I’m Back…And Getting Better Than Ever!

No, you aren’t seeing things. I’m actually posting for the first time in ages! Sorry for the hiatus, everyone. I’ve had so much going on (you’ll see here in a minute) that I have failed to update in a while. I have a lot to share, though. Where do I start….

Back at the beginning of January I started considering how to change up my workout routine to produce better results. Prior to that I was hacking away at the gym generally 3-4 days a week with cardio AND running 3-5 miles one day per week. Who sees the problem there? I didn’t. The most I did to strength train was a 1-hour cardio weight lifting class 2-3 times per week. Although it was great, that was not what my body needed to get where I want it to be. A friend of mine, who is a fitness guru in my opinion, and incredibly knowledgeable in the area, created a training plan for me based on my goals. She even went so far as to create a meal plan for me too. It all rocked. After week 1, I decided I needed some help learning my way around all these weight machines. And even more, to force me into the free weight section that I was so dearly afraid to venture into. You know, the area where all those sculpted beauties and meatheads are? (I say that with love, y’all. I do.) So, I decided to start working with a personal trainer. I’ve stuck to this workout plan for about 7 weeks now. Let me first of all tell you, strength training is ADDICTIVE. And secondly, it produces results. Want proof? Ok. But let’s start at the beginning. I’m going to give you some before and after photos. This is not an easy thing for me to share with so many people, but I know that the proof is there and many others like me need to see it and learn from it. So, here goes.

First, on the left is me pre-paleo back in October 2013. This is me after losing 40lbs over the previous couple of years. It in no way represents the beginning of my journey (I would have never taken progress photos of myself back then), but it’s a reference point for you. On the right is a photo of me in mid January, probably 2 weeks into my new training plan. Two things to consider here – change of diet for the first couple of months as well as the change in training plan for a couple of weeks.

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Now let’s break it down. Next is a before and after to show the difference in the first two weeks of the training plan. On the left is me after the first week of the new training plan, and on the right is after the second week.

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See the difference? That’s the difference of ONE week, y’all. Ok, one more thing I have to share, because I never thought this was something I’d be able to do or see on myself. I had no sculpting to my upper body at all really, before January. Check this out. The before photo on the top was taken some time in October 2013. It’s not the same angle or whatnot as the one on the right, but it is a clear representation of the change in muscle sculpting. Below that is me yesterday. I never thought I’d have muscles to show! I’m very proud of my shoulders, and that bit of bicep, too.

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Ok, enough of the photos. You get the idea. So, what is my training plan? Well, I could lay it out for you, but what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for all of you, or any of you. Basically, what I do is cycle different muscles each day of the week, doing legs two times per week, and allowing for rest days. Then I always do 20-30 minutes of cardio after strength training. This is important for fat burning! My personal schedule generally looks like this:

Sunday – Heavy leg lifting day, followed by 20 minutes of cardio (I generally like the Stairmaster or Precor machine, or a combo of both)

Monday – Back & Biceps, followed by 20-30 mins cardio

Tuesday – I initially was using this as a rest day, but have recently started adding a run or sprints here. Loving it! Active recovery.

Wednesday – Chest & Triceps, followed by 20-30 mins cardio

Thursday – Leg day #2. I do something different than I did on Sunday, and today I’m trying out some plyometrics here.

Friday – Shoulders, followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio

Saturday – Rest!

I also incorporate abs into here on various days. I’ve learned that abs are like any other muscle though, you dont’ want to train them every day. So, I try to do them 2-3 days per week.

If I could share one more thing with you about this experience thus far, it would be to tell you not to be afraid of lifting heavy. I don’t care if you’re a woman. There is absolutely no point in lifting 2lb dumbbells. Start with what you can do and increase as you get stronger. Don’t be afraid. There is power in lifting heavy, power and change. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about it being addictive.

Until next time! And I promise it won’t be so long until then!

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Let’s Wrap Up 2013!!

Is it just me, or was my mother right when she told me that time flies by faster and faster the older you get? It sure seems to. It seems like it was just yesterday that it was January 2013 and I was getting engaged, shopping for a wedding dress, and searching for what good health is for me. Now, here we are 12 months later about to embark on 2-0-1-4, and I couldn’t be more excited for it! 2013 was a pretty amazing year for me, but I have zero doubt that 2014 holds so much more in store for me than I can imagine. 

 

My holidays were spent in good ole Ohio with my fiance and his family. Due to our travels, we both agreed that we would take a slight detour from gluten-free/Paleo while traveling. I’m pretty sure I will never do that again. This was our first major “cheat” since starting about 2 months prior. When I say we cheated – I mean it was all cheat. There was fast food, cookies, fried foods…..you name it, we probably ate it. Cheating on paleo wasn’t a big deal to me. It was the gluten that killed me. My fiance doesn’t have the gluten intolerance that I have. He just felt kinda gross and his stomach was a bit affected by it. I, on the other hand, was having some pretty severe back aches, along with my stomach being very unhappy with me. This is all on top of me getting a sinus infection, and my fiance getting one too just as I was getting over mine. I don’t doubt at all that the gluten was the culprit for all of it. We should not have gone full force back into “regular eating”. We have both been so excited to get back home and into our routine again, including returning to Paleo, and the gym for me. Use my example to learn without making the mistake yourself – if gluten really does affect you as much as it does me, don’t tell yourself it’ll be okay because you will be miserable. Those gluten-filled cookies are going to taste good as you chew them up momentarily, but guess how long their effects will last on your body? A lot longer. All that being said – here’s my take on getting setback…

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We all fall off the horse now and again. What matters is how quickly you get yourself off the ground and back up on it. Bring it on 2014!!! I’ve got a wedding dress to wear!!!

 

I have a few exciting recipes I am trying out this week too. For today’s lunch for myself and the beau, I made a great shrimp salad. For New Year’s Eve festivities I will be making Paleo Nachos (version 1 or version 2), and may even try my hand at some Piggies in a Blanket. Then there’s Chicken Pot Pie, Fried Green Tomato BLTs, and even Empanadas! I’m even considering making these Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Frosting too. Man, I can’t wait to try them all! 

 

So, take some time over the next couple days to reflect back on your 2013. What wonderful things have happened in your life? What even better things are awaiting you in 2014? I’d love to hear! 

 

It’s not all fairy dust and magical unicorns….

I’m a Pinterest nut. Pinterestaholic. Is there a Pinners anonymous? You get the point. If you’ve read my previous posts here or know me at all, you know I’ve been on this weight-loss and health journey for a while. Well, over a year ago I pinned the following image to my Pinterest board labeled “My Motivation”. My comment/caption was “Never apologize for your hard work! I hope I can say this in 8 years!”.

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And here we are, over a year (probably closer to two) closer to said age. I am closer than I ever have been before to being considered “fit” and “healthy”. What she says is absolutely right. Now, it doesn’t mean that every person needs to spend an hour and a half at the gym five days a week, in my opinion. We all have our different goals, and it takes a different amount of work for each of us to reach them individually. But, it’s not all fairy dust, guys! You get out of life what you put into it. So, why do you expect to not work your tail off, but have it appear that you do? I can say this, because I was once the girl who thought she was working hard, when in reality she was slacking off half the days of the week and eating crap all the time.

Guys, I turned 32 this past weekend. I do NOT feel 32. In fact, I’d say over the past couple of years, I feel more like I am going backwards in time. I feel and look like I should have felt and looked at, say, 28. I am so incredibly thankful for the motivators, fitness coaches, and every supportive person in my life who has allowed me to not only get to where I am already, but will allow me to continue on this journey in the future. On a side note, you might ask how I celebrated my birthday – whether I had cake or ice cream, etc. I celebrated with 3 of my favorite things in life – gourmet donuts, Mexican food, and time with my fiance. There are certain times in life when you should celebrate the things that you enjoy in life, and allow your body to have a break and enjoy too. Not to mention, when you allow yourself occasional “cheats”, it helps to refuel your metabolism and confuse your body so it continues to work. I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday festivities, and look forward to seeing what this next year brings!

So, as I talk about how we shouldn’t expect to see results without the hard work – you may be asking what it is that I do to get the results I am getting. Well, before I explain, perhaps it would help to show you a before & current photo. Please understand, I have been running and active for a couple of years now. But, it wasn’t until I started my gluten-free journey and ventured into Paleo life, that I truly started seeing a difference. Sorry, I’m not in the same clothing to show the exact difference, but I’m also not a person who has ever taken full-length photos of herself. The first photo was taken just this past August. Pardon the mud, it was just after a mud run-obstacle course I did with some friends. The photo on the right was taken today.

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Ok, so now that you see that there IS a difference, here’s a general outline of what I have been doing with my workouts.

Sundays – Run (usually between 4-6 miles)

Mondays – Body Pump (1 hour cardio strength training class) and usually followed by a 45 minute RPM/Spin class

Tuesdays – Run 3 miles and work abs/core.

Wednesdays – 45 minute RPM/Spin class and 1 hour Body Pump

Thursdays – Rest Day

Fridays – 45 minute Body Pump & 30 minute CxWorx (core class) OR Run 2-3 miles

Saturdays – 1 hour Body Pump IF I didn’t do it on Friday only, and 45 minute RPM/Spin class

My ultimate weekly goal is to burn an estimated 4,000 calories and do strength training/Body Pump class 3 times per week. This is important because I don’t only want to lose weight/fat, but I also want to lean out and gain some muscle. It’s definitely working. And as I’ve mentioned before, prior to eliminating gluten from my diet and starting Paleo, I was generally only able to do strength training twice per week due to my muscles staying sore and not recovering. However, since starting Paleo, I make it to strength training 3 times per week every week, and also have been able to increase my weight in every body part.

Tonight I will leave you with a recipe I stumbled upon recently and tried out today. Not too shabby, either. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Paleo Tagalongs!!! Enjoy!

❤ Manda

Change…It does a body, mind, and soul good.

Read this. 

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Now read it again. Read it yet again and understand that not only can your mind be stretched, but so can your body. We, as human beings, are creatures of habit. We get stuck in our daily routines. We even get stuck in our habits of what we like and don’t like. That is normal. Most of us think that if we didn’t like the taste, texture, or appearance of a food or drink at one time previously in our life, that that will always be the case. Not true. Our taste buds change as we grow. Not only do our taste buds change, but given the chance to adapt to new things, your body can learn to like things that at first bite, you may think it doesn’t. My fiance brought this up a few weeks ago as we first embarked on our gluten free/paleo journey together. He said something to the effect of, “when you taste something new, it may not be that you don’t like it. It may be that your body just isn’t use to it and you have to adapt to that.” So very true. This has been the case with a lot of things over the past month during our transition. Certain substitutions can never be quite the same as the “real thing”, but know that the paleo versions of pretty much anything are more “real” than the, well, real versions. That didn’t make sense to you, did it? With paleo, everything is natural – no artificial sweeteners, chemicals, or preservatives. That’s how everything is more real. This means your body can break it down so much easier and deliver the nutrients where they need to be used. So, stretch your mind today by trying new things. Then, stretch your body by allowing it the chance to accept what is new and be open to change. Without new things, without change, life is dull and boring. Without change, we deny ourselves the ability to experience so many amazing things in life. 

Let me share a little bit about what my first 30-ish days on Paleo have done for me. Energy – it’s unreal actually. I have had issues with energy for quite a while, partly due to my hypothyroidism, combined with deficient B-12 (which I am on medications for both, but still). Prior to paleo, I would be fine until after lunch, maybe even 2-3pm. I would get tired, and not have the energy to do my workouts many times. Part of this was just the energy itself. Part of it was my body crashing from carbs and sugar. This has been eliminated completely for me. When I eat now, even if I eat a large meal, my stomach doesn’t feel so bloated and huge as it use to. I’m not saying that’s necessarily from the paleo, but I do attribute it to the lack of gluten at least. I have also been able to eliminate two supplements I had been using – Osteo Bi-Flex (for joint pain) and Align probiotic (for digestive issues). The lack of gluten alone has compensated for the removal of the Osteo Bi-Flex. But since I removed the Align, I added in what some people call a paleo superfood – kefir. Kefir, although a milk product, is generally 99% lactose free, meaning that those with lactose intolerance can have it in their diet without issues. It’s got lots of good probiotics in it. I drink about 6-8oz per day.  I’ve heard you can even make your own, but I haven’t ventured there yet. Probably one of my biggest changes since starting paleo is my strength and ability of my muscles to recover quicker. I do strength training 2-3 times per week. Prior to paleo, I was only able to fit it in usually twice per week, because my muscles would still just be too sore to get that third time in. Now I’m finding that not only can I get that third day in each week, I’ve also increased my weight in every single area as well. I’m still sore the next day (LOVE that feeling, well, once I’ve been out of bed for about 5 minutes and it’s not quite so painful!), but my body loosens up and takes on the challenge again in plenty of time. This is great for me because although I want to lose weight, I really want to tone and be lean. I’m not afraid of lifting like many women are. I love lifting. As far as weight loss, I’m at a total loss of about 8lbs for the month. This is taking into consideration that I was out of town for a whole week for work, as well as Thanksgiving celebrations starting this week. Not too shabby. One more thing I have been completely astonished with in this past month is the fact that I no longer really want bread. What? Yeah, go back and read that again. I don’t want bread. I am a girl who loved bread and carbs in every form I could find them. While out of town and at a restaurant, I ordered a burger with a gluten free bun. By the time I made it halfway through the burger, I had picked off the bun and didn’t even want it. It wasn’t the fact that it was gluten free (although gluten free breads do tend to be thicker and more…chewy), I just didn’t need it or want it. You start looking at things like that, and it really can be interesting to see your body adapt like that. 

So here’s what I have to share as far as recipes go. It’s been a bit of an adventurous week for me. I made a fantastically popular Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake for our work holiday shindig. You can see that recipe HERE. It’s not strict paleo in that it incorporates dairy, duh. But it is gluten free and low carb. If you wish to do paleo and incorporate dairy from time to time like I do (because I cannot imagine a world without cheese), then there ya go. Everyone who tried it liked it. Solid. I also saw Elana from Elana’s Pantry post THESE Primal Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies on her Facebook page the other evening, and immediately hopped off the couch and popped half a batch in the oven. They were SO good,especially while just a smidge warm still, with a small glass of cold almond milk on the side. Lastly, I made Paleo Cocoa Puffs cereal from PaleOMG’s post HERE last night, to have for breakfast this morning. This takes patience, y’all. Rolling all those tiny individual balls. But if you have the patience, or someone to help you, it might be worth it, especially if you like chocolate. They were sweet, but not as sweet as store-bought cereal. They do stay crunchy in milk too! Just realize that you aren’t going to eat a huge serving of these like you would a store-bought cereal. They are higher in fat and protein, so you will not need as much. Man, all 3 of my recipe shares for today are sweet ones. Must be that time of year. I promise next time I will share something savory. Perhaps it will be tonight’s dinner – bacon wrapped cajun shrimp with some veggies on the side. Can’t wait for that! 

Until next time…

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Dare to dream a little bigger, darling.

Take a moment on this day to sit and think about what your dreams and goals are. It might be career goals, fitness goals, relationship goals – who knows. Whatever they are for you, ask yourself this: do they frighten you? When you think about what it will take to reach them, do you second-guess your ability to succeed? If the answer is no, then you my friend, need to dream a little bigger.

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My past couple weeks have been filled with preparation for something I’ve wanted all of my life. Without going into detail, I can tell you it’s career-related. Yesterday I was tested in many ways to include mental and physical, and let me tell you that it wasn’t easy, but boy was it rewarding. Why am I telling you this here? Well, first of all, I don’t know if I would have been able to perform the way I did yesterday without the life changes I have made recently. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. I’m not saying that the Paleo Diet has done all this itself, but it has given me the ability to challenge myself in many ways, thus effecting many areas of my life. As my day of interviews and testing began yesterday for this possible career choice of mine, I was confident through all of the mental areas. But let me dissect into the physical a little more, because if you know me (especially if you have known me for a long time), you know that I am not a person who has often been confident in my physical abilities. You see, if you were to look back at me about 4 years ago, you would see a girl 45lbs heavier with multiple health issues, who couldn’t and didn’t do diddly squat when it came to exercising. Fast forward back to yesterday. As I completed the initial portions of testing and moved on to the physical, I changed out of my suit and into my running/workout gear. As I put on my running capris, tank, and fabulous pink running shirt, I looked in the mirror and saw something I hadn’t seen in a while, and I felt something I hadn’t felt in a while. My body felt amazing. I felt strong. I felt an absence of so much of the excess crap I have been having in my body for so long. I looked great. I was ready. Having that kind of confidence alone can carry you so far – remember that. As I went out and completed the physical testing, I did better in multiple arenas than I had ever done, even in recent times where I had been practicing. The most amazing part – I ran my fastest mile ever in 9:44. Even 3 days prior I did my best and only ran it in 10:35. What’s my point in all of this? Here it is…

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When you feel like you don’t have 10 more seconds in you, or 5 more reps before your muscles completely fail – keep going. It’s in your mind. When you tell yourself that you only have those final 10 seconds left and you want to give it ALL without regret, it’s amazing what your body can do. But your mind has to know that it can do it. Now tie the two together – dream bigger, and imagine you can do more physically by pushing yourself with your mind. You can do it because you are amazing. Your body is amazing. It is a gift to you from God. You should take care of it, but also challenge it. We know that challenging our brains is good for us, why don’t we continuously do the same with our bodies? We should. 

 

Ok, now let’s dive into something else. How many of you are coffee drinkers? How many of you drink multiple cups in a day? Did you know that drinking too much coffee can dehydrate your body and also cause you to crash and be sleepy later, especially if you are not getting enough water? Have you ever considered switching to, or at least substituting tea for some of your cups of joe? Let me give you a small list of the benefits of tea:

– Tea has much less caffeine than coffee – between 25-50% as much.
– Tea contains tannins and catechins which have been associated with cancer and heart disease prevention
– Tea has been shown to act as a stress-reliever.
– Tea contains the polyphenol quercetin, which may interrupt the oxidation of LDL or “bad cholesterol”. It may also lower blood pressure and blood sugar, suppress aging, prevent food poisoning and skin disease and act as an anti-viral. Quercetin can also act as a natural COX-2 inhibitor, providing pain-relief similar to pharmeceutical versions like Vioxx and Celebrex.
– Tea decreases triglycerides and free fatty acids in your bloodstream, while coffee contains cafestol, a fat-like chemical that actually can increase your cholesterol levels.
– Tea contains EGCG and theaflavins which can suppress the enzymes required for cancer-cell growth, thereby slowing the progression of some cancers. (Some research suggests that the antioxidants in tea may neutralize this effect, however).
– Tea is a digestive aid, it flushes the digestive system.
– Unlike coffee, tea has almost no carbohydrates, fats or proteins.
– Tea contains L-theanine, which has been shown to boost mental alertness and help the body’s immune system.
– Oxalates found in tea can bind with free iron in the bloodstream, which can help the body fight HIV.
– Polyphenols in green tea can reduce intestinal inflammation related to IBD.
– Tea can help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s
– Tea may also be a significant factor in strengthening bones against oseoporosis
– Tea lowers your blood pressure
– Tea can help prevent kidney stones

Interested in at least trying tea now? Tea is also in many ways more economical than coffee! Depending on what type of tea you are drinking, many can be steeped multiple times, getting more than 1 cup per serving of tea. We all know you can’t do that with coffee. You can still get caffeine in many teas too, it’s just not the level that is in coffee. I’ve just recently taken the dive into teas – I mean all I had really been into before was the kind that was iced and loaded with tons of sugar. I mean, I am a southern girl. No more of that though. I have found many different kinds of tea that I love and enjoy – Twinings French Vanilla Chai Tea, Celestial Seasonings Gingerbread Spice Tea, and Yogi Caramel Apple Spice . These are all teas that are available in local grocery stores. I also stumbled upon a few loose leaf teas while on a trip to Savannah recently – a Caramel Almond fruit tea, a Coconut Oolong Tea, and an Earl Grey Creme Tea. These are all fabulous – and the loose leaf is the type that you can steep multiple times, getting multiple cups out of each serving of tea! Here’s the websites for the two shops I found in Savannah where I got these:

The Salt Table

Savannah Spice & Tea Exchange

You can also find other great things in both of these stores. Both also allow you to order online. The latter store told me they ship anywhere in the state of GA for free. 

When you are trying teas, try them hot and cold to see which you prefer. Something I even found that I like is taking a regular ole Lipton tea bag and steeping it, adding just a touch of honey or sweetener, and a mint sprig. Enjoy it hot, especially this time of year. 

 

That’s it for today, folks. If you try any teas that you especially love, please let me know! I’d love to try them as well!