Thursday, June 27, 2013

Slim for Life (SFL) Finding #1: Land, Sea or Tree

[Disclaimer: I loved Slim for Life from start to finish, and I found almost all of Jillian's advice helpful.  However, for purposes of this "blog book club" and the findings I share from her book, I'm only sharing insights that I found the most practical and helpful to me personally.  I definitely recommend reading the whole book to learn about all the great tips on bettering your health to use the most holistic approach!]

The first great finding I discovered from Jillian Michael's Slim for Life book was her rule "Land, Sea, or Tree."  She explains "If it didn't come from the ground or the ocean or have a mother - don't eat it.  Think about it.  Twinkies and Cheetos - what the hell are these?" (p 18).   Oh Jillian, you make me laugh (per usual).

I like this rule because it gives you a very practical guide post (that you can easily remember) when you're making food decisions, whether you're at the grocery store, cooking dinner, or at a party.  I know that when I've maintained a very "all natural" diet in the past, I feel so much better all around.  Foods like Cheetos or Twizzlers might taste good initially, but I always feel really icky inside after I've eaten them (my stomach definitely says "what the hell?").  I've found that by maintaining a Land, Sea, or Tree type diet, that my skin is better, I have more energy, my blood sugar is consistent, and I am almost always able to maintain (or lose) my weight. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Knowing (and sticking to) your awesome zone!

This morning I sat down at my dining room table to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, check email, upload some wedding photos, and read a favorite blog.  I listened to the morning neighborhood noise and felt the cool breeze blowing through my home.  As I began to write, I thought "I just love my mornings.  I am so happy to have this time."

The above (simple but authentic) scenario is what I describe as my awesome zone - where I am most likely to feel happy, at peace, productive, and like myself.  A large part of this is that I am 120% a morning person.  I have the greatest energy, motivation, and zest for life in the morning, period.  I can think of few things that would make me happier than starting my day with a walk at a beautiful park, writing to-do lists for the day, reading a book, listening to music, or stretching on my yoga mat.  I love the mornings because they are usually the most quiet time of day when you don't have as many interruptions, such as phone calls, people yelling, or cars driving by.  I usually have my greatest "aha" moments about myself and life in general in the morning - I feel inspired to learn and take action.  I also feel the most in tune with my faith when I start the day and take a moment to say a prayer in thanksgiving for another beautiful day and all the opportunities ahead of me. 

In the evening I tend to (mentally, physically, and emotionally) shut down and lose my enthusiasm for activities that I typically find motivating in the morning, whether it's working out, cleaning, writing, or talking to friends.  In the morning I feel like I can take on the world!  In the evenings, if I am tired or not wanting to be around others, I don't like the energy I put out into the world.  When I hit my mid 20s, I could not wrap my head around how IN THE WORLD I managed to survive the post-college early 20s weekend bar and events scene with my friends until 2:00 AM.  I certainly had a blast and am grateful for the memories, laughter, and life-long friendships developed during those years, but I know it wasn't representative of "me" - it's just what I was magically able to pull off at the time :).

I am realizing more and more how important it is for me to be intentional about creating time for myself in the morning.  Starting my day right is something I value.  This also means going to bed early enough so that I can wake up and enjoy that morning zone! 

When is your awesome zone during the day?  How does it make you feel?  How can you make more time for these moments?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

SLIM FOR LIFE (WellnessGal 'Book Club'!)

During my recent vacation in AZ, I read Slim for Life by Jillian Michaels.  My friends and I became fans of Jillian years ago after watching The Biggest Loser together every week.  We just love her sass, honesty, and no BS, no excuses (not to mention hilarious) approach to training and coaching.  So naturally, when I was browsing the book aisle at the grocery store the other month and saw the hot pink cover with Jillian and her fabulous physique, I snatched it in a second (for those of you who know me personally, you know this provides a great visual).

In all seriousness, Slim for Life is a fabulous book.  It is fun, entertaining, helpful, and informative.  My favorite part of the book is that Jillian puts to rest countless health "myths" that we hear all the time and often wrestle with by providing very balanced answers.  It's tough navigating through the health world with so many opinionated "health experts" all saying different things.

I love reading health books, because it's such a beneficial use of my time.  Even if I don't agree with everything I read, I always discover something that inspires me and am able to apply it to my life - something always resonates and betters my wellness at the end of the day.  

After reading Slim for Life, I decided that I want to start making a more disciplined effort to report about my books on this blog through starting a "Book Club" of some sorts.  When I read a book, I will start sharing my key findings during and/or after the reading process.  Hopefully you'll consider reading a book with me now and then, or if you're liking what you hear, you might be inclined to read the book later or apply a finding to your life right away! (Note: I'll be tracking these posts by using the label "Books," and so if you ever want to search a past book I've posted about, you can find the posts by clicking on the Books label on the list on the right side of my homepage.  Also, I will only share about books that I think a majority of readers will find truly worthwhile :).

So, stay tuned for my first post about my favorite findings from Slim for Life sometime soon!  In the meantime, happy reading!  Please be sure to share any book recommendations you have.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Welcome back, outdoor yoga!

Tonight I headed to yoga class at my gym.  I was excited for yoga but felt a bit bad going to the studio when it was such gorgeous day in Seattle (think: 78, clear blue skies, mid June!).  When I ran into my wonderful instructor, Michelle, she told me she decided to move our class outdoors!  I couldn't be happier to hear the news.

If you've read my blog for a while, you know that outdoor yoga is one of my most favorite things in the world.  It really is one of the most incredible mind/body experiences I have encountered in my life.  I haven't done outdoor yoga since last Summer, so it was particularly exciting to "start the season" of outdoor yoga.  I felt so lucky that I got to spend my evening doing something that was so great for my wellness.  My most favorite thing about yoga is that it forces me to stop, take a deep breath, and spend totally interrupted time focusing on myself, my body, and the positive parts of my life - this is a rare occasion for me.  Adding the outdoor element is just the icing on the cake!

I am very thankful for such a happy Monday, and people like Michelle who are so kind and committed to teaching such an amazing practice that creates peace in an often frenzied world.  Tonight I went straight home to add yoga to my calendar every Monday this Summer.  I hope this "place holder" will remind me to prioritize the special opportunity whenever possible.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Banana Chia Seed Pudding!

This year I learned about the benefits of chia seeds after reading an article on MindBodyGreen about 5 foods to "eat yourself slim."  Supposedly, chia seeds are one of the most nutritional foods you can eat.  They are super nutrient dense with a great balance of healthy carbs, proteins, and fats, in addition to iron:

"Chia seeds are a powerhouse food that will change your life. When mixed with liquid, chia seeds gel up into a pudding-like texture, which is perfect for breakfast, snack or dessert. Mix up some chia seeds with almond milk, dates/maple syrup, and some cacao nibs, and you won't believe that you're making yourself slimmer" (Source).

On my recent vacation to Arizona, I tried out a Banana Chia Seed dessert at an amazing healthy restaurant called True Food Kitchen in Scottsdale.   It was incredible - the most tasty (seriously) healthy dessert I've ever had.  Of course, I was determined to search for chia seeds at the grocery store when I returned to Seattle AND re-create the dessert at home.  To my surprise, it turned out awesome!  The recipe at TFK included both banana and coconut, but I just found one with banana.  I used agave for the sweetener, soy milk instead of water, and a little bit of nutmeg (in addition to cinnamon) for fun.  Note - my friend Jessica and I found that using soy or almond milk does not work that well - the chia seeds do not expand the same as they do with water, and doesn't create the best pudding like texture.  Thus, we'd recommend using water (as the recipe states - duh :).

I love discovering desserts that are legitimately healthy for you and taste great.  The recipe is also versatile - it can also serve as a breakfast or snack option.  Tonight I made a double batch so that I could have it on hand whenever I'm in the mood.  Enjoy!

Banana Chia Seed Pudding

makes 1 serving

1 banana
1 1/2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup water
1/2 Tablespoon natural sweetener such as honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon

Combine half of the banana, chia seeds, water, sweetener, vanilla, and cinnamon in your blender or food processor. Process until mixed. Pour the pudding into a bowl and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes. The chia seeds will absorb the water and thicken the pudding. When ready, slice remaining bananas on top of pudding and serve. (Source)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The awesomeness of morning workouts

The above photo was taken this morning at Golden Gardens (a park in Seattle).  I went to run stairs and afterward sat down to soak in the beautiful scenery with Lucy.  It was a true cherry blossom moment where I stopped and thought "THIS is why I need to make time for my health in the morning.  I feel so lucky to be here."

For the past couple of weeks, I've gotten back into my morning workout routine. I feel so proud that I've made this change in my life.  I have felt (to no surprise) so much happier in the past few weeks, due to my recent Arizona vacation followed by a sincere commitment to my health.

I first learned about the benefits of morning workouts when I started doing outdoor boot camps about 4 years ago.  I would get up at 5:00 AM, 3-5 days a week to arrive at a park at 5:30 and do a killer hour-long workout before starting the rest of my day.  Insane? Yes. Worth it? Totally.  I have never been in better shape than when I was doing morning boot camps. During one month-long session I lost 4% body fat in one month, ran a mile in under 7 minutes (which is good for me as a "non-runner"), and was able to do 40 real push-ups in one minute and hold the plank for 2:30.  Just sayin'...

Here are my personal top three reasons why I love morning workouts:

1.  When I do a morning workout, I start my day by doing something healthy and happy for MYSELF.  I make myself a priority right after waking up and feel proud that I'm taking care of myself.

2.  I love the ripple effect of my morning workout.  I am instantly energized, my metabolism gets going, I have time for a healthy sit down breakfast, I come to work in a good mood (feeling more confident), and I make healthy eating decisions for the rest of the day.  Since I pushed myself physically in the morning, I am more tired later on in the evening, and am much better about going to bed on time.  I then able able to wake up (easily) the next day for my morning workout and repeat the process again and again.

3.  I get rid of the debate (and perpetual guilty state) about whether or not to exercise after work .  It is such an AWESOME feeling getting home from work and realizing that I DON'T have to workout if I don't want to because it's already checked off my list!  My evening is up to my disposal, whether it be happy hour with a friend, going on a walk with my dog, cleaning my house, grocery shopping, or working late (if need be). 

These are just three of my reasons, but there are countless other benefits to working out in the morning.  The other day I read a great article with lots of interesting insights. Even if you're not a morning person, I believe we all have the ability to give something toward our health in the morning, even if it's just a 20 min walk or 10 minutes of yoga and meditation.