vegetables to fried foods are included on his categories of food and nothing is cut out completely. It does, as it typically does upon closer examination, come down to moderation. Eat more of the recommended foods category and less of acceptable foods. There are no forbidden foods in an agnostic healthy eating lifestyle which can be quite liberating in a world filled with diet cults that tell us no, no, no. 

Diet Cults was a refreshing read with insights that have kept me in check in recent weeks since finishing it. The book has made me stop and think a little harder before fleeing to join a diet club when that seems like the best option. Interestingly, since becoming aware of this type of agnostic healthy eating, I've been noticing it more and more, seeing a push back to diets with restrictions. At IDEA World, in fact, Jillian Michaels spoke of this same type of eating theory. She didn't refer to it as "agnostic healthy eating," but what she was describing is exactly that. She does not agree with cutting anything out completely, but rather a balance of 80/20. At another session, a dietician leading a class on "Nutrition and the News" also drove home the point that most of the time it is not necessary for people to be making major cuts to any particular food group, but rather eating with balance in mind. 

And there you have it, my thoughts on Diet Cults. If you want to know more, you'll have to give the book a read. If you do, please let me know what you think. Hope you get out of it as much as I did! 

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