My Gut Health Journey – Phase 2

ICYMI – I started my own Gut Health Journey, after diving into the Gut Balance Revolution book. The first phase was a 30-day cleanse that showed major improvements with a keto-like approach to cleanse my gut. It was wildly successful, but only the first part of this journey.

The Gist Of it.

This Phase 2 is rolled out as “do it until you reach your goal weight.” When I ended the first Phase I was still 5-6lbs away from my goal weight, but was 15lbs down already. The focus of Phase 2 was adding prebiotics and probiotics back into our diet to add the good gut florals back after being cleansed. I thought we would be on this for a quick two weeks, but we’ve been working through Phase 2 for almost four weeks now. I was also nervous about this phase since a lot of the ways prebiotics and probiotics are added back in during this phase is through yogurt, kefir, and a few other typically not so dairy friendly diet options. This phase also adds in a variety of fermented items like pickles, sauerkraut and beets, yum!

Our portions for Phase 2 seemed a lot bigger than Phase 1 – so we were a bit shocked, and questioned if we were portioning correctly, although didn’t complain. We also were adding in more good carbs, like black beans, garbanzo beans, steal oats and buckwheat porridge, just to name a few — this also had me a bit hesitate as they aren’t only filling (while is great), but they’re also carbs!! As I’ve continued reading, I’ve learned that picking good carbs and controlling the portion better are OK to incorporate into the diet.

my phase 2 results

I finally hit my goal weight of 154 at the start of week three in this phase for a total weight loss of 20lbs, which was conveniently right before our beach vacation. And I’m down nearly 7.4% in total body fat since the start of this journey. I also had little to no side effects on eating those foods that I was nervous about and typically avoid like the plague, like greek yogurt, kefir and even a coleslaw we made was delicious! We quickly fell into a good eating pattern, mixing up the recipes for breakfast, snacks, lunches and our dinners making Phase 2 somewhat of a breeze after learning the meal options. Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries has been my new favorite breakfast, and I haven’t ate yogurt in probably 6+ years.

Another part of Phase 2, I’ve been trying to navigate responsibly is being able to have some alcohol again. After going nearly 40-days of not drinking, I enjoyed a glass of champagne – this may be my main “cheat.” The book only really talks about red wine and beer, which I don’t drink or haven’t been able too drink so I was sticking to my safe bubble route. It definitely came for good timing with a few more social functions happening now that Summer is in full swing. I’m still trying to be strict, but also enjoy myself and I’ve been pretty good at finding that balance so far! I did learn that recovering with a hangover on this diet is a little harder than before – since I’d normally just consume a bunch of carbs and greasy food. Whoops 🙃!

what’s nexT?

We will most likely stay on Phase 2 a little bit longer since we’re coming off of a week long vacation – although I’ve been sticking too the diet pretty well still. From there we will be starting Phase 3 which is the final phase and maintenance mode. I’m looking forward to finalizing this initial journey, while kicking off the ongoing phase in order to maintain this goal weight — while also being able to enjoy a few more cheat-like things from time to time. More to come as we continue into Phase 3 and work towards maintenance mode and sustaining all this hard work we’ve done in the last almost 60 days.

Miss the first part of my Gut Health Journey? Catch up on my Phase 1, 30-day cleanse recap here!

Fitness Friday 05.21 – Mental Health Edition

#ICYMI: May is Mental Health Awareness Month! A year ago, I was reflecting on the state of the world – and my growing state of my mental health, and not in a good way. But it has been interesting to reflect back at moments of this past year when I allowed my anxiety to get the best of me, whether that was being bed ridden, constant chest pains, sobbing fits or panic attacks. I went threw the gambit of emotions that were amplified by the world this past year.

I have always tried to be open and honest about my anxiety, because I think it’s (1) important, (2) it’s reassuring to know you’re not alone, and (3) to show how we all react and feel anxiety and stress differently. I’ve worked really hard, especially in the last few months to push myself out of certain comfort zones to deal with my anxiety and stress head on – because let’s face it, that is sometimes the most direct way in overcoming or managing it. I’d like to emphasis the managing part — because some times it doesn’t go away, or it does but can come right back in a flash, that’s the funny thing with anxiety, stress and everything in between, it’s always sort of just hiding in the shadows waiting to come out. One of my goals this year was making my health a priority – mentally and physically, and I finally started talking to someone again in February.

For me, I have always had some social anxiety to a certain extent, whether that’s drinks at a bar with friends, a night out with mutual acquaintances or walking into a room where I may only know the person I’m standing next too. I like to be around people who I trust, make me feel safe and I’m able to be my authentic self around — I blame that on getting burned a few times in high school, but I’m also OK with that. So imagine that “normal” social anxiety and then you add this past shit show of a year on top of it, with an added layer of social expectations and family pressures and you get a hot mess of anxiety and fear – aka, Me.

In addition to that, I’ve been in fear of getting or being sick (literally since March 2020). I’ve started to become better at rationalizing how I’m feeling and realizing that I’m not sick — but it’s taken a long time for me to get to this point. But that has been helpful for me, rationalizing things and feelings that can be, while also making sure I’m aware and acknowledging my feelings whether they’re rationale or not. I’ve come to realize I can do normal things and not get sick — a fear, I think that was beat into our brains throughout this past year.

So without getting too much into the weeds — that is what my therapist is for — I just wanted to shed some light into one part of my anxiety-ridden world that I live and deal with. I’m so beyond thankful for our friends, who have been open and accepting of my excuse for not wanting to hang out being “I’m paranoid and just don’t feel comfortable, can we FaceTime for 4-hours instead?” I’m so beyond thankful for those friends who have checked in on my progress of finding a therapist, for those who shared their struggles, wants and successes in finding their own therapist (you know who you are!). I’m also thankful for B for helping me through my panic attacks, letting me cry, yell and share all my rollercoaster feelings when I‘ve been feeling them – and most importantly for being my rock when I needed an ally in my feelings or justifying my actions.

If you’ve been struggling, I can tell you 100% that it is worth fighting through the fear of what that person, friend or loved one might think of you asking for help or sharing your emotions and feelings — because on the other side is relief and an ally to help you get through the tough times, while celebrating the milestones and successes. And if you’re on the other side and may not understand everything, just try to show love, empathy and compassion – it goes a long way.

xox

Mental Health Resources, Tools & Reminders: Mental Health America, @yourmomcares, @selfcareisforeveryone, @selfloveblossom

My Gut Health Journey – The First 30 Days

Welp. Amidst my MIA-ness on here, I had full intentions of starting and keeping you all up-to-date on my recent health journey – but instead you’ll get the cliff notes since I’ve just completed the first part of the journey. This journey is the most drastic thing I’ve ever done, for a prolonged amount of time, consistently and food wise.

How We Got Here.

It’s funny, really. I’ve had the book ‘Gut Balance Revolution‘ saved on my Amazon account for years — I can’t remember who first recommended it to me, I think a family-doctor friend. But, it was recommended because about five years ago, I started having and experiencing a lot of odd intolerances to a variety of foods i.e. dairy, Chinese food, certain vegetables and even alcohol like beer and liquors. I was eventually “diagnosed” with IBS with #2. So, I either learned to cut those things out — or I just dealt with the consequences when I wanted to enjoy some ice cream or pizza. Fast-forward to this year and with my lingering health issues, I started to read and see things about how our gut health can be linked to many other chronic issues (anxiety, sinuses, acid reflex, IBS, etc.). So it was at this moment, when I was finally ready to take charge of my body and health and learn a bit more about all of this. I ordered that book from my Amazon ‘Saved For Later’ — and as soon as I started reading, I felt a mix of emotions – I wanted to cry because this seemed like the answer to a lot of my problems and I also just wanted to keep reading and consuming as much information about food and everything that affects our gut health and health in general, as quickly as possible.

The gist of it.

This book has a specific program that helps people first, cleanse their gut, then rebalance their gut and then sustain a healthy gut, healthy weight and lifestyle, while still being able to enjoy some of the finer things in life — but all with moderation. So the first 30-days was a focus on forgetting foods that promote dysbiosis, inflammation, blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance. AKA no sugars, no starchy carbs, no dairy, low gluten, no alcohol and fewer FODMAPs. We ate a lot of greens, pasture-raised chicken, wild salmon, cod, shrimp, tuna, berries, eggs, quinoa and nuts – just to name a few things!

what i learned

We jumped into this pretty quickly to get this started, yes, B has been a champion alongside me helping with meal prep and even doing the program himself. Since we started so quickly, we jump straight in from eating like shit to shocking our bodies — I had some major keto flu-esq symptoms which mainly consisted of horrible leg aches for two days. Once we got past the hump… aka the first two weeks, it was pretty easy to maintain the routine of eating Breakfast, Lunch, a Snack and Dinner.

Besides learning more about food and food we think might be healthy — this program has been a bit of a shell shock with portion control. We’ve been following the recipe serving sizes to a T – and I will admit the first few dinners, I would look up at B and fake sob asking; “This is it?” But our bodies adjusted over time. There are also a ton of great recipes in this book that we will be pulling in for future breakfasts, lunches and even dinners for us or even if we’re hosting friends/family — so that was a plus.

The other huge part that allowed these 30-days to be a success, which was also in large part of B – was the prepping. We cleaned out the fridge and pantry of bad junk food, yucky condiments, beer and other things we wouldn’t need — so there wouldn’t be any temptations. The second part of planning, was working through meal plans and extensive shopping lists. From there, prepping the foods ahead of time for breakfast to be ready, or for me packing up my meal for the day when we had stuff going on was crucial and didn’t allow any room for error.

My 30 day results

Well the biggest result of the first 30 days, was loosing 15 pounds. Which, I definitely needed to do, especially after a strong year of pandemic living. I lost 2.6% body fat and 1-inch around my chest and 3.5 inches around my waistline. My upper thighs even shrunk by 4-inches within the last two weeks. Also, I think my lingering cough that I was having since November is gone away. *knocks on wood* I’m still waiting to see some of the other physical results, especially as we jump into Phase 2 of fertilizing our guts – so more to come. But I am hopeful and optimistic that this is a lifestyle that we can maintain as well, and hope to reap even more health benefits moving forward. The testimonial stories and research in the book are pretty incredible. I’d also like to preference, all of this weight was lost without working out – this was strictly diet related.

what’s next?

As I mentioned, we’re jumping into Phase 2 – which will be about two weeks. This has a focus on prebiotic and probiotic rich foods focusing on certain fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, wild game and fermented foods. And from there, we’ll go into a final Phase that adds in a bit more food variety! In general, I’ve learned so much and want to continue to learn more about how foods interact with our bodies. In addition to that, continuing to focus on my immune support along with starting to integrate more actual exercise so that I can tone and continue to get into a more balanced and healthy routine. This 30-day jump start is just the beginning!

P.S. I also can’t wait to drink some bubbles and eat a donut!

Fitness Friday 02.21

Happy last Friday of February, aka as the shortest and longest month of the year! Did you start the year off with grandiose fitness plans and then just complete fall flat, like me? I’m here to keep myself accountable and be honest with my readers that I have let my physical health continue fall to the wayside – but I’m going to share with you an inside secret that has helped me flip that around and might be able to help you too.

What is it you might ask? Planning!

It may seem pretty obvious — but there is a whole lot of planning that needs to happen in order to make your goals a reality, whether they’re fitness, life or work related! The first step of planning is outlining those goals, but the next step is how are you going to accomplish them? This is where it can include multiple phases of planning and where my planning fell short.

Here is where my planning fell short in accomplishing my fitness goals — I told myself, “I want to workout tomorrow” — but what I didn’t plan was what workout I was going to do. Was it going to be a run? Was the weather good enough for a run? Was it going to be a yoga class? A circuit workout? I quickly realized, I needed to have that actual workout planned and figured out going into my workout day. This allowed me to look for a workout ahead of time that was attainable, whether I had the proper equipment and how long I needed to plan for.

Since I started doing this – which sadly hasn’t been long – I have been 3 for 6 in my workout days, accomplishing workouts and have a lot of sore, achey muscles! But I know continuing to plan, will only help keep me consistent, on track and one step closer to accomplishing my fitness goals.

Fitness Friday 01.21 – 2021 Fitness Goals

Do you make fitness goals? I love making goals each year, and think it’s important to split out personal goals and fitness goals – so we are about to talk 2021 fitness goals! Fitness goals are also super important for our mental health just as much as our physical health — it allows us to take care of our homes, gives us dedicated ‘me time’ and allows us to push ourselves to grow stronger.

Ok, so really quick before we jump into my new fitness goals, I’m going to grade how I did on my 2020 fitness goals. There were two goals that I completely failed at — goal #1: building and maintaining my core strength and goal #4: maintaining healthy food balance. But here are two that I did good with!

Goal #2 = Bootcamp 3X a Week | My Score: B-
I was going to rate this as an F, but I looked back at my Streaks app and I didn’t do as horrible as I felt — the workouts weren’t the same, but I was pretty solid for the first 6-7 months keeping a consistent workout routine. The last 5-months of the year, not so much!

Goal #3 = Finish 6 Runs in 2020| My Score: A++
Yes, this one was definitely the priority and easiest one to check off with each race completed. I ran four 5k’s, a 5-miler and a 10-miler race to complete this goal! Each race brought new challenges, no matter the distance, I struggled through the 5-miler, even a 5k — but breezed through the 10-miler, surprisingly with ease. It was a great accomplishment to complete this, gave us something to plan and look forward too even with them being virtual!

Now let’s get to what we are really here to talk about – my new fitness goals for 2021! Learning from my successes and failures, while also understanding the shift my fitness has needed to take over this past year and moving into this one, I’ve pulled together these three to focus on.

Finish 6 Runs in 2021 – including a half-marathon. Plot twist I want to still get at least 6-races in, but want to plan and get a half marathon in this year. I was hoping to do one this past year, but everything got post-poned for the larger, longer runs. B also wants to do this with me, so I’ll have a good running mate (as always) to work to accomplish this one!

Workout 3-4x a week. And for me a workout is at least 30-minutes of sweating, pushing myself and being physically active. I’ve recently purchased a Bosu ball, which allows me to do a lot of different types or workouts a little easier, and I’ve already found a fun Bosu workout on YouTube! I’m also hoping to add a few more hand weights, medicine balls, and step bench to my workout equipment to allow a bit more versatility!

Loose 15-lbs. I really hate goals like this, number goals, but sometimes they’re needed to help kick you in the ass. I know where I’m at, and I know where I should be, where I have been, what is attainable and still healthy — and I’m not there. Through better eating habits and more consistent exercise I plan to hopefully attain this goal, so I can then make a new goal of maintaining (because that might just be harder than loosing the weight!)

Are you making 2021 fitness goals? These goals are good to keep us grounded and focused to work towards the best versions of ourselves.

Fitness Friday 12.20 – 10-Miler Virtual Race Recap

It’s been a minute since I’ve shared a dedicated race recap on the blog, but this one was special — so I wanted to share. If you’ve been reading along on monthly Fitness Friday posts, you may have recognized a pattern and my focus on one specific fitness goal: running 6 races in 2020. Which all came from 2019, where we only ran one race and we usually do a couple!

The one race that we did run in 2019, was our annual 10-Miler race we always run in April. This is always a no brainer that we like to sign-up for no matter what and we always make sure to sign-up early in the year. And 2020 was no different, we were registered and then the pandemic hit. As the April race day approached, we knew it would be pushed… we kept waiting, and waiting, nothing in the summer came up and then finally it was rescheduled for an October date. Woo! October came, and the date approached and the decision to push indefinitely to 2021 was made. Runners could opt to run virtual or defer to next year. For B and I, we had planned to run this in 2020 and we were going to run it in 2020, so we switched to virtual and waited for our packets.

Welp! Long story short, I got sick in early November, we got hit with a ton of snow and now it’s December and we have this 10-miler race to still run… in December in the Midwest. We knew we would have to keep an eye out on the weather and plan quickly — which didn’t really help for me, who hasn’t been running, training or working out. And a 10-miler run, isn’t such a breeze when you’re not doing anything. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to running this and anticipated a lot of walking/running. But I needed to finish it and mark it off the list.

Two-Days Before the Run. It was Wednesday night, B and I have both been watching the weather separately and saw that the temps and conditions Friday and Saturday would be a possibility — but Friday morning was looking like the better option and without rain. Thursday, we confirmed that we would have to plan for Friday AM and account for at least 2+ hours. This was not a lot of time to mentally prepare, except that it was going to happen.

Race Morning. We woke up early, got ready and hit the pavement by 6:45am. I told B that we needed to start slow — the weather was surprisingly perfect around 41-degrees. And we stayed at a steady pace, didn’t have to worry about traffic, people or icy sidewalks. We continued at a speed for the distance we had ahead of us and stuck around an 11-minute + pace. Mile 8, I was feeling good and we took about a minute off with our pace and continued at a slightly quicker pace for the last two miles. As we hit mile 9, I started to get a bit emotional, I couldn’t believe we were still running and feeling decent and the end was in sight!

We finished at 1:53:10, with plenty of time to walk a bit, cool down and get back to the house before we started our work days! And even better yet, although I ended limping a bit and hunched over, I still had a smile on my face. This 10-mile race, went better than planned and as good as it could’ve went — I’m so happy that I was able to accomplish this. Now, I just have one more race to run before the end of the year to officially complete this 2020 fitness goal.

Fitness Friday 11.20 – Turkey Trot Recap

Morning, bee readers! How was your Thanksgiving? Ours ended up being a well rounded day, which was in many thanks to us signing up to run our city’s virtual Turkey Trot! This was also my fourth race of the year, as I’m still cranking towards my goal of 6-runs in 2020 (more on that at the end).

In fact, the last two weekends we’ve checked off two of our virtual races — which for me, both have been a little more of a struggle than I’d like, but I have also not been working out! Usually my cross training saves me when I’m not able to run as much, because it keeps me in shape and toned — but when you’re not doing any of that, I can only expect it to not be as easy. Last weekend, we ran a 5k and for our Turkey Trot we opted to a little 5-miler, because why not?!

It’s a little funny, because all of the races have been hoping to be rescheduled for in-person — that a lot of these turned virtual last minute, so we’ve been waiting for race packets and more specifically, for our annual 10-miler (that is usually in April). Which we just received our race packets a week ago, so now we’re trying to get all of these runs in, right as the weather has turned and grown more unpredictable. We’ve also pushed some runs even more, because I was also sick for a few weeks, so running with a cough and congestion isn’t really ideal and knew I wouldn’t be helping myself out there either.

Long story short, my 10-miler is probably going to be my 5th and last race of the year, making me fall one short of my goal of 6. And it’s going to be the hardest, because I know I am not in shape to breeze through 10-miles as I’ve done in previous years, so I’m feeling a repeat of 2017 coming in.

Our Virtual 5k Race from the Previous Weekend

I wanted to push myself during our Turkey Trot to get through 5-miles, because I know I have this 10-mile race looming that I want to and will complete. I’m also not sure if I want to get one or two more mid-size mile runs in before going after 10. I’ve trained and not trained for a number of half-marathons and 10-milers, and especially without my cross training — and I know, I’m not helping myself out.

So! As we jump right into Christmas, I’ll definitely be sharing my 10-miler journey in all it’s pain and glory within the coming weeks once I finally check that off this list.

Fitness Friday 10.20

News flash! There are less than 3-months left of 2020. Mostly that is a good thing, because this year has mostly been a disaster — but if you’ve been working towards any goals, it’s go time, to crank that butt in gear to check off every single one of those goals! I just took a peak at my 2020 goals, and per usual, my fitness goals are always a constant roller coaster – and this year hasn’t been any different. But there is one goal, I am bound and determined to check off this year.

The one fitness goal, I’ve been really focused on is getting six races in — which pre-pandemic was going to be a piece of cake, but all of our races have been postponed, rescheduled or turned virtual. So with a few races, JUST NOW turning virtual — our Q4 of running is quickly becoming jammed packed. As of today, two runs have been completed and two runs are queued up. Which means, I need to still sign-up for two more and just plan for virtual. I was really hoping to have a half-marathon included in my six runs, but our 10-miler will just have to do.

This past month I just finished my second race, which happened to also be our first virtual race! Have you run a virtual race yet? There were a lot of things I liked about running a virtual race, like we could plan and run on our schedule – pick your own location/route – we got the race packet and medal at the same time! Not to mention, this race was benefitting a organization that is near and dear to us, so that made it extra special. Some things I missed from a traditional race, was the crowd and team mentality — you sort of get amped up to run a bit faster than you might if it’s just yourself running through the park. We did make sure that we woke up early to run our race, because what would race day be without an early morning wake up call?

As I mentioned and you may see — our virtual run was a quick 5k, which helped raise money to support Friends of City Dogs Cleveland, which provides financial assistance to City Dogs is the adoption division of Cleveland Animal Care and Control which is an open intake facility – meaning they don’t turn dogs away. This nonprofit steps in and provides additional resources to support medical expenses like HW+, torn AC surgery, general enrichment and training. B and I also happen to volunteer for City Dogs and walk dogs – so we love this organization a little extra – but more on that, another day!

So as I work my way towards finishing 6 races, I encourage you to continue to work towards your fitness goal(s) to make a small part of your year a success!

Fitness Friday 09.20 – My Hike Life Lesson

As I was sitting and thinking about my monthly Fitness Friday post, my first thought is that I haven’t put in much work this month because of our trip and now quarantining post trip. But then, I thought about our trip and the good and hard hikes we took, and the one came to mind as a perfect example of life lately and often how our fitness journey’s may not always be perfect — so I thought I’d take a moment to share.

Before our trip out west, B and I put together a list of must-do’s that we wanted to make sure we accounted for! One of B’s absolutes was hiking Mt. Rendezvous – which is a hike we’ve done before. It’s a tough one — I instantly thought back to the first time we did it with my dad, the path wasn’t clear, we did some extra back and forth and it was long, with a decent elevation climb. I was instantly having doubts we wouldn’t be able to do it again, just the two of us. But the fun part about this hike is the waffle place at the top, which is the perfect post-hike treat and you get a free ride down from the Tram!

Our plans shifted slightly, as the Tram hasn’t run all summer due to the pandemic, meaning the waffle stand wasn’t open at the top, but instead shifted down to the Bridger Gondola stop where The Deck is (a popular sunset happy hour spot). So we decided to hike to the Bridger Gondola vs. the top of Mt. Rendezvous. Luckily for us the trails leading up are better marked since the last time we were there over 4 years ago and we could still get waffles and catch a gondola ride down from the Bridger Gondola spot! So after having our plan in place, we set our day to do the hike.

Now back to the meat of the story! We woke up early the morning of our hike to head to a popular sunrise spot to see the Teton’s in a reflecting spot of the Snake River (which was incredible!) — so we had a leisurely morning after that and I personally was pushing off our hike. But we finally got started just after the lunch hour, knowing we had at least 2 hours of hike ahead of us, and wanted to make sure we could catch the gondola down!

We started and the first mile or so was just incline, after incline, after incline — we had no breaks and I got gassed early on. It was hotter than I planned too, so I let the mental battle of defeat and my body feeling defeated get the best of me and I couldn’t stop complaining. I kept having to stop, catch my breath, blow my nose (allergies were on point out west), and continue to complain — B was not having it. But we kept going, and although B said after complaint #40, “Ok, we can turnaround.” — I quickly said “No!,” and kept hiking. I’m not sure if it was from that point on or just continuing to push through the discomfort and doubt… but after awhile my attitude and negative thoughts shifted and went away. I didn’t even notice it, we just kept going, took breaks when we needed, soaked in the views and chatted along the way.

Spoiler: We made it to the top! But the point of sharing this story is there are times when we just plain don’t want to do anything. When we don’t want to workout, don’t want to get out of bed, don’t want to adult or feel like we can’t. Those times when we already write ourselves off and consider something a failure — before it’s even done. This whole year has sort of felt like that, the whole year has just felt like a wash, I’ve heard it from many people, it’s been more of let’s get through this year and then we can go back to normal and do all the things next year.

But, when we got to the top, I felt so accomplished, I did it, B and I did it together! And it was pushing through the negativity and setting out to finish something we talked about doing no matter what. And it felt good! I was exhausted, but after awhile the pain and discomfort became part of the hike and something I worked with, until it wasn’t a thing anymore. This hike in a beautiful place taught me a little lesson, and that is to not write off defeat before it’s ever really started.

We’ve all been pushed around and down a lot this year. That’s why we need to remember and continue to celebrate our victories when we prevail through our own mental beatings and push through the physical pain. And we need to remember and acknowledge the fact that we are strong and can push through the pain, discomfort and doubt to accomplish goals — even if that is one day at a time, one workout at a time, or one hike at a time. And maybe, this year won’t completely be a wash.