My Gut Health Journey – Phase 3

My “official” gut health journey is wrapping up, which means the start of the official life as we know it gut health lifestyle — this three part journey has only just been the start. In Phase 1, we took 30-hard days of cleansing our gut with a keto-like approach, which helped drop serious pounds and also clean out the bad gut bugs. In Phase 2, we focused on fertilizing and re-planting the good gut bugs back into our gut by adding in fermented foods and probiotics. Phase 3 has been all about maintaining and easing into “life as we know it” – and I have to say, I’ve been pretty pleased with Phase 3, as I’ve been able to give and take a bit more while still maintaining my weight over the last few weeks – which is the ultimate goal on top of having a healthy gut!

THE GIST OF PHASE 3

Phase 3 is basically life as we know it – with a primary focus on food that is closely related to and inspired by the Mediterranean Diet. Phase 3 is about achieving and maintaining the ultimate healthy lifestyle – with a good balance of healthy, natural foods, paired with exercise, ways to reduce stress, better sleep and even enjoying the finer things in life every now and again. That last part, was something that also made me realize I’ve picked the right thing to help switch up my overall health — being able to enjoy sweets and other tasty things. As we are reminded throughout the book the poison is in the dose. So many ‘diets’ are about being super strict and eliminating this whole food group or that whole food group – and this really offers a nice variety – it’s just focusing on cutting out the fake foods our society has normalized and made so easily accessible overtime.

Also, so many diets focus on the food only – and not the well-rounded being beyond saying you should “work out.” Here is another powerful quote that represents what this lifestyle change is really all about. Another gut-health resource on Instagram is Dr. Mark Hyman – he shares a lot of great gut health information.

“Environmental influencers do impact the expression of certain parts of your genetic code. Diet, exercise, stress levels, toxins, and more can trigger receptors in your genes that will alter the messages they send to your body. That means what you do, what you eat, how you exercise, how much stress you have, and how you behave everyday actually affects you at the deepest possible biological and physiological levels.”

The Gut Balance Revolution

MY PHASE 3 RESULTS

This 85 day journey has proven crazy results, including obvious physical ones and then mental and other health benefits. I’m actually below my initial goal weight of 154 and weighing 149, which is a total loss of 25lbs. And, as I mentioned since Phase 3 has started, we have been able to maintain that weight steadily for the last couple weeks — even with a cheat day thrown in here and there.

Let’s talk more numbers! I’ve lost 6% of my body fat since the start – which is incredible in and of itself. I’ve even lost over 7-inches around my upper thigh, 5.5-inches around my belly and my breast width is down 2-inches. The physical transformation, has also helped my mental well-being, I just feel better. I’m more confident, more happy when I put clothes on — the weight has literally been lifted.

As I mentioned in my Phase 2 update, I’ve been able to eat a few things that I haven’t in over 6-years, like yogurt (pretty regularly, soft cheeses). My cough that was lingering since October has even gone away, whether it was acid reflex related or not, my cough and congestion have become much more tolerable and pinpointed to actual natural elements (even though I don’t have any technical allergies).

WHAT’S NEXT?

We will continue to make recipes and utilize everything we’ve learned from a healthy diet perspective, what to favor and what to have fewer into our everyday diet. We’ll continue to integrate wild caught fish like salmon and shrimp and even focusing on making sure we’re buying grass-fed meats (oh hey, Meatboxlocal!) And we will continue to severely limit those processed foods that do our bodies no good. And yes, I look forward to integrating a few more cheat days into the mix – especially as we’re getting back into a workout routine along with our better eating habits. I did enjoy a frosted cookie and piece of my mom’s apple pie over the weekend – totally worth it, but also worth reeling it in the rest of the weekend!

Here’s to maintaining a healthy and happy gut!

Miss the first parts of my Gut Health Journey? Catch up on my Phase 1, 30-day cleanse recap here and my Phase 2, gut reboot here!

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!

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 01.20

It’s the first Friday of 2020 and what better way to kickoff the New Year than planning out your 2020 fitness goals. If you read my last Fitness Friday of 2019, you saw I graded my 2019 fitness goals, and how well I did them — or not! I feel like I really bounced back at the end of this past year coming off a big middle hurdle and without a big wedding coming up, or other major motivations, my primary fitness goal is to not only maintain, but just feel good and happy with myself.
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I’m going to be a little boring, but a lot of my fitness goals are going to be the same as last year. Why? Because they’re what works for my routine, what my body needs, and also what I enjoy doing. Although I’m going to tweak a few, include a few more specifics and guidelines to help make these more attainable this year!

Build and Maintain My Core Strength. My back injury was definitely a wake up call to how I not only need to build my core strength but I also need to maintain it.  I learned so much about how different parts of my body help or overwork themselves to makeup up incompetencies in other areas. So I’m going to start focusing on integrating my PT exercises in 3X a week.

Bootcamp 3X a Week.  This works for me. Waking up and getting my workouts in before I head into the office, ensure I get my workouts done and checked off for the week.  Even getting all three done within the work week opens Saturday’s up for volunteering, a run, or just social time with friends!

Finish 6 Runs in 2020. Usually B and I are able to get a few runs in each year, this past year we only did one! So I’m putting a number to it, to plan better and have a goal. I’ve already signed up for two races, one is tomorrow, and looking forward to getting a few more in the books throughout the year.

Healthy Food Balance.  I generally try to eat less carbs, so that is something that isn’t going to really change. But I want to continue to maintain a healthy balance of less snacking, mixed in intermittent fasting, and those delicious cheat days. Maintaining food balance, while not depriving yourself is key to loving yourself and not sacrificing with fad diets.

What’re your 2020 fitness goals?

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Fitness Friday 04.19

Guess what! It’s still cold season – but when is it not? With cold season and daylight savings (have you recovered yet?) in full force it’s important that we take care of our bodies and our immune health, here are a few ways I make sure to combat this every year, especially when I start feeling like something might be creeping in – plus it’s just good to be our best, healthy selves.
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Good Sleep. In order to get good sleep, I like a natural herb Valerian Root at night – this helps my thoughts and stress shut off and get a bit of a deeper sleep than I normally would.  I seriously get some of the best sleep when I take this, although please read labels and consult with a doctor before taking! (because I’m definitely not a doctor!)

Drink Lots of Water. Getting into a good routine and pattern of drinking water is crucial, you mind find yourself using the restroom more, but staying hydrated keeps your skin healthy – helps muscles and joints work better – and helps keep the toxins out!  I’ve always heard drinking water helps suppress your appetite, but I have yet to have that happen to me. *smiles*

Remember to Laugh. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few good catch-ups with good friends, and one in particular was filled with belly laughs, literally the entire night. My face hurt, my stomach hurt, but it felt SO good, and I realized I hadn’t had a good laugh in a long time, and I needed it – it’s just good for the soul.  We need to nurture our souls just as much as our bodies because our mental health affects our physical health.

Exercise. It wouldn’t be a Fitness Friday if I didn’t mention exercise! Sweating out those toxins is another great way to combat cold and flu season – just be smart and clean if you’re in a group workout facility and hand sanitize as needed!

How do you combat cold season to be your best self?

 

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Fitness Friday 08.18

It’s time to talk food again.  The love-hate we have with sweet, delicious, carby food.  Last Fitness Friday, I was talking a bit about falling off the rails, being a little less strict with my routine – the boundaries started to get looser and I needed to rain it in.  So within the last month or so, I’ve tightened up on my diet and I can see the difference on a daily basis.  Trust me, there are some days where I ask myself, what more could I possibly change? But when I really test the accountability factor – I quickly figure out what needs to go and what can stay, and it usually comes down to FOOD!
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Here are five tricks I do when I need to crack down, and honestly after a week or two of being strict, these aren’t as much of a battle as it is at first!  The most important thing to keep in mind – is that these aren’t quick ‘do this for a week’ and you’ll loose 20-pounds, these are lifestyle changes that will help you achieve your fitness goals and love yourself even more!

Smart Snacking.  A great work perk that I have is having snacks around, the decision between a mini bag of Doritos or picking up a banana/handful of nuts is the pass or fail. Don’t want to be tempted at all of picking wrong? Stop snacking and drink water!  It’ll be tough at first, but your body will quickly adapt and you won’t be craving a snack at 3pm.

Less Carbs, More Protein. Especially at dinner, this is a time when B and I have been loading up on meat and skipping out on the extras or scary sides.  We also switch out the buns for lettuce wraps, which is just as tasty and looks fancy for a week night meal at home.

Smaller Portions.  With smarter snacking and eating more filling foods, portions in line get a bit smaller, allowing you to get full faster.  Those after dinner cravings for some sweats are often eliminated after a nice filling and healthy dinner.

Limit Alcohol. Alcohol and beverages in general can be a surprise at how much sugars/carbs are actually jammed into them – so be sure to check the labels before drinking, you’ll thank yourself later.  Alcohol choices can also impact negatively or help, for this I stick to the Keto Alcohol rules, no beer and opt for those bubbles! Red wine is also a good choice or pure spirits, but be sure to avoid those sugary mixtures.

Stop Eating Pizza! Yup, I said it – just stop eating pizza! Try it for a month, try it for two… you won’t miss it, I promise.  Pizza is an easy food to over indulge on and is full of carbs, some people have pizza every Friday night… and then there are probably leftovers for the next day… just cut it out – you’ll see a difference.

The true key to living a healthy lifestyle, making gains, and maintaining your goal weight, all boils down to not only exercise but the supporting cast of FOOD – it’s that balance of both that is the perfect formula.

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Miss a Fitness Friday? Catch-up!  May | June | July

Fitness Friday 03.17

Happy Friday!!

I am nearly 2-full months back into the grind; that’s 28 workouts in the last 7-weeks; which is just about 4 workouts a week, whereas I was virtually doing zero before. Within those 7-weeks, I’ve been able to do a 4-week assessment, meaning I’ve started to actually see payoff and results in number form! Woo!! Although it’s been small progress, I’ve dropped measurements across the board, I can’t wait to see the results kicked up as the time continues and I continue to incorporate more cross-training between my cross-training.

The biggest eye opener and progress was my BMI number; when I first got that assessed my number was 24, still considered in the “healthy” zone; but the last notch on the “healthy” zone.  Yikes, that was definitely a red flag and hurt a bit. Well after 4-weeks my number was down to 19!  My trainer said that was the most impressive part of all the progress to date. That was a definite victory!
Fitness Friday 03.17I know I still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve been picking up the pace, working to make workouts fit even when plans might question it. I’ve even been incorporating some runs in on my off days from boot camp!  The main area I need to keep working on is FOOD. I’ve been meal prepping the last few weeks and really buckled down on my breakfast choices (switched from bagels/toast to eggs/chicken/tomatoes).

Every workout is progress, even if its a few inches. And it’s important to remember that and keep pushing yourself harder and stronger. Because it will pay off and you will reach your goals! *muscle emoji*

Cheers to hitting goals and making progress!

Fitness Friday no. 17

Food.

What you eat is a huge part of your fitness and how successful you are… or aren’t. Maintaining a good, balanced diet will not only help you flourish with your workouts and overall goals but will also come in huge when your workouts aren’t happening as much as you’d like. 15So while you might not be hitting the pavement or working up a sweat as much as you’d like to be, remember these things;

  1. Always have breakfast – this will help you from snacking or overeating at other meals throughout the day.
  2. Drink water – drinking water throughout the day will help you stay hydrated and is also tied to a number of other benefits including skin health, maintaining calories, and even energizes muscles!
  3. Eat greens – But be careful, overloading your salads with extra goodies and cheese and quickly make this not healthy! Even watch that salad dressing. Eating greens have lasting health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer while fueling your body.
  4. Remember Protein – Fish, Chicken, Avocados, those are the good proteins that contain the good fats for your body, make sure to maintain balance when eating these!
  5. Get to the grocery store – This will help you pick the good foods while also saving you from those last minute pizza orders when the fridge and cupboards are empty! Stock up on frozen foods too; it will save you in the long run.
  6. Limit lunches/dinners out – Hopefully if you’ve grocery shopped your house should be stocked, now just pack a lunch! The less we eat out, the more control we have over how our food is prepared and what we’re knowingly putting in our bodies.

Eating crap tastes good in the moment, but will have bad effects not only overall but on that workout you’re trying to accomplish.  It’s good to maintain balance and enjoy the good with the bad, but if you’re not counteracting the bad with exercise and other balanced meals, the cons will ultimately outweigh the pros.

Happy Friday!!