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 04.20

Hi Bees! Looking back at last month’s Fitness Friday, we were just a week into quarantine, and the news of settling in and adjusting our lives and fitness routines accordingly was fresh and still settling in. Now it is very much a reality and further adjusting has been a continuous journey as each of the days passes. So now the real question — have you totally rocked your fitness routine or have you completely stumped it?
Fitness Friday_04.2020For me, I’ve been sticking to my workout routine pretty well — it’s of course been different, not as intense and shorter some days than others but I’m sticking to getting my days in. I missed a few days at the beginning of the month because I was having some bad medication side effects I was dealing with, but once I figured that out I was back in commission. I have even gotten a few runs in this month and pushing myself to slowly increase my mileage – this has been nice to get some extra calories burned!

One of my biggest hurdles is my new WFH gym. I have one kettle bell weighing in at 25lbs, one hand weight at 10lbs, a jump rope (that I can only use outside) and a yoga mat. I tried to order to hand weights early in the pandemic for in-store pick-up at Target, but those quickly sold out, hence after I ordered two — only one was available *face palm* So I’ve been reliant on body-weight and cardio based workouts and my runs when the weather is decent. Anyone else the same?
FitnessFriday_04.2020(2)Now for some real talk. I’ve been able to maintain a pretty positive outlook through all of this — but this week I hit a wall. Wednesday was tough. It was a long work day, I had intentionally pushed my workout to the evening — but by the time the day wrapped up I had no interest in working out. I wanted to cry. I was feeling on an island, feeling drained, and uninspired. So I sat and stared out the window for a bit, ate a pretzel stick and four animal crackers and debated with myself in my head. I finally got up, made myself go to my basement gym, put my sneakers on and queue up a 36-minute cardio workout. I’m glad I made myself workout, I needed it. I felt about 80% better, but it was definitely better than crying and feeling sorry for myself — although I know we all need those moments sometimes.
FitnessFriday_04.2020(3)Luckily, my Coach is still sharing and posting lots of free workouts on his YouTube Channel so if you’re looking for something new be sure to check out his page! I have also done some virtual yoga with my dear friend from Yogatta Give Back— she is hosting a donation based session every Tuesday. Finally, I’ve seen that through sharing my workouts and talking with friends/family we’ve all sort of kept each other motivated knowingly or not — so share your struggles and share your successes because you just might inspire someone to go for a run!

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Here are a few of my favorite Quarantine Workouts: The Big Nasty, Fitness Test, Giant Metcon Circuit

Fitness Friday 09.19

Last month, I was sharing a few fears of why I’d been procrastinating getting back into a workout routine and back to my bootcamp classes – my excuse? Fear. And I said in my last post that come September 2nd, I was going to get back in the game. Well, I was two days off – but I was back on September 4th and have been able to slowly and steadily get back into a groove (for the most part) with my workout routine.

Not only was I afraid to get back into a routine because of hurting my back again – but I was also a little afraid at how sore I would be and how much I’d lost since being off for four whole months! But, luckily my first workout back was a good one, and my coach was super helpful and cognizant of workout modifications and making sure I wasn’t doing anything that would put unneeded pressure on my back and compromise it’s health again.
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In August I only had three tracked workouts and they were a few runs – and this month so far as of this morning I have seven tracked workouts! Hell yeah! Last week was a bit of a wild card, so I didn’t get in everything I wanted too, but this week I’ve made sure I’ve gotten back on track after, starting my first week strong with three workouts.  But, I’ve faced my fears and I’m taking one workout at a time and it feels so good to be back.

I shared how it’s taken a bit of time and understanding that getting back into a routine slowly has been the name of the game in the healing process, while also remembering to continue to strengthen my back and core. Which is something, I need to continue focusing on to help supplement my fitness routine.

It’s been all about listening to my body, understanding that my routine is not going to be perfect while also keeping the eye on the prize and focusing on my fitness goals, and being my best me!

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Fitness Friday 07.19

Last month I shared an update of how my fitness routine has been pretty nonexistent because of letting my back heal up after having my worst to-date “flair up” over the month of May and creeping into June.  I finally went to a specialist, which led me to physical therapy.  And I was not happy that physical therapy was the answer to my back problems… it seemed like an easy scape goat and one I’ve heard before.
Fitness Friday 07.19 - the bee life
I was aphrenrsive about PT, but I really liked my physical therapist with my initial meeting and evaluation, and I ended up learning a lot in the process too. And luckily, by the time I got to PT, my back was feeling much better – so the goal of PT was to create a ‘maintenance plan’ for life and also to help combat those future flair ups. I did four weeks of physical therapy and have stuck tight to doing my exercises everyday – my physical therapist hasn’t put any restrictions on my physical activity, except for avoiding a few specific exercises when I go to bootcamp.  So guess what?!  I’m making a plan to get back in the game – first things first, continuing the strength my PT exercises and building my core strength.  Next up, adding in running.

Ironically, building my core strength and establishing a better running routine are two of my 2019 fitness goals.  Apparently the universe didn’t think I was doing a great job of accomplishing my core strength building and led me to PT – while I’m now grateful for and optimistic and feel better armed physically and mentally to combat and build my core strength.  So, now to keep things still safe and slow, I’m going to focus on running and get back to boot camp in time!

So I’m going to stop using this heat and humidity as an excuse, and I’m going to get out and run! What excuse are you pushing aside to reach your goals?

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My Week of Low-to-No Carbs.

CARBS. I love carbs. But carbs are also not so great for you – especially those traditional carbs like breads, granola, pasta, potatoes… I always try and eat as low carb as possible but I of course have my faults – a quick sandwich for lunch, toast for breakfast, the occasional pizza, granola bars so I wanted to cut out those quick easy fixes for a meal, especially since I haven’t been able to workout because of my back flair up.  My week of low-to-no carbs still included carbs, but not those empty carbs, I also kept my keto rules in mind for my eats! Here’s how it all went down…

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Fitness Friday 05.19

It’s time to talk food, that thing we love to hate – especially when it comes to your fitness success and reaching those goals.  Food has always been a struggle for me, understanding the balance of life, the things I love (that aren’t so great for you) and then also understanding my gastro issues that have been recent within the last 2-years. Because let me tell you, I love cake and cookies and cupcakes and I believe in the beauty of balance – especially when it comes to enjoying the finer things in life.
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Within my health and fitness journey, there are a few rules I’ve learned that work for me while being able to have that balance – and when I’ve been very strict with them I see great results – and when I’m a bit more lenient I know exactly what I need to cut to see a change. But one thing is for sure, whether I’m strict or not – I always enjoy those cupcakes.

Little to No Carbs – Fun fact: Carbs are hidden in a lot of different things that appear to be healthy or good for you – this includes a fair amount of fruits and vegetables, like carrots, apples, bananas, and melons (just to name a few).  So really understanding what foods you’re putting in your body and what they contain is half the battle – then you just have to cut them out! Also pasta, just stop eating it.

When in Doubt: Berries – Speaking of knowing what is good for you vs. what is not – when in doubt when it comes to your fruits, berries are the way to go.  These are your besties and easy rule to remember: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries. Yes.

No Dairy – This one isn’t so tough for me, since I’m lactose intolerant I pretty much steer clear, but I am able to enjoy hard cheese – like Extra Sharp Cheddar – so I can get my cheese fix, although I noticed that when I completely cut this out pre-wedding, I felt great and was trimmer. So I think there is some method to the madness of a dairy free diet, whether you have an allergy or not.

Say Bye to Pizza – I will admit, I also indulge in pizza every now and then when we’re home for the night – but again, when we cut out pizza for nearly 4-months pre-wedding the extra weight and temptation went away! We also can’t do cauliflower crust, because my stomach hates me – so it really became all or nothing from a pizza perspective.

Complicated Order – Don’t be afraid to have a complicated order at the restaurant and also just say no to the free sides ahead of time – because as much as you think you won’t eat that side of fries with your burger, let me tell you you’ll probably have at least half if they’re in front of you!  So when it came down to it – I would order a burger with NO bun (yup! cut those carbs) and I would order a side salad in place of the fries (bye, carbs!)

The biggest thing to understand when it comes to food and your health – not everything works for everyone.  Sure, there are a few obvious things that should be avoided, but no one “diet” works for everyone. The second thing to understand that it’s not a diet – it’s a lifestyle, you truly have to be proactive every single day to make smart food choices.

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Fitness Friday 02.19

Guys! Confession: I’ve been totally slacking from a fitness perspective – after working through and fighting the urge to rest with prolonged chronic back pain (almost 4-months) – my routine has been completely shot, because I all of a sudden haven’t been resisting the urge to rest as much! #FailedRoutine
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I’ve been slowly working through the back, getting back my strength and working to be back to the place I want to be with my routine.  I’ve also been itching to get running again, I’ve actually been dreaming about running – but I’m an outside runner and the winter doesn’t really jive well with that. But, enough with the excuses – time for plans on how to get back into the groove for 2019, for real this time!

First things first, stop making excuses.  I haven’t been getting up out of bed for my early morning workouts, and I easily bow out of the evenings blaming the commute or being tired.  It’s time to start waking up and working out!

Seriously, cut those damn carbs. Again, lazy is easy and carbs are a lazy way to eat.  Better planning for meals and proactively cutting out those carbs will help balance the inconsistent workout routine.

Establish a running routine. As I mentioned in my 2019 fitness goals and above, I want to incorporate running as a more prominent staple into my fitness routine this year. We are already signed up for a race in April, but I want to sign up for half marathon… or two *grins* this way I’ll have a training schedule to help me stick to this goal.

Are you struggling with your fitness goals? How do you overcome them?

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Fitness Friday 01.19

It’s a new year, which mean it’s time to reset on your fitness goals, evaluate wins and losses from the past year and start focusing on the now and make things happen! Because Fitness has and will continue to be a priority for me, I wanted to really focus on specific goals for my health and wellness beyond my other goals for the new year and what better way to kickoff the first Fitness Friday than with clear goals of the year!
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Run More! Running has always been part of my fitness, some years more miles than others – with the goal of still running a handful of races, I want to incorporate running in my routine beyond the training for the races and making it more of constant.

Build My Core Strength. This should have been a priority for the past 13 years – due to  my chronic back pain – which has been flaring up more than lately, I’ve been thinking about ways to moderate this more as I get older.  And one thing that I’ve been told in my years is building my core strength, so by adding in a simple addition of regular planks I hope to build this up!

Less Carbs.  Plain and simple. I’ll begin buckling down on this a bit more, as I’ve been enjoying the finer things in life lately.

Remaining Consistent with Bootcamp. The last two years I’ve gotten into a good groove, seen progress and continued to get stronger.  I like the group fitness class and it’s an easy way to check off 2 or 3 days of workouts in the week!

Although I’m not working towards fitting into a wedding dress – this past year was a good year of maintaining my routine, sticking strong on my diet.  I worked so hard to establish that routine and make the big progress that I did – I don’t want to loose that routine or happiness I gained in myself.  So here’s to another year of becoming and loving your best self!

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